A Great Criterion at the Judgment Seat

Is it from God or is it from man?

This is the question Jesus asked the chief priests, the scribes and the elders about the ministry of John the Baptist. “I will ask you one question, and you answer Me ... Was the baptism of John from heaven or from men? Answer Me.” (Mk. 11:29-30).

This is the same question Jesus asks us about any ministry we would do for the Lord. All of our service will undergo this evaluation at the Judgment Seat of Christ (1 Cor. 3:10-15).

Brother T. Austin-Sparks makes these important comments:

God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him. (Colossians 1:19 NIV)

The next thing I am going to say may be difficult to accept, just as it is difficult to say, and yet faithfulness demands that things like this should be said. There is going to be a tremendous surprise one day over this matter. There is a tremendous amount of energy, and activity, and machinery, and zeal and devotion in the work of the Lord, in the service of the Lord, which seems to be producing something quite big, and carrying on something quite extensive. It is not for us to judge, but it is for us to lay down laws and recognize those laws, or, rather, recognize laws that are laid down by God. When eventually all work, all service, all activity, is weighed in the balances, which will determine what abides forever or passes away forever, all that which was merely human energy for God will go; all that which was merely man's enterprise for the Lord will go; all that which was in any way out from man himself, even though in devotion to God, will go. Only that which was the energy of Christ, the wisdom of Christ, the power of Christ, will remain. God is not using your energies and my energies. He is calling upon us to use the energies of Christ. God cannot set His seal upon anything that is of man.

God's seal only rests upon that which is of His Son, and we must not say that because a thing is big, extensive, and seems to be a great work for God, that it necessarily is such. What we have got to be quite sure about is that that thing is not being carried on by the momentum of man, or the momentum of organization, the momentum of machinery, the momentum of human zeal and energy for God, nor by the momentum of a program, but that it is being energized by the Holy Ghost, that it is Christ Himself who is the Life and the power of that thing. In so far as human personalities, energies and all that kind of thing are the mainspring, we may be sure that in the end there is going to be a good deal that goes. That can be seen as you look back over the history of things which claimed to represent God. The object of saying this is not for one moment to cast a cloud of suspicion or doubt over anything, but it is to emphasize this truth, this basic truth. It is along the line of jealousy for Christ. Nothing will remain in this universe eventually but what is Christ, and we must recognize that everything for God's ultimate purpose is bound up with and in Christ, and it IS Christ.

Theodore Austin-Sparks (1888 - 1971)

T. Austin-Sparks (aka TAS) was born in London but spent most of his youth in Scotland, where he was converted at age 17. He was ordained a Baptist minister at the age of 24, afterwards leading three congregations in London. From 1923-26 he was associated with the ministry of Jesse Penn-Lewis. In 1926, he left his Baptist affiliation and helped lead the Honor Oak Christian Fellowship Centre, which was a Christian training and conference center. A periodical was produced by Sparks from Honor Oak until 1971. TAS spoke at many conferences worldwide and produced numerous books and booklets.