In 1966 T. Austin-Sparks spoke at a conference in Switzerland. Near the beginning of these messages he is recorded as saying:
“I do want to say a very serious word about the purpose of these meditations. I want to say to you that this is not just a subject for a conference, nor just some Bible study for a series of meetings. My own strong conviction is that this is a word from God in this serious time in which we are living, and we are living in the most serious time in the history of this world. If we knew what was happening in the nations of this whole world today, one question would fill our minds: How much longer can it go on? Things are happening which make it very possible that many alive today will see the great change in this whole world. We are not exaggerating if we say that it is quite possible that within the next twenty or twenty-five years the end of this present world order could come. That would mean that this could happen in the lifetime of the middle-aged people, and certainly of younger people. It is not my desire to be an alarmist, but what I have just said is very possible, and so many things are happening in the world as to make the time very short.
I am not prophesying, so no one will be able to say that I was a false prophet if it does not happen! I am only saying that it is very possible, and if this is true, then we might expect that God would send a message to His people to prepare them. So I repeat: this is not just some bit of Bible teaching for a week. This could be a message from the Lord to prepare us for what is coming very soon.” For the entirety of that conference’s transcription, click here <—–
“We are not exaggerating if we say that it is quite possible that within the next twenty or twenty-five years the end of this present world order could come.”
Twenty or twenty-five years from 1966 has passed two times over. At the present writing of this it is the year 2019: 53 years later.
“…so many things are happening in the world as to make the time very short.”
When I happened across these words just a few days ago it was shocking to me. Why? Because of where we are presently. For all that which was happening in Sparks’ time to make him say these words, even now there are many more things happening to believe the time is very short. Just this week alone there is political upset in America, and across the globe there are weather extremes that seem to be more commonplace than extreme; fires and tornadoes and exceptional snowfall, as well as horrific stories of crimes & murder. It is not my desire to spend any additional time on that.
It is easy to be passive about time being short, especially since so many have thought the Lord’s return was imminent in each generation since the day He ascended. But it would be foolish not to believe that the time is drawing ever closer, more now than in Paul’s day, more now than even in Sparks’ day. And, yes, it is true that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years is as one day. But we do not pass this off as unimportant, we are to be prepared. What comes to my heart as I type these words is the parable of the ten virgins (Matthew 25:1-13):
Verses 5-13: While the bridegroom lingered and was slow in coming, they all began nodding their heads, and they fell asleep.
But at midnight there was a shout, Behold, the bridegroom! Go out to meet him!
Then all those virgins got up and put their own lamps in order.
And the foolish said to the wise, Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.
But the wise replied, There will not be enough for us and for you; go instead to the dealers and buy for yourselves.
But while they were going away to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were prepared went in with him to the marriage feast; and the door was shut.
Later the other virgins also came and said, Lord, Lord, open [the door] to us!
But He replied, I solemnly declare to you, I do not know you [I am not acquainted with you].
Watch therefore [give strict attention and be cautious and active], for you know neither the day nor the hour when the Son of Man will come.
So, how then do we prepare? What is the necessity for us presently? I asked the Lord this morning for a word from Him. What is it that You would have us to know, Father? There is so much available today, there is so much chatter and banter and argument and division. How do we know what is what? How do we hold onto our hope as the love of many grow cold because of the lawlessness and iniquity, even more so now than ever before in history? Do we need a political revolution? Do we need less abortions? Do we need more traditional family values? Do we need better arguments for or against these things? And in the morning hours these things have sprung forth. (This also comes on the heels of the last article posted here on Occupied with Christ, which you can find by clicking here <—-)
In 70 AD the temple at Jerusalem was destroyed, just as Jesus had said that it would (Matthew 24:2) In 67 AD the letter to the Hebrews was written. How imperative in preparation for what was to come that these believers were given this glorious letter of the preeminence of Christ to all things, even religious things, even that which for a time was God-given. In this letter it is written in chapter 3:
Verse3b-8a: “…we are members of the Father’s house, IF WE HOLD FAST AND FIRM TO THE END our joyful and exultant confidence and sense of triumph in our hope in Christ. THEREFORE, as the Holy Spirit says, TODAY, IF YOU WILL HEAR HIS VOICE, DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS.” (Reading onward through verse 14 is quote good as well.)
In 1 Corinthians 2, after Paul explains that he resolved to know nothing among these Corinthians except Jesus Christ and Him crucified, he goes on to tell them that the message he brought was not in persuasive words of wisdom, but was in demonstration of the Holy Spirit, sot that their faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. Beloved, let us have a very real seeking of the Lord as to what our faith is resting in. Is our faith resting in the wisdom of men, for the multitudes that have brought their message in persuasive words of wisdom? Or is our faith resting in the power of God? There is no third option here. Our faith is either in the one or it is in the other. Father, that You would give us transparency to know where our faith lies, and if it is not in You, that You would work by Your Spirit to bring such faith about.
This wisdom of God, Paul tells us further in chapter two, is for our glorification; or, as the Amplified Classic translates it: TO LIFT US INTO THE GLORY OF HIS PRESENCE. This is what the letter to the Hebrews is pointing towards all the time. For all that has been earthly, we are now, by the grace and mercy and wisdom of God, and by the blood and death and resurrection of our Great High Priest, we are now BY FAITH, lifted into the glory of His presence! Happylujah!
In 1 Thessalonians 4:1 it is written:
“…we beg and admonish you, in virtue of our union with the Lord Jesus, that you follow the instructions which you learned from us about how you ought to walk so as to please and gratify God, as indeed you are doing; that you do so even more and more abundantly ATTAINING GREATER PERFECTION IN LIVING THIS LIFE.”
Do we presume that this walking so as to please and gratify God is an religious or earthly demonstration alone? Do we take what the wisdom of men speak and what their traditions teach, and make that be this pleasing and gratifying walk unto God? There are too many Scriptures to list as to why that is not so. We are to be a heavenly people, sojourners on this earth, living here on this earth but not being of it, and it is Christ alone by way of His Cross and His resurrection and the Spirit given from and by and through Him that we come to that. We may pretend many things, but being a heavenly people cannot be one of them.
Fast forward with me. The temple was destroyed. For the religious their very way of life was taken from them. Imagine the uproar, the fear. It’s been nearly 30 years and John is approaching the end of his life, writing his gospel and his letters to the believers in Christ Jesus. In my bible on the page where the gospel of John begins I have written a quote by Sparks: “John’s gospel was written when the New Testament church had lost its original form and power and spiritual life, its heavenly character.” It is important to keep that in mind as I wrap this up. So John’s letters were written after the gospel, and he pens chapter 2 verses 24 through 27:
As for you, keep in your hearts what you have heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the first dwells and remains in you, then you will dwell in the Son and in the Father [always].
And this is what He Himself has promised us—the life, the eternal [life].
I write this to you with reference to those who would deceive you [seduce and lead you astray].
But as for you, the anointing (the sacred appointment, the unction) which you received from Him abides [permanently] in you; [so] then you have no need that anyone should instruct you. But just as His anointing teaches you concerning everything and is true and is no falsehood, so you must abide in (live in, never depart from) Him [being rooted in Him, knit to Him], just as [His anointing] has taught you [to do].
He writes this with reference to those who would deceive and lead astray. In that present time there may have been little to no one who would speak or write to them as John would, but would instead deceive them, leading them astray to what?
Something other than the preeminence of Christ.
What was he encouraging them with? As long as you’re in a Bible believing church or sitting under the teaching of a popular or wealthy or good looking or well educated by the religious institutions of the day preacher or teacher, and are giving your tithes, you will be safe from this deception? No. It was nothing of the sort. John wrote to them, and by way of the Spirit also to us in this present hour:
The Holy Spirit, which you received from Christ abides permanently within you. Since that is the case you have NO NEED THAT ANYONE SHOULD INSTRUCT YOU, especially if what is available will deceive you, seduce you by way of the wisdom of men and their traditions. John continues: But (but, but, but) just as the Holy Spirit’s anointing teaches us concerning EVERYTHING and is true with NO FALSEHOOD, so we must abide in Him.
Gill’s exposition says that this “‘having heard from the beginning’ was not externally only, but internally; they had hearkened to it, and from the heart obeyed it; they had mixed it with faith, and received the love of it…”
May it be so with us. Amen!
[Scriptures for meditating: John 16:12-12; 1 Corinthians 2:2,4-7; Colossians 2:5b-6; Hebrews 3:6b-14; 1 Thessalonians 4:1; 1 John 2:24-27; Matthew 24 and 25.]