Will We Choose Jesus Christ or a System?

The Bride of ChristDear saints, how many of us are still clinging to the traditions of men in our hearts instead of being stripped of all that and clinging to Jesus Christ and being adorned only in the wedding garment HE has provided? God will have His heavenly temple made from living stones purified in the fire and Jesus Christ will have his perfect bride who only has a heart for Him and no other. There HAS to be a terrible shaking to get us to let go of all that is not of His heavenly order and I believe it has begun.

I used to think that church splits, abusive church leadership, ministers who fall into sin and delusion, and ministries that go off after obvious heresy were something terrible, but now I can see that all these things are part of God’s purifying process that drives the true believer out of that whorish system and into the arms of the One who loves them, Jesus Christ. On the one hand people are being seduced by those who appeal to their flesh and on the other we are being offered a path of rejection and suffering in this world as we seek the One who can not be shaken who is our Rock. This is the dividing of soul from spirit spoken of in Hebrews ch. 4:12.

The following was written by T. Austin-Sparks in 1952 and how much more is it a warning for we who serve Christ in this late hour?

 

The words quoted from the prophet seem yet to be capable of a fuller-ranged fulfillment than even the above-mentioned ‘shaking’. “Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also the heavens”. (Hebrews 12:26,27).

There is no doubt that the Letter to the Hebrews was a supreme effort to get Christian believers detached from an earthly form of Christianity, and attached to Christ in heaven. That effort had as one of its strong reasons the fact that a great shaking was foretold, foreseen, and imminent. That shaking was to be in two parts, an earlier and a latter; an entirely earthly, and later an earthly and heavenly combined. The effect of the shaking, and, indeed, the purpose of it, would be to test everything as to abiding values. The former and earthly shaking was Jewish, but it had all the elements in principle and type of the latter.

In the destruction of Jerusalem – toward which the Letter pointed – the whole earth was shaken so far as Jewry was concerned. The Temple, as the focal point of that whole world, crashed even with the ground. The priesthood, as gathered up in the high-priestly order, passed away. The temple service ended, and the nation ceased to be an integrated and unified people.

These were things capable of being removed. And yet how long they had stood! What forces they had withstood! What confidence there was that they could never cease to be! How assured they were that God was so bound up with it all that it could never be destroyed and cease to be! How they fought and clung to it to the last terrible extremity! But it was of no avail. God was no longer wanting the framework and earthly system, which had taken so much room, and energy, and expenditure, before the really spiritual was reached. The percentage of spiritual value was so small after all, and spiritual interests lay so far along the labyrinthine ways of religious machinery and tradition, that it was not worth while. The means to the end was not immediate, that is, there was far too big a distance between the means and the end. There was no immediate touch with the real Divine requirement, and there was far too much that was intermediate. And so it had to go, and, rather than preserve it, God Himself shook it.

What remained after the shaking was just that, and that only, which was Christ in a spiritual and heavenly way: Christ in heaven, and here by His Spirit, the gathering point, or occasion of assembling; Christ in heaven the High Priest and Sacrifice; the order of God’s house here a purely spiritual and heavenly one – not formal, arranged, imposed, imitated, or material. Order grows out of life, and if that life is Divine, and unchecked, Divine order will be spontaneous.

The amazing thing is how blind and unbelieving Christian people are, and therefore how unwilling to seek to know the way of the ‘unshakable’. In a very small part of our lifetime the phrase ‘world evangelization’ (from one part to another) has been rendered unusable, and all that mighty machine is having to be revised. Countries which were until quite recently the greatest spheres of ‘missionary’ activity are now closed as such. There is a feverish race to try to move ahead of the flood in other countries which are already encircled and undermined. In those overrun countries nothing but a true and living knowledge of the Lord is stemming the tide. The framework and organized structure of Christianity is gone. Deeply, stealthily, and irresistibly this sinister work is paving the way for swift and paralysing movements in all the rest of the world, as much in the West as in the East. The result will be the same everywhere, little as it may seem possible because of long traditions and strong establishments. It seems a terrible thing, even to think, but as we have touched so very much of what is called ‘Christianity’ we are bound to believe that, because vast numbers who call themselves Christian are in an utterly false position, and the system itself has become so largely an earthly, traditional, formal, and unspiritual thing, this world-wide shaking is quite necessary and will be eventually justified. If we were writing a treatise, we could show that what is called ‘Christianity’ is really the greatest enemy of Christ.

It will be seen that it is not a matter of substituting another and better system for an old and poor or bad one. Some people seem to think that it is all or largely a matter of the order, technique, and form, and if we returned to the ‘New Testament’ form or order of churches all would be well. The fact is that, while certain things characterized the New Testament churches, the New Testament does not give us a complete pattern according to which churches are to be set up or formed! There is no blue-print for churches in the New Testament, and to try to form New Testament churches is only to create another system which may be as legal, sectarian and dead as others. Churches, like the Church, are organisms which spring out of life, which life itself springs out of the Cross of Christ wrought into the very being of believers. Unless believers are crucified people, there can be no true expression of the Church.

This brings us to our particular point. What is the pressing imperative in view of this oncoming flood of testing, which has already carried away very many of those who were called Christian, and even evangelical Christians?

Surely there is only one answer:- On the one hand, a ministry which has as its substance and object the “rooting and grounding”, the establishing, the building up, of believers, the real increase of “the measure of Christ”. This must get behind evangelism, so that the work is deep, not superficial; enduring, not transient; intrinsic, not general! On the other hand, believers must really take stock of their Christianity. Is it just a tradition, an assumption, an external system, the thing which is common acceptance – more or less? Or is it really “by revelation of Jesus Christ” in the heart? A real walk with God, and a growing knowledge of Christ, a life in the Spirit? God has said it: the things which can be shaken will be. What have we got that, being unshakable, will remain?

http://www.austin-sparks.net/english/books/002091.html

 

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11 comments on “Will We Choose Jesus Christ or a System?

  1. Gordon Halford says:

    “There is no blue-print for churches in the New Testament, and to try to form New Testament churches is only to create another system which may be as legal, sectarian and dead as others. Churches, like the Church, are organisms which spring out of life, which life itself springs out of the Cross of Christ wrought into the very being of believers.”

    Another great word Michael. I guess many of us have seen the absolute truth of this from first hand experience, but oh how the flesh drags us back to the earth. !

    I was just reading the following from
    http://www.austin-sparks.net/english/books/that_which_is_born_of_the_spirit_the_new_creation_in_christ.html – Chapter 2…

    “The bringing out of Egypt was the rooting out of the earth, the absolute break with all earth ties, the destruction of everything that was permanent and stable on the earth and a bringing out into a place of detachment and separation where, so far as this world is concerned, everything is very tentative, loose and uncertain and, if you like, very precarious from the standpoint of the natural man, where you have no certain dwelling place, and where you do not in any way construct that which is permanent. …
    You see, we now belong to the heavenlies; that is, we are no longer of this earth, we are no longer a part of the system of this earth – religiously or otherwise. We are no longer governed by the standards of this earth and this world. No longer do men’s judgments and failures control our actions, our course of things – they are not supposed to – they ought not to, and everything is tested by the place. Is this thing a heavenly thing? Did it originate in heaven? Has it come out of heaven? Is it governed by the heavenlies, or is this thing something that has come by man’s judgment, reasonings, standards and values?”

    …blessing in Him… Gordon H

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    • Michael says:

      Yes, Gordon, I also have seen the folly of trying to re-create the Book of Acts type of a religious gathering. It is sheer folly. The Church is organic and it responds in each individual to the leading of the Holy Spirit. And because of the love of God shed abroad in our hearts, the Church is also family! Like Jesus said, “But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have only one teacher, and all of you are brothers. And don’t call anyone on earth ‘Father,’ for you have only one Father, the one in heaven. Nor are you to be called ‘Teachers,’ for you have only one teacher, the Christ!” (Matthew 23:8-10 ISV). In church circles today this seems to be an impossible concept to grasp. Jesus is our Teacher through His Spirit given unto us. God is our Father with Jesus also as our brother. And we are ALL brothers and sisters in Christ… the playing field in HIS kingdom is perfectly level and entirely relational and NEVER hierarchic between those who are His. And in heaven what did John see? “And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God”(Revelation 15:2 KJ2000). Molten glass is flat! We who are His stand on level ground and our only thought is to worship HIM and never a man… that mindset belongs to the beast/Babylon Harlot systems of the wicked one.
      Thanks for this other quote from Sparks. I also have experienced this severing from Egypt where men build their pyramid schemes of church structure. I know His wilderness and how it cuts us off from all that is of the world including is longing for permanent structures (church buildings). It was there that I came to appreciate what the writer of Hebrews was saying when he wrote, “We have an altar, of which they have no right to eat who serve the tabernacle… Therefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate. Let us go forth therefore unto him outside the camp, bearing his reproach. For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come” (Hebrews 13:10-14 KJ2000).
      God bless you, Gordon. I appreciate you taking the time to comment on here.

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  2. You wrote, “I used to think that church splits, abusive church leadership, ministers who fall into sin and delusion, and ministries that go off after obvious heresy were something terrible, but now I can see that all these things are part of God’s purifying process that drives the true believer out of that whorish system and into the arms of the One who loves them, Jesus Christ.”

    Yes and amen to that, Michael.
    God is always in perfect control. He even knew before the fall that men would fall into sin and how He would save them – later.

    T. Austin-Sparks wrote, “There is no blue-print for churches in the New Testament, and to try to form New Testament churches is only to create another system which may be as legal, sectarian and dead as others. Churches, like the Church, are organisms which spring out of life, which life itself springs out of the Cross of Christ wrought into the very being of believers. Unless believers are crucified people, there can be no true expression of the Church.”

    True, too. Maybe, one might add that the crucified believer should know the power of His resurrection as well. Crucifixion means being dead to one’s sinful desires. But being risen with Christ means to have a share in the spiritual blessings of eternal life right now. If we live such a life, we might be rejected by those who insist on having God’s “things” their own way, but we might attract those who smell Christ’s fragrance behind these blessings shared (such as His love, peace, grace, kindness, compassion, patience, understanding, forgiveness, and much more).

    PS
    I dare to post a link here which leads to Jeremy Myers’ site where I commented on “Christianity Cannot Be Organized”. There I shared my own thoughts about how fellowshipping in today’s Church could look like.

    http://www.tillhecomes.org/christianity-cannot-be-organized/#comments

    Thank you, Michael. 😉

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    • Michael says:

      Susanne, I read your comment on Jeremy’s blog where you wrote:

      That in turn leads me to the question of how could a new kind of church today look like? Where is a place/location where many people who are searching for God could “meet” without further ado?
      What would you think about Internet or email fellowships? Let’s also imagine “congregations” of commenters in cyber churches (Christian blogs/fora).

      Could it even be possible that God prophesied such things before? For it is written,

      “Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” (Is 43:18-19 ESV)

      Have we not been observing that the mainline churches have become deserts because they are falling apart due to more and more revealed scandals? Is that not a sign that many churches – not all, of course – have not been focused on Jesus Christ but merely on this-worldly things?

      Wonderful connection here between what we have found on the internet and the streams God has provided in the wilderness of Christendom! Thank you my sister!!! He TRULY is doing a NEW THING in all of us!!!

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  3. Thankyou, profound words from T Austin Sparks who is no longer with us in the flesh, but who foresaw what was coming and is indeed now upon us and upon the church and the world. He says so clearly what we who are living in this time of unprecedented shaking find hard to put into words at times. In the last few days I have had more than one person remark to me ‘the world is going crazy’. And so it seems to many.

    ” On the one hand people are being seduced by those who appeal to their flesh and on the other we are being offered a path of rejection and suffering in this world as we seek the One who can not be shaken who is our Rock. This is the dividing of soul from spirit spoken of in Hebrews ch. 4:12.”

    Before this shaking is done there will be no place to hide except in Christ.

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    • Michael says:

      Thanks, Cheryl, for taking the time to comment on this. You are right on. As Corrie Ten Boom found out in a German Concentration camp, Christ is our only hiding place. As the old hymn put it, “On Christ the solid Rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand, all other ground is sinking sand.”

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  4. Pat Orr says:

    Rich truth indeed. Thanks to all of you. I am reminded of the fact that Israel made what came to be known as fence laws. These were traditions that men taught as law – as a means to insure that the God given laws were not broken. Many church traditions are taught as law in order to keep the saints in the way. However, we know the fruit of that misses the mark.

    We are not satisfied with what we have often embraced(as Saul did not wait for Samson [Saumuel] – we did not wait for the God birthed). I pray that we will have the light to be in THE WAY.

    Love to all,
    Pat Orr

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    • Michael says:

      Yes, Pat, Saul was so concerned about his popularity base that he took to offering up sacrifices as if he was God’s priest where that task belonged to Samuel. It in in the NEW Covenant we who have the Spirit of God IN us and not just upon us (as was the case in the O.T.)… we are a kingdom of priest unto the Lord. There is NO priest cast or prophet cast either. Like Paul said, all may prophesy.
      Yes, dear sister, may we all follow the wind of the Spirit and do just as Jesus did… only doing the works that His Father (the Spirit in our case) directs us to do and speak only His words as we have ears to hear them. Oh, may the Lord continue to draw us with His love and may our obedience be fruit of THAT relationship.
      Love you, my sister, and always look forward to your comments.

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  5. Pat Orr says:

    Thank you for changing the Samson to Samuel. A few hours ago I realized my error. The first thought was to not write anymore on this site. I quickly repented of that thought, and was delighted and relieved to see that you had corrected it.

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  6. kenneth dawson says:

    yes Mike unless the people who call themselves Christians become dead to their own human ideas about what church and Christianity are supposed to look like they will always come up with systems and methods and structures and philosophies~and unless the lord himself shows them that he is in charge of this Christianity business they will just go on forming their own systems~i myself was caught up in it for many years until the lord let me out of the cage.

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