Our End from the Beginning

earth

Which Came First, the End or the Beginning?  This might seem like a trivial question to some. But if God is not bound by time for He created it, isn’t the beginning and the end both the same to Him as far as His purposes go? He declares the end from the beginning. Isaiah prophesied,

Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure: (Isa 46:9-10 Webster)

God also declares things that are not as though they are…

It is written, “I have made you a father of many nations.”(Genesis 17:5) God considers Abraham to be our father. The God that Abraham believed in gives life to the dead. Abraham’s God also speaks of things that do not exist as if they do exist. (Rom 4:17 NIRV)

 

Oh, how wondrous are the ways of God! I have been pondering these above passages for a long time. God not only knows all, knowing the things that will happen in the end of days as well as the past and present, but He has known it all from the beginning! This same God who through His Son, Jesus, spoke creation into being also had declared what the end of it all shall be from the beginning.

Here we have to deal with two concepts that are beyond our own human limitations. One that God creates all things simply by speaking them into existence. And two, He is not bound by time or any other human limitation as we are. Man can make nothing without first starting with something that God made and man does nothing without being subject to the limitations of time so these two concepts of making something from nothing and not being bound by time are a real stretch for us to comprehend. Both matter and time were the result of creation and God rests in a timeless state outside of His creation ever since it was completed. Yet, He sent Jesus to this earth to become subject to both time and matter. Christ was subjected to all the human frailties and weaknesses just as we are, yet in it all He was in perfect obedience to His Father and many of His acts defied both time and matter such as raising the rotting body of Lazarus from the dead.

Now, consider this passage:

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. What shall we then say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? (Rom 8:28-31 KJ2000)

God foreknew each of us who are His in a special way. Not only that, He predestined us not just to be born, to live on this earth and to be saved from our sins, but to be totally conformed to the image of His Son! What image? The image of the babe in the manger? How about the image of the Teacher walking around doing good and miracles? How about the image of Jesus sitting at the right hand of the Father in heavenly places? Just what does it mean to be IN Christ? Paul went so far to say, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creation: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2Co 5:17 KJ2000).

God KNEW our end — being conformed into the image of Christ — from the very beginning of creation. In the New Testament we read that Jesus learned obedience by the things that He suffered. We also read that He was crucified from the very foundation of the world. Jesus subjected Himself to the hand of the Father from the beginning as the perfect obedient Son of God. I believe that all these wonderful thoughts are wrapped up in the council at the beginning of Genesis where we read these words, “Let us make man in our image and after our likeness… male and female made He them.” God knew what it would take from the very beginning to create many sons (and daughters) unto His glory and put creation in motion from day one with that end in mind.

In the above passage from Romans we see this wonderful progression designed by God to produce His desired outcome in the words; foreknew, predestinate, called, justified and glorified… the divine progression to a desired end starting with foreknew and ending with glorified. He knew our end (glorified in the image of God) from the beginning (foreknown and predestined). He not only foreknew who would be His, but He foreknew what it would take to get us there and incorporated us into that divine plan.

God from the beginning knew that He would be sending His Son to live and die and rise again for us and to lead the way as the Captain of our salvation. Thus we see our faith-trek as His family starting out with Abraham, continuing down through the patriarchs to Moses, and through the Children of Israel to Christ Himself. All that history of Israel (and the linage of Christ) was set in motion to bring forth His Son upon this earth in such a way that man would recognize Him when He came. The whole Old Testament is filled with prophesies and shadows of Christ and only those who received Him by faith were able to read those writings and see Him in it all (see Luke 24:13-36). God designed all that history of the people of Israel so that Christ could come and not only die for their sins, but the sins of the whole world and become manifest to all His creation as the Son of God. He was the First Born of many brethren. In Christ, the Father would have a vast family of many sons and daughters and this was His plan from the beginning.

Now consider this, God not only knew what it would take to save mankind from our sins and conform us into the image of Christ who are called (in a collective sense), but He also knew what it would take to get EACH of us to our appointed end IN Christ. We each have a history designed by God that was set in motion from the day we were born. Think about the chain of events that had to take place to get you where you are today in Christ. We each have had divine appointments and events along the way that were integral to our becoming saved, filled with His Spirit, tested, tried, and becoming “more than overcomers” as we have learned to trust in our Lord for all things. He has got us this far and He will get us to the His desired end for us as the sons of God. “For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end” (Heb 3:14 KJ2000).

God has declared the end from the beginning! He has spoken our divine sonship into existence from the foundation of the world and He is arranging our lives so that we will reach that goal. Paul saw that end and wrote,

 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For your sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. (Rom 8:35-37 KJ2000)

Yes, many things that happen in our lives do not seem to be ideal or perfect and often seem adverse to God’s end, but He knows our end from the beginning. Do you not think that He knew from the beginning when we would make a wrong choice or were attacked and also had that worked into His plan? He did not destine us to blow it or others to sin against us, but He did have a plan that would take even that into consideration and redeem us from our mistakes and sins. His mind is always on the end, HIS desired end for us and it is that end, many sons who would share His glory, He has known from the beginning.

Paul wrote,

 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love with which he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, has made us alive together with Christ, (by grace you are saved;) And has raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God has before ordained that we should walk in them. (Eph 2:4-10 KJ2000)

Did you catch that? We are not going to die in order to go to heaven. We are ALREADY in heavenly places as we abide IN Christ as branches of the True Vine. We have been created IN Christ and this is the source of all spiritual fruit and good works… He is our very Life. It is ALL a gift of God. We are HIS workmanship and were created IN Christ from the foundation of the world. It is from THIS enfolded joint life IN Christ that all everlasting works which the Father set in motion from the foundation of the world happen. All we can do is rest in the Son and watch the faith of Christ in us work through the love of God.

So, dear saints, our faith, rest, works, love, life, and even our hope are all bound up in our existence IN Christ and have been from the foundation of the world. This gives the “eternal salvation” of God great scope. Can we grieve the Spirit of God? Yes. Can we fall short of all that He has for us? Yes. But if we continue to walk by faith and not by sight, relying on the Son of God as our hope and salvation, He will make sure that we reach our eternal goal as sons of God. “For it is IN Him that we live and move and have our being.”

 

 

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Has God revealed His Son in Us?

Has God revealed His Son in us as He did with Paul? If not, how will we ever be a witness of who He is to the world? Forgive me while I quote from our brother, T. A. Sparks once again, “The church has no existence in the thought of God apart from the revelation of Jesus Christ, and it is judged according to the measure in which Christ the Son of God’s love is in evidence by its existence. ” I am bone tired of all that is being sold as “the church,” even house churches that do not manifest Christ’s life and love. “In Him was life and the LIFE was the light of men.”

“It pleased God… to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him.” (Gal.1:15,16)

1. Everything Tested by Inwardness

Since Paul’s day so very much of Christian activity has been the furthering of a movement, the propagating of a teaching, and the furthering of the interests of an institution.  It is not a movement, nor to establish a movement in the Earth and to get followers, adherents, members, support.  It is not an institution, even though we might call that institution the church. The church has no existence in the thought of God apart from the revelation of Jesus Christ, and it is judged according to the measure in which Christ the Son of God’s love is in evidence by its existence.  It is not a testimony, if by that you mean a specific form of teaching, a systematized doctrine.  No, it is not a testimony.  Let us be careful what we mean when we speak about “the testimony”.  We may have in our minds some arrangement of truth, and that truth couched in certain phraseology, form of words, and thus speak about “the testimony”; it is not the testimony in that sense.  It is not a denomination, and it is not a “non-denomination”, and it is not an “inter-denomination”.  It is not Christianity.  It is not “the work” – oh, we are always talking about “the work”:  “How is the work getting on?” – we are giving ourselves to the work, we are interested in the work, we are out in the work.  It is not a mission.  It is Christ!  “…That I might preach Him.”  If that had remained central and pre-eminent all these horrible disintegrating jealousies would never have had a chance.  All the wretched mess that exists in the organization of Christianity today would never have come about.  It is because something specific in itself, a movement, a mission, a teaching, a testimony, a fellowship, has taken the place of Christ.  People have gone out to further that, to project that, to establish that.  It would not be confessed; nevertheless it is true, that today it is not so much Christ that is our work.

Now beloved, an inward revelation is the cure of all that.  Am I saying too hard a thing, too sweeping a thing?  The existence of all that represents the absence of an adequate inward revelation of Christ.  If Christ the Son of God’s love is central and supreme in the heart of the believer so much else goes down, it must go down.  Controversies with God will divide, but those artificial things, those things resultant from man’s activity and his projecting of himself, insinuating of himself into the interests of God, those things cannot abide where there is an adequate inward revelation of the Lord Jesus; they cannot be.  These two things are before us:  one, because of the revelation of Jesus Christ in our hearts we have a passion for Him; on the other hand, because of the absence of a sufficient revelation of Christ in our hearts we are out for other things which we would say are in His interests, and for Him, but which can never, never satisfy God’s heart.  It is the satisfaction of the heart of the Father, which is in view.

Beloved I am speaking about the individual.  I am not justified, and you are not justified, in claiming to be Christians except in the measure in which Christ is manifested in me, in you; and all the force and weight and ingenuity of hell is out against that.  Believers have far more to provoke them to un-Christ-likeness than anyone else in the world.  Believers have far more assaults to churn them up and to make them betray Christ than anyone else.  Hell is dead set against the revelation of Jesus Christ. Everything begins with this, the revelation of Jesus Christ within.

http://www.austin-sparks.net/english/000420.html

Why Testings, Isolation, Loneliness in Our Spiritual Life?

Lonely Christ

I have been going through a time of stripping, loneliness and isolation again and have been asking God, “WHY?” I came across this writing by T. Austin-Sparks that seems to explain why. I know that many of  you will be able to relate.

MDC

Christ has Gathered up Everything and Transferred it into Heaven

by T. Austin-Sparks

The next thing (and for the moment the last thing, but not by any means least in importance) is this: that Christ has gathered up everything and has removed it, transferred it, to heaven. God’s thought is centred in Christ in heaven, and God’s resources are centred in Christ in heaven. That means that the Lord’s people in this dispensation are essentially a heavenly people, and that means that it is quite impossible to attain unto God’s thought or to know God’s resources in Christ until we are a heavenly people. If in any way (and we are speaking to the Lord’s people now, and speaking of the life which we would call the Christian life), or in any measure we are earthbound, it will be in that measure impossible to attain unto God’s thought, and to know God’s resources. God only takes responsibility to supply and to carry on that which is essentially heavenly, and in the measure in which a thing is heavenly, and only in that measure (but surely in that measure), God takes responsibility for it. If it is in any way linked with this world, becoming a part of this world system, related to this earth, it has got to take responsibility for itself to carry its own weight, to find its own resources, to see its own way through.

Now we come back to what we stated earlier. In the end everything is going to be sovereignly tested by those heavenly realities. Where are we today? One of the tests that is being applied today is: How far can that which claims to be of the Lord go on in fulness, in life, triumphantly, without any kind of dependence upon this? How far can the thing go on in famine, in drought, in depression, in all conditions into which this world moves, so that its resources are no longer available? Can it go on mightily, strongly, as though it mattered not what the world does; where God’s work, God’s interests pursue their way in a glorious independence? God is going to place that issue. One of the tests at the end will have to be: How much is this of heaven and how much is this of earth and of man? How much in all this has been man’s? Yes, it may have been endeavour for God, but it may not have been a work straight out of heaven by God. There is all the difference between those things. How far has this been a great deal of busy activity for the Lord, and how far has this been the direct activity of the Holy Spirit from the Lord? There is a big difference between those two, and the test is going to be to be applied severely.

Christ now is in heaven, and when Christ returned to heaven, He transferred the basis of operations to heaven; He transferred all the resources to heaven; He transferred all the the knowledge of God to heaven. And the Lord’s people through this dispensation have to get their knowledge from heaven, their resources from heaven, all their government from heaven. Since the Lord returned it has never been centred and seated in this world.

We can only know Christ after the Spirit, so that Christ for us in this dispensation is spiritual in the sense that all that we know of Him or can have to do with Him can only be in the Spirit. “Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know him in this way no longer.” (2 Cor. 5:16). He is known after the Spirit.

Our resources are spiritual. The weapons of our warfare are spiritual. Everything has got to come to us from above. The one great effort of the enemy, which is again and again successful through this dispensation, has been to bring the things of God down to the attachment with this world, attachment to this earth, to make them something here.

Now we come back to the New Testament, and you only need to read John to see how unattached everything is, how everything is lifted clean out of this world, and everything is bound up with the fact that Christ is in heaven, and that the Lord’s people are here but not here, here but not known, in the world but not of it; a mystery people in this world so far as the world is concerned… unrecognised, unknown. And yet by that very means and for that very reason, the most potent force that this universe knows: the spiritual, hidden, secret people of God in this earth.

To take hold of Christianity and mould it, and shape it, and systematise it, and crystallise it, and make it some mighty Movement here; with its roots here, with all its associations such as man can see, appreciate and approve; to register itself upon the ordinary consciousness of this world as being something; all of that is contrary to the Word of God and is contrary to spiritual life and spiritual power. Christ is in heaven, and we are lifted out, translated, seated together with Him in the heavenlies. Our present purpose in this world is testimony only, by which others will be taken out of the nations, a people for His name.

Perhaps one of the things which you and I and the Lord’s people everywhere need to recognise more than anything else at an end time is the fact of our heavenliness. There is going to be a testing of everything which bears the Lord’s name by the law of the beginning governing the end. In the beginning they were a heavenly people, with everything for them in heaven, in Christ, and being drawn from Christ in heaven. All their government, direction, resource came from Him and was in Him as in heaven. The Lord comes back again and again to test things by that beginning, and in the end the test is going to be applied very stringently. We are going to see the outward form of things, which is earthly, man-made, man-constituted, an imitation or a representation of spiritual things, breaking down, shaking at its very foundations. All the organisations of our work are going to be shattered. In the nations all that framework will be broken up. That which alone will be left will be the people themselves, and they will probably be scattered. Then the test will be as to how much of this is Christ here. If there has been dependence upon orders, churches, systems, even meetings and conferences, the many things which in themselves are looked to as the means of support of the Christian life, when they are gone, broken, the question will be, How much of Christ is here? What is the measure of Christ, the heavenly Christ?

You see how that was the crisis for the disciples. They had three years with Him, but there was an outward detachment, an outward dependence, a physical, sentient association. In those days they could say some very bold things, they could make great confessions and professions, they could declare themselves as to Him, Who He was, what they thought of Him, what they believed concerning Him, what they would do for Him. Then He was taken from them, and what was left? No Christ, no life, nothing to live for, everything gone! When the life of senses ceased, the outward order came to an end, they had nothing left, they were in despair, their faith was shattered.

There is much of that today. We do not know how much there is until the break comes, until we are no longer able to do anything for the Lord, until we are no longer able even to pray and read the Word of God, and carry on the usual devotional exercises, until we are no longer able to meet with the Lord’s people. Multitudes of the Lord’s people are coming there now. Over wide stretches of the earth the people of God are being driven, scattered, having everything outward taken. The question is: Why does the Lord allow it? Why is it so, if the Lord is wise, and almighty, and gracious? It is to discover how much the Heavenly Christ is to His people, and how much they depend upon the earthly order of things, even the Christian order.

That which was from the beginning… Little children, it is the last hour… the one who does the will of God lives for ever“. Do you see the link? If at the end, at the last hour, it is as it was from the beginning, then it will abide for ever, but if it has become something else, it will go. This whole question of heavenly relationship with the Lord is a tremendously searching one, the fact that Christ has transferred everything to heaven and that nothing less than a life in heavenly union with Him will stand the test at any time.

We will ask the Lord that He will take this – if it really is the truth – and search us. It may be that some of us will find comfort, because we shall see this is exactly what the Lord is doing with us. Why isolation? Why the testings? Why the loneliness in spiritual life? To save us from things unto Himself, even Christian things, so that God’s end that Christ may be all and in all shall be reached; not things, but Christ; not Christianity, but Christ; not Christian work, but Christ.

http://www.austin-sparks.net/english/books/002953.html