Category: The Gift is not the Prize

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!

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Are We Offended in Him?

Blessed is the one who is not offended by Me. (Matthew 11:6 ESV)

The Word of God does take account of the possibility of our being offended with Him. It does not say anywhere that that possibility should never arise and will never arise. The Lord has no where said that we shall never have any occasion for being offended with Him. He HAS indicated that there will be PLENTY of opportunity for so stumbling at Him, falling over Him, coming down because of Him – if you like: crashing because of Him. There will be plenty of occasion or opportunity for doing so. He has never said that it will never be so. It is as well for us to recognize that.

The Lord sent no word of rebuke to poor John the Baptist in the prison when he was perilously near to being offended with the Lord because of his situation. The Lord was not hard on John because of his question. He might, had He been another, have said, “But John, did you not point Me out as the Lamb of God? Did you not proclaim Me as the One, the Messiah? Haven’t you preached about Me to multitudes? Have you not made the strongest declarations and affirmations as to what you believed about Me? And here you’re asking a fundamental question about Me. John, what’s gone wrong with you?” No, nothing like that. The Lord knows our frame, that we are dust. And the Lord, I’m saying, takes account of this ever present possibility, in our weakness, of being offended with Him. But He does attach to this matter a particular blessedness if we don’t crash over the Stumbling Block of His ways with us, “AND blessed is he whosoever shall not be offended in Me.” (TAS)

Dear ones – the Lord never minces words does He? He never pretends things are different than they really are? There is a spirit-scraping-bone honesty about everything He did and said while on this earth. He desires truth in the inner-most being, deep down, and unlike religious men and the church by and large today, He is satisfied with nothing less.

In this age of hyphenated, small “c” Christianity, the deep, purposeful, emptying work of the cross, has not only been lost, it have become somewhat of an offense to so many who name His name. Paul travailed for these babes, until “Christ be formed in them.” We have made the gospel so much about self-affirmation (humanism in short), not what the Word reveals it to be –  self-negation. We have turned sanctification largely into a work of renovation rather what it truly is – demolition and the building up (the filling up unto fullness) of Christ in the empty shell that remains.He emptied Himself to come down and then He went willingly up to the cross of death to pour Himself out for us unto life, and He is the way; the pattern – so why is it different for us I wonder?

“Oh He did everything for us so that we wouldn’t have to – praise the Lord!”

Oh really?

So then how does He deal with this “body of death” that Paul spoke of, that he wrestled with constantly, with the sin and self-life that remained? What does baptism picture? Cleansing? Washing your hands? No, it pictures death, being covered over, subsumed, buried, finished.

“I have died for you my friends, no need to take up your cross daily and follow me – all is done” – is this what the Master gave us? I dare say I wish it was.

To become something new, to receive a new name, a new identity in the Father’s House, we must receive a new life, the very life of the Final Adam, the Father’s Beloved Son. He alone is the basis of the New Creation, the fount and breath of life that sustains it. We are to become a new creature that lives and moves and exists solely in Him and out of Him and for His Father’s glory. This is all true, yet something stands in the way of all this, and we all know what it is –

THE OLD MAN!

It is you and I in all of our inherent fullness and self-life. It is everything in us and of us, not just the bad but even the good (especially the good as this is the wellspring of the pride of life). We in and of ourselves are not like most cities with good and bad neighborhoods, and the Holy Spirit is revitalizing the sundry parts. No, that is not what Paul taught in Romans and elsewhere. “In me there is no good thing”. The cross offered us isn’t like chemo-therapy that kills off only the bad cells – it destroys everything. It is also not like modern psychology that treats selective or destructive areas of your behavior and personality –

IT CUTS YOU DOWN. ALL OF YOU!

Such that you change from Moses the prince, to Moses the sheep-hand, from Jacob to an Israel, from Jeremiah the priest’s son, to Jeremiah the prophet, from Nehemiah the cup-bearer to Nehemiah the wall-builder, from Simon to Cephas, from Saul to Paul.

Oh dear beloved, truly it is a strange and terrible work the Lord is doing with those few willing to venture down this narrow path. Yet we are not to think it strange that so many fiery trails and afflictions and losses are working in painful ways to separate us from ourselves, to break us down, to bring us to death daily. Praise God that He employs the very curse of sin to slay it. “You will not die” – hissed the serpent under his foul breath, but indeed we must, we have to, it is the only way to truly live in the image of God.

Yet in the midst of it, He will refresh and encourage us, He will give a cup of water to those little ones who are fellow-shipping in His sufferings, and He will bless heartily all others who do so as well.

And may we each be encouraging one another as we see the day approaching. You do see it don’t you? May your eyes be opened, may He spit on the earth, rub your eyes and command them to be opened, and your ears to be opened too that you might hear what He is saying (in the spirit) to the churches at this very moment. We are Daniels in Babylon saints, and yet are we weeping over His fallen city, His fallen testimony, His captive people once redeemed and betrothed unto Himself? What are we concerned with or consumed with – this Sodom in which live?

Here take this hand and come out. Go ahead and take it -leave everything behind and come out! Don’t look back for this Sodom has nothing for you – leave it all – your place, your home, your citizenship, your affiliations, your painted treasures, even the loved ones who refuse to leave – Come out! And be counted with the Lord! Come out to stand on the mount with your father Abraham, for the time and the call is coming quickly to an end.

I dare say we should be wary of any follower of His who never struggles with the Lord, never grapples with Him and His violent move on their life and heart. All is song and happiness, in other words. All is buttoned-up pretense. Then where, I dare say, is the offense of the cross; where is the blood and sweat pouring out from their old man, where is the authentic disciple experience of life rising up out of death in them? Where is the dislocated hip from such a violent encounter with the Lord? Are we offended when we come across a saint who walks with a limp because he has contended heartfully and violently with the Lord? Why is this? Why has this faith become incapable of dealing with things on such a deeper level, such an honest level? Can we grow from milk to meat, from childhood to maturity with anything less I ask? Why are we so quick to judge, when the Word exhorts us against such things?

Why no hard and bitter questions for Him? Like John, we are only men, only so much like Jacob, yes becoming sons of God, but still mostly just men. “Are you really the promised Christ?” “Why do you sleep Lord when the storm rages all around us and we are consumed?”

It is the cross that is so offensive to the flesh in man, and to this modern testimony of the Lord on this earth. They will have none of it it seems. No self-denial, no loss, no affliction, no self-emptying, no bruising, no narrow way, no sore affliction, no rejection, no betrayal, no false accusations, no hatred from this world and its god. “GET AWAY FROM ME SATAN!” is how our Lord thinks of such a cross-less pursuit of Him. It is offensive to Him and His Father and so it should be to us.

Yet this is the path to the increase of Christ is it not? This is where His life comes from and how it increases in us. “Unless it dies…” says the Word. Not by more study, more church, more religion, more fellowship with always-happy, water-spider christians, dancing on the surface of life but never plunging into the depths. Does even this word offend you? Does it sound wrong or twisted to you? Perhaps we can go around the Red Sea rather than through it. Perhaps we can build a golden bridge across the Jordan, rather than get our ankles wet. Perhaps we can take up a sword or do anything else in our power to keep death and hell from knocking at the door. Perhaps we can slay Saul so that he will stop hunting us down. Perhaps the baker or the butler will put in a good word for us to get us out of this pit.

I know my friends, how hard this is, how deep these things must go. I know how lonely is this path into His very heart, once so many others have abandoned this narrow way back to the Father’s love. I know what it is like to want to sing His praises when only hard questions will come out. I know what it is like to be so blinded by tears that you cant see Him in the storm.

The Lord minced no words in such matters and so how can we? Will He find (the) faith on the earth among His own when He returns? No, because the true faith, the true call has become so offensive to so many in this pleasure-loving generation, who associate Him with the “good life”, and the affirmation of everything this world has to offer. The modern church has become little more than a country club serving up psycho-social milk and pabulum to babes who are always learning but never coming to the knowledge of the truth. The milk goes down easy and it is warm in their mouths, no chewing required, no effort, nothing to really digest and become flesh in them.

No, no our Lord in His great love never soft-balled anything to us. He never floated any pitches, or sugar-coated just how serious these matters of life and death really are. Modern-day come as you are, stay as you are, leave as you are preachers do certainly, but our Great Teacher never need, and never will.

My encouragement to all those presently striving with the Lord is don’t let go of Him until He blesses (wounds) you. Don’t let go. Cling to Him out of a tenacious love. Don’t lose heart. Don’t listen to those who try to convince you that you are “of little faith”, or somehow outside of His will and blessing. Real faith, the faith that will endure until the end, is a faith that is forged in these private struggles with Him and His way. Don’t give up on Him, don’t relinquish your grip on his heart. Love so often, if it is really a love that has gone down deep into a man – it must be tried and tested. It must yearn for Him, it must strive to know Him, all of Him, all that He is and has gone through for us. It is a love than knows death and silence and confusion – yet it clings to Him, to even a piece of His clothing if that is all you can get hold of.

And stop pretending with one another. Stop holding back your questions and difficulties. The only real fellowship in the spirit we can hope to have is the fellowship in His sufferings. As you see the day approaching (and my friends, it is approaching) encourage others to endure, those who are dying daily to the things of the old man and this world. Hold one another, embrace each others pain and confusion, weep with one another, and let your tears run down together to wash the feet of our Lord. As you watch painfully as beloved brothers and sisters are being emptied and poured out to all the things of the flesh and the world, weep with them, pray with them, ache with them, join with them, minister strength to them as another member of the body. Don’t preach! Don’t judge! Don’t try to explain it all away! Don’t be like Job’s well-meaning but useless friends!  It is, after all, just the Cross doing what it is intended to do. It is the Word becoming flesh in that man before your very eyes. It is newness of life rising up out of death, it is, in the end – the only way home.

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

If this way, and truth and life offends you, then turn back now – stop pretending with yourself, God and everyone else! For when the final shaking comes, all that is false, all that is loosely attached, will fall away.

I encourage all of you, and love you and I do understand, truly I do.

The Second is Like it – W. E. Smith

“Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind‘” (Matthew 22:37-39).

Dear children of God – the above verse, a familiar one, is not what the Lord has given us. Now I may be splitting hairs but I don’t think so. May the Spirit be the judge.

“Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself'” (Matthew 22:37-39).

We are to love the Lord with all of our being. We are not to love other human beings with all of our being; we are to love them as “yourself.” We are not to love ourselves with all of our heart and soul and mind (or strength). Do you see that?

Further, we cannot even hope to love others as ourselves unless and until we come to the place of loving the Lord with everything we are and everything He gives us, and becomes in us. Yes the “second is like it”. It is similar – but it is not the same. It flows from the first. It is a consequence of the first. It is not even possible without the first. There can be no good Samaritan without first the faithful son and servant.

Until we love the Lord, and have laid down our lives for him, we cannot hope to have a love for others that is safe and sanctified. The Lord Jesus loved His disciples but He never ever put them above the Father. He never let their well-being or needs or anything come before doing the Father’s will. Remember, love is further defined as faithful obedience –

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” John 14:15

The first and greatest commandment. Why? Because everything begins here. Our relationship with our Eternal Father is the genesis of everything else. Everything in our new lives is defined here. Nothing else matters without this. Our relationship with the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit – an obedience flowing out of love and grace – is the reason we were created, and it is the reason we were redeemed from the cruel overlord of this world.

“You shall love others as yourself. This is the first and greatest commandment.” God’s heart will be fulfilled if you only love other people more. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you – this is the beating heart of the Christian faith.” It sounds right doesn’t it? So quaint, so selfless. We have heard it before from many drive-by professors of the faith.

No, He created us to inhabit our hearts, our human spirit, to live and dwell and be the animating principle within us. We are to love our God and fear Him above all else, even the loved ones He gives us. Love like this answers once and for all the sin question. The idol question. The law question. The curse question. All of the why questions. Any other love that occupies the first and central place in our hearts is a dangerous one – IT IS IDOLATRY pure and simple; and the Lord will test us on it, rest assured.

Do we love Him then? Really? With a pure and undivided heart? Do we obey and abide in Him? Do we trust Him totally? And in the end, do we really want Him, deep down in our hearts of hearts? Do we miss Him, and want nothing more than for Him to return? Does this life of faith, of waiting, of promise and hope – do we get so tired of it sometimes, because we just want the Lord Himself, as He is? Or are the distractions of this world and the pleasures of Sodom so appealing to us?

Let us be honest in the spirit and stop trying so hard to be religious. This love is not, I repeat, not a religious, sentimental, swooning love at all, like so much of CCM. It is a love that loses itself in everything He is and says and desires. The more we love Him, the more we become like Him, and in Him, and part of Him. He is increased and we are decreased because we love Him, He is our first and highest and deepest love.

If anyone has no love for the Lord, let him be accursed. Our Lord, come! (1 Cor. 16:22)

Come Lord Jesus Come! Send Him Father, Send Him, Send Him to His Beloved!

He Who Has an Ear… (The Letters to the Churches)

Message to Ephesus

“To the angel of the church in Ephesus write:

The One who holds the seven stars in His right hand, the One who walks among the seven golden lampstands, says this:

‘ I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot tolerate evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false; and you have perseverance and have endured for My name’s sake, and have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place—unless you repent. Yet this you do have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God.’

Message to Smyrna

“And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write:

The first and the last, who was dead, and has come to life, says this:

‘I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich), and the blasphemy by those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, so that you will be tested, and you will have tribulation for ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt by the second death.’

Message to Pergamum

“And to the angel of the church in Pergamum write:

The One who has the sharp two-edged sword says this:

‘I know where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is; and you hold fast My name, and did not deny My faith even in the days of Antipas, My witness, My faithful one, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells. But I have a few things against you, because you have there some who hold the teaching of Balaam, who kept teaching Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols and to commit acts of immorality. So you also have some who in the same way hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans. Therefore repent; or else I am coming to you quickly, and I will make war against them with the sword of My mouth. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, to him I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and a new name written on the stone which no one knows but he who receives it.’

Message to Thyatira

“And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write:

The Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet are like burnished bronze, says this:

‘ I know your deeds, and your love and faith and service and perseverance, and that your deeds of late are greater than at first. But I have this against you, that you tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, and she teaches and leads My bond-servants astray so that they commit acts of immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols. I gave her time to repent, and she does not want to repent of her immorality. Behold, I will throw her on a bed of sickness, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of her deeds. And I will kill her children with pestilence, and all the churches will know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts; and I will give to each one of you according to your deeds. But I say to you, the rest who are in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not known the deep things of Satan, as they call them—I place no other burden on you. Nevertheless what you have, hold fast until I come. He who overcomes, and he who keeps My deeds until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations; and he shall rule them with a rod of iron, as the vessels of the potter are broken to pieces, as I also have received authority from My Father; and I will give him the morning star. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’

Message to Sardis

“To the angel of the church in Sardis write:

He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars, says this: ‘ I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die; for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God. So remember what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent. Therefore if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you. But you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their garments; and they will walk with Me in white, for they are worthy. He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’

Message to Philadelphia

“And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write:

He who is holy, who is true, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, and who shuts and no one opens, says this:

‘ I know your deeds. Behold, I have put before you an open door which no one can shut, because you have a little power, and have kept My word, and have not denied My name. Behold, I will cause those of the synagogue of Satan, who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie—I will make them come and bow down at your feet, and make them know that I have loved you. 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. I am coming quickly; hold fast what you have, so that no one will take your crown. He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he will not go out from it anymore; and I will write on him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God, and My new name. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’

Message to Laodicea

“To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:

The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says this:

‘ I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth. Because you say, “ I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me. He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’”

The Principle and Meaning of Circumcision – T. Austin-Sparks

Here I must put in a rather long parenthesis on the matter of circumcision, a matter fraught with the greatest significance. Let me turn you to a few passages.

“And he gave him” (that is, Abraham) “the covenant of circumcision” (Acts 7:8).

“For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: but he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God” (Romans 2:28, 29).

“Is this blessing then pronounced upon the circumcision, or upon the uncircumcision also? for we say, To Abraham his faith was reckoned for righteousness. How then was it reckoned? when he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision: and he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while he was in uncircumcision: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be in uncircumcision” (Romans 4:9-11).

You almost hold your breath as you read the next:

“Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing” (1 Corinthians 7:19).

Imagine a Jew saying that! We shall come to that in a minute.

“For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision; but faith working through love” (Galatians 5:6).

“For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation” (Galatians 6:15).

Finally, that tremendous statement and exposition in the letter to the Colossians:

“In whom ye were also circumcised with a circumcision not made with hands, in the putting off of the body of the flesh, in the circumcision of Christ; having been buried with him in baptism, wherein ye were also raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead” (Colossians 2:11,12).

The Importance of Circumcision to the Jews

Let us remind ourselves of the immense importance attached to circumcision by the Jews. It is something that could hold us for quite a time, and it would be well if the full force of it could come home to us. It was the very sign of their national oneness, of their national existence, of their belonging to the people of God. Anybody without that sign was altogether outside the pale of promise and covenant and hope. It was the door, for them, into everything of value: everything for them rested upon that. No one, for instance, would ever be allowed to partake of the feast of the Passover who did not bear that sign.

We can realise a little of what they placed upon it when we come into the New Testament and consider some of the events after the day of Pentecost. On the one side, think for a moment what it meant for the apostles themselves — Peter, James, John, and the others — to have to deal with this matter and weaken their position regarding it. It was a real battle, for it meant uprooting something from their very being, something that was a part of them; and it was cropping up all the time. On the other side, there were the Judaizers — those men who pursued Paul over the face of the earth, tracking him down into every town and city, on this one issue. They followed him up and said to those to whom he had ministered: “Unless you are circumcised, you cannot be saved” (Acts 15:1). That is a positive statement, and this was the cause of all the trouble.

There is very much, both in the Scriptures and outside of the Scriptures, that shows what a great thing this was. Even today, the celebration of this in a Jewish home is preceded by festivities and sacred rites. Yes, there is for them something about this ordinance that is big, tremendous. It was rooted deep in their very being as a most sacred thing, upon which everything of ultimate value hung. And here is this man who comes along and says, “Circumcision is nothing!” A Jew of the Jews, “of the stock of Israel”, “circumcised the eighth day” (Phil. 3:5), and he says it is nothing! What has Paul seen?

The Significance of Circumcision

Well, of course, he has seen the spiritual significance; and when you see that, the other is nothing. In his letter to the Colossians (among other places), he lays down precisely and concisely what that significance is. Let us read the passage again.

“In whom ye were also circumcised with a circumcision not made with hands, in the putting off of the body of the flesh, in the circumcision of Christ; having been buried with him in baptism, wherein ye were also raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead” (Col. 2:11,12).

Now there are two things here. First of all, we have God’s full thought about circumcision and about baptism, and the relationship between the two. And then, secondly, we see what is the real significance of baptism in the life of the child of God.

Circumcision, Like Baptism, Points to the Cross

The relationship between circumcision and baptism is here stated by Paul. In both these words — “ye were… circumcised”, “having been buried… in baptism” — we are brought right to the cross of the Lord Jesus. In principle and meaning they are combined as one, and they point to the cross. “Buried with him… raised with him”. The whole thing is put on the basis of Christ crucified and risen. Of course, we who are Christians know that to be the meaning of baptism. But what was the meaning of this other sign? Perhaps we may put it like this: that the cross is here brought in as — so to speak — the instrument of circumcision. It does that which must be done — it is the means of actually carrying it into effect — and it is drastic.

If Israel had only seen! If they had only seen, nothing would have been given away. They would not have had to lower their idea or lessen their estimate; they would not have made less of circumcision, if they had seen. For, after all, this IS a big thing, it is a great thing. After all, national existence does rest upon it: but it is not this nation, it is the heavenly one. Entry into all the blessings of the covenant, the eternal covenant in His blood, rests upon the principle that is here. The whole Kingdom, as covenanted, is entered into and inherited by this door. Yes, it is a big thing. Nothing has been exaggerated as to its importance. If only they had seen Christ crucified and risen! It was only because they did not see the real meaning of this pre-eminent rite in their own life and history that they lost everything. They lost the Kingdom; they lost their place as a nation, in the purposes and counsels of God, for the time being at least; and all because they separated between a thing and its meaning. Now, in John 3 we see the Lord Jesus taking up the meaning of things for Nicodemus. By nature, of course, he is blind, like the rest. But Nicodemus is of the circumcision — that is the point. He is a Jew indeed; he is a representative, in a very full way, of Israel after the flesh. And the Lord Jesus makes it quite clear to him that — so far as acceptance with God is concerned — he, as such, is ruled out.

What is the meaning of all this? In the life of the true seed of Abraham — which is Christ’s seed — what does it mean? It means simply this: that circumcision is, as Paul says, not a matter of the flesh, but of the heart (Rom. 2:28,29). It is a severance that has to take place right down in the inner man, deep down in the innermost being of the person; a radical, fundamental putting of two things apart. You will be able to follow through the implications of this more fully than it is possible for me to do here. There is an encircling of the blood which makes a separation, puts two things apart, and for ever after witnesses to the severance that has taken place, declaring that those two things are no longer together: God has put them asunder. And how much of the New Testament comes in when you say that! That is the spiritual meaning of baptism. You cannot say all this to everyone who is going to be baptized — they would be frightened and run away! — but God means all this. And God does not let us off. If we really mean business, He does not let us off any of His meaning, even though at the beginning we may not see it all — and thank God we do not! But even so, it might be well if we knew a little more than we often do.

The Flesh, or Self-Principle

What is it that is severed in and by the cross of the Lord Jesus? From what do you and I accept severance, when we come to the cross of the Lord Jesus and, in the symbolic act of baptism, take our position with Him there? There are various terms for it in the New Testament. It is sometimes called “the flesh”. Paul uses it here: “the body of the flesh” (Col. 2:11). He is not talking about our physical body, our body of flesh. He is using that word “flesh”, as he often does, in a symbolic way. A definition that he gives to it in the Corinthian letter is “the natural man”. Perhaps we think: Well, “flesh” is a difficult word, but “natural man” is still more difficult — it seems more technical. What do these terms really mean?

They mean, purely and simply: the SELF-principle in man. That is at the root of everything. That is where all the trouble began with Adam; that is where all the trouble has gone on; and that is where the trouble is with you and me. It is a protean monster that has awoken, stretched itself, risen up and taken hold of the heart of man. It will assert itself, make itself known and felt, in every conceivable and inconceivable way. We shall never be able to conceive of the unnumbered, unsuspected ways in which this monster will show itself. It is no use trying to track it down. Every hour, every minute, every second, almost, of our life, in some form or other, this many-headed, many-membered thing — the self-principle — will assert itself.

a) In the mind

It is found in the mind. It makes use of our intellect and our reason in order to overpower opposition and bring things our way, to argue and to substantiate our own position. And therefore, before you and I can ever get into the true realm of heavenly things, we have got to have a “circumcised” intellect, reason, mind. Is that not exactly what the Lord was saying to Nicodemus? Here is this teacher of Israel, coming to argue, to discuss, and the Lord says, “It is no use. You may have been circumcised in the flesh as a good Jew, but what you need is to have your intellect circumcised”. “Except a man be born anew, he cannot SEE…” “You have got it all in the mind, all as an intellectual apprehension. If I have spoken of earthly things, and you do not understand them, where will you be if I begin to talk to you about heavenly things? Out of your depth altogether! Devout son of Abraham though you may be, you need to experience a radical severance between your natural mind and the things of Heaven.”

That is the trouble with many people. It is their head that is in the way all the time — the one thing that is obstructing their progress is their own head! Their stubborn-mindedness, or their clever-mindedness; their intellectual superiority, or their argumentative disposition: you meet it all the time — there is no way through. If you try to take them on that line you are simply beating your own head against a wall. The Lord Jesus never attempted such an approach in trying to win souls. He simply said: “You must be born from above”.

b) In the feelings

In other cases the circumcision needs to take place in the realm of the feelings, the emotions, the desires. That is the part of the being that gets in the way of so many people. They are controlled entirely by the feeling-life, the affection-life — they are in bondage to that part of their being; and they are very difficult people to handle. But a true child of Heaven, the seed of His travail, is one in whom there has taken place, in that very realm of the feelings and desires, a deep work of circumcision.

c) In the will

And what is true of the intellect and the emotions is true in the realm of the will. With many people it is their will that is in the way. They have got a position, and they tenaciously hold to it and support it; they have got a grip, and they just cannot let go. They will support their position with Scripture, or even with a “revelation” superior to Scripture! Their will is the cause of all the trouble. The cause of the setting back of all God’s purposes in their lives is just there: in their choices, their decisions, their position, their way; in their natural self-strength, that has never been broken. And so it is just there that circumcision must take place.

It applies in so many other ways. The cross, as the instrument of spiritual circumcision, has to be applied to this self-life deeper and ever more deeply, because there seems to be no end to it. But that is the painful side, the dark side. What is happening on the other side? Is it not that room is being made for Christ? The real seed, the seed of Christ, is growing, becoming more and more manifest. The opposite of the characteristics which we have been considering — strength of intellect or emotion or will — is meekness. He said: “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart” (Matt. 11:29). Pursue this right through, and you cannot fail to recognise that there was something radically different in the very depths of His being.

I have said that we cannot calculate the whole range of this self-principle, in its myriad forms of self-expression and self-occupation and self-attention and self-pity and self-consciousness and self-satisfaction. Even in our Christian life, in our devotion to the Lord, we are so happy that other people see how devoted we are, and how humble we are! And it is the self, the wretched — may I use the word? — the stinking self, coming up all the time. For a true child of God is oblivious of himself, has lost consciousness of himself in every way. If other people point out something good about them, they had not realised it, they were not aware of it. They are surprised that anyone could say anything good about them; they are not conscious of that. And on the other side, should people be critical and point out failings, well, they only say, “Yes, I know: I had that out with the Lord”, or “I have got that before the Lord right now. I am not deceiving myself about that.” This is the true child of Heaven.

So we could go on. That is the meaning of circumcision. In the light of that, the true meaning, the true principle, think of a Pharisee — a child of Abraham — saying: “I am better than anyone else”, or making long prayers for everybody to see and to hear! A child of ABRAHAM! You remember all that the Lord said about them. Oh, they have missed the point! Ah, but do not let us criticize and blame. It is a very searching thing for ourselves, is it not? Paul says that circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing, but a new creation. True circumcision is not of the flesh, but of the heart. The Lord give us circumcised hearts, and give us grace to have this severance pursued to finality.

Excerpted from The Israel of God – by T. Austin-Sparks

A Tithe of Men – W.E. Smith

Now the leaders of the people settled in Jerusalem. The rest of the people cast lots to bring one out of every ten of them to live in Jerusalem, the holy city, while the remaining nine were to stay in their own towns. The people commended all who volunteered to live in Jerusalem. (Neh. 11:1)

Part 1 –

Part 2 –

 A Peculiar Treasure – by T. Austin-Sparks

“And the princes of the people dwelt in Jerusalem: the rest of the people also cast lots, to bring one of ten to dwell in Jerusalem the holy city, and nine parts in the other cities. And the people blessed all the men that willingly offered themselves to dwell in Jerusalem. Now these are the chiefs of the province that dwelt in Jerusalem: but in the cities of Judah dwelt every one in his possession in their cities, to wit, Israel, the priests, and the Levites, and the Nethinim, and the children of Solomon’s servants” (Nehemiah 11:1-3).

“Then they that feared the Lord spake one with another: and the Lord hearkened, and heard, and a book of remembrance was written before him, for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name. And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in the day that I do make, even a peculiar treasure; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him” (Malachi 3:16,17).

As we come to the last of this series of messages, it is necessary to have the whole background before us in order really to appreciate the setting of this final word. We have been led, as we have considered the rebuilding of the wall of Jerusalem by Nehemiah and those who were inspired by him, to see again that, as that was a movement of God at the end-time of the old dispensation (Nehemiah being the last historical book of the Old Testament), so there is a corresponding movement in our own time, as we move toward the end of this dispensation: that God would seek to complete, make full, the testimony of His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. We have looked at that testimony, as to what it is; we have taken account of the work, and the workers related to it; and we have also given some consideration to the conflict, the warfare, in which the workers in such a work are involved.

Now for a brief and simple word arising out of the two passages which we have just read. More than once in the course of these messages we have reminded ourselves that Nehemiah and Malachi were contemporary, that what we read of in the book of Nehemiah should be placed alongside of that which we have in the prophecies of Malachi. Malachi tells of the conditions in the days of Nehemiah, and here we come to what may be regarded as a final word in the matter. In this eleventh chapter of the book of Nehemiah, there is mentioned a peculiar offering to the Lord, and in Malachi 3 a peculiar treasure of the Lord.

A Tithe of the People

The peculiar offering, as you notice, was now not a tithe of things. Tithing of things was dealt with, but here was a tithe of the people, a tithe of the whole people, a tenth part of those who had come back and who had engaged in this work of rebuilding the wall, and that tenth part became a peculiar freewill offering to the Lord. Let us put a line under the tenth part for the moment: because, whether we like it or not, whether we are prepared to accept it or not, the fact remains that it always has been, and, so far as the forecast of the New Testament goes, it will be to the end, that there are only a certain few who go the full length with the Lord in His whole purpose. After all the sifting that had taken place – the first great sifting in Babylon when there came back a company, and then a second sifting when a few more came back – after the siftings, here we find ourselves at a kind of final sifting, when the number is still further reduced and it is only a tenth part who will voluntarily abide in Jerusalem by their own choice – just a tenth part. It seems that they correspond to Malachi 3:16,17, that company that feared the Lord, and that thought upon His Name: because you notice that it goes on to say: “They shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in the day that I do make, even a peculiar treasure”. and He has made a record of them – “The Lord hearkened and heard, and a book of remembrance was written before him”, – a record was kept.

The Lord’s Book of Remembrance

Now in Nehemiah 11:4-24 you have the names, the record, of those who were a freewill offering. The Lord kept a record, the Lord composed a “book of remembrance,” the Lord entered the names of these, and concerning them He says they are “a peculiar treasure,” something He specially treasures. The Lord is looking for some who will be to Him “a kind of firstfruits,” a kind who will be in the vanguard, following Him “whithersoever he goeth”. He does look for a nucleus who will mean the satisfaction of His heart in the first place and in the essential way. As He looks out on a great multitude – and He has a great multitude who are His in the earth today – it cannot be said that all who bear His Name, all who are the Lord’s, are utterly following and wholly going on, or meaning to do so. No, it is not so. But He looks for this tithe of His people, this tenth part representation answering to His own heart desire. They to Him are peculiarly precious. “They shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in the day that I do make, even a peculiar treasure”. That is the final issue of this matter of the whole testimony: who will voluntarily go all the way with the Lord, no matter what it costs?

A Freewill Offering

Now it was a freewill offering, this tithe. Each one of the tenth made it voluntarily. They submitted themselves voluntarily to this casting of lots. You might object that if a lot was cast they had no option, they had to accept it whether they liked it or not, but the point is that they willingly committed themselves to that method. That was a willing, a freewill, offering unto the Lord. No compulsion here, no law here, no legality here – it was just willingness. Are you prepared, out of your own heart, to make a response and say, without any bribery, without any fear of the consequences if you do not: ‘Yes, I am going all the way with the Lord, I am going to see that the Lord gets all that He wants so far as I am concerned’? That may mean a lot, that may involve a lot. But the Lord does not ask you to do it. He just waits for it – a freewill offering, a peculiar treasure to Him because it is freewill.

But what did it mean, this living at Jerusalem – this living at the very heart of the testimony, in other words? For since the wall represents the testimony, people coming into residence within the wall in Jerusalem really represented a spiritual movement – that there are those who are prepared to live right at the heart of the testimony. It was necessary, and it always is necessary, to the Lord that some do that – come right into the heart of it, to be there in the place of responsibility concerning it. There is a need that the testimony should be taken up with a sense of responsibility for its maintenance, that it shall be kept whole, that it shall be guarded, that it shall be served, that it shall be ministered to. If you look at the details concerning those who came within, you see their various ministries. I cannot take up the detail now, but you will see the various ministries which were represented by those who came into Jerusalem. They came in to fulfil a ministry, a spiritual ministry, on the inside, and take responsibility there. It was a need the testimony required.

A Great Cost

But there was a great cost attached to it. Not everybody was prepared for that, not at all. There were many who were ready for it, who accepted the method of choice to live inside, who were not called upon to do so, but there were those who, in the sovereign overruling of God, found themselves called upon to do so. The lot fell out in their direction. God sovereignly saw to it that that was how things went for them, and it represented a real cost. It was very much nicer to live outside Jerusalem than inside. These men came into the city, on that day when the lot was to be cast, ready to accept the result as the will of God for them.

And then the lot was cast, and it fell to them to come and live in the city. I can imagine some of those men going back to their suburban dwellings, wondering what the reaction was going to be at home about this; saying to their wives: ‘My dear, we have to go and live in the city, we have to move into Jerusalem – the lot has fallen to us.’ Well, of course, the right kind of wife would say this: ‘My dear, it was a matter of prayer, was it not? We prayed about it, that if it was to come our way the Lord would overrule, that if He wanted us He would let the lot fall on us. It was before the Lord; it is all right, the Lord wants it. Of course, it means giving up our nice little country house and our nice garden. It means losing that circle of friends we have out here. But still the Lord has laid it on us and we do not do it with any murmuring. But there are the children – perhaps that is the hardest part of all, the children. They have to lose so much – this free life out here, this life with all these others out here in the larger scale. They are involved in this.’ And then they would turn to the children, and say: ‘Listen, children: we have got to go and live in the city. We shall have to leave the country, and the garden, and all these others out here, and go to Jerusalem for the Lord, because the Lord wants it.’ They would be very happy parents to whom the children said: ‘Yes, we realize that your devotion to the Lord is costing you something, it is meaning a lot for you; and if we are involved in it, well, of course it means a lot to us – but we are with you in this.’

I do not think that is all imagination. I am quite sure that it was a costly thing to move into Jerusalem – and it always is costly to live at the heart of the testimony. Those who do so must forego many things that other people may have. You lose the large circle of friends when you go right to the heart of the Lord’s interests. There are many people who do not understand your doing that; they call you foolish, you lose their confidence. They cannot believe that the way you are taking is right, and they would argue, ‘Surely that is not the Lord’s will for you’. Yes, you lose many friends, and you may lose many other things; you may involve your children too – they may lose much if you are going wholly with the Lord.

But listen – “They shall be… a peculiar treasure”. To be a peculiar treasure to the Lord surely balances the account – nay, outweighs that. If you are going on with the Lord, it means that there are many things that you would like to have, many things quite legitimate and right, many things about which there is nothing wrong, but which, because of your utterness for the Lord, you will have to let go. And if you involve others in the suffering and cost of it all, that is a very bitter draught from the cup. There is nothing to indicate that these people who were chosen to move into Jerusalem did not have a bit of a struggle about it, that it did not cost them something, but the fact is that in their willingness to go on with the Lord they triumphed over all.

I think it is a wonderful thing that in the arrangement of the books of the Bible there is such a big gap between Nehemiah and Malachi, and that Malachi comes right at the end with: “They shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in the day that I do make, even a peculiar treasure”. It is costly in many ways to live at the heart of the testimony. Again I say, you may be deprived of many things – good things; you may lose a lot of friends; you may lose a larger life of opportunity. Oh, how many have stopped, saying: ‘How many doors will be closed to me if I go that way! How much wide influence I shall forfeit! I shall narrow my scope if I go that way.’ And many have refused on those grounds, thinking that it was a legitimate argument to hold on to a larger scope and larger influence against the whole mind of the Lord – a wrong way of estimating values, because values are not bigness; they are intrinsic and essential.

The Intrinsic Value of the Peculiar Treasure

And so the value that the Lord has here, as you see quite clearly, is in just a very few, comparatively. It is a “day of small things”; it is a comparatively small company about which the Lord says, ‘My peculiar treasure’. The value is intrinsic. It is there that the Lord finds what His heart desires, and that which, I believe, leads us to the far greater thing. It is not that the Lord’s thought ends there in smallness because the Old Testament ends with this day of small things, this little company fearing the Lord: but that is the link between the end of the old dispensation and the beginning of the new – the coming of the Lord Jesus and all that followed. For, in the four hundred years between the Testaments, there was still that little company holding to the Lord’s full thought. When you open the New Testament, and begin the record as given by Luke, there you find that link – the little representative handful. Here is Anna, here is Simeon – here in Jerusalem is a company who wait for the promise, for the Messiah, looking for that day. They are linked with those who “feared the Lord”. Ah, but this is something that, though outwardly small, has become so intrinsically great, making a way for the Lord to come.

No, it does not end there, but the challenge lies there. How mistaken we are when we measure things by their bigness, by their numbers. That is the way the world does it. And that is where the world has come into the Church – measuring things by numbers, size, extent, what you can see, how you can appraise from natural standpoints. ‘Oh, that must be something for God! Look what a big thing it is!’ Not necessarily. It has often been that the greatest thing of God has been very small in the eyes of man.

We return for a moment, in closing, to the long list of names in Nehemiah 11. I expect when you have read the book of Nehemiah you have skipped this – those names, those terrible, unpronounceable names! You have said, ‘Oh, let us get on to something more interesting than this!’ And yet perhaps this is one of the most interesting things in the whole book. The Lord has taken note of each individual who offered himself in this way, and has marked him down by name and put him in the book; and he is not only here in this book, the Bible, and there mentioned by name for all successive generations to recognize, to identify, but he is in the other book in Heaven for all eternity. That is no small thing: to have your name down not only in the Lamb’s Book of Life as one born from above, a citizen of Heaven, but in the Lord’s “book of remembrance” as one who has ‘followed the Lamb whithersoever He goeth’, as one of a tabulated company, yes, out of all the saved, all the redeemed – this kind of firstfruits unto God.

Need we say more? What is the appeal of these messages? That is the point at which we arrive. I trust it means comfort to you. We want all the comfort that we can get, but we know something of the cost. How many times recently have people said to me, ‘When are you going to retire? So-and-so has retired and so-and-so is retiring’ – yes, ministers of the Gospel. There is no discharge in this warfare, no day for retiring, brothers and sisters. I am sorry for you! You are not going to be pensioned off down here and spend the rest of your life vegetating. You have to go on to the last breath, with battle and cost to the end. There is a cost bound up with the full purpose of God, and in many ways we know it.

But oh, the answer! The Lord is taking note; He is putting it down, and He is saying: ‘That tithe, that freewill offering people, shall be My peculiar treasure in that day that I do make’. I do not know how that is going to work out, what it is going to mean. Of course, it is a picture statement: that in a great house there is something, amongst all the possessions and all the ornaments, something that is peculiarly precious to the owner, and whenever his friends come he is always showing them that. ‘Have you seen this? This is most valuable. I hold it more dear than anything else I have got; indeed it is more to me than all the rest put together – a peculiar treasure.’

That is behind this. How it is going to work out I do not know, but that is what it means. Those who go this way, those who will pay this price, those who will accept these consequences, those who will be after this kind – a freewill offering to the Lord for everything that He desires and His heart is set upon – will be in His House like that. He will be drawing attention to them and saying, ‘Look here, have you seen these? These are peculiarly precious to Me. They followed the Lamb whithersoever He went.’

The Lord make us like that.

Excerpted form the The Recovering of the Lord’s Testimony in Fullness by T. Austin-Sparks

Thy Will Oh Lord, Thy Way – W.E. Smith

“Then he said, ‘This is what I will do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. (Luke 12:18)

“For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” (Matt. 12:50)

“For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.” (John 6:38)

Beloved saints – the soul – the self-life, the life of the mind, the will, the emotion, the creativity – this is so strong, so deep in me. This is the “Jacob” in us, the “Peter”, the cleverness, the conniving, the “working it out” according to our experience, instincts, intelligence.

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life (soul, self-life, psuche – soul), he cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:26)

The disciple has no will, no plans, no motive, no thought for himself. His life is no longer his own, and he no longer trusts his own soul with his plans, decisions, or path forward. This is very much like the Holy Spirit, that is hidden in the shadow of the very Christ He was sent to reveal and express.

Do you see this family of God?

Now we are not, as you know, speaking of moral things particularly, merely doing what is right or good. No, the commitment of the disciple goes much deep and further than that. This is about having a sword in your hand, and Saul lying there before you, and yet holding back your hand because as yet the Lord has not told you to strike. It is about entering actively and completely into the rest, the labor of the Lord as is pictured in His Sabbath day – “The Father is working still, so I am working” confessed the Master to a group of merely religious men who thought only of religious things. “Where I see the Father working is where I work” – He said.

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ (Matt 7:21-23)

In the Father’s Kingdom, lawlessness is so much more than we have made it – it is everything that is not abiding in His will. It is everything that violates His very life and creative working – maybe read that again because it may sound almost heretical or extreme. Let the Spirit bring it home to you. This is the real meaning of Roman 8:2, where Paul speaks of the law of the Spirit of life. Does our life, our work, our plans, our engagements – do they in any way violates the life of the Lord, which is the expression of His will in His creation, and for us particularly?

But oh how strong is this soul life in us, oh let us just be honest my brothers. It is there when we rise in the morning, and throughout the day, always giving place to the enemy and his world, to frustration and confusion, as we try to serve two masters.

To see Him working, where He is working, what He is doing, to hear Him as he invites us into His labors, this is the key then isn’t it? This is true and absolute peace and rest, the key to so many things. The Jacob must become the Israel, and the Peter must become Cephas. The yoke must pass from the Lord unto each one of us.

I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” (John 21:18)

Surrender. Release. Giving up your hands and your heart to the bonds of the Lord. No will. No life of your own. Emptied of worldly ambition, and everything inside you to bring about what the world considers success. A bond-servant, like Eliezer (Abraham’s servant, about his master’s business. Like the 12-year old lad who followed the Father into the temple when all of His family was returning to their home. “Don’t you know…” He said. Well do we? Do we know what this life is all about. Yes, Paul says that there is the “promise of life” (2 Tim. 1:1) but how we have made this so much about more of our own life, more of the soul-life, and not eternal life, the life of God, the very working of God in His creation, which can never cease. The Sabbath is not about the cessation of labor at all, merely the end of our labor as we take up His, as we enter into His yoke to plow His field. This never rests my brothers, and for years I was blind to the true meaning of the seventh day, which of the fullness of entering into the Lord’s creative work.

Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.  (Isa 40:28-31)

How strange it is that we have been taught that either God or His people need to rest! Is His strength not immeasurable and unquenchable? Is this all that the seventh day teaches us?

Are you clever? Many advanced degrees maybe? Tasted worldly success? Moved great mountains in this world, done big things? Oh how hard it is to hate your own soul, to hold it in mistrust and contempt, to see how it moves you away from the creative work of the Lord. How it causes so much conflict and confusion in your life, as you are seeking both your own will and His at the same time.

Service. Ministry. Works
 – most of it merely men. The soul playing at God. We see opportunities maybe and we interpret this as the Lord opening the door. Perhaps, yet our Lord did not heal all of the many sick ones when He was on this earth did He? Only those whom the Father gave Him to cleanse and heal. Nor did He with divine fiat eradicate all hunger and poverty in the world. “The poor you will always have among you,” I seem to recall Him saying. Apostasy in the church? Everywhere. So you have a little light, more maybe than some, so you assume in your soul that the Lord wants you to deliver everyone from their delusions? Good luck with that, and please be sure to let us know how this goes.

And so what shall we do dear ones? Well the simple answer, and it is always a simple answer with the things of the Lord – is that we should do only that which He gives us to do. PERIOD. Only that whichComing Soon - The Prophetic Urgency! the Holy Spirit leads, equips and empowers. Only then will He confess that he “knows us” and owns the works we are engaged in. In the end, such works have already been ordained and determined from the beginning anyway.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Eph. 2:10)

But first we must come to hate our own soul. We must come to the place where we have no trust whatsoever in it. This is called in the Bible – death. This is what the cross is designed to do, to remove every last vestige of reliance, confidence, or trust in our own ability, our own capacity to do anything “of the Lord.” We must forget all of the seemingly great things we have done under the power, ability, inspiration and life of the soul (especially those things of a religious nature), and toss them on the great dung heap of history, for that is what they amount to in the eyes of the Lord.

Father of Light – show us where You are working, and release us from our bonds Lord, to enter into Your work alone, Your Sabbath Rest, that which holds eternity within it. Show us where so much of our lives and plans are merely the soul life in us. Strip away forever the Jacob and the Peter. Give us eyes to see through the fog of self-confidence and self-trust. For apart from You Lord we can do NOTHING!

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:5)

Beloved Saints, children of light – I hope you know by know that I share such things not as one who has merely read about them, studied them, or lived them vicariously through the life of another. These are not merely proof texts to convince your mind of something. You will know in your spirit that these are words of life and truth, sprinkled with the very blood of the Lord’s cross. I am still struggling to let go, and perhaps I always will in this body of flesh. To follow the Lord is so unimaginably simple and yet so incredibly hard at the same time. There is a bloody and violent war going on in my being, and oh pray that His way will emerge, if only for this day.

I love you all. Come Lord Jesus Come!