Austin Sparks, Christian Ministry, Christianity, Daily Devotional

July 31

31 JUL – Taking In the Full Victory of Christ

It is necessary to carry the work of the cross to the full issue of Christ’s absolute victory in the realm of all principality and power, in the realm of the authority of darkness. Forgiveness of sins is a great blessing, the atonement for our sins is a great blessing, and to be saved from hell at last and go to heaven is a great blessing. We would not minimize them for a moment or take from the greatness and grandeur of those things because of the infinite cost with which they were purchased for us, but I say again, it is necessary for us to carry the work of Christ through to its full issue, and its full issue lies in the realm of principalities and powers.

It lies in the realm of the authority of darkness, the jurisdiction of darkness. That is important for the sinner to know, that it is not only a matter of being forgiven his sins and saved from sin, but that the sinner should know that in salvation all the authority, the jurisdiction of principalities and powers, of the adversary, Satan himself, has been destroyed and broken, and out of that jurisdiction, that authority, that rightful hold of Satan, they have been rescued – rescued by Christ in His cross. It means that Satan has no more power because he has no more right. His power depends on his right, and his right is based upon the state of things in our hearts, and the cross deals with the state of things in our hearts and destroys or removes the ground of his right, and breaks his power.

Carry it right through. Now – all that is in Christ for us. Christ in Himself embodies His supremacy over the adversary because in Him there is none of that ground that that adversary must have upon which to encamp and construct his rightful authority to hold in bondage. In Christ there is no such ground; Christ is in us when we believe, and the authority of Satan is broken because Christ is in us. Christ being in us – there is no ground for the jurisdiction of Satan.

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Austin Sparks, Christian Ministry, Christianity, Daily Devotional

July 30

30 JUL – Christianity Is Not a Teaching

Since Paul’s day, so very much of Christian activity has been the furthering of a movement, the propagating of a teaching, and the furthering of the interests of an institution. It is not a movement, nor to establish a movement in the Earth and to get followers, adherents, members, support. It is not an institution, even though we might call that institution the church. The church has no existence in the thought of God apart from the revelation of Jesus Christ, and it is judged according to the measure in which Christ the Son of God’s love is in evidence by its existence.

Let us be careful what we mean when we speak about “the testimony”. We may have in our minds some arrangement of truth, and that truth couched in certain phraseology, form of words, and thus speak about “the testimony”; it is not the testimony in that sense. It is not a denomination, and it is not a “non-denomination”, and it is not an “inter-denomination”. It is not Christianity. It is not “the work” – oh, we are always talking about “the work”: “How is the work getting on?” – We are giving ourselves to the work, we are interested in the work, we are out in the work. It is not a mission. It is Christ! “…That I might preach Him.” If that had remained central and preeminent, all these horrible disintegrating jealousies would never have had a chance. All the wretched mess that exists in the organization of Christianity today would never have come about. It is because something specific in itself, a movement, a mission, a teaching, a testimony, a fellowship, has taken the place of Christ. People have gone out to further that, to project that, to establish that. It would not be confessed; nevertheless it is true, that today it is not so much Christ that is our work.

Now beloved, an inward revelation is the cure of all that. Am I saying too hard a thing, too sweeping a thing? [There is] the existence of all that represents the absence of an adequate inward revelation of Christ. If Christ the Son of God’s love is central and supreme in the heart of the believer, so much else goes down – it must go down. Controversies with God will divide, but those artificial things, those things resultant from man’s activity and his projecting of himself, insinuating of himself into the interests of God, those things cannot abide where there is an adequate inward revelation of the Lord Jesus; they cannot be.

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Austin Sparks, Christian Ministry, Christianity, Daily Devotional

July 29

29 JUL – All Things in Christ

What is sanctification? It is not a doctrine. It is not an ‘it’ at all. It is Christ. He is made unto us sanctification (1 Cor. 1:30). If you are in Christ and if the Holy Spirit is teaching you Christ, then you are knowing all about sanctification; and if He is not, you may have a theory and doctrine of sanctification, but it will separate you from other Christians and will be bringing any number of Christians into difficulties. Probably the teaching of sanctification as a thing has brought more Christians into difficulty than any other particular doctrine through making it a thing, instead of keeping Christ as our sanctification.

I am only saying this to try to explain… that it is in the School of Christ that we are to be found, where the Holy Spirit is not teaching us things; not Church doctrine, not sanctification, not adventism, not any thing or any number of things, but teaching us Christ. What is adventism? What is the coming of the Lord? Well, it is the coming of the Lord. And what is the coming of the Lord? Well, such a word as this will give us the key: He shall come to be glorified in His saints, and to be marveled at in all them that believed (2 Thess. 1:10). You see, it is the consummation of something that has been going on in an inward way. How then do I best know that the coming of the Lord draws nigh? Not best of all by prophetical signs, but by what is going on within the hearts of the Lord’s people. That is the best sign of the times, namely, what the Spirit of God is doing in the people of God. But you are not interested in that. You would far sooner know what is going to happen between Germany and Russia, whether these two, after all, are going to make it up and become a great confederacy! How far does it get us? Where has all the talking about the revived Roman Empire got us? That is adventism as a thing. If only we keep close to Him Who is the sum of all truth, and move with Him and learn Him, we shall know the course of things. We shall know what is imminent. We shall have in our heart whisperings of preparation.

The best Advent preparation is to know the Lord. I am not saying that there is nothing in prophecy; don’t misunderstand me. But I do know that there are multitudes of people who are simply engrossed in prophecy as a thing whose spiritual life counts for nothing, who really have no deep inward walk with the Lord. We have seen it so often.

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Austin Sparks, Christian Ministry, Christianity, Daily Devotional

July 28

28 JUL – Knowing Christ by the Spirit

The Holy Spirit’s way is to take Christ and open up Christ to the heart, and show that Christ is a heavenly order; not that the Epistles set forth as a manual a heavenly order, but that Christ is that order, and everything in the matter of order has to be kept immediately in relation to the living Person. If it becomes some “thing”, then it becomes an earthly system; and you can make out of the Epistles a hundred different earthly systems all built upon the Epistles. They will support any number of different systems, different interpretations represented by Christian orders here, and the reason is that they have been divorced from the Person.

You see, beloved, there are numerous things, numerous subjects, themes, teachings. There is “the kingdom of God”, there is “sanctification”, there is “eternal life”, there is “the victorious life”, “the overcomer” or “the overcoming life”, there is “the second coming of Christ”. These are but a few subjects, themes, truths, as they are called, which have been taken up and developed out of the Scriptures and become things with which people have become very much occupied, and in which they are very interested as things. So certain people hive off around a sanctification teaching, and they are the sanctificationists, and it becomes an “ism”. Others hive off, and they are bounded by the hedge of Second Adventism, the Lord’s coming, prophecy, and all that. So you get groups like that. I want to say that would be utterly impossible if the Person of the Lord Jesus was dominant.

What is the kingdom of God? It is Christ. If you get right inside of the Gospels, you will find that the kingdom of God is Jesus Christ. If you are living in Christ, you are in the kingdom, and you know, as the Holy Spirit teaches you Christ, what the kingdom is in every detail. The kingdom is not some thing in the first place. The kingdom, when it becomes something universal, will simply be the expression and manifestation of Christ. That is all. You come to the kingdom in and through Christ; and the same is true of everything else.

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Austin Sparks, Christian Ministry, Christianity, Daily Devotional

July 27

27 JUL – Carefreeness or Carelessness?

The Lord’s attitude toward His Own is one of concern for them. He has His eye upon them; they are not out of His ken (awareness). Not only has He His eye upon them, but He has His ear open to them; and not only so, but He is taking definite care concerning them. “…casting all your anxiety upon him, because he careth for you” (1 Pet. 5:7). “Be careful to maintain good works” (Titus 3:8).

On the one hand we are exhorted to be carefree because He careth for us and on the other hand we are told to be careful. We are exhorted to take care. When He says, “In nothing be anxious” (Phil. 4:6), or “casting all your anxiety upon him,” the Lord does not mean that you are to become careless, indifferent, to put the matter away as though it is nothing to do with you, that you have no place in it at all. There is a place where the Lord expects us to take care, to be careful (in the ordinary usage of the word among us), to recognize that we have responsibility, we have to be watchful, we have to come into the situation, we have to be careful in this way and in that.

In 1 Peter 3:12-14, Peter says that the Lord’s attitude is one of solicitude for His Own. “The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous and his ears unto their supplication”. While occupation must go on, many things must be attended to, there must be no distraction resulting from worry about it. “Be not… anxious, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?” (Matt. 6:31). Here is the same word again. What it amounts to seems to me to be this, that it is not just a psychological decision or resolution that we are going to be careless, we are going to be indifferent, we are not going to bother. It is to be positively an act of faith.

The anxiety usually comes in as to how things are going to turn out, what the issue is going to be. The right care is to do our part. The carefreeness is the result of committing the issue to the Lord and definitely taking the faith attitude that He will look after the outcome while we are looking after what is ours to look after. It is not just spineless optimism, it is definite faith – faith that refuses to be harassed and distracted by many things, by anything.

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Austin Sparks, Christian Ministry, Christianity, Daily Devotional

July 26

26 JUL – God’s Suffering for His Church to Come Into His Oneness

The Lord has strange ways. He deals with us like that. He must bring His instruments into oneness with Himself. There is a little phrase in the New Testament which runs like this: “When once the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah…” If that word means anything, it means that delay, in a case like that of Abram’s, is not a pleasant thing for a man – not a thing that he would choose for himself. It would at least imply that if the Lord could have His way, He would perfect His purpose at once. Long-suffering, forbearance, patience, endurance – these things on God’s part are not the things He would choose in carrying out His purposes, seeing all the suffering and the distress and the pain that there is. But He suffered… and suffered long, and His instruments must come into oneness with Him – oneness with His heart.

The point is that it lifts this thing on to a certain level. It is not that the Lord is just dealing with you and with me like a schoolmaster, trying to get something in us. It may be the Lord wants moral qualities developed in us – patience, long-suffering, and so on; there is no doubt that is true, but it is not just that. The Lord is saying, “I am not going to do this until you show signs of certain qualities.” The Lord is lifting us right up on to the same level as Himself, bringing us into actual oneness with Himself, so that we have the same feeling toward others and toward the situation – toward the need that He has.

I believe that when the Lord can get a corporate cry in His Church which is His own cry, then His time has come. The Lord is not just waiting for a time. There is something bound up with that time, and He is seeking to produce in the heart of His instrument that which is in His own heart, so that it cries one cry with Him. The Church has to cry and it has to cry God’s cry… and that one cry is not in the Church. There are many voices – conflicting voices; and by the agony of delay, and the agony of the growing impossibility of the situation, and the agony of the need for that which is of God as over against all this other, the Church will be brought to cry that cry. At midnight there shall be a cry! Now that is oneness with God in His time.

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Austin Sparks, Christian Ministry, Christianity, Daily Devotional

July 25

25 JUL – The Mark of the House of the Lord

Matthew 26:6-13 talks of the woman (church) with her “alabaster cruse of exceeding precious ointment”. The incident speaks to us in the first instance of the recognition of the worth of the Lord Jesus. All who looked on as good as said: ‘He is not worth it’; that is what it amounted to. ‘He is not worth it.’ Of course they would not have put it like that. She recognized His worth that He was worth the ‘exceeding preciousness’. It was the exceeding preciousness of Christ that was in view here, as something recognized. That, I think, is the main feature. It is a feature of Bethany, it is a feature of the upper room, it is a feature of “My church”. It is a feature of the Lord’s assembly, it is a feature of the people who are after His own heart; the recognition of His exceeding preciousness, His exceeding worth; that there is nothing too costly to lay at His feet. ”Unto you therefore which believe he is precious (is the preciousness)…” (1 Pet. 2:7).

Now, that is very simple, and yet again it is a thing that draws forth the deep appreciation of the Lord Jesus. It is again a thing which gives feature to a very much beloved local assembly or church. In other words, it is a thing which makes His assembly of great value to Him, that there His worth is recognized, and He is appreciated and appraised at His true value. That must mark the house of the Lord. It is a feature that must be developed more and more. Oh, how different this is from the merely formal church system! We can hardly say that the outstanding feature of that is a true heart-appreciation of the worth and of the value of the Lord Jesus. Where that appreciation is, you have the assembly; where it is not, whatever else you may have of ornate and elaborate presentation, you have not got the assembly; it is not the place of His delight.

The brokenness of the cruse brings out into expression the preciousness of the ointment. It is the ‘vessel of fragile clay’ which, being broken, makes possible the manifestation and expression of the glories of Christ. While that cruse is whole, strong, and sound in itself, something which you would look at and take account of in itself; something that would cause you to say: ‘That is a beautiful vase, that is a wonderful piece of alabaster’; you are not getting at the secret. We may take account of men as splendid intellects, splendid men, wonderful preachers and so on but when the cruse is broken, shattered, then you get at the tabernacle secret of the glory of Christ.

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Austin Sparks, Christian Ministry, Christianity, Daily Devotional

July 24

24 JUL – The Place Where He is Gladly Received

”Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village (do not forget that villages represent local assemblies): and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house.” Luke 10:38

Now here, in this first mention of Bethany, which in principle represents that Church, and that assembly, and that house, which the Lord has His heart set upon, and I fasten at once upon one word: “And a certain woman named Martha received him into her house.” The word “received” is the key-word to this whole thing, and it represents immediately a great difference. It is a discriminating word, a differentiating word.

His assembly, His spiritual house, is the place where He is gladly received and finds His rest. It is His place, His place in a world which rejects Him; it is the place where He is recognized. Do you notice that when assemblies are being scattered over the face of the earth it is always that which is the beginning of an assembly (the ones who receive His word)? They “receive” the word. Pentecost was that. “Then they that received his word…” (Acts 2:41) At Philippi, ”a certain woman named Lydia… besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there” (Acts 16:14,15). That is the beginning of the assembly it is like that everywhere. It is a spiritual perception issuing in an open-hearted reception. That is the first thing which befeatures His Church: “received”. It is the giving Him a place, the place of honour.

Now that is very simple, but it represents much to the Lord, and it carries us a long way, because it represents something more than the Lord coming just to be a sojourner in the midst. It represents that the Lord has got a footing, a foothold, a place which provides Him with that which is necessary to Him to secure all His rights universally. And that is why the Lord would have His Church here in assemblies, local assemblies, over the face of the earth. They are testimonies to His rights, in a world where those rights are disputed and disowned; and they stand there to say: When He comes back, they are to be the means, the instrument, of His recovery of those rights which have been disputed and from which He has been driven out. There is a good deal bound up with receiving the Lord. He is coming back to His own because He is already there in possession.

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Austin Sparks, Christian Ministry, Christianity, Daily Devotional

July 23

23 JUL – The Outward Separation of Christ

Christ’s inward separation had its outward effect or outworking in separation from the world, and no one will think for a moment that I mean physical separation from the world. No, He was here right in it, in its throng and press, in its affairs, with everything pressing upon Him; never seeking to live the life of a hermit, detached from the world, but right in it and yet while rubbing shoulder to shoulder with the world, having all the contacts of this world in every form, there was a distinctiveness about Him. He was not a part of it, but apart from it, a wonderful outward separation. While being able to talk with the grossest and the most defiled and the people most involved in this world, He was yet by no means a part of their system, their order, their way of life, but outwardly separate from the world.

The most unhappy people in this world are Christians who try to have both worlds. It is my experience that if you want to find a miserable Christian, you must find what is called ‘a worldly Christian’, one in whom a constant civil war goes on between two kingdoms. Yes, a Christian in this world, trying to get something out of this world is a miserable creature. You try to live on a border-line or border-land Christian life and you will be a miserable person, without rest or peace or joy or anything else. You will never know exactly where you are – who is your master – which way you are going – to whom you belong. It is a miserable existence.

The Lord Jesus was not like that. He was on one side and absolutely on one side. He was attached to heaven, and He maintained that attachment. You and I, if we are going to know glory now and glory afterward, will have to be on the same ground as He was in this matter – no compromise with the world; in it, having to do our work here, having to meet people here, having to be friendly in a way, yet not one with their nature, their realm, their way. It is a difficult thing – not as easy to do as to say; it works out in many practical ways. The point is that Christ was wholly for God, and because of that, His Father was the Father of glory, and the Spirit of glory rested upon Him, and the Father could give Him glory.

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Austin Sparks, Christian Ministry, Christianity, Daily Devotional

July 22

22 JUL – The Pattern Son’s Inward Separation

Let us look again at the One who has set for us the pattern. Firstly, it was His inward separation from sin that is important. There was a great gap between Him and sin. It is said of Him that He “knew no sin” (2 Corinthians 5:21), that He was “separated from sinners” (Hebrews 7:26). That is, that in His nature He was separate from the rest of men, there was an inward separation. Now, we are not constituted as He was, as sinless, but we are told and made to understand in the New Testament that that inward separation, which was so true of Him, can be made true in us. Paul has a way of putting it. He calls it: “the circumcision of Christ” (Colossians 2:11), and he says that it is a thing of the heart, an inward separating between what we are in ourselves and what we are in Christ, the putting of a gap between the two. And then the New Testament says that by the Holy Spirit’s enablement, by the Holy Spirit’s power, you need not live on the ground of what you are in yourself, you can live on the ground of Christ; and living on the ground of Christ you need not be the slave of yourself and your sinfulness. You are delivered.

That sounds very technical, I know, but it is very practical. We know it very well. We who are Christians know that a cleavage has been made in us, and that we are now two people. There is that side which is our new life, our new relationship, which is our Christ-connection. There is that other side which is still our old relationship with the old Adam. It is there: it is not cauterized, it is not annihilated; and we know now that it is for us to take continually the power of the Holy Spirit, in virtue of that separating cross, to keep on the Christ side, on the new side; and if we do, we know that it is glory. Very often we know more of the meaning of the glory by a touch of the other. Step over on to the other side and give way to the old Adam, and you know quite well there is no glory there.

The enemy, the great enemy of the glory, was ever seeking to contaminate Him, involve Him, pollute Him, corrupt Him. Let us not think that He never had to resist anything, that He never had to say ‘No’ to another. That matter of how a sinless Man could be tempted is of course an old theological problem, but there is no doubt about it, that He fought our battle in all reality. So that is the first thing – an inward separation, a divide; and on the one side, the new life, the ground of the incorruptible, which is the ground of glory. “This mystery,” says Paul, “which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27).

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