Only That Which is Spiritual Shall Remain

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The following is a letter by T. Austin-Sparks written in the early 1950’s. If what he wrote about back then was true, how much truer it must be 70 years later as we watch society crumble, the church turn into a business instead of the relational family of God with Jesus as its only Head and evil arise all around us filling the void caused by its internal decay? The salt has lost its saltiness and is being trodden under the feet of men because it is so earth bound and without a heavenly vision or ability to stem the tide of Satan’s cohorts. What Sparks wrote below that happened to Judaism in Israel is surely coming down the pike for Christendom. It already has in many parts of the world with the onslaught of Islam and Communism. Remember, what is seen is temporary and will be shaken so that those things that are not seen and eternal will be all that remains – the true spiritual house of God IN Christ made of living stones.

BELOVED OF GOD,

With this last issue of the paper for this year (and it will not reach many of you until very near the end of the year) I feel a strong desire and urge to look back and on with you. For myself, it has been a very full year. So far as movements are concerned, the fullest year of my life. I have travelled by air alone twenty-six thousand miles, and quite a bit in other ways. This has involved many conferences, meetings, etc. so that there has been a very great deal given out. To this must be added all the ministries and labours of my colleagues and fellow-workers. This is not mentioned just as news or information, although it will show that “a great and effectual door” is opened to us. But I mention this because it will indicate that we are not spending our time up in some corner, imagining things, and ministering to hypothetical situations. We are in immediate and direct touch with the spiritual and actual situation as represented by a very large area. We have no hesitation, though much sorrow, in saying that the situation spiritually is very, very sad and deplorable. It is our well-considered and deeply-rooted conviction that some great and drastic judgment from heaven of Christendom is absolutely imperative. We are equally convinced that it has commenced and is moving obdurately and inflexibly across the world. Just as the Assyrians were the instrument under the sovereignty of God to sift Israel in the last dispensation, so it is most likely that the power moving over the earth today – a combination of Satanic forces with human instruments – is going to test the whole of Christendom as to its real spiritual measure. This may very well be the counterpart of what took place is the year 70 A.D. when Judaism was shaken to its foundations and fell. The Scriptures quite definitely foretell a tribulation coming upon “the whole world to try them that are upon the earth”. This is something much more than Jewry.

The words quoted from the prophet seem yet to be capable of a fuller-ranged fulfilment than even the above-mentioned ‘shaking’. “Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also the heavens”. (Hebrews 12:26,27).

There is no doubt that the Letter to the Hebrews was a supreme effort to get Christian believers detached from an earthly form of Christianity, and attached to Christ in heaven. That effort had as one of its strong reasons the fact that a great shaking was foretold, foreseen, and imminent. That shaking was to be in two parts, an earlier and a latter; an entirely earthly, and later an earthly and heavenly combined. The effect of the shaking, and, indeed, the purpose of it, would be to test everything as to abiding values. The former and earthly shaking was Jewish, but it had all the elements in principle and type of the latter.

In the destruction of Jerusalem – toward which the Letter pointed – the whole earth was shaken so far as Jewry was concerned. The Temple, as the focal point of that whole world, crashed even with the ground. The priesthood, as gathered up in the high-priestly order, passed away. The temple service ended, and the nation ceased to be an integrated and unified people.

These were things capable of being removed. And yet how long they had stood! What forces they had withstood! What confidence there was that they could never cease to be! How assured they were that God was so bound up with it all that it could never be destroyed and cease to be! How they fought and clung to it to the last terrible extremity! But it was of no avail. God was no longer wanting the framework and earthly system, which had taken so much room, and energy, and expenditure, before the really spiritual was reached. The percentage of spiritual value was so small after all, and spiritual interests lay so far along the labyrinthine ways of religious machinery and tradition, that it was not worth while. The means to the end was not immediate, that is, there was far too big a distance between the means and the end. There was no immediate touch with the real Divine requirement, and there was far too much that was intermediate. And so it had to go, and, rather than preserve it, God Himself shook it.

What remained after the shaking was just that, and that only, which was Christ in a spiritual and heavenly way: Christ in heaven, and here by His Spirit, the gathering point, or occasion of assembling; Christ in heaven the High Priest and Sacrifice; the order of God’s house here a purely spiritual and heavenly one – not formal, arranged, imposed, imitated, or material. Order grows out of life, and if that life is Divine, and unchecked, Divine order will be spontaneous.

The amazing thing is how blind and unbelieving Christian people are, and therefore how unwilling to seek to know the way of the ‘unshakable’. In a very small part of our lifetime the phrase ‘world evangelization’ (from one part to another) has been rendered unusable, and all that mighty machine is having to be revised. Countries which were until quite recently the greatest spheres of ‘missionary’ activity are now closed as such. There is a feverish race to try to move ahead of the flood in other countries which are already encircled and undermined. In those overrun countries nothing but a true and living knowledge of the Lord is stemming the tide. The framework and organized structure of Christianity is gone. Deeply, stealthily, and irresistibly this sinister work is paving the way for swift and paralysing movements in all the rest of the world, as much in the West as in the East. The result will be the same everywhere, little as it may seem possible because of long traditions and strong establishments. It seems a terrible thing, even to think, but as we have touched so very much of what is called ‘Christianity’ we are bound to believe that, because vast numbers who call themselves Christian are in an utterly false position, and the system itself has become so largely an earthly, traditional, formal, and unspiritual thing, this world-wide shaking is quite necessary and will be eventually justified. If we were writing a treatise, we could show that what is called ‘Christianity’ is really the greatest enemy of Christ.

It will be seen that it is not a matter of substituting another and better system for an old and poor or bad one. Some people seem to think that it is all or largely a matter of the order, technique, and form, and if we returned to the ‘New Testament’ form or order of churches all would be well. The fact is that, while certain things characterized the New Testament churches, the New Testament does not give us a complete pattern according to which churches are to be set up or formed! There is no blue-print for churches in the New Testament, and to try to form New Testament churches is only to create another system which may be as legal, sectarian and dead as others. Churches, like the Church, are organisms which spring out of life, which life itself springs out of the Cross of Christ wrought into the very being of believers. Unless believers are crucified people, there can be no true expression of the Church.

This brings us to our particular point. What is the pressing imperative in view of this oncoming flood of testing, which has already carried away very many of those who were called Christian, and even evangelical Christians?

Surely there is only one answer:- On the one hand, a ministry which has as its substance and object the “rooting and grounding”, the establishing, the building up, of believers, the real increase of “the measure of Christ”. This must get behind evangelism, so that the work is deep, not superficial; enduring, not transient; intrinsic, not general! On the other hand, believers must really take stock of their Christianity. Is it just a tradition, an assumption, an external system, the thing which is common acceptance – more or less? Or is it really “by revelation of Jesus Christ” in the heart? A real walk with God, and a growing knowledge of Christ, a life in the Spirit? God has said it: the things which can be shaken will be. What have we got that, being unshakable, will remain? [1]

 

Then this message from the Lord came to Solomon:“Concerning this Temple that you’re building, if you live your life according to my statutes, carry out my ordinances, and keep all of my commands, and live according to them, then I will do what I promised to your father David. I will reside among the Israelis and will never abandon my people Israel.” (1Kgs 6:11-13, ISV – emphasis added)

Behold, the days come, says the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah:Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; my covenant which they broke, although I was a husband unto them, says the LORD: But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, says the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, says the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more. (Jer 31:31-34, KJ2000 – emphasis added)

[1] https://www.austin-sparks.net/english/books/002091.html

5 comments on “Only That Which is Spiritual Shall Remain

  1. Dick says:

    Like you I’m a regular reader of Austin-Sparks who has had significant influence on my spiritual journey. A few years back I began to copy those articles and teachings of his that I most wanted my family to consider and place them in a notebook for future review. Probably could copy most everything!! But the particular Article you addressed today is one of the first placed in my notebook. I think it was 2015 or so. As I look at the condition of the church today and it’s declension even from 2015 it is truly staggering! Cannot imagine Mr. Sparks evaluation today. His comment, “ If we were to write a treatise, we could show that what is called ‘Christianity’ is really the greatest enemy of Christ, “ really resonants. Thank you for posting Michael and for once again proclaiming the centrality of Christ and Christ alone. Your Blog is a real blessing to me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Michael says:

      Dick, I am glad to hear that you have found the spiritual treasure trove in the writings of Austin-Sparks. Yes, the Lord uses them to challenge and change me as a true Spirit servant of the Lord should. Because of this he was rejected by most of Christendom. He saw the church today so clearly as you revealed in your quote. Susanne Schuberth in Germany and I have been commenting on this very thing regarding a vision the Lord Jesus gave her spoken of in her latest blog,

      https://enteringthepromisedland.wordpress.com/2022/01/04/building-potemkin-villages-or-a-victorious-life-in-christ/

      Peter wrote,

      “For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And ‘If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?’ Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.” (1Pet 4:17-19, ESV2011)

      Thanks for your encouraging and experiential comment, my brother,
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This letter by T. Austin-Sparks appears to be very appropriate today, too, Michael. Like he said, “nothing but a true and living knowledge of the Lord is stemming the tide”. I just found another excerpt from him where he points to the strength and power of the heavenly kingdom inside us. T. Austin-Sparks illustrated this power with the example of apostle Paul who could go on, even though ALL had left him. What an amazing relationship with Christ he must have had!! Here’s the quote from “The Kingdom That Cannot be Shaken”, Chapter 3 – Finality – The Governing Factor in the Kingdom.”

    “I have marvelled at Paul many times, and I expect you have. I have said many times that I do not know how Paul managed to go on. How did he go through? How did you go through, Paul? You tell us all these things that befell, you give us these lists of happenings, and then I see that, after your long life spent to the last drop for your Lord, and being used so mightily, with such a wide range, I see you at the end shut up, held in a chain, in prison, and I know that you are getting news from the whole field of your life’s activities that your work is simply being destroyed; it is falling to pieces, and all those for whom you were used to bring to the Lord are forsaking you. I hear you say: “All they in Asia be turned from me.” Paul, how do you get through? How can you be so triumphant? How can you write so much about the heavenlies, and every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus, with those conditions around you? And my answer is found in his first letter to the Galatians: “It pleased God… to reveal his Son in me.” If Paul had adopted a system called Christianity and given a kind of mental assent to all the propositions doctrinally of Christianity, he would not have lasted a year. His first year would have put him out, and yet he went right through because of this: “It pleased God… to reveal his Son in me.” That is the Kingdom which cannot be shaken. All other knowledge of the Lord will find us wanting in the day of the ordeal, when heaven and earth are shaken. We shall go to pieces; we shall collapse under the strain. Do take this to heart.

    “There are going to be shaking ordeals for every child of God. God has appointed it; it must be. It can be in our lives without great world upheavals. We can go through trial, through testing, we can be put into the fires in personal ways, but believe me we are all going into the fires in some way or another. God has appointed that we shall not be in a false position.

    “The question is: Have we got the unshakeable Kingdom within? That is, in a word, do we know the living Son of God in a living way within us? “God hath spoken”! Are we progressing in the knowledge of God in Christ? For He, the Son, encompasses all God’s fulness. All that ever we are to know, to have of God, is in Christ. God has given Him, and with Him given all things. We have to learn Christ, and learn Him in an inward way, and as we learn Him inwardly, what He is, how He expresses God’s own thought, desire, will, purpose, nature, the Kingdom which cannot be shaken is taking root in us, so we are receiving that Kingdom. To receive the Kingdom is to be progressing in the inward knowledge of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, in all the comprehensiveness of God’s fulness dwelling in Him.” (emphasis in caps added)

    https://www.austin-sparks.net/english/books/002066.html

    As much as it might grieve us to see this world’s evil systems and puffed up Christendom crumbling down, we can only pray and go on ourselves, just as God in Christ leads us through the Holy Spirit. Whatever we might have only known ABOUT God will not carry us through that which is going on in our world right now. We ought to know God and Christ Himself for ourselves (cf. Jn 17:3) in a heavenly way in our inward (wo)man. A close relationship with Jesus Christ will provide both authority instead of helplessness and even heavenly resources that are able to meet all our needs. God in His great love is willing to see us through it all! ❤ We need to have our hearts in heaven, not on the earth.

    May God give us the grace to share in His heavenly blessings as He has already seated us with Christ in the heavenly realms (see Eph 2:6).

    Your sister Susanne

    Liked by 1 person

    • Michael says:

      Dear Susanne,
      What a great quote from brother Sparks! And at the end of your comment you said it so well, dear sister, “A close relationship with Jesus Christ will provide both authority instead of helplessness and even heavenly resources that are able to meet all our needs. God in His great love is willing to see us through it all! ❤ We need to have our hearts in heaven, not on the earth.”

      I can add nothing to this. You constantly challenge me in my walk with Jesus and I thank God for sending you into my life for HIS kingdom’s sake.

      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

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