Gleanings from “Into the Heart of God”

Embracing the Son

Recently I felt led to read a book by T. Austin-Sparks called, Into the Heart of God. It is so relevant that I felt it good to quote a great deal of it here in this blog article. I hope you don’t mind and will even read it in its entirety on their website (see below *).

Sparks used the life of Abraham to show what it means to answer the call of God on one’s life by walking in true faith. This walk is far more radical than the “bill of goods” that most Christians buy into when they are told to simply “say a sinner’s prayer” and you are “in.” The question is, will we go all the way and become a “friend of God” as Abraham (who is the father of faith) did or just settle to be a casual observer of God’s kingdom from a far off in the comfort of our Sunday pews or some worldly distraction? Sparks wrote,

Now the LORD had said unto Abram, “Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee:” (Gen 12:1, KJV)
…the spiritual life is a pilgrimage, and the Christian is on a journey which begins in the world and ends in the heart of God. God’s verdict on the life of Abraham was: “Abraham, my friend” (Isaiah 41:8), that friendship meaning that Abraham had really entered into the heart of God… the first major step is in these words: “Get thee out”. It is a call of God which allows no compromise. There has to be a point to which we come when we step over a line and are out from the world into the way of God. It is a very clear and unmistakable decision to be separated completely from this world unto God… The first decisive step is oneness with the heart of God in His repudiation of the world. *

How many of us have seen the truth of our being called by God into His Son, as a pilgrimage where we have been called out of this world system and its way of thinking into our heavenly home IN Christ Jesus, even in this life instead of seeing our salvation as some kind of “pie in the sky, by and by?” When God called Abraham (Abram) it was not an easy decision for him to leave his native Ur of Chaldees and go to a country that he knew absolutely nothing about, much less to leave his kindred and his father’s household. Though Abraham left ancient Babylon behind, he did not leave his father (Terah) and his household for they traveled with him. Sparks continues,

You see, in type the natural man had taken hold of the divine purpose. Terah and the family not only went out with Abraham, but they took him out. You are not, therefore, surprised that they did not get very far! They came to Haran and there they stayed, we are not told for how long, but probably quite a time. We are told that Abraham was seventy years old at that time, so quite a lot of time was lost. This was the first delay in the progress of this spiritual pilgrimage. They came to Haran, and there they stayed until Terah died. Terah, it says, was a very old man, and “the old man” does take a long time to die! But it was not until Terah died that they were able to resume their journey. *

How true! Our old man (our old adamic nature) dies hard. We not only have a hard time making a clean break with the world, but we also find it hard to make a clean break with our worldly families and all that they represent in our hearts! Yet, God insists that to be part of His kingdom and not influenced by anything that is still of this world, we must sever the ties that they have on our hearts. Jesus put it this way,

And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household. He that loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that takes not his cross, and follows after me, is not worthy of me. He that finds his life shall lose it: and he that loses his life for my sake shall find it. (Matt 10:36-39, KJ2000)

So, after Terah died Abraham moved on and actually got into the land God promised him, but not without his nephew, Lot, and his family. There was still some of that old life back in Babylon hanging on to him! But as is the case with those who seek “a city whose builder and maker is God” and those who do not, conflict finally arose between them, between Abraham’s herdsmen and Lot’s herdsmen over grazing rights (see Genesis 13:1-13). This reminds me of my own short-stop in my called-out journey where I spent many years in that desirable plain called “Christendom” where spiritual Sodom and Gomorrah are located. Here I found constant “turf wars” of shepherds claiming jurisdiction over the sheep of God, each trying to lure the sheep to their pastures from ones staked-out by other shepherds, each claiming that their fenced-in spot was the best available. TAS continues…

So Lot moved his tent in the direction of the city of Sodom. He pitched it for a time outside the city, and then the attractions of that city drew him inside. He yielded to the call of the city of Sodom. Not satisfied with getting outside, and then getting inside, he had to become an important person in the city, and so we eventually find him sitting in the gate of the city, the gate being the place where all the important people met to discuss the affairs of the city. So Lot is at last an important official, and it was not long before trouble began. *

Oh, how true! At first I was content to be a church “wall flower” staying on the fringe and observing, but soon someone notice my knowledge of the Bible or found out that I had musical talent and it was not long before I was sucked into the “inner circle” and put under the thumb of the Task Master in charge. I traded my freedom in Christ and following the leading of His Spirit for having a position and/or title in a man’s system. Each time this happened the Spirit was pulling me to move on and the church leadership was pulling the other way, calling that tug on my heart “rebellion.” The confusion of Babylon was still with me even though I left my “native Ur” behind!  Sparks continues,

Lot… became so much a part of it that when the angels came down to declare that Sodom and Gomorrah were going to be destroyed by fire, he was so reluctant to leave that the angels had to take him by the hand and pull him out. *

The more that a man rises up and rules over the people of God, the more God’s judgment is on what he is building. Eventually, God blows on it and scatters the people. Church infighting with its splits and church collapses are all too common in Christendom. And the work that was not built on the One Foundation, Jesus Christ, is burned up like so much wood, hay and stubble as God tests every man’s work by fire (see 1 Cor. 3:12-15). In my case, God had to force me out by getting these false shepherds to turn on me over and over. I did not have to do anything to provoke them. They just knew that I was not of that worldly spirit that drove them to become great in the eyes of the people instead of raising-up Christ and letting Him draw all men nigh to Himself. False church leadership cannot stand to have Christ’s Spirit getting the attention. Sparks rightly points out the problem in each of us saying,

Well, we are all ready to condemn Lot. We think that he was a poor sort, and not much good. But really he is only a type of the natural life in all of us. Anyone who really knows himself or herself knows that there is something like that in their natures. It takes the very mercy and power of God to get us separated from ourselves. Yes, this self-life is a terribly strong thing and will always gravitate in the opposite direction to the spirit. It will always work to keep us back from going on with God, and there has to be a very real crisis in this matter. *

In all honesty, the one thing that kept me coming back for more abuse in the churches was a hunger deep inside my soul to be “a somebody” in that system. Pastors saw that I would do my best to jump through all their hoops like a circus dog, even when they set those hoops on fire! They loved to put me in their harnesses and get me pulling on their church programs, seeing my hopes that I would be promoted. Finally, God had to show me the truth about myself in a very graphic way to get me to cry out to Him to do something effective in me to kill that lust for greatness in the eyes of men. Enter from stage left: 14 years of spiritual wilderness.

Once we get out of spiritual Sodom and Babylon and God gets the lust for what they offer out of us we can move on toward the high calling that is ours in Christ Jesus. We still have not arrived, but at least we are moving in the right direction. Paul wrote about the next leg of our journey saying,

Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized [literally immersed] into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. (Rom 6:3-8, ESV2011)

Yes, there is no way around it, we must die, for flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God.

I would like to end this article with one more long quote from Sparks about what I feel is a very needed clarification of what it means to go on with Christ in the life of those who have answered the call to get out of this world and its enticements and be separated unto God.

The great crisis of separation between what is of the Spirit and what is of the flesh has taken place, and that is the great crisis of the sixth chapter of the Letter to the Romans. You must remember that that chapter was written to Christians, not to people who were still back in Ur of the Chaldees, that is, to people who were still in the world. It was to people who had taken the first great step in decision for the Lord but had evidently not recognized all that that step involved. The Apostle Paul is not saying: ‘You must be baptized as a testimony of the fact that you have come right out for the Lord’, but: ‘We were crucified with Christ. We were buried with Him in baptism.’ That is what is meant when we were baptized. Our old man was crucified with Christ – but we have brought out Terah and Lot and all the rest with us. We have not recognized all that it meant when God said: “Get thee out!” There has to be this new crisis in our lives when we not only say farewell to the world but we say farewell to ourselves: “I have been crucified with Christ; yet I live; and yet no longer I” (Galatians 2:20).

It is Lot and Abraham, one of the flesh, the other of the spirit: of faith and not of faith. With God, these two things are fully and utterly separated in the death and resurrection – the Cross – of Christ, but with His people it is a long history of many applications of the principle through a crisis and a process, or a series of minor crises.

Perhaps we have not been sufficiently aware that the New Testament in its teaching books or letters, as well as in its history, stands wholly related to these two aspects, a basic, all-inclusive crisis, and a process marked by many particular applications of that content; progressive illumination and successive challenges.

These crises created by the conflict between the natural man and the spiritual man in us all are represented in the case of Abram by Lot, Egypt (Genesis 12:9-20), Abimelech (Genesis 20), Hagar (Genesis 16…), all of which represent outcroppings of the natural man in his own wisdom, strength, effort and weakness. These will come up again in these studies, but they are recorded for our instruction in what has to be brought back to the initial transition. Abraham was called the Hebrew, and that means: the Man from Beyond, that is – beyond the river (Euphrates). A river lay between his old and his new realm.

The Christian has a river, like the Red Sea or the Jordan, which is a dividing line; and spiritually it declares what does and what does not belong to each side. According to Romans 6, that dividing line is the Cross of Christ, and baptism is there said to be the believer’s spiritual acceptance of that great divide. The point is that the Cross goes with us throughout our lives and challenges the presence and action of everything belonging to the ‘beyond’ as not to be tolerated here. This history of denying our selfhood is the pathway which brings us ever nearer the heart of God. Every fresh expression of Christ’s victory over the world is a further step into the heart of God. As His ‘being made perfect through suffering’ meant a progressive and final repudiation of the world and the self, so that He arrived at last in the heart of His Father, attested and declared “My Beloved Son”, so every believer is called upon to make the same spiritual pilgrimage to the same most blessed destiny. It is the way of the continuous, “Not I, but Christ”, but this way of His Cross leads right on into God’s heart, when and where He will say “My friend.” *

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

 

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28 comments on “Gleanings from “Into the Heart of God”

  1. Yes and amen, Michael. It is impossible for our old Adam nature to accept these many painful crises on our pilgrimage toward God’s own heart UNLESS we have realized how utterly depraved our old nature is and we really want to see it killed by God. No kidding, it is a cruel process to await one’s death without knowing when it will happen. It seems there is no end in sight…

    Liked by 3 people

    • Michael says:

      Susanne, I remember thinking as new Christian that God would just wave His hand over me like Tinkerbell does with her magic wand and “SHAZAM!” I would be an instant Christian and move on without my flesh, doing great things for God the rest of my life. Not! This process of dying is more like a death by a thousand cuts of the knife than a sudden shot to the head. Yet, God deemed it that way for a reason, for even Jesus had to learn obedience by the things that He suffered. God seems to put a high value on obedience, wouldn’t you say?

      Liked by 4 people

      • Yes, you’re right Michael. I think God wants to see a heartfelt obedience from a heart that has been given by Himself too. Our old and stony hearts always distrust God and His unfathomable ways He planned for our lives. Just two days ago I found an interesting quote on my daily Catholic calendar that reads (translated),

        “Faith means to trust beforehand in something which will only make sense in hindsight.” (Philip Yancey)

        This faith must be God-given since our old nature wants to feel secure through ‘perfect’ circumstances that seem to be under (our) control. We hate to trust in something we cannot see yet nor understand. May God continue to pull us through this painful process until it is finished, my brother.

        Susanne 🐱

        Liked by 4 people

      • Fred Thoren says:

        I know I thought that way my self as it seemed like that was happening to others. I mean I did think there was something wrong as the process of me becoming a true Christian was not an over night deal like it seems to be for others.
        I listened to a few stories about people changing over night. So that was a bit of a discouragement for me. So I want to thank GOD for leading me to you to show me the truth of the matter.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Michael says:

        Fred, some people are just better at putting on a show of being righteous than others. There is no magic in the way of the cross and there is no instant perfection that happens to some and not to others. God is NOT a respecter of persons. I think God is blessed by your honesty. He sees our hearts and knows who we REALLY ARE and a false face, hypocrisy turns His stomach. This is one reason I find Susanne so inspiring… she is openly honest with God and prays what she thinks and doesn’t try to dress up her words to Him. I think that David of old prayed this way too.
        Bless you, my brother. ⭐

        Liked by 1 person

      • Wow! Thanks for the compliment, Michael! I have been blessed by your words today! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Michael says:

        Susanne, Thanks for your honest reply. Yes, all good thing come down from our Father, even our faith is from Him. You said, “… our old nature wants to feel secure through ‘perfect’ circumstances that seem to be under (our) control. We hate to trust in something we cannot see yet nor understand.” Soooo true. As I read this, I thought of how we think these same thoughts when it comes to the people that are close to us. “Our old nature wants to feel secure with and be loved by perfect people that we feel we can trust because we can control them (or control who we are with). We hate to trust or be with someone that might do something to us that is painful.”

        Yet, this is not the way God is with us. He sees our end from the beginning and trusts the cross of Christ to deal with those less than ideal things we struggle with until the perfection of His Son is worked into us. Jesus bore ALL our infirmities on the cross so we could be free of all our weaknesses as we abide IN HIM! Thank God that His love runs toward pain and embraces it, not away from it. What is really amazing is that He is working this same wonderful love into us as we die to self. It still hurts as we embrace these people and their weaknesses, though, doesn’t it? Love is not always warm and fuzzy. Oh God, give us YOUR love.

        “Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is [and see people and things the way HE does].” (1John 3:2, ESV2011) ❤

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you for your excellent response, dear Michael. ⭐

        Yes, may He fill us up with His love for Him and all others too! ❤

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Fred Thoren says:

    Thank you. This spoke of baptism and that is something I am confused about. Technically I have been baptized 3 times. I have been told by some none of those count, I have been told by some that all of them count, I have been told that 2 of them counted. So now I am not sure.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Michael says:

      Well, Fred, if you keep asking around of enough people, you will most likely find one that says only one of of your baptisms counts. 🙂 The real baptism that God is concerned with is that we become immersed in His Son’s death so we can be immersed in His life no amount of water we are in or under can accomplish that. There is no magic potion to having water sprinkled on us or being dunked in an over-sized tub in a church. The scripture says, “believe and be baptized,” but all too often today, people use baptism as an initiation into a denomination’s membership.

      A public baptism after a new believer gave their life to Christ was used in biblical times to announce to the world that they were dead to the world and that all the world had to offer was dead to them and that they were totally given over to Jesus Christ. Those who made such a public show of their faith often became “fair game” for those who persecuted the church and they were often disowned by their families who did not know Christ, so they did not do it lightly. Being baptized inside the protected confines of a church building, in my opinion, announces nothing to the world.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Fred Thoren says:

        That last paragraph is what some one told me and why they think none of mine count. They were not public to the world but in a building and in 2 of the cases alone.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Fred Thoren says:

        I was how ever told yesterday that I can honor my parents decision for me to get baptized in the church and have that count. I have been unable to find a way to get publicly baptized though. Although one pastor I met not long ago is willing to do it but he does not live close to me and would have to find his way here. I am still trying to determine what GOD wants me to do about this.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Ken Dawson says:

    Yes being baptized is really nothing if it’s just water but if it’s really done by God’s Spirit being immersed into you then watch out, there will be lots of scrubbing coming.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Michael says:

      Exactly, Ken! Like Jesus said, “The flesh profits nothing.” His words alive in us are Spirit and they are life. In Hebrews we read how the apostle is trying to get these Hebrew Christians to move on beyond these basic doctrines and into the fullness of Christ…

      “Wherefore leaving the doctrine of the first principles of Christ, let us press on unto perfection; not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, of the teaching of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.” (Heb 6:1-2, ASV)

      It is funny, Ken, that no church Bible study I have ever been to has done that. They just keep going over and over these rudimentary teachings and avoid the personal cross that deals with the flesh and growing into the fullness of Christ.

      Liked by 4 people

  4. This was an exceptional lesson, Michael. I feel as if my eyes were opened — both as to the symbolism in the story of Abraham, and the meaning of baptism. I was reminded of the verse: “We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body” (2 Cor. 4: 10). Thank you! ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    • Michael says:

      Anna, you are welcome. I am glad that Father was able to use this writing I shared to edify you. It was God that did anything good through me. I REALLY mean this! I, Michael Clark, am a total screw up. Just ask anyone that has spent any time with and gotten close to me. In my flesh there is NO good thing. This is why my constant desire is for the death of Jesus to keep working ever deeper in me that HIS life might be made manifest, not mine. As soon as I feel like I have my legs under me and try to stand, I fall again, often hurting the ones I love. It is very frustrating to be me.
      May our Father continue to bless you always, dear Anna.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Pat Orr says:

    Thank you for the blog. If I know my own heart, I do want to go into the heart of God. Only recently, did I have a realization of what Jesus was saying when He said, ” I am the way”. For the first time I realized that He is saying, I am the way to the Father. He can get us there. His ways are not our ways. But I want to go anyway.

    Thank you for the word that comes from you and your commenters.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Michael says:

    Oh Pat, that is such a wonderful discovery, to see and know Jesus as the way to the Father. If we look closely at the scriptures we see that THIS is what He was and is all about, “No one can come to the Father, but by me.” YES! He is the Way and as we abide IN Him we will know the Father. “If you have seen me, Philip, you have seen the Father.” His very life in us is Truth, the truth of who the Father is and IN Him we have abundant Life forever. “He who has the Son has life.”

    You are welcome to all that we have, dear sister, for every good gift comes down from the Father of Light. HE is our enlightening always. God bless you, always,
    Michael

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Becky Johnson says:

    Michael,

    I am at present reading Watchman Nee’s book Release of the Spirit. I have devoured it and will no doubt reread it slower once I am done. He speaks on the breaking of the outward man; the soul life or natural life in order that the inward man; the spirit life or spiritual life can freely flow. Prior to my reading this I have begun to see this great lesson in Scripture (thanks to some incredible Sparks readings) and my very own life of the dividing of the flesh and the spirit.

    I have recently been made aware of all I have done and said and written in the past few years that was all Becky with a little God tacked on. Yet I did believe “I” had been dealt with. No. That is not the case, for I am still being dealt with. It began with a prayer that I no longer wanted daddy issues (on January 27), well it started before that obviously, but this has deepened something in me (and you know it has been hard, though there is more story now I haven’t emailed you about). And another prayer on March 16th when I asked God to “make me,” after realizing how much of my flesh is still in tact in my heart. So the fire is raging in the smallest but closest of details. Nothing major, but consistent. Dross is falling away. And I am grateful but so very tired.

    In His Love & Life,
    Becky

    Liked by 1 person

    • Becky Johnson says:

      I had to come back to add that I know now that the “I” in us isn’t completely “dealt” with or gone in this lifetime. It is a continual work. I can’t say I knew that before. And once I surrendered the manner in which my life and all I had held dear crashed around me, that’s what made me assume (and you know what they say about that. Ha!) that I had been dealt with. But in reading your excerpts of Sparks here, I know it was the beginning of “get thee out.” Wowzer.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Michael says:

        Dear Becky, I am glad that you are progressing on your journey INTO Jesus’ heart and leaving the old you to Him to deal with. Even though I wrote of this “get thee out” on my blog, I must admit that there is still some “getting out” to be done in me. Yes, only God knows the heart. A man or woman can not know their own hearts for they deceive us.

        Your last two comments really blessed me and I found that book by Nee on line and I am starting to read it, myself. I am also going through my own time of purging so it is hard to comment any further on what you wrote at this time. Let us pray for one another that our spirits are totally released into fellowship with the Father and the Son.
        Michael

        Liked by 1 person

      • Becky Johnson says:

        Oh yes, Michael! More getting out..a progressive journey. I have more sensitivity to things that I would once have my two cents…I know so little! I hope the book blesses you, and I will be praying!

        In the purging together,
        Becky

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Michael says:

    Becky, we ALL know so little when it comes to knowing as we ought to know. Yes, the book “The Release of the Spirit” has been good to read again. I dug through my library and found a moldy old copy that I read many years ago. As with all books by those who wrote about the deeper things of God, I found a chapter that spoke right to me and I am sure that I never “got it” before. These kinds of writings we have to grow into and can only go so far until we have read beyond where we are at. We then have to lay them down and grow some more and hopefully the Spirit will use it to shed more light on us later. That was the case for me this time at your encouragement. Chapter seven, section six, was where it started to speak to me again. http://www.ministrybooks.org/books.cfm?p

    Thank you again, dear sister!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Becky Johnson says:

      Gosh, that’s so true, Michael! I was given a book over five years ago on the Holy Spirit that did nothing for me, but this past December I came across it again and it has blessed me so very much! Beyond my imagination!

      I clicked on the link but it said that the session timed out. And my book is not with me now. So I cannot see what touched your heart.

      I am seeing that the foundation of my life and the family from which I come is steeped in an earthly Christianity. Oh! I do not speak critically, but with a saddened heart. A very natural view of things, of God, of Scripture. And when that is our reality, it is so very hard for the beautiful and spiritual truth to penetrate our hearts who think they already know. A recent example is my dive into the verse in Hebrews that so many (most) believe means we must attend church. I shared my findings with my mom and she said she’d never heard that before – that our assembling together is at or in Christ, and the author of Hebrews writing for us to NOT to forsake assembling there – my mom said that has never been the general message. And I replied, possibly more “tart” than I should have, “I’m not looking for the general consensus. I’m looking for the truth. And the entire chapter is on Christ’s once for all sacrifice, and that leads us to believe the verse means church. Whew.

      Sorry, off topic. There is so much going on inside of me that I’m either stumped with nothing to add, or I’m bursting at the seems for what is being shown to me. I never knew!!!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Michael says:

        Oh, Becky, you are such a blessing to me with your fresh faith and new found freedom in the Spirit who teaches you all things just as Jesus said He would. What you told your mom was smash on! It is all so simple when we listen to Him. The intellects of religious men will always take these beautiful pearls that God gives us and tramp them in the mud and if possible they will tare us as well. Keep listening to the Spirit of Truth and you will find it, dear sister.

        “I have yet many things to say unto you, but you cannot bear them now. But when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you.” (John 16:12-14, KJ2000)

        Dear sister, it is never “off topic” when we are led by the Spirit. Thanks so much for your comment.
        PS. I sent you and email with the URL to the opening page of the website I sent you with an explanation of how to find the book. Thanks again.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. I enjoyed the article so much I started reading the book. I breezed through Spiritual Hearing and enjoyed it too. Thanks.

    Liked by 2 people

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