Sunday, 26 December 2004

Christmas Blog

An old man with a baby cradled in his arms in the temple at Jerusalem has been the focus of my meditation as this year's Christmas approaches. The aged Simeon was one of a special group of people in Israel, divinely chosen to bring in and welcome the greatest “new thing” that God ever did in the history of our planet. He belonged to the godly few in those days who lived in daily intimate communion with Father amidst a decadent, sterile and legalistic Judaism. For many years Simeon had been sustained and strengthened by the Spirit-implanted hope that he would, before he died, see God's Messiah. Now this hoary servant of the Lord had been granted the awesome privilege of cradling in his arms God's own Son, the Saviour of the world. At that moment Simeon stood at the watershed between the Old Covenant and the New. The old was about to pass away and all that it had enshrined and promised was to be fulfilled in this child in his arms. A new age of glory far surpassing that of the old was about to dawn.

In his profound and deeply moving booklet entitled, “The Work of God at the End-Time” subtitled “End Time Principles Set Forth in Simeon” T. Austin Sparks has this to say of that moment,

“It was a passing from all that was merely of earthly systems in relation to Christ to Christ Himself.” And he continues, “ An end-time is transition from a lot that has to do with Christ to Christ Himself, transition from frameworks to the essential, transition from all the works and things related to Christ to that which is known of Him personally. All the other is going to be stripped off, and we are in a day when that stripping off has seriously commenced.”

Prophetic words indeed! I believe we are now further into that day and that Father is working in hearts all around the world to bring in a new thing just as Austin Sparks describes it.

It seems to me significant that many to whom Father revealed His desire for a new kind of organic, as opposed to organized, Body life, and a Church truly under the headship of Christ Himself , were older men, men who had been long involved in the institution and had known the best that it can provide. Like Simeon they have been standing on the threshold of this new thing, which is now gathering momentum in these days. As an old man myself, my heart has been stirred and moved to the depths by more words from that booklet. “The divine thought about old age is of fullness, fullness unto the enrichment of what is yet to be, and which is about to come in; to provide a heritage; not to pass out and take everything with it and for that to be the end, but to have something very full and rich to be taken up and carried on and expressed in newness, freshness and youthfulness.”

Here is something from one who has sent me feedback on the website:

"I have read a few of your articles, and they speak exactly what has been on my heart for years. I'm 21 years old, and was raised in a fundamentalist Christian sect called the “Church of Christ.” Without going into much detail, I'll say that there is so much misapplication of scripture in this group that the people have separated themselves from almost every other church building, believing they are the chosen few. I am just beginning to discover the major differences between THE church and the church buildings/”services,” and would like to break away from the institution."

Back in the late 1970s and early 1980s it was folks well into the sixth and seventh decades of their lives, who had spent many years in institutional life, often in leadership, they were the ones whose spirits were stirred to leave the institution and beginning to write about what they were learning. Now, praise God, the young too are being stirred and younger men are writing and sharing about the new thing. What God is doing has yet to come to fullness, and probably I will not live to see that, but my heart is tremendously encouraged and satisfied.

Sunday, 5 December 2004

December Blog

t has been encouraging to hear from a number of folks around the world about Father’s dealings with them in relation to coming out from institutional forms of church life into the living organic Body, which is being built by God. There are similarities in all the various stories of the spiritual struggles involved. I too had similar struggles both before and after the big step out.

Something that T. Austin Sparks wrote illuminated God’s ways with me very vividly, and reflected my experience as in a clear mirror. I have already shared this with some who have written to me, and I make it available here in the belief that for others too it will be a revelation and an encouragement. Here it is:

Coming Out
T. Austin Sparks

""Note this that I am going to say: first it is not a physical separation. No, first of all it is inward spiritual separation. I will put it this way; they find themselves out before they are out. They find that they no longer belong. No one has ever told them that they must leave their denomination, their church, their mission, their organisation. Something has happened inside. "

Dear friends, do take hold of this. This is an organic thing, it is a movement of life within. It is no legal, ‘you must’ or ‘you must not’ ‘You must leave this and leave that in order to come to God’s fullness’. It is not that at all. I say ‘Stay there until you cannot for your very life’s sake, for your very walk with God’s sake, for your very knowledge of the Holy Spirit within. Stay, stay’. Come-outism is a dangerous thing. That is not how it was. It was from the inside. It is the way of the Holy Spirit, the initiative of God, the act of God, the dawning of a new awareness that something is happening to me because it is happening in me. I know what that means. I have had crises like that, when I knew that something had happened to create a divide, and ‘Now Lord, what am I to do? If I take action look what will happen’, and so I, stuck on a false pretext, went on. At the end of some months, I found myself like this—I was not in it. ‘No that is not where I am finding the Lord. That is not where life is’, and I have gone back to the Lord and I have said, ‘Lord what am I to do?’ He said, ‘So many months ago I took you out in spirit. Now perhaps you will have to follow in body’"

Early on I determined never to try to persuade anyone to come out. The call to do that must come from Father Himself. But, when we hear Him we do well to obey.