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The Testimony of the Christ #15   T. Austin Sparks

Started Oct-29 by PAULFROMNYS; 72 views.
PAULFROMNYS

From: PAULFROMNYS

Oct-29

   

Chapter 7 - A Corporate Vessel of the Testimony

 

I am taking up the matter at the point which we have reached - the bringing in of the collective and corporate means for the carrying on of the testimony of Life. We ought to be impressed with the simple fact that the Lord in a definite heavenly system and order, in a spiritual movement, did make that transition from the number of individuals who had come into a very real and very deep knowledge of Himself under His own dealings with them, but who still remained individuals. The Lord did make that movement from such individuals definitely to the collective and the corporate. It was in the foreknowledge of God. It was not just something in the way of an evolution, a development, something that came about.

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From: PAULFROMNYS

Oct-29

   

 It was not just something in the way of an evolution, a development, something that came about.

Everything that we know from the Scriptures about Israel's existence, election and history, makes it perfectly clear that it was in the sovereign foreknowledge and purpose of God that Israel was chosen, elect, and in a very definite sense. So that when we come to the point of transition from Genesis to Exodus, we are only moving in a clearly arranged and fore-intended plan of God. It is all foreshadowing, of course. While it has its own meaning and value on the earth in an earthly way, it is foreshadowing that movement which is so clearly marked and discernible in the New Testament from a number of individuals who were very individual - their individualism, not their individuality, was often a great difficulty with the Lord - but they had been brought into some very real association with the Lord and knowledge of Him. But then we note a very distinct movement from the individualistic to the corporate according to plan. And there again what we are made to know from the later New Testament in the revelation that comes out through Paul and Peter and John is that this was in the eternal counsels of God, that this corporate company called the ecclesia, the church, was elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father.

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From: PAULFROMNYS

Oct-29

   

You are familiar with that, and it need not be argued out. We simply point out the fact of a distinct transition. It is a thing to be noticed in both connections of Israel and the church, that it was the outworking of this great principle: this law of death and resurrection, that issued in the reality of corporate Life. I do hope you have got that. The very application of the principle, the working out of the principle of death and resurrection, spontaneously issued in corporate Life.

That, of course, in itself contains a law that individualism as such; separateness, independence, scatteredness, detachment, and all such things were the result of a scattering work which was evil. It was the result of death. Now death in every realm, death in all its forms, is a disintegrating thing. Through death you disintegrate, you fall apart, you go to pieces. It is true in the body, it is true in every organism, it is true in every realm, that the fruit of death is separation, is detachment, is the destruction of relatedness. Life is limited by the measure of our detachment. It works both ways. Death works to detachment, to disintegration, to division. Division, separation, detachment, means the limitation of Life, which, of course, means the opposite - that Life works towards oneness, unity and corporate Life, and relatedness means more Life. That is simple and quite clear. It can be proved in any realm where there is any life. God knew what He was doing.

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From: PAULFROMNYS

Oct-29

   

The full testimony then, of Life triumphant over death, is not to be found in so many individuals as such, apart from others. That testimony is limited by our independence or our detachment and our unrelatedness, but that testimony of Life triumphant comes to its fulness in a full corporate body, in full adjustment, fellowship and relatedness. And so it was quite in keeping with the very law of Life that this movement should spontaneously and inevitably take place from so many God-fearing individuals and God-loving individuals, to one corporate whole, one Body.

Did you notice how in the case of the death of the Lord Jesus, when the death took place the effect was scattering: "I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad" (Matt. 26:31). "Ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone" (John 16:32), and how scattered they were, how detached. There was nothing whatever of a corporate representation in those hours of the death. But did you notice how, immediately the fact of His resurrection is brought to light, the opposite begins to take place? Steadily, progressively, the bits are brought together. There are two here, there is one there, there is another one out there, and there is even one who, isolating himself, says he will not come in. Poor Thomas! So they are scattered, in different places, unrelated, a disintegrated company, and then the very presence of the living Lord begins this reverse movement, and these bits, these parts, these bones begin to come together, and at last they are all together, about five hundred at once. They are all together, but it has been a progressive movement. It is very wonderful. Steadily this detachment, this isolation, this refusal to come in with all its reasons is overcome. There is a gravitation together on the basis of Life, and so it proceeds. A corporate vessel is in existence to take up the great testimony of Life.

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From: PAULFROMNYS

Oct-29

   

A corporate vessel is in existence to take up the great testimony of Life.

And as ever it was in the old, so it is in the new and has ever been through the ages, the one focal point of all adverse activity from the powers of evil is that oneness. The testimony of the Christ, the testimony of His great victory over death, the testimony in the existence of a death-conquering Life in this universe and in this world has got to be destroyed if possible, and the key to the whole situation is the corporate oneness of the people of God. In literally countless ways, great and small, from great divisive movements - strangely enough all backed up by Scripture, making Scripture contradict itself - to mere details. Here there is nothing 'mere', that we might call little things, but enough to bring a shadow, enough to let in something of the arresting power of spiritual death: question, some suspicion, some fear, something just to get in, and the Life is checked and the vessel's ministry suspended. It is like that.

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From: PAULFROMNYS

Oct-29

   

The Relation of the Individual to the Whole

Well, that is the situation as a whole. It is not new truth to many of you, but pray that we may never pass from the time when we realise very keenly the necessity for this. When this becomes a mere bit of our accepted teaching, that may be one of the enemy's successes to nullify the reality of it. Immediately the thing becomes a cold creed or a mere tradition and a bit of our doctrine, we have lost the very meaning of it. Now let us follow that.

You notice that in the case of Israel, as now in the case of the Lord's people, no individual was ever regarded by God as a separate detached individual. It worked in both ways, good and bad. Every individual had to be baptised into the meaning of the whole. I expect there were many in the multitudes of Israel - the people that we call nowadays the rank and file, the ordinary people, the people of the crowd, the people of the multitude, of the whole - who wondered why it was that they, ordinary people, holding no conspicuous place, having no special name or designation or office, but just lost in the crowd, why it was that they had to suffer with all the rest and go through the experiences through which they were going with all the rest. They might have felt that they were not responsible, they had no responsibility for this matter and they were caught in something for which they were not liable. They might often have asked themselves that question, as doubtless you ask nowadays sometimes - Why should it come to me? I am just an ordinary person, I am not in the forefront of the battle, I am not making any real mighty assault upon the powers of darkness, I am just in the crowd, I really do not count very much, why should I be involved in it all? You are having your personal bad times and you are inclined to turn it on to the personal and wonder why you, a person of no great responsibility or measure, should go this way and have this or that difficult experience. You see, Paul explains that quite definitely, and you ought to know that. But here is the fact, that when God is seeking to have that fuller thing of a corporate vessel, every bit that constitutes that vessel is baptised into the meaning of the whole. It is brought into the responsibility of the whole. The least member of that Body is involved in the significance of the whole Body. The whole Body is affected by that least member for good or ill.

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From: PAULFROMNYS

Oct-29

   

It was not long before this relatedness was brought out in Israel as a nation, both in the wilderness and in the land. One person defaulted, rebelled, one person disobeyed, one person opened the avenue for death, and the whole nation was affected. When that happened, as on some occasions, the order was not - 'Bring that person to the door of the tent', but, 'Gather all Israel.' Then you can bring the persons, single them out, but 'Gather all Israel.' All the tribes had to come out of their tents to this thing which was a public and inclusive matter, and all Israel were affected. Over in the land - one man, Achan. Well, why not deal with Achan and have done with it, deal with this thing in secret - he is the guilty party, let us deal with Achan and leave the rest. No - gather all Israel! God works to His principle both ways, for good and for ill.

We are a part of a Body. Many of our sufferings are not on our own account at all. Many of the sufferings of the children of God have nothing whatever to do with their own faults or their own failing. They are suffering in a related way, they are suffering for the Body's sake, they are entering into the battle; the conflict of this one great testimony. Sometimes it is almost uncanny when the Lord has something in view in relation to His testimony of Life, how for no reason whatever, on no account at all, we discover that we are involved and ours is not an isolated experience. All sorts of people all over the place are having the same kind of experience - a terrific sense of pressure, upset, annoyance, anything to frustrate - it is happening all round, testifying that in the spiritual realm, in the realm of the Spirit, there is a fine, sensitive oneness which matters to the Lord, and therefore matters to the enemy. Do not always take your sufferings as some controversy that the Lord has with you. That is the twist the enemy often gives. Be open to the Lord to be checked up on anything, but do not always take it that the things which are happening to you and causing you trouble and suffering are due to your own failure or wrong. You are involved in something very much more than that.

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