[Quote] I wonder very often if the fact that our tremendous knowledge about Christ, our tremendous doctrinal apprehension, failing to lead us into triumphant joy, failing to result in something of this contagious spirit of triumph that was about Paul, does not imply that it is something which is not Christ personally with which we are occupied and taken up. We are getting to know Christ purely by a book knowledge, and a Conference knowledge, an address knowledge, an historic knowledge; that really, apart from our Conferences, our books, our studies, our addresses, and all these things; in the secret place, in the secret history back of it all, we are not living on Christ Himself, and out from Christ, and knowing Christ. So much of our Christian life is a matter of teaching, of things about Him.
We recognize the simplicity of that word, but we are quite sure that you understand what we mean, because you have known a very great deal about Christ in doctrine, and then you have discovered something of the Lord Himself, and you have discovered the tremendous difference. There is nothing more uplifting than to come into a personal experience of the Lord, a knowledge of the Lord, in a living way, to have Christ ministered to your heart by the Holy Spirit. Then you discover that there is something there which is more than all your suffering, and which makes suffering worthwhile, and which robs suffering of its deadly sting. It is Christ. Paul lived on Christ: “For me to live is Christ.” Now, what might have been put afterward? For me to live is to be able to go to meetings! For me to live is to be able to have fellowship with other believers! If I am cut off from them I cannot live! If I cannot go to the meetings I cannot live! You can put in anything else: For me to live is to have encouragement in the work, to see results for my labors! You can cover a great deal of ground, if you are going to cover the ground of our demands in order to be triumphant. But Paul looked out, and he saw his work being injured, damaged, outwardly destroyed, his old friends being alienated and led to doubt and suspect him. Oh, he saw enough to take the heart out of any man at the end of such a life, but he did not say: “for me to live is to see my life work standing as a monument, intact; to have all my old friends faithful and around me; to know that my message has had universal acceptance and appreciation!” No! “For me to live is (when all these things, and many others, have gone) Christ!”
By T. Austin-Sparks from: The Excellency of the Knowledge of Jesus Christ – Chapter 2 [End Quote]
One of the saddest things I see happening, is when we become so ensnared by all of our ‘things about’ God, to the exclusion of manifesting the ‘Life of God’ in our own lives, and we don’t even know it. Our vision gets skewed, we become fixated on one aspect to the exclusion of all else, and are deceived by our own perception. I am coming to believe that ALL of the doctrines of men are an abomination in the eyes of God. We can have the noblest of intentions, and still be deceived. We have to be deceived in order to say it is because of our love ‘for the brethren’ or our love for ‘God and His truth,’ that we can think we are being ‘led’ to shun, criticize and attack others. I have been as guilty of this as anyone. We cannot ‘clean up our act,’ or ‘keep it together,’ in our own strength, or from our own understanding. As Bro. Sparks brings out, there are so many things that can occupy us, that basically are ‘our demands in order to be triumphant.’ Well, doesn’t it stand to reason, that if our focus is on ‘our demands,’ we are failing to see ‘God’s demands?’ Didn’t He basically say, “love them no matter what?” “Be kind to them no matter how hatefully they treat you?” “Don’t return evil for evil?” Yet there is that thing in us that wants to be applauded, recognized, appreciated… it is impossible for our natural man to rejoice over perceived destruction of all of our hard work. Then we realize, it was never ours to begin with… we ourselves are HIS workmanship. HE alone is molding and shaping us into what HE would have us become. All these ‘things’ will pass away. May we come to that relationship place where we too can say, “For me to live is Christ.” Amen.