Tag: What it means to be a Christian

Are You Risen With Christ? – T. A. Sparks

LivingWalk Note:

Dear saints of God, disciples, precious to the Beloved, our Master when He bids us to follow Him bids us to follow Him completely, into the wilderness, into the place of testing and serpents, into rejection and ignominy, up to the cross and down into the grave. Yet it doesn’t end there, for He also bids us to come up. To rise up with Him into a blessed state of risen-ness. Raised up above everything, all that we are in ourselves, this stinking, rotting world, all of the old things, the pain, the failure, the heavy labor. Oh if we, if I could only grasp this in the spirit, so much would be as it should be, as He intended it to be.

Dear ones, why do we so often feel so flesh-bound, so earth-bound when our living reality in Christ Jesus is that we are raised up? Oh that we might enter into this truth as a living, breathing, piercing reality, not just as dead and dry doctrine, not mere words on a page. Lord, may it be so. Breathe on these words Lord, breathe on them, send them down deep into us, as life and meat and the power to be. Oh Lord, we are indeed raised up in You Lord, let us all live and walk in this blessed state of risen-ness today, where nothing below can touch us or change us or turn us away from You and Your purpose. Amen and amen.

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Will you please turn to the Letter to the Colossians, chapter three, verses one through four. “If ye then be risen with Christ.” That is how our translation puts it. But, literally, it ought to be in the form of a question. The question is: Have ye been risen with Christ? Have ye really risen with Christ? The apostle says that when Christ died, we all died in Him. Before God, in the death of the Lord Jesus, all have died. And before God, the only ones who are really alive are those who have risen with Christ. What was history in the case of the Lord Jesus has to be experienced in the case of men. It is an historic fact that Jesus died and rose again. That is history. What is history in the case of Jesus must become experience in the case of believers. Notice the change in the way in which the apostle puts this. He does not ask any question as to the death side. He states that as a fact. He simply says, “You died.” But he puts a question on the other side, and he says, “Have you been raised with Christ? Before God, you are really dead by the death of Christ, but are you sure that you are raised in the resurrection of Christ?”

Well, he puts that in the form of a question, and then he goes on to answer the question, and what follows in this chapter is the answer. He is talking now about “Risen-ones,” and he is stating what Risen-ones do, what their position is. In the first place: RISEN-ONES ARE ON THE OTHER SIDE OF CONDEMNATION, JUDGMENT, AND DEATH. Condemnation, judgment, and death lie behind the Risen-ones. “There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus. The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus had made me free from the law of sin and death” (Rom. 8:1,2; ASV). That is the position of Risen-ones. Well, we can bring the question alongside of that. In view of condemnation, judgment, death, have you been “raised together with Christ?” That is the first blessing of Risen-ones. The question is: Are you enjoying that blessing, the blessing of condemnation, judgment, and death BEING BEHIND YOU, no longer in front of you? That is the position of Risen-ones.

The next thing that the apostle says about RISEN-ONES IS THAT CHRIST IS THEIR LIFE.“When Christ, Who is our life, shall be manifested, then shall ye also with Him be manifested in glory” (Col. 3:4; ASV). Christ, our Life! The Risen-ones are those who have Christ as their Life. What was history with Him has to be experienced in believers in the matter of Life! Christ is the Life of our inner man. We know that Christ is Life within us. He is the very Life of our spirit. He is the Life of our mind. This apostle speaks much about the renewed mind. Christ as the Life of our new minds gives us ability to understand what we could never understand before. The mind has been enlightened, and we now have spiritual understanding. We have a new mind. Christ is the Life of our mind.

Not only is He our Life for our spirit, and our mind, HE IS LIFE FOR OUR BODIES. “If the Spirit of Him That raised up Jesus from the dead be in you, He That raised up Christ Jesus from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies” (Rom. 8:11). There is such a thing as Divine Life for our bodies now, and not only in the great resurrection from the dead. The Word is Christ Who is our Life, and not Christ Who is going to be our Life some day – Christ is our Life now. There is such a thing as Christ being our Life in these mortal bodies now.

That does not mean that we never know anything about sickness, it does not mean that He always miraculously heals us of our sickness. But in these mortal bodies, He is Life to help us go on. We come back from many of our sicknesses because the Life of the Lord is in us, and we go on in spite of our own physical weakness by the strength of His Life. This is the heritage of Risen-ones. And the apostle asks the question again against that: ‘Are you risen with Christ? Do you know Christ as the Life of your inward man? Do you know Christ as the Life of your new mind? And do you know Christ as the energy even of your dying body?’ This is what Risen-ones ought to know.

Then the apostle goes on to speak about THE CONDUCT OF RISEN-ONES:- Firstly, the position of Risen-ones, and then the life of Risen-ones, and then the conduct of Risen-ones. What do Risen-ones do? Verse five says this: “Put to death therefore your members which are upon the earth.” And what does he mean by that? He uses a lot of words to explain that. The first word is “Fornication.” Risen-ones put to death fornication. A Risen-one does not live in fornication. The second word is “Uncleanness.” A Risen-one does not live in uncleanness. The third word is “Passion.” A Risen-one does not live in passion. The next thing is “Evil Desire.” A Risen-one does not live in evil desire. And, then, the last word is “Covetousness.” And the apostle says, ‘Covetousness is idolatry, that is, a life of wanting everything for yourself.’ A Risen-one does not live in these things.

Then he gives us another list of why THE RISEN-ONES ARE VERY DIFFERENT PEOPLE. Verse eight: “Put ye away also all these things,” put away “Anger.” Risen-ones do not live in anger. Put away “Wrath,” put away “Malice,” Put away “Railing,” put away “Shameful Speaking out of your mouth: lie not one to another.” Why? Because “You have put off the old man.” All that belongs to the old man went into the grave with the Lord Jesus. And Risen-ones leave the old man just where the Lord has put him: IN THE GRAVE.

Then the apostle says: “You have put on the new man.” And the new man is the Risen-man. This is the conduct of Risen-ones. I want you to notice, especially, verse eleven. In this new man, the apostle says, “There cannot be Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bondman, freeman; but Christ is all, and in all”(ASV). You notice the different classes that the apostle mentions? There are national differences – Greek, Jew, Barbarian, Scythian. These are different nationalities. Of course, we could add a lot more to that and we could say, British, Chinese, Indian, African, American. And the apostle says, in Risen-ones, there are none of these. If you are taking account of national differences, you belong to the other side of the grave. If you say, ‘Well, you see, he’s only an Englishman.’ Or if you say, ‘Well, he’s only an African.’ ‘Well, you see, he’s only an American’ – you are contradicting the fundamental reality of the Risen-ones. Paul says there can be none of this in Risen-ones.

First of all, CHRIST IS ALL FOR RISEN-ONES. Christ is all and the only One. And then he says, “And Christ is in all.” Oh, what does that mean? A Jew, a Greek, a Barbarian, a Scythian, an American, a Chinese, an Englishman, if they belong to the Lord, Christ is in every one of them. If they are Risen-ones, Christ is in all. And we are not to know them on national grounds: We are only to know them on Christ ground.

Then the apostle marks another distinction. He says, “bondman, freeman.” These are the people who are of a high social standard and others of a low social standard. These are the masters and these are the servants. Paul says, “In the Risen-ones, there is no such distinction.” Risen-ones are not governed by social distinction. The superior ones do not look down upon the inferior ones in Christ, and the inferior ones do not hate the superior ones. We are all one man in Christ Jesus. Christ is all, and in all.

Now we must close with just one more thing. WHAT IS THE LIFE OBJECT OF RISEN-ONES? The answer comes right at the beginning of the chapter. Are you risen with Christ? You will prove that you are by this! – you will seek those things which are above, where Christ is. You will not set your minds on things on the earth. All your interests will be centered in Christ in heaven. Of course, you will have business interests, but you will make your business serve Christ. You will say about your business, ‘This is not to be my slave, this has got to serve the Lord Jesus.’ You will have family interests, but you will say, ‘My family interests have got to serve the Lord Jesus.’ You will have social interests, that is, you will have friends, but your friends must come along the way of the LordJesus. Those with whom you make your friends, must be the friends of Jesus. So Risen-ones will have everything centered in Christ.

Sooner or later, dear friends, you and I will leave this earth. With some of us, it looks as though it is going to be later. We are getting old, but we are certainly going to leave this earth. The youngest one here cannot say that he or she is going to get old. By some sickness, or by some accident, you may leave this earth early in life. But whether it be sooner or a little later, or quite late, we are all going to leave this earth. Then what matters? What is the thing that matters when that comes about? The thing that is going to matter for all eternity is how much of Christ was there in us while we were here? The young ones must say, ‘As a Risen-one with Christ, I am going to have as much of Christ as possible.’ And they must say, ‘Christ is going to have as much of me as possible.’ Christ must be all, and that applies to the middle-age, and it applies to the old-age. The big question in eternity will be: ‘How much of Christ was there in us while we were in this world?’ Paul says, ‘It is not this or that, but Christ is all, and in all.’ That is what it means to be Risen-ones.

Over against all that, he says, ‘Are you risen with Christ? Are there all these evidences in your life that you have been raised together with Christ? Is Christ your Life? Is your heart set upon things of Christ? Are you behaving like Risen-ones? Is Christ all, and in all?’ These are the evidences of our being risen together with Christ.

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Divine Life by Spiritual Sight – T.A. Sparks

Chapter 8 – Divine Life by Spiritual Sight

Reading: John 9.

We have pointed out that with the sign of the feeding of the five thousand Jesus entered upon a new phase of His ministry, that is, upon the phase of conflict. There arose a great deal of conflict out of that work, and from that time He was in an atmosphere of controversy.

When we come to this incident we see how the conflict is intensifying and the division is widening, and the end of this incident is complete division. The emphatic statement concerning this man is: “And they cast him out”, and that made the division complete.

The two sides were becoming increasingly distinct and definite. On the one side there was religion, and over against that was spiritual sight. On the one side there was tradition, and on the other side there was revelation. On the one side there was the historic system, and on the other side was spirituality. On the one side there were disciples of “Moses” – you notice what they said in verse 28: “Thou art his disciples; but we are disciples of Moses” – and on the other side there were the disciples of Christ. And these two sides were getting further and further apart – the distinction between these things was becoming more manifest. On the one side religion, tradition, historic system, “Moses”: on the other spiritual sight, revelation, a spiritual state and disciples of Christ.

The whole of this conflict and division focused upon one thing. John had opened his Gospel with these words: “In him was life: and the life was the light of men” (John 1:4), and that was the focal point of all this controversy: Light through life. And you see the difference in the prospect or outlook of these two sides. So far as the opposition was concerned the situation had become quite hopeless. You have only to read the whole of this story and you will see how hopeless was the Jewish situation. The words at the end of the chapter we have just read indicate that quite clearly. The verdict of the Lord Jesus upon that whole side was: “Your sin remaineth”. It is a great thing to say that religion, tradition, historic system and disciples of “Moses” create a hopeless situation, but that is not my verdict: it is the verdict of the Lord Jesus. And you have only to read through these chapters of controversy and come to that which we shall be considering in the next chapter, and you will agree that that whole situation was a hopeless one.

On the other side was this man, the representative of another class. I trust that we all belong to this man’s class – the class which is able to say: “One thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see.” Over against this hopeless situation was this wonderful hopefulness. A new hope had come into this man’s life, and he had come into a new hope.

We were saying that the whole conflict focused upon this one thing: light through life. Jesus said that they were all blind, and to begin with there was no difference between this man and all the others. Of course, his was physical blindness, but it is quite evident that that was only a sign of spiritual blindness. All these others were just as blind as he was in a spiritual way. But the thing which made the difference between hope and hopelessness was just this: he knew he was blind and they did not, and hope or hopelessness turned upon that. There is no doubt about it – this man knew he was blind: “One thing I know… whereas I was blind”. There is no question about that. However, these people were just as blind, but they did not know it. The difference was this: that there was in this man a terrible natural limitation of which he was conscious. He knew all about his limitation. Every day that he lived he was made aware of it. He had to be led by the hand and put in the same place every day to beg for his living. The picture of this man is of one who is every day aware of his dependence.

Over against that were these other people, and they lived every day in their own sense of self-sufficiency. Natural limitation and natural self-sufficiency were in conflict, just look at this man again.

The disciples asked a mysterious question, and we are not going to try to explain it: “Who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he should be born blind?” That only means they had the idea, which was a common one, of the pre-existence of spirits, and that people had a history before they came into this world. That may have been pure superstition, but we are not going to try to wrestle with that one, as it does not concern us very much. They asked the Lord that question and He just disposed of it: “Neither did this man sin, nor his parents”. All it amounts to is that the man was born with a handicap, and, of course, that is true of everybody. It is just as true of us as it was of this man – the handicap with which we are all born is spiritual blindness.

Whatever form our handicap may take, it is meant to be an opportunity for the sovereignty of God. Here it is spiritual blindness, but we all have various kinds of handicaps with which we are born. What has been one of your greatest problems in life? Is it not that you feel yourself to be quite unfit for that to which the Lord calls you? You find that the Lord makes demands upon you and are conscious that it is not in you to meet them.

You remember Moses. When the Lord met Moses and gave him the command to go into Egypt for the deliverance of Israel, he tried to get out of it, and at last he resorted to his handicap. Perhaps he thought: ‘This will beat the Lord, anyway!’ He said: ‘I cannot speak. This job needs an orator, a man who can preach. I am not the man for the job. Lord, You have chosen the wrong person for this. Lord, You don’t know what You are doing.’ And you can carry it on and on like that. ‘The fact is, Lord, that I am not just fitted for the thing for which You have called me.’ What did the Lord say to Moses? ‘Who made man’s mouth? If I made your mouth I know what kind of a mouth I made. And if I made your mouth so that you cannot speak, that will provide all the greater opportunity for Me to do it through you. Have I not taken forty years to empty you of your own ability? And all that I may have glory and you have none.’

These people said: “We are disciples of Moses” – but how false to Moses they were! They would have said: ‘Oh, we can do it!’ No, they were not true disciples of Moses.

You remember Jeremiah. The Lord called Jeremiah and gave him a great commission to Israel – and he did exactly the same thing that Moses had done. He tried to get out of it and his argument was: “I cannot speak: for I am a child.” The Lord said: “Say not, I am a child: for to whomsoever I shall send thee thou shalt go, and whatsoever I shall command thee thou shalt speak” (Jeremiah 1:6,7).

These are examples of men born with a handicap but providing the Lord with a great opportunity to show what He can do. If the Lord requires of us that we should be righteous, we will at once say: “In me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing” (Romans 7:18). And how often we turn to that side: ‘Oh, I am no good. There is no good in me. In this matter of goodness I am perfectly hopeless.’

Well, the Lord has given us quite a lot in His Word about that. We have had the Letter to the Romans for so long! “The righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ” (Romans 3:22). We know all about the doctrine, and yet so often we just come down under this natural handicap. I could go on speaking about many handicaps with which we are born – most of us do truly know that we in ourselves are not fit for the thing the Lord requires of us. We have discovered that we were born that way and it is not in us naturally. We have this handicap. Well, the Lord Jesus has much comfort for us in this sign.

This man had a terrible handicap – he was born blind. He had never seen and did not know what it was to see. He had to have everything explained to him, having no faculty of his own. And Jesus said over against that: ‘This is just the greatest opportunity for the glory of God.’

Now, dear friends, look at this in the training of disciples. It will not be long – only a few days – before these disciples discover that side of the meaning of this sign. Peter will say: ‘Though all men forsake Thee, yet will I not forsake Thee. I will go with Thee even unto death.’ And it says: “Likewise also said all the disciples” (Matthew 26:35) – already, ‘We can do it.’ Can you? Let us put it to the test – and you know what happened when the test was applied. Those two poor disciples on the road to Emmaus give us a very good idea of their disillusionment. Everything had gone for them, and all they could say was: “We hoped that it was he which should redeem Israel”(Luke 24:21), meaning to say: ‘All our hopes are gone.’ Oh, these disciples were a very sad picture. And they had to discover their handicap – they had to be brought there. It was necessary that they made this discovery that it was not in them at all, but that discovery was the ground of subsequent glory. We have seen the tremendous change in those men on the Day of Pentecost. Glory had just come down upon all their handicap and covered it. The life of the Lord Jesus had provided new capacities. This mighty life in Christ had taken possession of them by the Holy Spirit, and they were men who could do what they were never able to do before. All the spiritual blindness of those three years had gone. They were men with their spiritual eyes wide open. Read what they said on the Day of Pentecost… “Peter, standing up with the eleven” (Acts 2:14). I do not know whether the whole eleven were speaking at the same time! If not, Peter was speaking for them all. And that discourse is a discourse of wonderful revelation. They were now seeing what they had never seen before as to the Lord Jesus.

Many years ago I made an analysis of that address of Peter’s, just to see how many subjects he touched upon. If you do that you will be surprised at the large number of subjects included in that sermon. Indeed, his eyes had been opened! Not only were the disciples seeing, but they were able to do what they could never do before, and the life of the Lord Jesus had effected this.

This is the kind of training that disciples need. The disciples of Christ are like this, but not the disciples of Moses. They are under the law and have always to say ‘I cannot’. The true disciples of Christ can say: “I can do all things in him that strengtheneth me”(Philippians 4:13). It is the power of His life within and means that we have gifts and abilities that we never have by nature. This is the beginning of the Gospel. I do not want anyone to think that this is something advanced in the Christian life. It is the very beginning of everything. The commission to the Apostle Paul was in these terms. The Lord said: “Unto whom I send thee, to open their eyes, that they may turn from darkness to light” (Acts 26:17,18). That is the beginning of the Gospel, and this sign ought to have been fulfilled in us right at the beginning of our Christian life. The very first thing that a true Christian and disciple ought to be able to say is: ‘I was blind, but now I see. The Lord has opened my spiritual eyes and has removed my natural handicap.’

But while it is the beginning, it is only the beginning. Everyone has noticed the progressive feature in this man’s case. They asked him: ‘Who opened thine eyes?’ In verse 11 he says: “The man that is called Jesus”. That is a very simple and elementary beginning. Later on they said: ‘What have you to say about Him?’ In verse 17 he says: “He is a prophet.” That is quite a long way on from ‘a man’. But in the end, when Jesus met him – or shall I put it in another way, for this is what it really means – when Jesus knew that they had cast him out and went to find him and said: “Dost thou believe on the Son of God?” he answered: “Who is he, Lord, that I may believe on him?”Jesus replied: “He it is that speaketh with thee. And he said, Lord, I believe. And he worshipped him.” Worshipping Him as God is a long way beyond calling Him just a man.

You see, this is all in the sign: it is in the meaning of things. This life which we receive in Christ has a simple beginning, but it is a progressive life, and the progressive nature of that life is a fuller and fuller discovery of the Lord Jesus. We “grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (2Peter 3:18 – A.V.). We just detach words like this and separate them from their context. Of course it is quite true, but where do those words come from? Oh, Peter has told us – “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to his great mercy begat us again unto a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3). How shall we grow in grace and in knowledge? By the power of resurrection life in us. This life is a life of spiritual progress.

Now we must come back to where we started. Have you recognized one thing that is so important? We have spoken of the great division, of how things were dividing into two classes, and that division was because a man had received spiritual illumination. That is the factor which always causes the trouble. Dear friends, we can divide professing Christians into two classes. The one class may believe all the Scriptures as being inspired by God; they may believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God; they may believe in the deity of Christ and all the fundamentals of the Christian religion; and they may still be people without spiritual revelation – they may still be unspiritual people. Is that true? Yes, the division there was just as distinct as between believers and unbelievers. And if the Lord really does open someone’s eyes and give them spiritual revelation, they are in for trouble – and their trouble will come from the religious world.

Well, here were these orthodox Jews. They believed in the Bible and in all that the Bible taught so far as the words were concerned. But when one man in their midst received spiritual sight they cast him out. Spiritual revelation always provokes hostility – tradition never does. Orthodox religion never does cause trouble, but if you are a man or a woman living in the power of resurrection life, with your eyes wide open, you will meet trouble, and, as I have said, that trouble will come from the religious people.

What are you going to do about it? Well, we have already pointed out that many of the Lord’s disciples said: “This is a hard saying; who can hear it?” and “Many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him” (John 6:60,66)… ‘This way of spiritual illumination is too hard. We are not prepared to pay the price for it. We are not going that way.’

And so the Lord sifts out on this one thing, and the true disciples are those who have really had their eyes opened. The Lord make us true disciples!

It is a costly way and it does provoke a lot of opposition, but it is a very precious thing to have had our eyes opened – just to be able to see because the Lord has made us see. Those who have counted most for the Lord have been men and women who have come to see with spiritual eyes.

So here in the training of disciples is the sign of the opened eye. May we be able to learn the meaning of this sign!

A Circumcised Heart – T. Austin-Sparks

Now we come to this matter of circumcision. I can only touch it very lightly, for it is a very delicate matter.

We have seen that in the Old Testament circumcision is a type, or symbol, for in the New Testament it is stated that circumcision of the heart – not in the flesh, but in the spirit – and it just means this: a heart that is wholly devoted to the Lord. By that symbol the seed of Abraham became God’s exclusive people for the time being, and everything that we have in the Old Testament about God’s wish for this people shows us how jealous He was over those people. God called Himself their husband (Jeremiah 31:32), and there was never a more jealous husband than He! Let Israel have anything to do with any other husband and you will hear the thunder, and the weeping, of the Prophets, God was so jealous for Israel.

Now see what Paul says about the covenant seed of Abraham. He heads this whole thing up into Christ: “Now to Abraham were the promises spoken, and to his seed. He saith not, And to seeds as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ” (Galatians 3:16). “He is not a Jew which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew (or an Israelite), which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit.” So Jesus Christ is the seed of Abraham, and Paul speaks of the circumcision of Christ.

Let me ask you a question: Has there ever lived on this earth a person more utterly committed to God than the Lord Jesus? He was indeed separated unto God, and different from all others. No one has ever borne the marks of spiritual circumcision more than the Lord Jesus. He was the Man of the undivided heart.

Let us go back into the Old Testament to that great Messianic chapter, Isaiah 53: “He shall see his seed… He shall see of the travail of his soul.” Well, we know more than the Prophet Isaiah knew about that! We have been with Him in Gethsemane in the time of the travail of His soul, and we are with Him, on the other side of the travail. How many are the seed of Christ since then! Dear friends, if ever you are tempted to think that Christians are few, and that we are only a very small people in the millions of this world – open the windows! Look into the book of the Revelation: “A great multitude, which no man could number… ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands.” The number cannot be expressed in human language – and they have been gathered since the travail of the Lord Jesus. He is indeed seeing His seed! Gethsemane has been the most fruitful garden in all history – and you and I are of His seed! We are born out of His travail and are in the covenant made with the new Israel.

But do remember that the meaning and the value of the covenant depend upon our devotion to the Lord! This is a thing which is so evident: the greatest fruitfulness has always come from the lives most devoted to the Lord, the people of the undivided heart. This covenant has two sides. As we have already said, the New Testament takes many warnings from the history of Israel, and we may fail of all that that covenant means if our hearts are divided and we try to live life in two worlds. Let us look at a little incident in the life of Abraham.

It is in chapter 15, when God came to make His covenant with Abraham and his seed, and something happened which many people have not been able to understand. The Lord commanded Abraham to bring certain things for a sacrifice either to a large altar, or to two altars, for the Lord told him to divide the sacrifices in two and to put one half on one side and the other half on the other side. Now notice that these are two sides of the covenant. On the one side is Abraham and his seed and on the other side is God. God is about to enter into a covenant with Abraham and his seed, but the covenant has two sides. Now notice what happens! The vultures came down to try and steal the sacrifices. How greatly significant this is! All the powers of darkness are against this covenant, and all those evil fowls of the air are out to rob God and His people of this covenant. It says that Abraham beat them off. His rod was busy that day, and the vultures said: ‘It is no good. We had better give up and get away from here.’ Then Abraham went to sleep and “an horror of great darkness fell upon him”. My point, and, I believe, the point of the Scripture is this: there is always a terrible battle with hell to secure a life utterly committed to God. No one who is going to be utterly for Him is easily won.

It may be that battle is going on in this very room. If the devil can prevent you from being utterly for God he is going to make a great big fight for it. Is that battle going on? The battle of the very covenant, the covenant in heart circumcision, a heart wholly for the Lord, a heart that is right out for God. If Satan can prevent that he will put up a good fight. What is your attitude to this? Are you careless about it? God alone knows how much is involved in it. Oh, take the rod of God and lay about these evil forces! Stand for the covenant! And when you have made that stand the evil forces will withdraw, the darkness will go.

There is a change of atmosphere in this story. At first the atmosphere is full of conflict and fear, for it is “an horror of great darkness”. There is a battle in the very atmosphere over this matter, but when Abraham has fought the battle for the covenant the whole atmosphere changes and becomes one of victory. If we put the history of many consecrated believers into this story, there would be many testimonies like this: ‘My, there was a tremendous battle over this matter! I was full of fears, but I took a stand, and with God’s help I came to a decision. I stepped over on to God’s side of the covenant and said: “Lord, I am Yours! I am with You!” then peace came, the peace of His victory. I went to bed that night feeling as though I had come out of a great battle, but it was into great peace.’

That is all in this little story in Genesis 15. It may be your story! This is something of what it means to have a heart that is circumcised, for the circumcised heart is a heart set free from all self-interest. Was that true of Abraham? After many years what had seemed impossible came to pass and God gave him a son; and that son was God’s miracle. You would expect Abraham to say: ‘God gave me that son and I am going to hold on to him. I will never let him go, because God gave him to me.’ There was a little boy once, and a baby came into the home. One day the mother said to the little boy: ‘We are going to take Baby to the meeting and give him to the Lord.’ The little boy’s face fell, and he said: ‘Mummy, you can lend him to the Lord, but we must have him back again.’ You know, that is the kind of consecration that a lot of Christians make; they have some personal interest in their consecration. But about that God-given gift to Abraham God said: ‘Take him and offer him!’ Friends, learn this lesson! Do not think that because God has given you something by a miracle you can take it for yourself. I will not try to say what it might be. It might be your very ministry, for there is always a peril of taking our ministry and using it for ourselves. But Abraham was truly circumcised in heart, and the same was true of Hannah. How long she waited for that child Samuel, and how much she suffered! How earnestly she prayed! And then, at last, God gave her the child. What did she say? ‘Thank you, Lord. I will never let this child go now!’? No, she said: ‘For this child I prayed and the Lord has given me my request. Therefore I have given him to the Lord for as long as he lives.’ She, too, was circumcised in heart.

From some of his Psalms we know that the one great ambition of David’s life was to build the temple, and he worked and sacrificed for that temple. He said: “I will not come into the tabernacle of my house, nor go up into my bed; I will not give sleep to mine eyes, or slumber to mine eyelids until I find out a place for the Lord, a tabernacle for the Mighty One of Jacob.” (Psalm 132:3-5). He was collecting private money, as well as materials for the temple, for he said: “I have a treasure of mine own of gold and silver” (1 Chronicles 29:3). Then he received the pattern of the temple from the Lord, and said: ‘The time has come, and my life’s ambition is about to be realized. The one thing for which I have lived is now going to be mine – but what is that? Someone is at the door. Come in! Oh, it is a Prophet. Yes, my friend, what have you come to say?’ ‘I have come to tell you from the Lord, David, that you shall not build the house. Thy son shall build it.’ What did David do? What would you do? Well, what did David do? He said: ‘It does not matter about my disappointment! The thing is that the Lord must have what He wants. My interests are nothing beside His interests.’ So he gave everything to Solomon. Perhaps he had seen something more: “And I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever” (Psalm 23:6), and that is better than any earthly house!

We never lose anything when the Lord has everything, and that is what it means to have a circumcised heart. May that be true of everyone!

Excerpted from God’s New Israel.

From the Wilderness to the Land – Entry Into the Land – by T. Austin-Sparks

From the Wilderness to the Land
by T. Austin-Sparks

Chapter 3 – The Entry Into The Land

Reading: Deut. 1:2-3, 8:2; Heb. 3:19, 4:1.

We have been thinking of the distance of difference between Christ and ourselves. In virtue of the shed and sprinkled blood, Israel had been brought out of Egypt and made the people of God; they were the Lord’s redeemed ones. But even so a fact existed which could not be overlooked, ignored or made light of, a fact which had to be recognised, and fully so. That fact was, and is, that even when we are the Lord’s, in ourselves there is a vast distance of difference between ourselves as ourselves and Himself. Eleven days and forty years — not a fixed period, a period fixed by God; that is, not of necessity forty years. The distance is determined, not by geography or time, but entirely by the appropriation of faith.

Entering into God’s Rest

What is the end of the journey, the goal? What is it all unto? God calls it “My rest”. Rest, God’s rest, that is the end of the journey, and how soon we reach the end of the journey entirely depends upon our apprehension of the meaning of rest, our faith’s apprehension of the meaning of rest. You can be out of Egypt and into the end of the journey in no time where faith is large enough for it. But “we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief”. The end of the journey is always immediately present to faith. It is not distant. It is nearer or farther according to faith.

Faith’s Foundation for Entering into God’s Rest

But we want to understand what the basis of this faith is, and therefore what the meaning of God’s rest is. We have said that it is the apprehending of Christ. This letter to the Hebrews, which brings the journey and its end so much into view, is entirely given up to laying the foundation of faith unto God’s rest. Chapter by chapter or stage by stage, it presents us with that foundation, or those foundations. We might just look at one or two of them, but we begin with the all-inclusive and comprehensive one, the presentation of Christ at the beginning of the letter. There the whole background of all the rest is presented to us, the foundation of all that follows.

a) God given to us in Sonship

It is that Christ is God given to us in Sonship: “the express image”, “the effulgence”; to use the words of the prophet, “unto us a son is given” (Is. 9:6). Not only “a child is born”, but “a son is given.” It is God manifest in the flesh, Christ is God. Again, referring to the prophet’s words, “His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Prince of Peace, Father of Eternity” or Everlasting Father. This Son is called that, the Father of Eternity.

What is the value of that for rest, for faith unto rest? Oh, surely it must appeal to our hearts as being of supreme and infinite significance. You see what the apostle is saying here. In the past the great revelations of God Himself were mediated through angels. What mighty and marvellous things were done through angels! The greatest things in that dispensation were done through angels. God came to men through angels. God communicated Himself through angels, revealed His mind through angels, and exercised His power through angels. The angels of God were constantly ascending and descending in that dispensation, to carry on the purpose of God amongst men. The highest form of God’s manifestation was through angels.

But here the apostle says: not unto angels, not through angels, but better than angels, higher than angels, Son-wise. God has given Himself in terms of Sonship. It is a great word of the prophet, “Jehovah has become my salvation” (Is. 12:2). Yes, the Name, the highest Name of all, Jehovah, the Lord Jehovah has become my salvation. Not a representative of the Lord, not even an angelic representative, but Jehovah Himself has become my salvation. The Lord Himself has come forth in this matter of our salvation, and if that is true, well, we must believe, our faith must go the whole way and believe either that Jehovah can fail or that He cannot, that Jehovah can do His work or He cannot, Jehovah can see this through or He cannot. If Jehovah cannot, it cannot be seen through. It is ultimate, final. It is no less than the Lord Himself.

That is the significance bound up with this first presentation in the letter to the Hebrews — the effulgence of His glory, the express image of His Person. God in Christ in terms of Sonship (the significance of which we shall note again in a moment) has come forth. That is the foundation of everything. The Lord personally, directly, immediately and absolutely, has taken this thing in hand. He has not committed it to the hands of angels or men, but has said, I Myself will accomplish this thing, I will go down and do it! “God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself” (2 Cor. 5:19). That is the full foundation for faith that can lead us into rest, and immediately the journey is shorter or longer according to our apprehension of that; whether we are able to stand alongside of the apostle, even when the gale is blowing, the storm is as a blast, and say, I believe God! (Acts 27:25). I say the journey to rest is shorter or longer according to our ability to take that position. If Israel in the wilderness had taken that position, it would not have been forty years; but they did not believe God.

b) God in Christ our Kinsman

Then you pass on in this letter and you find that is broken up, expressed in different forms. In the next place, God is revealed in Christ as having come to us in kinship. Passing into chapter 2 from verse 10, you know that sublime section about “I and the children whom God hath given me”; I and the brethren — “I will declare thy name unto my brethren”. Or again, “Since then the children are sharers in flesh and blood, he also himself in like manner partook of the same.” And then about the sons — “bringing many sons unto glory, to make the author of their salvation perfect through sufferings.” Children, brethren, sons: God has come forth in terms of sonship to bring about a kinship, to be the redeeming kinsman Himself. It is God Who is redeeming in Christ. Heirship — “joint heirs with Christ” (Rom. 8:17), and so on. He is redeeming the lost inheritance, He is the redeeming kinsman. If redemption is to be at all, it must be by somebody Who Himself has a right to redeem because He is in the family, and Who Himself can and will make the family’s condition His responsibility.

The family has lost its inheritance, has lost its all. Somebody has to take responsibility for recovering, and God in Christ has come down to take responsibility for our lost heritage, to recover it all in terms of kinship. The Father through the Son has done it. The point that I want specially to emphasize is that it is God Who has assumed this form of a kinsman to redeem, and if it is God Who has taken responsibility for it — and He has — that is the basis of faith unto rest.

You see how impossible it would be, because of the utterness of the situation, for anyone to enter into rest and deny God. You cannot enter into rest if you deny God. We are not dealing with truth, we are not dealing with doctrine, we are not dealing with things, we are not dealing even with angels, great as they are. We are dealing with God, and here He is coming to us in and through His Son in terms of kinship, so that in Christ He is to us our brother, our brother to redeem, taking responsibility. Usually even in earthly families, the elder brother is looked up to and trusted. So often he is the most wonderful person in the family for the rest of the family. There is nothing he cannot do. It is not always so, but so often it is. That is the idea brought in here. It is a family of sons that God has constituted, with the eldest Son, Who was able and willing to take full responsibility for the family’s title, the family’s heritage, the family’s destiny, the family’s honour, and to secure it all in Himself. That is what is being said here. He has done that. What could we do? Nothing! But He has done it, and faith apprehending that can enter into rest, God’s rest.

c) God in Christ His own Priest

But then we pass on and find the next phase, God in Christ becoming His own priest. Priests have failed, failed to carry things through to finality. They all failed, they made nothing perfect — that is the argument here. So God Himself became His own priest. It is God in Christ in priestly activity carrying out all the functions of priesthood, and the functions of priesthood are just to satisfy God in all His requirements. This is where the subtle fascination and attraction and power of Rome lurks. The Roman system is built upon the idea of priesthood. The priest stands between you and God, and stands for you, and all you have to do is to pass everything over to him and take no responsibility yourself; you need not take any responsibility, the priest will take all responsibility for you. That, of course, has degenerated into this kind of saying: Do as you like, pay the priest and he will clear it up with God. But behind that there is this fact that man craves to have the responsibility God-ward taken off himself by somebody, to be freed from that responsibility for himself, and to come to that absolute rest where the responsibility is not his at all. The Roman system has provided a false answer to that craving of man and put man in a false position. But the craving remains. You and I have it. Our deepest longing and need is for a priest, somebody to take responsibility for us, so that we do not have to take that responsibility. Oh, that I might be free from an evil conscience, may be perfectly at rest because someone all the time is standing and answering to God for me. And here it is: God has said, I will answer to Myself for you, I will be My own priest to satisfy Myself on your behalf.

We find it such a difficult lesson to learn, just what the High Priestly function and ministry of our Lord Jesus is. “Seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for us” (Heb. 7:25). You notice what the apostle says about His being able to sympathize because He Himself has been here, been where we are, been along our road, knows all about it, been tempted in all points as we are, although without sin. He has been here and He is a sympathetic High Priest, He understands it all. He is not a stranger, and He ever liveth to make intercession in perfect sympathy, and He is there taking responsibility for us before God. Is not that a ground of rest? Ought we not to be at the journey’s end much more quickly if only faith could grasp that. Apart from faith, we shall all the time be trying to put ourselves right with God and be stuck on the road, going round in the wilderness. Progress waits upon faith’s apprehension of this thing. Cast the responsibility for your salvation and sanctification upon the One Who has taken that responsibility.

Listen again to words in this letter about being saved from an evil conscience. How? Through faith (Heb. 10:22). Not cleansing our own consciences, but by faith in Him. God has come in the Person of His Son to be the priest that He requires, that is, to satisfy Himself.

d) God in Christ His own sacrifice

What is true of the priesthood is next shown to be true of the sacrifice. “Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body didst thou prepare for me; in whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hadst no pleasure. Then said I, Lo, I am come” (Heb. 10:5-7). God in Christ has come to be His own sacrifice. You notice a whole section is given up to pointing out the futility and weakness and failure of the sacrifices of the Jewish system, how they broke down and came short, and how it was not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sin. But then, after the millions and millions of sacrifices offered on Jewish altars, one sacrifice, one for ever, did the work, and God provided Himself the sacrifice. In His Son He became His own sacrifice; and what more perfect than that? That is final surely; one offering for ever. This is the basis of rest, His own sacrifice once for all.

The Journey Longer or Shorter According to Faith’s Appropriation

We cannot take all the aspects of this revelation, of this unfolding of the ground of rest, but what I want you to see is this, that this was all present in type in the wilderness for forty years. It was all there in type, and yet they went on for forty years. It was there very early in their wilderness history, and if only faith had grasped the significance of what was present at that moment, the forty years would have been cut down to perhaps eleven days; eleven days’ straight journey if faith had grasped what was present all the time.

What I want to emphasize is this, that you and I are not of necessity bound to make a long journey and go over years in this matter. It entirely depends upon our appropriation of what is here today whether we enter into rest. The end of the journey is here now. It was there all the time. Those types that they had of Christ were the end of the journey in spiritual essence and value. There is nothing more at the end of the forty years. When they go over into the land there was nothing more, it was still the same basis. God has not to do anything further, has not to do anything; it is all there right at the beginning. We can come into rest now if we take hold of what God has given us now.

The Power of a People in Rest

But oh, how important it is that you and I should seek to exercise this faith; because you can see quite well that it was not just a matter of entering into a spiritual state of blessing and enjoyment for themselves. Their very vocation hung upon their being in rest. The object of their calling and election was at stake. All God’s purposes in them were bound up with their entering into rest. They were ineffective and unfruitful until they were in rest. They were defeated and weak until they were in rest, but when they went over into what typified God’s rest, they were mightily effective. You see what can happen by a people in rest. See Jericho’s mighty walls going down by a people in rest. They march round the wall, just going round once, and that is the day’s work; and again tomorrow; not very hard work. I do not know how long it took them to march round; a good healthy walk, quietly walking round once a day for a week. It was more strenuous on the seventh day, seven times round. And how much energy it takes to shout, I do not know. That was the way; a people in rest in type, and down came Jericho. And as they went on the seven nations mightier than they came down one after another because typically they were a people in rest.

And do you know that one of the great strategies of the devil, in order to hold his own against us, is to get us into unrest. One of the great triumphs of Satan against the church is to get it robbed of its rest, its quiet assurance. Satan can do little against a people in assurance, in rest. He can do anything with people who are not sure, not certain, distracted, restless, fretful, anxious, questioning, doubting. You have no power against him when you are like that, always in the unrest of uncertainty of a tomorrow that never comes, a future that never arrives to keep us from rest today. I do feel that you and I must seek very much to enter every day with a very fervent prayer that that day in itself shall be in the rest of God, so far as our hearts are concerned. Whatever it may hold, whatever storms, in our hearts we are quietly at rest with God, being still and knowing that He is God. There is a tremendous power in that. There is no power in a fretful life, there is no strength where there is doubt, but there is a mighty power where there is a quiet confidence in God; and that is the point. Satan would postpone that and keep us going round in this everlasting circle, a wilderness state, because it is to his gain, and to our loss; it is to the defeat of the Lord in His purpose. “They could not enter in because of unbelief.”

Now may the Lord at least lay emphasis in our hearts upon the necessity for giving diligence to enter His rest for every purpose of His glory. Above all things may we seek the rest of faith, because of its tremendous potency against the enemy and in the realization of God’s purpose.

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From the Wilderness to the Land – A Decisive Step of Faith – By T. Austin-Sparks

From the Wilderness to the Land
by T. Austin-Sparks

Chapter 4 – A Decisive Step of Faith

Reading: Acts 3:1-21.

This is the first recorded miracle in the history of the church, and parabolically it embodies a good deal of what we have been considering, and I am going to take it in that parabolic form as an illustration of some of these matters.

We begin at the end, that is, so far as this man is concerned, with what God is aiming at, what God is after, what the result of the work of God in a life is. The man leaps up, stands upon his feet, praises and glorifies God, and goes in and goes on with the people of God. That is very simple, but it represents a work that God would do and which needs to be done in the case of so many. What the Lord wants in the case of all of us is to have us on our feet, standing upright, praising and glorifying Him, and going in and going on with His people; a very different story and a very different situation from what was; no longer a liability but an asset, no longer one to be carried every day, but one who now is at least taking his or her own weight, and going on by the inward momentum of the Spirit and power of God. That is what the Lord wants with us all.

It immediately resolves itself into a challenge, an interrogation. We have each one now to ask ourselves quite honestly and frankly: In relation to the things of the Lord, am I a liability or an asset? Am I counting or am I having to be accounted for? Am I a positive factor or am I negative? Am I amongst those who have to be carried all the time, needing to be borne up, borne along and put where I am, or am I going on in the Lord on my own feet, on top of my infirmities? Am I a responsible one, or otherwise? Well, we must each one answer that question before the Lord now, and see what the Lord would have, what the Lord would bring about. He would have us all in the place or condition of this man as we see him at the end, leaping up, standing on his feet, praising and glorifying God, going on and going in; and more than that as we shall see presently: but that is a good beginning. Are we there?

The Hindrance to Entering in

Well, we must go back and take the man up at the point where we first find him. He is carried and laid at the Beautiful Gate every day. There are those who are going in; but he does not go in, and he cannot go in. “So we see that they could not enter in…” (Heb. 3:19). The man could not enter in. Let that gateway to the house of God beyond represent in our parable that life of rest in the Lord, that entering-in life, that life of attaining unto God’s purpose. “And we see that they could not enter in.” This man could not enter in, but why could he not? Was it the gate that kept him out? No. Even if the gate had been closed, that was not the inevitable hindrance, and it was a big gate. I understand that it took ten men to open the Beautiful Gate, so massive was it. But even so, if it had been closed, that was not the obstacle.

Let that gate in the story and in the parable as we are regarding it, represent the law, that bond of Judaism which says: Thou shalt not, or, Thou shalt, that forbidding of the law. But that is not the obstacle now. Christ was made under the law, to fulfil the law and put it out of the way. The law is no longer an obstacle.

“Free from the law, O happy condition!
Jesus has died, and THERE is remission.
Cursed by the law, and bruised by the fall,
Christ has redeemed us once for all.”

The law is no hindrance now.

But was it the man’s infirmities that kept him out? Let his infirmities, all wrapped into one, represent his sins. Was it his sins and his imperfections, his faults, that hindered that entering into rest? Again no. Our sins, our weaknesses, our imperfections, our temperamental and constitutional difficulties, all the infirmities of our fallen natures, these are not the hindrances. The Lord Jesus has dealt with all sin and all sins, and all our weaknesses and infirmities He has borne. All that is dealt with. They are not the hindrance. Oh, you may say, it is this sin and that sin that keeps me out, or it is that weakness, this imperfection; it is the way I am made, my temperament, my constitution, my make-up; I am so different from others; and all this is the thing that binds me in infirmity so that I cannot! If you are saying that, whether as one who has never known Christ or whether as a child of God still needing to know the entering-in life, it is a great mistake to put it down to sins or infirmities and say that it is these things in our nature that keep us out. No, no! That would be to deny the Cross of the Lord Jesus. That would, in its outworking and in its logic, make God very unjust, because it would work out like this, that people who had better temperaments would stand a better chance of getting in, and people who had a worse make-up would be at the end of the queue. God is not like that. We are not nearer or farther from Him because we are better or worse in our natures. Not at all!

Entering in by Faith

What was it that kept the man out? “We see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.” Faith destroys the mightiest gates of brass, faith removes the mountains of sin and human weakness and failure. The easily besetting sin which has to be laid aside is this sin of unbelief, and it was at that very citadel that the Holy Ghost, through these servants of God, directed His blow. Infirmity in itself was nothing, the gates were nothing, closed or open, but the man’s attitude and response of heart to a challenge from God was everything. He could have reacted antagonistically or cynically, or with utter carelessness, and stayed where he was. But there is some response, some reaction, which we must interpret as the quickening of faith in his heart: and you know and I know perfectly well that we shall stay where we are, go on in our infirm, helpless state of spiritual liability, until we come to this point where we exercise, deliberately and definitely, faith in the Lord Jesus. Everything waits for that. That is elementary.

We have to come to that response of faith, and then mighty gates, whatever those gates may be in our lives, keeping us out, no longer constitute a hindrance. Infirmities in ourselves, defects and weaknesses, faults and failings, sins and depravities and everything, from inheritance to what we have brought on ourselves, nothing is enough to obstruct our way when once we have come to this point of a deliberate and positive trust in the Lord Jesus. “We see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.” But the positive is that you can enter in by faith.

Concentration upon a Definite Issue

But then something else was necessary with this man; not in addition to his faith but as a part of it, as heading up to it. Peter and John were going up to the temple and this man saw them coming. I do not know what his look was like, his gesture. We can only imagine, a sort of wonderfully pathetic glancing hither and thither. And Peter looked on him, and said: Look on us. There must have been some reason for that. And he fastened his eyes upon them, of course expecting to receive an alms. But the effect was that they got what they needed and wanted as a necessary factor in this man’s deliverance. “Look on us”, and he fastened his eyes upon them.

What, in parabolic meaning, does that stand for? It means this: you and I, if we are in any condition like this, needing to be put on our feet, needing to be made a factor that counts, needing to be delivered from this infirm state spiritually, from this state of being a liability; if we are in any need like that, we shall never get anywhere until we have concentrated upon a definite issue. He was expecting to receive an alms. What are you after? Do you want pity, sympathy, to be made a fuss of? Do you want that which is, after all, only going to leave you where you were? Are you looking to be nursed, coddled? Is that what you are after, an alms? Do you really want to get out of that position? Do you mean business? Is it nice to be one of those who are always being carried and nursed, and secretly, down in the deceptive heart, do you really like it, and want to be ministered to? Your infirm condition, you like being there because it draws attention to you, brings you into the sympathetic area. Oh, these hearts of ours, how they play with spiritual things for their own gratification!

He expected to receive an alms. But Peter and John are saying, Look here, we are going to face this issue right out: look on us! We are going to concentrate in this matter. The moment has come for this sort of thing either to end or to be indefinitely confirmed!

May I say to you, dear friends, if you are anywhere in this realm at all, you will never get anywhere until you have come with both eyes to look this thing straight in the face, and say, It is going on no longer; I am going to have this thing settled, I am going to bring this thing to a head; God helping me, it is going to be finished. I am going to play with this no longer, I am going to minister to this no longer, I am going to allow this to cripple me no longer, I am going to allow this to make me a liability no longer; tonight I look this thing in the face, God helping me, and it is going to be settled. So far as I am concerned, not another day shall pass until I have had this thing out to a conclusion with God!

Look on us! That is only saying the same thing as we are occupied with now, and which in Hebrews is put this way “Give diligence to enter in” (Heb. 4:11). We must deal with that want of downrightness with God which allows things to drag on and to rob God of that glory which ought to be there, and that testimony which is to follow. We are now getting to it. Look on us!

I need not say more. God help us if we are there, weakened, put out, not counting, God help us to focus upon this for a swift issue and to play no longer with a state like that for our own pleasure, to get sympathy or anything like that. Not an alms: no, it is not an alms we need; it is a deliverance we need, not a ministry to our infirmity, but a deliverance from it.

Look on us! And he fastened his eyes upon them, and Peter said, “Silver and gold have I none — and after all, that is not what you want — such as I have, give I thee.” There is something infinitely more than the treasure of this world. Supposing we had it all and still had our infirmity, what have we? “Such as I have, give I thee. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up.”

The Object of Faith

That is the object of faith. It is not that we have somehow to conjure up something called faith. It is the object of faith that is vital, and that is what we have been saying, and as the letter to the Hebrews so forcibly sets forth, even Jesus Christ, Who He is, what He is, the place He occupies, and His capacity. It is all in Him. The focal point of faith is Jesus Christ, and the value, the virtue, the power of faith is derived from its object, it is not in itself. It is not until you get the right object of faith that faith is a potent thing. You can have all sorts of imitation faiths and they do not affect the work of God in a spiritual way. You can have a psychological faith, but it does not affect your Christian life. You can have a Christian Science faith, and it may do something for your physical life, inasmuch as the mind and the physical are related, but it does not make you a spiritual factor in the house of God. To become a positive spiritual factor in the house of God means that there has to come a vital link between your spirit and Jesus Christ, a living union by faith with Jesus Christ, and it is that taking hold on Him in faith that provides the channel, the vehicle, through which the energy of God comes. The energy of God, the Holy Ghost, comes along the line of Jesus Christ as the object: not something that we call faith, which may, after all, be something that we have worked up to make ourselves believe. Oh no, what matters is the object of faith, the Lord Himself. God works on the ground of His Son, and you and I apprehend His Son, Jesus Christ, by faith. The Holy Ghost seals that, everything is related to that.

The Outcome of Entering in

“In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk”; and he leapt. Simple in its terms, but very, very drastic and very utter in its action. Immediately the man in himself knew the glory of God. He, leaping up, praised and glorified God. He had got it in his own heart, in his own soul. He knew he was changed, he was in the good of God’s rest.

Yes, and then he went in and went on with the Lord’s people. The corporate element comes in. Hebrews will speak about Christ as a Son over God’s house, “whose house are we” (Heb. 3:6); and so on. The house has come into view and he is going with them into the house. He is going to be something in the house with the servants of God, he is going to be part of that corporate body and a factor in it.

A Mighty Uprising of the Devil

Now you will see how he is a factor, for two things arise. Follow through to the next chapter and you will see. First of all he is the occasion of a mighty uprising of the devil; and that is something! Oh, a great storm arises because of what has happened with this man. Things become tremendously disturbed in the spiritual realm; and that is how it will be, and that is how it ought to be. We do not speak glibly or lightly, but the fact is that you and I ought to be factors of disturbance in the kingdom of Satan, and if we are really in the good of a living spiritual experience, that is, if we are really on our feet as accountable and responsible people of God, not having to be borne and carried and nursed and ministered to in our infirmities, but now on our feet, going in and going on, then the enemy recognizes that here is something to be taken account of, and for such there is always a disturbance.

It was so over Lazarus. When he was raised from the dead, you know what a furore there was, how the rulers at once set to work to destroy the Lord Jesus because of Lazarus, because by reason of him many believed. So it is. I wonder whether you and I really do represent a disturbance in the underworld, or whether the enemy can go on without feeling a bit disturbed so far as we are concerned. Every time something like this happened in the New Testament, you very soon find a big reaction from the enemy. You see, when the Lord Jesus comes in in larger measure, it means less measure for the enemy, less scope, less territory for him. He is squeezed out. Are you squeezing the enemy out? Am I squeezing the enemy out? Am I narrowing his province? Do we count in this way? Well, that is one thing that arose.

A Living Testimony

The other thing was this, this man was a testimony which was the answer to every argument. Seeing the man there in the midst whole, they had to shut their mouths. There was no argument. It is all argument if it is doctrine, theory, teaching, interpretation of truth, but a living witness — you cannot argue against that. Your mouth is shut when you have a living person standing there right in the good of things. Are we closing the mouths of people? We shall not do it by the truth that we hold, teach, interpret, but we can do it by what we are, by being in possession of the goods. Are we that? Are you that? Are you going to be that? A real answer to every argument so that people say, Well, look here, it is not the teaching they have taken on, the associations they have made: no, no, look at them; you know what they were, you know how little they counted, you know what cripples they were spiritually, you know what liabilities they were, you know how much they were without rest: but look now; they have the goods, they are in the good of things, they are counting, they mean something, and they are in rest, they are in joy, they are in satisfaction, they themselves are changed! What can you say to that? You cannot say anything to that if you are going to be honest.

Oh, dear friends, we are not to go out to try and pass over some teaching, some truth, to people. That will never convince. You and I are to be here as those who in themselves convince others because we embody His rest, we embody His peace, we embody His strength, and we count for something. We are responsible people, we are positive factors, we are assets, the Lord is getting something by reason of us. That is how it must be. Is it like that? All this can be if we will go the way of this man, and say, Yes, this has gone on long enough and it has to end, and to end, so far as my giving diligence is concerned, at once, and I do most truly by the grace of God take a deliberate and definite faith attitude toward the Lord Jesus for my complete deliverance and the setting of me upon my feet for His glory, for His praise! I think there will be an issue, and I think it will be — he, leaping up, stood upon his feet, praising and glorifying God. May it be so with every one of us.

The Real Thing – W.E. Smith

Watchman Nee asked one of the the most poignant question ever considered by man, when he asked – “What is the Normal Christian Life?“.

Well, what is it my brethren, this thing called the Christian life? What does it look like, and would you recognize it if it stood square out in front of you? I ask again, what does the real Christian life look like? Is it this earth-bound life being lived out by most western Christians all over this world? Is it expressed in the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness? Is it the manifest life being lived out by you and I?

What does a real Christian live for? What is the passion and pursuit of his heart? What is his first and last thought at the beginning and end of each day? What is his place and purpose in this world, in the short life he lives on this earth? What is the preoccupation and focus of his heart? What lights his eyes, and informs his soul, and compels him from one moment to the next?

What are his expectations and ideals? What is the living dynamic that enables and energizes him? What is His first love? Do you know my friends; I mean really know, as only the inner piercing of the Holy Spirit can allow you to know? Do you ever even contemplate such questions?

Be careful now. There are many counterfiets and shadows in circulation. There are countless notions and assumptions about what real Christianity is and is not. Indeed, every sect and division in the faith each has their own institutional and theological answers to all these essential questions; a creed, a statement, a formalized and inviolable doctrinal affirmation. Often they are printed on a card and handed out to new converts as the beginning and the end.

Yet I am not asking your church or your pastor, but you personally. Do you know? If you met a real Christian on the street tomorrow would you know it? What would give them away? Good works or a kind heart perhaps? Selfless charity? Manifest piety or devotion to the cause of Christ?

We say we are Christians; all well and good. Yet are we really living the essential and authentic Christian life? Is the Living Christ being formed in us? I am not asking if you are a Christian, no not that at all, please don’t misunderstand. For that is far easier to determine. Many have said “the prayer” and claimed the blood, then maybe gone forward to some altar in the presence of the saints; perhaps even been immersed in the baptism and death of the old man. Yet this new birth, this wondrous beginning, may or may not have any bearing on how one lives and walks afterward. It is a sad reality brethren, and one that grieves the Father terribly, that so many who have received the fullness of eternal life in His Son, at so great a cost to Himself, have failed to walk in this life.

My children, with whom I am again in labor until Christ is formed in you— (Gal. 4:18, Emphasis Livingwalk)

For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light. For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son,  in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.

And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach— if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, was made a minister….

Of this church I was made a minister according to the stewardship from God bestowed on me for your benefit, so that I might fully carry out the preaching of the word of God, that is, the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints, to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ. (Col. 1:9-23; 25-28, Emphasis Livingwalk)

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. 2:6-7, Emphasis Livingwalk)

Oh dear ones, is He being formed in us? Are we walking in Him every moment of every day? Are we being made complete in Him such that He might fill all of the Creation with Himself? Are we walking in a manner worthy of our Lord in other words?

Or does each day just bring with it more of ourselves? More of our personality? More of our opinions? More self-interest? More of our best efforts and failures? More of our soul? More of our carnal appetites? More of our blood, sweat and toil? More of us seeking a place and a future in this cursed world? More religious idols that we allow to supplant Him, and eclipse Him, and shun Him in the inner sanctuary of our hearts? Oh dear ones, this must not be so, for He willingly and graciously poured out all of His life and His love for us, that we might take it up, and walk in it, and grow in it, and become something else; something new; something heavenly and mysterious, that even the angels rub their eyes to glimpse more perfectly?

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love,may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth,and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. (Eph. 3:14-19)

“Filled up to all the fullness of God.” Oh dear saints, does this sound anything like our Father in Heaven is trying to improve you or make you  a better man; with all that you are still in tact, alive and well? No and never! Rather He is in intent on filling you with all the fullness of His Perfect and Beloved Son! Oh that you might see this with spiritual eyes, and that it might shatter everything that religion and self-help and humanism has wrought over 6,000 years! No, the first lie is still the only lie! You shall not be as God! Only God shall be as God! And only God; only His Son being formed in you shall put a smile on the face of the Father and blessing to His heart! And so – Is He being increased in us or are we?

“He must increase, but I must decrease. (John 3:30)

Oh my brethren, my heart yearns that you would see this once and for all as did John the Baptist, and put aside all and anything that confounds this wonderful and mysterious purpose. Oh that you would stop being so impressed and so compromised with religious things and religious men and religious buildings and religious formalities, and that you might see with eyes wide open in the spirit what the Father wants us to see – the beauty and the majesty, and the glory, and the absolute and universe-filling perfection that is Christ Jesus, the Son of God, the King of Kings, the Light of All the Universe! He, my friends, and He alone, is the real thing. In point of fact, He is the only thing! And His Mystic Body, what Paul reveals in his letter to the Ephesians, is what we are in the process of becoming, individually joined to Him one to one another, onward to the fullness of Christ Jesus!

And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.

So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness. But you did not learn Christ in this way, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth. (Eph. 4:11-24)

Oh little ones; so many in this hour, at the end of this age, are so easily deceiving you and distracting you and diverting you from the Real Thing, from He who is our beginning and end, our very life and reason for life. Oh how this grieves me terribly and brings the Holy Spirit’s tears to my eyes and my heart. So many idols set up to perpetuate man on this earth; all dressed up in his Sunday best, keeping rules and rituals, day after day and year after year, on and on and on…

Gracious Father, forgive us Lord, every single one of us, for falling prey to every lesser thing, every earthly, man-inspired thing. Oh Lord, grant us just such a heart to love Thee Father, and to allow all that it takes for Your Beloved Son to be formed in us, such that His fullness might fill everything in every way. Oh Lord, there are many out there still pretending and still patronizing groups and following men and cardboard creeds, who have utterly no idea at all what the Christian life is all about. Even worse, Lord, so many are using the name of your Precious Son as a means of worldly gain and enrichment. Oh fierce and terrible Lord, I pray not for such wolves but for your precious sheep, for whom the blood of the Lamb was spilled. I pray you will save those just as you called Noah out of the world, and Lot out of Sodom, and Israel out from Egypt prior to Your terrible wrath being poured down. Oh Lord, turn our hearts to Thee, and open our eyes that we might see such wonderful things. Save us Father, please save us in Your great mercy and long-suffering! In Jesus’ Glorious Name, we pray, Amen.

Further Reading –

The Meaning of the Christian Life (T. Austin-Sparks)

The Meaning of Divine Life (T. Austin-Sparks)

What is a Christian? (T. Austin-Sparks)

The Normal Christian Life (Watchmen Nee)

“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!