Category: Holiness

Beware of the Leaven… (T. A. Sparks)

t_austin_sparksThe Gospel by Matthew, chapter thirteen, and verse thirty-three: “Another parable spake He unto them; ‘The Kingdom of Heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till it was all leavened'” (ASV). This is the fourth parable on the kingdom, and like the ones before it, it has two interpretations. Bible teachers are quite divided on the meaning of this parable. The most popular interpretation is that the leaven is something good. Indeed, it is the Gospel of the Kingdom, and the Gospel of the Kingdom is going to spread all over the world until there is nothing bad left. Indeed, the world is going to become wholly good in this dispensation, I say, that is the most popular interpretation. It is popular because it is just what we would like it to be. We would very much like that to be true. But is that the true interpretation of the parable?

The much less popular interpretation is that the leaven is something bad. And that evil is going to spread more and more over all the world. Well, that is not a popular interpretation, and it is not popular because we do not like that idea. However, it is never a matter of whether a thing is popular or unpopular. A doctor’s medicine is not a popular thing because we do not like it, but it is the right thing. And there are many quite nice things that are not good for us. So it does not depend upon whether the thing is popular. The thing is, is it true? Which is the right interpretation?

For myself, I come down on the second interpretation; that the leaven is not something good, but something evil. And I am going to tell you why I believe that is the true interpretation. If you look into your Bible, and trace this word leaven all the way through, beginning with the first mention of leaven in the Book of Exodus, chapter twelve, and moving right through the Bible, until you come to the First Letter to the Corinthians, chapter five, you will find that with one possible exception, leaven is always something bad. It is always something which God will not allow. In the Old Testament, God gave very, very careful instructions about leaven. The passover bread was to be unleavened bread. In every Jewish household, to this day, on the eve of the passover they light a lamp and the wife or mother takes the broom and sweeps every room and every corner to see if she can find any leaven. This is what they believe to be God’s attitude toward leaven. So that wherever this word is used right through the Bible, it is almost, if not altogether, an evil thing.

You will remember that when we were speaking about the parable of the mustard seed, we pointed to the law of consistency. And we said that Jesus in His teaching never contradicted Himself. Never did He, in one address, use the same thing for two opposite meanings. So when we had the parable of the darnel (the tares), the darnel was the work of the evil one. When we had the parable of the mustard seed, the birds of the air which lodged in that tree are the same birds as in the parable of the sower. In the parable of the sower, Jesus said, “The birds of the air are the evil ones.” In the parable of the darnel, it was an evil one that did this thing. The law of consistency demands that we interpret this parable of the leaven as being something evil. Jesus is teaching that in this dispensation, we are to expect to find evil things in this world.

Now you notice that these parables all relate to this present age. And in the last parable, the parable of the drag-net, Jesus says, at the end of the age, He will send forth His angels, and they shall gather out of His Kingdom all things that make to stumble. The law of consistency demands that we say, they will gather out all the leaven and destroy it. Now I want to know where you stand on this matter. If these parables relate to this present age, which ends with the coming again of the Lord Jesus, is it true that the whole world is being converted? Is it true that all evil is being taken out of this world in this age? Is it true that the leaven of the Gospel is transforming the whole of this world and nothing evil is left in it? Is there anyone here tonight who believes that? If I ask for a vote, I am quite sure that everybody would say, ‘There is more evil in the world today than ever there was.’

The final argument is this, the Bible does not teach that the whole world is going to be saved in this dispensation. But it does teach that “evil men will wax worse and worse.” It does teach that “because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.” So we are thrown back upon this second interpretation. We come down upon what the Bible says about this. The leaven represents evil, and leaven is everywhere forbidden in relation to the things of God. I can only make that statement, but if you would like to look at your Bible, you will find it is quite true.

So we are going to first of all look at the nature and the effects of leaven. Of course, you know what leaven is and what it is used for. If the brothers do not know, the sisters do. It is that which you put into the dough to make your bread. But what is its nature and what are its effects? First of all, leaven always sets up fermentation. Have you seen the effect of the leaven when it is put into the dough? The dough was a very quiet thing until you put the leaven in. There is no disturbance and no excitement until you put the leaven in the dough. But as soon as you have put the leaven in, you find something begins to work up excitement. Everything becomes disturbed. This leaven stirs up everything. Now you know that this is the same principle of alcoholic liquor. Alcohol is simply another form of leaven. And you know quite well that if you take alcohol, you begin to get excited. There is an inward disturbance. And if you take too much, you lose your senses, and then want to fight, and a lot of disturbance takes place. This thing ruins homes. It ruins lives. It ruins businesses. Indeed, alcohol is a curse. And that is only another name for leaven, for it is the same thing. That is the nature of leaven, and those are the effects of leaven to begin with. Just keep that in mind and we will come back to it.

The next effect of leaven is inflation; it makes things unnaturally big. I have noticed that in your market and outside your churches there are a lot of men selling balloons, hundreds and hundreds of balloons. Well, they are made to look very attractive with many pretty colors, but what are they? Well, you take this very thin skin and you begin to blow into it. You fill it with wind and you make it larger and larger with wind. And then you take a very little pin, and you prick it, and the whole thing is gone. It is an artificial inflation that cannot stand up to anything. It is something which has been made unnaturally big. An artificial increase of size.

When I was a very little child, I was sometimes sent to stay with my grandmother. And on Friday night, in the kitchen, the servants always made the bread for the next week. They made the dough in a big bowl, and having put the leaven in, they worked it with their hands and with their fingers, and then they just put it in the bottom of the bowl and they covered the whole thing over with a cloth, and they went to bed. The next morning I was up early, I went into the kitchen and I lifted the cloth, and the dough had filled the whole basin. In the dark, it had grown and grown. It had become something very big, the leaven made it do that. Hold that and we will come back to it.

Another thing that leaven does, it breaks things up, it disintegrates. You see the holes coming in the bread. The leaven tears the dough asunder. It makes the loaf into a thing with many, many parts and many holes in it. It just breaks things up and divides. Hold that and we will come back to that.

Then the last thing, unleavened bread is not very pleasant to the taste. Leaven is put in to make the bread taste nice. It is something to make an appeal to the natural taste. Unleavened bread is not very nice to taste, and so that we may be very pleased, we put leaven in. It appeals to our natural taste.

Now do you see the meaning, the nature and effects of leaven? There has come into this universe something that disturbs the universe. All these terrible wars, about which you know something, are the result of this disturbing influence which has come into the universe. There is something in this universe that stirs up human nature. Like alcohol, it makes men fight against one another. It keeps the world in unrest. It produces all this excitement of the human evil nature. Then, again, this something that has come into this universe results in an enlargement that is quite unnatural – a false development. That is a thing that we have seen in these last few years. In the case of the wars, there has been an attempt to develop this world in an unnatural way. Anything that results in unnatural development and enlargement is evil.

The Apostle Paul said, “Through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.” Anything that makes us unnaturally big is evil. Whether it be the individual life, or whether it be what is called the work of God, trying to make it bigger than its real spiritual measure, inflating it beyond its genuine spiritual degree, that is something evil, that is leaven.

Anything that results in divisions and breaking up – disintegration is evil. Do not let us excuse our divisions. Do not let us look favorably upon the divisions amongst the Lord’s people. If there are only two of us who are divided, let us not make excuses for that, let us say, ‘This is wrong, this is evil, this ought not to be, there is some evil at work to divide us.’ And what may be true between just two people, is true amongst all the Lord’s people. We must not look upon divisions as being good, they are bad. And we must know that God is against divisions. He does not accept this working of leaven.

Then what about this leaven that makes things appeal to our natural taste? Paul said to Timothy, “The time will come when they will not endure sound teaching; and they will heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears.” And he goes on to say that they will believe the lie instead of the truth. Why is that? Because these teachers appeal to the natural life. These teachers cover over evil. Indeed, they will sometimes call evil good. People do not like the teachers who tell them what is wrong, that this thing and that thing are contrary to God. They like leavened bread, it pleases the flesh.

Well, these are the effects of leaven. And I am quite sure that there is no one here tonight who will argue that any of those things are good. You see, it is all bad. Now let us look at the symbolism of leaven: We will listen to the Lord Jesus and then to the Apostle Paul on this matter. Jesus gave three warnings to His disciples. First, He said, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees. Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees.” And what did He say was the leaven of the Pharisees? He said, it is hypocrisy – pretending to be something that you are not, something that is quite artificial and unreal. You have only got to watch those Pharisees to see it. They make long prayers in public. They look at a poor sinner and they say, “O God, I thank thee that I am not like that man.” They send somebody in front of them to blow a trumpet and say this wonderful righteous man is coming along; Jesus says, it is all hypocrisy. It is all false and unreal. And if there was one thing that Jesus hated more than another, it was unreality – pretending to be something that you are not, making a lot of noise amongst the people of God with nothing behind it. Indeed, the life behind is quite a contradiction.

Well, that is capable of a very wide application, but that is the principle of the Pharisees. Jesus said, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.” I do not know what the word means in your language, but in the Bible language, it means, acting a part. It is the picture of an actor on the stage. He may be dressed up to represent a great king, but he is not a great king. It is only his dress. Or he may be there acting the part of something else, but he is not that something else. He is just pretending to be that. And that is the real meaning of the word hypocrisy. Jesus said, “Beware of play-acting in the things of God.”

The second warning was, “Beware of the leaven of the Sadducees.” Now we are told that the Sadducees did not believe in angels or spirit or resurrection. They said, ‘There are no such things as angels, there is no such thing as spirit, there is no such thing as resurrection.’ What did that mean? They ruled out the whole reality of the supernatural. They set aside everything that was spiritual. Therefore, they were pure materialists. They lived only for the present time because they did not believe there was anything afterward. They lived only for this world because they did not believe there is another one. For them, there was nothing supernatural, all was now – just material – in this life on the earth.

You see, that is a very convenient philosophy of life. It is very convenient for this reason, that it will not accept future judgment. If there is no resurrection, if there is no life after this one, if there is no other world after this one, then there is no such thing as judgment. Judgment goes, that is a very convenient doctrine. Jesus says, ‘Beware of that’; there is such a thing as the supernatural. God Himself is Spirit, He is the greatest reality in this universe. There is a life after this, for we shall all be raised: “Those that have done evil, unto the resurrection of condemnation, and those that have done good, unto the resurrection of life.” Jesus says, ‘Beware of anything that contradicts those great realities.’

Then He gave a third warning. He said to His disciples, “Beware of the leaven of Herod.” What kind of leaven is the leaven of Herod? Herod was a man who believed in great worldly splendor. He ruled his world by a great show of magnificence. Everything that looked wonderful was Herod’s idea. His was a reign of earthly glory. But this other thing also comes to life with regard to Herod; behind all that outward show, was a life which was absolutely corrupt. John the Baptist told Herod of his corrupt life, and Herod beheaded John the Baptist. Here is a life of outward show, with the inward life absolutely corrupt. Jesus says, ‘Beware of anything like that. That is leaven. It must not come into touch with any of the things of God.’

The scribes and the Pharisees came to Jesus one day, and they said to Him, ‘Be gone, get away, Herod will kill You.’ Of course, they wanted to get rid of Jesus. What did Jesus say? “Go and tell that fox, that I work today and tomorrow, and the third day I am perfected.” Go and tell that fox. You know what a fox is? Well, he is one who makes a great show, a great pretense. He looks like a very nice animal. But you let him get in amongst your chickens and see what he will do. His nature is a contradiction to his appearance. Jesus says, “Beware of that leaven.”

Now just a word about this that Paul has to say. In 1 Corinthians, chapter five, you have it. Something had happened in the church of Corinth. A man had committed fornication, and by his fornication he had brought evil into the church, and the church had not done anything about it. The church had not taken account of this evil as represented by this man. They let him stay there. They even let him come to the Lord’s Table. A man whose background of life was evil. Now Paul wrote to the church about that man. And he said to the church, ‘You must judge this thing, and you must put that man out and forbid him the Lord’s Table until he repents, because he is leaven, and he defiles the whole church by his presence, and the presence of that evil is robbing the church of its spiritual power.’ So Paul says, “Purge out the old leaven.” Fornication and uncleanness must not come into the house of God. And, it certainly must not come to the Lord’s Table. And Paul says the church is responsible for dealing with that thing. While the church allows that, the church is defiled, God’s blessing cannot be upon it. It will, therefore, lose its spiritual life and its spiritual strength. Purge out the old leaven, all that sort of thing is just the working of evil in the church.

Now we must gather this up and come to a close. In the parable of the leaven, Jesus is saying that right through this present age until He comes again, this thing will be in the world. Evil will spread everywhere like leaven. But as in the other parables, Jesus said about the sower and the seed, that while three parts of it would be bad, there would be a fourth part that would be good. As in the parable of darnel, there was the work of the evil one, but there were also the children of the Kingdom. So in this parable, He says, there will be leaven, will be corruption and defilement everywhere, but the teaching of the New Testament is: Keep yourselves pure. See that your garments are not spotted. Walk in this sinful world as those who do not belong to its nature. Although there is leaven everywhere, you be the unleavened bread. But, the world may not like you, the world will not like unleavened bread. It does not please the flesh, but the bread which is pure is pleasing to God. And in the end, He will gather out all that which offends. He will gather out the offending leaven, and He will burn it with unquenchable fire; but the children of the Kingdom, the unleavened bread of God, the pure in heart and in life, He will gather into His eternal Kingdom.

The Rule of Heaven will divide between the evil and the good, between the leavened and the unleavened bread. I think you will agree that this is the right interpretation of the parable. Because it is true to the Bible, it is true to history, it is true to what we see in the world; but it carries the warning, let us offer to God that which has none of this leaven in it.

footer

Advertisements

The Wine of Her Fornication – W.E. Smith

Dear ones –

A drunken man has no discernment. All is haze and confusion. And this is a serious business. Notice the following passages –

“Then the Lord spoke to Aaron, saying, ‘Do not drink wine or intoxicating drink, you, nor your sons with you, when you go into the tabernacle of meeting, lest you die. It shall be a statute forever throughout your generations, that you may distinguish between the holy and the unholy, and between the clean and the unclean, and that you may teach the children of Israel all the statutes which the Lord has spoken to them by the hand of Moses.’” (Lev. 10:8-11)

“Her priests have violated My law and profaned My holy things; they have not distinguished between the holy and the unholy, nor have they made known the difference between the unclean and the clean; and they have hidden their eyes from My Sabbaths, so that I am profaned among them.” (Ez. 22:26)

“No priest shall drink wine when he enters the inner court…and they shall teach My people the difference between the holy and the unholy, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean.” (Ez. 44:21-23)

Now notice this relating to our very day –

Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and talked with me, saying to me, “Come, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters, with whom the kings of the earth committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth were made drunk with the wine of her fornication.” (Rev. 17:1-3)

Babylon represents confusion and mixture, where the holy is not distinguished from the unholy. All is worked in together. Tares and wheat, leaven and meal. Babylon is a quasi-religious system where all is mixed together, the natural and the spiritual. And those who are drunken can not discern the difference; their eyes simply do not see it. They have no spiritual sense. It has gone long beyond understanding. The Lie has worked itself into them deeply, into their heart, their desire; their lives. You cannot convince them otherwise for they are wedded to Babylon and all she represents. Her uncleanness goes far too deep. Like the harlot who cannot merely change her clothes to become other than she is. Her fornication refers to her unholy communion with the powers of the world, the political, the economic, anywhere and everywhere the enemy has principalities.

The product of the harlot’s illicit union with the world is “the wine of her fornication.” This wine is the intoxicating influence of the mixture of this religious system. The mixed system does not try to sort out the things of God from those not of God. It mixes them all together into one confusing mass. This mixture influences all people on the earth in the realm of religion. All people, including genuine Christians, are put into a stupor, being unable to discern the pure truth concerning knowing, serving and following God. They are influenced by the teachings, and the natural and worldly philosophies, ways and practices of this religious system, Babylon. As a result, people cannot distinguish between the holy and the unholy. (Tom Finley)

The harlot is the very woman who has hidden the leaven in the meal.

Coming Soon - The Prophetic Urgency!

Next notice how Austin-Sparks suggests this will only lead to trouble for those attempting to stand outside of this confusion, this mixture –

I have told you all this so that you may find your peace in Me. You will find trouble in the world – but, never lose heart, I have conquered the world! (John 16:33 Phillips)

When the spiritual stands to confront the merely formal, traditional, nominal and “natural,” then there is going to be trouble. This is not now merely the reaction from the world: it is the reaction from religion. I would go further, and say it may be the reaction from Christianity. There is a very great difference between formal, traditional, nominal, “natural” Christianity, on the one side, and spiritual Christianity, on the other; a great deal of difference. So much so, that this also becomes a battlefield – the battlefield of a lot of trouble.

Leave formalism alone, and everything will go on quite quietly. Leave traditionalism alone – that is, the set order of things as it has always been; that framework of things as it has been constituted and set up and established by man; that Christianity which is the fixed, accepted system of things – and you will escape a great deal of trouble. But seek to bring in a truly spiritual order of things, and trouble arises at once. And YOU are the trouble maker! The truth is that the trouble lies in the existing condition, the situation, the state; but it is only brought out by your action. And so spiritual men and women, and spiritual ministry, are called “trouble makers,” because the two things cannot go on together. That is where Israel was. They had the traditions, they had the oracles, they had the ordinances, they had the testimonies; they had the forms, they had the system – they had it all; but, in the days of the prophets, there was ever this vast gap between the “externals” and “internals” of life in relation with God. The heart is far removed from the lips. The spiritual reality is not found in the formal. You may have it all – but then bring in the truly spiritual meaning of things, and trouble begins in that very realm. It is the trouble which arises when what is external and traditional comes into conflict with something which is truly spiritual.

They tolerate us now, but the animus will be loosed soon, the restrainer will be removed, the locusts will swarm out of the pit. And then where does that leave us dear ones, all those who seek the true, the holy, the clean, the pure?

Where are you in your heart? Whose side are you on really? Is there mixture in your life? Are you intoxicated like the priests who brought unholy fire into the temple of the Lord? What do you tolerate, or reason away? What is the Lord Jesus to you anyway, deep down where spirit touches bone and life is revealed for what it truly is?

The time is at an end, and Babylon is rising dear saints. A new epoch is upon us. Babylon is not so much a place but a condition, a delusion appreciated only by those who are drunk with the wine of the harlot’s fornication. It stands for everything opposed to the Kingdom of our God, and her King!

Do we have eyes clear and sound to see such things? Are we drinking the pure water of the Word, and leaning in to hear the Masters voice? Is the Spirit groaning within us in unspeakable ways, in a language only God knows?

Where then are those who will stand apart? Where are those who will resist the seductive wiles of this harlot and the beast she rides? Where are those who love their Lord beyond everything and anything this world has or represents?

Dear saints, it is all under water – America, the nations, the world system – the Lord of All Judgment has declared it, and although He will never flood this earth again, He will bring His fire, oh yes, He will bring down His holy, cleansing flame, to extinguish the chaff.

And so I ask again – where are you? Where are you right now at this very moment?

Dear ones, I appeal to the life of Jesus Christ within you – Choose life, choose Him, Choose the Holy One! Flee Babylon, for her gates are never high enough for the Lord of All Light!

Beware of the Leaven – T.A. Sparks

LivingWalk Note: Dear ones, when our Wise and Loving Master exhorts us to beware of something, to be careful, to be vigilant for it – then we would do well to heed His heart in this matter. Hypocrisy (Pharisees), The Negation of the Spiritual and the Supernatural (Sadducees), Worldly Glory (Herod) – these are dangerous because they are deadly. They will deprive us of the fullness of His purpose in us. They will keep us bound to the flesh and the world, and they will render our testimony powerless in this time when all things are leavened. In the end, as we look ahead to His rebuke and judgment of the churches in the Book of Revelation, we see that this command to Beware of the Leaven went unheeded. They were so very much leavened with hypocrisy, fleshly religion and worldliness. They were false. And He will spit them out of His mouth. We share this not to presume judgment on anyone, or to scare you, but when our Lord gives us advance warning, we must be very, very careful to heed His heart in this matter. Lord, please let it be so in this hour when so much is mixed, so much is false, so much is flesh, so much is vainglory, and so very much is leavened.

*******************************

The Gospel by Matthew, chapter thirteen, and verse thirty-three: “Another parable spake He unto them; ‘The Kingdom of Heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till it was all leavened'” (ASV). This is the fourth parable on the kingdom, and like the ones before it, it has two interpretations. Bible teachers are quite divided on the meaning of this parable. The most popular interpretation is that the leaven is something good. Indeed, it is the Gospel of the Kingdom, and the Gospel of the Kingdom is going to spread all over the world until there is nothing bad left. Indeed, the world is going to become wholly good in this dispensation, I say, that is the most popular interpretation. It is popular because it is just what we would like it to be. We would very much like that to be true. But is that the true interpretation of the parable?

The much less popular interpretation is that the leaven is something bad. And that evil is going to spread more and more over all the world. Well, that is not a popular interpretation, and it is not popular because we do not like that idea. However, it is never a matter of whether a thing is popular or unpopular. A doctor’s medicine is not a popular thing because we do not like it, but it is the right thing. And there are many quite nice things that are not good for us. So it does not depend upon whether the thing is popular. The thing is, is it true? Which is the right interpretation?

For myself, I come down on the second interpretation; that the leaven is not something good, but something evil. And I am going to tell you why I believe that is the true interpretation. If you look into your Bible, and trace this word leaven all the way through, beginning with the first mention of leaven in the Book of Exodus, chapter twelve, and moving right through the Bible, until you come to the First Letter to the Corinthians, chapter five, you will find that with one possible exception, leaven is always something bad. It is always something which God will not allow. In the Old Testament, God gave very, very careful instructions about leaven. The passover bread was to be unleavened bread. In every Jewish household, to this day, on the eve of the passover they light a lamp and the wife or mother takes the broom and sweeps every room and every corner to see if she can find any leaven. This is what they believe to be God’s attitude toward leaven. So that wherever this word is used right through the Bible, it is almost, if not altogether, an evil thing.

You will remember that when we were speaking about the parable of the mustard seed, we pointed to the law of consistency. And we said that Jesus in His teaching never contradicted Himself. Never did He, in one address, use the same thing for two opposite meanings. So when we had the parable of the darnel (the tares), the darnel was the work of the evil one. When we had the parable of the mustard seed, the birds of the air which lodged in that tree are the same birds as in the parable of the sower. In the parable of the sower, Jesus said, “The birds of the air are the evil ones.” In the parable of the darnel, it was an evil one that did this thing. The law of consistency demands that we interpret this parable of the leaven as being something evil. Jesus is teaching that in this dispensation, we are to expect to find evil things in this world.

Now you notice that these parables all relate to this present age. And in the last parable, the parable of the drag-net, Jesus says, at the end of the age, He will send forth His angels, and they shall gather out of His Kingdom all things that make to stumble. The law of consistency demands that we say, they will gather out all the leaven and destroy it. Now I want to know where you stand on this matter. If these parables relate to this present age, which ends with the coming again of the Lord Jesus, is it true that the whole world is being converted? Is it true that all evil is being taken out of this world in this age? Is it true that the leaven of the Gospel is transforming the whole of this world and nothing evil is left in it? Is there anyone here tonight who believes that? If I ask for a vote, I am quite sure that everybody would say, ‘There is more evil in the world today than ever there was.’

The final argument is this, the Bible does not teach that the whole world is going to be saved in this dispensation. But it does teach that “evil men will wax worse and worse.” It does teach that “because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.” So we are thrown back upon this second interpretation. We come down upon what the Bible says about this. The leaven represents evil, and leaven is everywhere forbidden in relation to the things of God. I can only make that statement, but if you would like to look at your Bible, you will find it is quite true.

So we are going to first of all look at the nature and the effects of leaven. Of course, you know what leaven is and what it is used for. If the brothers do not know, the sisters do. It is that which you put into the dough to make your bread. But what is its nature and what are its effects? First of all, leaven always sets up fermentation. Have you seen the effect of the leaven when it is put into the dough? The dough was a very quiet thing until you put the leaven in. There is no disturbance and no excitement until you put the leaven in the dough. But as soon as you have put the leaven in, you find something begins to work up excitement. Everything becomes disturbed. This leaven stirs up everything. Now you know that this is the same principle of alcoholic liquor. Alcohol is simply another form of leaven. And you know quite well that if you take alcohol, you begin to get excited. There is an inward disturbance. And if you take too much, you lose your senses, and then want to fight, and a lot of disturbance takes place. This thing ruins homes. It ruins lives. It ruins businesses. Indeed, alcohol is a curse. And that is only another name for leaven, for it is the same thing. That is the nature of leaven, and those are the effects of leaven to begin with. Just keep that in mind and we will come back to it.

The next effect of leaven is inflation; it makes things unnaturally big. I have noticed that in your market and outside your churches there are a lot of men selling balloons, hundreds and hundreds of balloons. Well, they are made to look very attractive with many pretty colors, but what are they? Well, you take this very thin skin and you begin to blow into it. You fill it with wind and you make it larger and larger with wind. And then you take a very little pin, and you prick it, and the whole thing is gone. It is an artificial inflation that cannot stand up to anything. It is something which has been made unnaturally big. An artificial increase of size.

When I was a very little child, I was sometimes sent to stay with my grandmother. And on Friday night, in the kitchen, the servants always made the bread for the next week. They made the dough in a big bowl, and having put the leaven in, they worked it with their hands and with their fingers, and then they just put it in the bottom of the bowl and they covered the whole thing over with a cloth, and they went to bed. The next morning I was up early, I went into the kitchen and I lifted the cloth, and the dough had filled the whole basin. In the dark, it had grown and grown. It had become something very big, the leaven made it do that. Hold that and we will come back to it.

Another thing that leaven does, it breaks things up, it disintegrates. You see the holes coming in the bread. The leaven tears the dough asunder. It makes the loaf into a thing with many, many parts and many holes in it. It just breaks things up and divides. Hold that and we will come back to that.

Then the last thing, unleavened bread is not very pleasant to the taste. Leaven is put in to make the bread taste nice. It is something to make an appeal to the natural taste. Unleavened bread is not very nice to taste, and so that we may be very pleased, we put leaven in. It appeals to our natural taste.

Now do you see the meaning, the nature and effects of leaven? There has come into this universe something that disturbs the universe. All these terrible wars, about which you know something, are the result of this disturbing influence which has come into the universe. There is something in this universe that stirs up human nature. Like alcohol, it makes men fight against one another. It keeps the world in unrest. It produces all this excitement of the human evil nature. Then, again, this something that has come into this universe results in an enlargement that is quite unnatural – a false development. That is a thing that we have seen in these last few years. In the case of the wars, there has been an attempt to develop this world in an unnatural way. Anything that results in unnatural development and enlargement is evil.

The Apostle Paul said, “Through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.” Anything that makes us unnaturally big is evil. Whether it be the individual life, or whether it be what is called the work of God, trying to make it bigger than its real spiritual measure, inflating it beyond its genuine spiritual degree, that is something evil, that is leaven.

Anything that results in divisions and breaking up – disintegration is evil. Do not let us excuse our divisions. Do not let us look favorably upon the divisions amongst the Lord’s people. If there are only two of us who are divided, let us not make excuses for that, let us say, ‘This is wrong, this is evil, this ought not to be, there is some evil at work to divide us.’ And what may be true between just two people, is true amongst all the Lord’s people. We must not look upon divisions as being good, they are bad. And we must know that God is against divisions. He does not accept this working of leaven.

Then what about this leaven that makes things appeal to our natural taste? Paul said to Timothy, “The time will come when they will not endure sound teaching; and they will heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears.” And he goes on to say that they will believe the lie instead of the truth. Why is that? Because these teachers appeal to the natural life. These teachers cover over evil. Indeed, they will sometimes call evil good. People do not like the teachers who tell them what is wrong, that this thing and that thing are contrary to God. They like leavened bread, it pleases the flesh.

Well, these are the effects of leaven. And I am quite sure that there is no one here tonight who will argue that any of those things are good. You see, it is all bad. Now let us look at the symbolism of leaven: We will listen to the Lord Jesus and then to the Apostle Paul on this matter. Jesus gave three warnings to His disciples. First, He said, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees. Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees.” And what did He say was the leaven of the Pharisees? He said, it is hypocrisy – pretending to be something that you are not, something that is quite artificial and unreal. You have only got to watch those Pharisees to see it. They make long prayers in public. They look at a poor sinner and they say, “O God, I thank thee that I am not like that man.” They send somebody in front of them to blow a trumpet and say this wonderful righteous man is coming along; Jesus says, it is all hypocrisy. It is all false and unreal. And if there was one thing that Jesus hated more than another, it was unreality – pretending to be something that you are not, making a lot of noise amongst the people of God with nothing behind it. Indeed, the life behind is quite a contradiction.

Well, that is capable of a very wide application, but that is the principle of the Pharisees. Jesus said, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.” I do not know what the word means in your language, but in the Bible language, it means, acting a part. It is the picture of an actor on the stage. He may be dressed up to represent a great king, but he is not a great king. It is only his dress. Or he may be there acting the part of something else, but he is not that something else. He is just pretending to be that. And that is the real meaning of the word hypocrisy. Jesus said, “Beware of play-acting in the things of God.”

The second warning was, “Beware of the leaven of the Sadducees.” Now we are told that the Sadducees did not believe in angels or spirit or resurrection. They said, ‘There are no such things as angels, there is no such thing as spirit, there is no such thing as resurrection.’ What did that mean? They ruled out the whole reality of the supernatural. They set aside everything that was spiritual. Therefore, they were pure materialists. They lived only for the present time because they did not believe there was anything afterward. They lived only for this world because they did not believe there is another one. For them, there was nothing supernatural, all was now – just material – in this life on the earth.

You see, that is a very convenient philosophy of life. It is very convenient for this reason, that it will not accept future judgment. If there is no resurrection, if there is no life after this one, if there is no other world after this one, then there is no such thing as judgment. Judgment goes, that is a very convenient doctrine. Jesus says, ‘Beware of that’; there is such a thing as the supernatural. God Himself is Spirit, He is the greatest reality in this universe. There is a life after this, for we shall all be raised: “Those that have done evil, unto the resurrection of condemnation, and those that have done good, unto the resurrection of life.” Jesus says, ‘Beware of anything that contradicts those great realities.’

Then He gave a third warning. He said to His disciples, “Beware of the leaven of Herod.” What kind of leaven is the leaven of Herod? Herod was a man who believed in great worldly splendor. He ruled his world by a great show of magnificence. Everything that looked wonderful was Herod’s idea. His was a reign of earthly glory. But this other thing also comes to life with regard to Herod; behind all that outward show, was a life which was absolutely corrupt. John the Baptist told Herod of his corrupt life, and Herod beheaded John the Baptist. Here is a life of outward show, with the inward life absolutely corrupt. Jesus says, ‘Beware of anything like that. That is leaven. It must not come into touch with any of the things of God.’

The scribes and the Pharisees came to Jesus one day, and they said to Him, ‘Be gone, get away, Herod will kill You.’ Of course, they wanted to get rid of Jesus. What did Jesus say? “Go and tell that fox, that I work today and tomorrow, and the third day I am perfected.” Go and tell that fox. You know what a fox is? Well, he is one who makes a great show, a great pretense. He looks like a very nice animal. But you let him get in amongst your chickens and see what he will do. His nature is a contradiction to his appearance. Jesus says, “Beware of that leaven.”

Now just a word about this that Paul has to say. In 1 Corinthians, chapter five, you have it. Something had happened in the church of Corinth. A man had committed fornication, and by his fornication he had brought evil into the church, and the church had not done anything about it. The church had not taken account of this evil as represented by this man. They let him stay there. They even let him come to the Lord’s Table. A man whose background of life was evil. Now Paul wrote to the church about that man. And he said to the church, ‘You must judge this thing, and you must put that man out and forbid him the Lord’s Table until he repents, because he is leaven, and he defiles the whole church by his presence, and the presence of that evil is robbing the church of its spiritual power.’ So Paul says, “Purge out the old leaven.” Fornication and uncleanness must not come into the house of God. And, it certainly must not come to the Lord’s Table. And Paul says the church is responsible for dealing with that thing. While the church allows that, the church is defiled, God’s blessing cannot be upon it. It will, therefore, lose its spiritual life and its spiritual strength. Purge out the old leaven, all that sort of thing is just the working of evil in the church.

Now we must gather this up and come to a close. In the parable of the leaven, Jesus is saying that right through this present age until He comes again, this thing will be in the world. Evil will spread everywhere like leaven. But as in the other parables, Jesus said about the sower and the seed, that while three parts of it would be bad, there would be a fourth part that would be good. As in the parable of darnel, there was the work of the evil one, but there were also the children of the Kingdom. So in this parable, He says, there will be leaven, will be corruption and defilement everywhere, but the teaching of the New Testament is: Keep yourselves pure. See that your garments are not spotted. Walk in this sinful world as those who do not belong to its nature. Although there is leaven everywhere, you be the unleavened bread. But, the world may not like you, the world will not like unleavened bread. It does not please the flesh, but the bread which is pure is pleasing to God. And in the end, He will gather out all that which offends. He will gather out the offending leaven, and He will burn it with unquenchable fire; but the children of the Kingdom, the unleavened bread of God, the pure in heart and in life, He will gather into His eternal Kingdom.

The Rule of Heaven will divide between the evil and the good, between the leavened and the unleavened bread. I think you will agree that this is the right interpretation of the parable. Because it is true to the Bible, it is true to history, it is true to what we see in the world; but it carries the warning, let us offer to God that which has none of this leaven in it.

A Man After God’s Heart – T. Austin-Sparks

Reading: Ps. 89:19,20; Acts 13:22; Heb. 1:9; 1 Sam. 13:14.


The Bible abounds with men. It abounds with many other things; with doctrine, with principles; but more than anything else it abounds with men. That is God’s method, His chosen method, His primary method of making Himself known. These men who were in relationship with God, with whom God was associated, bring distinctive features into view. Not in any one man is the whole man acceptable, every feature to be praised, but in every man there are one or more features that stand out and distinguish him from all others, and abide as the conspicuous features of that man’s life. Those outstanding distinctive features represent God’s thought, the features which God Himself has taken pains to develop, for which God laid His hand upon such men, that throughout history they should be the expression of certain particular traits.

Thus we speak of Abraham’s faith, of Moses’ meekness. Every man is representative of some feature wrought into him, developed in him, and when you think of the man the feature is always uppermost in your mind. Our attention is drawn, not to the man as a whole, but to that which marks him in particular. So by one Apostle we are called to recollect the faith of Abraham, while another will bid us remember the patience of Job. These features are God’s thoughts, and when all the features of all the men are gathered up and combined, they represent Christ. It is as though God had scattered one Man over the generations, and in a multitude of men under His hand had shown some aspect, some feature, some facet of that one Man, and that one Man is able to say, “Ye search the scriptures, because ye think that in them ye have eternal life; and these are they which bear witness of Me…” (John 5:39). There is a Man spread over the Bible, and all who have come under God’s hand, have been apprehended for the purpose of showing something of His thought, which in its fulness is expressed in His Son, the Lord Jesus. Recognizing that, we are better able to appreciate the words we have just read, which in the first instance related to David, but are clearly seen to reach beyond to a greater than David. Read again Psalm eighty-nine and you cannot fail to see that two things merge into one another: “I have laid help upon one that is mighty; I have exalted one chosen out of the people.” You have to look for a greater than David for the complete expression of that. In the words “I have laid help upon one that is mighty…” we have one of the great foundations of our redemption. A greater than David is here. David in those principal features of his life under God’s hand was an expression of God’s thought concerning Christ. You cannot say that of David’s life as a whole. You cannot carry the statement, “I have found… a man after My heart…” through the whole of David’s life, and say that when David was guilty of this and that particular thing which marred his life this was after God’s heart. We have to see exactly what it was, in and about David, which made it possible for God to say that he was a man after His own heart. It was just that which indicated Christ, pointed to Christ. It is only that which is Christ which is after God’s heart.

The Divine Purpose from Eternity

“The Lord hath sought him a man after His own heart…” (1 Sam. 12:14). Remembering our previous meditations, we shall find a large setting for a statement like that. It speaks of the creation of man, of the Lord seeking to have a man-race, a corporate man in whom His own thoughts and features are reproduced in a moral way. The Lord has ever sought Him that man. It was the seeking of such a man that led to the creation. It was the seeking of such a man that led to the Incarnation. It is that seeking of a man which has led to the Church, the “one new man.” God is all the time in quest of a man to fill His universe; not one man as a unity, but a collective man gathered up into His Son. Paul speaks of this man as “…the Church, which is His body, the fulness of Him…” That is the fulness, the measure of the stature of a man in Christ. It is the Church, which is there spoken of, not any one individual. God has ever been in quest of a man to fill His universe.

The Likeness is Moral and Spiritual

God thinks thoughts, desires desires, and wills wills, and those thoughts, and desires, and wills are the very essence of His moral being, and when He has thus reproduced Himself in this sense, He has a being constituted according to His own moral nature; the man becomes an embodiment and personification of the very moral nature of God; not of the Deity of God, but the moral nature. You know what it is in life to say that anything or anyone is after your own heart. You mean they are just exactly what you think they are and what you want them to be for your own complete satisfaction. The man after God’s heart is like that to Him.

Devoted to the Will of God

There is a third thing which defines that to some degree, which puts its finger upon the root of the matter. What is the man after God’s heart? What is it that God has sought in man? The verse in Acts tell us: “…who shall do all My will” (Acts 13:22). If you look at the margin you will see that “will” is plural: “…all My wills”— everything that God desires, everything that God wills, the will of God in all its forms, in all its ways, in all its quests and objectives. The man who will do all His wills is the man after God’s heart, whom God has sought. The words are spoken, in the first place, of David. There are several ways in which David as a man after God’s heart is brought out into clear relief.

Firstly, David is set in striking contrast with Saul. When God had deposed and set aside Saul, He raised up David. Those two stand opposite to one another and can never occupy the throne together. If David is to come, then Saul must go. If Saul is there, David cannot come. That is seen very clearly in the history, but let us note that in this we are confronted with basic principles, not merely with what is historic and to do with persons of bygone days. Before God there are two moral states, two spiritual conditions, two hearts, and these two hearts can never be in the throne together, can never occupy the princely position at the same time. If one is to be prince, or in the place of ascendency, of honour, of God’s appointment, the other heart has to be completely put away. It is remarkable that even after David was anointed king there was a considerable lapse of time before he came to the throne, during which Saul continued to occupy that position. David had to keep back until that régime had run its course, until it was completely exhausted, finished, and then put aside.

It would be a long, though profitable study, to go over Saul’s inner life as shown by his outward behaviour. Saul was governed by his own judgments in the things of God. That is one thing. When God commanded Saul to slay Amalek—man, woman, beast, and child; to destroy Amalek root and branch, it was a big test of Saul’s faith in God’s judgment, God’s wisdom, God’s knowing of what He was doing, God’s honour. If God commands us to do something which on the face of it would seem to deny something in God’s own nature of kindness, and goodness, and mercy, and we begin to allow our own judgment to take hold upon God’s command and to give another complexion to the matter, to take obedience out of our hearts, we have set our judgment against God’s command. In effect we have said: The Lord surely does not know what He is doing! Surely the Lord is not alive to the way His reputation will suffer if this is done, the way people will speak of His very morality! It is a dangerous thing to bring our own moral judgment to bear upon an implicit command of the Lord. Saul’s responsibility was not to question why, but to obey. We recall Samuel’s word to Saul: “Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams” (1 Sam. 15:22). The man after God’s heart does all His wills, and does not say: Lord, this will bring You into reproach! This will bring You into dishonour! This will raise serious difficulties for You! On the contrary, he replies at once: Lord, You have said this; I leave the responsibility for the consequences with You, and obey. The Lord Jesus always acted so. He was misunderstood for it, but He did it.

Saul was influenced in his conduct by his own feelings, his own likes and dislikes, and preferences. He blamed the people, it is true, but it was he himself who was at fault after all. It was his judgment working through his sentiments. In effect he said: It is a great pity to destroy that! Here is something that looks so good, that according to all standards of sound judgment is good, and the Lord says destroy! What a pity! Why not give it to God in sacrifice? Now we know that it is true of the natural man that there are these two aspects, a good side and a bad. Are we not, on our part, often found saying, in effect, Let us hand the good to God! We are quite prepared for the very sinful side to go, but let us give the good that is in us to the Lord! All our righteousnesses are in His sight as filthy rags. God’s new creation is not a patchwork of the old; it is an entirely new thing, and the old has to go. Saul defaulted upon that very thing. He reasoned that the best should be given to God, when God had said, “Utterly destroy.”

The man after God’s own heart does not make blunders like that. His interrogation of himself is: What has the Lord said? No place is given to any other enquiry: What do I feel about it? How does it seem to me? He does not say: It is a great pity from my standpoint. No! The Lord has said it, and that is enough. God has sought Him a man who will do all His wills.

So we could pursue the contrast between Saul and David along many lines. We are led to one issue every time. It all points in one direction. Will this man surrender his own judgments, his own feelings, his own standards, his entire being to the will of God, or will he have reservations because of the way in which he views things and questions God?

An Utter Rejection of the Flesh

There is another way in which David stands out as the man after God’s own heart, and it is this with which we are especially concerned, and with which we will conclude this meditation. It is that which is to be noted in the first public action of David in the valley of Elah. We refer, of course, to his contest with Goliath. This first public action of David was a representative and inclusive one, just as the conquest of Jericho was with Israel. Jericho, as we know, was representative and inclusive of the conquest of the whole land. There were seven nations to be deposed. They marched round Jericho seven times. Jericho, in spiritual and moral principle, was the embodiment of the whole land. God intended that what was true of Jericho should be true of every other conquest, that the basis should be one of sheer faith; victory through faith, possession through faith.

David’s contest with Goliath was like that. It gathered up in a full way everything that David’s life was to express. It was the comprehensive disclosure or unveiling of the heart of David. He was a man after God’s own heart. God’s ground of approval in His choice of men is shown to us in His words to Samuel with reference to another of Jesse’s sons: “Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature… the Lord looketh on the heart” (1 Sam. 16:7). In the case of David, the heart that God had seen is disclosed in the contest with Goliath, and it was that heart which made David the man after God’s own heart all the rest of his life. What is Goliath? Who is he? He is a gigantic figure behind whom all the Philistines hide. He is a comprehensive one, an inclusive one; in effect, the whole Philistine force; for when they saw that their champion was dead they fled. The nation is bound up with, and represented by, the man. Typically what are the Philistines? They represent that which is very near to what is of God, always in close proximity, always seeking to impinge upon the things of God; to get a grip, to look into, to pry, to discover the secret things of God. You will recall their attitude toward the Ark when it came into their hands. They were ever seeking to pry into the secrets of God, but always in a natural way. They are called “uncircumcised.” That is what David said about Goliath: “this uncircumcised Philistine.” We know from Paul’s interpretation that typically that means this uncrucified natural life, this natural life which is always seeking to get a grip on the things of God apart from the work of the Cross; which does not recognize the Cross; which sets the Cross aside, and thinks that it can proceed without the Cross into the things of God; which ignores the fact that there is no way into the things of the Spirit of God except through the Cross as an experienced thing, as a power breaking down the natural life and opening a way for the Spirit. There is no possibility whatever of our knowing the secrets of God except by the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit “was not” (we use the word in the particular meaning of John 7:39) until Calvary was accomplished. That must be personal in application, not merely historic. The uncircumcised Philistines simply speak of a natural life which comes alongside the things of God, and is always interfering with them, touching them, looking into them, wanting to get hold of them; a menace to that which is spiritual. Goliath embodies all that. All the Philistines are gathered up into him. David meets him, and the issue, in spiritual interpretation, is this, that David’s heart is going to have nothing of that. He sets himself that all things shall be of God, and nothing of man. There shall be no place for nature here in the things of God, but this natural strength must be destroyed. The Philistines become David’s lifelong enemies, and he theirs.

Do you see the man after God’s heart? Who is he? What is he? He is a man who, though the odds against him be tremendous, sets himself with all his being against that which interferes with the things of God in an “uncircumcised” way. That which contradicts the Cross of the Lord Jesus, that which seeks to force its way into the realm of God other than by the gate-way of the Cross is represented by the Philistine. Who is this uncircumcised Philistine? David’s heart was roused with a mighty indignation against all that was represented by this man.

That constitutes a very big issue indeed. It has not merely to do with a sinful world. There is that in the world which is opposed to God, positively set against God, a sinful state that is recognized and acknowledged by most people. That is all against God, but that is not what we have here. This is something else that is to be found even amongst the Lord’s people, and which regards nothing as too sacred to be exploited. It will get into an assembly of saints in Corinth and call for a tremendous letter of the Apostle about natural wisdom, the wisdom of this world expressing itself as the mentality even of believers, and thus making the Gospel of none effect. This spirit that is not subject to the Cross creeps in and associates itself with the things of God, and takes a purchase upon them. It is not so much that which is blatantly, obviously, and conspicuously sinful, as the natural life which is accounted so fine according to human standards. The Lord’s people have always had to meet that in one form or another. Ezra had to meet it. Men came and proffered their help to build the House of God: and how the Church has succumbed to that sort of thing! If anybody offers their help for the work of the Lord, the attitude at once taken is: Oh, well, it is help, which is what we want; let us have all the help we can get! There is no discrimination. Nehemiah had to meet it. There is some help that we are better without. The Church is far better without Philistine association. That is the sort of thing that has assailed the Church all the way through. John, the last surviving Apostle, in his old age writes: “…but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the pre-eminence… receiveth us not…” (3 John 9). You see the significance of that. John was the man of the testimony of Jesus: “I John, …was in the Isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.” The great word of John’s writings is “life”: “In Him was life…” (John 1:4); “…this life is in His Son” (1 John 5:11). Diotrephes could not bear with that. If Christ is coming in, Diotrephes, who loveth to have the pre-eminence, must go out; if he that loveth to have the pre-eminence is coming in, then Christ is kept out.

The man after God’s own heart is the man who will have no compromise with the natural mind; not only with what is called sin in its more positive forms, but all that natural life which tries to get hold of the work of God and the interests of God, to handle and to govern them. This has been the thing that has crippled and paralyzed the Church through the centuries; men insinuating themselves into the place of God in His Church.

You see what David stands for. He will take the head off that giant. There has to be no compromise with this thing; it must go down in the name of the Lord.

The Price of Loyalty

Now notice this, that for his devotion David had to suffer. This man, who alone saw the significance of that with which he had to do, this man who alone had the thoughts of God in his heart, the conceptions of God, the feelings of God, the insight of God; this man who alone amongst all the people of Israel in that dark day of spiritual weakness and declension was on the side of God, seeing things in a true way, has to suffer for it. As he came upon the scene, and, with his perception and insight into what was at stake betraying itself in his indignation, his wrath, his zeal for the Lord, began to challenge this thing, his own brethren turned upon him. How? In the cruellest way for any such man, the way most calculated to take the heart out of any true servant of God. They imputed wrong motives. They said in effect: You are trying to make a way for yourself; trying to get recognition for yourself; trying to be conspicuous! You are prompted only by personal interests, personal ambitions! That is a cruel blow. Every man who has come out against that which has usurped God’s place in any way, and stood alone for God against the forces that prevail, has come under that lash. To Nehemiah it was said: You are trying to make a name for yourself, to get prophets to set you on high and proclaim through the country that there is a great man called Nehemiah in Jerusalem! Similar things were said to Paul. Misrepresentation is a part of the price. David’s heart was as free from any such thing as any heart could be. He was set upon the Lord, the Lord’s glory, the Lord’s satisfaction, but even so, men will say: It is all for himself, his own name, his own reputation, his own position. That is more calculated to take the heart out of a man than a good deal of open opposition. If only they would come out and fight fairly and squarely in the open! But David did not succumb; the giant did! May the Lord give us a heart like David’s, for that is a heart like His own.

We see in David a reflection of the Lord Jesus, Who was eaten up by zeal for the Lord’s House, Who paid the price for His zeal, and Who was, in a sense above all others, the Man after God’s own heart.

****************************

An excerpt from the book – The Stewardship of the Mystery linked here – http://www.austin-sparks.net/english/books/stewardship_of_the_mystery_volume_1_the.html

A Place – W.E. Smith

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. (John 1:1-5 NASB)

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” (John 14:1-7 ESV)

A place beloved saints – do you not long for such a place? Does not this cold and hollow world make you yearn, make you weary for such a place? And not just any place, a place with the Father; a place in Him. Oh for such a place, for was not this reason we were created. And this Son, He is the very life of the world, which is the light of men! He is the way to this place, to the Father’s heart, to that celestial garden where all things are made new. Oh dear ones, again, do you not yearn deep in your spirit for such a place? Can you even see it in your spirit’s eye? Has this living reality penetrated deep into your life? And is this Son, the Christ, is He in fact the life of your world? Is He the path you are on? Is He your living way back into the very house of the Father?

“I am the life of the world” – this then is the Kingdom is it not! For in the Kingdom of God only the life of God must animate all things; it must define and determine all things! And this life is the Lord Jesus Christ! He alone is the living principle of the New Creation, of which you and I are the first fruits. It is not more religion or theology we need at this time, but that this living truth might be the very principle and energy upon which we live every moment of our lives here in this dark and fallen world! Everything out of Christ! Everything generated from Him! No more “my life” – but “He is my life”!

Let your hearts not be troubled, just believe in Me – oh if this were just so easy. Yet it is isn’t it? It is we who are so broken, so fallen, so miserable within ourselves that we have made this so complicated, so religious, so devoid of real living power. Oh the judgment to come on all those who have made the Living Christ merely a religious thing, a symbol, an empty teaching for 2,000 years!

Is He alone our light then – the Light with which we now view all things, that all things come into focus as they really are? He is not only the way but it is His life that lights the way. It is therefore a self-reflecting and self-illuminating light. Oh the glory of this light, this life, that it reveals itself, that it illuminates itself, and that this light is the very light that leads us home into the Father’s eternal heart. Hallelujah!

“Many rooms” and “a place for you” – and that somehow this place is “to myself” – So He is in this place? A personal place but a place where He abides, a place where we dwell personally with Him, with the Father and Son in a room in His house. Oh dear children of God, does this not send a rush of spiritual adrenaline through your very being?

The end of all things is at hand! The nations are rushing towards inevitable judgment and destruction! The testimony of Christ, the lampstands have long since gone out! The testimony of Christ held intimately within a small remnant, very much hidden and obscure! The day of His visitation draws near and yet, tragically as before, the many fail to recognize it (Luke 19:41-44). The many who name His Name seem incapable of discerning the signs of the times that are all around them (Matt. 16:1-3). The pride and complacency of life in this world keeps them from taking up their cross to follow the One Who was slain, as true disciples, up and out of this grave and into life eternal and abundant, in His Spirit, upon resurrection ground. Rich and in need of nothing, settled and secure and rooted in this world and its spirit and life, refusing to let it go, to even contemplate that there is so much more. And so, as before, the time of teaching and instruction must give way to the time of the prophet, the ones who come in the Name of the Lord, voicing and living as a parable of His sore displeasure.

Oh Gracious and Wise and Long-suffering Lord, help us!

“I am the Way, the Truth and the Life!”

Is He all of this for you, or for me?

Oh Lord may it be so!

May Your mercy and grace make it so in our hearts this day Oh Lord!

Please be the life for all of your people today! Amen.

A City on a Hill – T. Austin-Sparks

You are the light of the world — like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. (Matthew 5:14 NLT)

In speaking of the light of the Lord’s heavenly people we are touching again a very solemn, and serious, and important feature, something which has a tremendous history associated with it. The entire history of the Lord’s people, and of the spiritual life, is one of light and darkness, of truth and falsehood, of purity and adulteration or mixture, of clearness and cloudiness, of openness and secretiveness…. Truth may be in word, in doctrine, but there has to be a corresponding truth in heart, truth in life. Light may be a matter of doctrine, but there has to be a corresponding state of light in the heart. The enemy will not object to us having plenty of the former kind of light and truth, but, if he can, he will seek to destroy its real value by introducing a lie over against it, a contradiction….

Remember that God never builds in the dark; that is, there can be no constructiveness where there is not light. Before ever God would bring this world back into order and fruitfulness He said: “Let there be light.” God is out for the manifestation of the truth. God’s works are never darkness, and we can never know constructiveness and progress unless there is absolute light. You know quite well that you cannot go on with people who are not straight, people who are crooked, people who are all the time furtive, not open, not frank, who have somewhere in the background a secretiveness. You have to say, “I cannot go on with that one.” God is like that. He would say to any one of us who might be there, “I cannot go on with you until you are absolutely out in the open, until you have come to a place where you are going to be perfectly honest.” Reality is God’s demand for any kind of work that He will do. There may be many weaknesses, many imperfections, but if there is genuineness, reality, and openness before God, where the spirit is clear and pure, God can go on with His work. But immediately we begin to lock something up inside, hold something back, cease to be perfectly open before God, the work stops. Light in the sense of clearness is an essential for the building of the city of God, because the ultimate purpose for that city is to shine forth with that glory of God in character. With Him there is no variableness, neither shadow cast by turning. That means that God can be relied upon. The Lord make us like that.

By T. Austin-Sparks from: The City Which Hath Foundations – Chapter 8

More Like Him – by T. Austin-Sparks

All of us reflect the glory of the Lord with unveiled faces, we are becoming more like Him with ever-increasing glory by the Lord’s Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:18 ISV)

I believe that if we are living in the radiance of Divine Life, there will be something of it betrayed by our faces. At any rate, the world will know something if we are really living in touch with the Lord, and there will be a language which only the spiritual can enjoy and understand. There will be those spiritual counterparts of the seed of Abraham, a people different from all the rest. Now the tragedy of what is called “the Church” has so often been, and perhaps is more today than ever, that that distinctiveness is being lost. It seems today as if a set is being made in some way to remove all the offence and all the difference, and to get us near to people without anything that clashes, in the hope of winning them. Yes, that is what is going on in the religious world around; it is a conforming to this age. But what came in at Pentecost is fundamentally this, that this people of the Spirit are so utterly different in the very center of their being, different altogether from all other peoples, and their power and influence lie in that fact. You cannot fit them in with other things, and it is not because they are awkward and difficult and deliberately irritate people, but there is that which by reason of their spiritual constitution marks them off; and if they did but know it, this is the secret of their influence in the world.

The progress and increase of spiritual Life means this, that the gap widens all the time between the children of God and those in the world who are not such. That is not to be taken literally in this sense, that we begin a mistaken system of hiving off, shutting ourselves up, getting out of touch. That is a wrong application of the principle. The Lord Jesus is preeminently our example in that He could move in any circle, and He did so deliberately, publicans and sinners, all classes, He moved amongst them, but His power over them was in His basic difference from them. Let us be careful how we are caught in this great movement of conforming to this age. To conform is to lose spiritual power.