Chapter 3 – The Process of the Call
Called Unto the Fellowship of His Son – by T. Austin-Sparks
Chapter 3 – The Process of the Call
First Corinthians 1:9, “God is faithful, through Whom ye were called into the fellowship of His Son Jesus Christ our Lord.” “…called into the fellowship of His Son Jesus Christ our Lord.” I just want to bracket with that verse two other fragments in the same letter which will come back to us as we go on. In chapter 10:1-5:
“I want you to know, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; and were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and did all eat the same spiritual meat; and did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ. Nevertheless with most of them God was not pleased; for they were overthrown in the wilderness.”
Notice the emphasis that the Apostle Paul is making on the word, “all.” This is the whole object of what he is saying: he says, all, all, all, BUT WITH MOST, not ALL, “but with most of them God was not pleased; for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things.”
Now please read on through verse 13 and just retain that passage in your minds. Then come over to the Second Letter of Corinthians, and let us remember that the two letters are one in this, that they are both addressed to the same people and are part and counterpart of the same instruction. 2 Corinthians 4:6, “It is God Who said, ‘Light shall shine out of darkness,'” or, as another version puts it, “God said, ‘Let light be, Who shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.'”
Let us see one more fragment from the next chapter, and, of course, in the original there are no chapters: it is one continuous line of teaching. In chapter 5, verse 17, there are the very well-known words, “Wherefore if any man is in Christ, there is a new creation: the old things are passed away; behold, they are become new. But, all things are out from God.”
“Called into the fellowship of His Son Jesus Christ our Lord.” This is our third step in relation to that call and our fellowship. Thus far we have seen that the new beginnings of God in relation to His ultimate purpose, His eternal purpose, are all by way of what is called a “call.” That word signified a change in the Divine economy, a change in the Divine progress. When God had made the garden, the earth, and man, and had placed man in the garden and was able to say of everything, “It is very good,” God never had to call: He just was there. He was there with man without any necessity for calling or seeking. It was spontaneous. But as soon as man sinned, and his conscience fell into condemnation, and he hid himself, God came into the garden and called unto Adam. – “Adam, where art thou?”
That was the first call in the Bible, and it is the first note in the long, long drawn out call through the ages. It represented a changed position in everything, and God is now, from that moment, represented as the “calling” or the “seeking” God. As we have seen earlier, He has been calling right down through the ages. He called Abraham: “Abraham, Abraham.” He called Moses: “Moses, Moses” and so on. As we have indicated, every time the call alighted upon a human life, that call related that human life in some way to His Son, Jesus Christ.
Here in Corinthians we have this call, not as a separate call, but as the one continuous call of God through the ages lighting upon the people in Corinth as God passes by, so to speak, and calls to them, and they make a response. They do make a response. I believe that there are some better people in Corinth than you would be inclined to believe when you read it, but these people, good or not so good, had made a response to the call. About them all the apostle says, “Ye were called into fellowship with God’s Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord.”
The point is that here in Corinth, or wherever that sound of the call of the SEEKING God is heard, it is included in the long, long call or thought of God from the beginning when man had to be called. The necessity was to call him because he had gotten away, and the call will go on until the time when the last trump shall sound, the final note of the age-long call. Then He will call us to be with Himself. He will call us up, and we shall hear the call. I trust that we all shall hear the call.
Here in Corinth and in our passage which brings the thing to us, to peoples, to a company of people wherever they are, here then we are found right in this long, drawn out call of the seeking God. His call in the past has been fragmentary, periodic, in different ways to different people in different situations, and it has been in no completeness and finality. All these fragments of the continuous call have been coming together, making up the full call until He appears in flesh Himself, in the embodiment of His Son Jesus Christ Who gathers all the fragments and all the times together and completes the Divine Call. There is no call after that. It is full now and in Christ: it is complete, and it is final. He is the last sound of the Divine call.
We are called into the fullness of this continuous call of God through the ages, all summed up now in Jesus Christ Who we know from the gospel stories as God now here, present, manifest in the flesh, a seeking God. “For the Son of man has come (to seek and) to save that which” when? – way back in the garden “was lost.” He is now the completeness of the Voice of the seeking God. He is God in fullness and finality.
We have already seen in this passage that that call, 1 Corinthians 1:9, was the long call through the ages into which believers at different times and in different places are called, are joined. Now here is a very significant thing as we move on. What we say may be very simple and may sound very elementary, but it is a very important thing that we should always see parts in their relationship to the whole; or, to put it in another way, we must always have the comprehensive, the all inclusive context or setting of any part of anything that we have.
You see, Christianity, the evangelical Christianity, has been reduced to fragments so that you get a constant drumming upon one fragment of the whole counsel of God. People become taken up entirely with a part, a fragment. It may to them be very wonderful. They may even think that it is everything; but they draw a circle around this particular aspect of truth, or a practice, or an experience, and make it the finality of everything. And that is why we have so many immature Christians and such weakness in the Body of Christ. It is very necessary for us to see every part in its full and comprehensive setting of the counsels of God from eternity if we are going to grow.
Our grasp must always be far beyond our reach. We must always find that God is ahead of us. He is a long way ahead of us. We have not yet attained. Neither have we at the end of the fullest life attained, nor are we already complete. The Lord is still ahead of us, a long way ahead. If I may say as one who has been trying to catch up to God for sixty years, today He is so far ahead I just cannot, cannot get up to Him. He is beating me to it all the way. Yes, it is very true, and I hope no one here will ever think they have attained or think that they have got it all, all the answers, and they know. And if you go on with the Lord, you will find that after the longest life you will have to say, “Well, I have not yet attained. I do not know. I am more today out of my depths of comprehension than ever I was. The Lord has yet more light and truth to break forth from His Word.”
Also, may I say in parenthesis that I do not believe it is a right thing to try and reduce everything for young Christians to utter simplicity. Some of the best Christians I know and the most useful to God are those who came into the place and the sphere where the fullest counsels of God were being given far beyond their spiritual age or growth. Yet, they listened; they absorbed; they wondered. It was beyond them, but what came to them was, “My, I have come into something tremendous. If this is all true, how great is the thing that I have been brought into by simple faith in Jesus Christ.” So I am not for just whittling it down and making it so very, very simple. No, stay beyond them. Every time make them feel, “My, this is beyond me, but it is very wonderful.” Draw them on.
We must get our faith at every stage and every part in the context of the whole purpose of God. If we just have tidbits and make bits of everything, we are not going to grow and lots of other things are going to come in. Well, all that we have said thus far is an introduction to the process of the fellowship of the call.
Now, I think here is something quite impressive and instructive. The Holy Spirit is writing these letters, the New Testament, and He is writing to the Corinthians. We believe that behind the writer, the man or the men, the Holy Spirit was dictating, and the ultimate result of the writing is an expression of the mind of the Spirit; and He is the Eternal Spirit. He is not only the Holy Spirit of A.D. 40, when some of these things were written: He is not only the Spirit in that era, you see. He is not only the Holy Spirit of Corinth and the people there, but He is the Holy Spirit of all eternity and of the universe, the universe of God’s thoughts and intentions.
The Holy Spirit has not left off speaking in time, has not left the wilderness in which Israel was forty years. With these people, He is back there. No, go even further back. He has not left the time or the hour, whenever that was, that the Spirit of God brooded upon the face of the deep, and God said, “Let light be.” That is now, in the eternal now. The Holy Spirit here in Corinth at this particular time is moving right back. There is no past, present, or future with the Eternal God: it is all now with Him. So what was in the wilderness with Israel is for the Corinthians now: “These things were written for our example.” That is now, and it is very important and very interesting and significant that the Holy Spirit does this. He reaches back to early activities and movements of God in His goings toward His full and final intention.
Here is the same God Who said back in Genesis, “Let there be light,” saying now in this apostolic age, “Let there be light” to shine into hearts. The same thing as then, now. God, the same God of the fiat, “Let light be,” has shined into our hearts.
Also, the God, Who back in time created heaven and earth and all things, has now created in Christ Jesus a new creation. In Christ Jesus, there is a new creation. The old things have passed away; behold, all has become new. This Word to the Corinthians, and all the Letters in the Bible, are not out of man. They are not out from man: they are out from God. Man is not producing anything now in Christ. In Christ, the first and the last is out from God.
That was the law of the life of the Lord Jesus, and a very strong law it was for Him. It was imperative. “The Son can do nothing out from Himself.” It is a pity that the Greek words “of Himself” have been so translated. It should be “out from Himself” – “The Son can do nothing out from Himself.” He is producing a new creation, a new order of man, a new economy, which is all of God. How testing that is! How challenging that is! We are ruled out in this. That is the argument of the first part of the Letter to the Corinthians. We are out of it. “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit. He cannot know them.” See all the great negative of God upon that former creation where this old man is put aside, ruled out, and where everything from first to last is “out from God” in this new creation. There is such a challenge in that.
If you and I go on with the Lord long enough, sooner or later we are destined to come to the place of utter helplessness in the things of God. In the things of God, we find that we cannot cope, cannot explain, resolve or sort out. Neither can we reconstitute nor give the answer. The Lord has got to answer our questions. No man is an authority in this way. No man is a specialist in this way. The very best of God’s servants is limited to get from God the answer. You see, we are back in the creation where all is of God. Adam did not bring any of it into being. God did, and it is all now in the last Adam, all out from God.
So the Holy Spirit reaches back in 2 Corinthians, chapter 4 to creation, to the fiat of Divine Light, and in 1 Corinthians, chapter 10 to Israel in the wilderness. In what position does the Holy Spirit regard these people in Corinth as being? It is rather a terrible thing, but here we see that the Holy Spirit looks upon these people in Corinth as being exactly the same in position as Israel was in the wilderness. Again and again the Holy Spirit comes down on this warning about Israel in the wilderness. “It is you, written for your examples. That is where you are. These things were written that we should not lust, that we should not… and that we should not… and that we should not perish.” – “All passed through the sea… were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea.” All partook of the same spiritual food, the same spiritual drink. Up to this point in the Scripture, you are in that “all.” Now the great divide comes. Are you in the majority who perished, or are you in the “some” who survived and went through? The Spirit says, “You are in the same position, Corinthians.”
The majority in Christianity, as it is today, are in the position of Israel in the wilderness. The majority in the wilderness belonged to that great mass who never got through and who never entered into all the intention of God in their call and their fellowship with His Son. I believe that the New Testament teaches that it is possible for Christians to fail to come to the fullness to which they were called in Christ and, in that sense, fall by the way, come short. I believe the New Testament as a whole thunders on this. It really does. If you want to know who the overcomers are in the Book of Revelation, they are just the people who went on and go right on and go right through. They do not stop short and, in that sense, perish by the way.
There is an “ALL,” and there is a “SOME.” They did all come out. They did all these other things, but with some of them, God was not well pleased. He could not say, “It is very good.” He could not say, “My beloved… in whom I am well pleased.”
There is one all inclusive factor and principle governing this whole issue, governing everything in the life of the believer, and it is this principle that Paul was thrusting like a sword into the situation at Corinth. As we said earlier, the ultimate issue is God’s place. That is what is going to determine and be the criterion in the end; however, the principle that governs everything in relation to that full end and that governs this big question of the all and the some, is a matter of the heart. The undivided heart is the principle governing everything. That is precise, concise, and very pointed. Take that back through the Bible and apply that as you go. Book by book, the big, governing principle deciding everything is the matter of the heart, divided or undivided. For our purpose the undivided heart is God’s principle in this whole matter of attaining, of going through, of arriving. So in the wilderness, the whole trouble with “the most” of them was the divided heart.
We must go back again to the Book of Genesis to get our context. What does the Book of Genesis have to say? It says many things to us, but the thing that is paramount in this book is the pairs. It is a book of pairs, people in pairs. You have Cain and Abel. Two different categories, are they not? You have Abraham and Lot, Jacob and Esau, Isaac and Ishmael. We have pairs, in two different categories, perhaps coming from a common stem, but one takes one line and the other takes another line altogether. They part on the way, and what is the thing that is determining that separation, that parting of the ways? One line has an undivided heart: the other has a divided heart.
Abel had an undivided heart, a heart just for God. Cain – well, he is in the line of Saul. If we were going out of the Pentateuch into the other books, we should come unto David and Saul as a pair. We would see the divided heart of Saul and the undivided heart of David. We also see Abraham and Lot, Abraham as a man with the undivided heart and Lot as a man who had interests in this world other than God’s. Lot’s own interests revealed his divided heart.
Then we see Isaac and Ishmael, and their history, as well as this spiritual principle, declares the difference between them. Isaac had his very existence on the basis of an intervention from heaven, on the basis of the power of resurrection from the dead. His beginning is wholly of God, and he lives a quiet life. You may find some fault with Isaac, but the fact is that he is just there.
Now that may be a very good thing. It might be possible that you are just there. You may not be an Abraham. You may not be a David. You may not be one of these great ones, but you can be there walking up and down in the land. Does it mean that because you are just here on the earth that you have no significance? By his very presence on earth, Isaac signifies the Almighty power of God: he signifies the supernatural behind his very existence for he is the embodiment of the power of resurrection.
Read your New Testament in that connection. In the Letter to the Hebrews, it says that Abraham’s body was now “as good as dead,” but he believed that God was able to raise him from the dead. You say, “Well, I have no public ministry.” You may have had, and the Lord may have asked you to just lay it down. You may not be a very prominent person in the Christian world of whom people are taking note, but you are here holding the ground for God and standing on the ground of God’s absolute ability to keep you alive when naturally it would not be so. Do not think that because you are an Isaac that you do not count as much as the others. You are “just there” walking up and down in the land, opening the wells.
Isaac is a man of the wells. He re-opens the wells that the Philistines have filled in. He is a man of life whose testimony is one of life in the midst of death, and he is just that. But should we say, “just that”? What a thing that is for some of us! We would have been dead long ago if it had not been for this great, great truth of the power of His resurrection.
Go into the land of Ishmael today, and what do you find? You find no living testimony, no life. There is an atmosphere of death. If you go to the land of Ishmael, of Islam, you will feel it: the atmosphere is death. So we see Ishmael set over against Isaac. There is a divide between the two, and the principle in Isaac’s deciding is the undivided heart.
What shall we say of Jacob and Esau? There is quite a processing to extricate Jacob for something wonderful, but God is “the God of Jacob.” We do know something about Jacob because we know something about ourselves. Yet, deep down in Jacob even though it may be largely buried and covered up by his natural makeup, there is something in Jacob that is not there in Esau. What is it? It is a reach for God. He has a valuation of what is of God. The birthright, which is God’s own gift, is more to him than anything else. Jacob may be a difficult fellow and may be all that you might say about this supplanter, but somehow in his being there is this concern for God’s interest.
God met him on that ground at Bethel. God met him on that ground at Jabbok. Even with all the externals, the vicissitudes of life, the unworthy things about Jacob, there is something in this man which God has planted. There is this principle of a heart for God. This heart for God comes out in his later life when he has been worn out. When this supplanting realm in him has been worn out, we hear him talking, and he is referring, attributing everything, to God. Jacob says over and over, “because God.” In essence he says, “When I was away, when I was astray, when I was all that you could say bad about me, yes, God had His Eye upon me. God had His Hand on me. God was interwoven with my life.” Deep down, there was this something that gave him a heart for God, better than his own heart.
Esau is of God’s birthright; yet, the attitude that prevails in him is that of “Give me a good square meal, satisfy the whim of this moment, and you can have all the other.” The Word says that he “despised his birthright.” One can see the great divide and difference between Jacob and Esau.
Let us now pass on from the pairs in Genesis to Exodus. Come to Israel now and move from the individuals to the corporate body of this nation. The first great act of God is to cut in between them and Egypt. God must get Israel on to ground where He can get to work in them, and this ground is that of the wilderness. What is happening in Exodus in the wilderness? Israel is out of Egypt, but Egypt is not out of them. Again and again, they hark back to Egypt. “Oh, for the onions and the garlic of Egypt. Was there not bread enough back in Egypt? Were we brought out here to die of hunger? Were there not enough graves in Egypt that we should die in a wilderness?” Egypt is not out of their heart. The heart out there is divided: that is the whole story. Read Psalm 106.
If you have a question about this divided heart in the wilderness, and are not sure of this, read in the Fifth Book of the Pentateuch, Deuteronomy, chapter 8, verse 2. Here in Deuteronomy is a review of all that has gone before in Israel’s life, and in Deuteronomy 8:2, it says:
“Thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep His commandments, or no.”
Forty years of heart testing is a tremendous thing, is it not? I believe that in the true, original meaning of this scripture, it is not that God did not know what was in their heart, but it meant that God “might make thee to know what was in thy heart, whether thou wouldest keep His commandments, or no.”
The Apostle Paul says, “You Corinthians are back there in the wilderness. This testing of the heart is going on in you. There is a finding out of what is in your heart.” The question is coming through the Word, “Where is your heart?” Read the letter again, and you will find out where their heart is.
Now let me say, without intending to give offense, that this letter is the letter of the “pentecostalism” of those days. The gifts of the Spirit are here, more than in any other part of the New Testament, enumerated, underlined, recognized. Yet, with all that is said concerning the presence of the gifts, it is proved that the heart in Corinth was for self-glory, self-gratification, soulish – only out for enjoyment, even in Divine gifts. When it came to that of these things, it was the things that mattered. The gifts were everything to them.
As we see in the life of Saul, God’s people can hold Divine things for selfish ends, for personal ends, for self-glory. Now, if you take these Divine things away and suddenly set aside all these phenomenon and manifestations and all that is called evidences (it is the soul that must have evidences), what have you got left??
I have known, and this is the tragedy again and again, people who have made so much of the thing we are speaking of. Then something has happened, and the thing is stopped. For them, it is as though everything is all gone. What then becomes of them? Unless they have a turn in their heart toward the Lord and not a turn toward the gifts, their history will be much like Israel who died in the wilderness. They did not have the Lord: they only had the thing. Therefore, since the thing seemed to be taken away, they had nothing left. For them, these sensational evidences were everything.
We are in that kind of age today. It is becoming more and more a psychic age. It is an age of the soul just spilling over, asserting itself, taking control of everything in Christianity as well as outside of it – a soulish age. Now if you are not seeing and understanding all that I am saying, let us come back again to examine the trouble with Israel in the wilderness. If you turn over to the Letter to the Hebrews (which is of course a summary of all the economy of those times), and come to chapter four, you will see Israel in the wilderness again. It is very significant and instructive to note how the Word comes forth in verse twelve: “For the Word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing… to the dividing… of soul and spirit….” In the wilderness, there is a dividing of soul and spirit.
Come back to Corinthians and your earlier chapters. First, it states, “Now the natural man…”: this is the man of soul. In the Greek, the very word “natural” is the word “soulical.” Next, it says, “But he that is spiritual….” Here we have two different men in one, a soulical man and a spiritual man in one body, and God is cleaving between the two. In the wilderness, He is trying to do that with Israel: He is trying to get in between the soul and spirit. You see, the soul is that which must have these proofs and evidences. Soulish men must have something along natural lines, such as evidences or phenomenon, to prove that their position is right; therefore, because they are soulish, Israel complains and murmurs and grumbles when they are called out into a place where God only is to be their recourse and resource.
This dividing work between the ALL and the SOME is a terrific thing, is it not? In Corinth, the Corinthians are back there in the wilderness with this dividing of the soul and spirit taking place. Christians can be there, and this piercing, dividing, setting asunder work of the Spirit of God is sometimes a devastating thing. If you do not understand, do not worry. You will understand some day if you have not got there; however, some of you will understand that the Lord does not feed His truest, most devoted children with a lot of evidence and phenomenon. He starves that side of our being so often. He says, “Trust Me, not for what I can do, not for the evidence that I give you, but trust Me for Myself.” This is very testing, but that is the issue in the wilderness. We are not only to be out with God from the world, from Egypt, but also the world, Egypt, is to be out of us.
Be careful that you are not hankering for this realm again. Are you after the evidence? My, how I have seen dear Christian people just prostrating themselves, groaning and crying, almost screaming for evidence – these “sign” things. Please, do not be offended with me because I am trying to get to the heart of our present, complicated situation; and it is becoming more complicated because dear Christians and dear men of God, who have been greatly used, are creating an emotional, psychic situation that is involving simple Christians in things which are, sooner or later, going to be a great disillusionment and an offense. It will bring “offendedness” with the Lord, and that is just what the devil is after.
Can you bear with this word? Can you receive it, seeing that we have been “called into the fellowship of His Son Jesus Christ our Lord.” Look at the life of our Lord. See His life: “He emptied Himself, became obedient unto death, the death of the Cross.”
We have been looking at Exodus because in it we see the inwardness of this circumcision, the dividing of the heart or the making of the heart whole for God and, therefore, undivided. Now, let us look at Leviticus. One may ask, “What is the Book of Leviticus?” It contains a lot of things, and, perhaps, most of you do not enjoy reading it. Some of you young people may find it a bit dry and difficult to understand, but it is a part of the goings of God. It is part of the call into the fellowship of His Son, and that which Leviticus represents can be summed up in this – everything suitable to the pleasure of the Lord, the Presence of the Lord in satisfaction.
Does that matter to you? I am sure that it must. What matters is not the amount of work that we can do for the Lord or the amount of ministry that can be accomplished. I am prepared to let that go any day; indeed, the Lord is having a hard time keeping me in it because it means real battles to stay in the ministry. Whether I am in public or private, in ministry or out of it, wherever I am or whatever I am, the thing that does matter is the Presence of the Lord being with me. Is the Lord with me? Is the Lord with you? That is the ultimate thing, the final thing, the conclusive thing, the everything. We want the Lord to be able to say, “I am with you.”
You cannot always feel the Presence of the Lord. I cannot always say that I feel this wonderful Presence, and if you can, I envy you because you have got further along than I have. However, I do not always feel it, and it is not always an ecstasy. It is a walk of faith, but, be that as it may, the thing that matters to you and me is the Presence of the Lord. This is the main point in the Book of Leviticus, and all turns around that.
All the detail in this book is showing forth a situation that makes it possible for the Lord to be present, and the Word that sums up this situation is “He is a Holy Lord.” In the scriptures of Leviticus, we can see that, as it is described, everything is being gathered up into one focal point. Everything is moving from the level of the common people, gradually rising in rank and position and importance, through the Levites, up through the sons of Aaron until you reach the head, the top, Aaron, the high priest. We can gravitate from Aaron’s feet upward to his forehead and see that there is inscribed, “Holiness unto the Lord.” On that ground, the Lord is present: “The Glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.” They all bow and worship. There is a solemn awe, but it is a deep, joyful awe of rest and peace because the Lord is present. The Presence of the Lord is rest and peace. It is something very wonderful, deeper than words. “The Lord is in our midst.”
When we feel His Presence and know He is there, we are silenced. We make no noise, no chatter: we do not gossip. There is something that is suitable to the Presence of the Lord, and that is the Book of Leviticus in every detail. All the offerings and the feasts are suitable ground for the Lord. He is glad and satisfied to be there because all is speaking of His Son, every feast and every offering is speaking of His Son, the Lord Jesus.
Our life is on Holy Ground with Jesus Christ because we are “called unto His fellowship.” There is that wonderful benediction, “in Whom I am well pleased.” We have not yet gotten to the place where everything in our lives is altogether Christ, but we are called for it to be so. This call of His fellowship comes, and we begin to move in a course toward an expected end where Christ shall be “all in all.” Knowing ourselves as we do, we know not how that is going to be, and it almost seems impossible to believe; but, if God grant, at the end we shall hear the words, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: …enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” This will be spoken because everything is of Christ, “in Whom I am well pleased,” and what shall bring this about is an undivided heart.
I am not going into the Book of Deuteronomy, because I have said that it is a comprehending of all past history: it is a reiteration and a re-exhortation. So let us look at the Book of Numbers. It has been called a book of wanderings, but I believe that to be incorrect. It is a book of journeyings. Forty times in this book, the words occur, “they journeyed.” They were moving, perhaps going around in circles, but they were on the way. They were moving in the wilderness where God was doing this work of searching the heart. Remember, Deuteronomy 8:2 says that it was “to know what was in thine heart,” or “to make thee know what was in thy heart….” The Book of Genesis and Exodus and Leviticus and Numbers is the whole course of the heart searching work of God. It is the dividing of the heart; in other words, it is the setting on one side of what is not acceptable to the Lord and on the other side the gathering and securing of what is of the Lord.
The great tragedy is that only two of that great, mighty host got through and got over. Only Joshua and Caleb became the overcomers of that age: the others did not. Oh, may we not be as those who did not get through! The Lord is doing this kind of work with us, is He not? Is He doing this with you? He is doing this with me. The Lord is seeing what is in our hearts, and He is testing us by all manner of things to see where our hearts are.
You see, He brings us to the place where we can honestly say, “Lord, You’re Life for me, and I have no other life than You. But for You, I would be better put in the grave. I have no interest to stay in this life, in this world, or on this earth, if You are not in it, Lord.” God is seeking to bring a people to this place, even in spiritual things. Dr. A. B. Simpson said it this way: “Once it was the blessings, now it is the Lord.” That thought is much like the vindication of David which was, “He set the Lord always before his face.”
May the Lord grant that in us He is finding for Himself a people of the undivided heart. When He puts us to the test, may He find that we say, “All right, this can go and that can go, anything and everything can go, but Himself. If only He remains the all, then nothing else matters.” So be it.
Let us pray. We commit the Word to Thee, Lord. We commit our hearts to Thee. We commit the issue to Thee. Work on then, Lord, ’til on our hearts eternal light shall break, within Thy Presence, perfected, we satisfied shall wake.’ Help us with all the trials of the way, the testings of the way, and may we come out of every one in the triumph of the Lord. The Lord has triumphed! We ask this in the Name of Thy Son, our Lord Jesus. Amen.
Chapter 1 – The Person of the Call and the Fellowship
Chapter 2 – The People and the Purpose of the Call
Chapter 3 – The Process of the Call
Chapter 4 – The Prospect of the Call
Chapter 5 – The Peril of the Call