Saturday, November 20, 2010

THE HOLINESS OF THE HOUSE OF GOD

 THE HOLINESS OF THE HOUSE OF GOD
By T. Austin-Sparks
(excerpted from his writings—with notes from A. Brother)

There are few more impressive things in the Bible than the three great Confession chapters of Daniel (9), Ezra (9). Nehemiah (9). Those all are related to the house of God at Jerusalem and the unhappy state of things amongst the Lord's people.


They represent one great cry and sob because of conditions which are entirely out of harmony with the glory of God. What were all the splendours and glories of Babylon to Daniel when the House of his God at Jerusalem was in ruins?


To him there was only one thing that mattered and it was the glory of God. That glory was beclouded while things were as they were there. That state of things, that departure of God from His house was--as the confession makes clear--due to "flesh" being in evidence in the Holy Place and in the holy things.


Ezra's prayer is a terrible thing, it moved all who heard it to action, and action of the most drastic and costly character.


The holy seed had become mingled with what was foreign. Foreign wives had been taken and there were families. Speaking in spiritual symbolism this represented the affections being set on things beneath, and the results.


It speaks of “affectional” principles influencing the Lord's people earthward, and then the responsibilities which follow. How difficult it is to get rid of these! How costly this is in the matter of the Lord's presence and glory.


Carrying all this forward into the New Testament we see, firstly, how the Temple is set aside because of inward uncleanness.


The Lord Jesus takes its place as the true Temple, but for those who do not as yet recognize the significance of His Person He is saying and doing those things which--being placed on record--will forever reveal His mind as to what is related to the House of God.


Jesus gave vehement denunciations of all that is not holy to the very core, and did burning acts of indignation against any caricaturing of the Divine dwelling (NOTE: remember the cleansing of the temple in John?). A passion for holiness and truth marked His (Jesus’) attitude to all who had any official connection with the Temple.


Going on still further we see that before the "Body" which is the Church, can be introduced (by Paul) in Romans 12, all that work of chapter 6 has to be settled and a chapter 8 position has to be occupied, leading on to 12:1, "Present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable, which is your spiritual worship: and be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind."


NOTE FROM A. BROTHER: Do we understand this?  Paul in Chapter 12 of Romans introduces the Body of Christ.  But before he does, he makes it clear that we must die to self (Chapter 6) and be resurrected into Christ (the “chapter 8 position” spoken of here).  This must occur before we can be transformed by the renewing of our minds, which is the first step to being the Body of Christ together.


The same is true in both Ephesians and Colossians, where death, burial and resurrection unto newness of life are placed before going into the "House" or "Body" or "Church."


All this is one great prolonged emphasis upon the words of the Psalm, "Holiness becometh Thy House, O Lord, for ever."


Again let us say that Holiness is not a department of truth, a line of teaching, but it embraces the whole house of God from center to circumference, from foundation to top-stone, and all that is in it.


Men organize movements and constitute societies.
God sanctifies people as the instruments of His purpose.   
Men think more of the work to be done. 
God thinks most of the spiritual state of His children.


Of the twenty-seven books comprising the New Testament, six are largely history with much spiritual teaching in them, and all the rest--twenty-one books--are devoted to the spiritual life and state of believers.


NOTE FROM A. BROTHER: 


What the Holy Spirit is saying here through our brother Austin-Sparks is what He’s been telling many of us, and highlighting for us in the Word of God.  That God from the beginning meant us to understand the Temple of God from the Old Testament on as a type, a picture, of Christ’s dwelling among men within us.  And that no man was holy enough, without the Blood, of entering God’s presence.
 
However, we have treated the “Church” as if it is a structure made by men to house the presence of God.  It is not.  It is men, prepared by God, through their death and resurrection in Christ, to house God within their hearts, and to be His temple on the earth. 
Whether gathered together or scattered by persecution and worldly forces, the People of God are His Temple, and He dwells, not in houses made by human hands, but in these simple disciples.
 
So His dwelling (us!) must be holy, as He is holy, and so the whole house, fitted together in love as Paul says, must grow up together (even if scattered!) into a dwelling for the Spirit.


This is not about ‘movements’ or ‘organizations’.  This is God all the way through, from top to bottom.  There is nothing that can be done outside of this that contributes.
 
The entire saga of the early Church in Acts is the story of this work of God through His humble People, and not the founding of an early institution as some within Christendom would have us believe.
 
No institution here, just a Living Temple, a Body for Christ, made up of all true believers who have committed to die to self and live only to Christ.  This must be our uncompromising vision, because it is God’s only vision.  


The entire New Testament is focused on this revelation of God through His Son Jesus in us, His Body, His House, His Temple, His People.


What a fantastically higher calling and purpose than we are generally given in the ‘churches’, the institutions that claim to represent Christ!  


What glory will come to God through His People when they begin to grasp these higher truths.  What blasphemies are committed by those who ignore these truths!  What deceptions are rampant when men grab onto lower religious concepts and claim them as necessary for the Church!


My prayer is that we will dwell in Christ the Word, and dwell in His written Word to us, until we know with the deep knowledge of the Spirit of God what the Truth is about us, and about the Body of Christ in all its fullness.


Your brother,
A. Brother

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