"A Candlestick of Pure Gold: of Beaten Work" Exodus 25:31

"The Testimony of Jesus"
Revelation 1:9

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July -- August, 1968 Vol. 46, No. 4



FROM time to time in the course of the years we have had, with regret, to tell of the home-call of friends and fellow-workers who have been our partners in this ministry. A third such one in recent times is our beloved sister, Madame Ducommun. We first met her when we used to go to Paris to minister in conferences of the 'White Russian' refugees. A link of fellowship was then formed which has borne much fruit. Our sister had made it her main ministry to translate the printed ministry into French, and these translations have gone from her little room in Paris, not only all over France, but to many other French-speaking areas. A number of friends have met regularly in her room every week for prayer. She has truly been a 'Mother in Israel' to them and to others. We shall miss her at our conferences in Switzerland.

This is one of whom it can be truly said: 'Her works do follow her.' Will you pray for those who will miss her most in Paris, and that guidance may be given as to the carrying on of that ministry.

Madame Ducommun passed into the presence of the Lord quite peacefully on Sunday, May 26th.

(See note on literature at foot of page 92. [There is no such note in my copy.])



Reading: 2 Chronicles 6; Isaiah 56:6-7; Mark 11:17; Ephesians 6:18.

"My house shall be called an house of prayer for all people."

THE sixth chapter of the second book of Chronicles is a magnificent example and illustration of these words of the Prophet. In the dedication of the House by Solomon, prayer of a universal kind inaugurated the ministry of the House, introducing its [69/70] function. The characteristic words of that chapter are: "This house" and "thy name". "When they shall pray toward this house, because of thy name which is upon it ...".

You will remember the words of the Apostle concerning certain people, that they 'blasphemed that holy name which was called upon you'. The House is the link between the two passages historically and spiritually, and the Name called upon the House.

What was true of the temple of Solomon, as the House with the Name called upon it, is true of the Church, the Church of Christ, with the Lord's Name upon it. We have no difficulty in identifying the anti-type of Solomon's temple as being the Church. You are no doubt sufficiently acquainted with the Word to make it unnecessary to quote Scripture in this connection. Many passages will come to your mind which bear out that statement. The Church is God's House; "whose house are we", says the writer of the letter to the Hebrews; "a spiritual house to offer up spiritual sacrifices", says Peter. The identification is not at all difficult. And that the Name is upon the House is also quite clear. It was because of the Name which they bore at the beginning that the Church was so mighty in its going forth. The power of the Name was ever manifesting itself in their ministry. That is all very simple and needs no labouring. Then there are these other factors.


The temple of Solomon was really the temple of David. It came in in revelation through David, and in realization in sonship, David's son. We know that in the Word both David and Solomon are types of the Lord Jesus, that He is great David's greater Son, and that He combines all that is spiritually represented by David and Solomon of sovereignty, kingship, exaltation, universal triumph and glory. You will remember how the Lord sent Nathan to David, to tell him that though he himself should not build the House, he was nevertheless to be the one to gather all that was necessary for it, and so be the instrument of making it possible. This so satisfied David that in the inspiration of it, and the tremendous stimulus of it, he went out and subdued all those nations which had been historic thorns in the side of Israel. And when he had subdued all the nations round about, and a universal triumph had been established, then the House came into being through Solomon.

We carry that forward into the triumph of the Lord Jesus by His Cross. He possesses the universal victory. He is exalted, enthroned, in virtue of all His enemies being overthrown by His Cross, and on resurrection ground the declaration is made: "Thou art My Son, this day have I begotten thee." A fresh declaration of sonship is made, by reason of resurrection, and in resurrection, and in that sonship He builds the House, and the Spirit of sonship enters into every member of that House, and it becomes a 'sonship House' (Acts 14:33; Galatians 4:6).


That all leads the way to this particular thing, namely, the ministry and vocation of the House, of the Church. The House itself has to provide the Lord with a place, a sphere, a realm, a vessel, through which He can reach all people. That is the working outwards; that is God securing to Himself a means of universal blessing. God moves universally through His House, and therefore He must have a House constituted on a prayer basis. Do you notice the two movements in this chapter of 2 Chronicles 6? There is a movement outwards, and a movement inwards. The outward is through the House, with Solomon, so to speak, ministering the Lord. He is, as it were, bringing out from heaven the gracious goodness of God, the interventions, the undertakings and resources of God, world-wide. He is making the House the vehicle of what God is, and what God has, unto all peoples. When you reach a certain point in the chapter the movement changes, and you see people coming to the House because of the Name. That is the movement inwards. They shall "pray toward this house, because of thy great name", said Solomon. That means that the circumference is going to find, not a direct access to God, but its blessing through the House of the Lord.

I suggest to you that those two things very greatly govern the New Testament revelation of the Church, and the Church's vocation. The one thing which embraces all is that God in Christ has bound Himself up with His Church, the Body of Christ, for this world's good, and that the fullness of the Lord will never be known nor entered into in an individual or individualistic way; that anything like mere individualism, separatism, will mean limitation. Any kind of detachment and isolation leads to being deprived of the larger fullnesses of the Lord, or, to put it the other way, to come into the fullness of the Lord we have to come into the fellowship of His people as the House of God. That is one law, and that is established. [70/71]

That is the line which is more severe. There is a frown, perhaps, about that. It sounds hard. But it is the warning note which is very necessary, and especially in the light of the fact that there is a continuous, unceasing, incessant drive of the adversary in the direction of separation, isolation and detachment. It seems that at times the devil releases his forces and concentrates them upon people, to get them to run away, to get out of it, to break away, to quit because the strain seems so intense. Their whole inclination is to get away alone. They think that they are going to get an advantage by that. They are sometimes deceived into thinking that it will be for their good if only they get right away alone. They sometimes put it in this way: that they 'want to get away and think it all out'. Beware of the peril of thinking it all out! You can never think out spiritual problems. The only way of solving them is to live through them. If you have tried to square down to your spiritual problems, and bring your mind to bear upon them, and to solve them by 'thinking it all out', you know that you never get anywhere, and that the Lord does not meet you in that way. Spiritual things have to be lived through to clearness. We can only get through to clearness in spiritual things by living through them. If you do not understand that now, you probably will understand when you come up against another experience of this kind. Thus one aspect of the enemy's drive is to get you to run away. Why does the enemy want us to get away? Why is it that this whole force, this whole pressure, is to make us quit? He has a very good reason. He knows that it means loss and limitation. The Lord, to put it in a word, has bound up all His greater fullnesses with spiritual relatedness, and there can be nothing but grievous loss in failing to recognize the House-law of God, the fellowship-law, the family-law. There can only be loss if we take ourselves out of God's appointed relatedness. Be very much aware of any kind of movement or tendency which is in the direction of either detachment or putting you into a place where you are apart. The enemy has many ways of getting his end. If he cannot drive us out from the midst of the Lord's people, he very often tries to give us a too prominent place in the midst of them. He can isolate us just as much by our being too much in the limelight, and we at once become uncovered, exposed. There is no more dangerous place than to be made too much fuss of, to be someone. There is such a thing as finding a hiding within the House of God.

But our particular consideration at the present time is this vocation and its outward direction, the House of prayer for all peoples. The Church, the Lord's people, form for Him a ministering instrument by which He has ordained to reach out to all the ends of the earth, a universal instrument wherever gathered together, even when represented only by two or three. The test of any company of the Lord's people, and of our position, is this vocation.


You begin with the representative fact, the fact of representation. Representation begins with two or three, and that immediately swings us completely clear of all earthly grounds of judging and estimating. It indicates the essential heavenly nature of the Church. In the Lord Jesus every member of the Church is included. If Christ comes, the whole Church comes. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of the whole Body, uniting all the members in one. You cannot be in the spirit and in Christ anywhere but what you are there in the spiritual realm, in the heavenly realm , with the whole Body, and the whole Body is there spiritually. Two or three? "There am I"! The whole Body, then, is bound up with the two or three. The fact evidences the heavenliness of the Church, the Body of Christ. This is not a possibility on the earth. You cannot bring the whole Church together in anyone place on this earth literally. It is not the Lord's way, and it cannot be done. The Church is scattered world-wide, so far as the earthly aspect is concerned. And yet the Church is a heavenly thing gathered up in Christ, its Head, by one Spirit baptized into one Body, and when we come into the Spirit, into the heavenly realm, we are in the presence of the whole Body; not with earthly intelligence, that is, the whole Body is not conscious of the fact from the earthly standpoint, but spiritually it is true. That is the whole Church represented in the two or three if truly "in the Name". What the two or three may do in the Holy Ghost becomes a universal thing.


What we are seeking to press home is that this is so different from having a local prayer meeting, in the usually accepted meaning of that term. Suppose that where such an outlook obtains the announcement is made: 'We will have a prayer meeting on Monday night.' Who will come to that prayer meeting? People will say among themselves: 'Shall we go to the prayer meeting?' or, perhaps: 'Well, it is only a prayer meeting!' That is one way to look at it, as a local thing in a certain place at a certain [71/72] time. But if I were to say: 'Will you come and minister to the whole Church of Christ universally in such-and-such a place at a certain time, and your business is to go and minister in that range to the whole Church!' that puts another point of view. It gives an altogether new conception of what we are called to. Let your imagination take flight, if you like, and see the whole Church from the ends of the earth literally gathered together, needing to be ministered to, and the Lord saying to you: 'Now you come and minister to the whole Church! Thousands of thousands, and tens of thousands gathered together, and I want you to minister to them. I have placed the resource at your disposal and will enable you to do it.' Perhaps you might shrink, and be fearful, but you would see the tremendous significance. You would not stay away because you were unimpressed with the importance of it.

This is not exaggeration. We are not straining the point. We are seeking to get to the heart of this ministry which is ours. When two or three are gathered together in any place, and they pray in the Holy Ghost, that is what is possible and it happens. They represent the whole Church, and become the House of prayer, functioning for all peoples, a universal ministry. We need to lift the prayer business on to a higher level. When we see the range, the significance, the value of a time of prayer together in the Name of the Lord, we shall stop our trivialities and take things seriously. We shall come together saying: 'Now, here are nations to be entered into tonight, and things which are world-wide and of tremendous significance to the Lord Jesus, and we are called to deal with them in this place!' There is no greater ministry. It is a tremendous thing to have a ministry like that.

It all comes back to asking whether this is true of the Church. What does this mean? Is it merely a passage of Scripture? Is it a nice idea, but falling short of any real meaning? What is the meaning of: "My house shall be called a house of prayer for all people"? It certainly does not mean that the whole Church can literally be gathered together in one place to pray, and it certainly cannot literally mean that the whole Church can pray together at the same time, though scattered. The situation is different in all countries. Day and night govern different parts of the world, and other factors come in. It is necessary to get away from the earth to explain this. And if you get off the earth and see that where two or three are gathered together into the Name all the rest are represented, and because the one Spirit is there the whole is therefore touched through that one Spirit, as well as involved, then the possibilities are tremendous. "A house of prayer for all peoples" is God's ordained way of ministry.


Leaving the great spiritual truth, and coming to what is immediate, so far as one's own heart is concerned, in this word, I do feel that there has to be a fresh registration in our hearts of a call to this ministry and the need for it. We may pray a lot, but I feel that we have to take this matter of the prayer ministry even more seriously, to regard it as our supreme ministry. The order is everything by prayer; not everything and then prayer, but everything by prayer. Prayer comes first. Everything comes by prayer. Prayer is the basis of everything, and nothing else must be attempted or touched except on the ground of prayer. We have to gather into our prayer the universal interests of the Name of the Lord. "Because of thy name"! The Name is in view, and is involved. It is the interests of the Name which govern the functioning of the House, and all the interests of the Name of the Lord have to become the definite and solid prayer business of the Lord's people. Oh, the Lord cut clean across that thing which makes us so casual, and which makes corporate prayer times so optional, and bring into our hearts, with a strong, deep, set conviction, the witness that prayer is universal business, and that we are called to it!

It may be that before long there will be very little else that we can do. It may be that before long the Lord's people world-wide will find that their other activities are brought to a standstill, and they are shut up. What is going to happen then to the Lord's interests? Is that the end of ministry? Is that the end of functioning, of value, of effectiveness? It may be that before long the Lord's people in all the earth will need, as they have never needed before, the prayer co-operation of other members. It may be that the Lord's Name has suffered because we have not regarded this ministry as we ought to have done. We are not blaming anyone, but simply saying that there is room for far more serious entering into this tremendous thing which the Lord has appointed for us. Only to dwell upon the words quietly and thoughtfully will surely mean that their implication will come upon our hearts? The Lord has not said that He is going to move directly out to the universe. He has said: "My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples." To put that in other words we might state it thus: 'I have ordained to meet universal need through an instrument, through a vessel, and My people, My [72/73] Church, form that vessel. That is My appointed way. If My Church fails Me, if My instrument does not take this matter seriously, is occupied with itself rather than with the great world-wide needs of My Name, then I am failed indeed!'

Now this means that we must recognize that where but two or three gather into the Name, where it cannot be more, there is nothing merely local about such coming together in prayer, but that the farthest ranges of the Lord's interests can be advanced, helped, ministered to, by the twos and threes. If it is possible for more to gather, then the Lord desires that, but it is ministry to the Lord by prayer for which He looks to us. We must see to it that it is our first, our primary business to pray. It is strange that so many more will come to conference meetings than to prayer meetings! Is the mentality behind that, that it is far more important to hear teaching than it is to pray? Would it not be a great day and represent some tremendous advance spiritually, something unique, if the prayer gatherings were bigger than the biggest conference gatherings, or at least as big as the biggest?

Let us lay this to heart! Remember that the enemy is always seeking to destroy the essential purpose of the House of God. "Ye have made it a den of robbers." That was one attempt of his to put out the real purpose by changing the whole character of things. God forbid that anything like that should be true in our case, but it is just possible to allow the primary thing to take a secondary place. The primary thing is prayer for all peoples. That, the Lord says, is what His House is for, and that is our real ministry. We cannot all be in the ministry of the Word, but we can all be in this ministry. We can all be in spirit out to the Lord for the interests of His Name.

There seems to be weakness and failure along this line: that we are not functioning in prayer to the point of seeing things through. We pray about many things, and we preach many things, but we do not see them through in prayer, and the Lord's Name is involved in that. You will know whether the Lord is speaking to your own heart. I believe this is a fresh call to the primary ministry which is so very, very much needed. All those who go out into the nations need very strong prayer support. If we fail them we do not know what may happen. They may be in all kinds of difficulties which they need not get into if we were wholly faithful in this prayer ministry. The Lord lay it upon our hearts as a burden!




"I came to cast fire upon the earth; and would that it were already kindled!
But I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened
till it be accomplished!"
(Luke 12:49-50).

Reading: Mark 10:35-39; Matthew 26:27-28, 39, 42; Luke 22:20; John 18:11; 1 Corinthians 10:16; 11:26.

WITH the passages that we have read fresh in our minds, I think that we are able to see that this last passage gathers them all into itself, and that what they all bring before us is the relationship between the cup of the Lord and the scattering of the fire in the earth. The Lord joined these two things together, and showed their relationship; indicating that the scattering of the fire in the earth was dependent upon the drinking of the cup. And in so doing, He only indicated and established a law, a law which history has demonstrated and proved -- either negatively or positively -- so deeply, so mightily. Where there has been no cup there has been no fire: where there has been the cup, there has always been the fire. It is the story of all the persecutions, all the sufferings of the people of God, which have issued in the progress of the Gospel. It is something that we have to recognize very clearly and to accept quite definitely, that, right at the very heart of everything in the purpose of God, there is a cup; and only by the drinking of that cup is any kind of real spiritual progress, enlargement, possible. But, to put that in another way, the drinking of that cup will always issue in spiritual progress or increase or enlargement or deepening. It is always gain.


Now here we have to pause to clear up the difficulty that is always present to confuse our minds in [73/74] this matter, a fundamental conflict or confusion. On the one side, the Christian life ought to be characterized by joy, by peace, by rest, by hope, by life. On the other side, the same Christian life -- without any contradiction to that -- not only can be, but should be, characterized by suffering. The Lord Jesus mingled those two things in the moment when He took the cup. "He took the cup, and gave thanks" -- He gave thanks. There should be, I say, no contradiction between these two things: joy and sorrow mingled; rest and peace and hope in the very presence of suffering, adversity and affliction.

If we do not clear up this matter in our minds we are going to get into difficulty. We are going to argue that the Christian life ought to be one continuous, unbroken song, joyfulness and exuberance, enthusiasm and lightheartedness, with no 'wrong' or sombre elements whatever. If you think like that, you have misread your New Testament! On the other hand, it is possible for us to regard the sufferings and the trials, the difficulties and adversities, as the marks of a kind of holy Christian life, which must exclude anything exuberant and joyful and glad. Some people nurse that kind of complex: they are afraid of joy; they are afraid even of spiritual laughter!

We have to recognize that we are not speaking about natural things now. There is that sublime, that wonderful, that Divine paradox -- "sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing" (2 Corinthians 6:10), in the midst of afflictions and trials; "in manifold trials", Peter says, yet "rejoicing with joy unspeakable and full of glory" (1 Peter 1:6-8). Somehow that has got to be recognized, or we shall be in trouble. The true apprehension of the Christian life is not that of frivolity and superficiality. It is something, as we have said, that has a cup right at the heart of it. The true apprehension of the cup is not something morbid, something morose; is not eternal sadness.

The peril of having a contradiction in the back of our minds in this matter is far more real than perhaps we recognize. Suppose we are meeting those who are having a very good time. They are in one of those phases of the Christian life where all is good -- it is spring-time, or it is summer-time -- there are no clouds in their sky, and they are inclined to 'down' the person who is having a bad time, perhaps passing through some temporary darkness or eclipse, and to feel that there is something wrong with their Christianity. On the other side, if it is we who are having the difficult time, let us be very, very patient with those who are not. Let us reconcile these things and see that they may only represent two aspects of one thing and not be contradictory at all.


We all know that the cup of the Lord is central and basic to the life of the Church, and to our lives as Christians. It represents the very centre, the very focal point, both of the Church's life and of the believer's life. That is where the Word of God puts it, that is the place that the Scriptures give to it: it is the gathering centre of the people of God, the foundation of their life individually and collectively. But there is, so to speak, a division in the cup, which we must recognize immediately: that is, there is His side and there is ours. Let us get this cleared up before we go further.

There is the side of the Lord Jesus in that cup, with which we have nothing to do, so far as the drinking of it is concerned. It is uniquely His; it is His alone. It has to do, as we know, with our redemption. It has to do with our sin, it has to do with our judgment under the wrath of God; it has to do with the final outworking of sin and judgment, it has to do with death. And it has to do with the remission of sins: 'This cup is the new covenant in my blood, shed for the remission of sins. (Matthew 26:28, Luke 22:20). It has to do with our justification before God, our setting in the position of the Righteous One; it has to do with our very life -- "the eternal life" (1 John 1:2). In all that, you and I have no part, except to receive it by faith. In drinking the cup we do not, of course, work out our redemption, or have any part or place in that great atoning, substitutionary, representative work for us: that is isolated to Him. No one can go that path with the Lord in His sufferings; that is His path. Our sufferings with the Lord are not vicarious as His were.

But then there is our path. We are brought in to share the cup, but our part is in another realm. It is that of sharing His reproach. It is because we are standing with Him for His rights which are being disputed and challenged and terribly fought against in this universe and in this world; it is because the Holy Spirit is doing something in us in relation to the character of the Lord Jesus. You know very well that, no sooner is there the slightest sign of any Christlikeness in an individual, than something seems to be provoked: and antagonism breaks out, which says, in effect, 'You must not be like Christ!' Unseen forces 'take knowledge that we have been with Jesus', and they counsel to put us to death.

It is something, you see, in the spiritual realm which hates this character of Jesus, because its presence is an exposure and a condemnation of sin. Evil hates good and cannot bear its presence -- the very presence of good causes misery and suffering. [74/75] And it is in that, just in being Christlike, that we are involved in His cup. It is because we have taken sides with Him against a great enemy, His age-long, sworn enemy, who, with all his vicious malignity, is determined that the last semblance and trace of this One shall be blotted out, if he can do it! You and I are intended to be present here in this world as a semblance of Christ, and we come under those evil counsels. That is our part. We are partners with Him in His position in this world, and that involves the drinking of His cup, the cup of suffering.

That is where we begin with the cup. It is there as our ground: the ground of our salvation, of our redemption, our justification, our life. We stand on that ground. We take the cup gratefully and with thanksgiving. But, in doing so, we commit ourselves to this side of the cup. We become involved in this side of His sufferings, and there is no evading, or avoiding, or getting away from it. This is something to be clearly recognized and definitely and deliberately accepted, right at the outset, and to be kept continually in mind.


But then there are other things about the cup. This cup sets forth and represents the absolute holiness and apartness of Christ, and of all that is related to Christ. You remember 1 Corinthians 10: 'You cannot drink of the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons' (verse 21); you cannot bring these together. It betokens a failure to recognize the utter apartness of two whole realms. This cup speaks of that apartness, that holiness, that separateness of Christ and all that is Christ's. It marks the difference, the fundamental and radical difference, between the Christian and everyone else.

That is the whole argument of the first letter to the Corinthians. Throughout that letter we have an unlawful bringing together of things, focused in that unlawful bringing together at the Lord's Table. It is a terrible letter, which really does centre in this matter of the cup. What the Apostle is doing is seeking to point out that there is a discrimination that must be exercised, a difference that must be discerned. It is a question, not of degrees of Christian life, but of the very basis and nature of the Christian life -- that a Christian is this, and not that. These things are separated by the cup. The cup is something very holy, something very separate, something very different; and if you and I drink the cup, we are supposed to be different from everyone else, that is, from everyone who is not the Lord's. There is a character required by this cup, a character that is different; there is a life that is different, there is a person that is different. The cup declares that. It challenges everything that does not belong to Christ: it stands against that, because that is against the cup. This is a holy thing. No wonder the Apostle was so strong on this matter -- and no wonder that distressing and tragic things were happening in Corinth! "For this cause many among you are weak and sickly, and not a few sleep" (5:30) -- through not discriminating at the Lord's Table. It is searching.

But note again, this cup deals with and removes all the ground of Satan. Satan's ground, of course, is the ground of nature: your nature and mine -- what we are in ourselves. That is the playground of Satan. The cup deals with that and takes Satan's ground from him; it puts him out. That is why Judas had to go: the cup drove him out. The very significance of the cup meant that he was not of it: he was of another; he must go. He is Satan's ground in the holy circle, and he must be eliminated.


But then again, the cup is the great unifying factor for the Lord's own. It is in the first place the great means of unification with Himself, for it is our common participation with Him. The cup links us with Him. It not only distinguishes us as His, as different, but it declares a relationship which is -- to use the symbolism -- most truly a blood-relationship. In the second place, it establishes a relationship of that kind between all who are joined to the Lord. The cup is that which unifies His own.

These may sound simple things, but they are profoundly challenging. Let us look again at this first letter to the Corinthians, chapter 10, verse 16: "The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a communion of (margin: a participation in) the blood of Christ?" Now look just over the next chapter (of course it is a continuous narrative in the original letter). We come to this: "First of all, when ye come together in the church" (or: "in assembly"), "I hear that divisions exist among you; and I partly believe it" (11:18). You see the contradiction? It is not just that we participate with Christ, but together we are on common ground in our participation: it is collective, it is corporate -- a common participation, a together participation, a one participation. It is the Church. 'Now when you come together as the Church, there are divisions among you' -- that is a contradiction, it is a violation of the very meaning of that cup.

You know, when you go back to the beginning of [75/76] that letter the Apostle has much more to say about this matter of divisions. He so early opens up the matter of divisions (1:10-13). 'There are contentions among you: one says. I am of Paul' (you can put what name you like there), 'and I am of Apollos, and I am of Cephas'. It represents parties, does it not? Parties in the Church. The point is this, that the Apostle is steadily working his way towards the matter of the Table, and he makes that the climax. He is saying, in effect: 'You cannot have the Table in reality while it is like that -- the reality of the Table is impossible -- the reality of it -- while it is like that! It is a contradiction, it is a denial, it is a mockery, it is the fundamental subverting of the very meaning of the cup, if it is like that. You cannot have it in reality -- but you can have it to your own undoing and judgment.'

You see, this cup, the cup of the Lord, above all things speaks of love -- the love of the Father, the love of the Son, the love of the Spirit, and the mutual love of believers.


"I have a baptism to be baptized with ...". "Are ye able to drink the cup that I drink? or to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?" (Mark 10:33). What the Lord was really saying, in other words, was this: 'I have a cup to drink; and, until I have drunk it, that very purpose for which I have come is in suspense. I have come to scatter fire into the earth.' The two things go together.

We shall perhaps see later the fire scattered. You see, we are all very interested in the scattering of the fire -- put that how you will: if you like, the progress of the Gospel, the extension of the Kingdom, the salvation of souls, the expansion of testimony. It is all the same thing; it is the scattering of the fire. The earth has got to feel the touch of something from Christ -- to register something burning, something living, something consuming, something against which it cannot stand. 'I am come to scatter fire in the earth.'

But note -- that is all dependent upon the cup, from first to last, and upon all that the cup implies. You notice that 2 Corinthians entirely rests upon those two things. "For as the sufferings of Christ abound unto us ..." (1:5): there is the cup. "Therefore seeing we have this ministry ..." (4:1): the ministry rests upon the cup. This second letter is, as you know, the letter of the ministry, but notice that it begins with the sufferings of Christ abounding unto us. The scattering of the fire, the fulfilment of the ministry, the service of the Lord, the expansion of the Gospel -- however we may put it -- rests upon the cup: and not merely upon the cup as for our salvation, but the cup in all those other aspects of a holy life, of an inward separateness, of something apart for the Lord. And it rests upon, not only our oneness with Him, but our oneness in Him. Souls will not be saved while there is disruption in the instrument; souls will not be saved while there are divisions amongst those who are seeking their salvation. The work will not grow and expand and enlarge if Satan is allowed a place to divide the people of God. Christ Himself has pointed to the established law; we cannot get away from it. We may try, make our efforts, do all that we can, but they are just not getting there. What is the matter? The matter is, that there is sin somewhere, or there is division somewhere. There is some circling around people, or making parties; and we are simply destroying our own work if it is like that.

You see, this is corporate -- it is the Church that the Apostle is talking about and writing to. He is speaking about the Church again and again in these Corinthian letters. 'When you come together as the assembly, as the Church ...'. This fellowship in the cup, for the scattering of the fire, is a corporate matter.

We need to ask ourselves: Have we a right to have the table, to have the cup? Have we the ground for this? We have got to get our basis, our foundation right, before we can have anything else. It would be lovely to go on with the scattering of the fire, to see the thing working out on the side of the glory and the power. Yes, we would like to be caught up in that; but we have got to get our basis right, and the basis is the cup.

There is no doubt that the ruin of the Church's testimony and ministry is so often resultant from either or both of these two things: either a contradiction to the cup right in its midst, or else an avoidance of the cup -- trying not to face the cup and accept the involvement in the sufferings. We will have a good time, and make everything like that; but the cup -- no. The ruination of testimony and ministry comes as much by avoiding the cup as by contradicting it. But the cup is there: you cannot move it. It is established in all its meaning; it has to be taken.

I think those two disciples were a little frivolous. How profoundly and terribly right the Lord was when He said: 'You know not what you ask.' 'We are able', they said. 'Very well, you shall.' The first one of those was the prototype martyr of the New Testament. We shall think about him perhaps later. He drank the cup. Herod killed James with the [76/77] sword. 'you shall ... you shall ...'. This is something very real. Nevertheless, we shall see that it worked out for the furtherance of the Gospel.

If our attitude to the cup is right, the other will follow. It will follow quite naturally, quite spontaneously. The cup leads to the scattered fire; the scattered fire waits for the cup. 'He took the cup and gave it to them and said ... Take ... drink ... drink ye all of it.'

Let us ask the Lord just how this word applies, where it applies, what it means. May He give us grace to receive it!

(To be continued)


[Message as spoken by Mr. DeVern Fromke at the Aeschi Conference 1967]

I WANT at this time, not so much to say anything new, but just to underline some of the things that have been said.

I think we have been realizing through the years that God is wanting to enlarge and stretch our inner man, by which I mean the stretching of the inner spirit and the renewing of the soul, and we are going to see what David says about this in Psalm 27. First we will read verse 14:

"Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord."

The word 'wait' in the Hebrew is an interesting one, for, as you know, the Hebrew is a picture language. When they write this word they are making a picture of a man making rope. Can you see him taking one strand, taking another strand, and another, and twisting them, and finally getting a strong rope? When God first makes a connection to our life, the strand is rather thin and flimsy, but through the years He is strengthening this connection and enlarging us so that there might be a greater flow of His life to us.

Now, beginning with verse 1 of this Psalm, let us see the secrets of which David speaks and by which this enlargement takes place:

"The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?"


I want us to get hold of this first of all. People so often think of the Lord's working in their lives as a mere touch, or an experience that they have, but God's way is to bring us into a living union, a living relationship with Himself. If we merely have a good experience, we are relating something to the past, but if we catch what this entering into a living relationship means, everything changes. I used to interpret this verse as: "The Lord gives me light and salvation', but what it says is: 'The Lord is -- continually -- my light and my salvation.' You see, if you come to the conference and merely have a good and refreshing experience while here, then I will worry about you when I get home; but if you discover the secret of a living union, a living relationship, then you go home with something that will keep you. Before I discovered this wonderful secret I used to get down and pray that the Lord would give me a message for the people -- like a package coming from heaven. Then I began to see that it was not something that He gives, but He just wants me to start, as it were, with a sense that He will give as I go along -- He is my light continually.

All light that the Lord shares, or becomes to us, comes in two ways. First we learn the regulating law of life as it is revealed in His Word, but then He also gives the anointing which continually works to give direction. In the Old Testament they had the law and the prophets for direction, but now we have the inner law written in our hearts and the anointing (which works like the prophets) continually giving us the sense of direction.

Well, there will be no enlargement until we discover that there is this living relationship by which the Lord imparts Himself to us, and just as surely as we enter into this phase of life, everything seems to crowd in to try and break that connection.

"When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell. Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident" (verses 2 and 3).


So it is that God begins to enlarge a little further, and we must see that the trials and testings are the Lord's means of confirming Himself to us. [77/78]

Exodus 17 gives us a picture of this. Moses has just led the children of Israel across the Red Sea, and now they are wanting some water to drink. In verse 2 they come to Moses and say: "Give us water that we may drink. And Moses said unto them, Why chide ye with me? wherefore do ye tempt the Lord?" You see, when we begin to walk with the Lord and He brings us to a 'no water' experience, we are prone to think that we have missed His will. I want to ask you a question about this: At this point had the people missed God's will, or were they where He wanted them to be? I think we know that God had led them right to this point. He wanted to confirm Himself to them, but it was a stretching time.

Has God ever led you to a time of no water? No job, no money, no friends, no help, or something else like that? How easy it is to imagine that we have missed God's way when this comes, but He wants to confirm the verse: "My God shall supply all your need" (Philippians 4:19). That is a mere verse until He confirms it to us.

I remember several years ago, when I was ministering on the West coast of America, I arrived at my friend's place and he handed me a whole schedule for the week. He had me running from place to place all day long -- ten minutes here, twelve minutes there, thirteen minutes somewhere else. I looked at my brother and said: 'Oh, you know me better than this! I can't fit into this schedule. Brother, I can't even read my text in twelve minutes!' But when I went to my bedside to ask for the Lord's help, He showed me this portion about the children of Israel. I knew about other kinds of 'no water', but not the limiting of myself to a few minutes, so I had to cry out for His strength and help.

Now I can tell you that that is the way I felt in coming here and having to speak with two interpreters!

You see, it is interesting that just before this the people of Israel had had the experience of the bitter water at Marah, but God is not just taking us back to another Marah each time. In verses 3 and 4 of chapter 17 it says: "And the people thirsted there for water: and the people murmured against Moses, and said, Wherefore is this that thou hast brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our cattle with thirst? And Moses cried unto the Lord, saying, What shall I do unto this people? they be almost ready to stone me." God has no delight in just taking us through testings, but it is the only way He can confirm His Word or His promises to us. Every time He unveils a new promise there is a stretching to make it real. We might get to the place where we would like to have all the verses confirmed to us, but God does not want the diffusion of our energies on just verses.


In the next verse of our Psalm we get the thing toward which God is stretching us. There are many of the Lord's children who would expend themselves in doing so many good and needful things. I know what it is to look around and see needs in every place, but here will come a very difficult stretching for us: God wants to work into us a sense of priority. Every need does not constitute a call. People can be so busy giving themselves to good activity but they miss the real priority that God wants. The prophet Hosea said of Ephraim: "Strangers have devoured his strength" (Hosea 7:9), and how meaningful this should be to the Lord's children who feel pulled in every direction by the needs which they see! Listen to the sense of priority in this verse, as David tells us:

"One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple" (Psalm 27:4).

Beloved, I do not believe that one can go on very far in inward stretching without this one thing, this Divine priority, becoming very real. The Apostle Paul said: "This one thing I do ...", and Jesus said of Mary, who was sitting at His feet, "Mary hath chosen that good part" (Luke 10:42).

What is this 'one thing' of which David is speaking? Oh, how our soul-life will pull at us to get us into busy activity for God! I know a little bit of what it is like to have our emotions touched by the suffering of people, and you can expect this kind of inner argument to go on. Your inner spirit will say: 'It is time to be quiet and dwell,' while your soul is rising up to say: 'Get to work! Look at all the needy people!' Listen to this verse where the spirit is speaking to the soul: "Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me?" (Psalm 42:5). In my own words I would say: 'Soul, you be quiet and listen to the spirit!' You see, the soul wants to run away and act independently of the inner spirit, but God made the soul to be subservient to the spirit, so he ends it by saying: 'Soul, you be quiet now and give praise for the help of the Lord.'

Now, remember, when we talk about 'waiting' we are not speaking of passive waiting, but an active waiting. Oh, how many of the Lord's children are wasting their strength with just activity! [78/79]

I remember how a few years ago the Lord taught me this lesson in a very real way. I had been away from my family, about two thousand miles from home, for ten weeks, and oh! how I was looking forward to being home! As I drove in that afternoon I met my wife and my little boy in the drive, and I hugged them and thought: 'Oh, it is so wonderful to be home!' but in about a minute my little boy was gone. I said to my wife: 'Where is DeVon? I am home and I want to be with him.' So I walked to the garage door, where I heard him, and said: 'Son, Daddy's home. Don't you want to be with him?' His little voice answered back: 'Oh, Daddy, I am so busy!' and I realized that you cannot force fellowship when it is not wanted! So I began to get busy myself, but I was hurting deep within. The next morning, as was our custom, we went up town to the Post Office, for he always loved to come with me. But, as I was coming down the steps of the Post Office, I chanced to see the other side of my car, which I had not been able to see when I got into it. It looked so strange that I wondered if it really was my car! There, plastered all over the side of the car, were pieces of paper and cardboard, attached with my best insulating tape! Then it was that I realized what he had been so busy doing, and when he saw that I was observing all his handiwork, he looked up at me with such glee, as if to say: 'Don't you like it, Daddy?' I was about to scold him, and then the Lord spoke to me. He seemed to say: 'This is the same trouble that I have with you, My son. You get so busy doing things I have not asked you to do.' So all I could do was to pick DeVon up and say: 'Daddy likes it.' But from that day on the Lord began to make this sense of priority much more real.

It is so easy to be busy going from here to there, preaching and teaching and doing, but what is the one thing that the Lord wants most? It is to know intimate fellowship with the Lord. I do believe that if this priority becomes very real in us, God will cut off a lot of good and apparently important things -- but how do things really measure up in the light of eternity? This can apply to us in so many ways. For over twenty years I have gone here and there, holding meetings, but more and more the Lord is saying: 'A sharper focus on priority.' About the time that we sense the flow of life we feel that we really want to go out to help, but it is quite a stretching thing when the Lord begins to restrain us to this one thing. I believe that 'to dwell in the spirit' means for our spirit to be very sensitive to the Holy Spirit instead of to all the pulling of the soul.

It is very strange, but about the time we decide: 'Oh, Lord, this is a wonderful priority!', it is then that the Lord will say to us: 'No, I don't want you to stay on your knees all the time!'


We are such creatures of extremes! If a thing is good, why, we just do that all the time. So it is not lopsided intensity, but balance that the Lord has to work out. There are some people who, because of their temperaments, would like to become hermits, and for these people I am now saying that this intensity can become lopsided. Hosea, in the chapter from which we have already quoted, says that Ephraim is like a cake half baked. He is burned down one side, but raw on the other. Now, don't misunderstand: this priority of giving ourselves wholly to dwelling with Him is very wonderful. I have seen mothers who determined they were going to give some hours each day to waiting before the Lord, but more things happen to the children about that time. Everything tries to hinder us from this sharpening of priority, but about the time we would like to live the hidden life with the Lord, He says: 'Now I want to use you.' And we are so prone to say: 'Lord, I am content just to dwell with You,' but He does not want a cake raw on one side.

Let us go back to our Psalm, where we read in verses 5 and 6:

"For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion; in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock. And now shall mine head be lifted up above mine enemies round about me; therefore will I offer in his tabernacle sacrifices of joy; I will sing, yea, I will sing praises unto the Lord."

About the time we would like to know the hiding away, God says: 'No, now is the time to set you on a rock, for I want to use you.'

We go back to Exodus 17, when the people of Israel had no water and Moses cried out to the Lord for help. 'Lord, what shall I do? This people are almost ready to stone me!' And do you know what the Lord says to Moses? 'Moses, you get up on that rock over there.' 'But, Lord, I will just be a better target for their stones!' But this is the way that God demonstrates through a life. "And the Lord said unto Moses, Go on before the people, and take with thee of the elders of Israel; and thy rod, wherewith thou smotest the river, take in thine hand, and go. Behold, I will stand before thee there upon the rock in Horeb; and thou shalt smite the rock ...". Can you see that this is the way that we can get water for others? God has a way of stretching us until we become fruitful and can meet [79/80] the need of others. "... Thou shalt smite the rock, and there shall come water out of it."

So you can be sure that when you become too intense in one thing, the Lord bas a way of balancing the other side.


Finally we come to the cry of the heart:

"When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, Lord, will I seek" (Psalm 27:8).

The Lord is concerned for one thing, and that is that we learn to be occupied with His lovely self. It is not a striving to express the Lord Jesus, but when I am occupied with His face something happens to my face. You can tell what people look at continually. When people are looking at the dark, dangerous and fearful side of life, the lines are written all over their faces, but you can always tell when someone has been occupied with the joyful, the bright and the living side. Have you ever noticed that when a husband and wife look at one another for fifty years across the table they begin to look more and more alike? I wish I could say that they always look like the prettier of the two! Really, you would be surprised how many of you here are beginning to look alike. It is the law, for it says in the Bible: "As in water face answereth to face, so the heart of man to man" (Proverbs 27:19). Seriously, now, I have met some who have really reflected the loveliness of the Lord Jesus. John says: "We shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is" (1 John 3:2).

Several years ago I was privileged to meet an elderly saint, who was then about eighty-seven. For over fifty years she had been an invalid and confined to her room, but if ever I saw anyone who lived face to face with the Lord, she did. Dozens of pastors throughout that whole valley made their way to this humble little cottage. The first time I went into her room, I had only been there about ten minutes when I fell on my face on the floor, for the glory of the Lord was so real and all I could say was: 'Lord, I am unclean!' It seemed that every other phrase that she spoke was praise to the Lord. She adopted me as one of her sons. It was strange how, when she read something from the Word of God, things that I had known so well suddenly became piercing. She kept reading from a special book when I went to visit her, and one day I said: 'Mother, you may not be here too much longer. Would you give me this book when you are gone?' Every time she read from it it seemed that God just cut my heart open. One day when I went into her room I said: 'Mother, it is a shame that you sit here like this. Don't you know that God heals people?' She looked up at me with such sympathy, and replied: 'Oh, yes, my boy, I know God would have healed me a long time ago,' and then in her broken English she said: 'And den I would have runned around like all de oder womans!' She had no desire to be in any other place, but just dwelling with God and seeking His face, and I believe she had a ministry that touched more people than many others I have known.

One day a package came to my home by mail, and when I looked at the 'return address' in the corner I knew what had happened. I was sorry that she had gone, but my heart leaped: at last I had this wonderful book! I got alone by myself and started to read -- and I am ashamed to admit this. I discovered that it was not the book, but the person who made the difference. I read the book, but it does not speak to me as it did.

Let me just say in closing, dear friends: God wants to stretch our inner life, but it will only be as we learn to wait, and wait ... and wait. It will only begin with a living relationship, through confirmation, by new priority, a real balance, and preoccupation with Himself. If you go away from here with more than an experience, with a living relationship, then my heart shall rejoice. DeV. F.




[Harry Foster]

IT was Saturday morning and Mr. Masters had planned to walk over to his mother's cottage, which was about four miles from his home. He had four children, all boys, and as he always tried to do something with them on Saturdays, he suggested after breakfast that they should all go over together. The eldest, Jack, replied that he did not think he would go, not if it were to Grandmother's. Had it been to his uncle's farm he would have been glad to go, but as it was to his grandmother's, he [80/81] asked to be excused. 'All right,' his father answered, 'the rest of us can go. Come on, boys!' So the other three began to get ready, but just as they were about to leave, Father remarked that they would not take the usual road but go across the fields. Dick, the second son, objected to this. He hated going that way round and asked his father to change his route and go by the road. Mr. Masters replied that this was impossible. He particularly wanted to go by the cross-country path so that he could buy some flowers for his old mother. Dick answered: 'Then please leave me out. I don't think that I will go.'

This left Albert and Eric, the two younger boys, and the three of them set out happily together. At least, they went happily for a short time, but then Albert seemed to get restive. 'Anything the matter?' asked Father. Albert answered with a question as to whether they could not walk faster. They seemed to be crawling! The truth was that he wanted to go to the next village to visit a school friend, so he was restive at the steady pace which his father took. As a matter of fact, Eric, the youngest, would have liked to have gone faster: indeed, he would have liked to run, but he said nothing and kept close to his father. At last Albert could stand it no longer. 'Do you mind if I hurry on, Father?' he asked, and then, without waiting for an answer, he went striding along on his own.

Father was rather sad. He now had only one son walking with him, but still he was grateful for Eric's company, and they walked and chatted happily together. At last they reached old Mrs. Masters' cottage and were warmly welcomed by her. After a while she asked where the other three boys were, and Father had to make excuses for them. 'Ah, well,' commented Grandmother, 'it was good that Eric walked with his father.' 'Eric walked with his father!' That reminded Mr. Masters of something. What was it? Oh yes, it was his morning reading: "Enoch walked with God" (Genesis 5:24).

When he had read that chapter in the morning he had been rather irritated with Enoch. Why had he been singled out like that? What about all the others? They were older than Enoch. Did they not walk with God, too? He felt quite critical and closed his Bible impatiently. Enoch walked with God, indeed! What about all the rest?

Now it suddenly dawned on him why the others had not done so. In fact, the truth was that he had ceased to walk with God himself and that was why he was irritable. His three sons had not walked with him for different reasons. Jack did not want to go to the same place, Dick did not like the route he had chosen, and Albert had grown impatient with his timing. It was a sad thing that he had missed their companionship, and it made him wonder if God was sad that he had chosen his own way and grown impatient with God's seeming slowness.

Only Eric walked with his father.

Only Enoch walked with God.

God wants me to walk with Him.

This is true. It is also true that if God is to have our companionship and we the joy of pleasing Him, then we must go His way and accept His timing. How about you? H. F.



TO those who have a knowledge of the Bible it is evident that the whole of the Scriptures open up along the four lines that we have indicated; namely that

1. God is a God of order;

2. Satan is the prince of a world under Divine judgment, and the nature of that judgment is confusion;

3. Christ, in Person and work, is the embodiment of Divine order;

4. The Church is the elect vessel in which, and through which, that Divine order is to be manifested and administered in the ages to come.

The end of God is glory as against chaos, and the Bible shows -- comprehensively -- that glory is inseparable from order; Divine order is the way to glory. The Bible should be read in that light. On the contrary, confusion always leads to shame. This, then, is the great issue of the Bible.

Perhaps you are wondering, or asking in your mind: What does this mean where we, simple believers, are concerned? It is all very wonderful, very great, but here we are, a little company of Christian people -- how is this a message for us? Will you be patient, dear friends? This is of most vital account to you and to me. We are a part of a great whole, we are not just fragments that have shot off into space, with an independent and unrelated life. We are called by the grace and sovereign will of God into a great purpose. And what is true [81/82] of the whole is true of every part. You and I are going to learn, if we learn anything about Christ, that we are a part of the disruption of the Divine order, and that grace, grace , in its deepest and grandest interpretation, is to bring order out of our chaos, is to introduce Heaven into us and us into Heaven, and is to conform us to that which obtains in Heaven. Oh, yes, we are going to learn in many, many different ways that what God is doing with us, and has called us into, is just this: to conform us to the image of His Son. But that is not only conformity to a Person, it is conformity to a Divine order. His Son is an order of God, the order of Heaven.

I do not know how you read the four Gospels. Perhaps you read them as the life of Jesus here on earth, what He did and what He said -- purely as a historic record. I suggest to you that you go back to those Gospels with this one thought: Here is the embodiment of another 'order' of things, in constitution and in behaviour, in ways of life and in laws and principles governing the life. Here is Heaven in evidence. Here is Heaven in control. Here is another world embodied: "They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world" -- here is another world that has come in in this Person. Read the Gospels in the light of that, and you will begin to see that He does not do and speak as the people of this world would, even the wisest of them. He is getting everything from Heaven; He is getting every word from Heaven; He is governed by Heaven. That is the meaning of the so-oft repeated phrase: 'the Kingdom of Heaven' -- the rule of the heavens. 'The Kingdom of God' -- the rule of God. As we learn Christ, so we pass more and more from this world in our inward life, and find ourselves more and more in conflict with it, and incapable of accommodating ourselves to it or being at home and happy in it. It becomes more and more a 'far country' -- something to which we do not belong. That is true in the consciousness of the true child of God, but growingly so. The true child of God, as he or she goes on in this inner, spiritual change of knowing Christ, will often ask the question: 'What is happening to me? I used to be able to do this and that, but I cannot now. At one time I had no qualms or difficulties, but today I have a question.' I think if we stayed here long enough we would find this world an utterly impossible place to live in spiritually. We could only live in it as Heaven came down to help us stay here at all. Well, that is a way of putting things -- we are just 'going home' all the time.

Now, to refer again to our great interpreter of these things, the man who had such a fun and exact knowledge of the Scriptures in the first place and, added to that, the one to whom was given that peculiar and that so great revelation of heavenly things, especially of Christ. To that man the great issue of all things was this very thing -- the recovery of a lost Divine order in this universe. He has stated that. Here is one fragment of that great statement: "... unto a dispensation (an order, an economy, a government, a rule) of the fulness of the times, to sum up all things in Christ, the things in the heavens, and the things upon the earth" (Ephesians 1:10). Here we are faced with a tremendous statement. There is a word here which is almost an unspeakable word in our language. In the Greek it requires no less than nineteen letters! It is a compound which is translated 'to sum up', but in its original meaning is this: 'to bring back and centre in One, all things'. To bring back, to recover, and to centre in One, all things. To gather up all that which has been lost and focus it, embody it, in Christ. First of all, the implication is that there was an order once obtaining in God's universe -- a perfect order. Secondly, that that order has been lost; a great disruption has taken place in the universe. And thirdly, the re-gathering, the recovery, the re-storing of that lost order in Christ. That is what Paul saw to be the significance of Christ. What a range! What an interpretation of everything! What a word! To gather up all the fragments of this shattered vessel, all the parts of this disrupted and confused universe, to repair the damage and make of it all one beautiful expression of Heavenly order! That is the work of the Person of Christ in redemption. Paul uses a word so often -- 'to reconcile all things unto Himself' -- to reconciliate, implying that the situation is such as to find God not in a state of conciliation with it, and it not in conciliation with God. Everything has gone to pieces, and is under a terrible strain where God is concerned because things have broken down -- the Divine order has been shattered. This One, Jesus Christ, came into this world, in the first place embodying in His own Person that which He is going to recover, objectively. He cannot be deflected from that for a moment on any consideration, by any bribe, or by any suffering. He is going through with what He calls the Will of God. And, dear friends, while we use that phrase, sometimes glibly, sometimes seriously, we do not always recognize -- if we ever do -- that the Will of God is the expression of this perfect order of God. "Thy will be done in earth as it is in Heaven." If only we knew how things are done in Heaven we would see a beautiful harmony, a complete accord, and the utter absence of any janglings, confusions, contradiction or inconsistency. That is God's will. He came for that. It [82/83] could only be, as we shall see later, by the Cross, in which He had to take hold of this enormous force of disruption and confusion, and break it for ever, and produce, or reproduce that order, which we find commencing in the New Testament. We must leave that for the moment.

To rightly understand and know Christ is to see that He stands related to this of which we are speaking -- this universal, beautiful order of God in the creation. Christ Himself is the Seed of that order. You take your seeds, or your bulbs, and if you get the bulb of the hyacinth and place it in the earth, you do not expect a cabbage to appear! Within that small organism there is the order of hyacinths. That is the nature, the life, the species, the kind of thing that is there. So it is in every organic creation. Every seed has its own life, producing after its own kind. That is Scripture, is it not? -- 'after its own kind'. Christ is the Seed of a heavenly order. In Him is implicit that order of God: the life is in Him ; the order, or the 'form' is in Him; the 'nature' of that is in Him. The order requires a kind of nature. (Oh, for language, for words, for ability to explain!) A disposition, the kind of Person that He is. He is so different! We are always crying and praying to be 'like Christ'! Yes, in Him is the nature which, when it becomes universal, will be seen in a certain perfect harmony and order. He is the constitution of everything. Paul finds himself beggared for words in this very thing, and he is a master of language and languages. He speaks about Christ 'filling all things', and 'all things filled into Christ'. You cannot grasp that? It is just this. He is going to be the constitution of everything, and that 'everything' is to be an expression of this 'mind of God', how things should be, what things should be, and how they should behave. You and I behave as we do because we have a certain constitution. We are made like that. Make the whole creation like Christ and it will behave like Christ, the nature, the constitution of a great Divine system.

God is a God of order. If there is one thing that the Bible reveals about God, it is that. On the other hand, the Bible is a tremendous testimony all the way through against disorder. If you want to see what it is all about, what it means, why this and why that, it is this conflict between a Divine order, and a disorder. It is like that all the way through, and that is the battle.

And I say again, before we are through it has got to come down to our own lives in a very intimate way. But take the great truth, for it is capable of having a tremendous effect upon us. Dear friends, we must make it our business -- if this is the business of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, the meaning of the Cross -- to come under the rule of Heaven, the rule of Christ, the rule of the Holy Spirit, so that all the discords and conflicts go out of our individual life and of our collective life; that we are more and more an expression of Him, whose life, character, work and ways have no inconsistencies, no contradictions and no conflicts in Himself. He is the sum of this beautiful harmony.

Do believe this, amongst other things and whatever else it means, that when that great Song about which we read in the Book of the Revelation is sung by a great multitude out of every language, every tongue and nation and kindred and people, the one thing about it will be that there is not one discordant note! It will be the most marvellous harmony. Why? Because the Centre of it all is one Person, who pervades all. It is the Lamb. His work is done; He has redeemed by His Blood out of every nation, He has brought together all the broken pieces, all the shattered plan of God, and here it is, redeemed. And the mark of His work is this: that out of all the divided peoples of this earth, divided by language, divided by colour, divided by temperament, divided in a score of different ways, He has made one harmonious whole, singing one song, with no discord. It is the mark of 'order' that is the mark of His redemption! 'Babel', which means confusion, is undone!

(To be continued)


By the time this issue is mailed we hope to have supplies of the following three booklets:

(a) CHRIST -- ALL, AND IN ALL: a reprint of the 32-page booklet which has already been widely circulated over a period of many years and which continues to be in demand.
Price: 8d. ($0.15) per copy, plus postage.

(b) THE SUPREME VOCATION: this message which was reprinted in the September, 1967, issue of A Witness and A Testimony [is] now available again in booklet form.

(c) A GOOD WARFARE: printed in booklet form for the first time.

Price of (b) and (c): 6d. ($0.10) per copy, or 5/- ($1.00) per dozen -- plus postage. [83/84]




WE have explained that the word 'Kingdom' means the sovereign rule of God, and because the words 'the Kingdom of God' occur so frequently in the New Testament I am sure no one will think that the sovereign rule of God only began in New Testament times. The Kingdom of God, which is the sovereign rule of God, has three phases in the Bible, and has the tenses of the past, the present, and the future.


The Kingdom of God, or the sovereign rule of God, was as much in the Old Testament as it is in the New, but its form was different from what it is in the New Testament. In the past it was outward and temporal. The Kingdom of God then was something which had to do, in an outward way, with the kingdoms of this world. God was ruling amongst and over the nations of this world, and, in a sense, the nations of this world were directly under what is called a theocracy. You will call to mind some of the things that Nebuchadnezzar said about this matter, and Daniel told those heathen kings that they had to learn that God rules in the kingdoms of men. So God's sovereign rule was over the nations in the past. It would be a very interesting and profitable study to see how God was dealing with the nations, but we should need a very large volume for that!

But while the sovereign rule of God was over the nations in the Old Testament, it was centred in and concerning one nation -- Israel. You will remember that when Israel asked that they might have a king "like unto the nations". Samuel was very distressed and cried to the Lord, and the Lord said: 'They have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me from being King.'

The kingdom in the Old Testament, though, was largely a forecast, or a foreshadowing, of the Kingdom that was coming. That is another big subject by itself, so we just mention it and move on; but you will remember that Peter, on the Day of Pentecost, told the people that David was a type of the Lord Jesus.

That is enough to indicate that the Kingdom was in the Old Testament, that is, in the past.


Now we come into the present -- the new phase and aspect of the Kingdom which came with the Lord Jesus. Jesus said: "The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you" (Luke 10:9). and "The Kingdom of God is in the midst of you" (Luke 17:21 -- R.V. margin). The change is that from outside it has come right inside -- the sovereign rule of God is now amongst us in this dispensation. Jesus preached the Kingdom of God in relation to Himself. In His own person the sovereign rule of God had entered into this world, and He demonstrated that by many mighty miracles and signs. He said: "If I, by the finger of God cast out demons, then is the kingdom of God come upon you" (Luke 11:20 -- R.V. margin). But the earthly life of the Lord Jesus was only a parenthetical period, that is, it was something in parenthesis.

On the Day of Pentecost the Kingdom came into this world in power, and this dispensation is the dispensation of the Kingdom amongst us. This is the dispensation of the Holy Spirit, that is, in the interests of the Kingdom of God.


We just take a glance at the future aspect, and then we come back to this present. The Kingdom of God is in progress in this dispensation, and in the future it will be in fullness and in finality. With the coming again of the Lord Jesus the third aspect of the Kingdom will begin. Nations shall be gathered to judgment, and all that offends the will of God will be cast outside of this creation. Then, with the new heaven and the new earth, righteousness shall cover the earth as the waters cover the sea, and in the Book of the Revelation we have the cry: "Now is come ... the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ" (12:10). "Thine is the kingdom ... for ever and ever."


But all this, past, present and future, is centred in one thing. The sovereign rule of God, or the Kingdom of God, is centred in the Cross of the Lord Jesus Christ. For the full realization of that Kingdom everything of the past has been moving [84/85] toward the Cross. Have you noticed that every new sovereign movement of God in the Old Testament was marked by the Cross? The Cross throughout the whole of the Old Testament was represented by the altar, so you have an altar with Abel, an altar with Noah, an altar with Abraham, an altar with Israel. Every movement of God is marked by the altar, or by the Cross, all pointing toward the great Altar -- the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, and all future movements of the sovereignty of God begin at, and move from, the Cross.

I want you to grasp this truth. There is no movement of God forward at any time in any matter except on the ground of the Cross. Do you want to go forward with God? Then you must learn something more of the Cross. Do you want to take another step under the government of God? Very well, you must learn something more of the Cross. God's movement forward with His Kingdom is always by way of the Cross.

Now we must bring that nearer home, and to explain it we must come back to the baptism of the Lord Jesus. You remember that John the Baptist was baptizing in the River Jordan, and then Jesus came to him and asked him to baptize Him, but John would have forbidden Him, saying: "I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? But Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness" (Matthew 3:14-15). And then it says: "Then he suffereth him." In other words, John baptized Him. And then it says that Jesus came up out of the water, the heavens were opened to Him, and the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove rested upon Him, and a voice out of heaven said: "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." You have all that in the third chapter of the Gospel by Matthew, and let me remind you that the Gospel by Matthew is the Gospel of the Kingdom.

Well, what have we here in the baptism of Jesus? We have four things, and may I say here that these things apply as much to us as they did to the Lord Jesus. They may have a special meaning in His case, but the principle applies to us. That is what the New Testament teaches. What are the four things that we have here?


First of all, the King is identified by heaven -- "A voice out of the heavens, saying, This is my beloved Son." the destined King of the universe, the King promised from of old, the Son of Man to whom God has committed the dominion of this world. The King is identified from heaven. God and heaven mark Him out: "This is ...". What an immense amount is gathered into those words: "My Son"! It will take us all eternity to exhaust that. Paul says that we have been 'delivered out of the power of darkness, and translated into the kingdom of the Son of his love', and that is why I said that this applies to us also, for we are translated into the kingdom of this Son.


Secondly, the King committing Himself, and there you have the very heart of the meaning of His baptism, and of baptism. This was the great committal of the King to secure the Kingdom, and the Kingdom is the Kingdom of the will of God -- "Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so on earth" (Matthew 6:10). And Jesus stands there by the Jordan with His feet upon the earth and the heaven open above Him. In His own person He unites heaven and earth, and He says: 'I come to do Thy will, O God. Thou hast prepared a body for Me, and I come into that body to do Thy will' (Hebrews 10:5, 7). To use the words of the Apostle Paul, He presented His body "a living sacrifice unto God" (Romans 12:1). What is the meaning of a body? The body is not you and me. This body is not me. Unless the Lord comes, this body will be put in a coffin in the ground, but I shall not be in that coffin. I shall be with the Lord -- at least, that is my hope. But what is this body? It is the vessel in which something is to be done for God, and, therefore, the body is given for a vocation. Oh, how the devil is using human bodies for an evil vocation, stealing vessels from God! The body is therefore a vessel for a vocation, and that vocation is the will of God here as in heaven. The body, then, is the means in which a mission is to be fulfilled, and in His baptism the Lord Jesus presented His body for this great mission that He had come to fulfil. As He went down into the waters of Jordan He meant: 'I die from now onward to everything but the will of God', and when He came up out of the water He meant: 'Now life for Me only means the will of God, and nothing else.' He was separated, consecrated and sanctified unto the will of God, and when it is like that the anointing can come upon the life.

The King identified: the King committing Himself -- oh, may I stop just a moment before I go on. You see, this is what the Kingdom of God is. It is made up of those who have wholly committed themselves to God. Has everyone here wholly committed himself or herself to God? Have you reached [85/86] the point of no turning back? Is yours a committed life? Have you said: 'Here, Lord, I give myself away. It is all that I can do'? Or have you still got some ties with the shore? You have pushed a little way out in your boat in Christianity, but you still are playing for safety -- you have got your rope tied to the shore so that if it gets a bit stormy you can easily get back. When Jesus was baptized He cut all His ropes. He was wholly committed to His Father 'for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part'. You see. I have just quoted the English Marriage Service. No, death will never part us from Him! But is that how you are married to the Lord? We shall never get very far with all the teaching until we are wholly committed.


The third thing: on the ground of His committal, the anointing by the Holy Spirit.

Anointing in the Bible is particularly related to vocation. It is the giving of the Holy Spirit on the ground of total consecration. Now there are not two works of the Holy Spirit; that is, there is not just a Holy Spirit to be a Christian and then another Holy Spirit to be a Christian worker. The Holy Spirit is one, and with one object. He is only given for vocation. You know that that is definitely stated in the Book of the Acts. A little boy was once asked if his father was a Christian, and he replied: 'Yes, I think Father is a Christian, but he is not working at it now!' In England just now there are more than half a million unemployed people, but there is no such thing in the mind of God as an unemployed Christian. The Corinthians were not very good Christians, but even to them the Apostle said: "Now he that stablisheth us with you in Christ, and anointed us, is God" (2 Corinthians 1:21).

The anointing of the Holy Spirit is unto vocation. I cannot tell you what it meant to me when I came to realize this many years ago. I wanted to be a servant of God, but there were all kinds of things that made me realize that I was not fit to be. The work of God is a very great thing. I had known of the gifts that are necessary for the work of God, but I was just without all the things that I felt were necessary. I had never had any of the advantages which I thought were necessary. I was very fond of reading biographies, and I tried to read the biographies of men who had been greatly used of God, but as I took them up I had not got very far before I read that this man who had been so greatly used had a very wonderful Christian home. His father and his grandfather were very godly people, and he inherited some of their godliness, and a great ability to be a servant of God. I would not like to tell you how many biographies were never finished! I said: 'That is not me. I can never be a great servant of God!' Then I discovered the Holy Spirit and I came to see that He makes up for all that we have not got which is necessary to God. The Holy Spirit is the extra to me. He is other than I am, and all that was required of me was that I should present my body a living sacrifice, and the Holy Spirit would do the rest. I cannot tell you what that discovery meant to me! Now, please do not misunderstand me. I am not saying that I have become a great servant of the Lord, but I am saying that if the Lord has been able to do anything at all with me, it was the Holy Spirit that did it, and not I. It is the anointing that qualifies us for vocation.

There is a wonderful statement even about Jesus, and I think it is very wonderful when you think who Jesus was. It says: "Jesus of Nazareth, how that, God anointed him with the Holy Spirit and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil" (Acts 10:38). Even Jesus depended upon the anointing, and it was after the anointing, and not until then, that Jesus embarked upon the mission of God. At the beginning of his Gospel Mark says: "Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe in the gospel" (Mark 1:14-15). It was immediately after the baptism and the anointing that He began His ministry concerning the Kingdom of God.

Now a few words on the fourth thing, and then I close for the present.


Immediately Jesus had committed Himself and been baptized, and was anointed with the Holy Spirit, He was driven into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. Now the meaning of the baptism, that is, the committal, the consecration and the anointing, is going to be challenged by the other kingdom. Jesus said: "The prince of this world cometh" (John 14:30), and the prince of this world, the leader of this other kingdom, came to him right there in the wilderness. The right of Jesus to reign was going to be challenged and disputed by the whole kingdom of Satan.

Now note this particularly. We have said that Jesus consecrated Himself wholly to the Father. He took the ground of 'Not My will, but Thy will. Not Myself, but Thyself.' What was the point of the [86/87] attack by the devil? It was upon the self-life. Self-interest, self-pity, self-realization, self in all its forms, and every form of the self-life was included in the three temptations in the wilderness. I am not going to deal with all that, except to give you the main features and factors.

'You have been anointed with the Holy Spirit and have therefore been given Divine power. Use your Divine gifts for your own ends!' You look at those three temptations again and you see it all summed up in that. 'You have been said to be the Son of God, and therefore you have been put into a very great position. As belonging to God, and being owned by Him, you are in a wonderful position. Use your position for your own glory! You have an ambition and a vision of world dominion. You are committed to the Kingdom of God. Use your position to get worldly recognition, but remember, Jesus, you will never get world recognition unless you compromise somewhere, so,' says Satan, 'worship me and I will give you all the kingdoms of this world'.

Now every one of those temptations could be enlarged tremendously. Although you may not recognize the various aspects and applications, will you tell me that our battle with the devil is not centred in our own self-life? The devil does not come with a long tail and fire coming out of his mouth. He just comes and says: 'Consider yourself. Be sorry for yourself,' or in one of a thousand ways he brings up self-interest, and do not forget that Jesus was tempted in that way. The greatest servant that God ever had was Jesus Christ, and He was tempted in that way.

The only way through, dear friends, the only way of victory, and the only way of "Thine is the Kingdom, and the power, and the glory" is the Cross. Years ago I preached only on the Cross. I thought I knew something about the meaning of the Cross and I was always talking about it, but today, after all these years of learning something of the Cross, I have to say to you that this battle with the self-life is far more severe than ever it was before.

I leave this with you. The men and the women who are most greatly used by God and have most of the power of God are the men and the women who know most of the Cross. The Kingdom, the power, and the glory are centred in the Cross, and the Cross more and more applied to the self-life.

(To be continued)



"Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more will I make to tremble not the earth only, but also the heaven. And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that have been made, that those things which are not shaken may remain. Wherefore, receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us have grace, whereby we may offer service well-pleasing to God with reverence and awe" (Hebrews 12:26-28).

THERE is a sense in which those three verses summarize this letter, and indicate precisely the object of the letter. The statement about the 'things which can be shaken' covers the whole ground of the typology and earthly representation of heavenly things in the Mosaic system. The 'things which cannot be shaken' are the spiritual meaning of those things, that to which they point and embody as abiding spiritual and heavenly realities. The Apostle is saying that a shaking is about to take place, and the result of that shaking will be that all those things will be displaced, upset and overturned, and that system will be disintegrated.

That, to some extent, fixes the time of the writing of this letter as being prior to the destruction of Jerusalem. The Temple and all its service was going on at the time, but the writer knew that ere long that whole system would be shaken to its foundation and collapse, and would be broken to pieces. That took place shortly after with the destruction of Jerusalem. The probability is that this letter was written about the year A.D. 64, and the destruction of Jerusalem took place in the year A.D. 70. These very Jewish believers to whom this letter was written probably lived to that day and saw the fulfilment of this prophecy. As they were inclined to go back from Christ, in all the spiritual fullness which He embodied, to the outward, historical, traditional system, the Apostle wrote this letter to save them from the awful disaster to their faith which [87/88] would inevitably take place if they were solely bound up with that system and had no more. He wrote to woo them from the transient and the passing to the abiding and the permanent, and to bring them into the things which cannot be shaken.

You go through the letter and mark each step, right from the first chapter, as to what can be shaken and what cannot be shaken. The eternal sonship of the Lord Jesus Christ cannot be shaken. Our sonship in Him cannot be shaken. Is it the blood of the covenant? It is the Blood of the everlasting covenant, and it cannot be shaken! Is it the Priesthood of the Lord Jesus? It is after the order of Melchizedek; not merely after the order of Aaron, which passes, but after the power of an endless life, which cannot be shaken! Whatever there is in this letter has two sides. There is the outward form used to express something, and that will pass. And then there is the inward thing being expressed, and that will not pass. So the call is to be bound up with the unshakable things, the eternal things and the heavenly things which are always the spiritual things, as differing from the temporal things.

The types represented the earthly, physical body of the Lord Jesus before the Cross and the resurrection. Paul tells us in his letter to the Philippians that He was "found in fashion as a man", and we know that that word 'fashion' in the Greek means something which is passing. The Greek word 'schema' is something which is transient, which does not come to stay. It is the same word that Paul uses at the beginning of Romans 12: "Be not fashioned according to this world", this age. The fashion of this age passes so quickly. "He was found in fashion as a man", that is, He took a form which was not His permanent form. His permanent form is found after the resurrection, when He had a body of humanity, but different from the form, the fashion, of His precrucifixion body.

That body concealed an eternal, spiritual reality, and no one was able to discern or perceive that inward, eternal, spiritual reality of the Person of Christ apart from the operation of the Holy Spirit. "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God ... Blessed art thou, Simon ... flesh and blood hath not revealed this unto thee but my Father which is in heaven." We know how blind the religious people of His day were as to who He was. That body, that fashion, concealed, hid an eternal, spiritual reality. That is "the mystery", as Paul calls it. It is that which was associated with the ark of the covenant, the mystic secret of God, into which the Philistines wanted to peer, and which they were so anxious to possess, for when the ark came into a situation it represented some power. It was the secret of Israel's glory, and they were always seeking to get hold of the secret of Israel's glory. God was there. That ark was a type of Christ, but it is an ark of acacia wood -- a humanity. It is overlaid with gold, it is true, which means that Deity is associated with it, but its purpose, its meaning, is not in the combination of those materials -- wood and gold -- but in the Spirit that is embodied in that. That was the mystery of Christ.

The disciples were wont to regard that earthly body as the essential and indispensable thing. Whenever the Lord Jesus referred to His Cross or to His going away, a cloud came over them, and they became overwhelmed with a sense of foreboding, almost of despair. They were greatly troubled. To them the physical presence of the Lord Jesus was essential, indispensable. If He went away, that represented the losing of Him. It was in that way that the Jews, the Hebrews, regarded the typical system. That Mosaic order and system were their very being; they were bound up with them.

In relation to the body of Christ which was prepared for Him to fulfil an eternal purpose, and also in the whole Jewish, or Mosaic, system of types, which was provided as a means to an end, the fashion had to be broken, shattered, in order to bring the reality out. It is the difference between the flesh and the spirit -- not merely the flesh in its evil sense now, but simply the natural life, and the spiritual. One has to be broken to make way for the other. The way into the 'naos', the very presence of God, was through the sundered flesh of Christ, just as the way into the Most Holy Place, the very Sanctuary, was through the veil of the Temple or the Tabernacle. But that way was not open to all until it was rent from top to bottom, and the veil of the Temple, or the Tabernacle, was that upon which everything else hung. All was gathered up into it. There was God's side, and there was man's side, represented in that veil, and the whole system had its focal point in the veil. The priests, as representing all the people, could go as far as that veil, but they could go no further, and that means that the people could go no further. God was on the other side of that, and He came, as it were, to that veil, but there was no way through. Once every year the High Priest went in, but there was no such thing for abiding fellowship or continuous union. When God split that veil from top to bottom He opened the way for all right into His own presence.

In the flesh of the Lord Jesus there was the meeting place of God and man. On the one side -- God; on the other side -- man. But there was the veil, and we know quite well how that veil did hang between [88/89] them. When the Lord Jesus went to the Cross and that body was broken, then the innermost secret of His Person was revealed -- God was manifest. That is why you must have Christ crucified in order to know the wisdom and the power of God. You never get through to know the power of God except by Christ crucified.

This letter to the Hebrews says that the shattering of this whole typical system is to make way for the spiritual reality to become predominant, just as the breaking of that body of Christ led to the yielding up of the eternal heavenly secret of His Person. It will always be so. Not only is it true in relation to the destruction of Jerusalem in the year A.D. 70, but it will be true again at the end, when all that is merely external in representation will be shaken, broken, and proved to be temporary, transient, imperfect, and never leading through to the reality. When that happens, those whose lives are bound up with it will go with it. So there is some point in our stressing the necessity for an apprehension of what is heavenly and what is spiritual, and our coming into it.

These words are introductory and lead to something quite concrete. We have said that this shaking relates to an earthly system of representation and types. That, then, leads on to the bringing into view of the heavenly system. (System is not a wrong word. God is systematic. He is a God of order and has arranged this universe as a marvellous system. The evil is in making what is earthly take the place of what it is only intended to represent.) There is a counterpart of all that is in this letter. The thing that is brought in with this letter -- not discussed as such, but mentioned and taken very largely for granted -- is what comes in with chapter 3, verses 3 to 6.

It is assumed in this letter that the House of God is represented by everything here. It seems to come, in so far as the phrase itself is concerned, in quite a casual way, which implies that it is taken for granted. It is not something detached or unrelated. It is the thing which gathers up everything else. All that is taking place here is taking place in the House of God. It begins with the "Son"; it goes on with the "sons", the "brethren", the "children"; then the priestly ministry in the House; and before it closes it will speak about the Father's discipline in the House, the child-training of the sons; and the very subject of the inheritance and heirship is something which has to do with the House, the family, the household. The bare mention of the House of God does not suggest another subject, but it suggests the inclusiveness of everything here in the House. That House of God is the heavenly system of which the house of Israel was but a type, a foreshadowing.


It is necessary to all the Lord's purposes which are gathered up into that which we have been considering -- the bringing of children unto the full meaning of sonship -- to have the House, for all that development takes place in, and because of, the House of the Lord. Wherever you fail to get that which truly represents the House of the Lord, and which is in accordance with the spiritual House of God, you will get immaturity.

This House of God, fully constituted, is essential to spiritual maturity, and if you have not got it you find that Christians are immature. In what way is it essential? To begin with, there is nothing like a properly, spiritually ordered House for spiritual training. All the lessons that you need to learn can be learned in a properly ordered assembly, and the ordered assembly provides the background for the learning of those lessons. There are spiritual laws which govern the House of God, laws of relationships, laws of position, laws which the Lord enforces and demands shall be observed, which take away from us all our independence, and which definitely hold us into mutual responsibility. There is all the difference between a spiritual assembly as an organism, and the congregation. A congregation is a company of units. They come and go, and may do so for years, for decades, yet responsibility for one another spiritually never arises. But in a spiritually ordered and governed assembly the whole question and law of mutual responsibility for the spiritual lives of one another is demanded, is incumbent, is essential. Everything is relative. In that organism, if one member suffers all the members suffer, so very closely related spiritually are the members. In that organism there is no such thing as independence of action for life. The whole goes with the part, and the part demands the whole. In so far as that law breaks down, then the Testimony breaks down, the life breaks down, and God does not get what He is after, that is, spiritual maturity.

Read the letter to the Ephesians, the Colossian letter and the Corinthian letter, and you will see that that is running strongly through the whole, and wherever that law is not observed there is immaturity. In Corinth it was: "I am of Paul", "I am of Apollos", "I am of Peter". That is sectionalism, departmentalism, independence, detachment, fragmentary-ness, and the fruit is immaturity. The true spiritual fellowship is essential to spiritual growth, to maturity, and that is what is meant spiritually by the House of God. [89/90]

It is there that we get our training. If you come under the government of the Holy Spirit you immediately are related by that one Spirit -- by whom we are all baptized into one Body -- and are made responsible for other believers. If something comes up between you and other believers with whom the Holy Spirit has linked you spiritually, you cannot snap your fingers and say: 'Let them get on with it! I go my way and they can go their way.' The Holy Ghost sees to it that you cannot get on! It is like the dislocation of a joint in your physical body. You will be suffering in your soul and in your spirit. There will be an ache, and you will know that you have not got freedom of action and restfulness of heart. There will be something all the time which is working against the free, spontaneous expression of your spiritual life. This thing will be there all the time. What has happened? The Holy Ghost is witnessing against that and life is arrested. Why? Because of the fact that the law of the House of God has been violated. When you come into that realm and know that you are getting some training, you are learning that it is not only necessary to have fellowship and maintain fellowship, but that increase of spiritual life is that way, and increase of spiritual power is that way, that the Body builds itself up in love that way, that prayer becomes mighty that way, testimony becomes effectual that way, and everything for the Lord's ultimate purpose depends upon that. Unless you recognize that, all these things are weakened and destroyed. And so the Lord brings saints together and relates them in groups, smaller or larger, for the spiritual purpose of representing His House, and in order that the spiritual laws of the House should operate there. It is so different from organizing a 'church', and having a 'church' roll and 'church' services. It is something which is a spiritual order, and a representation of a whole heavenly system, or, rather, the heavenly system itself in operation. Can you see the difference between the Body of Christ and what is called 'the church' today? One is an organized system; the other is a spiritual, living organism. The one will pass; the other is eternal, indestructible, heavenly, spiritual. The House of God is essential.

The House of God represents an order. Just as truly and fully as Israel's life was ordered, so is the House of God. If you read the book of Numbers you get but the type and representation of the House of God as ordered. Then you look into the New Testament and you will find the spiritual principles which are embodied in the book of Numbers. You do not organize the Church according to the book of Numbers, but you find that the Holy Ghost orders the Church according to the book of Numbers.

You will have representative members. In the book of Numbers they are princes and heads of fathers' houses. Carry that into the New Testament and what does that mean? It means men who have been brought to a place of spiritual wealth and spiritual dignity in the House of God, and can take responsibility. Moses (as God, mark you: "Thou shalt be to him -- Aaron -- as God" -- Exodus 4:16) there at the door, and then all the fathers' houses gathered representatively at that door in these princes and these heads of fathers' houses, and God spoke from that door to all the households through these representative members.

Princeliness and headship are spiritual principles. Princeliness speaks of wealth and dignity. Headship speaks of authority and government. In the New Testament the ministry is the ministry of those who already have spiritual wealth and spiritual dignity, and have therefore, by spiritual maturity, come to a place of spiritual (not ecclesiastical) authority. They are not appointed officially, for you can never appoint people to be full of dignity, nor appoint anyone to spiritual wealth by a formal act.

That is a part of the heavenly order, and God takes great pains, when He gets things into His own hands, to see that that is how things are. The Lord is very jealous for princeliness. His people must be able to look up to those who represent the Lord's higher interests amongst them as their overseers, their leaders. That is a household thing, a Temple thing, a thing which is to have its expression amongst the Lord's people corporately, and a thing which means strength, growth and development. It is a great thing for young Christians to have had the advantage of having seen princeliness in their leaders, when those leaders were under provocation, were in suffering, affliction and trial, and to have seen the wonderful grace, graciousness, steadiness and dignity of the Holy Spirit, of the Prince Himself , reproduced in them. There is no small significance associated with that title of the Lord Jesus: "A Prince and a Saviour." Watch Him and see the princeliness! That, by the Holy Spirit, is reproduced in the House of God for the good of the House. It is not enough that there should be only one prince in a household. The Lord wants to develop that as a spiritual thing in all the members of the household -- to develop spiritual responsibility. Responsibility only comes to those of spiritual means and spiritual dignity; otherwise it is merely official and will lack something.

The order of God's House is many sided. There are the princes of fathers' houses; there are priests, [90/91] and Levites, and much more; all signifying the Divine, the heavenly system.

If only the Lord's people would recognize more that they are responsible for one another, there would be development and maturity. That is too long delayed so often. You remember the word which seems to touch this aspect of things most directly, from Ephesians 4: "When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto (or amongst) men ... and he gave some apostles; and some prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints unto the work of ministering, unto the building up of the body of Christ." That passage has been grievously mutilated by words being put in which are not there: "He gave some to be apostles." The word is: "He gave some apostles", that is, amongst men He gave them apostles, pastors and teachers. What did He give them for? For the perfecting of the saints unto the work of the ministry. If you put a break between those two sentences you upset the sense. It does not say or mean that He gave them for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the building up of the Body of Christ. It says that He gave them for the perfecting of the saints unto the work of the ministry. Leave the responsibility with those gifts, and the building up will not take place. It is only when the saints come into the work of the ministry that the building up takes place. When the saints are growing, being perfected, and taking up the work of ministry, the Body grows. If you use a definite article there and say: 'For the perfecting of the saints for the work of the ministry', you are in danger of making the ministry something apart from everything else. It is "... the work of ministering". The ministry is a general thing amongst the saints. All the saints have to be in the ministry, and it is only as they are in it that the Body is built up. Are you in the ministry? Are you leaving the ministry with the people whom you call 'the ministers'? If so, the Body is being deprived of something. If you are growing, in the sense of that word "being perfected", that is simply 'for the making complete of the saints'. If you are being made complete progressively, then that ought to be expressing itself in ministry, and that will result in the building up of the Body of Christ.

You see how the order of God's House is necessary to God's end; how the House is necessary because it embodies an order which is fruitful in the purpose of God.

(To be continued)
[This series was never continued.]


We acknowledge with gratitude the following gifts received during April and May, 1968:

Aberdare £6; Amsterdam, Holland £1; Apeldoorn, Holland £3; Arbroath 12s. 6d.; Ashcott £1; Auckland, N.Z. £1; Bangalore £10; Barry £1 5s.; Birkenhead £1; Birstall 12s. 6d.; Bognor Regis £10; Bromley £6, £1, £6, £1; Brynmawr £5; Constantia £3; Deal £4 15s., £2; Don Mills, Ontario £6; Edinburgh 10s.; Erith 10s.; Greystones £5; Hamburg, Germany £1; Hastings £5, £5; Hatch End £10; Henley-in-Arden £2; Hove £1, £1; Hull £2; Humbie £1; Kings Lynn £5; Lausanne, Switzerland 19s. 1d.; Leeds £2; Llanelli £1; London S.E.l 10s.; S.E.23 £5, £1, 10s., £5; Niagara Falls, Ontario £3 16s. 4d.; Norwich £3; Oberwinterthur, Switzerland £2; Parkside, S. Australia £4 12s. 11d.; Penticton, B.C. £2; Port Hope, Ontario 15s. 3d.; Port Jervis, N.Y. 16s. 7d.; Pretoria, S. Africa £5 16s. 2d.; Regina, Sask. £3 8s.; St. Boniface, Manitoba £1 10s.; South Shields 12s., 5s., 12s. 6d., 12s. 6d.; Teignmouth 9s. 6d.; Torquay 10s.; Wakefield £25; Westcliff-on-Sea 10s.; West Wickham £5; Wickford £1; Wiesloch, Germany £2; Woodbridge £2. Total: £191 10s. 10d.

Alexandria, Va. $10; Altadena, Calif. $10; Altoona, Pa. $5; Atlanta, Ga. $10; Beaumont, Texas $5; Birmingham, Ala. $10, $10, $10; Brooklyn, N.Y. $5; Butler, Ga. $10; Chicago, Ill. $10; El Monte, Calif. $2; Fort Worth, Texas $10; Goldenrod, Fla. $1; Hastings, Minn. $2; Hilversum, Holland $2.50; Ilion, N.Y. $3; Jemison, Ala. $15; Lansdowne, Pa. $5; Minneapolis, Minn. $5; New York, N.Y. $15; N. St. Paul, Minn. $10; St. Ann, Mo. $5; St. Paul, Minn. $10; St. Petersburg, Fla. $2; Santa Cruz, Calif. $3; Seminole, Fla. $5; Spring City, Tenn. $4; Tampa. Fla. $7; Vineland, N.J. $15; Washington, Kansas $21; Williamsport, Pa. $5. Total: $242.50.

Silver Lake, Oregon C$3.00; South Burnaby, B.C. C$1.00. Total: C$4.00. [91/92]



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