The Family of God - George H. Warnock
In these series of writings we hope to confirm in the hearts of God's people various aspects of His work in them relative to HIS PURPOSES and HIS WAYS. We need to have a clear understanding of HIS PURPOSES if we are to pursue the Vision of God, and seek to follow on to know HIS WAYS. And then as we follow in HIS WAYS we are going to be greatly perplexed if we do not know that His thoughts and His ways are as far beyond ours, as are the heavens above the earth.
It is an hour of great distress and perplexity among God's people. It is our hope that this, and future writings on this theme, will do much to enhance and clarify the Vision of God that He has put within His people, as well as to encourage them to know that His way is right, perplexing and disturbing as it may seem to be.
Part I, "The Family of God," is the first of this series; and if you are not real familiar with the story of Jacob's family, we recommend that you read Genesis 35 to 50 before you continue with this reading.
Once again we would encourage God's people to know that His Word is intended to be our Daily Bread, and not merely something to replenish our storehouse of knowledge. Read His Word... and other writings that you feel God has put in your hands to read with this thought in mind. For it is only the broken Bread of the living Word that can nourish us in the ways of the Lord.
-- George H. Warnock --
I am confident the time is at hand when our Lord will arise in the midst of the Church with eyes as a flame of fire, with feet as of polished brass, with a sharp two-edged sword proceeding out of His mouth... to cleanse and purge and prepare His people for His Appearing.
l am confident that any ministry in this hour that does not hear what this One is saying, and does not minister what this One is ministering, will be heaping up wood, hay, and stubble for the furnaces of God.
I am confident that there is a people in the land whom God is preparing, disciplining, and refining... who are going to minister in this hour out of the heart of God; and who, because of this, will work and minister in harmony with Him and with one another, as God sends His fire into the midst of the Church to accomplish His cleansing and purifying work.
We have come to the end; and no longer can we merely prophecy about end-time events, and teach end-time truths. We must begin to minister in union with the End-Time Lord.
Is He not the One who is the Same yesterday, and today, and forever? Ah Yes He is! But He has a special End-Time Name, and that Name is the OMEGA... which is the last letter of the Greek alphabet. I know He is the Alpha, and He changes not. But in this hour He stands in our midst as the OMEGA. He is bringing to a conclusion. He is bringing to a consummation. He is finishing what He started. He is completing the Building, for which He has laid the foundation. He is about to gather the Harvest, for which He planted the Seed. He will reconcile and join together in harmony the Family of God, for which He sent His Son to be the "firstborn among many brethren." He will bring forth the LOAF in His people, even as He was the Manna that came down from Heaven. He will effectually join His beloved ones unto Himself in one BODY, even as He was the BODY through which the Father expressed Himself in the earth many centuries ago.
The Vision is high, and we must keep it high. Man has obscured the Vision, because it seems too high for attainment. But in reality it is because man does not want to go God's way, and yield himself as clay in the hands of the Potter. For this is God's work... this is God's creation... it is not the work of man.
God is going to do what He said. But He is going to do it in a manner far different from, and far beyond, what any of us have imagined. He is going to bring to desolation everything, every church structure, every planting, every gathering together in His Name, every ministry... everything that is NOT THE PRODUCT, that is NOT THE FRUIT OF HIS OWN SPIRIT EXERCISING HIS LORDSHIP IN THE MIDST OF HIS PEOPLE.
And then out of the ashes of all this desolation He will bring forth the very Beauty of the Lord!
And so I can think of no better title for this series of messages that I feel the Lord has laid on my heart, than this beautiful phrase from the prophet Isaiah, where God promised He would give His people "BEAUTY FOR ASHES."
Our hope is that we might rekindle the vision in the hearts of God's people, and make it clear and plain... lest in the face of all the disappointment and disillusionment that has overtaken the people of God they begin to take the course that has been so tempting to take: either to forsake the Vision entirely, or to so dilute it with human reasoning and manipulation that there is really nothing left but a vision for some humanly devised project for promoting programs of various kinds, or amassing large congregations of people together in one building, under the guise of gathering together the Body of Christ in "the unity of the Spirit." In so many, many cases the Spirit of God is left completely out of the picture.
Invariably this seems to happen when God comes on the scene and makes His way known. Call it a vision, a revelation, a promise, or whatever. God may well have given it. But as we wait for it to come to pass a weariness sets in, a certain sense of perplexity, of disappointment, of frustration. Then little by little we find some strong leader who presumptuously begins to tackle the problem with his own wisdom and understanding. All in the name of "faith," of course. All in the name of "Christ." All in the name of "edifying the Body of Christ." And so there comes into being another church structure, another system, another outreach, another plan for accomplishing what God would accomplish in and through His own Spirit in the earth. And God gets the credit (though I should really say "the blame") for the new machinery that has come into being for the purpose of fulfilling the Vision of God.
Of course, every man has to "prove his own work," and this is not a wholesale condemnation of all that goes on in the Name of Christ. But this seems to be the general pattern; and for a season God seems to go along with it (if you understand what I mean). He knows the course that man will take, and He is not quick to abandon them because of their failure, or their lack of understanding. He just says nothing, and goes along with them. He does so in His great wisdom and love. To stop them short in their tracks would only frustrate them further (if they are determined to go their own way)... so God lets them do it. "God you said you wanted this... now I am trying to bring it into being... why do You hinder me?" So He usually just goes along... and blesses... for a season.
It doesn't mean He has approved what man is doing... or that He has changed His mind about anything. And it doesn't mean that He is going to incorporate man's puny efforts into the grand scheme and design of His own purpose. It is simply a case. of the God of all wisdom and knowledge giving man the opportunity to do what He knows He alone can do; and then when man has become aware of his own failures, and the futility of his own works... God Himself comes on the scene... and in the background of human failure and desolation, and in the fullness of time, He gives...
"Beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness"
It is really the story of the Old Covenant and the New. Not that there was inherently anything wrong with the righteous requirements of the Law. But when God gave it, man grasped it in his own hands, and confidently cried, "All that the LORD hath said will we do..." You might even say that God enticed them into it. He offered it to them. Paul says, "The Law entered that the offence might abound" (Rom. 5:20). The thought seems to be it "crept in unawares." One translation reads, "The law slipped in..."
God knew it would. It was never part of His eternal purpose for the Church; but it would have a temporary purpose: namely, to "make sin exceeding sinful"... and to "shut up all men unto disobedience"... to imprison all men in one prison-house of sin and disobedience, that one day the Keeper of the prison might walk in and pronounce the message of free Grace: "If you realize now that you are in prison... if you know for a certainty that you are helpless and undone, and utterly hopeless before God, you may go free... I open the prison-door, and set you free, by the blood of My Cross."
And so this matter of justification by faith has become an established truth in the Church ever since the Reformation; and many congregations throughout the land rejoice in the fact that they are "not under the law, but under grace." But this whole matter goes much deeper than having the right theology; and the fact remains that most congregations of God's people are living under Law, though loudly boasting of their deliverance from it. For the Scriptures make it plain that "IF YE BE LED OF THE SPIRIT, ye are not under the law" (Gal. 5:18). Only the ministration of the Spirit of God in our midst can deliver us from Law. Only as we "walk in the Spirit" are we really free from the Law.
All we have to do is to take a glance across the scene of Christendom, and what do we find? All kinds of laws and by-laws for running the Church. Elders and deacons and pastors and church workers of every kind are ELECTED by the popular vote of the people. It would be too tedious a matter, and too devastating to carnal ambition, to seek God so earnestly that the Spirit of God might come forth and say, "Separate unto me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them," as He did in the early Church. (See Acts 13:2). Who needs that in this day and hour? It is much easier and more practical to have a missionary program of our own, and send out the ones we think are qualified for the task.
We could go on and on in this; but we are just illustrating the fact that God's people as a whole continue to function according to LAW, human LAW... whether it be the Law of Moses, or their own. They have a certain organizational procedure, and all the while they boast they are "free from the Law."
Ishmael, Child Of The Flesh
Of course, if God were to come forth in our midst and say, "Now I want you to set apart this young couple for a special work for Me..." we would perhaps be quite prepared to submit to His choice, But if we wait and wait for Him to do it, and He remains silent in the matter, obviously we have to do something about it ourselves. (Of course, we are not suggesting that the Antioch experience is to be the formula for the Church. We are only emphasizing that if and when the Spirit of God is Lord in our midst, He will indicate His will and His way for the people of God.)
And so we have the story of Ishmael repeated over and over again in our various churches and fellowships that abound in the land.
"We have the Word... we have His promises... it's up to you and me to get in there and make it work..."
And so the "Promise" that God gives us as a Word to embrace and cherish and hold, a promise that we must guard and nurture in our spirits, until it becomes a living and "pregnant" Word within us... we take it rather as a challenge to act upon, in the name of faith, in the name of Christian zeal, only to end up in frustration.
And God seems to go along with it for a season. So long, in fact, that we finally are able to convince ourselves that God DID use our plans after all.
And so Ishmael grows up in the household of Sarah and Abraham, as the beloved son that God had promised. God does not whisper in Abraham's ear the day Ishmael is born, "Now look, Abraham... Ishmael is your son, and I will bless him... but he is not really the heir that I promised you." As a result Abraham comes to consider God's silence to be His consent and approval... this year, and next, and next. Time rolls along, and Ishmael becomes the beloved of Abraham's heart.
We have been accused of setting the Vision too high... too high for people to grasp. If only we could convince the people of God that the Vision is much higher than we have ever taught or expressed... and that it is not something for them to "grasp," but to nurture in their hearts until by the Light of His countenance we are "changed into the same image." For though the Vision might be spoken of in many ways (as we anticipate doing in this series of writings)... in the final analysis the Vision is NOTHING LESS THAN THE VISION OF HIS OWN GLORY AND PRESENCE, coming to abide in the House of God.
Then why do we not stop right here, and leave it at that? Because it is the Vision of Him... and there are so many facets of His Being, so many rays of His glory, so many aspects of His beauty, so many unfoldings of His secrets, that unless we see Him in the full expression of His Being we are not really seeing Him AS HE IS. And God forbid that we should, in this writing or in any other, become so taken up with the chemistry of the living Word that we rejoice in our scientific knowledge of spiritual things, and fail to eat of Him who is the living bread sent down from Heaven for the life of the world. We must not take our place at the table of the Lord as a scientist: able to clearly analyze the food that is on the table, and know for a certainty that there is carbon in this, and sulphur in that... and hydrogen in that over there... all the while being totally accurate, but NOT PARTAKING OF THE LIVING TRUTH and allowing it to bring life and health and strength to our spiritual man.
God waits about thirteen years, and then He comes on the scene and reveals Himself afresh to Abraham, and announces: "This shall not be the heir... Sarah shall have a son..." Abraham's immediate response is one of surprise, and frustration, as if to say, "Impossible, Lord. But we have Ishmael already... Why not Ishmael Lord?"
We see an awful lot of the Ishmael in the Church today... in church structures and programs, and in the individual lives of God's people. Not away out there in the apostate church... but in the midst of the anointed people, the people of God who profess to have the Spirit and to know His ways. God continues to bless, and God's blessing is taken as a sign of His approval. But in the midst of it all there is the Abraham people of God, who are aware that God is coming on the scene... and they are hearing Him announce as He did to Abraham and Sarah: "My covenant will I establish with Isaac..."
In other words, God is bringing us back to the clear Vision that He announced in the Word; and we are going to have to forsake our own initiatives and all the schemes that we have devised to bring forth the true Body of Christ in the earth. For instance...
"God wants His people to be ONE. Just forget your differences and come together, and worship with us... forget your doctrines, they only divide the Body of Christ, and they don't really matter all that much... just praise and worship together with us, and learn to love one another..."
And so we have a very sentimental display of what they call love and unity, and a systematized form of worship and praise, something you just do, something you just perform, something you even do in the flesh if need be, just as long as you do it.
Or we have a more practical, a more structured way of doing it...
"We have true leadership in our church. We have the apostolic and prophetic order established by God. We are authorized to establish the church on its proper foundation. Come under this covering, get on this sure foundation... and you will come into true relationship with the Body of Christ..." And so, acting under the delusion that because God did something wonderful away back there in history, whether it be so many centuries ago or so many years ago... and because they have continued on in that particular "movement" in an unbroken line of succession, therefore, it just must be RIGHT to try to continue and perpetuate what God started. The Spirit of God may have left the whole thing centuries ago... or even just a few years ago, as the case may be... but because God started it we are supposed to try to perpetuate it.
God help us to learn the lesson of Eli, of Saul, of Bethel, of Jerusalem, of Rome, of Constantinople... and we could go on and on in this; places where God's glory once rested in power and authority, but which have long since ceased to be anything more than an empty shell, just a memory of what HAS BEEN. Hear what God has to say about Bethel, the House of God, the place of God's visitation to His chosen Jacob... but which God forsook because the people had gone into apostasy and idolatry:
"For thus saith the LORD unto the house of Israel, SEEK YE ME, and ye shall live: but SEEK NOT BETHEL, for... BETHEL SHALL COME TO NOUGHT. SEEK THE LORD, and ye shall live" (Amos 5:4-6).
God help His people to understand that places, things, gifts, enablements, ministries, men of God, movements, whatever He might have anointed and used for His glory, THESE ARE NOT TO BE HELD IN VENERATION BY GOD'S PEOPLE; and that for their day and hour they are to be received and honored only as channels of His grace to LEAD HIS PEOPLE INTO RELATIONSHIP WITH HIMSELF. Then having served their purpose, God removes them from the scene, that He Himself might have all the glory.
Let us just summarize briefly what we have been saying: the Truth, the Vision, the Promise. these come to us by revelation of the Spirit.
We accept it, embrace it, joy and delight in it... and wait and wait for God to bring us into it.
Then comes a certain sense of weariness and disappointment, and we discover we can't seem to get God to hurry along with His plans.
Human zeal enters... and we convince ourselves (or others will convince us) that the Promise is not really quite as unreachable as we thought... it is there in our power to fulfill... just take Hagar, and it will work.
Sure enough, it works! There is conception, and birth, and the growing of a young man unto maturity!
And God in silence says nothing... until His appointed hour. Then He comes on the scene, and says, "No! Not this...!"
"This one that I am bringing forth will not be by human engineering. Nor shall it be partly human and partly by my Spirit." (You know, "Do your part and God will do His... start out in the flesh and somewhere God will enter the picture and takeover...")
God says, "My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways" (Isa. 55:8).
God says, "Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the LORD of hosts" (Zech. 4:6).
God says, "Having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?" (Gal. 3:3). Notice where we are to begin, and where we are to end, "In the Spirit."
God says, if you are not "led of the Spirit" you are "under law" (Gal. 5:18).
God says He is looking for a people who will "worship Him in SPIRIT and in TRUTH" (Jn.4:23).
God grant that the Abraham people of this hour will be prepared to forsake their many Ishmaels that the true Isaac of God's promise might come forth. And let us remember that it is Sarah, the barren woman, who will bring this to birth. Let Hagar despise her mistress in her eyes, because of her present fruitfulness. But the barren and utterly hopeless people of God are going to LAUGH in that day, when Isaac is born ("Isaac" means "laughter")... and it will not be the giddy laugh of Hagar, but the laugh of victory and triumph, and a rejoicing in the faithfulness of God who beheld the low estate of the barren and fruitless people, who found GRACE in His sight because of their broken and contrite spirit. We are considered to be lazy and slothful if we do not get excited about the many outreaches and programs we find in the Church for the building up of the Body of Christ. God says the slothful man is the man who does not learn PATIENCE: "That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises" (Heb. 6:12). And in the immediate context, it is Abraham and Sarah that God is talking about.
Those who have learned a measure of Patience in their lives know that it takes more spiritual exercise and striving to wait before God until you know His guidance and direction, than it does to come up with a good plan and program of your own. It takes a far greater degree of obedience to discover what God is requiring, and to do what God would have us do, than it does to follow along in some humanly devised and well-meaning program that is tangible, and workable, and has much to show for it in the natural.
The Fullness Of God
There are many aspects of the great work that God is doing in the earth, and in this series of writings we want to explore and examine some of them. In each case we want to show how God is revealing the glory and majesty of His Being in a different light, in a different way. How else shall we know the "fullness" of His purposes, except as we see the shining forth of His glory in its many divergent colors?
Paul speaks of the "manifold wisdom of God"... or "the many-sided aspects of God's wisdom." God forbid that we should depart from the simplicity of the Gospel, from the simplicity of knowing Christ. But let us not glibbly say, "O I know Jesus... I am not concerned about all these so called deeper truths... Jesus is enough for me."
Yes, Jesus is all we want... all we need. But the Jesus that most Christians have is very small, very weak, very helpless. God help us to know that we are not going to really know Him, we are not going to really see Him, we are not really going to appreciate the glory of His Being... until He comes to take up His habitation in His Temple, His Body, His Family that is in the earth, and then in and through them reveals the very "fullness" of His Being.
Let not the Vision that God has given concerning His people be marred by the excitement that erupts in the Church when some great or mighty miracle is performed. God is certainly performing miracles, and He will continue to do signs and wonders in and through His people that are in the earth. But all this is nothing compared to the SIGN that His people are to BECOME when God has finished the work that He started, and made HIS PEOPLE TO BE SIGNS to be wondered at by the nations of the earth: "Behold, I and the children whom the LORD hath given me are for SIGNS and for WONDERS in Israel from the LORD of hosts, which dwelleth in Mount Zion" (Isa. 8:18).
BEAUTY FOR ASHES - 1 - THE FAMILY OF GOD
God has planned and ordained that there shall be a full and complete expression of the living Christ in His family that is in the earth. We dare not lower God's standard, or dilute the revelation of the Spirit with human opinions or methods, in order to make it "workable." This continues to go on. But in the end God lays it all aside, and brings forth that HOLY THING from His own creative hand.
What do we mean by the "fullness of God," or the "fullness of Christ" being revealed in and through His people? The Greek word is "pleroma" and means a "completeness," that state where there is "nothing lacking." In no place are the people of God to fall short of the glory and beauty of Christ. God is going to "complete" and bring to a glorious conclusion, all that He has purposed in His beloved people.
Now we know that the work of Redemption was completed when Jesus was here on earth, as far as His earthly ministry was concerned. He said in His great high-priestly prayer to the Father, "I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do," and we hear Him saying in His dying moments on the Cross, "IT IS FINISHED." His work on earth was FINISHED!
But there was a great work for Him to do in the heavens, and this has largely been lost sight of by God's people. They somehow have the notion that He is filling in time until He can come back to earth and set up an earthly kingdom. God help His people to believe Him when He says that His Son is NOW reigning in Zion, and will continue to do so until all enemies are subdued under His feet (Psa. 110:1; 1 Cor. 15:25; etc.).
He went to Heaven to set up His Kingdom; and He NOW rules and reigns from a heavenly throne, as both KING and PRIEST, "as a minister of the sanctuary, and of the true Tabernacle, which the Lord pitched and not man" (Heb. 8:2). His coming back is not to set up a Kingdom, but to complete the work which He started when He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high... to gather in the Harvest, to judge and consume the chaff and the tares, and to give to every man according to His works.
For almost two thousand years He has been ministering, and working, and reigning from Zion, the City of God; bringing to nought the devices of men, overthrowing, rooting up, tearing down... as well as building and planting. This work is not finished yet, but it is going to be. And once again the cry will ring forth (not from the Cross this time, but from the heavens) "IT IS FINISHED." (See Rev. 10:7). The mystery of God is going to be "finished." Whatever God has planned and purposed for His people is going to be completed. He is the Alpha and the Omega. He is the Author, as well as the "Finisher" of our faith.
Now just where, and at what point in the Book of Revelation God completes His work in the Church is not our present concern. But we do want to emphasize that the people of God are in reality the "Finished Work" that God has in mind. We, His people, are the crowning work of His creation. "We are His workmanship..." as the apostle said (Eph. 2:10). Another translation reads this way, "We are His HANDIWORK." We are to be the very crowning glory of His creative power and majesty!
Paul says, "The Church which is His body, the fullness (pleroma) of Him that filleth all in all" (Eph. 1:22, 23).
That the Lord Jesus was Himself the "fullness of God" when here on earth, and NOW in the heavens... is really no problem to the people of God. We know that "in Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily" (Col. 2:9); because "it pleased the Father that in Him should all the fulness dwell" (Col. 1:19). And we know that it applies to Him NOW in the full measure of kingly power and authority; and that it applied to Him when He was on earth in the beauty of His life, and nature, and character. It was the "glory of the Father" that shone forth in His earthly life and ministry (John 1:14). For the Son of God was the "express image" of the Father, the One who radiated the nature of the Father, lived by the life of the Father, spoke the words of the Father, and did the works of the Father. Truly God hath spoken "by His Son," or more literally, "IN SON"... the Son was HIMSELF, IN FLESH, the SPOKEN EXPRESSION OF THE FATHER (Heb. 1:1, 2). We know it means that all virtues, all graces, all attributes that pertain to God are and were wrapped up in Christ. In no area does He fall short. He is that "fulness" that "completeness."
It is not to say that the totality of God's Being dwells in one human body, the body of Jesus; but rather the perfection of it, the fulness of it, the complete expression of it. If it be patience and longsuffering, God has manifested these in all of His dealings with men from the beginning of time. But we see the "fulness" of it in Jesus. Power? We see the glory of His power everywhere in the Universe. But the "fulness" of it, the "completeness" of it, we find in Jesus. In Him resides the "full expression" of everything, every attribute, every grace, every virtue that is inherent in the heart of God. Most of us have no problem in this.
But now that Jesus has been glorified, He has taken on an EXTENSION of His Body, to include the Family of God; and now this EXTENDED body, this ENLARGED body is said to be the "fulness of Christ," or the full expression of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself... "The FULNESS OF HIM THAT FILLETH ALL IN ALL..."
Theology has a tendency to accept Truth as long as it does not become LIVING TRUTH... as long as it does not change the status quo... as long as it does not start some kind of revolution. But this statement about the Church being the FULL EXPRESSION OF CHRIST is not something for theologians to analyze, it is something for God's people to appropriate. Listen to these words, which the apostle did not feel he could utter without cloaking the revelation in a prayer that God's people might enter into it.
"For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge..." (Eph. 3:14-19).
Perhaps there is nothing too controversial in what we have quoted. But we didn't finish it! In all that the apostle had been saying we feel the crescendo of heart yearning for more and more and still more of God until we are literally lost, immersed in the FULNESS OF GOD HIMSELF...May we finish reading this wonderful prayer...
"And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with (or UNTO) all THE FULNESS OF GOD!"
How dare we dilute the Truth concerning the Body of Christ to the level of human emotion, and settle for this sentimental idea of everybody getting together, patting one another on the back, and learning to love them and get along!
Only by the Spirit of God are we going to see in some faint measure the burden of God's heart for His people, and the yearning that overwhelmed the heart of the apostle, as he contemplated the glory that God had in store for His family. And how clearly he revealed to us the step-by-step process that God would lead His family in, that they might explore and appropriate and be lost in this boundless realm of Divine LOVE! Oceans and fathomless depths of LOVE! Heights and depths of LOVE beyond all human ability to understand and comprehend! And the revelation of it all is couched in deep yearnings from the heart of God, and from the heart of the apostle, in a prayer that is born of the Spirit. For only God could enable a man to pray this way... that His Family on earth might be able to "apprehend" this glorious revelation and experience; for the word is much stronger than "comprehend." It means to RECEIVE and to RECEIVE FULLY the revelation of it until we are FILLED UNTO ALL THE FULLNESS OF God... until in and through God's precious Family in the earth we might see, and the world might see, the full expression, the completion, the full display of the LOVE OF GOD.
Keep The Vision High!
Keep the Vision high; and as you do, do not yield to the temptation that it just must mean less than God says, otherwise we could never attain to it. For we are not talking about human achievement. something you just try to do... we are talking about Divine enablement... And still more, we are talking about New Creation life and what God is able and willing to do with earthen vessels. We are talking about the might of the Potter, and the futility of the clay. You have a part, I know. But your part and mine is to be the CLAY in the hands of the POTTER. Your part and mine is to let Him mould, and form, and plan... as we simply yield, and let, and allow, and permit, and seek Him, and yearn after Him until He does it!
And God forbid that the pressing needs of mankind should deter us from the pathway we pursue, as we follow this Light; for may we recognize that this, and this alone, is God's provision for every human need. And furthermore, as we walk in this pathway, and as we embrace this Vision, let us be assured that the needs of men are being met along the way according to the degree in which we are being conformed to the image of Christ, and not according to the degree in which we are conformed to the programs and the outreaches of religious zeal and enthusiasm. For it is only in the pursuit of the calling that God sets before us that we will become those channels of His grace and blessing that He desires us to be.
The High Calling
Let not the height of the Vision dismay you, or discourage you as you walk towards it. Remember this.., that the high calling is not too high for you, or God would not have called you to it. And take courage in the fact that the HIGH calling is really an UPWARD call, as the Greek word means, and as it is translated in some versions. It is an UPWARD call! This gives us hope and courage. If it were simply "high," I could very well look up and say, "It is just too high for me." I might gaze at the heights of the call, and flounder in discouragement. But it is an UPWARD call! God is saying to you and to me, "I am calling you UPWARD... I want you to go on... I want you to come higher... I do not want you to stay where you are, frustrated and perplexed and bewildered. The reason you abide in those realms is because you do not see the Vision. And if you see it you think I have set before you a goal that you know you can never reach. You do not understand that I only ask you to take one step at a time, and I only ask you to climb the steps with Me, as you take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me... for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls."
And so we take but one step at a time, and God is pleased. But we must not lag behind or yield to the enticements that come our way from time to time to take a shortcut. For there are many that appear to be good. You can get gifts of the Spirit freely. You might even develop for yourself a ministry, that may satisfy your heart for a season, and from which you might find a certain fulfillment. And certainly you need His gifts! But pray God that He will cause you to sit and learn from ministries that will lead you to His feet... ministries that will encourage you to take His yoke, and follow His ways. Gifts and ministries must not be considered to be in any sense ultimate... they are but means to the end... and the end pursuit of gift and ministry is to come to know Him, to be joined in like spirit unto others in the Family of God who are seeking to come to the "fullness" of Him... so that together you might be able to comprehend, to apprehend, to receive fully... the living Christ, in the full expression of His Being.
And let us not be dismayed when in spite of all our noble efforts to climb higher we feel... we just know... that we are getting lower and lower. For as we travel this way we are going to discover, as men and women of all ages have discovered... that...
The way UP is DOWN...
The way OVER is UNDER...
The way to SUCCESS is through FAILURE...
The way to true PROSPERITY is through spiritual BANKRUPTCY...
The way to the true RICHES, is through POVERTY...
The way to VICTORY, is through DEFEAT...
The way to LIFE, is through DEATH.
And therefore, for the people of the UPWARD WAY God has set before us a very clear pattern and example:
"Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God (Or, 'He did not consider that equality with God was something He should grasp after'): but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name" (Phil. 2:5-9).
For the Son of God, the Captain of our Salvation, the Author and the Finisher of our faith... for Him the UPWARD CALL was one that brought Him lower, and lower, and lower... even unto the death of the Cross.
And so it must be with you and me. God deliver us from all that striving we see today to excel... striving for highness, for exaltation, for greatness, for bigness... even among many who profess to know the "end-time" message, and who profess to be heirs of the "Kingdom." Let us make no mistake about it... the pathway of SONSHIP leads to none of these. It takes one lower, and lower, and still lower... in order that in the Spirit of Christ we might rise higher... and higher, and still higher...
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