been wondering if I could define and sum up your
conference in three words, and I think I have them: the
Word, the Work and the World. We are going to speak a
little about these, but first we will read some fragments
the Word became flesh and tabernacled among
us (John 1:14). The word
tabernacled, which is used in the margin of
the English Revised Version, is the correct translation
gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole
world for a testimony unto all the nations; and then
shall the end come (Matthew 24:14).
going to re-translate that verse into what is perhaps a
more literal and true translation:
This good news of the sovereign reign shall be
preached in the whole world to set the evidence. We
will come back to that later.
is the sum of the things for the tabernacle, even the
tabernacle of the testimony (Exodus 38:21).
1. The Word
begin with the Word, because that is the basis of
everything. Everything must be according to the Word, out
from the Word, and governed by the Word. The Work, which
comes next, is the purpose, or expression, of the Word.
Then comes the World, which is the sphere in which the
Word has to have its expression.
I should say that I am treating you as a group of
students and am not preaching to a congregation, so I am
expecting that you will follow quite closely every word
that I say, for I am weighing up my words very carefully
and there is a great deal more behind them than there
seems to be on the surface.
as the Word is concerned and I am now referring to
the Scriptures we must always look at any fragment
of Scripture in its wider context. Do remember that, when
you come to read any part, any sentence, even any single
word of the Scriptures, because it is the Word of God it
has a much wider context than the thing itself. It is not
just a word, or a sentence, or a verse, or a portion of
Scripture, in itself. It has a much greater setting, and
you will be greatly helped, and it will be of really
vital consequence, if you can see that wider context. In
other words, look for the fuller content of any part of
the Scripture, for it has much more in it than lies on
the surface. There is an inexhaustible depth in anything
that proceeds from God. Indeed, if it is true that the
Bible, the Scriptures, are God-breathed, inspired of God,
coming out of God, then they are as full as God Himself.
There is not a little mind behind that word, that
sentence, that statement or that argument. It is
Gods mind, and that mind is inexhaustible. You will
never fathom its depths, but it is there in every
try to remember that when you are reading the Word of
God. Do not just read on and on, but take it fragment by
fragment and seek to see both its wider context and its
is not just technical. I am speaking to you as one who
has been with this Word of God for over sixty years, and
I have found this to be of immense value. You see, the
Bible has been preached and taught for some two thousand
years now, but at the end of that time there is still
something new to be found in just a fragment, as far as
words are concerned. Take any one of these texts,
so-called, on which people preach. You may have heard
hundreds of messages on it, and if you are as old as I
am, you will have heard preaching on it many times in
many parts of the world, but, you know, it is never
exhausted. There is always something new and fresh about
that well-known bit of Scripture. How often we hear
someone get up and announce his text, and our reaction
is: Oh, we know that one! We have often heard
people talk about that one! but, if the person
speaking is really under the anointing, before he or she
is through we have got something quite new on that old,
well-worn bit of Scripture which we have heard so many
times before. I am enunciating something of tremendous
importance. This that comes out from God, is as big as
God Himself, and can you exhaust God? Can you really get
to the end of Gods mind? Never! Indeed, after all
our years, however many they may be, we are saying to
ourselves: Well, when I get to glory I am going to
ask for an explanation of that bit of Scripture that I
have known so well. I am going to ask Paul what he meant
by that statement, and the Lord what He meant by that
one. I know there is something more there that I have not
been able to fathom.
not labour this, but I want to stress, first of all in
relation to the Word, that its depth and its fullness are
quite inexhaustible because it comes from God, and
therefore it is as full as God Himself.
going to take an example. Our first passage was John
1:14: And the Word became flesh and tabernacled
among us. The Greek word logos is used,
so we have: And the Word, the logos, became flesh
and tabernacled among us. Let us break it up.
The Word, the personal expression of God, BECAME
flesh not always was, but BECAME,
and that is a point, a time in eternity. We do not know
when it happened exactly in the mind of God, but, of
course, we know the date in history. But there was a
juncture, a crisis, a terminal point between the
pre-existence of the Word which was God in the beginning
and His becoming flesh and tabernacled among
us. As I have already said, that is the correct
translation, for that same word is used many times in the
Scriptures. The last time is in the book of the
Revelation: The tabernacle of God is with men
begin to open out. John is writing his Gospel with a full
Jewish background, and I suggest that you get down to
that Gospel and track down carefully every allusion to
the life, history and constitution of Israel. You will
have to search very closely, but you will find that it is
all there. Where does he begin?
among us. He took up His residence in a
tent. The Greek word cannot be exactly translated
into English, for it would sound too awkward if I said:
and entented among us. You see, John is right
back with Israel in the wilderness where we read of
the tabernacle of the testimony. The
tabernacle is in Johns mind, for it is part of this
whole Jewish system which lies behind all that he is
writing. He has a lot to say about the system, and you
will find that he speaks about the manna in the
wilderness, and Jacobs well. Yes, it is all there.
has this whole Jewish life and constitution at the back
of his mind as he is writing, and he begins with the
tabernacle. In effect, what he is saying, or meaning, is
that what the tabernacle in the wilderness was long ago,
Jesus is now. He has supplanted that tabernacle. It is
dismissed and He has taken its place. The great
transition has taken place. Presently the temple will
come up in the same way with the woman of Samaria:
Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye
say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to
worship (John 4:20). Jesus said: Woman,
believe me, the hour cometh, when neither in this
mountain, nor in Jerusalem, shall ye worship the
Father. What has happened? Mount Gerizim, the
temple of the Samaritans, has been dismissed, and the
great temple in Jerusalem has been dismissed. Someone has
taken their place. Well, as I have suggested, read
through this Gospel again and mark as many of the
allusions to Israels life and history as you can.
return to the tabernacle. First of all, God commanded:
And let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell
among them (Exodus 25:8), so the object of it was:
that I may DWELL among them. This is
the same word again, although it is in Hebrew, and God
was really saying: that I may tabernacle among
look at the making of this tabernacle. It is a revelation
from heaven, and nothing whatever is left to the
inventiveness or judgment or thought or imagination of
man. The pattern is given in the Mount, and you notice
the meticulous and scrupulous exactness of God over this.
According to all that I shew thee, the pattern of
the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the furniture
thereof, even so shall ye make it (Exodus 25:9).
Nothing was left to man. Man, with all his imaginative,
emotional, intellectual capabilities, is ruled out, set
aside. He has no place in the making of this tabernacle.
God is very particular, so much so that when two of
Aarons sons made incense which was not according to
the prescription, it was called false fire.
It was not according to the prescription given by God, so
He came down and you know what happened. It meant
complete destruction, the obliteration of everything in
this connection that was not Gods thought or mind,
but was of MAN.
this very stringent jealousy of God over this tabernacle?
Because His thought does not begin and end with this
thing called the tabernacle. His thought is so much
bigger, fuller and greater than anything that can be
measured. And what is Gods thought? Nothing less
and nothing other than His own Son, Jesus Christ, and
every detail of this tabernacle in the wilderness
symbolically, and of the Person in incarnation actually,
is meticulously according to Gods mind. This is the
One who came and tabernacled. There is a detailed,
scrupulous correspondence with the mind of God, and that
was what was governing the tabernacle in the wilderness.
In Gods intention, mind and thought that tabernacle
was an expression, a representation of the Lord Jesus in
His character and nature.
is the fuller content of: The Word became flesh and
tabernacled among us. So, you see, we cannot just
go on reading the Bible on and on! We have to get this
fuller, wider context, and the far greater setting of
that is the Word, and remember that you cannot go on with
the Work until you have got that, because there is so
very much that is of mans conception, genius, idea,
imagination and activity in the things of God, but God is
not dwelling in all that. He is not there, for the very
object has been lost or missed. To put that in another
way: If God is going to come in, tabernacle, reside, be
present, everything must be according to Christ. How
meticulous Christ was Himself about that! He had His
Fathers mind, and here in John 5 you will hear Him
saying: The Son can do nothing OUT FROM himself.
That is what the Greek says, not of himself.
You see how you have to weigh every little word! What is
coming out from us? The Son can do nothing out from
himself, but what he seeth the Father doing: for what
things soever he doeth, these the Son also doeth in like
manner (verse 19). The works that I do, I do
not out from Myself. The words that I speak, I speak not
out from Myself. It is the Father that speaketh, and it
is the Father that doeth the works. He is in touch
with the ultimate thought of God in every detail. Was God
in Christ? Has history proved that God came in through
that One? Well, you have the answer to that.
is the Word, which governs and is the basis of
everything, but we must go on.
2. The Work
is the work of God? You, of course, are very concerned
about the work of God. Now, please do not quote me out of
context. You are concerned with the salvation of souls,
and that is quite right, BUT
, and when I put
a but in it means that there is a question.
You are concerned with the spreading of the Gospel. Quite
What are you concerned with?
Im sure you can make a list of answers to that
question. Why are you here at all? Why are you a
Christian? Why are you going out to the various places to
which you are going? Perhaps you would comprehend it all
in this one sentence: I am going out in the work of
the Lord. I have committed myself and my life to the work
of the Lord. Please, what do you mean? These
answers that you will give may be quite right as far as
they go, and yet this but is there, and it is
a very challenging but. It might be a very
devastating but, for it might put us right
out of our work. It might be a but that
causes the Lord to lay us aside from His work for a time.
This but may account for so many things.
is the work of the Lord, dear friends? Will you take this
to heart? Again, please do not say that I have said:
The work of the Lord is not to preach the Gospel,
and not the salvation of souls, for I have said:
Yes, it is to those. These are means, but
they are not the end. They are the means to an end. What
is the work of the Lord? What does our passage of
Word was made flesh and tabernacled among us. Why
did Jesus Christ come into the world in the flesh? To
save men? Yes. To bring men to God? Yes. To make known
the Kingdom of God? Yes. But is that all? Are those ways,
or are they the end? Again, I ask the question: What is
the work of the Lord?
work of the Lord is to bring God into His place in this
world. That is all. In your being where you are, in your
being a Christian and a servant of the Lord, in your
preaching the Gospel or in your doing any of these things
which make up the sum of your work, the challenge, the
test is this: Is God present? When we meet one another,
do we meet the Lord, or do we meet an enterprise, an
undertaking, a piece of work, an organisation, or a lot
of people interested in a THING? Is the presence
and the impact of our life the impact of God upon a
come to our passage in Matthew 24: This good news
of the sovereign reign shall be proclaimed in every
nation in order to SET THE EVIDENCE.
In the Greek, the word is testimony, or
witness, and you know what a witness is
one who has a testimony. In no court of law
anywhere will the judge allow you to say: Now, I HEARD
this. I WAS TOLD that. I BELIEVE that
it was so and so. I READ it. To that the
judge will say: My dear man, I do not want to hear
what you heard, what you think, what you believe or what
you read. I want first-hand evidence. Reading and hearing
is second-hand and I do not accept that as
evidence. Do you not think that this is challenging
where our witness, our testimony is concerned? The fact
that you are in a situation is evidence of what?
This good news of the sovereign reign proclaimed in
all the nations to set the evidence and of
what is the evidence? That this earth is Gods by
right. This earth, and this patch upon which both
my feet stand, is Gods, and not the devils,
nor mans. It is Gods by right of creation and
by right of redemption. If you take that position
you have God on your side.
has been the battle all the way through. It began when
Abel took the position with an altar, testifying that
this earth is the Lords by right, not only of
creation (Cain got as far as that!), but of redemption,
by right of precious blood. And the devil came out and
slew him and yet, did he? He being dead yet
speaketh (Hebrews 11:4).
come to Noah. By this time the whole creation has been
wiped out, except for those few in the ark. Then they
came out, emerging from judgment, death and destruction,
and the first thing that Noah did was to build an altar
upon the regenerated, renewed earth. In so doing, he
said: The earth is the Lords. Men had
robbed God of His place. The imagination of every heart
was evil and men would not have God in their thoughts, so
He said: That is not what I created the world for.
I created it for Myself, for MY dwelling and
tabernacling. So Noah put up an altar and there the
Lords rights were recognised.
went up and down the land, and wherever he put his feet
he built an altar, and in so doing he was saying:
This belongs to God. His rights of creation and
redemption are represented here.
think of Moses. Israel came out to be constituted a
nation by way of an altar, which was constructed on the
threshold of every dwelling, for that was where the lamb
was slain. From the basin which caught the blood of the
lamb on the threshold a circle was made, which meant that
that home and that family were encircled with blood, and
out through that circle of blood they emerged as
Gods nation. It was by way of an altar. They may
not have understood all this, but the meaning was:
We are the LORD'S! We are redeemed by
precious blood. The Lords rights are recognised and
acknowledged by our very existence, for all the
first-born of the Egyptians have died. Our survival is on
the ground of redeeming blood, for we are the
on through the Old Testament, and all these altars were
leading up to the great altar of the Cross which
included, comprehended them all with one inclusive,
comprehensive meaning. What was the battle of Calvary?
Well, you can say many things about it atonement
for our sins, and so on but all that is included
in one thing: the rights of God in this world were being
fought out in the Cross. You are not surprised, then,
that when that battle has been fought, the cosmic forces
against God having His place have been stripped off and
the battle of Gods rights has been settled by
redeeming blood, the next great event in the history of
this world is that heaven opened and down came the Holy
Spirit to tabernacle in the church, the new tabernacle of
God, the corporate Body of Christ. God is here, and now
the work of God is to set the evidence, that is, to bring
the Lord into His place.
you can do no more than stand. Many of the Lords
servants have been able to do nothing more than just
stand where the Lord put them, withstand, and
having done all, to stand. Sometimes they are not
able to preach, not able to do what they call the work of
the Lord. Let us get that straightened out, for sometimes
to be unmovable and stand for Gods rights in a
place is the greatest service that we can do for the
this ought to revolutionise our idea of the Lords
work! What is it? Much more ought to be said, but it is
simply bringing the Lord in where we are.
expect you have principles that you have been enunciating
in this conference and at other times, but this is one
upon which I want to put an emphasis. The principle of
this work of God is a corporate principle, and no one
worker ought to be left alone. The minimum requisite of
the New Testament in the work of God is two. Be careful
about isolating yourself, detaching yourself. The devil
will make a mess of you and the testimony if he can get
you isolated. This standing together is a representation
of the principle of the Body of Christ, and Paul said
that the body is not just one member. Always watch this
corporate principle, because sometimes, if we have not
got another alongside to stand with us, we will go under.
We need one another to stand together.
is devastating and challenging. It says to me
continually: Does it work out that the result of
your being here, as a Christian, as a so-called servant
of God, is more of the Lord? Because you have come this
way, because you have been here, does it mean that there
is more of the Lord? Oh, how much we can be taken
up with what we call the work, and the Lord is expressed
so little! That is why I said that the Lord Jesus was so
meticulous and scrupulous in seeing that everything was
according to the mind of God. Take that to heart!
3. The World
testimony of God and His sovereign rights which is
only another way of speaking of the Kingdom are to
be planted in every nation. It is not that every nation
is to be saved in its entirety in this dispensation, but
the testimony is there to set the evidence in all the
of course, will open the door for a lot more to be said
and my time has gone! But why was that tabernacle
in the wilderness right at the centre of a nation? What
was it for? And if you look at the terrible tragedy of
Israel, why were they set aside, why have there been
these two thousand years in which they have been in what
the New Testament calls the outer darkness?
It was because their testimony in the nations broke down.
They were raised up, constituted and governed by God and
by heaven in order that in the nations it should be known
that God has the rights in this world, by creation and
redemption. Israels presence was meant to be, in
effect, the presencing of God. So, when the purpose is
lost the thing is dismissed. God will have no more use
for an enterprise when its purpose is lost and He will
dismiss it. And the purpose is the bringing in of Christ.
That was the history of Israel, and it is the history of
many things in which the Lord manifested Himself, but
which eventually lost the purpose of their existence.
They went out on other lines and other things, and have
been dismissed by God, like the tent in Shiloh, which
became an empty shell, and like the temple in Jerusalem,
wrecked and ruined, and dismissed from Gods
purpose, for its object was lost.
we pray: Lord, dont let that happen to me!
Dont let the thing for which You have brought me to
Yourself lose its purpose and I no longer bring You in.
Does my presence mean Your presence? Let us pray
like that, for there must be the impact of God.
is the Word, that is the Work, and that is what we are in
the World for. You are going to be scattered among the
nations, and what are you going to do? You will preach;
yes, it has to be proclaimed. You will labour, you will
suffer and you will be very busy, I am sure, but remember
this: There must be that life in secret with God which
means that when you come out from the sanctuary, the
secret place with God, the presence of God is with you
and registering just where you are, and if men are
insensitive, the devil wont be! He knows where the
Lord is. He is the arch-enemy of God and of God having a
foothold in this world. He is the prince of this world
and is not going to tolerate any interference with his
kingdom without a fight.
bringing the Lord in has been a battle all the way
through, but this is the work of the Lord, and this is
what we are here for.
message given to young Christians in October 1970)
From A Witness and a Testimony Magazine, Sep-Oct 1971, Vol. 49-5