Called into the Fellowship of His Son

by T. Austin-Sparks

Chapter 3 - The Process of the Call

First Corinthians 1:9, "God is faithful, through Whom ye were called into the fellowship of His Son Jesus Christ our Lord." "Called into the fellowship of His Son Jesus Christ our Lord." I just want to bracket with that verse two other fragments in the same letter which will come back to us as we go on. In chapter 10 please, chapter 10, from the beginning: "I would not, brethren, have you ignorant how that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; and were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and did all eat the same spiritual meat; and did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of the spiritual Rock that followed them: and the Rock was Christ. Howbeit, with most of them..." you notice the emphasis that the apostle is making. This is the whole object of what he is saying: "all, all, all, all... but most". Most, not all. "With most of them, God was not well pleased; for they (most of them) were overthrown in the wilderness. Now these things were our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things".

I think that's enough, your eyes can glance down the rest of that part to the end of verse 13, and just retain, if you can, in your minds that passage and come with me over to the second letter and let us remember that the two letters are one in this: that they are both addressed to the same people and are part and counterpart of the same instruction.

Letter 2 and chapter 4, at verse 6: "It is God that said, 'Light shall shine out of darkness,'" or, as another version puts it, "God said, 'Let light be'". "It is God who said 'Let light be', who shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.'"

One more fragment from the next chapter, and, of course, in the original there are no chapters, it's a continuous line of teaching. In chapter 5, at verse 17, the very well-known words: "Wherefore if any man is in Christ, there is a new creation: the old things are passed away; behold, they are become new. But, all things are out from God."

"Called into the fellowship of His Son Jesus Christ our Lord." This is our fourth step in relation to that call and fellowship. First, you will remember, the Person of the call - our Lord Jesus Christ, God's Son. The second: the people of the call. The third, the purpose of the call, and now the process of the call, or of the fellowship with God's Son.

We have seen that the new beginnings of God in relation to His ultimate purpose, His eternal purpose, are all by way of what is called a "call." That word signified a change in the Divine economy, a change in the Divine progress. When He had made the garden, and the earth, and man, and had placed man in the garden and was able to say of everything, "It is very good, it is very good," God never had to call. He just was there. He was there with man without any necessity for calling or seeking. It was spontaneous. But as soon as man sinned, and his conscience fell into condemnation and he hid himself, God came into the garden and called unto Adam - "Adam, where art thou?"

And that was the first call in the Bible, the first note in the long, long drawn out call through the ages. It represented a changed position in everything, and God is now, from that moment, represented as the "calling" or the "seeking" God. And as we have seen earlier, right down through the ages He has been calling. He called Abraham: "Abraham, Abraham, Abraham!" He called Moses: "Moses, Moses," and so on. And as we have indicated, the call every time, or every time it alighted upon a human life, that call related that human life in some way to His Son, Jesus Christ.

Well, here we have it, not as a separate call, but the one continuous call of God through the ages lighting upon the people in Corinth, as God passes by, so to speak, and calls. He calls to them, and they make a response. They do make a response. I believe there were some better people in Corinth than you would be inclined to believe when you read it, but these people, good or not so good, had made a response to the call. And about them all the apostle says, "Ye were called into fellowship with God's Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord."

The point is that here in Corinth, or wherever that sound of the call of the Seeking God is heard, it is included in the long, long call or thought of God from the beginning when man had to be called. The necessity was to call him because he got away, until the time when the last trump shall sound, the final note of the age-long call and He will call us to be with Himself. He will call us up, and we shall hear the call. I trust we all shall hear the call.

But here in Corinth and in our passage which brings the thing to us, to peoples, to a company of people wherever they are, here then we are found right in this long, drawn out call of the Seeking God. His call in the past has been fragmentary, periodic, in different ways to different people in different situations, and in no completeness and finality. And all these fragments of the continuous call have been coming together, making up the full call until He appears in flesh Himself, in the embodiment of His Son Jesus Christ Who gathers all the fragments and all the times together and completes the Divine Call. There's no call after that. It's full now in Christ: it is complete, and it is final. He is the last sound of the Divine call.

We are called into the fullness and the finality of this continuous call of God through the ages, all summed up now in Jesus Christ who we know from the gospel stories as God now here, present, manifest in the flesh, a Seeking God. "For the Son of man has come to seek and to save that which" when? Away back in the garden, "was lost." He is now the completeness of the Voice of the Seeking God. He is God in fullness and finality. We have already seen in this passage that that call (1 Corinthians 1:9) was the long call through the ages into which believers at different times and in different places are called, are joined.

Now, here is a very significant thing as we move on. What we say may be very simple and may sound very elementary, but may I just say here in parenthesis, it's a very important thing, dear friends, that we should always see parts in their relationship to the whole. Or, to put that in another way, we must always have the comprehensive, and all-inclusive context or setting of any, any part, anything that we have.

You see, Christianity, and evangelical Christianity, has been reduced to fragments so that you get a constant drumming upon one fragment of the whole counsel of God. People become taken up entirely with a part, a fragment. It may, to them, be very wonderful. They may even think that it is everything; but they draw a circle around this particular aspect of truth, or a practice, or an experience, and make it the finality of everything. And that is why we have so many immature Christians and such weakness in the Body of Christ. It is very necessary for us to see every part in its full and comprehensive setting of the counsels of God from eternity if we are going to grow; if we are going to grow.

Our grasp must always be far beyond our reach. Do you understand that? We must always find that God is ahead of us. He is a long way ahead of us. We have not yet attained. Even at the end of the fullest life, we've not yet attained, nor are we already complete. The Lord is still ahead of us, and a long way ahead. If I may say so, as one who has been trying to catch up on God for sixty years, today He is so far ahead I just cannot, cannot get up to Him. He is beating me to it all the way! Yes, it's very true, and I hope no one here will ever think they've attained, they've got it all, they've got all the answers, and they know. And if you go on with the Lord, you will find that after the longest life, you will have to say, "Well, I have not yet attained. I don't know. I am more today out of my depths of comprehension than ever I was". The time was, at the beginning of my Christian life, when I remember with shame today, in a shot on one occasion in an argument, I said I understood the Bible quite well! And the very much older Christian looked at me and said, "You've got a lot to learn yet...". Oh no, this book after many years is beyond me, dear friends. I could tell you some things here that I have to say, "I don't know what that means!" "The Lord has yet more light and truth to break forth from His Word." Well, that's by the way.

And another parenthesis, I'm not in a hurry to get over everything, these things arise as we go on. Another parenthesis: I do not believe, dear friends, that it is a right thing to try and reduce everything for young Christians to utter simplicity. "Oh!" you say, "You must! You must make your pace according to their age". I don't believe it. I do not believe it! Some of the best Christians I know and the most useful to God are those who came into, into the place and the sphere where the fullest counsels of God were being given, given far beyond their spiritual age or growth, but they listened; they absorbed; they wondered. It was beyond them, but, but! What came to them was, "My, I have come into something tremendous! I really have come into something tremendous. If this is all true, how great is the thing that I have been brought into by simple faith in Jesus Christ!" Don't you think that's a good thing? A very healthy thing? So I am not for just whittling it down you know, and watering the wine and making it all so very, very simple. No, beat them! Every time make them feel, "My, this is beyond me, but it is very wonderful." They're drawn on. Now have I upset anybody? I don't know what's going on in these council meetings, I haven't been in one, I don't know what's happening about these young people you're gathering, but if that upset you, forgive me, but I must really come to this: we must spread our faith at every stage and every part in the context of the whole purpose of God. And if we just have tidbits and make bits of everything, we're not going to grow and lots of other things are going to come in. Well, that's all as parenthesis, on the way of the process of the fellowship of the call, that.

Now, I'll say here is something quite impressive and instructive: the Holy Spirit is writing these letters, the New Testament, and He is writing these letters to the Corinthians. That's what we believe don't we? Behind the writer, literally the man or the men, above his hand the Holy Spirit was dictating, and the ultimate result of the writing is an expression of the mind of the Spirit; and He is the Eternal Spirit. He is not only the Holy Spirit of A.D. 40, when these things, some of them were written, in that era, you see. He is not the Holy Spirit of Corinth and the people there, He is the Holy Spirit of all eternity and of the universe; the universe of God's thoughts and intentions.

And if you're not understanding what I mean, try now. The Holy Spirit has not left, as we would say, speaking in time measure, has not left the wilderness in which Israel were for forty years. With these people, He is back there. No, go further back. He has not left the time, the hour, whenever that was, when the Spirit of God brooded upon the face of the deep, and God said, "Let light be!" That's now, in the eternal now, you see? The Holy Spirit here in Corinth at this particular time is moving right back; that's how we speak. There is no past, present, and future with the Eternal God: it is all now, it's all now. And so what was in the wilderness with Israel, is for the Corinthians now: "These things were written for our example." That's now, and it's very important and very interesting and significant is it not, that the Holy Spirit does this. He reaches back to early activities and movements of God in His goings toward His full and final intention.

Here it is then, we're back with God who, from our earthly human measurement of time, who right back there said, "Let there be light," is the same God Who has now, in this apostolic age, "Shined into our hearts". The same thing as then, now. The same God as then, now. The same work as then, now. "God hath," the same God of the fiat, 'Let light be,' "has shined into our hearts".

The God who created heaven and earth and all things, is the same now in Christ Jesus: there is a new creation. A new creation: "In Christ Jesus, there is a new creation. The old things have passed away; behold, all has become new. But now..." and I always put tremendous emphasis on that word, "but" underline it, underscore it again and again. Now, because this is, this is the word to the Corinthians, and those letters "not of man..." not out of man, but all things in this creation are produced by God, they're out from God. Man is not producing anything now in Christ. In Christ, the first and the last, is out from God.

Now, that was the law of the life of the Lord Jesus, and a very strong law it was for Him. It was imperative. "The Son can do nothing out from Himself." It's a pity that Greek word has not been so translated. "Of Himself..." no, "out from Himself". Out from Himself - "The Son can do nothing out from Himself." He is producing a new creation, and a new order of man, a new economy, which is all of God. All of God! How testing that is! How challenging that is! We are ruled out in this. That is the argument of the first part of the Letter to the Corinthians. We are out of it. "The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God. He cannot know them." See all the great negative of God upon that former creation and now in Christ a new creation where this old man is put aside, ruled out, and everything from first to last is "out from God" in this new creation. There is a challenge in that.

If you and I are destined to go on with the Lord long enough, sooner or later we are destined to come to the place of utter helplessness in the things of God in ourselves, to be able to cope, explain, resolve, sort out, reconstitute, give the answer. No. No. No. That's why I so often say to people in a conference like this, you know, after the first message or two they come round with questions, questions, all full of questions. They want to get their questions answered right at the beginning and I usually have to say, "Wait until the end of the conference and perhaps you'll have no more questions to ask, the Lord will have answered every one!" So often that happens you know. They do come back and say, "Well, all my questions are answered!" The Lord has got to answer our questions. No man is an authority in this way. No man is a specialist in this way. The very, very best of God's servants is limited to get from God the answer. Well, we are back, you see, in the creation where it's all of God. Adam didn't bring any of it into being. God did, and it is all now in the Last Adam, all out from God.

So the Holy Spirit reaches back to creation, to the fiat of Divine Light, and to, in chapter 10:

Israel in the Wilderness.

Well now, here we come, here we are. In what position does the Holy Spirit regard these people in Corinth as being? What does the Holy Spirit see them as being? It is rather a terrible thing to say, but it is here you see, the Holy Spirit looks upon these people in Corinth as being in exactly the same position as Israel were in the wilderness. Again and again it comes down on this warning about Israel in the wilderness. "It's for you, for your example. That's where you are! And these things were written that we should not lust, that we should not... that we should not, and that we should not perish." Who? Oh, I'm involved now! I'm involved now, I'm not going to argue about it, but I am. Those who: "All, all passed through the sea... were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea." All partook of the same spiritual food, the same spiritual drink. "Corinthians! You're in that 'all'!" Now the great divide comes. Are you in the majority who perished, or are you in the "some" who survived and went through? "You're in the same position, Corinthians." I wish, I wish this got home really, today.

I'm in the way to getting into a lot of trouble this morning. But you know, I'm going to say it. I am convinced that in the majority, in Christianity as it is today, are in the position of Israel in the wilderness. The majority belong to that great mass who never got through, who never entered into all the intention of God in their call in their fellowship with His Son. I believe the New Testament teaches that it is possible for Christians to fail of coming to the fullness to which they were called in Christ and, in that sense, in that sense: fallen by the way, coming short. I believe the New Testament as a whole thunders on this. It really does thunder on this. If you want to know who the overcomers are in the book of the Revelation, just the people who went on and got right on and went right through. They do not stop short and, in that sense, perish by the way. Going on! Going on.

There is an "all," and there is a "some." They did all come out. They did all these other things, but some of them, with some of them God was not well pleased. He could not say, "It is very good." He could not say, "My beloved... in whom I am well pleased" with some. He could not say that.

Now we must hurry on. There is one all-inclusive factor and principle governing this whole issue, governing everything in the life of the believer, and it was this principle like a sword that Paul was thrusting into the situation at Corinth. This principle. Of course, as we said yesterday morning, the ultimate issue is God's place. It's God's place. That's what's going to determine, that what's going to be the criterion in the end; but the principle that governs everything in relation to that end, that full end, that governs this big question of the all and the some, is a matter of the heart. The undivided heart is the principle governing everything. That's precise, concise, and very pointed. But you take that back through the Bible and you apply that as you go on book by book, all the way along the big, governing principle deciding everything was the matter of the heart, divided or undivided. For our purpose the undivided heart is God's principle in this whole matter of attaining, of going through, of arriving. And so in the wilderness, the whole trouble with most of them, "the most", was:

The Divided Heart.

Well, we go back again, we must get our context. You see the book of Genesis. It's a very blessed thing you know, when you find that without any collaboration whatsoever, any discussion, or any talk between brothers in ministry as to what they're going to talk about, you find that in the Spirit they're saying the same thing in different ways, but the same thing, the Spirit is saying the same thing. And I am finding that is how it is just now, but it's rather embarrassing, isn't it? The Holy Spirit does embarrass us with this wonderful way of His. And so it becomes necessary for us to simply say, "Well, I never collaborated with my brother about this, although I am perhaps in another way saying the same thing!" He went over the first five books of Moses last night, and we're back here in these books this morning. Just to the Word for this particular pointing, underlining; the book of Genesis.

What does the book of Genesis say to us, among many other things, of course, but the thing that is paramount in this book of Genesis? What is it? It's a book of pairs (I don't mean the fruit pears) pairs of people. People in pairs. They're in two different categories, aren't they? Cain and Abel. You have got Abraham and Lot, you have got Jacob and Esau, and you have Isaac and Ishmael. Pairs; in two different categories, perhaps coming from a common stem, but one takes one line and the other another line altogether. They part on the way. And what is the thing that is determining that separation, that parting of the ways? One line has an undivided heart: the other has a divided heart.

Abel, Abel: the undivided heart, just for God. Cain? Well, he is in the line of Saul. If I were going out of the Pentateuch into the other, I should come onto David and Saul, the pair. We heard last night about the divided heart of Saul and the undivided heart of David. Cain and Abel, Abraham and Lot, Abraham the undivided heart and Lot the man who had other interests in this world than God's; his own – a divided heart.

Isaac and Ishmael and their history, as well as the spiritual principle, declares the difference. Isaac had his very existence, his very existence on the basis of an intervention from heaven, on the basis of the power of resurrection from the dead so that this is wholly of God if nothing else is! And he has a quiet life, you may find some faults about it, but the fact is he is just there; that's all. He's just there. And that may be a very good thing, you know! It might be possible that you are just there. You may not be an Abraham. You may not be a David. You may not be one of these great ones, you may just be there, walking up and down in the land. Do you understand what I mean? Or does it mean that because you are just there, you're just on the earth, that you have no significance? He signified by his very presence on the earth, the almighty power of God; the supernatural behind his very existence, he is the embodiment of the power of resurrection.

You'll read your New Testament in that connection, in the letter to the Hebrews and others, you know, "Abraham's body was now as good as dead," but he believed that God was able to raise him from the dead. And Isaac is the embodiment of that. "Well, I have no ministry, public ministry. I may have had, and the Lord may have just asked me to lay it down. I may not be a very prominent person in the Christian world of whom people are taking note, but I may just be [right] up here..." Ah yes, but where? As we said yesterday, holding the ground for God, standing on the ground of God's absolute ability to keep you alive, just keep you alive, when naturally it would not be so. Can you understand what I mean? Oh yes, don't you think that because you are an Isaac in the sense of the great place that he held in history, that you don't count so much as the others. You are "just there" walking up and down in the land, opening the wells. Opening the wells! Oh, that's something we turn aside on, we mustn't be drawn into it all, but he is a man of the wells, isn't he? Re-opening the wells that the Philistines have filled in, that the enemy had filled in. He's a man of Life whose testimony is one of Life in the midst of death, and he is just that. Oh, but just that? My word, what a thing that is for some of us! We would have been dead long ago if it hadn't been for this great, great truth: the power of His resurrection.

It is true of the one speaking to you, when [the expert] came down after a first major operation, when they put me in a side room because I wasn't going to live, and he looked at me the day after, he said, "You're a lucky chap, you ought to be dead!" If you reviewed the truth in the facts related to that, you'd say, "Yes, he's right, he ought!" But God's "ought" was different! I tell you that that's forty years ago. Well, you see what I mean; it's just this, well, here was a testimony, not in what we do and say all day, but what we are. See, I'm enlarging so much on these things.

Isaac, Ishmael. Go into the land of Ishmael today, and what do you find? No living testimony, no life. If ever there was an atmosphere of death, if you want to feel it, if you want to feel it go to Egypt. Go to the land of Ishmael, of Islam, my word, you feel it: the atmosphere is death! Well, over against Isaac. There's a divide. The principle that is deciding this, is the undivided heart. The undivided heart.

What shall we say about Jacob and Esau? It's difficult to extricate Jacob isn't it, for something, something wonderful. The God of Jacob? Well, we're told something about him, and we know something about him... do we? Yes, because we know something about ourselves, you know. There he is, but, but there's something in Jacob, deep down in Jacob, it may be largely buried, it may be covered by his own natural make up, all that, but there's something down in Jacob that is not in Esau. And what is it? It's a reach for God. He has a valuation of what is of God - the birthright, which is God's own gift, is more to him than anything else.

After all, he may be a difficult fellow, he may be all that you might say about this supplanter, but somehow or other deep down in that being, is this concern for God's interests. It is! It's God that met him on that ground at Bethel. God met him on that ground at Jabbok. There's something in this man which God has planted which, after all the externals, the vicissitudes of his life, the unworthy things, there is something there of a principle: a heart for God. A heart for God. It comes out in his later life when he's worn out, pretty much. All this other has been pretty well worn out, we hear him talking, hear him talking later on, and he is referring everything to God, attributing everything to God. He says, "because God... because God... because God. When I was away, when I was astray, when I was all this that you can say bad about me, yes, God had His eye on me. God had His Hand on me. God was in my life, interwoven with my life." Deep down there was this something that gave him a heart for God, better than his own heart.

Esau thinks of God's birthright: "Give me a good square meal to satisfy the whim of this moment, and you can have all the other." He "despised the birthright" is the word. Well, we can see the difference, the divide in these men, all the way along you have these pairs in Genesis.

To Exodus, we come to Israel now, from the individuals to the corporate body of the nation. The first great act of God is to cut in between them and Egypt. He must get them on to ground where He can get to work in them. So Exodus finds us with them in the wilderness. And what is happening here? They are out of Egypt, but Egypt is not out of them. Again and again, they hark back to Israel [Egypt], "Oh, for the onions and the garlic of Israel [Egypt]. Was there not bread enough in Egypt, to bring us out here to die of hunger? Were there not graves enough in Egypt that we should die in a wilderness?" Egypt is not out of their heart. Their heart out there is divided: that's the whole story. Read Psalm 106 and much more.

A Divided Heart in the Wilderness

If you are not sure of this, you pass into the fifth book of the Pentateuch, Deuteronomy, chapter 8, verse 2. And you know that that book is only a review of all that has gone before in Israel's life. Chapter 8, verse 2, what is it? "Thou shalt remember all the way in which the Lord thy God hath led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to try thee, to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest serve Him, or no." "Thine heart..." forty years of trying the heart; isn't that tremendous? All the way, forty years, the heart testing. It isn't as though God did not know. I believe the true, original sense is this: "that He might make thee know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep His commandment, or no."

It's all heart matter this wilderness business! Now, says the apostle, "You Corinthians are back there! With you, this is what is going on, it's a test of your heart, a finding out of your heart. Where's your heart?" Now read the letter again, and find out where the heart is. I'll tell you where it is, I'll tell you where it is.

And let me say, without intending to give offense (and there are plenty of stones outside if you want to throw them afterwards) that this letter is the letter of the Pentecostalism of those days. The gifts of the Spirit are here, more than in any other part of the New Testament: enumerated, underlined, and so on; recognised. And yet, and yet! What? With all that, it is proved that the heart in Corinth was for self-glory, self-gratification, soulish, enjoyment, even in Divine gifts. When it came back to that, these things, it was the things that mattered, things that were everything, Divine things. We saw in Saul last night, Divine things for selfish ends, for personal ends, for self-glory. Take them away, and suddenly set aside all these phenomena, all these manifestations, all these that are called "evidences" (and you know, the soul must have evidences, the soul must have evidences) take them away, and what have you got left?

I have known (this is the tragedy of it again and again) people who have made so much, everything of that kind of thing and then the thing has stopped. For them, something has happened to interrupt and it is as though it is all gone. What have they done? Either committed suicide or gone into a mental asylum under the conviction that they had committed the unpardonable sin, the sin against the Holy Ghost. They hadn't got the Lord, they only had the things! Take away the thing, and they had nothing left. Everything, for them, is in these sensational "evidences" as they call them.We are in that age today: more and more a psychic age, an age of the soul just spilling over, asserting itself, taking control of everything in Christianity as well as outside - a soulish age.

Now, if you are not thinking and seeing all that I am saying, let me come back here. What was the trouble with Israel in the wilderness? Well, if you turned over to your letter to the Hebrews (which is, of course, a summary of all the economy of those times), and you come to chapter 4, you'll come to Israel in the wilderness again. It's tremendously significant and instructive. You'll find yourself in Hebrews 4 with Israel in the wilderness. And what is the Word at verse 12: "The Word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the dividing of soul and spirit...". In the wilderness - dividing between soul and spirit.

Come back to Corinthians and your early chapters: "Now the natural man..." that's the man of soul. The very word "natural" in the Greek, is "soulical". The natural man... the natural man... "But he that is spiritual..." the spiritual man. Two different men in one, a soulical man and a spiritual man in one body, and God is cleaving between the two. He is trying to do that in the wilderness with Israel; to get in between the soul which must have these proofs and evidences. See? Must have something to prove, to prove their position is right, along natural lines, evidences and phenomena, and so they complain and murmur and grumble because they are called out into a place where God only is to be their recourse and resource.

And my word, this dividing work is a terrific thing, isn't it? Between the all, the most, and the some. Divided. That's here in Corinth, you see, the Corinthians are back there; Christians can be there, and this piercing, dividing, setting asunder work of the Spirit of God is sometimes a devastating thing. Dear friends, if you don't understand, don't worry. You'll understand some day if you haven't got there, but some of you understand how the Lord does not feed His truest, His truest most devoted children, with a lot of evidences and phenomena. He starves that side of our being so often. He says, "Trust Me! Trust Me, not for what I can do, not for the evidences that I give you, but trust Me for Myself!" Oh, how testing that is, how testing, but that's the issue in the wilderness, you see: not only out with God from the world, from Egypt, but the world and Egypt out of us.

Being keen for that again are you? Are you after the evidences? My, how I have seen them prostrating themselves, dear Christian people just prostrating themselves and groaning and crying, almost screaming for the evidence, the evidence – these, these "sign" things. Don't be offended with me, will you? I'm trying in God's name to get to the heart of our present, complicated situation; and it's becoming very complicated because dear Christian people and dear men of God, who have been greatly used, are creating an emotional, psychic situation involving simple Christians in things which are going, sooner or later, given time, to be a great disillusionment and an offense; an offendedness with the Lord, and that's just what the devil is after. Will you suffer this? Will you take it?

"Called into the fellowship of His Son Jesus Christ our Lord." But see His Life. See His life: "He emptied Himself, became obedient unto death, the death of the Cross."

Well, I've only got to Exodus and that's only half way isn't it, but it's the inwardness of this circumcision, the inwardness of it, the dividing of the heart or the making of the heart whole for God and undivided.

Shall I have a word about Leviticus and Numbers? Shall we? Well, just a word then, we've a long way to go. Leviticus. What is the book of Leviticus after all? Oh, it contains a lot of things, most of you don't enjoy reading it perhaps. Perhaps some of you young people may find it to you a bit dry and difficult to understand. Oh, but, but it's a part of the goings of God. It's a part of the call into the fellowship of His Son. And in a word, as brief as possible, what does Leviticus represent? Well, this. We can sum it up in this: everything, everything suitable to the pleasure of the Lord, the presence of the Lord in satisfaction.

Does that matter to you and to me? I am sure it must do. I'm sure it must do. What matters to me, what does matter to me? And it isn't the amount of work that I can do for the Lord or ministry. I am prepared to let that go any day; indeed, the Lord is having a hard job to keep me in it. Yes! It's real battles to stay in the ministry. No, it's not that. What is the thing that matters, whether I am in public or in private, in ministry or out of it, wherever I am, whatever I am, what is the thing that matters? It is the presence of the Lord with me. Is the Lord with me? Is the Lord with me? Is the Lord with you? Isn't that the ultimate thing, the final thing, the conclusive thing, the everything? That the Lord should be able to say, "I am with you." And if He doesn't say it and leave us to believe that what He's said in the Word about it is true to us, we don't always feel it, you know, that's what I mean.

I can't say that I always feel this wonderful presence. If you can, well, I envy you, you've got further along than I have. I don't always feel it, it's not always an ecstasy. It is a walk of faith, but, be that as it may, the thing, the thing that matters to you and me is the presence of the Lord. That's the book of Leviticus, it all turns around that.

Now then, all the detail in this book is a situation which makes it possible for the Lord to be present. And what word sums that up? "He is a Holy Lord." He is a holy Lord and when you come up from the level of the common people (may I put it this way?) gradually rising in rank and position and importance, up through the Levites, up through the sons of Aaron, up to the head at the top: Aaron, the high priest. And up to the top of Aaron, from his feet upward to his forehead, there is inscribed, "Holiness unto the Lord." Everything, everything, from the bottom upwards, is gathered into this head, gathered into this that is written: "Holiness unto the Lord". On that ground, the Lord is present, His glory fills the tabernacle. They all bow and worship. There's a solemn awe, but a deep, joyful awe of rest and peace. If the Lord is present it is rest, it is peace, isn't it? It is something very wonderful, deeper than words. "The Lord is in our midst."

We are silenced in His presence, when we feel Him present. We know His presence, we are silenced. We don't make a noise, we don't chatter, we don't gossip, we don't. No. There is something that is suitable to the presence of the Lord, and that's the book of Leviticus isn't it? In every detail, I can't go into it of course, all the offerings and the feasts, but it all amounts to this: a ground for the presence of the Lord, that He is happy to be there, if I may use the word. He's glad to be there, He's satisfied to be there, because it's all speaking of His Son, every feast and every offering is speaking of the Lord Jesus His Son!

And now on that ground, holy ground, your life on holy ground with Jesus Christ, "called into His fellowship..." you have that wonderful benediction: "in Whom I am well pleased." We haven't been able to get it all together yet, but I'm saying we are called into this. It's the call in the course of the movement toward the end and God grant it may be so. I don't know how it's going to be, it's almost impossible to believe it, for we know ourselves, but that it should be at all at the end: "Well done, well done good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord." "In Whom I am well pleased," because everything has been of Christ in undivided heart; like that.

Leviticus? Alright. Numbers? Numbers, I am not going into Deuteronomy, because I've said that's a comprehending of all the past history: a reiteration and a re-exhortation. Numbers though, what is it? Well, it's been called the book of wanderings, but for one minute I don't believe that. I think that's wrong; it's the book of journeyings. Forty times, forty times in the one book the words occur, "they journeyed... they journeyed... they journeyed". They're on the way, they're moving, in movement, at least they're in movement; they may be going around in a circle sometimes, but they're on the way! They are in the way in which God was doing this work in the wilderness of searching the heart these forty years in the wilderness. Journeying. Well, you must read it, look at it again.

And as I've said, it is all explained in Deuteronomy chapter 8 verse 2, these were the years "to know what was in thine heart," or " make thee know what was in thy heart..." thy heart, thy heart. The book of Genesis, and of Exodus, and Leviticus, and of Numbers was the whole course of the heart searching work of God. And the heart in the right sense dividing; that is, setting on one side what is not acceptable to the Lord and the gathering and securing of what is.

Unfortunately, and this is the tragedy, of course, only two of that great, mighty host got over and through and became the overcomers of that age; Joshua and Caleb went through, the others did not. Oh, may we not be there, may we not be there! The Lord is doing this work with us, isn't He doing it with you? He is doing it with me, finding out what is in our hearts, testing us by all manner of things as to where our hearts are really, after all.

You see, He will bring us to the place where we really honestly, honestly can say, "Lord, You are Life for me, and I have no other Life but You. But for You, I'd better be put in the grave. I have no interest to stay in this life, in this world, on this earth, if You are not in it, Lord." He is seeking to bring a people there, even in spiritual things. Dr. A. B. Simpson put it in his hymn: "Once it was the blessings, now it is the Lord." The Lord, because, "He has set the Lord always before his face." That's the vindication of David, wasn't it? He set the Lord always before his face.

Well, I've said enough for you to think about, and may the Lord grant that this time, this week here together, lets us find for Him a people of the undivided heart. May it be so, when He puts us to the test, He finds that, all right, anything can go, everything can go, but Himself. If only He remains the all, then nothing else matters. Like that, so be it.

We'll pray. We commit the Word to Thee, Lord. We commit our hearts to Thee. We commit the issue to Thee. Work on, then Lord, until on our hearts Your light shall break, and within Thy presence, perfected, we satisfied shall wake. Help us with all the trials of the way, the testings of the way, and may we come out of every one in the triumph of the Lord. The Lord, the Lord has triumphed! We ask this in the Name of Thy Son, our Lord Jesus. Amen.

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