Tuesday, November 10, 2009
The Church, Not Man Made
I love this quote from Austin Sparks (Life in the Spirit) which in my opinion clearly re-presents what and who the church is!
Not some man made intuition much like what Abraham did out of the sheer energy of his and Sara’s flesh desires to have a son apart from trusting in the one who delights in making something out of what we call nothing.
Ishmael was the best that man could do, and yet man wanted and still desires to have God bless his fleshly works which unfortunately he still refuses to acquiesce to.
Now the Holy Spirit comes and constitutes the Church, and the believer, upon that basis, so that the Church and the believer become the embodiment of that truth, that Jesus is alive; not something merely to be announced as an objective fact, but to be represented in a vessel. 'How do you know He is alive? You have never seen Him'. 'It is by faith'. 'Oh, well, faith is surely an abstract thing; how do you prove it?' 'I am the embodiment of the fact'. 'Oh, that is egotism, that is setting yourself up to be something'. 'All right, I will live here on that basis, and we shall see'. The Lord will deal with you on that basis. He will break your natural life, He will break natural resources, bring them to an end, wind up natural knowledge and wisdom, until there is nothing left; and then He will do things on a basis which can take the strain, which can produce that work. That is the testimony, that Jesus is embodied in the believer and in the Church. That is God's thought for His Church. What a long way the Church has departed from that. The Church was intended to be the testimony of Jesus embodied, worked out. It was like that at the beginning. God chose such as in themselves could not stand up to this world's wisdom, this world's power. They in themselves were altogether at a discount, and should they have had a history in this world, such as that of Saul of Tarsus, which made them something amongst men, the Lord when He got hold of them took all that from them, and brought them to the place where they despaired of life, and had the sentence of death in themselves, that they should not trust in themselves, but in God who raiseth the dead. He did it again, and again; and they were the testimony, the very embodiment of that testimony.
You see the departure. You see what God must have. That is spirituality. Spirituality is not being occupied with the high truths, advanced teaching. Spirituality is, by the Holy Spirit, the embodiment of Christ risen, and Christ glorified. Meet that, and you meet the indestructible.
This is a testimony to the heavenly Man reaching from the ascension to the return of the Lord, marking the dispensation, and that is spirituality. The Holy Spirit has come to constitute us according to Christ on the basis of His resurrection and His heavenly life, so that there is expressed by us the fact of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus by means of His risen life in us. Spirituality is that you and I are marked by the risen life of the Lord.
We have said that this is a crisis and a process. The crisis is that of being born again; the process is that of the increase of that life, and our coming more and more to live by the risen life of the Lord, and less by our own; and then, with that intelligence concerning Christ, the knowledge of Christ growing. What a tremendous fullness there is in Christ in heaven! We shall ever go on learning what Christ is as expressive of Divine thought in a Man. Spirituality is to be progressively taking Christ as to what He is according to God, and making Him our life.