Austin Sparks, Christian Ministry, Christianity, Daily Devotional

April 5

5 APR – The Cross Seeks to Remove Whatever Serves Satan

Why has the Holy Spirit come? Oh! Not that we might have blessings and what we call power and influence and opportunity and service. No, He has come as Representative and Agent of the Christ, who has secured the rights of God in His own Person. To bring about the recognition and realization of the rights in this earth, that is the work of the Holy Spirit.

The second thing that comes out of this is that the Holy Spirit always demands the ground of the Cross for His activity, if the glory of God is in view. But then, the Cross registers the removal of all that serves Satan. What was it that served Satan in Cain? Covetousness, personal ambition, jealousy, pride! That worked itself out in the murder of Abel which was an expression of hatred for God. What was it that served Satan in Balaam? Greed, covetousness, world-gain. The Cross registers the removal by destruction of all that served Satan, and for us it is gathered up in one word: SELF.

What a wide word that is – what a comprehensive word! The stronger term is “the flesh”. Some people do not know what you mean when you talk about the “flesh”. They begin to think of positive vices and iniquities of deep dye. But the “flesh” is only another term for “self”. Self is a very subtle thing, a many-sided thing. It includes self-interest, self-glory, self-preservation, self-realization, self-advancement – all those considerations of influence and good-standing and prestige and following, and being understood and spoken well of. The phases of “self” are legion, and they, every one of them, serve Satan.

Moreover, they serve him in this other sense, that they divide the rights of God and usurp the place of God: and therefore, wherever there is the slightest suggestion or insinuation of self, the Glory of God is obscured and the Cross has got to be applied there. The Cross is not applied in the work of God just because God wants us out of it for the sake of having us out of it, to humble, to crush, to break us; no, it has this great end in view – HIS GLORY. The Cross, dear friend, means utter devotion to God’s glory.

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Austin Sparks, Christian Ministry, Christianity, Daily Devotional

April 4

4 APR – Refusing to Give Satan Any Place

From the very birth of the Lord Jesus, it is known to Satan who He is and the scheme is put into operation to engulf Him in the massacre of a whole multitude of infants. The cruelty of the evil one to murder a mass to get ONE! He is after One – he is not after the crowd.

We have no record of any efforts of the enemy from that time until the Lord steps across the line which runs between His private life and His public life; and then He meets the enemy immediately. And what is the question? “If Thou wilt… worship me” (Matt. 4:9). That is what he is after. It is right out he is betrayed at once; and it is that issue right up to the Cross. “If Thou wilt worship me…” It comes in a multitude of different ways. Satan only wants an acknowledgment, the ascribing to him of some rights in the universe.

But, ah, the Lord never recognized those rights just as Mordecai refused to recognize the right of Haman. This is one of the most beautiful things in the book of Esther. Here is Haman claiming to be somebody: he has gained eminence, and everybody is bowing to him. But Mordecai refuses to recognize any of his glory, and ignores it all. And you remember Haman’s story to his family. ‘I am a great man; I have much goods, many children: but what is the good of it all if this one man will not recognize me?’ (Esther 5:9-13). It is a foreshadowing. There is One who counts more than all the rest, and until He can be captured or get out of the war the enemy’s fullness is divided. That One will not recognize Satan and that One is destined to bring about his doom.

The Lord Jesus met that all the way through, refusing to attribute to Satan one atom of right in this universe. He was out to challenge that, to secure all the rights for God in His own Person, and to come to the Throne Himself with those rights. And when He has done it we see the same thing going on with the Church. It is still the Church’s great issue: the worshippers and the worshipped, and the place or the no-place of the enemy.

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Austin Sparks, Christian Ministry, Christianity, Daily Devotional

April 3

3 APR – The Two Worships

The worship of the beast is one which has been going on ever since Lucifer secured a following, a reverence from angels in high estate in heaven. When he found it in his own heart to make a bid for the place of the Almighty – to exalt his throne above the clouds, to ascend into the heavens, to be equal with the Most High (Is. 14:13-14) – he managed to gather to himself a company, all with the intent of drawing heaven’s worship away from God to himself; and ever since that lifting up of his heart in that infamous ambition, another worship has been going on. He drew that company with him, the company of angels “who kept not their own principality”, and are “kept in everlasting bonds under darkness” (Jude 6). Then he appeared on the earth, and sought again to usurp the place of God in the worship of His Creation here; and in this he succeeded, and became, by reason of a conquest and the consent of man, “the god of this age”, “the prince of this world”.

From that moment he set up a spiritual system of worship which is perceivable behind the whole record of history. We have the breaking in of this evil element all along the line of worship, wherever and whenever the rights of God are recognized by sacrifice. Immediately Abel recognized the rights of God and erected his altar, slaying his sacrifice and shedding sacrificial blood, in the simplicity of the testimony of faith that here on the earth God has sole rights, there broke in this very thing against that testimony. The murderer came in to withstand and destroy the testimony, with Cain as his instrument, who also set up an altar and made a pretense in his darkened understanding to worship God. But he never got through to God, and that was the very ground upon which the Satanic element of jealousy and pride was churned up within him, and he became, because the Devil had got a purchase upon him, the instrument against the worship of God. The enemy’s scheme is deep laid; he knows what he is doing. Through the other worship he breaks in against the recognition of the Divine Rights, the worship of God; and from Abel onward it is always so.

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April 2

2 APR – Acknowledging the Rights of God

While the Person of the Lord Jesus as God manifest in the flesh is the sum of all revelations, it requires the Cross to give the full MEANING and reveal the full VALUE of that manifestation; it demands the Church to display the full CONTENT of that manifestation ultimately; and it calls for the City to define the NATURE of that manifestation. In leading men on to the appreciation of the Person, God begins with the Cross. If the House is the House of the Divine Son, and if the City is the City of the great King, then the House and the City are based upon the Cross. Moreover, if the House and the City are for the glory of God in Christ and His universal worship, then the Cross represents the nature of worship and the way of glory.

To put this more precisely: If the Lord has in view a people for His glory, by whom the content of the Son of Man is ultimately displayed to the universe, then this people will be fundamentally A PEOPLE OF THE ALTAR. This we believe to be the all-inclusive theme of Scripture. The Cross is the central recognition of the eternal rights of God. At the Cross and in the Cross all the rights of God from eternity to eternity are recognized and acknowledged. That is central to Calvary. God has rights. God’s rights are that the whole universe should render Him undivided, unrivalled, unreserved worship, acknowledging that all things are His by right, and that no one else in the universe has a right before Him. That great fact is here gathered up in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ, and He brings to God in His own Person His rights, offering Himself in the greatness of who He is and what He is – the rights of God.

God, by His Son, created the world for His Glory. The Holy Spirit was agent in the creation of the world for the Glory of God, in order that the whole earth should be full of His Glory. The Holy Spirit is likewise agent in the redemption of the world for the Glory of God. Redemption is unto God: it is bringing back to God His rights, and the Holy Spirit is the agent in this redemptive work which has the Glory of God as its objective, just as the Holy Spirit was the agent in creation for the same end.

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April 1

1 APR – His Coming is Not a Matter of Time but of Faith

Take this matter of the coming of the Lord; and, of course, that is the coming of the Lord in glory, when He shall come in the clouds of glory, when He shall come to be glorified in His saints the coming in by the east of the glory of the Lord. Have you noticed that in any time in the dispensation, when spiritual people have been gathered together, and in their gathering together have been speaking or singing of the coming of the Lord, how spontaneously the glory rises and comes in? Why is it? Because the Holy Spirit does not live in time at all, He does not belong to time. The Holy Spirit is outside of time and He already has the end with Him and He is the Spirit of the end, and when we really get into the Spirit we are in the Holy Spirit’s end.

If we dwell in the mind – oh, this reasoning line of things! – out of the Spirit, there is no joy. But when we let go and we are in the Spirit, we find ourselves with the Holy Spirit right at the end. We are outside of time; we are in the glory already in foreshadowing. The Holy Spirit is timeless and you get outside of time and you have everything; you have your finality, your fullness. Thus, when John was in the Spirit in the isle of Patmos, he got right through to the end of things very quickly, the thing which we in time have not reached yet. That is what I mean by apprehending this matter spiritually. Beware of apprehending prophecy as a mental thing.

The Holy Spirit in you in a living way will bring you into the good of things. Thus by the Spirit today we should stand with the light of the glorious fullness of the day of the Lord. We should be here as a testimony, not to prophetic things, not to teaching or doctrine about the Second Advent and all the problems connected therewith, but to the spiritual meaning of that. What is it? Why, that is the end to which God has been working right through the centuries, the one thing upon which His heart is set, in which He has His satisfaction, His glory, His praise, His fullness, and the Holy spirit is always there to make good something of that when we dwell upon it. He is there to be to us “the earnest of our inheritance,” and to make us know it is a matter of faith, after all.

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Austin Sparks, Christian Ministry, Christianity, Daily Devotional

March 31

31 MAR – The Man Child of Revelation 12

This book of Revelation begins with a pronouncement from heaven that what is going to be shown is “things which must shortly come to pass,” and that pronouncement was made years and years after Christ had gone to heaven. It was future. Moreover, when Christ went to heaven, Satan was not cast out of heaven as is the case in Rev. 12, for, nearly forty years after Christ went to heaven, Paul wrote his letter to the Ephesians, and in chapter 6 we have this revelation of the nature and sphere of the Church’s warfare: “Our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world-rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenlies.” Satan was not deposed when Christ was caught up to the throne. Thirdly, the dragon was not cheated of his prey in the case of the Lord Jesus. The Lord Jesus was slain by the dragon, and it is a part of the great and glorious truth that it was through death that He destroyed him that had the power of death, namely, the Devil. Satan, the dragon, thought he had swallowed up Christ perhaps, but he discovered that he had been swallowed up. But the Lord Jesus did not escape the great red dragon by a rapture – not at all. The dragon got Him so far and slew Him. But therein is the glorious sovereignty of God, and that is another line of truth altogether: God’s sovereignty wrought in the very presence of Satan’s triumph. But that is not this.

Then this woman is a paradox, a contradiction. She is at one and the same time in heaven clothed in glory and on the earth clothed with trouble and travail. She is clothed with the sun in heaven, and yet in the next breath she is travailing on the earth. Is not that just exactly what we have in the letter to the Ephesians about the Church? In the heavenlies, in Christ Jesus blessed with every spiritual blessing, and yet at the same time the letter shows us very clearly right at the heart of it that the Church is down here and in conflict. She has an earthly walk and is meeting things down here while at the same time in the heavenlies. A contradiction apparently: at one and the same time in heaven glorious and yet on earth in tribulation. That is the Church.

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March 30

30 MAR – God’s Need for Overcomers

God has this great thing in view. The issue comes up acutely and in an intensified form as we get near to the great end. In order to answer Satan, to have His answer in a corporate Man, God has to prepare you and me and a company of His people to take the throne, to be caught up unto God and to His throne, to rule the nations with a rod of iron. That, of course, has reference to tomorrow, the tomorrow of the ages I mean, and there is something beyond that, namely, our reigning with Him for ever and ever, another form of reigning. I aspire rather to the day after tomorrow than to tomorrow. Ruling with a rod of iron may appeal to us naturally, but we would sooner have the glorious reign where nothing wants a rod of iron. “Now unto him… be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus unto all the generations of the age of the ages” (Eph. 3:20-21). It is a big thing for which we go to school for a few years and suffer as we are suffering. It is easy to say that, but it is a painful thing, this school.

The Lord knows what He is doing with us. It is the matter of this overcoming, and, in the light of this school or this schooling, we can appreciate the word “overcomer.” There is a lot of overcoming to be done. We have to get on top of a very great deal, and the getting on top of many things is leading us to get on top of the Devil and his kingdom. Presently, in the great hour when the sons are manifested, when the man child is caught to the throne, the creation is to be delivered from the bondage of corruption.

See then the meaning of the day in which we live. See the meaning of the suffering into which we may go yet more deeply, and how it is to be God’s answer to this working of Satan that has been going on ever since he made a bid for the place of God’s Heir, the Heir of all things. Ever since Satan made that bid and was cast down from the higher to the lower heavens it has been going on, and now it is being brought out in a new way. That is what it is, and you and I, as part of Christ’s Body, are called to be God’s answer to that, and it is to be so now in a spiritual way. Presently it will be in the full way, the literal way that the saints will take the kingdom, and He shall come whose right it is to reign. The dominion shall be given unto the saints of the Most High.

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March 29

29 MAR – God Uses Those who are ‘Shut Up’

We are so prone to make our sojourn on this earth the big thing; I mean in the matter of what we are able to do, how much we can do and realize and see in our lifetime, and when we find the Lord shutting us up and limiting us and seeming to put us in prison, oft-times under the strain and pressure of it, when the iron enters into our soul as with Joseph, we begin to think we have missed the way. Life is going and it is all unfruitful; we are not doing anything. It is other people who are doing the thing, we are not. Thus we make so much of this present life in the matter of what we are able to do, as though that were everything, whereas (and this, of course, is no argument why we should be slack about doing) so often the Lord has got His greatest effectiveness in those who have been just shut right up, unable to do anything outside.

Is not that the truth about Paul himself? Of yes, it is, and Paul, as we have often pointed out, was the embodiment of the revelation which was given to him of the dispensation of the Church, and when we come to the end of his life, we have Paul, who had had such a wide scope of ministry, who had been able to do so much; we have this man, with all the values that are in him put into prison. But we get the concentrated essence of value from those prison experiences. We get the letter to the Ephesians, and that was worth Paul’s going to prison, and anything like that will be worth all that we undergo in the School of sonship which sees a very great deal of what is here on the earth closed down, if only the heavenly may become the far more real and valuable as an expression in us and through us.

But the Lord is not so much concerned with how much we do now in this life. He is more concerned with the measure of Christ to which He can bring us in this life… “till we all attain unto the… measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:13). It will be Christ corporate who will come to take the kingdom of this world in the coming ages, and it is unto that the fullness of Christ that God is working preeminently in our experience, and that is the thing that matters most. It is the most difficult thing for us to accept; a supremely difficult thing for any active temperament to accept. To some it is martyrdom not to be doing something. It may be God’s way of getting the enlargement of His Son in His members, the patience of Jesus Christ, among other things.

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March 28

28 MAR – Spiritual Increase is Related to the Throne

Firstly, it does mean that the deepening of spiritual life, as it is called, or any other terms used for the same thing, is not a matter which is just to issue in our fuller blessing. So often people will bring it right down there to that level of fuller blessing, and we are very often tempted even there, in the time of fire and adversity, to react to this whole thing by saying, Well, if I have heaven, why need I trouble about all this, and why should I go through all this? Here are plenty of people just very happy and contented, they are saved and they know they are saved, and here am I who have sought to go on with God, and I am having the most awful time.

It seems to me that I have got the worst of the bargain, by wanting to go right on with God! If we look at it like that, purely from the personal point of view of blessing, we have missed our way, and we shall get into difficulties; because, as we have always sought to point out, when you come out of this spiritual infancy into the School of sonship, you graduate from what is personal as to your own interest and blessing into what is for the Lord and not for you. From that time forward the whole motive is, not what I am going to get, but what God is going to get. That is Ephesians. “That ye may know what is… the riches of the glory of HIS inheritance in the saints.” Not what I am going to get now: that will follow, that will be all right, the Lord will be faithful, but it is something else. We have come into the school on the basis of God’s eternal purpose, and God’s eternal purpose does not begin and end when He has got us born again. God’s eternal purpose is only reached when He has got us in the throne. Thus it is the Lord, for the Lord, and what the Lord is after that is the one consideration. It will be glory for me, but that is not the motive of it now. It is this great purpose with which we are called, that is what is governing everything, and it is in the terms of the throne.

So the transition from infancy to the School of sonship, being a very painful thing, and fraught with all sorts of difficulties, brings us nevertheless into relation with that which has been in God’s mind from before the world was where we are concerned. … chosen in Christ Jesus “that we should be to the praise of HIS glory.” All the dealings of the Lord with us in this school have that throne in view.

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March 27

27 MAR – God Deals With Us as Sons

Spirituality, which is the nature of sonship, is not mental at all. That is to say, it is not a matter of having all our mental problems answered for us by somebody who has an answer to give us. You can never reach spirituality philosophically, logically, academically. You may go all over the world and get many questions answered, but that does not mean that you have come into spiritual enlargement. No, that is a very small realm, after all. Most of us have been there. We know quite well it never got us anywhere at all, and what a time we had and how disappointed we were!

The Lord Jesus Christ says, “If any man willeth to do his will, he shall know of the teaching” (John 7:17). That is only the Gospel way of putting in germ form this great truth of sonship, namely, that you know by experience and not by intellectual inquiry and by people telling you from the outside. You do not come into anything by that way, for what logic can build up, logic can pull down. No, God dealeth with us as with what? Students in the academic sense? No, as with sons. And where do we locate sonship? God is the Father of our spirits; therefore our spirits are the seat of sonship and all His dealings are with our spirits. Thus it is a matter of spiritual growth, spiritual enlargement: that is growth in sonship unto adoption. Oh yes, it is experience.

You may be right in the midst of the most mature Christians who have gone that UPWARD way and you may be as one alone. You know you do not know as they know; but do not despair. If you are marked by this spirit of purposefulness with God, that means He has you in His school, and it is a good indication when you begin to get real deep spiritual exercise. We have all met those people who have lived on the basis of spiritual infancy all their lives, and they can never help us at all in our deepest need. Indeed, everything was so cut and dried with them they would not investigate anything deeper. They regarded anything deeper as quite superfluous and were quite satisfied and had a kind of answer to everything. But in our heart need they could not touch us at all. We have all been that way.

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