Chain Reaction in Realms of the Spirit
Beauty For Ashes Part 4 - George H. Warnock
CHAPTER 8 - THE LAW OF LIFE IN THE EARLY CHURCH
We have observed how beautifully the Law of Life functioned in the Lord Jesus when He was here. But we forget that He made provision for the same law that was in Him to be transmitted to His people; so that the Resurrection Life that He is might become the energizing principle and law in those who come into union with Him. This is why He went away. He came to crucify the Law of Sin and Death; but having accomplished this there was no need for Him to remain any longer in the earth.
FOR BY HIS DEATH ON THE CROSS, AND HIS ENTHRONEMENT IN THE HEAVENS, HE WOULD BE ABLE TO RELEASE THE LAW OF THE SPIRIT OF LIFE TO THE MEMBERS OF HIS BODY IN THE EARTH.
He would go away, but He would come again in a new energy, a new force, a new principle, a new Law of Life in His people. And this new law would be as effectual in the people He left behind, as it was in Him when He was here. This is the clear teaching of our Lord, and this was the burden of His heart when He told the disciples that He must go away. BUT HE WOULD COME AGAIN IN A NEW WAY, IN THE SPIRIT OF TRUTH, TO ABIDE WITHIN THEM AND TO RULE AND REIGN IN THEIR LIVES IN A NEW PRINCIPLE AND LAW OF LIFE. There would be released from the throne a new energy, a new dimension of glory that would be as effectual in them as it was in Himself when He walked in the earth. This is what He prayed for:
"I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that Thou hast sent Me, and hast loved them, as Thou hast loved Me" (Jn. 17:23).
Jesus was not talking about us being ONE in any other way than in becoming ONE WITH HIM, AS HE WAS ONE WITH THE FATHER. It has nothing to do with ecumenicism, getting all the churches together in one great organization. Satan is even promoting that, as surely as he promoted the building of the City and the Tower of Babel. For this union or "fusion" with one another is possible only as we are FUSED TOGETHER by renewing grace, and come into union and harmony with the Lord Jesus. Man's way (brick for stone and slime for mortar--Gen. 11:3) only ends in confusion. Going along with man's way will only strengthen the Law of Sin and Death, and give it greater acceleration in the lives of the unregenerate. Jesus went away to His exalted throne in the Heavens that He might perpetuate in the earth the very same life, the very same glory, the very same Spirit of Truth, that He was when He was here. His people would do the same works that He did, and even greater, because of His enthronement in the Heavens as the High Priest in a "more excellent ministry."
This, then, is the secret of the early beginnings of Church life. The same law that functioned in Jesus was now in His Church. The Holy Spirit was Lord in the midst of His people, just as Jesus was Lord on the throne of Glory, For it was not another Lord, but THE SAME SPIRIT OF JESUS. God began the Church in great simplicity of spiritual movements in the earth AND HE IS GOING TO FINISH THE WORK IN RIGHTEOUSNESS--NOT IN FAILURE. Very quickly the Church got away from God's way as they grew weary of the Cross and succumbed to the temptation to trade it in for a crown of worldly glory and honor. The Cross in which they once gloried was exchanged for a cross that Constantine carried on his battle standards. As long as we carry a cross on our banners or a gold one around our neck we are no threat to the kingdom of darkness. Satan knows this and when his ravings as a roaring lion prove to be ineffective against a suffering Church, he is quick to change his garb for that of an angel of light.
On many occasions in the history of God's people, whether in the Old Testament or the New, God has risen up in great power and brought mighty deliverances to His people. God would raise up judges in Israel and as long as the judge was judging righteously God gave precious seasons of deliverance and rest. But it would not be for long. Just a generation or two later and God's people were back in their old bondage, doing their own thing. Then God would intervene again and would apprehend a chosen vessel, one that was totally devastated, weak, frustrated, impoverished--yet in it all crying out to God in their great hour of need.
But these mighty workings of God seemed to be of short duration, and in succeeding generations it has happened according to the lamentation of the prophet:
"Tell ye your children of it, and let your children tell their children, and their children another generation. That which the palmerworm hath left hath the locust eaten; and that which the locust hath left hath the cankerworm eaten; and that which the cankerworm hath left hath the caterpillar eaten" (Joel 1:34).
The sad part is that we are all prepared to look back to our glorious beginnings, or to some of His glorious visitations in later generations, but we fail to believe that it is God's desire for His Church to continue moving in that realm, in that kind of glory. And now in this hour of great chaos in the Church as well as in the world we seem to be content to do the best we can with the little we have, instead of recognizing that this is not God's Way.
The Church has been overwhelmed with sin and iniquity in our generation far beyond anything that God's people could have imagined even a few decades ago. The same iniquitous and rebellious spirit that fills the earth has engulfed the Church, and God's true servants are overwhelmed with their inability to cope with it.
BUT GOD WANTS US TO KNOW THAT HE HAS PROVIDED GREATER GRACE FOR THIS TIME OF GREATER EVIL: "THAT AS SIN HATH REIGNED UNTO DEATH, EVEN SO MIGHT GRACE REIGN THROUGH RIGHTEOUSNESS..." (Rom. 5:21).
We blame the times, the "evil day" in which we live, BUT THE KINGDOM OF GRACE CAN COPE WITH ANYTHING THAT SATAN OR EVIL MEN CAN BRING TO BIRTH.
OUR REAL PROBLEM, THEN, IS NOT THE EVIL DAY IN WHICH WE LIVE, BUT OUR REFUSAL TO HUMBLE OURSELVES AND ADMIT WE HAVE MISSED THE WAY, AND SEEK GOD'S FACE AFRESH THAT HIS HOLY SPIRIT MIGHT BECOME LORD IN OUR MIDST ONCE AGAIN!
Where Is Our Baptism Of Wind And Fire?
The early disciples were told to "WAIT FOR THE PROMISE OF THE FATHER." This is the key to the whole matter. But now we can boast: "The Comforter has come. We no longer have to wait." There are millions today who boast they have the Acts 2:4 experience. But where are the cities set aflame with the power and the glory of God by these "millions" of "Spirit-filled people"? What is the problem? We have somehow instilled in the hearts of the people the thought that if they have the Acts 2:4 experience nothing else matters. They have got it all! But let us be assured of this: Acts 2:4 will be meaningless if we do not have Acts 2:1, and Acts 2:2, and Acts 2:3. What about the Winds of God? And what about the Fire of God? These expressions of God's presence can somehow be very easily forgotten, to our own shame and nakedness. It was the FIRE of God's presence and anointing that consumed the handful of disciples who waited upon God in those early days, and caused them to become involved in a mighty chain reaction of the Spirit that brought multitudes into the Kingdom, and set cities aflame with the presence of God.
But the fire of God also kindled a fire in the hearts of their enemies. Be assured, the one will produce the other. You cannot escape it if you are truly walking in the ways of God and are filled with His presence. The world cannot hate us as long as we are very much like them. But Jesus they hated, and Paul they hated, because they released a light and a glory that penetrated the realms of darkness, and sought to consume the rebellious ways of men. Evil spirits no longer cry out in our presence, "Let us alone," for we are doing little to bother them. But when a people begin to walk in the light and the glory of His presence, the darkness cannot stand it, and the spirits of darkness will cry out in fear.
Let us briefly observe the functioning of the Law of the Spirit in the early Church.
Twelve men moving in God set Jerusalem aflame with the gospel of Christ. Not by their organizational ability but by the fire of God. A chain reaction of spiritual movements started in their midst, one life touching another... and another... and still others, till the whole city was filled with the "doctrine" of the living Christ.
Five men, at least five who are expressly mentioned by name, were earnestly seeking God in Antioch; and as a result the Holy Spirit spoke clearly and said, "Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them" (Acts 13:2). These two men went forth to start a fire wherever they landed. The fire of God will always spread rapidly wherever and whenever there exists the dry tinder of broken and devastated lives. When God's Spirit is Lord there is a mighty chain reaction of spiritual movements, as one life touches another... and another... and still another. But you are not going to start this kind of fiery reaction without the fire of God. You are not going to do it with the fire of human zeal, human eloquence, human organization, or any kind of entertainment. You might gather crowds with these, and leave behind some books and cassettes. But you are only going to start a fiery chain reaction when the Holy Spirit is there, to send forth a consuming Word by the breath of His mouth.
Then God scattered the Church in Jerusalem by another kind of fire-the fire of persecution. BUT THE SCATTERING OF THE PEOPLE OF GOD WAS BUT THE SCATTERING OF THE PRECIOUS SEED. Everywhere they went the gospel of the Kingdom was proclaimed in power and in might. God grant that we might partake of a goodly measure of the fire of God before the fires of persecution break forth upon us. Then we will be able to handle it. Then it will produce a beautiful, cleansing work in the midst of His people. We need the fire of God to prepare us for that day but we can be assured if we move in the fire of God's anointing, it will bring about the persecution. Stephen burned with such a flame of the anointing that his enemies gnashed on him with their teeth. But God's fire was burning, and no man could quench it.
Philip went down to Samaria and preached Christ, and the whole country was stirred as the Holy Spirit moved mightily in the hearts of people. But Philip knew it was the Holy Spirit in charge, and when God sent him down to the desert, for reasons known only to God, he did not hesitate to leave this mighty revival in Samaria fearful that somehow in his absence things might get out of control. The Lord was in control, not Philip. God knew what He was doing, and God's servants were content to let Him be in charge. There in the desert Philip waited for the next step...
IN THE MOVEMENTS OF GOD WE ARE NOT INDEPENDENTLY DOING THE BEST WE CAN, AND HOPING SOMEHOW THAT GOD WILL BRING SOMETHING FRUITFUL OUT OF IT ALL. AS WE LEARN TO MOVE IN THE BREATH OF HIS MOVEMENTS, IT IS GOD WHO ARRANGES THE INTERACTION OF HIS SERVANTS WITH THE LIVES OF MEN AND WOMEN, TO BRING ABOUT THIS MIGHTY CHAIN REACTION OF THE LAW OF THE SPIRIT OF LIFE.
Philip simply waits for God to complete the picture; for what God is doing in His servants who are moving in the Spirit is a beautiful masterpiece of His own wisdom and genius.
Here comes a man of Ethiopia, returning from a time of worship in Jerusalem, sitting in his chariot and reading from the prophet Isaiah. Philip is immediately prompted to join him in the chariot, and he begins right there where the eunuch was reading, and "preached unto him Jesus." What beautiful and masterly coincidences "happen" when God's servants learn to walk in His way! The Church at Jerusalem was not meeting together in committees trying to solve the problem of reaching the nations with the gospel, or organizing task forces to fulfill the great commission. The Holy Spirit was Lord of the Church, and He told His waiting servants what to do, where to go, when to speak. And as they walked in His will all Heaven was mobilized in full battle array to stand by the servants of God, and to co-ordinate the forces of the spiritual world with the workings of an obedient people.
Enter Saul of Tarsus, breathing out hot flames of slaughter against the Lord Jesus. But he did not know that the fire of God was much hotter than anything he could exhale from his smoldering breast. God revealed himself in a blaze of glory that was MORE BRILLIANT THAN THE BRIGHTNESS OF THE NOON-DAY SUN. Suddenly he was apprehended by the Lord. That's the word Paul used later, when he mentioned what had happened. God had apprehended him. God had arrested him and conscripted him for service in the army of the Lord. Here was a chosen vessel of God, for "many are called, but few are chosen."
The Holy Spirit wants to be the Lord in our midst, as the Lord Jesus is Lord on the throne. It is He who initiates God's plans and purposes in the earth, and ordains the walk of His servants who are committed to do His will. And so here in Damascus is a trusted servant, and the Lord tells him to go down to Straight Street, and lay hands on a man named Saul, that he might be healed. He reminds the Lord that this man has a very bad reputation among Christians but the Lord assures him He knows what He is doing. Ananias finds Saul and lays hands upon him, and restores his sight, and then gives this chosen vessel a little indication of God's purpose in all that He has done: Paul was to KNOW GOD'S WILL, AND SEE HIM, AND HEAR HIM SPEAK. (See Acts 22:14). That covers a lot of territory, but immediately Paul knows he is under military orders. HE IS TO BE TOTALLY RESTRICTED TO THE WILL OF GOD. And as this great apostle walked in the will of God, how wonderfully do we see the release of the Spirit of Life through his ministry, causing a fiery chain reaction of spiritual life wherever he went--lighting a fire here, and another one there, and then going on his way while the fire continued to burn.
We could go on and on all the way through the book of Acts and observe the mighty things that were accomplished, but we want to make the proper emphasis. We are not just talking about great and wonderful miracles. We want to emphasize the Lordship of Christ in it all, and how it was the Holy Spirit in control--CONSCRIPTING CHOSEN VESSELS, LEADING, MOTIVATING, ENERGIZING THE PEOPLE OF GOD TO DO THE WORK THAT THE RISEN LORD HAD IN MIND AS LORD OF THE CHURCH.
NOBODY WAS TRYING TO DO ANYTHING...
NOBODY WAS TRYING TO FULFILL THE GREAT COMMISSION...
THEY WERE THE PEOPLE OF GOD, SERVANTS OF THE MOST HIGH COMMITTED TO DO GOD'S WILL, AND WALKING IN HIS POWER AND ANOINTING.
How we thrill at these mighty movements of God's Spirit, as He walked in a cleansed and holy people in the days of the Church's early beginnings. BUT HOW SAD IT IS THAT HIS PEOPLE DO NOT RECOGNIZE THAT GOD WANTS HIS LATTER-DAY CHURCH TO WALK IN THE SAME LIFE, AND IN THE SAME ANOINTING!
FOR GOD HAS NEVER ORDAINED HIS CHURCH TO MOVE THROUGHOUT THE EARTH IN ANY OTHER WAY, BY ANY OTHER POWER, BY ANY OTHER METHOD, THAN THE ONE HE ORDAINED IN THE BEGINNING--THE LAW OF THE SPIRIT OF LIFE IN CHRIST JESUS. HE IS ALWAYS DOING NEW THINGS, BUT ALWAYS BY THE SAME LAW OF THE SPIRIT. MISSING THIS, AND DOING IT OUR WAY, WE MISS EVERYTHING.
Chapter 9 - God's Desire for the Latter Day Church
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