Keep Up The Song Of Faith in A Witness & A Testimony
What follows are a hymn and Bible exposition that appeared in the August 1926 edition of T. Austin-Sparks ’ magazine, A Witness & A Testimony
Keep Up The Song of Faith
Keep up the song of faith,
However dark the night;
And as you praise, the Lord will work,
To turn your faith to sight.
Keep up the song of faith,
And let you heart be strong,
For God delighted when faith can praise,
Though dark the night and long.
Keep up the song of faith
The foe will hear and flee;
Oh, let not Satan hush your song,
For praise is victory.
Keep up the song of faith,
The dawn will break ere long,
And we shall go to meet the Lord
And join the endless song.
In studying Acts 27 I have been noticing how those 276 souls came to the place where “all hope was taken away” before God stepped in. This is often His way. Jesus waits till the fourth watch of the night before He comes to us walking on the sea. If God should thus test our faith, let us glorify His Name, and we too shall see His wonders in the deep.
Let us not be afraid of being kept waiting till all hope has fled. God will glorify His Name at the last moment; only God can afford to wait until the last moment. Then see v. 24, it was only a promise even then. So with us; we are in some deep test, and no deliverance comes, but the Lord sweetly whispers some promise to our tried hearts, and in that strength we go.
Then v.22, the man who is living on the Word of the living God, can save others—276 persons were saved because Paul believed God; compare Luke 1:45.
Can we believe the word of the Lord in the face of a storm and a sinking ship?
Having a promise, we can wait for its fulfilment. Paul waited until the fourteenth night. Deliverance did not immediately come, but Paul held on to the word which God had given him. Notice vv. 31, 32; Satan used these sailors to try and frustrate the word of the Lord, but Paul was on the alert, and God used him to defeat Satan’s purpose. Let us earn that, although God has given us a word to stand on, and we are trusting Him, we must not go to sleep and get careless. We must stand with God to get His word fulfilled. Had Paul not seen the plot, could the promise have been fulfilled, v. 31?
Notice also v. 42. Satan seeks this time to use the soldiers to frustrate the word of the Lord. In such a case as this, when the promise is at stake, God will see to it, that His word is fulfilled, and our part must be to trust that it shall be “even as it was told me.” God worked in the heart of the centurion to desire to save Paul. God is able, under all circumstances to keep His word, in spite of all opposing forces, and without our help. Let us trust, however dark things seem, and keep up the song of faith, “I believe God, that it shall be, even as it was told me” and the thing impossible shall be done.
The Lord give us like precious faith for His glory.
Margaret E. Barber
The above appears in the August 1926 edition of T. Austin-Sparks ’ magazine A Witness & A Testimony . It is included without any introduction or explanation. We are not even told if it is the whole of the letter. We do not know much about their contact, when Miss Barber met Sparks or the Fellowship at Honor Oak , or if she wrote other letters to him. Was this a personal letter of which only an excerpt was shared in the magazine? Did she make a habit of sharing her thoughts on the Bible with him? Or was she sharing it with a view that it could be published and be food to other hungry saints around the globe? All are interesting options to consider.
If it was an excerpt of a more personal letter, then perhaps she was sharing with the Fellowship at Honor Oak the details of the Lord’s work in Fuzhou. By 1926, Nee and others were very manifested gifts to the Lord’s work there and she likely would have mentioned them as she did in her letter to Panton. This would example their spiritual fellowship and her desire for saints in England to protect the Lord’s work in Fuzhou through prayer.
It is also possible that she shared this exposition with Austin-Sparks without much more discussion of the work. This would be in line with the high value that both Miss Barber and Austin-Sparks had regarding being in the Bible as the source of Life, a guide for the work, and the primary avenue to know Christ. This interest in the Word can look irrelevant to the challenges of life, and those so focused on it can sometimes be misunderstood as being detached from the world around them. However, on the contrary, history teaches us that those who have stood for the Lord’s interest and fought genuine spiritual fights had a single-minded and voracious appetite for the Bible. In this scenario, this letter would have needed little explanation and it appears to have been clearly well received by Austin-Sparks.
The third option I find the least likely is that she sent the letter with a view that it would be published. While it is valuable to realize that the hard-wrought ministry in Miss Barber’s life could cut a channel to other saints around the world, it is curious to me that there are not other articles from her in other editions of the magazine. It seems that either she did not send him more letters of this kind, or Austin-Sparks did not feel to include other letters and fellowship in later publications. It is possible that, after this first publication, Barber perhaps could send more letters hoping they would be published; but, as this letter is the first and only inclusion, I find it unlikely she would send this unilaterally hoping it would be placed in the periodical.
So then, this is a rich exposition paired with a precious poem which may have been sent simply out of a desire for fellowship and mutual encouragement among believers spiritually joined in testimony.
Source: A Witness & A Testimony Edition: August 1926 Weblink: AWAT1926.pdf (austin-sparks.net) Page: 76