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THE SCHOOL OF CHRIST
By T. Austin Sparks
THE FOUNDATION OF SPIRITUAL EDUCATION
A FINAL WORD AND EXHORTATION
But then the next thing the Holy Spirit will do will be to begin to show us how it is accomplished. We are not going to start on that just now, but stay with the fact that the Holy Spirit can do nothing until these other things are settled. Oh, God is very jealous for His Son.
His Son has gone right through the fires over this matter, having accepted manform and a life of dependence, having voluntarily emptied Himself of that which meant that at any moment He could of Himself work by Deity for His own deliverance, salvation, provision, preservation; having emptied Himself of that right and said, I let go all My rights and prerogatives and powers of Deity for the time being and I accept man's position of utter dependence upon God as My Father; I meet all that man ever has to meet on man's level. *
He met it in every realm in its concentrated form and force and went through without a flaw as man for man, and went back to the throne on the merit of a complete triumph over every force that ever man has to encounter in satisfying God. Do you think that after that God is ever going to forgo His Son, and all that He wrought in man's behalf, and say, Only be at your best and that will satisfy Me?
Oh, what blindness to Christ, to God, is this Christianity that is popular today! No, there is only One in this universe concerning whom God can say from His heart "in whom I am well pleased", and that is the Lord Jesus Christ. If ever you and I are going to come into that favour, it will be as "in Christ Jesus", never in ourselves.
When that is learned, or when that part of the education has been taken up, then it is that the Holy Spirit can begin the work of conformity to the image of God's Son. Well, we have seen lessons one and two in the case of the disciples. Through the months and years, they came to see how altogether different He was from themselves, and then came to the place of despair on that very matter as the Lord intended it should be. He foresaw it all.
He could not hinder it, He could not save them, He had to allow them to go that way; and right at the end when they were making their loudest protestations about their loyalty, their faithfulness, their endurance, and what they were going to do when put to the test, He said to them all, "Do ye now believe? Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone" (John 16:31-32). And to one in particular He said, "The cock shall not crow till thou hast denied me thrice" (John 13:38).
What do you think those men felt when He was crucified, and they had all run away, and left Him alone, and the one had denied Him? Do you not think dark despair entered into their souls, not only over their lost prospects and expectations, but despair over themselves. Yes, and He had to allow it. He could take no step to prevent it; it was necessary. And you and I will go the same way if we are in the same school. It is essential. No constructive work can be done until that has got advanced within us.
Well, that sounds terrible, but that ought to be encouraging! After all, it is all constructive in a way. What is the Lord doing with me? He is preparing a way for His Son, He is clearing the ground for bringing in the fullness of Christ. That is what He is doing. He did it with them, and Pentecost and afterward was His answer to what happened on the day when He was delivered up, to all that happened with them. You say, Then He commenced His constructive work.
Yes, He did; after the Cross and Pentecost, things began to change in an inward way, and from that time you begin to see that Christ is now manifested in a growing way in these men. They may have a long way to go, but you cannot fail to see that the foundation is laid, the commencement has been made. There is a difference, and the difference is not that they are necessarily changed men so much, as that Christ is now within them transcending what they are by nature. It is not that they become so much better, but it is that Christ within becomes so much more real as a power.
That is all for the moment. Let us bow our hearts today, yield today. It is the School of Christ. I know how challenging it is, challenging to this old man who dies very hard, yields with great difficulty. All our training, teaching, perhaps has been other than this. We have come into this horrible heritage of humanism-to be the best that I can be, to be my best! Well, you must take what I am saying in the sense in which I am saying it.
No one is going to think that you can go and just be careless, slovenly, at your worst or less than your best, simply because of what I have said; but you know what I am talking about. At our best we can never pass across that gap between man and Jesus Christ. No, that gap remains, and the only way to get over is to die and to be raised from the dead; but that, for the moment, is another matter.
FOOTNOTE: * This does not mean that He emptied Himself of Deity, but of its rights for the time being.