Wednesday, 2 November 2005

"Things" or Christ?

In the past week or two I have been rereading Austin Sparks most searching and profound little book, “The School of Christ” the contents of which he says, “Were wrought on the anvil of deep and drastic dealings of God with him” and again “Of all the books that have issued from this ministry I regard this one as that which goes most deeply to the roots and foundations of our life in Christ with God.”

One passage in this book spoke to me with renewed force. Speaking of knowing Christ in a real experiential way, he says that in the severest stresses and strains of life, ”We are going to be brought back to the living spiritual knowledge of the Lord: for He alone personally as revealed in our very being by the Holy Spirit can save us in the deepest hour. The day will come when we will be stripped of everything but what is spiritually, inwardly known of Christ.”

As I grow older I find that more and more I am seeing and living in the truth of these things. As a lifelong reader I have been enriched by the writings of many great saints of God and Biblical students. In my institutional days I attended many seminars and conferences. But all that information, intellectual understanding of doctrine and entrance into the experience of others on the pilgrim way is only of value as it has led me into deeper personal relationship with my Lord. That living relationship is the ultimate and only finally important and lasting thing.

In his second letter to the Corinthians Paul says in 11;2-4, “ I feel a divine jealousy for you, for I betrothed you to Christ to present you as a pure bride to her one husband. But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.” Paul was very aware that believers can so easily be deflected away from the essential of that most intimate personal union with Christ in the Spirit, into preoccupation with “things” which are side-issues and tangents instead of the central necessity.

These”things” which lead us away from that simple and sincere devotion to Christ are many and various and we will all encounter encountered at least some of them. There is the “Revival” thing . There are people who seem only to be able to speak and teach about it. It seems to wholly absorb them sometimes to the point of obsession. There is the “End-time scenario” thing in which people major on one or other interpretation of the chronology of end-time events, pushing their view point with crusading passion. Another is the “Jewish” thing, with people persuading us all to put on Jewishness and only to use the Hebrew forms of the name of Jesus or God. There is the “King James only” thing where we are virtually excommunicated if we read or recommend any other translations of the Scripture. There is the “Conspiracy thing” whose proponents seem to spend their time and energies in tracking down the antichrist.

Now there may be good and truth in some or all of these things, but if Christ is displaced from the center and we focus mainly on these things prophetic, doctrinal or whatever else we are in danger.

There was never a more Christ-focused man than the Apostle Paul. “I determined to know nothing among you save Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” (1 Corinth. 2:2) His cry towards the end of his eventful life was still “That I may know Him” (Philippians 3:10 )

“It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me.” (Galatians 2:20) His great passion for new believers was that “Christ be formed in you.” ( Galatians 4:19) “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21) Towards the end of his life he is able to cry from his heart, “I know whom I have believed and I am sure that He is able to guard until that day what has been entrusted to me.” (2Timothy1:12) It was not what he believed, but in whom he believed. Nothing ever shifted Paul from that life-giving center, his personal relationship with and trust in the Lord Jesus,

The letter to the Hebrews echoes this theme. From beginning to end it centers on Christ. In the twelfth chapter vs.1&2 “Let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us looking unto Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.” For some years now I have kept on my desk a comment from Andrew Murray on that verse. Here it is:

“Always, only looking to Jesus. Looking to Him to see what He is, to hear what He speaks, to do what He says, to follow where He leads, to trust for all He waits to give. Looking to Him and His love till my heart burns with that love. Looking to Him till His eyes meet mine, and I know He watches over me. Looking to Him to be changed into His likeness from glory to glory.” To that my heart says, “Amen!”


Blogger Joni said...

This really fills me with hope!

29 January 2009 at 5:52 pm  

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