Category: humanism

“In Him Was Life” – W.E. Smith

Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name. (John 20:30-31; emphasis added)

These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life. (1 John 5:13; emphasis added)

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. (John 1:3-4; emphasis added)

Now the Apostle John tells us that the singular reason he wrote both his gospel, and what has become 1 John, is that the reader would come to know that only in Christ Jesus do we have real, spiritual, heavenly life; the life of God; a life fitted for His Kingdom and His household; the life that makes us His children; the life for the age(s) to come; a life conformed to the image of the only One upon Whom the Father has set His seal.

It is interesting that John did not say he shared these things so that we might know how to live (what most religions, including so-much false Christianity, emphasize), but that we might know that in Christ Jesus we have life. He is the life we need and have, if we have come to Him in faith. Oh brethren, these are wondrous and profound truths, and I share this compilation of Scriptures that you might feel compelled in the Spirit to consider them, to meditate on them, to take them to the Lord and ask Him for help to enter into the living reality of them.

So also it is written, “The first MAN, Adam, BECAME A LIVING SOUL.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural; then the spiritual. The first man is from the earth, earthy; the second man is from heaven. As is the earthy, so also are those who are earthy; and as is the heavenly, so also are those who are heavenly. Just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we will also bear the image of the heavenly. (1 Cor. 15:45-49; emphasis added)

John also assures us that the only life that truly matters, the quality and principle of life that measures up, is to be found “in Him”; in the Lord Jesus Christ. Then Paul augments this by saying – ““The first MAN, Adam, BECAME A LIVING SOUL.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.” So the life that was breathed into Adam there in the beginning, and the life imparted by the Lord to all those who come to Him in faith; these are different somehow. The one gives way to the other. It is preliminary and temporary. It is the Creator’s first thought but not His last thought, regarding the human race. The natural must be supplanted by the spiritual; what the New Testament calls “eternal” or (better still) “age-lasting” (GK – AIÓNIOS) life.

The writings of John (and Paul) are replete with the living principle surrounding this new spiritual life that is to be found only in the Father’s Beloved Son, He who was sent into the world as the “life of the world” and the “Last Adam”

Mark this dear saints, that there is something about the life of the Lord Jesus; that it is a life that cannot be contained; that it is a life that is designed to permeate all that it touches. It is the very life of God, and to think or imagine that it shares anything in common with the corruptible life of the soul, the life breathed into Adam, is to miss everything that the Spirit is teaching regarding this “newness of life”. To be breathed on by He Who is the life-giving spirit is something else entirely. Yet, do we not today have this strange phenomenon where so many “Christian” teachers are convincing so many others that Jesus came and died and rose again so that He might thereby enhance and extend our own life; that we can have “our best life now”, and forever into eternity besides? Perhaps someone needs to tell such false guides and their disciples that the only way to enter into this life, is through death; the cessation of our own life. To be born again in the spirit (of Christ) necessarily implies the end of the life that came before. To rise up out of the water of baptism, and to stand and walk in this newness of life – do we truly know what this means? That our old self, the life according to Adam, must remain behind us in the pool of death?

Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being (or soul). (Gen. 2:7; emphasis added)

And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. (John 20:22; emphasis added)

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

Here we have two parallel passages in the Word where life is imparted through the breath of the Creator. The one conveys the life of the soul, whereas the other conveys something else: spiritual life. This higher form of life requires a cessation of the first type of life, and a rebirth into the second. “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.” (1 Cor. 15:22)

Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.“Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’“The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:5-8)

As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. (John 3:14-16)

Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life. The woman said to Him, “Sir, give me this water, so I will not be thirsty nor come all the way here to draw.”” (John 4:13-15)

“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.” (John 5:39-40)

For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. (Rom. 8:2)

…for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. (Rom. 8:13)

Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you, for on Him the Father, God, has set His seal.” (John 6:27)

There are many perhaps who quite happily follow the Lord for the bread and water (the food which perishes) that sustains this present life in the flesh, but turn away whenever He calls them deeper into the true meaning of His life, and the price for entering in. There are many more still who thank Him for this life, then seek to store it up in barns so that they can continue on in themselves rather than go out each morning to gather in His provision. They will go from hillside to hillside whenever there is the promise of loaves and fishes, but mention the path and the pain of the cross, and they scatter like rabbits at the firing of a gun. Oh how I wish I could confess that this does not describe myself, but the Lord knows and I cannot. We must all come to see and esteem this life above our own, and to most fully appreciate that the only real life is “in Him”. Not in ourselves even on our best days. Not in a reformed or improved Adam. Not in religion. Not in things or service. Not in doing. Not in law-keeping or the adherence to rules or regimens. Not in formalism or ritual. Not even in attempting to mimic the Lord, for this too is futility. Only His life in us can be the well-spring of living water springing up into eternal life; the very life of God.

And this life can only be found on the other side of the river, on the other side of death, through the cross, through the death of the soul. For this life has been determined by the Father to reside only in His Son, and all those who abide in Him. It is for this very reason called the life of Christ, and for any man to say that He truly lives, he must confess that “to life is Christ and to die is gain” and also that “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.” No brethren, this eternal life is no mere extension of our own lives into so many numberless tomorrows, as is widely taught. There is, in the end, only one life, and to abide in that life is the reason for our salvation and existence. Although we all try in so many ways, we cannot bring our own lives into this new life that we derive in Christ Jesus. A new principle is now in effect, one that offers genuine freedom and deliverance from death,  and it is something the Holy Spirit calls the “law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus“. Without this life, nothing else really matters. Everything is just a teaching, a concept, an empty promise.

Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread out of heaven, but it is My Father who gives you the true bread out of heaven. “For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world.” Then they said to Him, “Lord, always give us this bread.”

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst. “But I said to you that you have seen Me, and yet do not believe.“All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out. “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. “This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day. “For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.” (John 6:35-40)

“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life. “I am the bread of life. “Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. “This is the bread which comes down out of heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. “I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.” (John 6:47-51)

So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves. “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. “For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink. “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. “As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also will live because of Me. “This is the bread which came down out of heaven; not as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live forever.” (John 6:53-58)

Dear reader, have you come to that place of awful reckoning where the Holy Spirit has convinced you that you have no life in yourself? That you need this life-giving Bread, not for what He might add to your life, but to replace you entirely? Have you come to the place where you can confidently confess that He is your life? Not the focus of your life; not the love of your life even – BUT YOUR VERY LIFE? Please review all of these Scriptures most carefully, for they are intimating something so very radical and wonderful. To accept them and to enter into the reality of them by faith will ultimately cost us everything. “It is no longer I who live,” confessed Paul, “but Christ lives in me.”

“It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.” (John 6:63)

Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink.“He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’” But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. (John 7:37-39)

I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. (John 10:10)

“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. (John 10:27-28)

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26)

“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. “He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal. (John 12:24-25)

“For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me a commandment as to what to say and what to speak. “I know that His commandment is eternal life; therefore the things I speak, I speak just as the Father has told Me.” (John 12:49-50)

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. (John 14:6)

…because I live, you will live also. (John 14:19)

What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life— and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us— (1 John 1:1-2)

This is the promise which He Himself made to us: eternal life. (1 John 2:25)

Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. (1 John 3:2)

And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life. (1 John 5:11-12)

For indeed while we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed but to be clothed, so that what is mortal will be swallowed up by life. Now He who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave to us the Spirit as a pledge. (2 Cor. 5:4-5)

For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf. (2 Cor. 5:14-15)

He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. (Col. 1:17)

Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude. (Col.2:6)

When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions… (Col. 2:13)

Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory. (Col. 3:1-4)

“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” (Gal. 2:20)

Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. (Gal. 6:7-8)

“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. “You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.“I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.“If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. (John 15:1-6)

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. (2 Cor. 5:17)

For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. (Phil. 1:21)

…for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. (Rom. 8:13)

Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. (Rom. 6:8-11)

…for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children.’ (Acts 17:28)

Beloved brethren, it is hoped by placing all of these glorious passages together, that the Holy Spirit will open our eyes and penetrate our hearts to the living and personal reality of the Life that the Father has sent into the world. Yet the abiding question remains – Is He our Life? And when He is revealed in glory, will we be revealed with Him? Is our life bound up in the life of the Vine and the branches?

It is interesting that the majority of those who came for the life offered by the loaves and fishes never stuck around for the abundant life really being offered by the Lord Jesus Christ. With their bellies full, and strength to live on another day in themselves, they slipped away. We are not told what ultimately became of the Samaritan woman at the well who said – “Sir, give me this water, so I will not be thirsty nor come all the way here to draw.” Perhaps she did come to see that the One speaking to her was in fact the Living Water. Perhaps she is now waiting to be revealed with Him in glory when He comes into His presence. This is our hope and prayer for all of you who to come here on a regular basis; for the very most anyone can do is to help others to see that only in the Lord Jesus Christ do they truly have abundant life.

Dear brethren, this is our hope and prayer in the spirit for all of you!

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The Church an Organism, not an Organization – T. Austin-Sparks

The fire will test what sort of work each one has done. (1 Corinthians 3:13 ESV)

Many things are being constructed to which the Name of the Lord is being affixed – things which appear fine and great and like “the Church,” but which are destined to collapse when God’s hurricane and fire test every man’s work. Good works – philanthropy, hospitality, reform, education, religion, relief, etc. – may be the products, or byproducts, of what is called “Christian civilization” and things for which to be profoundly grateful… but let us not confuse these with “a new creation,” regeneration, a being “born from above.”

The Church is nothing which man can build by any resource in himself personally or collectively. The Church is an organism, not an organization: “Behold, I show you a mystery – we are members of His flesh and of His bones.” Build that, if you can! Launch that; organize that; “run” that! It cannot be done. It is the spontaneous outworking of spiritual forces released… in the acceptance by faith of tremendous facts concerning Christ – facts which are proclaimed out of experience in the power of the Holy Ghost. Not the theological Christ; not the doctrinal Christ; not the Christ of the letter, much less the Jesus of history; but the Christ of eternity in all the meaning of His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension into the Throne of God revealed in the heart by the Holy Spirit – this alone is authority to preach, to serve, to occupy position, to “build” in relation to the House of God. It is folly to spend time and strength otherwise. It is wisdom to labor on this foundation.

By T. Austin-Sparks from: “The Servant of the Lord”


How Bad is it Out There Really? – W.E. Smith

Dear Readers,

In one respect, it is difficult out here in the wilderness, outside of the day-to-day happenings in Christendom, to really know the true state of things; how bad they really are. We become aware of random and appalling incidents here and there, we hear dreadful stories of greed and abuse among those who name the name of Christ, etc. Yet one very tangible way we can know what the many are turning to, is by what is popular in the so-called “christian” marketplace; what believers are actually consuming in volume.

Here, for example, is a link to a currently popular “christian” book called “Jesus Calling” by a Sarah Young, wherein she shares her journal, and actually projects words onto our Lord as if He is actually talking back to her in a real and personal dialogue. Apparently the church out there is eating this up, and from the accompanying comments (mostly positive), it would seem the many really have no idea how dangerous this is – to put words in the mouth of the Son of God. Not even the Koran does this.

Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence

Consider for a moment, dear ones, what the Lord actually thinks of those who put words into His mouth –

Thus says the LORD of hosts,
“Do not listen to the words of the prophets who are prophesying to you.
They are leading you into futility;
They speak a vision of their own imagination,
Not from the mouth of the LORD.

“They keep saying to those who despise Me,
‘The LORD has said, “You will have peace”’;
And as for everyone who walks in the stubbornness of his own heart,
They say, ‘Calamity will not come upon you.’

“But who has stood in the council of the LORD,
That he should see and hear His word?
Who has given heed to His word and listened?

“Behold, the storm of the LORD has gone forth in wrath,
Even a whirling tempest;
It will swirl down on the head of the wicked.

“The anger of the LORD will not turn back
Until He has performed and carried out the purposes of His heart;
In the last days you will clearly understand it.

“I did not send these prophets,
But they ran.
I did not speak to them,
But they prophesied.

“But if they had stood in My council,
Then they would have announced My words to My people,
And would have turned them back from their evil way
And from the evil of their deeds.

“Am I a God who is near,” declares the LORD,
“And not a God far off?

“Can a man hide himself in hiding places
So I do not see him?” declares the LORD.
“Do I not fill the heavens and the earth?” declares the LORD. (Jer. 23)

And so, apparently, it is not enough to have so many of these popular modern language, paraphrase bibles in circulation, that mangle and twist God’s testimony for the modern christian masses, it is now necessary to put new words into the mouth of our Lord – the very “Word of God” come down among us.

The gospel has become so much of something else for this modern generation who are hell-bent on making God and His testimony into their image, according to their felt needs and predilections. Such emotionally (read the “soul”) charged and subjective journals are apparently very popular at the moment, where it is not the Lord that is the center of everything, but ones own earthly needs, affirmation and healing (there are many words for what is essentially humanistic striving after fulfillment and wholeness; self-affirmation). This is subtly inter-mixed with esoteric spiritualism, that reads well as poetry and airy mysticism but actually means nothing and has no real power over what truly ails the human soul and spirit.

Now all of these market forces trickle down to the level of the groups (big and small) and ultimately to the local church, where meeting people’s needs (as though they were a customer) is seen as the dominant imperative; it is also good for business so to speak, as growing churches have growing expenses and ambitious agendas in the world.

Now apparently Thomas Nelson, the biggest ‘christian’ publisher in the world today (and currently owned by a private equity firm named Kohlberg and Company), has been sending 40-page excerpts of this dribble out to many households. Perhaps you have received one yourself.

This is, to myself, akin to the people of Israel under Aaron, who could not wait for Moses to come down (back) and so they set about melting down their own gold and precious things to craft a calf to represent their savior and god.

And so how bad is it out there? It is very bad my brethren, very tragic in fact, for the many are running headlong and blind after delusions and idols that will lead only to their own destruction.

Pray that we would each  have a renewed love and devotion to our Lord and Savior as He is, and as He is presented in God’s Revealed Word, and that we would wait patiently for Him to return from heaven. Pray also for the many among the twice-born who are being devoured by devils as they pursue their own appetites and fulfillment. Rest assured, once the false one comes, he will capitalize on all of this as he marks them as his own.

Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. (Rev. 3:10)

The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost. (Rev. 22:17)

Please come Lord Jesus. Please come!

Your friend and brother, a willing bond-slave of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Note: As a supplement to this post, I offer this link to a letter written by C.H. Mackintosh, on the Present Condition of Things in christendom in the 19th century. All are encouraged to read this with prayerful gravity, for the conclusions are sober indeed!

Our End is His Beginning – W.E. Smith

Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you thinks that he is wise in this age, he must become foolish, so that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness before God. For it is written, “He is THE ONE WHO CATCHES THE WISE IN THEIR CRAFTINESS”; and again, “THE  LORD KNOWS THE REASONINGS of the wise, THAT THEY ARE USELESS.” (1 Cor. 3:18-20)

Brethren, why do we persist in trusting our own wisdom when the Word of God and the long, sordid history of our lives plainly reveal that our ways do not lead to the Lord’s blessings or glory, nor to the fulfillment of His eternal plans and purposes?

Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are mature; a wisdom, however, not of this age nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away; but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory; the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory; but just as it is written,

“THINGS WHICH EYE HAS NOT SEEN AND EAR HAS NOT HEARD, AND which HAVE NOT ENTERED THE HEART OF MAN, ALL THAT GOD HAS PREPARED FOR THOSE WHO LOVE HIM. (1 Cor. 2:6-9)

It is not what we have seen or heard in the course of our experience that constitutes wisdom or truth for the child of God, but that which is imparted to the regenerated spirit within us. This wisdom of the world or wisdom of this age, that permeates and informs everything in this world, is not from our God at all, as it is a natural wisdom, appealing to a natural life, and perpetuating a rebellious system in conflict with the Lord of all Life. It is, as the Scriptures affirm, a wisdom that crucified the very “Lord of glory”, who came into the world to save it.

For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts  of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words. (1 Cor. 2:10-13)

Dear brethren, it is vital that we comprehend what is being suggested here, that our instruction, direction, wisdom and truth is to come not from the world, appealing to the natural man, but from the Spirit of God, revealing the deep things of God. In most cases, this is a way and a wisdom that turns the world’s wisdom on its head, as in the case with the following word from Paul –

For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life; indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead.  (2 Cor. 1:8-9)

Affliction, excessive burden, despair, death, not trusting in ourselves – are these concepts or expectations being taught in the compromised church of the our day? How I wish it were not so dear saints, but the sad reality suggests otherwise. Yet the disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ is not to follow what is popular or ticklish to his ears, but he is to allow the Spirit of God to lead him into the very way and life of Christ Jesus. This is that mysterious path from death to life, from the pit to glory, that we see from Genesis to Revelation. This is the wisdom of God, that will ultimately confound the rulers of this age, and result in the filling of all things with His Son. Despite what humanist religious teachers are saying these days, you cannot receive Christ Jesus as your personal savior and then choose to reject the Father’s wisdom in terms of magnifying His Son; it just doesn’t work this way folks. I will leave it to the Holy Spirit to bring this home to your heart, as only He can.

Dear saints, it is our Lord’s way to bring us to the end of ourselves; to bring us to the very brink of despair so that we might see no way out but to trust in Him wholly and without flinching. In the Lord’s perfect wisdom there can be no self-confidence whatsoever. You see, the testimony of Christ in His chosen ones does not hinge on human strength or ability, but on His provision and power alone. If our strength and hope is not in Christ but in ourselves or any other created thing, then how can we be sure we are abiding in His will? Is His care not sufficient? Do we think we need something more?

This is why the Scriptures are literally packed with examples of human beings and angels being confounded with almost unbelievable patterns of deliverance. The utter outlandishness of these stories are often what lead so many to refute the veracity of the Bible itself – Noah’s boat, Isaac’s altar, Jacob’s long painful pilgrimage to the end of himself, Joseph’s unlikely path to savior of his people, Moses’ mysterious road to becoming divine intercessor, the parting of the Red Sea, Jericho’s falling walls, Jonah’s over-sized fish, Job’s extreme loss and restoration, David’s bizarre and winding path to the throne, Esther’s night with the king leading to the deliverance of all Israel; God’s Son coming into the world by way of a virgin birth; and of course, His reconciliation of the world by way of a bloody cross. Yet is it not the case that such impossible events actually reveal to us that God is behind them; that His ways are beyond searching; that if we are to be saved by Him, then He will do it in a manner that confounds all other patterns, possibilities or explanations?

I have been spending a lot of time in the Old Testament lately, and one theme seems to be rooting itself deeper and deeper into my spirit; and it is this – that the God of the Bible; He who has proven Himself over and over to be faithful to His chosen people; does not think or act or proceed as a man in any way shape or form. There is a mystery surrounding how He does things that is largely alien to our experiences and expectations. He seemingly takes delight in confounding us; in turning our reality on its head. Typically, His deliverance or victory comes in a manner that is inconceivable to our limited  reality trapped as it is in time and space and superficial human experience. Often we really don’t know what He is going to do or even what He is doing at the time. It is often only after He has accomplished His purposes that we finally and ultimately see the wonder of His ways; and afford Him the praise and glory that He deserves.

So often it seems, we not only want God to help us or show forth His grace on us, but we want Him to do it in our way, and according to our wisdom and expectation. We want to be healed perhaps, or delivered from some circumstance that is discomforting; even painful. And we have it all mapped out how we think He should proceed to help us. Or maybe we have a ministry – and we vainly feel that the Eternal God who sits above the circle of the earth has an obligation to advance it in some manner. Oh we sowed all these seeds, and have the entire marketing plan all carefully construed according to the ways of men and the world – and yet we somehow think He will automatically bless it and give life to it. Oh what fools we are dear brethren! Have we not learned what is written in the Scriptures, that His ways are not our ways –

“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.
“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, And do not return there without watering the earth
And making it bear and sprout, And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater;
So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it. (Isa. 55:8-11)

And again –

For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God. But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written, “LET HIM WHO BOASTS, BOAST IN THE LORD.”  (1 Cor. 1:26-31)

Does not this confound everything the world teaches about how to get ahead in life; how teams, for example, set about to win at whatever sport they are engaged in; how business goes about competing in the marketplace? Clearly it does, because down here it is all about human beings seeking glory for themselves and praise from everyone else. “Look at me” – a man cries in the street! “Look at what I can do!”

The whole divinely twisted concept of a suffering servant, of losing one’s life to win it; of the weak becoming strong in the strength of another; of pouring out your own life so that others might live – it almost strains our brain trying to see the logic of it all doesn’t it? And it opposes everything we have been taught from the moment we stuck our crooked little heads into this world. And this modern generation, with all of its emphasis on working and doing and over-achieving, and man’s seemingly limitless capacity to solve his problems and to advance himself with human initiative and ingenuity – the power of the human will; the boundary-shattering potential of technology and science – Oh my brethren, we are so desperately and grievously lost, are we not? Oh how fallen and corrupted in our hearts and minds we have become.

I dare say that I more than any am most guilty of this. I wish I could deny my own condition, but how can I when it is what I know so intimately; and have known all my vain life. Rejection, loss, affliction, despair, weakness, dependence – I know in my heart my sensibilities about such things are not aligned with the wisdom of God and His ways. Oh Lord, please help me! Have mercy my Lord!

Oh Gracious and Glorious Father of Life – forgive us for we have all sinned and fallen short of Your holy purpose. Oh Lord, why will we not forsake our wisdom and ways? Why do we cling so stubbornly to only that which our natural minds can comprehend or our hands can accomplish? Why will we not hope in Christ, when He is more than willing and able to save and sanctify us to the uttermost?

All throughout his selfless ministry to the gentiles, the Apostle Paul struggled trying to get them not to be ashamed or repulsed by his weakness in presenting the gospel to them. In fact, it seems that he was always at any point at the brink of death as he poured himself out for the gospel of Christ.

And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God. (1 Cor. 2:1-5)

I find it interesting that we have a generation of Christians that, by all evidence, seems heaven-bent on eradicating all weakness and discomfort in the lives of the saints, when this appears to be precisely our Lord’s pattern of life and ministry. So ready are we to exchange our sackcloth for robes, and the Lord’s reduction for the humanist ideal of the shiny, all-together man, that the vast majority of Christian service and witness has become little more than emptiness and futility. If there is one thing new Christians must learn from the first day, it is that heavenly life can only spring forth out of death. We all need to ask the Lord to help us receive this principle and wisdom, for it is the very opposite of what we learn in this world from the rulers of this age.

Dear friends, beloved saints of the Lord Jesus Christ. I am not here to condemn anyone, for then I could only begin and end with myself, and who among us could stand? Yet the Lord has impressed upon my heart the utter need for us in this generation to be in a posture of readiness and waiting upon Him alone. There is so much mixture and corruption in our midst and we need to depend on the Spirit of God more than ever before. For too long we have been directing our ways rather than letting the Lord direct us in His ways. It matters not what we can do, or would do, or might do given the resources – it matters only what He can do, and what He is doing. And don’t pretend to think that you know His ways, for they more often than not turn all of our designs and plans upside down. He must know that we will wait for Him, trust in Him, and hope in Him, and follow Him down that path (the path of the cross) that seemingly makes no sense; that makes us squirm, that compels us to wait until the very last moment until He prevails over the plans of men and the devil. Only then does the glory rise up to where it belongs; only then my friends – don’t allow yourselves to be fooled.

This is so vitally and urgently important, for what is coming is a time of revealing, of stripping away. All will be made known in the time of shaking that is coming upon this earth. And when His little ones stand up (please refer to Rev. 11) adorned in sackcloth, and presenting only the pure and simple testimony of the Lamb, their every step will be determined and directed by the Lord. They will not so much as sit down or stand up unless His Word directs and equips them. They will appear wretched and failed as humanity beholds them; yet they will command the very might and power of the Creator as they witness for Him against the pervading darkness. Like the Son of Man two-thousand years ago, there will be no beauty in them as the world deems beauty, and their words and testimony will make the many want only to silence and kill them.

Are we ready my brethren? Have we forsaken all of our thoughts and ways for His? What are our expectations regarding the end of this age anyway? I am sad to say that most of what the church is teaching today is doing little to prepare His Beloved for what will be. In point of fact, by the Spirit of truth that abides within me, most of the flock is being set up to be deceived by events that will transpire prior to our Lord’s return. I pray you (and I no doubt) will not be one of them.

Yet we must take to heart that the ways and methods of men will not fulfill the purpose of God, nor result in His praise and glory. I too must come to terms with what I think about weakness and distress and despair, and my almost inborn need to resist it at all cost. Yes, fellow saints, we are to be strong, but not in our own strength. Yes, we are to do great things by our Lord, but He alone is the author and finisher of our faith and works. The very reality of small and pitiful human beings doing extraordinary things beyond their ability or scope can only lead the world to consider who they are dealing with; who in fact stands before them. Herein lies the divine judgment of those final days soon upon us, dear brethren. This will not be a time for taking up swords to protect our Lord, or to rely on human reason or instinct or emotion or logic or education or any other known or created thing.

As always and forever, His grace is sufficient for us. Now this in no way means we will understand in advance what He is doing and why He is doing it. Not so dear saints, for this is the path of child-like faith and trust. When He comes to us and asks us to do something that at once seems strange or incomprehensible, that our minds can’t in any way rationalize, here is where we must follow him in perfect and trusting obedience. And if someone comes into your life or crosses your path; someone lowly and unimpressive to your eyes and human predilection; and yet they come with the very words and Spirit of the Lord – do not despise them, but rather give praise and glory to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ; who causes even the blind to see and the lame to stand and walk. And if perchance the Lord asks you to exchange your comfortable but empty little life for sackcloth and ash; for mourning and witness to the dread of this world and the foul sin in the heart of man – then my brother, don’t look back, go forward in His grace and power alone; and be all that He would be in you, and say all that He might say through you; and suffer all that He might permit you to suffer and lose for His sake in this cursed world.

Dear saints of the Most High – no longer must it be that fleshly wisdom defines us and determines our conduct and testimony in this world. This is nothing to be proud of, as attested to by Paul to the Corinthians –

For our proud confidence is this: the testimony of our conscience, that in holiness and godly sincerity, not in fleshly wisdom but in the grace of God, we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially toward you. (2 Cor. 1:12)

Rather, we must appropriate all that the Lord provides us through his expansive and ever-flowing grace. Just as our Savior and Shepherd lived breath-upon-breath and moment-to-moment by His Father’s care and provision, so must we live in Him, for His gracious provision is more than sufficient for both life and godliness in this crooked generation. We must cease trusting in ourselves, in our quaint little religious urges, our vaunted opinions and positions pertaining to the Christian walk, our empty “the ends justify the means” results-oriented thinking. Both the way and the results belong to the Lord, as does all the glory. All praise and glory is His and must flow from the lives of His children as they forsake their ways for His.

Oh Heavenly and Eternal Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ at Your side – please keep us from the vanity of our own thoughts, and the emptiness and delusion of our own capacity. Purge us dear Father of all self-confidence, and the deep brooding lust of glory that is in all of us. Make us ready dear Father, that we might stand in that appointed day; that indeed He might stand and show forth Your righteousness and truth in this unholy world. Let all things be done for Your glory, Lord, by Your wisdom and way. Let it be Your strength and might alone that operates in the lives and testimony of Your little ones. Keep us from all delusion and deception and distraction that prevent Your purposes from being realized in our lives. And please come Lord Jesus. Please come soon to claim us and to raise us up where You are for ever and ever. Amen.

Further Reading –

The School of Christ, Chapter 1 – T. Austin-Sparks

Excerpt:

Taking the disciples who went into His school—it was not the School of the Holy Spirit in the same sense as ours is, but the result of their association with the Lord Jesus during those three or three and a half years was just the same—the first thing they learned was how other He was from themselves. They had to learn it. I do not think it came to them at the first moment. It was as they went on that they found themselves again and again clashing with His thoughts, His mind, His ways. They would urge Him to take a certain course, to do certain things, to go to certain places; they would seek to bring to bear upon Him their own judgments and their own feelings and their own ideas. But He would have none of it. At the marriage feast in Cana of Galilee, His own mother, with an idea, said, They have no wine. His reply was, “Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come.” What have I to do with thee? That is a weak translation. Far better, ‘Woman, you and I are thinking in different realms; we have at the moment nothing in common.’ Thus throughout their lives they sought to impinge upon Him with their mentality. No, all the time He was putting them back and showing them how different were His thoughts, His ways, His ideas, His judgments; altogether different. In the end I expect they despaired. He might well have despaired of them had He not known that this was exactly what he was doing in them. Catch that and you have got something helpful. ‘Lord, why is it that I am always caught out, always making a blunder? Somehow or other, I always say and do the wrong thing, I am always on the wrong side! Somehow I never seem to come right in line with You; I despair of ever being right!’ And the Lord says, ‘I am teaching you, that is all; deliberately, quite deliberately. That is exactly what I am bringing you to see. Until you learn that lesson, we shall get nowhere at all. When you have thoroughly learned that lesson, then we can begin constructive work, but at present it is necessary for you to come to the place where you recognize I am altogether other than you are. The difference is such that we move in two altogether opposite worlds.’

This ordinary mind of man, at its best, is another mind. This will of man, at its best, is another will. You never do know what lies behind your motives until the Holy Ghost cleaves right down to the depths of your being and shows you. You may put your feelings and desires into the most devout terms. You may, like Peter, react to a Divine suggestion, “If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me”, and say, “Not my feet only, but also my hands and my head”; but it is only self coming up again—my blessing. I want the blessing, and so miss the whole point the Master is trying to teach. ‘I am trying to teach you self-emptying.’ He might have said, ‘and you are laying hold of every suggestion of mine for self-filling, to get; and I am trying to say, Give, let go!’ This self comes up in the most spiritual (?) way. Self comes up for spiritual blessing. We do not know what lies behind. We have to come into a very severe school of the Spirit which eventuates in our coming to discover that our best intentions are defiled, our purest motives are unclean before those eyes; things that we intended to be for God, somewhere at their spring is self. We cannot produce from this nature anything acceptable to God. All that can ever come to God is in Christ alone, not in us. It never will, in this life, be in us as ours. It will always be the difference between Christ and ourselves. Though He be resident within us, He and He only is the object of the Divine good pleasure and satisfaction, and the one basic lesson you and I have to learn in this
life, under the Holy Spirit’s tuition and revelation and discipline, is that He is other than we are: and that ‘other-ness’ is indeed an utter thing. That is one of the hard lessons.

It is certainly one that this world will refuse to learn. It will not have that. That runs directly counter to the whole system of the teaching of humanism—the wonderful thing that man is! Oh no, when you have come to your best, there is a gulf between you and the beginnings of Christ that cannot be bridged. If you attain your best, you have not commenced Christ. That is utter, but we perhaps hardly need that emphasis. Most of us have learned something.

But let us, while we know this in experience, take the comfort which comes perhaps from being told again exactly what is happening. What is the Lord doing, what is the Holy Spirit doing, with us? Well, as a basic thing, He is making us to know that we are one thing and Christ another. That is the most important lesson to learn, for there can be nothing constructive until we have learned it. The first thing, therefore, is the altogether ‘other-ness’ of Christ as over against ourselves.

Note: If you are a Christian – young or old – and have not yet read this book – The School of Christ, then we strongly recommend that you do. It is free online at the following address –

http://www.austin-sparks.net/english/books/school_of_christ_the.html

Repentance As a Way of Life – W.E. Smith

“The root of all evil in human nature is the corruption of the will. The thoughts and intents of the heart are wrong and as a consequence the whole life is wrong. Repentance is primarily a change of moral purpose, a sudden and often violent reversal of the soul’s direction. The prodigal son took his first step upward from the pigsty when he said, “I will arise and go to my father.” As he had once willed to leave his father’s house, now he willed to return. His subsequent action proved his expressed purpose to be sincere. He did return. (A.W. Tozer, From True Religion is Not Feeling but Willing)”

I dare say I am troubled, my friends, by the general manner in which repentance is presented to us today by our modern Christian teachers and guides. I take issue with the fact that much of the current emphasis barely takes issue with sin, or the inborn depravity of man’s condition, or the ageless reality that the God we serve is a high and holy being who cannot dwell with evil.

For You are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness; No evil dwells with You. (Psa. 5:4)

Note: For the record, I define sin as anything less than Christ Jesus, and in a larger sense, anything other than Christ Jesus. To miss the mark in other words, and the central truth resonating through all of God’s Word is that He alone is that mark!

In much the same way that many other foundational doctrines of the faith are being re-packaged by this new, veiled humanism, such is the case with repentance. Here, too, we discover that at its core, repentance is presented as having to do with fallen man’s behavior and need for affirmation, rather than his unlikeness to a Holy Maker who will not abide with darkness and impurity.

I love the way Tozer paints the vivid word picture of repentance as an “often violent reversal of the soul’s direction”, and how he targets the human will as the real source of man’s corruption. We do not, according to Tozer, slip morally because we are having a bad day, so much out of character, but rather because the carnal and dark heart within us stands in open defiance of our Father’s loving purpose. The will, which animates the human soul, the very soul that must be saved (won over to the Lordship of Christ Jesus), must be brought under the active dominion of the regenerated human spirit, which alone receives the divine things of God, and the power unto righteousness.

I have sinned against the Lord”, cried David, accurately portraying his infidelity and murder as an offense against the Most High. All sin, whatever it looks like, or whoever it hurts or destroys, is an offense against God simply because it defies His perfect and creative purpose on the earth. True repentance acknowledges what God is as much and perhaps more than what we are. It stems from the stark and spirit-inspired sense that the chasm between the Creator and the created is wider than we could ever have imagined.

When the first man Adam tasted of that forbidden fruit, and all the creation groaned on that darkest of days, it was the will of man that was then and there corrupted and sealed in his offspring. And ever since it stands with clenched fists in open and violent defiance of the Maker.

Those whom the Bible calls the children of light will see this most clearly. Those who view sanctification as little more than an improved self, or a fancy suit of clothes draped over dead men’s bones, will not; indeed, they cannot.

My friends, when we repent, we do so not only for the evil that we have committed (our behavior), but for the evil that our entire existence represents in relation to God (our condition). We repent in dust and ashes for what we are, as we gradually come to see Him for what He is. And as this unlikeness and inequality becomes ever more evident to us, as He draws us into Himself, we begin to see what Job saw when he cried –

“Therefore I retract, And I repent in dust and ashes.” (Job 42:6)

or the Apostle Paul, when He enjoined us to –

“Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good.” (Rom. 12:9)

At the most essential level, as the Holy Spirit is turning our moral world upside down and inside out, we begin to see how absolutely loathsome and helpless we are. Then, flowing out of this is a heaven-sent desire to be rid of it, once and for all and forever. This is what Paul was driving at when he tells us to “abhor evil.” The Jews of his day would be very familiar with Old Testament directives to separate themselves from what was unclean or unholy. To abhor implies a desire to be removed or separate from it.

Yet the humanistic religion of our day is quick to nod its happy head and suggest that “nobody’s perfect, my friend. Just say you’re sorry to God and all will be well. After all, He loves you and understands that you are only flesh and blood.”

Do we not see how this trivializes it all away into vapor, and why so many supposed Christians never actually grow in Christ, or come to see life from God’s perspective. I must confess here that this has been an apt description of my Christian walk for most of my life. I repented for what it did for me; or what I wanted it to do for me, not because it affirmed the moral perfection of my God.

I have since begun to ask the Lord to show me what He sees in me, warts and all, and to help me to treat repentance as a way of living this new life, not something I do only when I stumble morally at some point in time. As we draw further into the light that is Jesus Christ, we will see more clearly and vividly what He sees, and that our need for cleansing and forgiveness is a constant necessity as long as we are here in the flesh.

If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us. (1 John 1:6-10)

The Bible teaches, and experience confirms, that our behavior (or what the Scriptures call fruit) springs forth from what we are. I sin because, plainly and simply, I am a sinner. I lie, not due to some momentary lapse of truthfulness, but because I am a liar. I steal, not because I temporarily stumbled, but because I am thief. If the well has been polluted, then the water will be undrinkable. Jesus came, suffered, died, then rose on the third day, not to change what we do, but what we are.

Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness. You know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin. No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him. Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous… (1 John 3:4-7)

The humanist tendency today is to refuse to be defined by what we are, to consider the human condition as essentially good, yet prone to weakness. This explanation, false to its core, tramples on the truth of what Adamic man really is, and ultimately degrades the cross of Christ.

To repent in Biblical terms, is to turn away from the sinfulness we abhor, and toward our pure and perfect Redeemer. Repentance is the ongoing expression of the truth that the Holy Spirit is exposing about our foul condition. Yes, when it surfaces in the form of rotten fruit and hurts others, it becomes even more exposed, but repentance has a persistent role in our transformation.

“Therefore bear fruit in keeping with repentance…” (Matt. 3:8)

We repent also because we have veiled the testimony of our Lord to this sin-stained world. Rather than magnify our Lord Jesus Christ, we have covered Him over in the dark shroud of the old carnal self. Rather than shine forth His pure and heavenly light, we have only added to the darkness. In place of salt, we have scattered sugar, and the rot and decay of evil has advanced, unrestrained by the power of God in us.

Repentance marks a commitment to turn, a redirection of the will back toward the One who has begotten us; He who is drawing us out of the darkness and depravity of this world into His marvelous light.

For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. (1 John 2:16)

It is not an intellectual or even strictly moral thing at all, but it flows out of the illumination of the human spirit. It is a heart-deep revelation of our profound uncleanness, and a God-sent obsession to be eternally cleansed and pure.

True repentance is nothing more than seeing clearly, as the Lord sees. It is seeing unlikeness, impurity, disorder (the human soul, with all of its natural energies and inspiration, governing the human spirit, rather than the other way around, as intended by the Creator), worldliness, carnality (the lustful energies of the physical body governing both soul and spirit). In short, we repent of anything that is less than Christ, and anything put in place of Christ; even things that are not necessarily bad or evil in themselves. Only as we begin to truly and clearly see the Lord Jesus in all of His divine fullness, with eyes wide open in the spirit, do we begin to see ourselves and all that we represent. Only then, will repentance bring forth the fruit of a transformed life, pleasing to the Father.

We repent, my friends, because we do not love Him as He has loved us. We repent because He is pure and holy, and we are not. We repent because we see with eyes wide open in the spirit, what He sees. We repent because He who is innately worthy has stooped to help we who are not.

For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death.  (2 Cor. 7:10)

Indeed, part of the Godly sorrow that surfaces and sometimes threatens to consume us, may even flow out the realization of how utterly unworthy we are of any good thing from the Master’s table. He has stooped to wash our feet, yet we persist in wanting to be dirty. Idolatry, impurity, uncleanness, selfishness, worldliness – oh that we would be free my brethren; oh for the day when we will be free!

May our Holy and Perfect Father lead each of us further along this path into His light and truth. May the tears that flow from the recognition of our own uncleanness and unfaithfulness render the fruits of righteousness and holiness in our hearts and lives. May we begin to see all things as only He sees them, abhorring that which is evil, and turning to He alone Who is good. In Jesus’ perfect and holy name. Amen.