T. Austin-Sparks was a pastor and evangelist from the early/mid 1900s who had a deep passion for the life of God. To him, everything was about the centrality and preeminence of Jesus Christ.
In John 15:4, Jesus declares: “Abide (Remain) in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me” (ESV).
In this short article, taken from the end of T. Austin-Sparks’ second chapter of his book The Line of Christ, we are told how to discover God’s guidance—only through abiding, remaining, in Christ and staying “on the line.”
Well, this is a governing matter in the Christian life. It is the thing which governs the very purpose and meaning of our being the Lord’s people. He has chosen us from the foundation of the world in Christ. He has selected One in whom we shall find Him, and in whom alone we shall find Him. All the forces of hell will be at work, in the first place, to keep us out of Christ. They rage to prevent people coming into Christ, and when once they have come in, these forces are unceasing and relentless in their efforts to get them off the ground of Christ, on to things, possibly, or on to any other ground. There is an immense meaning in Christ’s word: “Abide in me… except ye abide in me…” (John 15:4). It is a warning, governing word. Where and how shall we find the Lord? Only on the line of Christ, where Christ’s interests are the object of our being here, where it is true “For me to live is Christ” (Philippians 1:21). You find the Lord there. Get off that ground, be driven off, be allured off, and you lose the Lord. It is there, on that ground, that the explanation of the Christian life is found. It is on that line that the very purpose for which we are created will have its out-working. It is on that line that we shall find divine guidance.
This Divine law of God’s way has many practical applications in the life of the Christian. How many spiritual tragedies we have known brought about by human selectiveness apart from the first and supreme interest of Christ. It might be the choice of residence, location, for instance, for reasons of convenience, pleasure, escape, or seeming necessity, as in the case of Abraham to which we have referred. No less a question than having the Lord with us is bound up with such choices and decisions. We cannot move off the Lord’s ground without the consequence of spiritual disaster. How costly it was in the case of Elimelech!
If Christ is the Way, the Directive; then He is the Example. How meticulously careful He was not to move, or be moved, by any consideration but the directive of the Father!
Many motives were put to Him for action and movement, but He abided in the Father, and, often at great cost, refused other considerations.
We must seek to know that we are where we are because God has put us there in the interests of His Son, and then it must be God who just as definitely moves us when the time to move has come.