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T. Austin Sparks - Messages.

TIO 29. Death by the Letter - Life by the Spirit. | Print |  E-mail
Written by Grant Hayman   


Psalm 92:5 (KJV)
"O LORD, how great are thy works! and thy thoughts are very deep."
>> This TIO (Meditation) is an excerpt taken from the series ..... "To Build the House of the Lord".

The following is number 29 in the series, and all has sprung out from the restoration of the Temple from the book of Ezra. In particular all up to this stage has stemmned from the laying of the foundation. Ezra chapter 3.

1 Corinthians 3:13 (KJV)
"Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is."

>> To Build the House of the Lord No. 29. <<

>> The Critical Matter of Building upon the Foundation of Christ. <<

|| The Letter Killing Twister. ||

Just as Paul spoke of his personal effect upon others being the triumphant spreading of the sweet life giving 'fragrance' of Christ, so, such should be the effect of the "able" ministry of the New Testament.

We should give great attention to what Paul is getting at in the statement of what isn't "able ministry" and what is "able ministry". The following is his definition: " ....... Not of the Letter but of The Spirit: for THE LETTER KILLETH, but the SPIRIT GIVETH LIFE." [2 Corinthians 3:6.]

Do we think we are able to minister the New Testament in such a way that, THE LIFE OF CHRIST is initiated in the lives of others through our ministry? We certainly are not sufficient! As Paul said "Our sufficiency is of God". Remember he asks this question, concerning personally being a life giving fragrance of Christ wherever he goes and says in the face of such an impossibility "Who is sufficient for these things" [2 Corinthians 2:16.]

If we are deplorably insufficient for a personal effect of Christ upon others, how great is the lack to be able ministers of the fullness of Christ's life, contained in the length and breadth and height and depth of the whole New Testament!

What is the opposite then to a ministry that gives Life? Paul says clearly here, that the opposite is KILLING! Not just death, but it kills off whatever life experience is there! In other words our ministry can be that which takes away Life or takes a believer or a sinner away from the experience of Life because it isn't Christ and it isn't Life. It isn't His Life, then there is NO LIFE because His Life is the only Life. His Life is Eternal Life! Any other Life is NOT LIFE and is Emptiness even though it may centre around the New Testament. If the New Testament that we are ministering, is not Christ, then there "is death in the Pot" [2 Kings 4:40.] It isn't that the dead 'Letter' ministry kills off the life of Christ in a believer (which is impossible) but it kills off an EXPERIENCE of Life in Christ because the believer is locked into following the 'Letter' of the Word instead of the Living Christ of the Word. It may be (as often happens) that a young believer in the Lord, who is experiencing Life in Christ, meets up with a hammerer of New Testament derived rules and regulations. Before you can say "death in the pot", that young believer is swept away, along the road of toil and painful struggle, to win spiritual progress by determined self effort. Their dead letter obedience, under man's influence, and not being wrought by the Holy Spirit (just like old testament saints) does not produce powerful life changes.

How does this happen? It happens without intention when the New Testament is turned into LAW. Of course, a set of spiritual laws, based upon the New Testament, but then at that very moment, the New Testament becomes a 'letter killing twister'.

|| Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth. ||

What is NOT being said here is: You don't need to bother about what the Bible says or what is taught about Jesus in the New Testament and the whole Bible. Not to worry too much about all the instructions of the New Testament. The reality is, if a believer is NOT following the Bible and not living out the WHOLE Word of God, contained in it's completeness in the Old Testament and also in the New Testament, then there is great spiritual loss and great danger of spiritual "shipwreck of faith" [1 Timothy 1:19.]

WHAT IS BEING PLAINLY SAID HERE IS: Beware servant of the Lord, you can kill with the Word of God and divert a believer to the horrible spiritual confinement and spiritual poverty of self manufactured Christian living. Sometimes the ramifications of such legalism can be tear filled regrets of wrong judgements in relationships with friends and loved ones, whom you seek to win to Christ. Christians are capable of using the Bible not as the sword of the Spirit but as their own personal sword, inflicting wounds on poor unfortunate souls all around them, believers and unbelievers alike. Christ is not seen under such distortions of grace and truth.

It has been said - "Grace without truth is sentimentality and truth without grace is SEVERITY." The writer, as a believer that has formerly been caught up with serious legalism, knows the destructions that Legalism can work on a believer's own spiritual walk and also on others. The legalism disease once contracted has the power to turn children whom you love away from the Lord, instead of winning them to him. It has the power to cause a whole raft of personal, family, and fellowship problems with the end result of hurt relationships, bitterness, debate and enmity. It would require pages and endless pages to convey only some of the horrendous multiplying ugliness that loveless Legalism has produced. There are Christian religions that are based upon a platform of legalistic beliefs and practices that have been terrifying enough to warrant civil authorities stepping in to investigate, and safeguard even the religious adherents themselves, and also the community. Legalism is rife among Christians and in the Churches everywhere today and is partly endemic of the last days of the "lukewarm" spiritual Christian condition predicted to exist across the world pre the rapture of the Church and return of Christ.

|| Dead Letter Living instead of Resurrection Life in Christ. ||

Instead of the New Testament being Christ by 'the Spirit' it has become LETTER and it is a 'KILLER' in it's effect. The World doesn't see alive Christians living in the resurrection power of the Lord Jesus Christ, but morbid dead Christians living by the New Testament, turned into lifeless written rules, giving the appearance of near death, and readiness for the morgue! Such (as Paul points out) is the end result of 'Letter' ministry of the New Testament. When a Christian is not living by Christ's life but life dictated to by 'digits' on white pages of a book, then such living is empty of true life for it is only Christ who is Life. If we live by the New Testament without the emanating life of Christ coming from it, then what are we living by? All that is left to live by is lifeless letters and words on a page that then becomes LAW. Paul talks about such in his letter to the Colossian Church.

|| Touch Not. Taste Not. Rules and Laws. ||

"If you died with the Messiah to the elemental forces of this world, why do you live as if you still belonged to the world? Why do you submit to regulations:
“Don’t handle, don’t taste, don’t touch”?
All these regulations refer to what is destroyed by being used up; they are commands and doctrines of men.
Although these have a reputation of wisdom by promoting ascetic practices, humility, and severe treatment of the body, they are not of any value in curbing self-indulgence."
Colossians 2:20-23.]

An extreme example would go something like this:- "How wonderful that you have come to the Lord Jesus. Now that you are a Christian, (and God's will is that you be delivered from the World that is going to hell) you must be separated from the World. This separation means that you must not listen to a radio that is full of the world or watch TV because of the same reason. You must not wear any nice or colourful clothes because that will make you look worldly, and that does not give the right OUTWARD SHOW (and often it is only that!) of being separated from the world."

At that point that new believer is transferred from life in Christ by faith through the Spirit to try and experience Christ through spiritualised ordinances of (man made) self effort based rules. In the King James version Paul uses the word "ordinances" and the Greek dictionary renders it as "dogma". The man made "dogma" of "taste not, handle not" of outward show is flawed spirituality because it is not of the Spirit and cannot work glorious changes in a believers life.

Alas, what has happened is, this new Christian has been disconnected from living according to Christ, who is life and has now become tied to a New Testament that is LIFELESS LETTER. All that mere letter can do is produce self managed and failing outward works to be spiritual.

|| The Spirit Depleted Letter of the New Testament is a KILLER. ||

We must be clear that spiritual LIFE is CHRIST. Not an imitation of him, and not even an adherence to Bible truths, which many false 'Christian' religions follow. Paul said "for to me to LIVE is Christ" [Philippians 2:21.] That is the meaning of Paul's word "NOT OF THE LETTER FOR THE LETTER KILLETH".

By the above (extreme example) of the determined influence of man power in the ministry of the New Testament, instead of the glorious ministration of the Spirit, the New Testament is turned into a subtle lethal killing machine. How amazing that Paul should even dare to say that The New Testament in it's (SPIRIT DEPLETED) LETTER would be a KILLER! It might be retorted, that, after all, I'm still preaching the whole New Testament. Oh yes, but the "Christian" product of such has been a long dead, joylessly nervous, finger pointing sign post of condemnation toward sinners and saints alike, providing the inspiration of reasons to avoid becoming a Christian.

|| The Eyebrow Singeing Legalism. ||

Oh yes, given some hard years of training in "Letter Christianity" and you have a formidable force of death to deal with. We all know what it is like to meet someone or listen to the preaching of someone with such powerful New Testament legalism, potent enough to fry to a crisp some young believer and blow the wig off any spiritually mature and contented Christian.

The imparting to a believer and the arresting of them to ordinance obedience is an impingement upon the work of the Spirit. All hard line preaching, backed by claimed New Testament statutes, without the quickening of the Spirit of God through faith, is not able ministry, and is in the flesh. Such New Testament teaching is not "the ministration of the Spirit" and so there will lack a ministration of glory which livens and changes nobody.

Able ministry of the New Testament, is ministry that contains content that comes to others "With the Holy Ghost sent down from Heaven" [1 Peter 1:12.] The Spirit does what man cannot do, and what he does is glorious if the minister is a vessel upon whom it can be said - "the Spirit of Glory and of God resteth upon you". [1 Peter 4:14.] Peter knew what he was talking about. When he preached on the occasion of the first Gospel ministry to the Gentiles at the house of Cornelius, the Holy Ghost fell on those who heard the Word as he simply preached. [Acts 10:44.]

|| New Testament Spirit Ministry of Glory. ||

How we need to see the Glory of God in these days. God made it absolutely clear to Zerubbabel that in the building of the House of the Lord it can only happen "Not by might nor by power but by my Spirit saith the Lord." [Zechariah 4:6.] The Spirit of God glorifies Christ, and by such, a local Church is wonderfully built up. Jesus said the following about the Spirit:- "He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you." [John 16:14.] That in a nutshell is the "glorious" ministration of the Spirit of the New Testament. Without such, a local Church becomes a "valley of dry bones.

|| The Man Powered "Go and Make Disciples"!! ||

All imposed legalistic, so called spiritual "discipleship" can never produce spiritual fruit because the person who is so subjected, has not learned such through the discipleship of Christ, but by the persuasion of man. Paul said - "Ye have not so learned Christ, if so be ye have heard him, and been TAUGHT BY HIM, as THE TRUTH IS IN JESUS". [Ephesians 4:20-21]

Able ministry of the New Testament is never a Christian aspiring to disciple another Christian through close up management of spiritual things with them. Able ministry of the New Testament is a Christian aspiring to be an instrument of the Spirit, that upon sharing the Word with others, those who are being ministered to, may find themselves inducted by the Spirit of God into the thrilling 'school of Christ', to learn of him. The great commission is not the Call of the Lord to go and make disciples as a task that one believer should perform upon another. A believer can no more make a another believer a disciple of Christ than a magician can 'make' a pig into a butterfly.

A disciple of Christ is a learner of the Lord himself. O what a joy, to see him and to know him in the Word, and to see his Glory, and be changed. True ministry 'by the Spirit' is ministering the Word and trusting the Lord that it is done in the Spirit and trusting the Lord that those who are being ministered to, will hear the voice of the Lord. "The Lord shall cause his glorious voice to be heard" [Isaiah 30:30.] Once again (as Isaiah points out) it is the Lord that causes us to hear his voice. As Paul said "Thanks be unto God who always causeth us to triumph in Christ and maketh (notice HE MAKES) manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place". [2 Corinthians 2:14.] That is able ministry of the New Testament. The Lord Himself so empower us by his Spirit.

Click Here: Video song clip. Daniel Amos with "The Bible".

Oh, the Bible, the Holy Bible
Let your mind find peace in God's Word
Oh, the Bible, the Holy Bible
Let your mind find peace in God's Word

When you're feeling down and discouraged
And the world seems to have you on a string
When the melodies of your life go crazy
And your heart can't find a song to sing

Get your Bible, your Holy Bible
Sit and let God talk to you a spell
Soon the Spirit, the Holy Spirit
Whispers in your heart that all is well

There are teachings going on that are so wrong
There are wolves in among God's sheep
There are liars on the corner and knocking at your door
But the Bible, it's from the Lord

I'm talkin' bout the Bible, the Holy Bible
The undying authority of the Lord
Oh, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit
And Jesus are the only way for me

I said Jesus is the only way for me

Click Here: For a beautiful rendition of 'Jesus through the Bible' by a young 11 year old Christian boy.

The Lord Bless. He does the Best as by Faith we Rest.


growing walnuts

TIO Nutshell Thought.

Be more mindful of the thrill in knowing Jesus than your 'ministry' for him, and the 'ministry' shall take care of itself, and will be a ministration of the Spirit and Glory.