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!”
This rich exhortation is from “God Hath Spoken” by T. Austin-Sparks
God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:6 NIV)
The principle of the New Covenant is a first-hand individual revelation of Christ as the knowledge of God in terms of glory in the heart of the believer. Every individual believer only comes into true Christianity by a revelation of Christ in his or her heart, so that the knowledge of Christ is all their own, and as real as when God commanded light to shine in darkness. But that is not all. That shining must be progressive. Christ is far too vast to be seen in more than minute degrees at any one time.
The bulk of the New Testament is taken up with getting Christians to see what an immense realm it is into which they have come, and how they must go on… Christianity can only be kept living and fresh and full of impact as Christians are living in an ever-growing apprehension of Christ as the Holy Spirit reveals Him in the heart.
This apprehension may only come as necessity is laid upon us by reason of suffering and trial. Capacity will increase by the stretching of suffering (see Hebrews 12, and read “child-training” for “chastening”). There is no succession in Christianity other than that of the revelation of Christ to the heart by the Holy Spirit. It is not a system to be perpetuated, but a Life to be possessed. The value of the Scriptures is that they contain depths and fullnesses which have never yet been fathomed; and when we speak of “revelation” we do not mean anything extra to them, but of that which is in them, but only known by the inward “writing” and “shining” of the Holy Spirit…. A thing can be in the Bible, and we can have read it a thousand times, but until the Holy Spirit makes it Life to us it will be unfruitful. Hence, there is a place and need for an inward revelation of the Word of God, and this is the only true succession.
Nothing can be preserved alive through generations save as every one entering its realm does so on the basis of such a personal, inward, living, and growing revelation of the truth, so that the origin and beginning is constantly repeated in experience.
Paul the Apostle in Ephesians 1:5 established beyond any reasonable doubt that God planned our salvation on His own and finished His work of making us His own or workmanship without our works Eph 2:8-9. The reason behind it is this; He uses only lively stones for building and entrenching of His spiritual house or kingdom Col 1:13. Lively stones are hewed out by God Himself for His own use.
In Eph 2:10 and 1 Pet 2:5, Paul and Peter the Apostles calls our attention to God’s love and His respect towards us by showing that His plan is to work in us and through us as we keep in step with the Holy Spirit Gal 5:25. We’re lively stones not dead stones or robots! Praise God.
We as lively stones continue to keep alive by remaining in Christ Jesus (The Rock) as we consistently study the scripture, meditating on it and labouring with it. These are the most profitable ventures any soul could possibly engage in— in this life time Isaiah 51:1. The flashes of light and life that enters our being as our souls engage with God in His great house is priceless! Psalm 119:130, 36:9, John 1:4. It causes the soul to desire to go and be with God quickly and perpetually!
But, the sight of the dying world and the knowledge that God can and is willing to impact the lives of others through us as we continue our pilgrim journey through this evil world serves as an encouragement to remain and endure sufferings and temptations Phil 1:21-26.
Seeing lives saved (brought into the spiritual house), brought into the assemblies of saints (great house) in this present world and transforming them from one degree of glory to another in Christ becomes the main reason to live beyond other reasons 2 Cor 3:18.
We desire the fullest expression of the resurrection life of the Rock from which we were hewn to envelope us as we gather together regularly unto Him in fellowship.
Though it has not yet manifested, our longing is not abated Eph 4:13. This creates a further longing to be caught up by some means to mature manhood which is an inheritance of each lively stone as the spiritual house is growing to the stature of the fullness of Christ. This surging of eternal life in us will be fully enjoyed eventually when we’re finally clothed with our immortal bodies. But, for the mean time, we keep coveting for more grace to enable us give room for His life within us and amongst us to flow out to accomplish His purpose to finish the building of the spiritual house.
God’s love towards us has been and is displayed to us in Christ through His physical manifestation or incarnation, suffering, obedience to death and His resurrection. This same process is ordained for us as we’re manifested to be seen by principalities and our fellow men when we are born again (regenerated in Christ). This ushers us into suffering, obedience even to death and as a result, His resurrection power is continually leading us to the resurrection awaiting us. Amen
God has made us His workmanship—causing the gospel to erupt inside our being to conform our lifestyles to His image Rom 8:29. As the early church’ lifestyle yielded to God’s image, we notice that those who believed in the Lord Jesus was added to the church (assembling of God’s people) Acts 2:41, Acts 5:14.
Ephesians chapter 2 verse 10, lays out the plan of God for His workmanship (many membered body) 1 Cor 12:14, Rom 12:5. Now, God has fitted each lively stone with a nature or gift (not skill) which makes it uniquely relevant in the temple being built. Any stone that becomes lukewarm is selfish Rev 3:15-17.
Lukewarmness is making partnership with the devil and it eventually leads to wickedness, blindness, laziness and shame etc. Therefore, this is the Lord’s admonition and advice, “Would that you were either cold or hot!” Rev 3:18-20.
Failing to heed God’s counsel is met with severe consequence Rev 3:16 but by His grace, we’ll yield to Him in this present season and hour that He is speaking to you and I as part of His temple and the gates of hell will not prevail. And our reward is unfathomable! Rev 3:21. Awake Zion and trim your lamp!
To walk with God and work for God described by Paul as “building on the foundation”, we’re to follow His instruction in order to work or build according to His pattern and purpose. Why? There are many patterns and purposes that are not God’s but come from self not even the devil. It’s the mentality of, “I can do it skillfully to the best of my ability—so long as I do it with good intentions” but, self, skill and good intentions are sacrifices He is not asking from the lively stones. He desires obedience to His well tested pattern (instruction) which is uncomplicated as laid out in the bible.
We are aware that self will be defeated by God and put to shame eventually. To avoid shame Paul admonishes us not to be presumptuous but to rightly handle (living and building according to) the word of God 2 Tim 2:15, 1 Tim 4:16. This type of obedience to God’s word makes us as individual parts and many congregations unique in our own way yet united by His word of truth in doctrine and practice 1 Cor 7:17,11:16, Eph 4:13.
Since we are the workmanship of God, we need to be aware that self (clay) has no future with God. As we attend to public reading of the scripture as the church gathers regularly, through the process of teaching; reproofing, correcting and training in righteousness (practice our gifts) the clay is debased. Through constant practice of each lively stone’s gift, competence is gained and each stone is strengthened DAILY 2 Tim3:16-17.
Paul seems to be telling us that the only way to avoid shame before God’s presence is to “rightly handle the word of truth”. This is far beyond “doing as the leaders have said”. Actually, it is doing as you’ve learnt from Christ in the scriptures by the help of the Holy Spirit within you (Acts 17:11NLT). Failure to practice this is lukewarmness.
The church is described as a great house with the treasures of gold, silver, wood and clay 2 Tim2:20. It’s important to note that the church is not the treasure. While gold and silver tell us about God’s nature in man, wood and clay depicts the earthiness of our being. Clarifying Rom9:21, the aspect of man referenced as clay and wood by God’s foreknowledge is predestined for destruction because it is earthy, dishonorable and cannot conform to His image! Nevertheless, they are found in the holy house because they were admitted by grace not by merit. However, the clay as a jar for temporal use must be broken and wood, must be overlaid inside and outside with gold and silver according to God’s instruction for the building of His temple Exodus 25:11, 13.
Every jar broken and wood overlaid with gold will be ready for every good work that is honorable to God 2 Tim 2:21. God demanded from the beginning that His gold and silver override the wood and clay— meaning that man is to obey His Spirit within him and His voice of instruction as opposed to self or external forces. For this reason, we’re referred to as lively stones (precious metal) which is destined for honourable use and not clay.
Abiding as a lively stone for the on-going construction of the spiritual house, each stone flees youthful passion— meaning everyone breaks their jar of clay so that the light which is the treasure of gold and silver or fruit of the Spirit (righteousness, faith, joy, love, and peace) may envelop the soul and flow out to confound the enemy, blessing the one through whom it is flowing and others within the great house (assembly of saints) and beyond Judges 7:15-21, 2 Cor 4:7, Gal 6:10. In the end, God is glorified.
We see Gideon typifying the Holy Spirit Who has prior knowledge of the plans of the enemies of Israel and sees their weakness and foolishness in thinking to destroy the army of God. For us (Christ’ bride), the Holy Spirit exposes the wicked plans of the enemy to us from the pages of the scriptures and gives us instruction to take the double edged sword and break our jar Rom 12:1 for light to flow out because we can’t go into darkness to fight without goodness or light Rom 12:21, Eph 6:10-18, Zech 4:6.
The brightness of His light and energy coming out against the enemy from the many membered great house, will expose the cowardice of the strong man (Satan) who is a created being made subject to the creator— even our Christ and brother Eph 3:10.
Gideon’s 300, served as a shadow of the reality of Christ’ lively stones. Like Gideon’s 300, we are being instructed on how to break our jar of clay by the process of renewing of our minds. They did not regard the clay for anything and so must we 2 Cor 5:16. We like them, are called to be single minded as pilgrims on the earth to give glory to God’s purposes at all costs 2 Tim 2:4, James 1:8KJV. Double mindedness is a deadly evil nature as opposed to doubting God in a particular situation which is common to all of God’s servants.
We, as “lively stones” must understand that the reason for being priests and kings to God and not to men Rev 5:10, is to “proclaim His excellencies” by word, walk and work 1 Pet 2:9.
We’ll finish this meditation in the second part of “Lively stones for the Spiritual House”.
The Lord keep you and may His light shine from you, giving you victory and blessing all peoples coming in contact with you. Amen
Give Attendance to Reading – From The Hyssop that Springeth Out of the Wall
In identifying with the Truth we mentioned that it was a case of pursuing God’s will, and seeking to walk in His ways. You do not really know the Truth until it becomes a part of your being. Honor the Word, the written Word. Read it much. But know of a certainty that it is not really yours until it comes alive within you.
I have read the Bible through many times, just as a matter of “reading” it… typed it out once along with footnotes and references for my own study Bible… memorized large portions of it in my earlier days… I honor the Word of God, as much as anyone. And yet many times as I read it I am keenly aware that at the time it seems to fall far short of meeting my basic earnest desire to know God. However, it has been a source of great encouragement to know that simply in reading the Word with an open heart one is exposing himself to the power and to the authority of that Word, unaware as you may be of this at the time.
Paul said, “Give attendance to reading…” But we would excuse ourselves on the basis that we do not understand it too well, or it becomes tiring and monotonous, and we do not get any particular blessing from it. We hope rather for the miracle that would make the printed page to shout at us with clarion call. I have personally never had that experience. And perhaps it is good that it has been this way so that I can encourage others. Many times we find ourselves reading some very beautiful Scriptures that carry with them a living Word; but its true benefit may not come to us until weeks, or months, or years later.
We have been speaking of God’s ways… the greatness of His ways… and how foreign God’s ways are to the ways of men. We sincerely trust that what we have said will not merely be received as good teaching and good doctrine; but that it will encourage everyone who reads this writing to “search and try their ways” as the Bible admonishes, For we are persuaded that if there is a genuine “search” in this area, God will be faithful to shew His people His way in this great hour, in this hour of impending crisis. Man’s day quickly draws to a close. God is looking for and preparing a people, who will come to know His thoughts and become acquainted with His ways. For of this present generation of the Church even of the evangelical and charismatic Church, it can rightly be said (as was said of the Israelites of old) “THEY HAVE NOT KNOWN MY WAYS.”