This excerpt is taken from “The voices of the prophets” By T. Austin-Sparks
They knew Him not, nor the voices of the prophets which are read every Sabbath. (Acts 13:27 ASV)
We would remind our readers that these messages are constituted by a principle which governs so much of the Bible. It is that, deeper than the words of Scripture, there is a voice; that it was – and is – possible to hear the words and miss the voice. The words are the statements; the voice is the meaning. We have proved this to be the case by such a statement as that in Isaiah 6:9: “Hear ye indeed, but understand not, and see ye indeed (margin: ‘continually’) but perceive not.” This is the condition lying behind our basic quotation in Acts 13:27.
It is sometimes positively amazing and staggering what even Christians – and Christian leaders – can do and say because of this deaf ear to the Spirit. They can take up and pass on most pernicious reports which are sheer lies and do untold harm to others and the Lord’s interests because they do not so walk in the Spirit as to have Him say within: “That is not true.” It is one thing to include belief in the Holy Spirit as a tenet of Christian doctrine, and it may be quite another thing to know when “the Spirit of truth” witnesses within the heart to the truth or the falsehood. It is significant that both the Remnant and the Overcomer are marked by this “hearing the voice.” Jesus placed the ultimate issue of Life or death upon this “hearing the voice (not just the words) of the Son of Man.”
“Every Sabbath” they heard the words, but not the voice.… Let us pray for the ear of Samuel –
“Oh, give me Samuel’s ear –
An open ear, O Lord!
Alive and quick to hear
Each whisper of Thy word!”
The Christian antidote against sleeping—that is, being spiritually idle and near death, is to watch and be sober at all times. How? It is by rejoicing always in the Lord.
How do we rejoice always in Him? It’s being spiritually minded Rom 8:6. How do we do that? It’s by thinking or looking to Jesus always Heb 12:2.
How can we look to Jesus Christ always?
It’s by meditating on His nature that is in us 2 Pet 1:3. This is the reason, He has given us great and precious promises so that, we might participate in His nature in us 2 Pet 1:5-7, Phil 4:8. The same joy that was set before Christ which helped Him endure all things and pleased His Father is the same joy set before us Rom 8:17.
Now, Christ is glorified and seated at God’s right hand and we, in Christ, are seated in glory–what an unstoppable joy! Joy flowing down from heaven and reaching back to heaven! A supernatural joy!
The Philippine Church was rich in love, prayer and eagerness for the advancement of the gospel. Their love for Jesus went beyond theory to them actually giving from their resources for the gospel of Christ their Saviour. But, it appeared they lacked discernment of the advantage of rejoicing always in the Lord. Their rejoicing was intermittent and as such, they flagged when they faced opposition from those that troubled them.
Therefore, Paul exhorted them thus; “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice”. Phil 4:4.
Of what advantage was “rejoice (or be glad) in the Lord always” to them, in the face of their troubles and for us today? The answer is vital for the Church upon whom the end of time have come. The knowledge that the things which happened to Israel (the people of God of old), are the same things the Church (new creations in Christ) are facing today is crucial.
We have to walk a path (His way) we have not known before just like the Israelites of old.
Many times, they were overwhelmed, deviated from the One leading them in the journey and neglected good friendship with the compass (Torah) given to them by God. This made them carnal minded people rather than God minded people. For these reasons, they had seasonal joy.
Because they didn’t persist in the joy of their God, they were immensely weakened and their lives were threatened individually and corporately. No strength was left in them to face their enemy who instigated other nations against them.
Given the individual and corporate loss of joy and the attacks on them, they could hardly remember one another’s needs (physical and spiritual well being) since each one focused on his or her survival. With their joy gone, physicalism took them over.
But, God in His love for them as always, brought His word through Nehemiah, Ezra the priest and scribe and the Levites—“The joy of the Lord is your strength” Neh 8:10. His word delivered their minds from the bondage of physicalism. As a compass, His word encouraged them to walk the path to their destination (destiny) which far exceeded matter. This flooded them again with light.
Paul’s exhortation to the Philippians, “rejoice in the Lord always” is doubtless, birthed by his experience and knowledge from the Old Testament that, joy or rejoicing in God gives strength to His people. Rejoicing always, always infuses God’s kind of strength to His people. The Philippine Church needed it and, the end time Church needs it even more.
Meditate on this: the joy of the Lord is our strength individually and corporately. While many of us who are in Christ and in different gatherings of His people know that prayer is a source of strength, few are aware of the enormous strength joy generates in us.
Paul, speaking to the Philippine saints said, “Always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy” Phil 1:4. Earlier, he had exhorted them to “rejoice always in the Lord” and as if to emphasize its importance, he repeated it in the same sentence, “again I will say rejoice”.
To rejoice, we must hold Christ dear in our hearts with all He has done for us.
And of a necessity, we need to grow in grace and obedience to Him while relentlessly wrestling against sin which attempts to make mockery of Christ’s work in us. We should not be like the hypocrites who battle outward sins in others but neglect the sins in their own hearts.
How do we wrestle against sin and glorify Christ in our own hearts? By casting down sinful thoughts that come through the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life. When we fail to cast-down wrong thoughts, they make us submit to them, enslave us and act as our master rather than Christ our new Master 2 Cor 10:5 KJV, Rom 12:2.
What happens when we fail to arrest sinful thoughts—give in to sin and are enslaved? Well, that brings us back to rejoice in the Lord which leads to repentance.
Even in a bad spiritual state, still rejoice in Him—in His ever abiding presence to deliver and save from the miry clay and to set you and I on Him, the Rock of Holiness, righteousness and salvation!
Remember, the instruction is for us to rejoice always! It is in the failing to rejoice and yielding to guilt, shame, hypocrisy, denial and covering of sin that we completely lose strength. This could lead us to give in to “living in sin“— anabomination that causes desolation in our lives and our gatherings.
Nothing that stands in opposition to God and us His people, can defeat us if we will only rejoice in Him as He is rejoicing over us Isa 62:5.
We are more than conquers through Christ Jesus—the Lord who lives in us Phil 4:13. Therefore, rejoice then in Him and again I will say, rejoice always! For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
In conclusion, be reminded you are to rejoice in the Lord always as an individual.
This is the patterned order—find your rejoicing in the Lord not in Christian communities. Then, take your joy in Him and join with others who’re rejoicing in Him. The result will be fellowship with God, His Christ and one another in the power of the Holy Spirit 1 John 1:3. This is real Church—the bride of Christ Jesus.
May His grace and peace lead you to abound in joy in the Holy Spirit. Amen
A generation that does not know God is easily fooled—they seek God’s peace by singing of His peace! Yet, His peace stays far away from them as far as the east is from the west and even further. See those His peace is reserved for in Isaiah 26: 1-3, Prov 25:28 and James 1:21.
A generation that knows nothing about the foundation of the faith neither the importance to know it will certainly enjoy ecstasy—that is to say it will float! The life of Christ, the Chief Corner Stone (Isaiah 26:4) in man does not make him float. Rather, He lays man down on His foundation which He predicated on the Apostles and Prophets (Eph 2:20). Because this glory He has bestowed on the Apostles and Prophets many times carries a death sentence (Luke 11:49), there is always the temptation for man to evade it. Some do so by going into business and the academic world—yet, many more go into hiding.
If you are gifted as an Apostle or Prophet, look at the Church and the world with your natural eyes—what do you see? What you see, where is it coming from? Is it not from the spiritual realm?! Remember, you are gifted by God to perceive the origin of things and to exhort, warn and teach His implanted word that saves souls. Do it fearlessly now—we who are not Apostles and Prophets, are waiting to hear what God is saying to us from His word by the mouth of the Apostles and Prophets. We are not waiting for what the Pastors are saying; they too, are confused though they pretend a whole lot. They need direction much more than anyone else I know! They need someone to help them transit from Pastor to Shepherd so they can know true peace.
The Holy Spirit speaks to every Christian and yes, He is speaking expressly but, God’s wisdom has also gifted some of His people who we can see physically to echo the Voice. God knew there would come a time when the world would come into His body and His body would find it difficult not to be part of her though aware that partaking of her is suicide.
God uses and will use men who are “beside themselves” so to speak, to address the Church in our time or else, the casualty the new age multifaceted doctrine that has taken firm root in the church will not be gotten rid of. Why men who are beside themselves? Because some may lose their lives and it takes only men who care less for their lives to confront the religious spirit that wages war against the spirit of Christ in His body (the Church)! It has always been so. The sweetest exhortation from true Apostles and Prophets is fiercer and far more life changing than the harshest admonition from the rest of the ministries and spiritual gifts put together. I am not speaking of senseless fleshy accusers and condemners but, those gifted with the grace of Apostleship and Prophets. If you say they don’t exist, close your bible and go on vacation!
We have too many people who have made names for themselves among God’s people who hardly know the Holy Spirit! How did they gain their reputation in the first place—they are smart! They have a good grasp of S.M.A.R.T. Or else, how is it to be explained! Those who were physically with Jesus for three and half years who did not have the Holy Spirit could not gain any reputation until the Holy Spirit not only empowered them with speaking in tongues but also with power to deny themselves. By that, they took up their cross daily, lived in Christ and worked only to the measure to which they lived in Him.
It’s different from our day, when we have rough and filthy talking folks with huge reputations even before they seek to understand and have the Holy Spirit. Their lives in Christ are like 20% but, their works for Him is 90%. Where is the extra strength for the 70% coming from? Self! This wrong example is what is being set before the younger generation.
Young people like us need to pick our bibles, sit down, read and chew upon—it will humble us! We will understand that talking it and writing it in social media or blog is good but, its author—the Holy Spirit wants to direct us and that, means increasing death to our “self” and, it takes time. He gives us barrel of water to carry first and then, barrel of oil. It takes time to distinguish or discern their differences and weight. Young people like us mostly fail to recognize that though both are liquids the oil contain particles which makes it heavier than the barrel of water.
The life of Christ and His body are not random as it is increasingly being presented to us today. It is precepts upon precepts, word upon word, step upon step and glory upon glory as we behold His glory or image increasingly presented to us by the Holy Spirit. It’s not; I started or planted Church just yesterday and within xyz time, see the impressive growth (number). Don’t be deceived! Gal 6:8.
God neither leaves nor forsakes us—we should neither leave nor forsake Him too! To forsake Him is to walk into darkness and no amount of singing and praying for peace can make peace abide in darkness. Peace; takes people out of darkness and brings them into light.
“Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” Ephesians 5:16.
Over the years the Lord, from time to time, drops little nuggets into my heart, which are always of great blessing as I press on in Him. Many times they throw greater light on a subject, and sometimes are just words of encouragement.
We are aware that the word of God has dimensions: Ephesians 3:18 speaks of the “breadth and length, and depth, and height.”
The Lord spoke to my heart on “redeeming the time” found in Ephesians 5:16, not at all in the same sense I once understood it, but from the standpoint of reclaiming that which we have lost through decadence of the age – “because the days are evil.”
God is calling a people who will not conform to the decay of the age and the falling away from righteousness, but will take another look at the PLUMBLINE and fall in line with Him instead of with the world style.
There is a current of passivity, laxity and sheer ennui sweeping through the halls of Christianity in this hour, which will engulf all those whose eyes are not fixed on the righteousness which Jesus established in HIS CHURCH.
“The kingdom of God is… RIGHTEOUSNESS, and PEACE, AND JOY in the Holy Ghost.” Romans 14:17.
The world has invaded Christendom, thus the striking evidence of spiritual pollution: deceived with empty words.
May God help us to redeem the time, restoring true holiness and righteousness in our whole life. Notwithstanding the fact that there is a price to pay, God has given us grace in abundance.
The exhortation of the whole chapter is that we be imitators of Christ as beloved children: walk in love as Christ loved us, turn from immorality, impurity, etc. “No… man… who is an idolater hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.” Ephesians 5:5.
Let us walk as children of light, for the fruit of light is found in all those who are good and right and true. Light makes everything visible. Praise God!
In every age, God has raised up those who will hear and obey Him, thus redeeming their time. There was Noah in his time, Enoch in his, Elijah and Elisha, John the Baptist, then Jesus came. He paid the supreme price – made such a restoration, bringing redemption – this second Adam. He had perfect command over the fish of the sea, trees of the field, sickness and diseases, and established a generation – the 42nd generation (Matthew 1:17) – making us sons of God, begotten by Jesus Christ, bringing man into union with Himself and the Father. See John 14:23, 17:21, James 1:18.
Let us, therefore, look carefully how we walk, not as unwise men, but as wise, REDEEMING THE TIME. Be not caught in the evil of our day, but draw from the Spirit that nature of God, seeking to know the will of the Father. Then out of our hearts and lives will flow the richest blessings to others. “Thou canst not then be false to any man” (Shakespeare).
The greatest weapon Satan uses against God’s people is division.
We praise God, that as we submit to the working of the Spirit with us, our corruptible nature is being changed from death to life. Finally we will emerge in His likeness, that when He appears we shall be like Him
God instructs us from his word by His spirit so that we may be successful in righteousness.
The righteousness that God values for eternal life is the one He has imputed on all who believe, follow, obey and suffer with Jesus Christ.
The imputed righteousness can not be improved upon. God calls on everyone He has gifted with righteousness to love Christ His only Son whom he scarified to bring the gift of salvation to all He fore-knew and predestined to conform to the image (personage) of Christ Jesus.
This whole journey of salvation starts as a gift and will end only as a gift.
Wise people search out the cost of a gift and value it not only for the cost but for the love it expresses from the giver.
God is seeking for those who will search for the cost of salvation and value it not just for the sake of its sacrificial cost but also for the love He has extend to all whom He has granted this salvation gift.
It is said that wise people treasure gifts.
The word treasure, connotes in many ways an understanding and a preservation of value in addition to its’ futuristic benefit. The wise treasure gifts as they concern themselves with the futuristic benefit without losing sight of the immediate value of its cost and the inherent love it expresses.
The bible loudly tells us that the word of God is able to make us wise (2 Tim 3:15).
All who will be wise must be humble to go to the bible to search out the cost of salvation for themselves, spend day and night searching the scripture and the Teacher whom God has authorized to guide all who are diligent to search will not fail to indeed guide and guard into all truth (Josh 1:8, John 16:13, 10:27 & 3)
Jesus said the expression of valuing his sacrifice (death and resurrection) and His Father’s love is to return love and obedience to Him and to the Father by listening to the Holy Spirit and depending only on His grace (John 14:15, Rom 8:5, Gal 5:25 & 1 Cor 15:10).
The Holy Spirit is the voice of God to his people on earth today like Jesus was the voice to His people when He was physically on the earth two thousand years ago. Now, the Holy Spirit works in our hearts as a law of the spirit of life telling us what not to do but more importantly what to do. He breaths on the word of God empowering life to us unlike the law of sin and death that instructs us but doesn’t empower us so leaves us life-less (Rom 8:1-4).
Now, mercy and truth has merged together in the One who has brought us salvation and redemption even Christ Jesus to whom all praise be for ever in all eternity.
Brother James tells us that he whom the Holy Spirit instructs on what to do, should do it else it becomes sin to the person though a written code may not have been broken ( Jam 4:17)
We are set free from the law of sin and death not to be lawless rather we’re set at liberty to obey joyfully with all perseverance the law of the spirit of life that shines light on the path of all that God has called and elected for his glorious kingdom.
Therefore, all who love the Lord and his commandments constantly cry in the secret and in the open, ” Lord, let your kingdom come and let your will be done on earth (in me) as it is in Heaven.” Amen.