Austin Sparks, Christian Ministry, Christianity, Daily Devotional

March 24

24 MAR – The Manifestation of the Sons of God

We have received the Spirit, and are called sons because we have received the Spirit, but both in the case of Romans and Galatians the object of those letters was to obviate the grave peril which had come amongst believers of stopping short at a certain point in their spiritual life as born-again ones and not going on to perfection. Their peril was that of being turned aside by the work of the Judaisers, who were coming in to try to arrest the spiritual progress of these believers and bringing in the law again and the Jewish system.

We may indicate here at once that the enemy always withstands very fiercely this matter of spiritual progress unto adoption. The most perilous thing to the enemy is “the adoption of sons.” That is the end for him and he knows very well the significance for himself of the Lord’s people going on with the Lord unto adoption. These Judaisers were the Devil’s instruments to prevent the going on of these people to that glorious end.

So the Holy Spirit, through the Apostle, in these two letters, brings in the light of sonship; that is, he gives the knowledge of sonship in its fuller meaning, and says that basically, by having received the Holy Spirit, we are sons, but that sonship is not realized now in its full meaning and value. That is something unto which we are to go on, in which we are to continue; for the whole creation is waiting, groaning and waiting, for the literal consummation of that which is potential in our having received the Spirit, namely, “the manifestation of the sons of God.” When that day comes, the creation will be delivered from its bondage of corruption. But against that deliverance the powers of evil work, and they worked through Judaisers as well as through many other things and people to prevent that glorious deliverance of the creation in the manifestation of the sons of God. So that what we have in Romans and Galatians is light about sonship, the basis of sonship established, but nothing said which carries with it the definite declaration that we have reached all that sonship means. Even in this word, “As many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God,” there is no saying that every Christian is a son of God; for is every Christian led by the Spirit of God? It is a spiritual position which is bound up with sonship in God’s thought.

Austin Sparks, Christian Ministry, Christianity, Daily Devotional

March 23

23 MAR – Fullness of Life in Christ

Yes, life in fullness is the question. Many bodies of Christians who have a great past and great tradition are deeply concerned with the inadequacy or lack of life amongst them today. This poverty of life is leading to great organized efforts, largely outside of the churches, to try to bring fullness about. Its lack has been the occasion for the abnormal development of many spurious and pseudo-spiritual movements and teachings. For want of it multitudes are passing by the churches as things which do not count. In many ways the great enemy has triumphed against the Church by countering its very life impact and testimony.

No, the point of the Apostle is that, having laid this sixfold foundation we should “go on to full growth.” Life only begins in the foundation; its fullness requires the whole building. The peril is that even the first principles can become another legal system imposed upon people, and thus the things intended to lead to fullness of life may be made an arrest of life. Satan is very clever.

The recovery of life and its constant increase unto final fullness will only be as we get away from mere tradition and earthliness to a new living apprehension of Christ in His fullness as a Divine Representation of God’s thoughts for His people; away from types, figures, symbols, to spiritual realities. Even if there are to be expressions of “first principles” they must come out of the living reality, and not be mere forms and things in themselves. We must do nothing with a view to perpetuating forms of doctrine and practice, but the expression must be that of life, and the spiritual meaning and value of everything must be ever growing. Only so shall we “go on to full growth”.

Christian Ministry, Christianity

March 22

22 MAR – The Real Value of the Knowledge of Christ

The thing which is going forth from us, the thing which is the effect of our lives, is the knowledge of Christ. Everywhere, not just by us, but because of us, men are coming to a knowledge of Christ. The very object of our being is that Christ should be known because of us. The Divinely appointed way of men coming to know Christ is by our being here, moving amongst men.

That is simple, and perhaps we recognize and accept it, but the extra point which has to be noticed is this, that it is something more than our giving out knowledge concerning Christ; it is that we are to men the knowledge of Christ. There is a very big difference between giving out the truth concerning the Lord Jesus even in large measure, in a great fullness, truth which cannot be denied because it is the truth and that strange, deep, indispensable element that we are that truth, that that truth itself takes its power, its strength from the fact that here are those who are the living expression of it; who have gone through the depths, been tested, been tried, been taken from place to place, been subjected to experiences of intense severity, and in the fires have learned Christ, and are therefore themselves the embodiment of the knowledge of Christ.

Wherever they go it is not that they have truth to give, but it is that men and women learn Christ because of them, and of them it can be said: It is not what they say only; there is something coming from them. There is an indescribable “something” which is an extra element to what they say. That thing has its reality in their being, and you feel that it is not only the words but the very virtue that comes out when they speak, or by reason of their presence. It is that of which the Apostle is speaking. That is the real value of any knowledge of Christ which we can give, which others may come to possess by us. It is not that they come through us to know more about Christ, but that there is a ministration of Christ. That is the thing for which we should seek the Lord very earnestly.

Christian Ministry, Christianity

March 21

21 MAR – The Cross Casts Out the Devil

Here we touch the deepest cause of the offence, for the world and the flesh are only the instruments and weapons by which the great hierarchy of Satan maintains its hold and its existence as the controlling force. As He approached the Cross, Christ said: “Now is the prince of this world cast out” (John 12:31). As Paul reflected on the deep meaning of the Cross he said that by it: “Christ stripped off principalities and powers, making a show of them openly, and triumphed over them” (Colossians 2:15).

It is perfectly natural, then, that the great hierarchy of evil should by every means and resource seek to make the Cross of none effect. By the “pale cast of thought” it will dilute the message of the Cross; by pushing in the world’s methods and spirit it will sap the spiritual vitality of the Church; by stirring up the flesh, the self and the old Adam it will cause schism, strain and disintegration; or by making much of the human elements in its artistic, aesthetic, heroic side, it will be blind to the need for regeneration.

Reputation, popularity, the world’s standards of success, are all contrary to the spirit of Christ, but they are the attractions by which the enemy engrosses the minds of many, sometimes even Christian ministers.

If, therefore, the Cross is preached in the full content of victory over and emancipation from the world, the flesh and the devil, it is to be expected that by hook or crook the intelligent forces of evil will stop at nothing to silence it, and will stir up every cause of offence which can be laid to the account of the Cross. No wonder that this message is repudiated or misrepresented, since it is God’s solution to the problems of fallen man. Crucifixion is a harsh end; it reveals the utterness of God’s repudiation of everything which belongs to the old creation. To the believer, however, the Cross as presented in the gospel is the power of God unto salvation.

In conclusion let us not forget that the enjoyment of the full purpose of God, the experience of victory, and association in life with Him that sitteth on the throne in His glory are ours just in so far as we are one with the reality of the Cross as set forth in the Word of God. Perhaps it is best summed up for us in the words: “They overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb, and because of the word of their testimony, and they counted not their lives dear unto the death” (Rev: 12:11).