Austin Sparks, Christian Ministry, Christianity, Daily Devotional

October 21

21 OCT – One Universal Spiritual Remedy

It is quite clear that every letter written by the Apostle Paul has some maladies as the occasion of it. That is to say there were things that were wrong in every place to which the letters were written, and that needed to be put right. The outstanding case is Corinth. The disorders and diseases there both individual and collective were many and great. While the Apostle referred to these specifically… and rebuked, reproved, exhorted, and warned concerning them… he knew quite well that they could never be cleared up as things in themselves. It was of no use to try to get a solution by discussion, debate, logic, personal persuasion, or threat. Very early in the first letter to them, his one all-covering Remedy is announced, or prescribed:

“I determined to know nothing among you save Jesus Christ… and Him crucified.”

In other words, Paul’s finally settled position was that a passion for Jesus Christ in terms of His Cross – that is in terms of love: the letting go of all personal interest, the yielding of all natural mindedness – will solve every problem and cure, every malady. Paul believed that if he could get those believers to become really captivated by a concern for Christ as the objective of an ever increasing devotion and self-surrender, all the evils and hurtful things would fade out. If something more than the initial and basic personal advantages of salvation were to fill the heart, so many of the unhappy conditions in individual and corporate Christian life would disappear. That is to say, if the Lordship of Christ were to be given its place and His fullness were to be the governing goal, life would be ever rising in ascendancy above the low level and be enlarging beyond the small and petty measure which is characteristic of so many.

Oh, for the ability to show how the Lordship of Christ in a life or in a church, and in all the churches, is the solution to every problem and difficulty! Will you ask the Lord to impress you firstly with this fact… and then to lead you into its reality. To this ministry, by His grace… and as helped by your prayers… we give ourselves until we with all saints “attain unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.”

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Austin Sparks, Christian Ministry, Christianity, Daily Devotional

October 20

20 OCT – Revelation Bound Up with Practical Solutions

You notice that the Apostles got their revelation for the Church in practical situations. They never met around a table to have a Roundtable Conference, to draw up a scheme of doctrine and practice for the churches. They went out into the business and came right up against the desperate situation, and in the situation which pressed them, oft-times to desperation, they had to get before God and get revelation. The New Testament is the most practical book, because it was born out of pressing situations. The Lord gave light for a situation. The revelation of Christ, we might say, in emergencies is the way to keep Christ alive, and the only way in which Christ really does live to His own. You understand what I mean.

Now then, that is why the Lord would keep us in situations which are acute, real. The Lord is against our getting out on theoretical lines with truth, out on technical lines. Oh, let us shun technique as a thing in itself and recognize this, that, although the New Testament has in it a technique, we cannot merely extract the technique and apply it. We have to come into New Testament situations to get a revelation of Christ to meet that situation. So that the Holy Spirit’s way with us is to bring us into living, actual conditions and situations, and needs, in which only some fresh knowledge of the Lord Jesus can be our deliverance, our salvation, our life, and then to give us, not a revelation of truth, but a revelation of the Person, new knowledge of the Person, that we come to see Christ in some way that just meets our need. We are not drawing upon an ‘it’, but upon a ‘Him’.

He is the Word. “In the beginning was the Word”, and the meaning of that designation is just this, that God has made Himself intelligible to us in a Person, not in a book. God has not first of all written a book, although we have the Bible. God has written a Person. In one of his little booklets, Dr. A. B. Simpson has this illustration, or illustrates this thing in this way. He says that on one occasion he saw the Constitution of the United States written, and it was written on a parchment. He was near to it, and could read all the details of the Constitution of the United States. But as he stood back from that parchment, some yards off, all he could see was the head of George Washington there on the parchment. Then he drew near again and saw the Constitution was so written in light and shadow as to take the shape of the head of George Washington. That is it. God has written the revelation of Himself, but it is in the Person of His Son, the Headship of the Lord Jesus, and you cannot have the constitution of heaven except in the Person, and the constitution of heaven is the Person in the shape of God’s Son.

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Austin Sparks, Christian Ministry, Christianity, Daily Devotional

October 19

19 OCT – KNOWING CHRIST

It is not possible to have or know anything of all the fullness which God has shut up in His Son without the Holy Spirit’s revelation of that in an inward way. It has to be a miracle wrought by the Holy Spirit within every man and woman if they are to know anything of what God has shut up in Christ. That again summarizes John’s Gospel, for there at the center is a man born blind. He never has seen. It is not a case of restoration with him; it is a giving of sight. It is the first thing. It is going to be an absolutely new world for that man. Whatever he may have surmised or guessed or imagined, or had described to him, actual seeing is going to be something with a new beginning. It is going to be an absolute miracle, producing an absolutely new world, and all his guesses of what that world contained and was like will prove to have been very inadequate when he actually sees. Nothing is going to be seen save by the miracle wrought within.

(1) God has shut up everything of Himself in His Son.

(2) No one can know anything of that save as it is revealed. “No one knoweth the Son, save the Father, neither doth any know the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son willeth to reveal him” (Matt 11:27). Revelation can only come by choice of the Son.

… God always keeps the revelation of Himself in Christ bound up with practical situations. I want you to get that. God always keeps the revelation of Himself in Christ bound up with practical situations. You and I can never get revelation other than in connection with some necessity. We cannot get it by studying. When the Lord gave the manna in the wilderness (type of Christ as the bread from heaven) He stipulated very strongly that not one fragment more than the day’s need was to be gathered, and that if they went beyond the measure of immediate need, disease and death would break out and overtake them. The principle, the law, of the manna is that God keeps revelation of Himself in Christ bound up with practical situations of necessity, and we are not going to have revelation as mere teaching, doctrine, interpretation, theory, or anything as a thing, which means that God is going to put you and me into situations where only the revelation of Christ can help us and save us.

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Austin Sparks, Christian Ministry, Christianity, Daily Devotional

October 18

18 OCT – God’s Answer to Declension

Why was the Gospel of John written? Was it written just as a record of the life of the Lord Jesus here on earth to go alongside of two or three other records, that there might be a history of the earthly life of the Lord Jesus preserved? What was the object in view? Well, just this: as John writes, things are not as they were, not as God meant them to be; they no longer represent God’s thought in and for His people. The order, the heavenly order, has broken down and is breaking down yet more. The heavenly nature has been forfeited and an earthly thing is taking shape in Christianity; the true life is being lost and the glory is departing. To that situation God reacts with a new presentation of His Son in a heavenly and spiritual way; for the features or characteristics of John are heavenliness and spirituality. Is that not true? Oh yes, here is a new bringing into view of His Son. But what a bringing into view! Not just and only as Jesus of Nazareth, but as the Son of Man, Son of God; God revealed and manifested in man, out from eternity with all the fullness of Divine essence that His people might see.

So we must get to the Holy Spirit’s standpoint in the Gospel by John, and in his other writings, and just see this, that God’s way of recovery, when His full and original thought has been lost and that heavenly revelation has departed, and the heavenly glory has been withdrawn, is to bring His Son anew into view; not to bring you back to the technique of the Church or the Gospel or the doctrine, but to bring His Son into view, to bring Christ again in the tremendousness of His heavenly and spiritual meaning before the heart-eyes of His people. That is the answer that is found in John to these conditions that we meet with in the New Testament, which so plainly shows that the Church was losing its heavenly position, and all sorts of things were coming in, and the whole thing was becoming earthly. What will God do? In what way will He save His purpose which seems to be so dangerously near being lost? He will bring His Son into view again. Remember God’s answer is always in His Son to every movement. Whether that movement be in the world as it heads up to Antichrist (God’s answer to Antichrist will be Christ in the full blaze of His Divine glory), or whether it be in the Church in declension and apostasy, God’s answer will be in His Son.

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Austin Sparks, Christian Ministry, Christianity, Daily Devotional

October 17

17 OCT – Seeing Christ by Revelation

Now, the Resurrection and Pentecost seem to me to have meant just this one thing, the seeing of Christ. You remember when He was considered dead and buried, even disciples were in black despair and eclipsed of faith and hope, and some went on the way to Emmaus very sad indeed; and their words were, ”We hoped that it was He Who should redeem Israel” (Luke 24:21). But before the end of that episode was reached, we are told that He opened their understanding that they might know the Scriptures. Having taken up the Scriptures right from the beginning and spoken to them things concerning Himself, He opened their understanding, and it was just that that was marking His appearances during the forty days after His resurrection.

They were in some altogether new way coming to see Him. Oh no, not now physically merely that He was alive, that He had a body; it was not merely this that was being borne in upon them very powerfully. They were seeing Him Who He was; the mystery of His Person was breaking down. They were seeing Him, and the day of Pentecost seemed to bring that through to full birth. The forty days were moving up to that day, and then on that day by the coming of the Holy Spirit the thing was consummated, and in the full blaze of Who He was, the Church was born. It seems to me that the Church was born, yes, by the Holy Spirit, but by the Holy Spirit’s breaking open to men who Jesus was after all. It seems to me that is how everyone came into the Church. They saw by an operation of the Holy Spirit Who Jesus was. That is how Paul came in on the Damascus road; he saw who Jesus of Nazareth was. On the day of Pentecost, Peter stood up with the Eleven, as under the power of the Holy Spirit they opened their mouths, and the spontaneous declaration was all about Who Jesus was, and they are men in a new revelation.

The disciples went out in the power of having seen, having had their eyes opened to the Lord Jesus. It was as though they had been men moving in the shadows during those years, groping, sometimes feeling an assurance, a certain amount of certainty, but then questionings, uncertainties coming in, shadows all the time. But at last the heavens were rent, the blaze broke through, and they saw. It was in the light of that they were constituted witnesses, representatives. It was in the light of that that the Church was born. It was in the light of that that the Church went on its way so effectively. The fact was that wherever they came, it was the impact of God in Christ by their presence. Their presence stirred hell, because hell felt anew, God is here!

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Austin Sparks, Christian Ministry, Christianity, Daily Devotional

October 16

16 OCT – Jesus Came to Redeem a Family unto God

The Lord Jesus came, firstly to secure unto the Father the satisfaction of His eternal desire, the realization of His own ambition of heart, to redeem unto God a family; and not to leave it there, but to bring that family to reign, to govern in the eternal kingdom. It is to be the governmental family of the ages to come. The means by which He is going to govern this world in the coming ages is by this family elevated to His throne. The far greater and more glorious counterpart of David and Solomon is the Father and Son – and then, to use another phrase from the Letter to the Hebrews, “many sons” whom He has brought to glory.

We cannot just say these things without reminding ourselves that the realization of this, both on the part of the Lord Jesus and on our part, if the Father is to find His satisfaction, is a costly thing. It is by way of travail. There is no family without travail. God has put it in the very constitution of this creation that the family is by way of travail, of suffering. In a word, someone has to be prepared to lay down their life for the family, and the Lord Jesus did it. And, dear friends, we are not going to have anything like this amongst the Lord’s people unless we are prepared to suffer for it, to lay down our lives for it, to set aside all our own personal interests for it, really to put up with a lot, that we might bring to the Father that upon which His heart is so much set. It is the way of travail, of sacrifice, of suffering. For this His Body was broken, that we might share that Body as one family. For this His Blood was shed, that we might, in drinking His blood – in other words, His outpoured life – share as a family that one life.

‘Father, the world has not known, but these have known… Father, as Thou and I are one… that they may be one.’

Have you been all the time poised and adjusted, asking: ‘Is the Lord saying something to me?’ Somewhere, somehow, I have violated this family spirit, family disposition, and grieved the Spirit of God, who is the Spirit of the family. Is there something that He is saying to you and to me? How does this apply to us? Is it just a lovely Bible theme? God forbid! It was a prayer with Him, so let us make it a prayer, and a prayer that will have a very practical aspect, for sometimes we can go a long way towards answering our own prayers. And this matter is not ALL to be left with the Lord. He has done His part!

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October 15

15 OCT – God’s Thought is to Redeem a Family

Dear friends, it is a good thing to be redeemed, to have what redemption means in the sense of sins forgiven, deliverance from bondage, security unto eternal life, and all those blessings. But do we sufficiently recognize that it is a FAMILY He has come to redeem, and that we are redeemed as a family? We may be redeemed individually, but God’s thought, and Christ’s thought, was to redeem a family.

What is a family? Now, if you have a family, how happy and pleased would you be if every one of your children was a unit in himself or herself, living an independent life without any concern or consideration or interest in any other member of the family? Just so many isolated units in one place could not be called a home! Would you be happy about it if they all went off and never had any concern for the other members, but were just individuals? Well, they might be children of the same parents, but, if that was the situation, the parents would feel that the real meaning of parenthood had been lost – how God must feel about anything and everything that is other than a family concept and a family spirit amongst His people!

We hear so much about the Church, the churches and the local assemblies. Indeed, we can get very tired of that, for it can be so technical. But what is God’s thought in companies of His people in any place? That they should be a representation of the family where His Fatherhood is the dominant thing, where His Son has the place that He ought to have, and where all are a unit. “I pray… that they may all be one” (John 17:20-21). How? ‘As Thou, Father, and I are one.’ The Father is revealing Himself in the Son and the Son is manifesting Himself in the Father. What perfect oneness there is between those two! “That they may be one, even as we are one.”

The prayer of the Lord Jesus, right at the end, as He went to the Cross, was for the family. He went to the Cross to redeem the family, that out of His death and resurrection many sons should be born.

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October 14

14 OCT – The Father’s Good Pleasure

“Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” Luke 12:32

God has never promised that we should be exempt from these perils and these dangers. He has not said, ‘You will never suffer, you will never be tried’. No. He has promised us nothing short of: “In the world ye have tribulation” (John 16:33). But He has said, ‘When these things come, do not forget that it is never to be interpreted as indicating that I am disposed toward you otherwise than in this way of goodwill, good pleasure’.

We have to meet, then, our difficulties and go through our trials and believe that in them God’s will is good and perfect and acceptable. It is all in the good pleasure of His will. And is it not true that it just works out like that? We sometimes feel, ‘Oh, that it might never have been, that this might never have been’, and afterward we say, ‘God meant it for good; the outcome is good, not evil; I did not see it, I could not see it, but it was the good pleasure of His will’. “It is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom”. Rough handling, but it is good will. Many an adversity, but the goodwill is looking over it all and following the whole course. I can say this out of my own coward heart that knows only too well what it means to wonder whether the will of God is always good. The Gospel begins with goodwill, and it develops and unfolds to a vast fullness encompassing all ages, the good pleasure of His will.

So He says, “little flock”. He immediately, in so saying, admitted that His flock would be very small in comparison. They would be very full of suffering, because they were going the way of the Lamb, ‘following the Lamb whithersoever he goeth’. A “little flock”. But ‘fear not, small, despised, persecuted flock; fear not!’ In the midst of all that comes upon the world, remember, it is the Lamb who has everything in hand, and He has it all in hand with a view to having with Him the company of which we read in Revelation 14: “It is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom”. It is “the good pleasure of his will”.

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October 13

13 OCT – The Frown of God’s Goodwill

Strangely enough, the very goodwill of God is often hidden behind a frown. I turn to my friend John Bunyan. You know that he had a man called Goodwill. He lived at the wicket gate, and Christian’s first contact with Goodwill was when he came to the gate. He saw the notice written up, “Knock and it shall be opened”, and he knocked and the man opened. It was Goodwill. But how is he described? “A very grave person called Goodwill”.

We often think God’s goodwill in terms of being boisterous, hilarious, hearty, and a jovial sort of person who was just falling over you with beneficence and everything light and helpful and cheerful. But in John Bunyan’s story it was a very grave person that Christian met when he met Goodwill at the wicket gate. And, the gate having been opened to him somewhat, and seeing this very grave person and being asked what he wanted and giving his reply, he was suddenly laid hold of by Goodwill with a terrible grasp and pulled in so strongly that he might almost have been torn to pieces. Anything but goodwill, it seemed! Christian did not expect that, and he turned to the man and said, ‘Why did you do that?’ ‘Oh’, he said, ‘Beelzebub has a castle just over there, and he is always watching for pilgrims coming, so that he can shoot them down before they get through the gate. He was going to shoot you down, so I pulled you in.’ Sometimes we need rough handling, and it does not mean it is not goodwill.

This is the marvelous shrewdness and honesty of Bunyan. Why was Goodwill a very grave person? Because of the aspects of the wicket gate. It looked down the way to the city of Destruction; and Goodwill had constantly in full view all that was going on down there – the souls perishing and going to perdition. He saw the castle of Beelzebub, and the malignant eyes watching for pilgrims, to shoot them down before they could get through; he knew this hatred, this malice of the Evil One; and with all the goodwill in the world he could not but be a grave person in the light of that. And as he saw on, he saw the way the pilgrims were going. He knew what they would encounter. He knew all that they had to meet. He knew all the rest of the story contained in that wonderful Pilgrim’s Progress, which was not always progress as we think of it, for we make progress very often by falls, by mistakes. There are Giants of Despair, and there are deep and dark valleys, and there are many other things. Goodwill stands looking in all directions, taking in everything, but he is still Goodwill.

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October 12

12 OCT – Getting Hold of the Impossible

There is a greater fact than ourselves and than our circumstances: it is the fact of Christ. And so you and I will have to seek from the Lord this grace, morning by morning, and day by day, perhaps even hour by hour, as we face our own inability and disability, our own utter futility and helplessness, to have the grace to say: ‘Nevertheless, I can through Christ.’ I say again, it is not just a psychological reaction, or fillip (stimulus), which will make us ignore facts. No! This is the act of faith; this is the link of faith; this is the plank of faith, across which we pass right over from ourselves and our condition to Christ. And today, when we are as weak, as helpless, as overwhelmed, as perplexed, as distracted by things as ever, nevertheless, today and tomorrow, and all the days, I CAN – I CAN THROUGH CHRIST! If it is real faith in Christ, you will find that the Spirit comes in, and enables you to do what you never would have done, or could have done, but for that positive attitude. May we be helped to find the way of deliverance from the ‘I cannot… I cannot… I cannot…’ into the ‘I can do all things through Christ.’

No doubt, with many this represents a very practical situation. As we look on ahead, we dread some things, for we know that those things are beyond us altogether; but we have got to take this position. We must look at our situation today, and say: ‘This situation holds something. The Lord is not answering my prayer and getting me out of it; He is not changing it, He is just not doing all that I am longing for, and praying for, and craving for. I pray, and there is nothing; there is no getting through; He is not doing it. Therefore, I must look at it in another way. There is a secret in this, and I have got to get hold of that secret. What does the Lord intend to teach me and to give me in this situation, that I can bring out of it as fruit, as stock-in-trade for the work in the days to come? What is it? I must get it!’

If we take that attitude toward things, I think we shall probably find that that is our way of deliverance, our way out, our way through. Let us ask for grace to do this, not only now, in our present situation, but as to everything that the Lord may require of us in the future – perhaps things that we never thought of. While we may never rise to such eminence, or become great historic figures, nevertheless, through Christ things can be, which would go far beyond any dreams that we ever had, more than we ever thought.

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