Month: January 2010

It’s All About Him – W.E. Smith

There are those that think the Bible is primarily about the nation of Israel. There are yet others who believe the focus of the Scriptures is on the Church. And there are some perhaps who feel the main message of the Word deals with how we should live, with the moral path of living.

Now although all of these in some degree may be accurate, it misses the mark entirely. Yes a large part of the Bible concerns the nation of Israel and its relationship with the Lord God that formed them. And indeed, the church is undoubtedly a major theme of the New Testament. It is also true that the Scriptures contain a fair degree of moral content that can instruct us in how we should live.

But my friends, we miss God’s revelation entirely if we fail to see that, from beginning to end, from Genesis to Revelation – and running through every book, through all the Law and the Prophets, in name, and type, and shadow – the main concern is none other than God’s Holy and Righteous and Beloved Son; the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the purpose and fulfillment; and it is His life filling every page with context and meaning. Consider this study of most of His names and titles, as conveyed in the Book – and may the Lord grant us eyes to see Him there in all of His transcendent and incarnate glory…

Abraham’s Seed (Genesis 22:18; Galatians 3:16).
Advocate (1 John 2:1).
Almighty (Revelation 1:8).
Alpha and Omega (Revelation 1:8; 22:13).
Amen (Revelation 3:14).
Angel (Genesis 48:16; Exodus 23:20,21).
Angel of God’s presence (Isaiah 63:9).
Angel of the Lord (Exodus 3:2; Judges 13:15-22).
Apostle (Hebrews 3:1).
Arm of the Lord (Isaiah 51:9; 53:1).
Author and Finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2).
Author of eternal salvation (Hebrews 5:9).
Beginning of the creation of God (Revelation 3:14).
Beloved (Ephesians 1:6).
Beloved Son (Matthew 12:18).
Blessed and only Potentate (1 Timothy 6:15).
Branch (Jeremiah 23:5; Zechariah 3:8; 6:12).
Bread of Life (John 6:35, 48).
Bridegroom (Matthew 9:15).
Bright and Morning Star (Revelation 22:16).
Captain of Salvation (Hebrews 2:10).
Captain of the Lord’s hosts (Joshua 5:14,15).
Carpenter (Mark 6:3).
Carpenter’s Son (Matthew 13:55).
Chief Cornerstone (Ephesians 2:20; 1 Peter 2:6).
Chief Shepherd (1 Peter 5:4).
Christ (Matthew 16:20; Mark 14:16; Luke 23:2).
Christ Jesus (Acts 19:4; Romans 3:24; 8:1; 1 Corinthians 1:2; 1:30).
Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:39; 1 Timothy 1:12).
Christ of God (Luke 9:20).
Christ the Lord (Luke 2:11).
Commander (Isaiah 55:4).
Consolation of Israel (Luke 2:25).
Cornerstone (Matthew 21:42; Ephesians 2:20).
Counselor (Isaiah 9:6).
Creator (John 1:3).
David (Jeremiah 30:9; Ezekiel 34:23).
Dayspring (Luke 1:78).
Deliverer (Romans 11:26).
Desire of all nations (Haggai 2:7).
Door (John 10:7).
Elect of God (Isaiah 42:1).
Eternal life (1 John 1:2; 5:20).
Everlasting Father (Isaiah 9:6).
Faithful and True (Revelation 19:11).
Faithful witness (Revelation 1:5; 3:14).
First and Last (Revelation 1:17; 2:8).
Firstborn (Psalms 89:27; Hebrews 1:6; Revelation 1:5).
Forerunner (Hebrews 6:20).
Fountain (Zechariah 13:1).
Glory of the Lord (Isaiah 40:5).
God (Isaiah 40:9; John 20:28).
God blessed forever (Romans 9:5).
God’s fellow (Zechariah 13:7).
Good Shepherd (John 10:14).
Governor (Matthew 2:6).
Great High Priest (Hebrews 4:14).
Head of the Church (Ephesians 5:23; Colossians 1:18).
Heir of all things (Hebrews 1:2).
High Priest (Hebrews 4:14).
Holy Child (Acts 4:27).
Holy One (Psalms 16:10, with Acts 2:27; 3:14).
Holy One of God (Mark 1:24).
Holy One of Israel (Isaiah 41:14; 54:5).
Horn of salvation (Luke 1:69).
I AM, (Exodus 3:14, with John 8:58).
Image of God (2 Corinthians 4:4).
Immanuel (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23).
Jesus (Matthew 1:21; 1 Thessalonians 1:10).
Jesus Christ (Matthew 1:1).
Jesus of Nazareth (Matthew 21:11; Mark 1:24; Luke 24:19).
Judge (Acts 10:42; 2 Timothy 4:8).
Judge of Israel (Micah 5:1).
Just One (Acts 7:52; 22:14).
King (Zechariah 9:9, with Matthew 21:5).
King of Glory (Psalms 24:7-10).
King of Israel (John 1:49).
King of Kings (1 Timothy 6:15; Revelation 17:14).
King of peace (Hebrews 7:2).
King of righteousness (Hebrews 7:2).
King of Saints (Revelation 15:3).
King of Salem (Hebrews 7:1).
King of the Jews (Matthew 2:2; 27:37; John 19:19).
King of Zion (Matthew 21:25).
Lamb (Revelation 5:6, 12; 13:8; 21:22; 22:3).
Lamb of God (John 1:29, 36).
Lawgiver (Isaiah 33:22).
Leader (Isaiah 55:4).
Life (John 14:6; Colossians 3:4; 1 John 1:2).
Light of the world (John 1:8; 8:12).
Lily of the valleys (Song of Solomon 2:1).
Lion of the tribe of Judah (Revelation 5:5).
Living Bread (John 6:51).
Living Stone (1 Peter 2:4).
Lord and Savior (2 Peter 1:11; 3:18).
Lord Christ (Colossians 3:24).
Lord God Almighty (Revelation 15:3).
Lord God of the holy prophets (Revelation 22:6).
Lord Jesus (Acts 7:59; Colossians 3:17).
Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 11:17; 16:31; 20:21).
Lord of all (Acts 10:36).
Lord of glory (1 Corinthians 2:8; James 2:1).
Lord of Hosts (Isaiah 44:6).
Lord of Lords (1 Timothy 6:15; Revelation 17:14; 19:16).
Lord our righteousness (Jeremiah 23:6; 33:16).
Man of Sorrows (Isaiah 53:3).
Mediator (1 Timothy 2:5).
Messenger of the covenant (Malachi 3:1).
Messiah (Daniel 9:25; John 1:41).
Mighty God (Isaiah 9:6).
Mighty One of Israel (Isaiah 30:29).
Mighty One of Jacob (Isaiah 49:26; 60:16).
Morningstar (Revelation 22:16; 2 Peter 1:19).
Most Holy (Daniel 9:24).
Nazarene (Matthew 2:23).
Offspring of David (Revelation 22:16).
Only Begotten Son (John 1:18).
Only Begotten (John 1:14).
Our Passover (1 Corinthians 5:7).
Potentate (1 Timothy 6:15).
Power of God (1 Corinthians 1:24).
Prince (Acts 5:31).
Prince of life (Acts 3:15).
Prince of peace (Isaiah 9:6).
Prince of the kings of the earth (Revelation 1:5).
Prophet (Matthew 21:11; Luke 24:19; John 7:40).
Rabbi (John 1:49).
Rabboni (John 20:16).
Ransom (1 Timothy 2:6).
Redeemer (Job 19:25; Isaiah 59:20; Isaiah 60:16).
Resurrection and life (John 11:25).
Rock (1 Corinthians 10:4).
Rock of Offence (1 Peter 2:8).
Root of David (Revelation 5:5; 22:16).
Root of Jesse (Isaiah 11:10).
Rose of Sharon (Song of Solomon 2:1).
Ruler of Israel (Micah 5:2).
Savior (Luke 2:11; 2 Peter 2:20; 3:18).
Savior of the Body (Ephesians 5:23).
Sceptre (Numbers 24:17).
Second Adam (1 Corinthians 15:45).
Second Man (1 Corinthians 15:47).
Seed of David (2 Timothy 2:8).
Seed of woman (Genesis 3:15).
Servant (Isaiah 42:1; 52:13; 53:11; Acts 4:30).
Servant of Rulers (Isaiah 49:7).
Shepherd (Mark 14:27).
Shepherd and Overseer of Souls (1 Peter 2:25).
Shepherd of Israel (Psalms 80:1).
Shiloh (Genesis 49:10).
Son of David (Matthew 9:27).
Son of God (Luke 1:35; John 1:49).
Son of Joseph (John 6:42).
Son of man (John 5:27).
Son of the Blessed (Mark 14:61).
Son of the Father (2 John 1:3).
Son of the Highest (Luke 1:32).
Star (Numbers 24:17).
Stone of Stumbling (1 Peter 2:8).
Sun of righteousness (Malachi 4:2).
Sure Foundation (Isaiah 28:16).
Surety (Hebrews 7:22).
Teacher (Matthew 23:8; John 3:2).
Tender Plant (Isaiah 53:2).
True God (1 John 5:20).
True Light (John 1:9).
True Vine (John 15:1).
Truth (John 14:6).
Vine (John 15:1).
Way (John 14:6).
Wisdom (Proverbs 8:12).
Wisdom of God (1 Corinthians 1:24).
Witness (Isaiah 55:4; Revelation 1:5).
Wonderful (Isaiah 9:6).
Word (John 1:1; 1 John 5:7).
Word of God (Revelation 19:13).
Word of Life (1 John 1:1).

Dear brethren, everything in this new life has its beginning and power in a full revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ. For to see Him as He is, as He truly is in the Spirit; in the Eternal plan and purpose of the Heavenly Father, is to set everything else in its proper place. There are few, if any mis-steps in the Christian walk that cannot be directly traced back to a faulty or incomplete vision of the Son of God, Jesus Christ. He is there on practically every page if we have eyes to see Him and a heart to receive Him. I pray that the Lord might grant us just such a vision, especially as the day of the false one is fast approaching.

Please pray for us here at LivingWalk, that we would watch and see the Master at work, and understand what He would have us do as the waning hours of this age draw to a close.

Your friend in Christ Jesus,

W.E. Smith

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My “Statement of Faith” – W.E. Smith

statementfaith

Okay here goes. Are you ready? Have a pencil handy?

Immediately the boy’s father cried out and said, “I do believe; help my unbelief.” (Mark 9:24)

The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” (Luke 17:5)

I believe; help my unbelief! Increase my faith!

Insufficient you say? More detail required? Perhaps you’re right. Here’s some more then –

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.(Heb. 11:1)

Now faith is the assurance (substance, foundation) of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

What – no mention of the divine inspiration of Scripture, the triune nature of divinity, salvation by grace, baptism, the Lord’s supper, the afterlife of the saved and the damned?

Strange isn’t it friends, how such things work. At the risk of offending some folks, I dare say that the church in this hour appears, by all accounts, to have elevated doctrine to the same level that the Jews elevated the law. And when the Holy One, the Son of God, the Divine Man, The Alpha and the Omega, actually stood before them in the flesh, living and breathing, and showing forth the very power and wisdom and love of the Father, they did what? I can just picture some of them scrambling for their scrolls, fingering chapter and verse in the Torah, trying to make sense of the wonder that stood before them.

“Could this be the Christ?” some little ones asked.

Could the law answer that question then my friends? And can doctrine answer it for us now? Perhaps a word from T. Austin-Sparks –

The only knowledge of God which is of spiritual value for ourselves, or for others by our ministry, is that which we have by revelation of the Holy Spirit within our own spirits. God never—in the first instance—explains Himself to man’s reason, and man can never know God—in the first instance—by reason. Christianity is a revelation or it is nothing, and it has to be that in the case of every new child of God; otherwise faith will be resting upon a foundation which will not stand in the day of the ordeal.

‘The Christian Faith’ embraced as a religion, a philosophy, or as a system of truth, a moral or ethical doctrine, may carry the temporary stimulus of a great ideal; but this will not result in the regeneration of the life, or the new birth of the spirit. There are multitudes of such ‘Christians’ in the world today, but their spiritual effectiveness is nil. (from What is Man?)

Now please don’t misunderstand; I am in no way disparaging or belittling the sacred truths of the Word of God, and I suppose I do have something of a list written in my heart, of things I believe. (there is also perhaps a bigger list of things I used to believe but have since discarded, but that’s another matter altogether). Yet it is not a rigid theological box that defines me, or a set of unbroken lines and limits that prevent me from following the free-flowing, revelation of the Spirit, wherever He leads (Romans 8:13-14). If it were, then I dare say that my precious Lord would be little more than some two dimensional, cardboard cut-out savior, who moves only 90 degrees on a grid, forward and back, left and right, up and down.

“You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life… “For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote about Me.  “But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?” (John 5:39-47)

Could it be that doctrine is yet another one of those things we have made an end, when it was always intended to be a means of help to us who believe? Have we raised it beyond the height of God Himself, such as the Pharisees did the law? Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that maybe we really haven’t yet discovered the true position or intent of doctrine in the grand scheme of things, as intended by the God of All Truth and Life!

Something to think about certainly. And no, I do not believe the Holy Spirit would lead us to behave contrary to the very Word He inspired. This wouldn’t really make much sense would it? In fact the spiritual life represents a law unto itself, as Watchman Nee points out –

“The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set me free from the law of sin and of death” (Rom. 8:2). But why is this law of the Spirit of life ineffectual in certain people? Again we read: “The righteous requirement of, the law should be fulfilled in us who walk according to Spirit” (Rom. 8:4). In other words, the law of the Spirit of life works effectively only for those who are spiritual, i.e., those who mind the things of the Spirit. Who are these ? Those who do not mind the things of the flesh. “Mind” can also be translated “to be intent upon, to be attentive to.”

Indeed, by walking most completely in the spirit and abiding in Christ Jesus, we cannot but fulfill all law and all doctrine, for it is the very Life of God being expressed in us. Does this make sense? I know it may seem contrary to much of what is being taught out there, where attention to law and doctrine, to rules and methods, is in the ascendancy. But don’t you see that this preoccupation and devotion to ordinances (even though they may be inherently good or innocuous) relies so very much on the outward man – the soul with all its intelligence and human energy – and they can never fulfill the spiritual purpose for which we were redeemed and enlivened. Again, we turn to Austin-Sparks for insight –

Thus, a rich knowledge of the Scriptures, an accurate technical grasp of Christian doctrine, a doing of Christian work by all the resources of men’s natural wisdom or ability, a clever manipulation and interesting presentation of Bible content and themes, may get not one whit beyond the natural life of men, and still remain within the realm of spiritual death. Men cannot be argued, reasoned, fascinated, interested, ‘emotioned’, willed, enthused, impassioned, into the kingdom of the heavens; they can only be born; and that is by spiritual quickening. The new birth brings with it new capacities of every kind; and amongst these, the most vital is a new and different faculty of Divine knowledge, understanding and apprehension. As we have said earlier, the human brain is not ruled out, but is secondary, not primary. The function of the human intellect is to give spiritual things intelligent form for ourselves and for others. (from What is Man?)

And here’s something else to consider. According to my understanding of the life and word of the Lord Jesus Christ, the two essential ideals to be wrought through abiding in Him fully are –

Love and Wisdom!

Here are the weighty matters of the law indeed! Here is where the rubber meets the road of our walking in Him and deriving every good and precious promise from He who is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Here is the source and flow of all obedience, truth, faithfulness, fruitfulness, and everything pleasing to the Heavenly Father! Here lies the answer to all the weighty questions we should be asking in this hour – the how, the why, the when, the who, the what of this newness of life in Christ Jesus. Here is where it all leads in the end, as all things are summed up in He who is the fullness of the Life and Glory and Majesty of the Most High!

OK, here is your homework for tomorrow then. I would like you to chart or graph all of the places that both love and wisdom intersect with the law and doctrine. Maybe use some of those neat little lines with arrow heads to show all of the correlations and derivations and so forth. Then I would like you to study the lives of all the prophets in the Old Testament, all of the strange things they did, how they lived, what they ate, what they wore, who they married (and divorced), then chart all of this according to how closely it conforms to the Law of Moses and the Deuteronomic Code.

Incidentally, I can almost picture Ahab asking Elijah for his statement of faith, or Zedekiah asking Jeremiah if he believed in sprinkling or immersion. Well not really, but you get the idea. Is not our God a god of strange and mysterious ways? Is He so limited and confined by our meager understanding of His most perfect Word? I say not.

For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts. (Isa. 55:8-9)

Wouldn’t it be so convenient, brethren, if merely visiting a church’s website and scrolling through their bulleted Statement of Beliefs, would provide some accurate indication that the Lord of all Life was actually present and active there? If only it were so easy. If only there was a way of knowing that these heavenly sentiments were written on the very hearts of the people inside, and especially the man at the front doing all the preaching. Indeed!

“Behold, days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the LORD. “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the LORD, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. “They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the LORD, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.” (Jer. 31:31-34)

Now lest you think I am a heretic or worse, I encourage you to deeply and spiritually reflect on this brethren, and pray over what is being conveyed in this passage. Here are the laws of God written on the heart and the mind, not on sheets of paper, stone tablets or a hypertext web page. And the end result is a people (Israel) who henceforth “know the Lord”, and He claims them as His own.

“I will give them a heart to know Me, for I am the LORD; and they will be My people, and I will be their God, for they will return to Me with their whole heart.” (Jer. 24:7)

Dear brethren, my statement of faith is that I would have such a heart as this; and that I would know the Lord God as He intended from the beginning. My statement of faith is that the often divided and spotted heart currently within me would be made miraculously and supernaturally clean and whole, that I would love Him with all that I am and nothing held back!.

Now I have obviously employed exaggeration in this piece for effect, that we might put things – even good and helpful things – in their proper place, for this too is wisdom. What we believe is important, and the content of our faith, rooted and flowing from the Living and written Word, must certainly have its place.

Yet to have a heart and a hunger to know Him – that is what we should be after isn’t it? Sure you can check the boxes next to the doctrines one subscribes to and somehow think that such a heart and such a hunger exists. But this is not always so. That is the point being made here, for both churches and individuals. I hope and pray it has been made. And if not, the fault (as always) lies with me alone and not the Spirit whose work it is to convey the deep and heavenly things of God to our inner man.

If for whatever reason today, you find yourself estranged from the One who very much wants you to know Him and to love Him with a pure and whole heart, then I encourage you to return to Him now. For He is faithful and merciful and ever so kind to us who are ever so weak and wandering.

If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself. (2 Tim. 2:13)

Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the LORD your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. (Deut 31:6)

No brethren; He who is abundantly and inherently faithful will not fail us, nor forsake us. He is a Good Shepherd after all, and He is God. May it be that we come to Him and rest in Him most completely, and learn the secret of the vine and the branches, that we are one with Him, and He cannot deny Himself. May we learn that piled up for us, in the vast storehouse of His heart, is a vast and wondrous supply of grace ready to replenish our every need in this dread hour at the close of this age. May we rise up beyond the weakness of our proud flesh in all the power and vitality of His risen and glorious Life! And may we walk only in Him whom we have received. Oh Father, we believe, but help us dear Lord to move from faith onward to more faith, only in Your most precious and beloved Son. Amen –

I believe; help my unbelief!

Well there you have it – My Statement of Faith. I am sorry if it was less than you had hoped for.

Faith’s Reality – W.E. Smith

Dear saints, beloved of the Father in heaven and disciples of the Master, we are deeply aware that in us there is no good thing, and that for the Lord to work through those who are so imperfect a reflection of His Son, is a wonder indeed.

For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.  (2 Cor. 4:5-6)

In so many ways I feel the Father continues to draw me deeper and further out of myself and into His loving care, revealing more of the shining wonder of His Son. And in beholding Him more perfectly, and seeing all that He is and represents, I am also coming to see myself for all that I am.

My oh my, what a contrast. For to see Him fully and clearly as He is, is also to see ourselves. And yet this is at the core of the Christian life is it not; that in coming to know Christ, and to behold Him more perfectly in all of His matchless glory as the express image of God, we also come to see how puny and pathetic we are; how insufficient and powerless; how deeply corrupted and corruptible.

Why then will we not allow ourselves to die at His altar that He might live and rise again in us? Why still do we persist in perpetuating this old man who lives only for this world and to drink from its bitter cup? Why to resist Him so constantly and naturally, when He is our very life and truth and wisdom in this world?

This is why we can do little more than fall on our face before the Mystery and Majesty that is Our Lord and our God, and praise Him unceasingly for His merciful loving-kindness. This is why He must become our only reality, and the living force and personality that enlivens and empowers us. It is because of Him that we are fully children of God, with all of its incumbent hope and blessing.

Dear friends, this past year has witnessed the loss of control and even the need for control, as faith becomes our only reality. In giving all away and letting it go, and in allowing ourselves to be reduced that He may advance and increase – this my friends is the peace and poverty of heart which He spoke of on the mountain so long ago. Oh that the stubborn self-life would be broken, and our confidence in it and the world it serves abandoned once and forever.

Oh dear brethren, the hour is close is it not? And yet where are those who will stand up unafraid, and testify of the truth, and of the God of all truth? Where are those who have not sold out to the devil and all of his madness and machinery? Where indeed are those who will be His faithful witnesses at the close of this age? Where is the Bride who is making herself ready? Where are those who live in Him and walk in Him every moment of very day? Where are those who love the Lord more than life itself?

All is precisely as He said it would be at the end of this age isn’t it? All is falling into prophetic place precisely as He who stands apart from history and time said it would. Look around dear saints, especially those who keep drawing at the world’s well, and trusting in it’s wisdom and ways.

Wickedness, darkness and corruption all around us and rising with the very tides of hell. Defenseless children and innocents subjected to the brutal ravages of war and abuse and the hellish lusts of perverted beasts. War on the horizon, and the threat of bloody war being shouted from far away lands – words we have heard before, and a spirit we have seen before, in Rome and Munich and Moscow. Israel surrounded all around by murderous enemies bent on her destruction, and yet why doesn’t she fall on her knees before her God and Champion? Why does she trust in her armies and political wiles, and not in the Holy One who brought her forth from the womb and taught her to stand and walk?

Politicians and leaders at every level and stature feeding their faces at the public trough wholly sold out to greed and the love of mammon, privilege and power. Lies and ever more lies filling the public square, shattering whatever remains of the people’s trust. Corporate scandal and fraud abounding as corporations grow bigger beyond belief, stretching beyond nations and borders and all accountability. The harlot church, clothed in purple, seducing so many carnal sheep with her ticklish gospel appealing to the lusts of the flesh and the pride of life; preaching everything and everyone but Christ Jesus.

Yes, my friends, events are mounting and the stage is being set for the saint’s finest hour. We must be absolutely sure that it is God we want and nothing else, for very soon He shall be all we have.

We who are truly His are also being loosed from the dread fear of men; of the need for any commendation and approval. So we can say with Paul to the Corinthians, that we have no need of commendation of men. Indeed, let our lives spell it out in bold letters, whether we are authentic and true or not. Let the love we share for each other as brethren and fellow disciples of the King say more than any fleshly endorsement or name in a church roll.

If you, dear child of God, desire the love and approbation of men, then I dare say you are of no use to the King. You may as well stop pretending. It is a narrow road we are on and only the few will find it. Fewer still will enter in the gates of His kingdom.

Here is why the apostle Paul poured himself out in preaching Christ alone in every town and place. Not a new religion or teaching or school of thought – but a person, a life and indeed the most wondrous life – that of the Lord Jesus Christ. Oh that we might behold Him in all of His wondrous glory, with unveiled face, emptied of our need for any other! Oh how our words groan and fail and stumble in attempting to describe the indescribable; He whose light and glory will replace the sun in the Kingdom of our God.

Yes, the past year has also been a time of releasing and letting go, and the wilderness remains all around us. Yet He is with us isn’t He brethren?. Never before have I felt so utterly disoriented and out of control as I do now, and yet He is my only way, and my compass. He is my food and provision. Yes dear saints, and He is so much more, so much more besides. And He is all we will ever need; that we can be sure.

If your church or pastor or guru is teaching you otherwise, then show him your back immediately; have nothing more to do with him. For there is the Lord and there is no other. There is the life flowing out of Him and there is no other. There is the imperishable seed implanted into our human spirit and there is no other. In every way, shape and form, dear brethren, there is just no other.

“He is the STONE WHICH WAS REJECTED by you, THE BUILDERS, but WHICH BECAME THE CHIEF CORNER stone. “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”
(Acts 11:12)

Thus you will know that I am in the midst of Israel,
And that I am the LORD your God, And there is no other; And My people will never be put to shame.
(Joel 2:27)

“To you it was shown that you might know that the LORD, He is God; there is no other besides Him.” (Deut. 4:35)

All of my wayward life brethren, the only confidence I knew was that borne of self-reliance and conceit, and yet this cannot serve me any more. Only in hearing His voice, and in trusting His wisdom will I survive and even grow in this strange place. There is both life and death here, pain and loss, and yet there is also a wondrous and mysterious peace and power. Unless the grain fall to the ground and be broken, new life cannot spring forth. Here are the eyes of faith,  opened by the Spirit. Here is the hope and promise of life bound up in the seed; new and glorious and eternal; beyond all comprehension.

Yet how can He bind us and spring forth in us if we will not allow ourselves to fall and be broken? If you can read the entire New Testament and not see that the Lord and His disciples were being rejected and broken and poured out as a drink offering on every page, then what else can we say to you? “Oh but that is not for me”, you say. Well then, you have ascended higher than our Lord Himself, and we have nothing for you here.

Dear reader, I speak sincerely when I say that If you have wandered here looking for neat and tidy, packaged sermons, then I am sorry for this is not what we are being led to do. If you have come for a pat on the head, then again, you are perhaps more likely to find a sword, an opened wound in the flesh and a challenging word.

Yet if you have a hunger for what is real and true, for that which lives and breathes in the heart of one groping for Him alone, then may our Heavenly Father bless and fill you, for He and His Son are faith’s reality; and by His grace we shall preach Christ with every last breath and word that we can muster.

Dearest and Heavenly Father, we alone have nothing, and are nothing of heavenly value. Yet You are Spirit and Your truth is life, and the life is in your beloved Son who alone is worthy. Pour us out that many shall live and see Your grace and truth here, shining in the face of the Lord Jesus Christ. Thank You Father for all those who have come, and will come, and will surrender all that they are to Him. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

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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.

Your friend and servant in Christ Jesus,

W.E. Smith

The Beauty of Brokenness – W.E. Smith

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” (John 12:24)

“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.” (John 15:1-2)

A time to kill and a time to heal; A time to tear down and a time to build up. (Ecc. 3:3)

Dear brethren, children of the day (1 Thess. 5:5), there is a profound and inexplicable beauty in brokenness; that process whereby we are in some manner reduced by our Lord’s loving and artful hand. By failure perhaps, or persistent, nagging sickness or disrepute, or even poverty – all of course working to lead us to that ultimate state of nothingness, that He alone can be the All in our lives and the Substance in our hearts. Consider what Watchman Nee has shared on the need for brokenness –

The breaking of the outward man is the basic experience of all who serve God. This must be accomplished before He can use us in an effectual way. No one is equipped to work simply because he has learned some teachings. The basic question is still: what kind of man is he? Can one whose inner workings are wrong, but whose teaching is right, supply the need of the Church? The basic lesson we must learn is to be transformed into a vessel fit for the Master’s use. This can only be done by the breaking of the outward man. (Watchman Nee, The Release of the Spirit)

How can this be we wonder. What good can possibly come from such humiliation; from such painful denial; from such a debasing of our stature and station in the world of men?

Yet the beauty, my friends, rests in the loving wisdom of a heavenly Father who wishes to bless us to all abounding with the lasting riches of His fullest and abiding presence. It is in the stripping away of all that inhibits or corrupts this potential gift (the life of Christ in us), where the truest splendor shines. For brick upon rotting brick must be chiseled away until the foundation is exposed. Only then can our blessed Advocate secure Himself as our sure and solid foundation.

The beauty ultimately lies in the purification of our hearts that results from being exposed to the Refiner’s fire. Here is where all the dross of self-exalting pride, temporal ambition and love of the world is burned away from our lives, leaving a pure and refined saint where a sinner and rebel once stood.

“He will sit as a smelter and purifier of silver, and He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, so that they may present to the LORD offerings in righteousness.” (Mal. 3:3)

The beauty also shines forth through the dynamic and living testimony that results, as our wise Counselor and Teacher permits us to prove what He is revealing to us, whether it is a test of our faith in His love, or His trustworthiness. When the devil or his darkness comes at us head on, to tempt or corrupt us, our Lord must know that our light (again the life of Jesus Christ; see John 1:4) will remain, that we will stand firm as His faithful lamp stand.

And always resisting and grinding under it all is the swollen, festering pride of humanity, the ‘oh that I were a king’ presumption that surfaced first in that ancient and sordid heart of the archangel Lucifer. How it loathes failure, defeat, demotion and loss of any kind. How it despises dependence on anyone and submission to circumstance. Watch as it writhes and coils under the weight of so many painful setbacks and assaults on our idolatrous self-sufficiency.

I remember vividly when my wife and I relocated to the Midwestern United States from Canada some years ago. Here I was, with a number of university degrees, a growing career and business, a heart full of my own esteem and importance, unable to find a decent job; to support my family as the scriptures enjoin. Despite numerous attempts, every door seemed to close abruptly on me, as if God Himself and all His angels were pitted against me.

I guess I knew intellectually that we are tested as Christians, but somehow this was different, infinitely more real, and more painful. I was forced, for a number of years to take some menial jobs that I felt were far below my credentials and ability. As a husband my self-worth started to sink as I was unable to adequately provide for even my wife. I grew increasingly languid and depressed, with seemingly no way to escape. I would pray, sure, but gradually all that was coming out was “Why Lord why?” and “When Lord when?”

You must also understand, that all of this was happening in the mid-nineties at the height of the health-wealth gospel. Every Christian television station seemed to be littered with sharp-dressed showmen pulling out proof text after proof text to convince us that our material success was indicative of our spiritual condition and faith in God. Here I was, ready to go under, and this was effectively like someone throwing me an anchor.

Other Christians meant well too, but after a while I couldn’t bear to hear another Bible verse used to convince me that God chastened the children He loved, or the pastor telling me that there was some unrepented sin or idol somewhere in my life, that I might not even be saved.

I attempted not to lose heart, too hang on, but it was so terribly hard. The universe seemed to be advancing ahead of me and I just couldn’t keep up. I was angry and bitter and alone. I felt like something was dying inside me, like I was losing my grip on reality.

And you know what, my friends, that is exactly what was happening – and I have since come to realize that all that I experienced, all of the deep down hurt and abandonment was securely in the hands of a loving Father who was breaking me down in order to build me back up again in His Son.

This is the part that is beautiful, if we have eyes to see and wisdom to accept the Lord’s ways. Believe me, I know it is not easy, nor does it appear beautiful while we are right in the middle of it. Yet it shows us vividly how deep our roots run into this world and its self-worshiping spirit. Consider how James describes the posture of a child of God neck deep in the midst of trials and tests –

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-44)

Recently I have been revisiting Watchman Nee’s small but powerful book, The Release of the Spirit. The theme of the book is the Lord’s wise and wondrous work of breaking the individual, such that the life of God might flow forth. Here is an excerpt –

“God is at work in our lives unceasingly. Many years of sufferings, trials, hindrances-this is the hand of God, daily seeking to carry on His work of breaking us. Don’t you see what God is doing in this endless round of difficulties? If not, you should ask Him, “Oh God, open my eyes that I may see Thy hand.” How often the eyes of an ass are sharper than those of a self-styled prophet.

Though the ass had already seen the Angel of the Lord, his master had not. The ass recognized the forbidding hand of God, but the self-styled prophet did not. We should be aware that brokenness is God’s way in our lives. How sad that some still imagine that if they could only absorb more teaching, accumulate more preaching material, and assimilate more Bible exposition, they would be profitable to God. This is absolutely wrong. God’s hand is upon you to break you-not according to your will, but His ; not according to your thoughts, but His; not according to your decision, but His. Our difficulty is that as God withstands us, we blame others. We react like that prophet who, blind to God’s hand, blamed the ass for refusing to budge.

All that comes to us is ordered by God. To a Christian, nothing is accidental. We should ask God to open our eyes that we may see He is striking us in all things and in all areas of our life. One day, when by the grace of God upon us we are able to accept the ordering of God in our environment, our spirit is released and ready to function.”

So often in the Christian walk, our Lord needs to know that, stripped right down to nothing (as the world measures things anyway), we won’t abandon Him. He needs to know that if all else has been lost, that He is our sufficiency; that He will be increased while we are being decreased. Hear this, my friends, for it most essential –

You and I are only on this earth as disciples of Christ for one reason, and one reason only – to represent a true and living witness to the Kingdom of God that is coming soon.

And just as this is true, so it is also true that this testimony; the entire sum of our lives as God’s witnesses on earth; must be forged in the furnace of His refining fire. There can be no exceptions. You can survey all the pages of the Bible and you will not find one. Wherever there is light, there is soon darkness coming against it with all of its hellish fury.

Perhaps this is why the physical birth of a human child is such a violent affair. Where there is newness of life, there is pain, upheaval and tumult – yet look at the exquisite result.

From such crushing and at times bloody denial, the brash heart within us is brought patiently or perhaps abruptly to the point of need. Here is the moment of truth; here is the place where the inner man (spirit) and the outer man (soul and flesh) collide; here is that divine pathway to contriteness and true biblical humility; here is where all things beautiful in the soul of a redeemed human being have their genesis. Truly the grain cannot grow until the seed is made to fall to the ground and die.

Notice how Watchman Nee conveys this –

“Anyone who serves God will discover sooner or later that the great hindrance to his work is not others but himself. He will discover that his outward man and his inward man are not in harmony, for both are tending toward opposite directions. He will also sense the inability of his outward man to submit to the spirit’s control, thus rendering him incapable of obeying God’s highest commands. He will quickly detect that the greatest difficulty lies in his outward man, for it hinders him from using his spirit.

Many of God’s servants are not able to do even the most elementary works. Ordinarily they should be enabled by the exercise of their spirit to know God’s Word, to discern the spiritual condition of another, to send forth God’s messages under anointing and to receive God’s revelations. Yet due to the distractions of the outward man, their spirit does not seem to function properly. It is basically because their outward man has never been dealt with. For this reason revival, zeal, pleading and activity are but a waste of time. As we shall see, there is just one basic dealing which can enable man to be useful before God : brokenness.”

The man who would follow the Christ too must be loosed from the self, oftentimes painfully, in order that Christ might prevail and assume His rightful pre-eminence. And just as a broken stallion is both a splendid and useful creature, so the man of God has to be brought by his assorted ordeals to be something better and higher; to assume his proper station beneath the Most High.

Here is some further insight from Watchman Nee –

“There is no one more beautiful than one who is broken! Stubbornness and self-love give way to beauty in one who has been broken by God. We see Jacob in the Old Testament, how even in his mother’s womb he struggled with his brother. He was subtle, tricky, deceitful. Yet his life was full of sorrows and grief. When a youth, he fled from home. For twenty years he was cheated by Laban. The wife of his heart’s love, Rachel, died prematurely. The son of his love, Joseph, was sold. Years later Benjamin was detained in Egypt. He was successively dealt with by God, meeting misfortune after misfortune. He was stricken by God once, twice; indeed, his whole history could be said to be a history of being stricken by God. Finally after many such dealings, the man Jacob was transformed. In his last few years, he was quite transparent. How dignified was his answer to Pharaoh! How beautiful was his end, when he worshipped God on his staff! How clear were his blessings to his descendants! After reading the last page of his history, we want to bow our heads and worship God. Here is one who is matured, who knows God. Several decades of dealings have resulted in Jacob’s outward man being destroyed. In his old age, the picture is a beautiful one.

Each one of us has much of the same Jacob nature in us. Our only hope is that the Lord may blaze a way out, destroying the outward man to such a degree that the inward man may come out and be seen. This is precious, and this is the way of those who serve the Lord. Only thus can we serve; only thus can we lead men to the Lord. All else is limited in its value. Doctrine does not have much use, nor does theology. What is the use of mere mental knowledge of the Bible if the outward man remains unbroken? Only the person through whom God can come forth is useful.”

My friends, as we attempt to understand the harsh trials coming upon us, consider the perfect beauty and power of brokenness; how our bruises are working to purify and refine us for an eternal purpose; how our faith and trust in our God is being established and emboldened from the testing; and how our love for Him is being purged of all devotion to self and any lesser thing. Consider what James wrote after the passage quoted above (James 1:2-4) –

But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. (James 1:5)

Now given the context of this exhortation; this wisdom can only be pertaining to the wisdom associated with coming to see and receive the Lord’s perfect and loving ways when He is disciplining and breaking us. For wisdom is always looking out ahead, to the eternal purpose of the Lord, and can never be appreciated in the present moment.

We understand from the Book of Job and other places in the Word how intimately our Loving Father loves us, and is involved in our development and sanctification, and how He was even willing to release His own perfect Son to the same suffering and death that we could be redeemed and made whole. What a wonderful thing when we see it in the eternal context of His plan for our lives as His children.

Is it easy? No. Is it often painful and humiliating? Definitely. But is it profoundly beautiful when seen through heavenly eyes? Absolutely!

Oh gracious Father, and Lord Jesus, please grant us by Your boundless grace and mercy, eyes wide open in the spirit that we might behold the eternal beauty of brokenness. Lord, we pray for all of your children who are presently neck-deep in times of trial and testing, of loss and demotion, of confusion and discouragement, that You would bring us through, and make us complete in Christ Jesus, as we participate in His rejection and suffering. Oh Lord, we are forever in Your loving care, and we proclaim with Your beloved servant James –

Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. (James 1:12)

Brethren, to pursue this important topic further, I strongly recommend Watchman Nee’s book, The Release of the Spirit.

I also have another piece, “But if it Dies” that may be a blessing to you!

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

Kindly in Christ Jesus,

Wayne