death, discerning the spirits, eternal life, exhortation, experience, following Jesus, freedom, head knowledge, heart knowledge, Jesus Christ, life, revelation, spiritual blessings, T.A. Sparks, The Holy Spirit, true faith, unbelief
This time I want to be rather silent and offer you an interpretation of Isaiah, chapter 53, verses 1-12, by T. Austin-Sparks. I guess most of us are familiar with this chapter that describes the suffering Messiah. But have we ever pondered on the possibility that we might reject our Savior Jesus Christ, not as the One who has died for our sins, but as the One who has revealed Himself to us personally because He wanted to lead us further into the truth… than we were willing to accept?
I know what I am presenting here on my blog is not easily digestible, most of the time it is challenging at least. But just imagine, dear reader, if your and my lifetime on this earth will be shorter than we might have expected, what will we do in the end when we cannot change our lives anymore? Will we regret profoundly for not having listened to God’s subtle voice earlier? Dear brothers and sisters, our Lord is so rich in His mercy. He wants to share ALL His spiritual blessings with you and me! What He really has in store, no human being apart from a revelation through the Spirit of God could ever imagine, like apostle Paul said,
“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”—these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.” (1 Cor 2:9-10 ESV)
This revelation does not come through our intellect nor through our feelings. Neither can our will power take hold of such things as this unseen reality is exclusively spiritual. Although my life has not been an easy one, either, I feel that God wants to bring everyone of us onto a higher elevation than we might find ourselves on today. There will be a continous progress since “[o]f the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end” (Is 9:7 ESV). I have also come to see that God in Christ wants to give us a heavenly perspective of this life which is not easily touched by worldly concerns any more. If we have tasted this freedom already, we might realize that Christ is all worth it (i.e., our losses, our sicknesses, and all this death around us) because HE IS THE LIFE, even LIFE ETERNAL.
“And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” (Jn 17:3 ESV)
Basically, I did not want to write anything on my own, but it appears, it has happened again. 😉 Eventually, here is T. Austin-Sparks with his interpretation of Isaiah 53.
“Do you notice that it is all in the past tense, or most of it is in the past tense? It is looking back upon something. And yet all this was written many years before it happened, but it is a retrospective point of view from which it is written, and it is a tremendously impressive thing when you recognise that the Spirit of God is causing a man to write from the standpoint of something having been effected. It is not the prophet who is saying this. Do not forget that. While the prophet writes this, it is not the prophet who is saying this. Isaiah is simply the inspired instrument of the Holy Spirit to write down things which in the mind of the Holy Spirit are being said to a people at some future date.
“It is not the prophet saying: “Who hath believed our message?” [emphasis added] It is a people many years later looking back over their unutterable folly, seeing their unspeakable madness, and they are saying this: “Who has believed that which we have heard? It is not ‘our report’ in that sense, something we have given out. We heard something, and who believed it among us? Who of us believed what we heard; the report that was given to us concerning Him?” The inclusive answer to the enquiry is: “We did not believe what we heard, and because we did not believe what we heard, all the rest followed: ‘He was despised and rejected of men’ and so on, because we did not believe.”
“Oh, I want to throw that from the commencement of this chapter right on to the issue. Beloved, that is a tremendous challenge to our hearts in some other particular direction. If it is not in the specific direction in the atoning work of our Lord Jesus, it may apply in some other respect to us. We have heard something about Him, there was a report which came to us concerning Him and we did not believe it. Throw that right on to the Lord’s issue. Here is “very high”, “exalted”, and about Him things were said under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in our time, and we did not believe. What might be the awful issue of that for us?
“The Lord is constantly breaking open the content of His Son to His own people. He is constantly bringing forth the treasures of Christ, constantly bringing out of His treasure, like the householder, things new and old, all concerning His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. He is bringing to us ever-fresh fulnesses of Christ in revelation and in truth.
“What are we doing with it? Have we believed in that active way of faith which apprehends, lays hold? Beloved, every bit that the Holy Spirit gives concerning the Lord Jesus will be proved at last to be true. The thing is, shall we be in it? For it is all for us. There is not a glory, a moral excellency and splendour of the Lord Jesus that is not for us to share, but it calls for faith’s apprehension, faith’s action. Oh, what a lot we hear, what a lot comes to us as the Lord’s people. How many-sided is the revelation of Christ. How true it is, He is the manifold, the many-sided Wisdom of God, and we are constantly seeing Him from some new angle which means seeing some fresh facet of this glorious Gem. But it is not good enough for us to come together and see, not good enough for us to have it presented to us, to be told about it.
“Where are we in the light of all this?” […] But oh, that we might be in the place where all this truth, this report of Him that we have received should have faith’s outworking in our own lives. That whenever there is brought to us some fresh unveiling of Him from any one of the ten thousand angles of His full and glorious Person and work, that ours may be the attitude which shall not call for future penitence, whether that penitence means salvation at long last or whether it is penitence too late, that we shall not have shame in that day, but that we shall now respond in a true heart-exercise in faith’s apprehension, appropriation, entering into every bit of the truth concerning God’s Son.
“I say again, this is a challenging word. Where are we now? The Lord save us from all self-deception, all self-sufficiency, all self-excusing of hearts, and rebellion of heart, all prejudice and stubbornness, everything like that, and give us grace to humbly get down now in penitence and say: “Yes, I have heard much, I know much, the report has come to me of Him in a very full way, but I am far from the value of that truth.” Let us be penitent now. Oh beloved, not one of us can stand outside of that. The speaker stands in that as much as anyone else. We know so much, but so little active, energetic faith has been exercised in relation to what we know to make that ours.
“The Lord in His grace and mercy give us a due exercise of heart, but bring us in our lives and experience abreast of our knowledge, that our knowledge in the great day of the unveiling of Him may not be ahead of our character. The Lord bring us to the full measure of Christ.” (1)
“In keeping with T. Austin-Sparks’ wishes that what was freely received should be freely given and not sold for profit, and that his messages be reproduced word for word, we ask if you choose to share these messages with others, to please respect his wishes and offer them freely – free of any changes, free of any charge (except necessary distribution costs) and with this statment included.”
All pictures by Susanne Schuberth 2022
Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me
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Susanne Schuberth (Germany) said:
Very good input, Gilbert. That fits, indeed. Thank you for sharing this Scripture!
Wow! Once again Susanne, you have hit the nail on the head. What a message to the saints of God so apt for today! Yes, this prophesy of Isaiah is timeless where God is saying, “Who has heard our report?” Who is taking the time to listen to the voice of the Spirit? We are driven by necessity it seems and not by obeying His voice. Satan has unleashed a great storm of distractions upon us all so that we will not take the time to hear God’s voice and obey Him. As Amos prophesied, “There is a famine in the land, not of bread of a thirst for water, but of HEARING THE VOICE OF THE LORD.”
My wife and I now live in what has been known as “The Bible Belt,” and there are free Bibles in every thrift store and library. You can’t drive for more than a mile or two without seeing a church building (9/10 are Bible preaching Baptist churches) and sometimes five or more in a mile in the more populated areas. Yet, how many people know the difference between reading the Bible or listening to a sermon and HEARING His still small voice saying, “Look neither to the left nor the right, but you will hear a voice behind you saying, ‘This is the way of the Lord, walk ye in it!” Just because we are religious does not mean that we are practicing hearing and obeying His voice moment by moment.
While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.” When Jesus had said these things, he departed and hid himself from them. Though he had done so many signs before them, they still did not believe in him, so that the word spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: “Lord, who has believed what he heard from us, and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” Therefore they could not believe. For again Isaiah said, “He has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart, lest they see with their eyes, and understand with their heart, and turn, and I would heal them.” Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory and spoke of him. Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God. (John 12:36-43, ESV2011)
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Susanne Schuberth (Germany) said:
Thank you so much for your encouraging words, Michael. 🙂
Yes, hearing with the ear and listening with the heart (unto belief) are two different things. We might gather a lot of Bible knowledge, doctrine, religious history, and book knowledge by famous Christian authors, yet that does not mean that we know God intimately as well. As long as we depend on other human beings in order to get to know God in Christ, there appears to be something wrong. That does not mean that we do not need one another in the Body of Christ, i.e., for encouragement, edification, exhortation, correction, and for building one another up – in His love – until we all reach the full stature (maturity) of Christ. Yet we need to get to know God directly, personally, not at second hand through the report of others alone.
Basically, the gospel is so simple that every child could follow. “Just believe in Jesus Christ unto salvation and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit Who will be given you.” Is that complicated? 🙄 I guess no. However, I am afraid that the pride to ‘know’ more about God than others, the pride to have better doctrine than other denominations, and the pride of (religious) life, i.e., to be seen as a zealous believer like those Jesus spoke of keeps us from leaving the earthly realm (spiritually speaking) to follow His upward call into the heavenlies which stands for our being set free, eventually. Jesus said,
“Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes and like greetings in the marketplaces and have the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, who devour widows’ houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.” (Mk 12:38-40 ESV)
This long quote from the gospel of John has been very enlightening, my brother. Thank you!
As for the Bible Belt, I just wondered whether it is possible for us to have countless Bibles at home and even numerous Scriptures in the mind. But as long as the Word of God has not been written on our hearts, we will neither be able nor willing to ever follow His commandments.
“For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” (Jer 31:33-34 ESV)
And even when God has written His law on our heart so that we follow His guidance, we cannot take pride on that account, either, “…for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” (Phil 2:13 ESV) 🙂
“Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.” (Jer 9:23-24 ESV)
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You have all expressed very good thoughts here.
As Romans 12 reads, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
Before we can know what God desires for us, we need to surrender, to decide that Jesus will rule, not us, and that we want His thoughts, not ours. And this is a moment by moment decision. If we will continue to desire to be led by the Spirit of God, indeed He will show us what is good and acceptable and perfect according to His standards, not man’s traditions or interpretations of Scripture.
I love how Proverbs expresses the difference between the voice of Wisdom (Jesus) and the seductive voice of the adulteress (Satan). If only we will listen, amidst the busy noises of the street, we will indeed hear God’s leading. But if we’re carnal, it doesn’t take much to distract us into following other voices, and it doesn’t have to be scandalous sin. The religious spirit is as much a betrayal of the pure devotion of the Beloved as open sin, as the story of the prodigal son shows. We can be in the house of the Father, technically speaking, but very far from His heart, as the oldest brother.
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Susanne Schuberth (Germany) said:
Excellent contribution, dear Carina! 🌟🕊️🌈 Thank you!! 😇👍🏼
May God keep you and bless you! 🙏🏼💓
In Christ’s love,
Your German sister,
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