austin sparks, book ministry, christian ministry, daily devotional

December 7

7 DEC – Learning Christ

It may startle you if I say that we can only know the sufficiency of our Lord Jesus Christ if we are willing to go into the wilderness.

Now, the wilderness has always been the best place for spiritual education. You may think that there is not much to be learnt in a wilderness. Nevertheless it is so; it is the best place to learn heavenly things. It was so with Abraham; it was so in the case of Moses; it was true with Israel. The wilderness had also a definite place in the life of Paul. Whether we take it in a literal or a spiritual way, the fact is that God’s people were, again and again, sent into the wilderness. Many of us know what such a ‘wilderness’ means.

When God puts His hand upon a people, He always cuts them off from everything which is not of Himself; that is, He cuts them off from the whole realm of their natural life, and puts them, so to speak, outside of the world of nature. We see this in the case of the people of Israel. Pharaoh was allowing them to go into the desert; he wanted them to serve God in a half-hearted way: partly in Egypt and partly in the land. But that could never serve God. God’s irreducible minimum was: not a hoof was to be left behind. God’s people should be absolutely separated from Egypt. Therefore the Red Sea came between His people and the Egyptians. God saw to it that they remained in the wilderness until they had learnt their lesson. God had some great lessons to teach them there. Israel’s sojourn in the wilderness had to serve coming generations as an example. The dispensation of the church — yet far away in the future — was to derive its instruction from them. In the wilderness God laid down eternal principles. The things which happened to Israel “were our examples”.

God cuts His people off from the whole realm of nature. You know how little the natural man prevails in the wilderness. It doesn’t matter how intellectual, how mighty the natural resources are. It is not of much use in a wilderness. You may be an excellent student, a splendid businessman or organizer, yet all this is not much good in a wilderness. For a man who is planted down alone in the middle of a wilderness, his own cleverness is not of much avail, his natural capacities will not bring him very far.

So you see what matters. When God gets us into His hand, He takes us right out of the realm of what we are by nature. That is the meaning of the wilderness. God’s object is to make Christ everything. So long as we can do things, so long as we have resources in ourselves, we cannot know Jesus Christ. Christ will remain an unexplored realm for us.

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