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? 
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)