The threshing instrument is at work and it is being found out whether they have got the real thing, or whether it's only a profession - it is at work.
The day has already begun when this very thing is coming to the whole of the professing church. Let there be no mistake about it.
It asks, or confronts with the question: What are you? What have you? And then as it proceeds with its work, it separates; it separates, it discriminates.
You see what it is doing? There is the chaff. There are the husks; there is that which is apparent, on the outside; there is that covering - there it is!
And the sharp threshing instrument gets to work to separate between what is merely and only external, outward, and that which is truly inward - the grain - to separate them. Yes, it's a great discriminating ministry.
Another prophet, the prophet Jeremiah, whose life and ministry had so much to do with the false, the false in Israel, asked the question in the Name of the Lord, of the people.
His question was: "What is the chaff to the wheat, saith the Lord of hosts? What is the chaff to the wheat? saith the Lord of hosts".
Chaff, chaff! That which is so light, so flimsy, so superficial, and can be so easily carried away by any draft that blows - it goes with the wind; the light stuff.
Oh, I am not trying to make up something this afternoon. Anyone who has any concern about the state of things today, will feel a poignancy, a pain, over the superficiality, the lightness, the frivolousness, of a great deal of Christianity.
Indeed, indeed, it seems that some people have laid themselves out to make it so; turned Christianity into having a good time, and the best of both worlds!
All their attractions are - "Come and have a good time!" And when you look into it to see what it is, it is all so light, so frivolous, so superficial.
There's a lot of that today. I'm not exaggerating, and God knows how I hate anything like unnecessary criticism, but the spirit of a prophet (I don't claim to be a prophet) but the spirit of a prophet demands that the ministry of the sharp threshing instrument shall come alongside of every other kind of ministry, to first challenge, and then to discriminate, to separate between what is true and what is false.
The chaff may be a deception - it may be a deception.
You may go to the wheat-field where it's all growing, standing up, and take hold of an ear and when you press it, you find nothing in it - husks! It's empty! It's a lie! It's a deception.
Do you think God is going to be ministered to by that sort of thing? Just an outward deception?
No, the sharp threshing instrument... a ministry of such character will always find out whether the thing is true or false.
It's a very necessary thing. It's necessary for it to be done in you and in me - finding out whether there's any deception about our position, any lie in our position - how far it is true.
And I say again, God needs a ministry that will do this, that will, by His mercy, make those who are in a false position realize how false their position is, and seek for reality.
Chaff! Would you like to feed on chaff? How much satisfaction and growth would you find in a diet of chaff?
And is it not true that there's very, very much today in ministry, in Christian life, on which Christians are feeding, that brings no satisfaction - it's empty.
It is not ministering to their spiritual building up, and strength, and constitution. It's not doing that!
There's far, far too many Christians who are in spiritual debility, because of the lack of solid food - real food - bread corn.
How necessary it is. The Lord must have a ministry that finds out, and discriminates between that which is only chaff, and never, never does build up, and that which ministers to spiritual stature, and full growth.
If we take the Great Servant, the Lord Jesus, that One who did satisfy God, with all the other aspects of His ministry - how true these things were of Him.
How challenging He was to the situation in His day! Oh, it was not possible for Him to be anywhere without the state of things being exposed.
It was a vital part of His servanthood to challenge, to challenge! And how thoroughly He did it.
Yes, in that respect He was a sharp threshing instrument, having teeth. And how true again it was of Him, that He was all the time discriminating, setting things in their place: this is the truth, and that is the falsehood.
This morning we referred to the Vine - Israel, as God's vine.
And we read from Isaiah, chapter 5, how the vine had disappointed the Husbandman.
Then Jesus came in. And we have to put a circle around one word: "I am the true vine" - the true Vine. "This is but a tradition; this is but a profession; this is an empty thing - a pretense. I am the true Vine, I am the Truth".
His presence, as well as His ministry, had that effect of dividing between the false and the true.
~T. Austin Sparks~