Month: June 2009

Code Words for Christ – W.E. Smith

My dear friends, as usual I feel totally and utterly inadequate and ill-equipped to express anything even close to what He is. My puny words cannot fully contain Him. My thoughts, however high, fail to ascend anywhere near the height in which He dwells in all His Supremacy and Glory. It is like trying to describe light or truth or peace with mere words and language. You can’t really, you can only come to possess them, and know that you have them. Yet, something inside me compels me to try. O that I would see Him in anything but form and shadow, as He truly is. That I would come to know Him – the Awesome and Absolute Life known as The Christ.

Therefore, since we have such hope, we use great boldness of speech– unlike Moses, who put a veil over his face so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the end of what was passing away. But their minds were blinded. For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament, because the veil is taken away in Christ. But even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart. Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. (2 Cor. 3:12-16)

He is the essential theme and focus of the Scriptures, is He not? – Is He not there “In the beginning” and in that final “Amen”? Does His glory and promise not shine on all pages in between? As we approach the Book is it anything less than He we are searching for? If so, then we will surely not see Him there, for He is the All and Everything in time past, time present and time future. He is the meaning we must seek throughout. Only in Him is the veil of the scripture lifted so that the Lord’s message can unfold. He is the One, my brethren, and this bears repeating in this hour when it seems we have taken our eyes off of Him and His pre-eminence in the perfect plan and purpose of God.

He alone is that great Mystery, Truth, Wisdom, Life and Light of the World as recorded in our Holy Bible. He alone is our ultimate objective, and only in Him does every good thing flow down from the Father in Heaven in all fullness and life. Only when we as Christians really comprehend this deep in “the bowels” as they say, will all of the wondrous glories of the Scriptures open up to us, both in our understanding and living walk.

Consider the literally hundreds of shadows, types, names and titles, figures and ideals recorded throughout the Bible – in both Old and New Testaments – that in some way or another point to or are affirmed in Him. As disciples, we understand (or should anyway) on a practical level how all divine promises and ideals are realized in Him, and in the newness of life that He represents for us. Yet in much of our Christian teaching and practice today, we hold this rather loosely don’t we. And the result far too often is that these ideals – once removed from the root and ground of Christ – become little more than abstractions and empty sermons.

In this post, I would like to throw out something that may be a little controversial to some, but shouldn’t be. It is this – that when we come to our Bibles and discover such mysterious and perfect concepts such as Life, Light, Truth, Wisdom, Righteousness, Grace, Peace, Joy, Holiness, Victory, Freedom, Strength, Godliness (the list goes on, etc…), we can quite easily view these as synonymous with the Person of Jesus Christ. Indeed, it is entirely helpful to do so, both in terms of our fruitfulness in study and application. These words, as existent throughout all pages of Scripture, are practically “code words” for Christ. He, as the “fullness of God”, embodies the utter perfection that they contain.

Like these words, He is the ultimate; there is nothing higher, or deeper, or more complete. Just as you cannot add anything to life or truth to get something more or greater, you cannot add to Him. For us, He is the very most we can hope for, or realize as new spiritual creatures. And when we approach the Scriptures seeking Him there, it is quite natural and even appropriate to see Him in all of these many aspects of ultimate reality.

Did He not declare that He is the Way, the Truth and the Life? And also is He not love, for the Scriptures affirm that God is love. As we gain Christ do we not also acquire all of the many aspects of His perfect nature, including grace, truth, righteousness, wisdom, peace, holiness, godliness and the like. He is the entirety of fullness and completeness – anything less is empty and incomplete. As we are equipped in Him, in all of the power and freedom of this new spiritual reality, are we not clothed in His attributes?

For example, when He says that blessed are they that hunger and thirst for righteousness, is this not essentially the same as saying we are to be spiritually hungry for Him? When the Book of Proverbs enjoins us to “get wisdom and understanding”, does this not translate for the Christian that we are to pursue Christ, and as a result, His wisdom and understanding will be accessible to us?

Go ahead and try it, my friends. Replace every instance of the word “wisdom” in Proverbs with the name of Christ, and see if this doesn’t blow this book wide open with meaning and relevance. And in Deuteronomy 30, where the choice between life and death is presented to the nation of Israel, we Christians can comprehend this as a decision for or against Christ, for He is Life and there can be no possibility of blessing apart from Him.

(Note: Go easy my hyper-dispensationalist friends. Take a few deep breaths and step back a bit from your lines and divisions. Here again, it is Christ you see, that answers all of your questions. As the Book of Hebrews reveals, He is the unifying thread that ties together all of God’s workings with man.)

In Colossians 3:12-15, substitute “tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering, love and the peace of God”, with “the Lord Jesus Christ”, and see if it does not instantly put it all into the right perspective. Nor is there holiness, godliness, righteousness, victory, liberty, glory or light other than that flowing out of Him into the redeemed soul of the new man.

You, dear Christian, who presume to have these things apart from the exchanged life in Him, I say with all the frankness of personal experience, as one who has been there and done that, that you are a fool, a rule-keeper, a humanist, and a pretender. Although to others it may seem you are far along the path, you are not. For He alone is the way! Not merely to point the way, but to carry us within Himself all the way home to the Father’s heart.

When we fall on our knees before the Holy Father and pray for strength or power or freedom or victory, are we in fact not merely asking for more of the life of Jesus Christ pulsing in our soul and spirit. Is He not the Tree of Life we so desperately require, and the heavenly ladder that ascends into the heart of the Father? And are not all of these, in ultimate fulfillment, the Lord Jesus Christ?

He is the ideal man, the perfectly wise One who always does the Father’s will, and fulfills His good pleasure and intent. We cannot hope to be equipped with wisdom or any other perfect thing, unless we are filled with all the fullness of God. These too, are code words for Christ, for He alone is the very fullness of god in all perfection and light.

As students of the Bible, we tend to toss these high words around as if we actually know what they represent, as if they actually mean anything apart from Him. The truth is, they do not, and when we stumble down this path we fall into that same godless humanism spawned in Eden and fulfilled at Babel; the satanic notion that man can fulfill his creative purpose if only he knows where to look, and applies himself perfectly to the task.

We seem to have put the cart before the horse in so much of our teaching today, whereby we teach young converts that if they live pure lives, resist sin and temptation, keep their hands clean, etc, then Christ will seem closer and more real to them. NONSENSE! It is only when Christ gets inside of us that this purity or any other high thing is even possible. Until this happens, nothing happens!

What is it you want, my brother – power, strength, victory, peace, knowledge? Well I tell you here and now that these are all code words for Christ! Get Him, and all the rest will follow and flow, and watch and see how the old man begins to be undone from the inside, as His regenerative life and spirit begins to clear out the cobwebs of 7,000 years of man’s rebellion and death.

O Father in Heaven, help us to see your Beloved Son on each and every page of your Holy Bible. Keep us, O Lord, from the lie that there is anything good in us apart from Him. Help His Glory and Life to shine forth in our study as we search the Scriptures, and realize deep down in the heart how much we need Him. Help us to grasp this life-changing truth that until He enters our hearts and assumes the throne of our lives, we are no better or different than Adam. Equip us, dear Father, with His Perfect Nature, with all the fullness of God found solely in Him, that we may finally and ultimately be all that we were created to be, for your Glory and Honor. In His Wondrous Name, we pray. Amen.

Please pray for us here at Living-Walk, that we would watch and see the Master at work, and understand what He would have us do.

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The Removing of Those Things That Are Shaken – T. Austin-Sparks

Transcribed from a message given by T. Austin-Sparks in 1958. The spoken form has been retained verbatim.

sinaiThe letter to the Hebrews, chapter 12 at verse 26: “Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more will I make to tremble not the earth only, but also the heaven. And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that have been made, that those things which are not shaken may remain. Wherefore, receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us have grace, whereby we may offer service well-pleasing to God with reverence and awe.” Chapter 13 and verse 14: “For we have not here an abiding city, but we seek after the city which is to come.”

Now, into a very few minutes I want to put just a few things that are on my heart at this time, I believe as partly introductory to the conference which is ahead of us during this next week. You, most of you at least, know why this letter to the Hebrews (as it is called) was written. That is, from the Divine standpoint, why God had it written and preserved. And that undoubtedly was in the light of what we have just read: an imminent, great, shaking… for this letter was written a little before the end of the Jewish system and regime and dispensation. The year 70 was fast approaching when the Roman legions would throw their siege around Jerusalem and reduce it – as the capital and centre of the Jewish world – to rubble; literally fulfilling the words of the Lord Jesus, “They will not leave one stone upon another”. It was the end of that long, long Jewish era, and that was on the very near horizon when this letter was written. And we can see therefore, the infinite wisdom of God in bringing into view the heavenly and eternal counterpart of that whole system of earthly things. That system was to be shaken to its foundations and toppled to the earth. But after all, as the whole letter shows, at most and at best it was but an earthly representation of heavenly things and the earthly was passing now and it was therefore necessary for men and women of faith in the Lord Jesus to have their anchorage in the heavenly, and the abiding; the eternal. And that was the purpose of the letter.

But you can clearly see, even from the fragments which we have read, that that was not the end of the matter. For even here when that had happened, when it had happened, the whole earthly thing broken to pieces and passed away, there’s a pointing on. There’s still a future vision, and even these who looked beyond the figures and the types and the symbols and the earthly and the temporal, had in view a City which was never of this earth and of this world: “We look for a City, we have here no abiding City…”. That was very evident with the passing of Jerusalem, but: “…we seek one.”

Now, dear friends, of course that opens up far more than I can put into fifteen minutes but out of that and around that I want to gather one or two things a little on my heart very much in these days. If it is true that that shaking was only half of the great shaking and the other half will be the shaking not only of the earth but of the heavens also (that is, not only of the temporal but of the spiritual, not only of the local but of the universal) then to bring in the setting which is abiding… everything that is not abiding, that cannot stand has got to be shaken to its foundation.

When the Lord Jesus was speaking in many words about this very day of Jerusalem’s destruction and passing and Israel’s scattering, He gave many indications; signs which would clearly indicate that that day was at hand. He spoke about the “signs of the times” as we call them; spoke about a fig tree and other things which would clearly indicate that that day was at hand. But then He passed beyond that and carried us to the end of this dispensation and He gave many further signs of how we should know that this greater end than the end of Jerusalem and Jewry was at hand; given us many signs and I’m not going to try to gather up or even mention, but they are indeed very significant. I think, dear friends, this is the point: I think that we have today an almost overwhelming amount of evidence that we are on the point of this far greater shaking. In other words: that we are at the end of another dispensation.

I always hesitate in the realm of prophecy, you never hear me say very much about prophecy; I’ve had enough of the confusion of prophecy in fifty years of study of it. But at the same time, with all that, with all my carefulness about it, I cannot but feel that everything today is most portentous. I would not be surprised (if I may say it) if during this past week one of the most significant things has happened in relation to the end. There is a great system, the very heart and core of which is anti-God and anti-Christ. And one of the things which the Bible tells us will mark the manifestation of the man of sin who will put himself in the place of God is that he will be a tremendous showman, calling down fire from heaven. Everybody can see how easy that could be any day now, calling down fire from heaven! We are almost familiar with that aren’t we, and many other such things.

Now I could dwell on that side of the matter for a long time but I simply mention that, I think… indicative of so much more that points to our coming to the end of this dispensation very soon – the heading up of the final great shaking of heaven and earth. But what I want to touch upon at least this morning is what this means to believers. And that means you and me. What are we to expect? What will be the spiritual signs of the times? We are fascinated with the material, the temporal signs; tremendously impressed with the outward, but what will be the spiritual signs? I just mention it; you must take it away and think about it.

I believe that the Word of God makes very clear (we shall see that much more fully later) that as we get near to the end, as the end approaches, two or three things are going to happen where believers are concerned. One is, one is that they are going to be brought very definitely to the point of accountability for all that God has given them – accountability for all that God has given. God has given much: a great revelation, a great deposit in His Word and through His Word, in ministry, ministry which He Himself has given. I’m not speaking just here, but to His people; a tremendous amount of ministry that God has given through His Word. But there the foundation and substance of it is all preserved in a most marvelous way in the Scriptures and at the end you and I are going to be brought to our accountability to God for what He’s given us. I believe the church, the people of God, are really going to have to face up to what they’ve got; what they’ve received. There, I feel, and I could show you from the Word, that that is made perfectly clear in the Scriptures: that we are going to be brought face to face in very real and even drastic ways with what we’ve got, with what we’ve received; to answer for it and to it.

Let me carry that further. I believe the Word shows very clearly that the people of God will pass into a phase of spiritual experience where what they have is required to be their very life. What they have is required to be their very life and their very survival! That could be said in another way: that the things that you and I have received and think we know are going to be sifted right down of all mere teaching, interpretation, mental grasp; stripped of everything. Now then, what about that that you have taught, you have believed? Now then, what about the meaning of the Cross? Now then, what about the meaning of the Body of Christ, spiritual unity and fellowship? What about it? Now then, what about the sufficiency of Christ? See? I believe that that is going to happen. Reality! Downright reality is going to be the emphasis of the Holy Spirit at the end and you and I and the people of God will pass into such an intensity of spiritual experience under pressure, under stress, under trial and testing that we shall be found out as to what proportion of all that we have claimed to hold is really our being and our life. We’re going to be just stripped down to that.

I believe that is what is happening just now and may be the explanation. We have spoken of Christ as our Life. Very well then, the Holy Spirit says, “Let’s find out how true that is and how much there is.” It may be an explanation of the physical; something along that line – how much is Christ our Life physically? Have we proved Christ as our Life for our bodies as well as for our spirit? Have we? Because there is divine Life for the body dear friends, some of us would not be here today if that were not true. There is divine Life for the body to be had, if the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead be in you… “He that raised up Christ Jesus from the dead shall quicken also your mortal body”. That’s not the dust that’s in the earth; that’s your body now “by His Spirit that dwelleth within”. Well what about it? That’s only one point, there’s many others.

We’re just going to be brought to this: is it real? Is the Cross real? Is the Life real? Is Christ real? How much so? That’s going to be sifted out at the end and there’s going to be a shaking of all that can be shaken. And does this not explain very much? Yes there’ll be a great falling away because the large measure of mere profession or claim that is not justified deep down in the very constitution of those people. Well, this is it. This letter, this whole letter, puts its emphasis here: the thing, the thing that matters is the eternal. All history… the Lord has built up a tremendous history around that, do you notice? And what a lot of light it throws upon things, although many problems associated with it.

Have you noticed that whenever, during the whole Christian era from apostolic times to this day, whenever anything that was raised up by God at its beginning became crystallized and static, fixed and set, the Lord had no further interest in preserving it? The explanation of why things have a wonderful beginning and their end… what? Well, you don’t see the Lord preserving it intact! It’s living on a past. It’s simply holding a tradition. The Lord doesn’t care about that. It’s become something fixed down here on this earth and God is only interested, in this dispensation, in the eternal! The City is not here, it’s there. “We are come unto the heavenly Jerusalem.” The Lord won’t let us, won’t let us! And we here have got to be as careful of this as any others have in their connection, that what we call or what is called “Honor Oak” never becomes a fixed system of things, a rigid, set, crystallized, boxed compass of teaching and truth: “That’s that! Finished! Complete!”. Never! God forbid that ever anything like that should happen to us. If so, the Lord won’t preserve it; He won’t! He will have no interest in our preservation for that is the history of things: something new from God (and we could put our finger upon so many couldn’t we?) down through the centuries. Yes, something from God; the reformation, and Wesley, and the Brethren, and all the rest; but… but! Has God founded something so dear to His heart that He would preserve it intact and never allow it to go to pieces and become confused and divided and mixed up? Not at all. Why? Because it became Protestantism; an ism. It became an ism you see. Something like that, fixed, set and rounded off. He’s not in that at all. This heavenly, eternal, spiritual is His interest and He won’t let it settle down here. No ambitions on this earth or in this world will be allowed by God in His people. Have anything like that and you’re in for a bad time, a really bad time.

Now, you see I’m defeated entirely trying to range this, but what I wanted to say, and what is really on my heart that I’m feeling so strongly, is just this: that if we can see anything that corresponds to this in the experience of the Lord’s people today, a sifting, shaking, stripping, getting down to roots and foundations and finding out where we are – that is a sign of the times. It’s a real sign of the times, an internal one. The day is far spent, the coming of the Lord is drawing near. And of course we agree that’s right. We say it’s right. It must be. Surely it’s the thing that must happen! The Lord mustn’t come and find us in a false position; mustn’t come and find us in a position where it’s make-believe, it’s not true; not at all.

So the end may be through much tribulation that we enter the kingdom, the Word says so: “receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken”. A part of the much tribulation through which we enter the kingdom is just this: finding out, oh by such drastic ways, in discipline and chastening and hammering and battering and pressure… finding out how much is real. How much is real? How much is true? Well, the Lord throw more light on that.

Editor’s Note: A Related post “The Final Shaking” by W.E. Smith can be read here!

Stripping Down to Christ Alone – T. Austin-Sparks

counterfiet-dollarWe realize, with intense sorrow of heart, that all is not well with that which ostensibly represents the Lord here… and that there is a state of things widely prevailing which does not truly accord with the revealed desire of God.

We live in a time of more than usual dearth spiritually – the state of things may well remind us of Ezekiel’s valley of dry bones. We have not merely to cope with evils which have characterized bygone ages, but also with the matured corruption of a time wherein the varied evils of the Gentile world have become connected with, and covered by, the cloak of Christian profession; and when we turn to the state of those whose knowledge of truth and high profession might naturally encourage the expectation of more healthy and vigorous Christian action, we find, alas! in many – yea, in the majority of cases – that the knowledge is but cold and uninfluential theory… and the profession but superficial.

Christianity has become so largely a matter of doctrine and creed; the test of Christian life is very much a matter of subscribing thereto. Christian experience has become largely limited to a matter of being saved, without the great eternal and universal relative factors and issues. Christian service is resolved far too much into a matter of enthusiasm in a great enterprise, apart from an adequate apprehension of what the Lord is really after… and the indispensable energy and equipment of the Holy Ghost. The Christian “Church” is very largely reduced to earthly institutions, societies, denominations, buildings, activities, and orders; and the spiritual revelation and apprehension of the “one Body” and “one Spirit” is, for the most part by far, lacking. Christian teaching has very largely become – at best – a matter of giving addresses and preaching sermons with a presentation of “the letter of the Word” – a giving forth of truth as truth, but lacking in “revelation in the knowledge of Him”… that true inwardness of meaning which reaches the heart and meets the deepest spiritual need of the hungry.

The result of all this is that the impact, upon the world… and particularly upon “the world rulers of this darkness,” of that which stands for God is almost nil, or a minus quantity.

Missionary leaders who are in a position to speak with authority are almost of one mind and voice in saying that the only hope of an adequate movement amongst the heathen lies in the direction of a new spiritual movement amongst God’s people in the home countries.

As we get nearer the close of this age, the contact with… and impact of… the forces of Satan are going to be such that only those who know the full testimony of Jesus and stand experimentally in it will be able to go through without being paralyzed. The aspect of things is fast changing. The past twenty years has seen a movement into a realm where the old methods and means no longer prove effectual. We shall soon find a tremendous pressing down of the powers of darkness upon this earth, using the world-powers to such a degree and in such ways as to eclipse anything which has hitherto been. This is in full accord with the Word of God.

There will be one, and only one, hope for God’s people: their knowledge of Him in Christ… and the power of His resurrection as a present spiritual reality. Not their activities, enthusiasms, organizations, enterprises, creeds, “churches,” orthodoxy, etc., but HIMSELF. That time, which is now coming upon us – though imperceptible to so many who are preoccupied with plans and programs – will make manifest the principle of the “one Body,” for each of the Lord’s children will feel keenly the need of the fellowship of another, no matter of what connection, so long as that other knows Him.

The bringing in of the ministry of the prophets of old had its occasion in the breakdown of the Lord’s true order. Theirs it was to keep before His people what that order was… and to call back to it… against a day of fire. We are in such a time, and what the Lord needs is that instrument by which He can keep His mind about things in view… and call back to it – an instrument which will pay the price of being refused a hearing, of ostracism, of false imputations, slander, and cruel calumny. This needs faith, boldness, and preparedness to leave all vindication with the Lord.

Beloved fellow members of Christ, will you have it urged upon you to seek the Lord for “a Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him” – a pure spiritual unveiling of the Lord Jesus as God’s representation of His thought concerning all these things; and as He gives you light, will you seek grace to stand for Him in the day of His need… with all boldness, and whatever the price? All other questions will answer themselves as you do this.

The Glory of God – T. Austin-Sparks

t_austin_sparksThe Father of Glory… The Lord of Glory… The Spirit of Glory

In pursuing the matter which has been before us, I want to call to your remembrance three fragments of the Word:

“For this cause I also, having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which is among you, and which ye shew toward all the saints, cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him” (Ephesians 1:15).

“My brethren, hold not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons” (James 2:1).

“Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial among you, which cometh upon you to prove you, as though a strange thing happened unto you: but insomuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings, rejoice, that at the revelation of his glory also ye may rejoice with exceeding joy. If ye are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are ye; because the Spirit of glory and the Spirit of God resteth upon you” (1 Peter 4:12-14).

May I just remind you that we have been occupied with the truth that the end of all God’s works is glory. We have defined glory as being the expression of God’s full and final satisfaction, God giving out from Himself His pleasure, His delight, and, like a heavenly contagion, those who come within its range and its reach are very conscious that He is pleased and satisfied. In one place He is called “the blessed God” (1 Timothy 1:11), but the original says ‘the happy God’. You know that if you go into the presence of people who are really happy you are affected and infected by their happiness. It is possible to go amongst people who are heartily laughing, and you begin to laugh, not knowing what you are laughing at! The atmosphere influences you. Now, if God is happy, satisfied, well pleased and delighted, and you come within touch of Him, you catch something from Him and feel that happiness. That is exactly the meaning of glory: God being completely contented with a situation, or with a life, or with a person, and if you should happen to be that person you just take from Him something of His contentment and satisfaction. It is a glorious sense of contentedness, of satisfaction, of blessedness.

So the end of everything that is really of God is that wonderful power of His own personal pleasure. I think there is nothing in all the universe so blessed as to have a sense that the Lord is well pleased. It must have been a great day for Abraham, a wonderful, inexpressible day, when God called him His friend, and for Daniel, too, when the messenger of God said: “Oh Daniel, thou man greatly beloved”. What do you want more than that from God? That is glory, is it not? Well, God is working toward that in all His works in the universe, in the creation and in the redeemed.

You will have noticed from the three passages that we read that the triune God, the three Persons of the Trinity, are personally related to glory. First, the Father of glory; secondly, the Lord Jesus, the Lord of glory; and thirdly, the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of glory. Each member of the Godhead takes character from this word ‘glory’, and each Person of the Trinity is supremely concerned with glory. That opens up a very large door, but I shall not go very far through that door just now. I will just mention that you can follow through the Bible how God, as Father, the first Person of the Trinity, is always concerned about glory; how the Lord Jesus, the second Person in the Trinity, is always working on the line of glory; and then how the Holy Spirit all the way along is operating toward glory, with glory as the governing concern. I leave that, for it is a long, long line of very blessed revelation. The point for me just now is that the Godhead is united, is one in this thing. The three are united concerning glory, and their interest is one interest. As we have already said, it is their priority. So the priority of the triune God is glory.

All I am going to do now is to say a little word about each of these designations – the Father of glory, the Lord of glory and the Spirit of glory – and may the Lord give us something in our hearts from our brief meditation!

THE FATHER OF GLORY

What does that mean? Well, it means that God is the source of glory, and that glory emanates from Him. The principle of fatherhood is that the father is the source, the beginning and the projector, so all that really emanates from God has, as its very purpose and destiny, glory. We are children of God, and the very object and purpose of our being His children in His mind is that we should come to glory, that is, that we should be brought to that position where at last – oh, wonderful thought! too wonderful to grasp! – God says: ‘I am perfectly satisfied and content.’ Can you imagine God saying that about you? Can you believe that the all-mighty, eternal, perfect, holy, great God could look down upon us and say: ‘I am well pleased. Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord, into the very satisfaction of My Father heart.’? It is too much for us to grasp just now, is it not? But that is the meaning of His Fatherhood. He has begotten us, brought us into being as His children, is responsible for our coming into being as His children, has taken responsibility for us as His children, and all with this one object of bringing us along the line, along the way, to the end, which is an entering into that unspeakable awareness that He has nothing whatever against us, but is satisfied to the last possible degree.

Whatever comes out from God, whether it is children or His creation, comes out as destined for that glory of His perfect satisfaction. Things are like that at the end of the Bible. There is a state of glory, a glorious condition, which means the outgoing, the emanation of God’s own perfect satisfaction. Paul puts it in this way: “Foreordained to be conformed to the image of his Son” (Romans 9:29). What is that? His SON! – “My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17). And we are to be conformed to that! We are to inherit God’s own attitude toward His Son, to come into that position and condition that His Son occupies of the perfect satisfaction of the Father.

You see, His Father-dealings with us are along that line. “My son, regard not lightly the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art reproved of him; for whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth” (Hebrews 12:4). What is the chastening all about? “All chastening seemeth for the present to be not joyous, but grievous; yet afterward it yieldeth peaceable fruit unto them that have been exercised thereby, even the fruit of righteousness” (Hebrews 12:11). What is righteousness? It is that complete peace in the heart that God’s sense of rightness is satisfied.

THE LORD OF GLORY

“Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory” is what James calls Him, and it is a wonderful thing that James, His own brother in the flesh, should say that of Him! There was a time when James did not believe on Him. “For even his brethren did not believe on him” (John 7:5), was what was said about James formerly. Of course, we have a fairly shrewd idea of why that was. In those early days James and the other brothers of Jesus were a bit worldly and they had an eye to business, to success, to popular acceptance, and they wished especially to stand well with the authorities. That is worldliness, is it not? It is the spirit of the world to wish to stand well with the authorities. This older Brother of theirs was taking a course that was getting Him into trouble with the people who had it in their power to take everything away from Him, and they belonged to His family, which meant that they would suffer because He had taken that line. Well, we will leave that, but I think it is a fairly true judgment of that statement: “Even his brethren did not believe on him.” They could not accept the way that He was taking, for it was not going to bring popularity.

Now here is this brother of His, these many years afterward, calling Him “the Lord of glory”. Something has happened! James is saying that his own Brother is “the Lord of glory”! Once he did not believe in Him, but now he calls Him “the Lord of glory”. That is indeed a wonderful thing! But what did he mean, and what does it mean to call Him “the Lord of glory”?

Well, you know, if anyone is a lord, he has everything under his control. If you should be a ‘lord’, then things are under your control and in your power. You dictate how these things are going to work out. Yes, you are lord in this situation and, indeed, in all situations. Jesus is Lord, and as Lord of glory He is in a position of mastery.

Peter, who at one time denied Him vehemently later said: “He is Lord of all” (Acts 10:36). A big thing has happened in Peter, too, as well as in James. Indeed, it had happened in all of them, for they all called Him “Lord”. We know from the very context of Peter’s words that he was at that time having to recognize the absolute mastery of the Lord Jesus. Peter was arguing a bit. It was very strange that he should have been arguing with the Lord Jesus at that time “Not so, Lord, for I have never eaten anything that is common and unclean”, but he had to succumb to the mastery of the Lord Jesus, and he did. Then he said: “He is Lord of all”, meaning that He was in charge both of Peter and of every situation, and, being in charge, this situation was going to work out to the end that He intended. So, when James says “the Lord of glory”, it means that the Lord Jesus is in charge of everything to make it work out for glory.

You have only to read through the book of the Acts of the Apostles, as it is called, and as you go through you see the Lord of glory holding the situations. Yes, in phase after phase, and stage after stage. We need only lift out one or two examples.

Peter is in prison, with his feet in the stocks and four quarternions of soldiers to guard him, and the inner and outer doors of the prison tightly closed. Herod has made very sure that THAT man is not going to escape! This looks a somewhat difficult proposition, does it not? I doubt whether it would have been possible for any man to have liberated Peter that night. At any rate, all the forces of this world are determined that he should not escape. He is the key man, the strategic man in this new movement, so he must be kept safe. All right, do all you can and all you wish. Take every precaution, every measure, to make everything secure. But the Lord of glory has other ways, and so an angel comes and smites Peter, who is asleep.

It is rather wonderful that when the Lord of glory is in charge you can go to sleep, even in situations where you are going to be brought out for execution tomorrow! You are in a condemned cell, and you know that tomorrow you are going the same way as the other James and be executed, but you just go to sleep right through the night. Well, it needs the Lord of glory to make you do that, so that you can say: ‘The Lord has this thing in hand, so I am going to sleep.’

I remember a man who was here in the West in the wild days of long ago. He was travelling and came to a shack, which was in a perilous place where bears were roaming about. He was very tired after travelling all day, but he found that he could not get into the shack. He could only rest under the awning outside, so he lay down there. He belonged to the Lord and before he settled down he read a Psalm: “He that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.” He said: ‘Well, Lord, it is no use the two of us keeping awake. If You say You are keeping awake all night, I am going to sleep!’ And so he went off to sleep and had a good night. That is trusting the Lord!

Peter went to sleep and the angel smote him, struck off his chains and fetters, and said: ‘Rise up and follow me.’ They left the guards, the cell and the chains, and went out through the first door, then through the next, until they came to the outer gates, which opened of their own accord, and Peter was landed out in the open. This circumstance, so apparently adverse and impossible, was in the hands of the Lord of glory. And what about the glory? We have Peter’s Letters, written years afterwards, and they are wonderful Letters, are they not? His was a wonderful life, and so much wealth has come to us through Peter’s ministry in these Letters. Yes, there was glory, and Jesus is the Lord of glory.

One more thing from that Book of the Acts. We are in Philippi. Paul and Silas have arrived, because the Lord has sent them there. ‘They had assayed to go into Asia, but were forbidden of the Holy Ghost, and they assayed to go into Bithynia but the Spirit of Jesus suffered them not.’ Then, wondering what all that meant – ‘Why are we not allowed to go this way or that?’ – Paul, in a vision, saw a man of Macedonia and heard him say: “Come over into Macedonia, and help us.” “And,” said Luke, “concluding that God had called us for to preach the gospel unto them” (Acts 16:10), they set sail, arrived in Philippi, quite sure that the Lord had sent them there – and the next thing they knew was that they were in a dungeon with their feet fast in stocks and their backs bleeding after thorough lashing. Now what do you make of this? What are you going to do about it? It seems an absolute contradiction, and that a big mistake has been made. Are they saying: ‘We have got into confusion over our guidance’? No! Not a bit. In that condition they are singing and praising God at midnight. The Lord of glory has the situation in hand, and that is proved before the morning. There is the earthquake, the prisoners are released, the jailer and his house saved and baptized, and the church in Philippi established. The jailor and his family were amongst the first members and I do not believe his family were infants! It says: “They spake the word of the Lord unto them”, and you do not put a little innocent baby in a chair and preach the gospel to it, or teach it the things of Christ. They were intelligent and old enough to understand the teaching and preaching of Paul, and to accept it, so they were all baptized as responsible persons. They were amongst the first members of that church; and we have that beautiful Letter from Paul’s own prison, written years afterwards, when he was in Rome. We would not sacrifice that Letter to the Philippians for anything, would we? It is very precious. There is the Lord of glory, you see. It is the Book of the Acts of the Holy Spirit, the acts of the Lord of glory, for He is in charge. I wish we could always believe that when we are in prisons, tied up, with things all against us, and we are having a difficult time! If we could always just say: ‘The Lord is the Lord of glory. He has charge of this and the end is going to be glory’! Well, it works out that way, even though He has to say to us afterward: “O ye of little faith! Wherefore didst thou doubt?” Although we, under the trial, sometimes feel that there is nothing of glory in the situation, or in our condition, in the end He is faithful, and we find that glory is the end of His strange ways. He is the Lord of glory which means that He controls everything with glory in view.

THE SPIRIT OF GLORY

Peter calls the Holy Spirit “the Spirit of glory”. Now the context is necessary as the background of that title of the Holy Spirit. If you read this first Letter of Peter’s you will see that it is very largely about the sufferings of the Lord’s people to whom he is writing. It says that he is writing “to the elect who are sojourners of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father”. Then he opens up on this matter of the sufferings of these people: “Think it not strange concerning the fiery trial among you, which cometh upon you to prove you, as though a strange thing happened unto you.”

There is a lot about the sufferings of the Lord’s people in this Letter of Peter’s, and when he has mentioned the sufferings there are two things that he links with them: first grace, and then glory, grace issuing in glory. It is very helpful to notice how Peter speaks of grace, but, unfortunately, in our translation there are places where the word is changed, and the word ‘acceptable’ is used. In chapter 2:19 and 20 we read: “For this is ACCEPTABLE, if for conscience toward God a man endureth griefs, suffering wrongfully. For what glory is it, if, when ye sin, and are buffeted for it, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye shall take it patiently, this is ACCEPTABLE with God.” But in putting this right we have something very rich: “For this is GRACE, if for conscience toward God a man endureth griefs, suffering wrongfully. For what glory is it, if, when ye sin, and are buffeted for it, he shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye shall take it patiently, this is GRACE with God” (R.V. margin). Grace, then glory. In chapter 5:10 Peter says: “And the God of all grace, who called you unto his eternal glory in Christ, after that ye have suffered a little while, shall himself perfect, stablish, strengthen you.” ‘Through the suffering of this little while there will be grace sufficient to make us triumphant.’ Grace triumphant in suffering, and that means glory.

We sometimes sing:

Jesus, Thy life is mine,

Dwell evermore in me;

And let me see

That nothing can untwine

Thy life from mine.

Thy fullest gift, O Lord,

Now at Thy word I claim,

Through Thy dear name,

And touch the rapturous chord

Of praise forth-poured.

That came from the bed of an invalid! It is something, is it not? Well, that is what Peter is talking about – the sufferings, the fiery trial, and then he says: ‘Grace in that means glory.’ The Spirit of glory.

The Lord help us! We can say these things, and I say them carefully, guardedly, for we can be so put to the test on things that we say. The Spirit of glory can take hold of the things which could destroy us, and could be our undoing if we had the wrong reaction to them, and turn them to glory. This suffering, this reaction, this trial can mean glory. Paul said: “And by reason of the exceeding greatness of the revelation – wherefore, that I should not be exalted overmuch, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, that I should not be exalted overmuch. Concerning this thing I besought the Lord thrice” (and when Paul sought the Lord you may take it that he did so very thoroughly, and when he did it three times you may be sure that Paul put himself right into it!). “And he hath said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee; for my power is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Corinthians 12:7-10).

The Spirit of glory can take hold of our trials, and will do so, if we trust Him, and turn the dark things, the hard things, the painful things, into glory. That is, in those things He will lead us to find God’s pleasure, God’s satisfaction, God’s ‘Well done!’, and what more glorious thing could we desire than that we should hear Him say: ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.’?

The Father of glory, the Lord of glory and the Spirit of glory. The Lord place this word in our hearts!

Seeing, Seeking and Entering the Kingdom – W.E. Smith

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God… Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3-5, emphasis added)

His disciples began questioning Him as to what this parable meant. And He said, “To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest it is in parables, so that SEEING THEY MAY NOT SEE, AND HEARING THEY MAY NOT UNDERSTAND. (Luke 8:9-10)

blindDear brethren, one of the most profound and largely under appreciated blessings flowing from the bestowal of the Holy Spirit, is a true and complete understanding of what the Lord is doing with respect to His Kingdom and those considered worthy to enter and enjoy it. It is from this singular truth more or less that the word of exhortation contained on these pages springs forth. For we sincerely want you to see and know and ultimately enter into His beloved Kingdom, and to enjoy all of its contingent blessings and privileges.

Sadly, many Christians know not why they were saved. Tragically, these same know little if anything about what our Lord and his disciples taught regarding the gospel of the kingdom, or entrance therein.

“I am saved by grace through faith in the Savior; I shall most surely be a part of His Kingdom; I am going to heaven; and nothing I do or don’t do on this side of grace and faith can change that!”

This generalization we believe, fairly accurately sums up the general teaching and understanding of the hour among believers. Although Christians are routinely enjoined to pursue righteousness and to be fruitful in good works, what is largely absent is the true biblical motivation for such (what the New Testament refers to as the prize or the reward).

Recently I tuned into a Christian radio station where a well-known bible teacher (you would more than likely know him if I mentioned his name) and pastor with global prominence was teaching on 1 Corinthians 9:24 –

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. (NIV)

I listened intently as I truly wanted and expected him to him to proclaim most clearly to his listeners that the “prize” was nothing short of entrance into the Lord’s Millennial Kingdom. “Say it” I yelled at the radio. “Say it loud and clear!” I was to be sorely disappointed, and the biting words of our Lord to Nicodemus came to mind

“Are you the teacher of Israel and do not understand these things?” (John 3:10)

Apparently to this teacher, with millions of books in circulation, his very own seminary, and a worldwide following among the twice-born, the prize was merely “Christ-likeness”. Now as wonderful and praiseworthy as this is, it is definitely and verifiably not the “prize” Paul is talking about in 1 Corinthians, Philippians 3:14, Colossians 2:18, 2 Timothy 2:5 and 4:8 and elsewhere. And every single one of you reading these words would do well to understand in the spirit what is really at stake here. This again, is one of the many concepts lost to this modern, worldly, Laodecian church era. And failure to grasp what is involved in the prize will most certainly result in a lack of readiness and ultimately rejection at the Lord’s appearing for His own.

Indeed, if all will enter in the Lord’s Kingdom and receive crowns of glory,  why the need to be exhorted or encouraged to press further, to go deeper, to run the race to win as Paul admonishes us? Why, if all receive the prize regardless of how hard they train or how fast they run, or whether or not they even endure to the finish line? Why, if to all, the Judge of the Saints will say…

“Well done, good and faithful servant”?

Forgive me all these years brethren for wasting your time with these high-minded but empty messages exhorting you to reach deeper into the very heart of our God; to be fruitful for His glory and delight; to live and walk in the Lord Jesus Christ, to press onward toward perfection in Him; to overcome the world , the devil and this present evil age. I am dreadfully sorry for emphasizing the walking in Him whom we have received, when, apparently, it is only the receiving that ultimately avails much. All ends there it seems and I have been sorely mistaken. Apparently, after all, the blood not only covers and cleanses; it secures the crown as well, and a place in the Lord’s Millennial Kingdom.

fat-preacherGo on then, eat, drink, suck up whatever you can from this life here below, for it matters naught how you live, for the kingdom awaits! You are saved after all; you mouthed the pledge; you answered an alter call twenty years ago or more; you jumped through the hoop of easy-believism once and for all.

Well, the problem with this fanciful notion, ticklish to the ear though it may be,  is that it is decidedly unfounded and untrue! Quite apart from how prolific is its proclamation and for how long it has been preached, IT IS FOUND NOWHERE IN THE WORD OF GOD! For it is opposed to the very character of our God and the values of the Master’s household.

The gospel of grace makes it possible for the gospel of the kingdom to be received (this is precisely what Paul taught as the “whole counsel of God”), but they are clearly not one and the same. Yes, both are good news to fallen and lost man. And both are founded upon the grace of our Lord! Yet, one is the beginning while the other is the end. One turns on grace through faith (the initial coming; “Come and  see” said our Lord”) while the other turns on the works or the fruit of faith (the walking, the obeying; “Seek first… and bear much fruit” commanded the Lord). The scripture and even nature itself are consistent in that one must first be born before they can learn to walk, to run, to think, to do, to grow and mature into a full grown man.

And just so there is no misunderstanding or misinterpretation, we do indeed hold unwaveringly to the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross. Yet beyond that, brethren,  there is the ongoing and present work of the Lord, and the sending down of the Holy Ghost to impart the life of the Vine to the branches on a moment-by-moment basis. Christ Jesus alone is the author and finisher of our faith, and faith’s beginning in newness of divine and spiritual life must go on to its end, to the time when all will be manifest, and faith will no longer have its place. Here is the Kingdom in all its glory! Here is the King on His throne for all creatures with eyes to behold! Here is where all things lead and the breach in Eden is repaired and restored, for the Glorious Dominion of the Son of Man is the hope of the creation! Praise the Lord for this and all to whom it is being revealed!

Along these lines, I thought perhaps it would be helpful (as a beginning for many of you) to bring together many of the passages in the gospels and epistles that speak of seeing, then seeking and entering the kingdom to help draw this message out more fully. As always saints, seek the Spirit’s guidance as you study to show yourself approved. Ask the Father for clarity as you humbly submit to the revelation of His Word (Philippians 3:15).

And Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God!”For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” Luke 18:24-25

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Matt 7:21

“For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Matt 5:20

Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” John 3:3

Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. John 3:5

“If your eye causes you to stumble, throw it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, than, having two eyes, to be cast into hell… Mark 9:47

After they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying, “Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.”Acts 14:21-22

Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you. 2 Peter 1:10-11

“Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Matt 18:3

Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.” Mark 10:15

For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Eph 5:5

Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people, producing the fruit of it. Matt 21:43

This is a plain indication of God’s righteous judgment so that you will be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which indeed you are suffering. 2 Thess 1:5

Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. Gal 5:19-21

But Jesus said to him, “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:62

Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 1 Cor 15:50

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, 10 nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. 1 Cor 6:9-10

But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, ‘Son, go work today in the vineyard.’ “And he answered, ‘I will not’; but afterward he regretted it and went. “The man came to the second and said the same thing; and he answered, ‘I will, sir’; but he did not go. “Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly I say to you that the tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the kingdom of God before you. “For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him; but the tax collectors and prostitutes did believe him; and you, seeing this, did not even feel remorse afterward so as to believe him. Matt 21-28-32

Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets’; and He will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you are from; DEPART FROM ME, ALL YOU EVILDOERS.’ “In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but yourselves being thrown out. Luke 13:26-28

When one of those who were reclining at the table with Him heard this, he said to Him, “Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!

”But He said to him, “A man was giving a big dinner, and he invited many; and at the dinner hour he sent his slave to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come; for everything is ready now.’ “But they all alike began to make excuses. The first one said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of land and I need to go out and look at it; please consider me excused.’ “Another one said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to try them out; please consider me excused.’ “Another one said, ‘I have married a wife, and for that reason I cannot come.’ “And the slave came back and reported this to his master. Then the head of the household became angry and said to his slave, ‘Go out at once into the streets and lanes of the city and bring in here the poor and crippled and blind and lame.’ “And the slave said, ‘Master, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.’ “And the master said to the slave, ‘Go out into the highways and along the hedges, and compel them to come in, so that my house may be filled. ‘For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste of my dinner.’” Luke 14:15-24

And turning His gaze toward His disciples, He began to say, “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Luke 6:20

Peter said, “Behold, we have left our own homes and followed You.” And He said to them, “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who will not receive many times as much at this time and in the age to come, eternal life.” Luke 18:28-30

The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John; since that time the gospel of the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it. Luke 16:16

But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Matt 6:33

Listen, my beloved brethren: did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? James 2:5

Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe;  Hebrews 12:28

From the preceding, it becomes clear that we will not so much enter that which we do not seek, and we cannot seek that which we do not yet see. If you are a Christian who does not yet have a revelation of the Kingdom of God, in all of its many aspects, spheres, timing, mystery, manifestation and glory, then go to the Father and ask Him in the name of  His Son. He will by no means give you a stone. It will take time and much prayerful study, rest assured; perhaps much time, but He will show you so be patient. If you are led to lay down or lose what you hold (ideas, assumptions, expectations, teachings, even church membership perhaps) such that something new and better may be granted, then do so willingly and freely. Remember Saul, where the loss of his mules led to the finding of a crown.

gold-crownIf further, you are a believer who sees the kingdom with clear eyes but is not actively seeking it, then too, ask and it will be given. Be prepared, for to seek the kingdom of God you must forfeit all your rights, claims, opinions, positions and ideals in this present world. There is no other way, and this is the price of seeking.

In the end, only those who see and seek the kingdom shall enter it, and reap the reward and prize of those counted faithful and worthy, those who have overcome this present evil age and its overlord in the power and life of the King of Kings! A word of caution however: The Bible is clear that the many will not see, yet alone seek or enter; that they will not go on to maturity in the whole counsel of the Lord. It is also clear that one cannot truly overcome this present world and its god unless and until we begin to see the whole plan, purpose and provision of the Lord in respect to His Kingdom and restoration of the lost dominion to humankind.

Brethren, to advance your study in these essential matters, we refer you to the works of Robert Govett, D.M. Panton, T. Austin-Sparks, G.H. Lang, Watchman Nee, George Peters, G.H. Pember, et al, most of which are linked on our Essentials Page.

I also direct you to the following piece by our good brother Thomas Finley –

Worthy of the Kingdom

And the messages of Cornerstone Christian Fellowship in Jacksonville, Florida linked here.

And a most excellent new book by our brother Jim Harman linked here – The Kingdom.

A good beginning in understanding what the Kingdom of God is can be found here (T. Austin-Sparks).

May our Good Lord bless and keep you as we await His soon coming as a little child, teachable, humble and always ready to yield. May you too forget all that is behind you, and “press forward to the goal, the prize of God’s calling on high in Christ Jesus.” May you be the Joshua or Caleb accounted worthy and faithful  to enter into His blessed inheritance, while the many are left out. May you seek first the Kingdom of God and the righteousness of the King! May your eyes be anointed to see clearly all that is before us in terms of the millennial prize that awaits those who take the Lord at His word! May you receive the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27 – including both the good news of grace (spiritual life granted as a gift) and the good news of the kingdom (participation in the kingdom rest  as a result of faithful overcoming and fruit bearing after being saved by grace), and not just the parts that appeal to the desire for something for nothing.

In Jesus name we pray for you all, and exhort you to work out your salvation with fear and trembling such that you will be deemed faithful to enter into His kingdom rest on that day!

May our Gracious Lord bless you and keep you in His grace and peace!

A FOOTNOTE BY T.AUSTIN-SPARKS

Now you can reject all that we are saying and still be saved. In order to be saved, all that you need is to “believe on the Lord Jesus, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31). With that you can go to heaven, you can be delivered from condemnation and from hell, without having any of this that we are talking about. Well, if that is all you want, you can have it. But I ask you this, are you as concerned to be useful to God as you are to be saved? That is another question. The matter of your value to God is decided here – what account are you to Him in the realm of the spiritual forces in this universe which are opposed to Him? How much account does the devil take of you? How much are you a menace to his kingdom? Not, how many services and meetings are you taking, how many addresses are you giving, how much running about are you doing; not all those etceteras in Christian activity; but how much impact do you register upon that dark, evil kingdom? It is just there that your value to God is decided. Well, if the devil gives you a very bad time and has made you know you are a marked man, a marked woman, take comfort; it shows you are of some value to God. But we do not always remember that. We have terribly bad times under the hand of the devil and get under them, we think how terrible and wicked he is, we get occupied with that, and forget – perhaps it is a kind of humility – that we must mean something, after all. That is where things count with God in this dispensation. It is not how many structures you can put up nor how big an organization you can create on this earth, it is not anything in the temporal realm at all. It is, in all, through all, by all, how much is counting against the kingdom which is opposed to the kingdom of God? That is the challenge which we must seriously face.