Beloved of God,
I am writing this letter to you in the midst of the most acute
situation. Whether it reaches you is wholly with the Lord, but I
have a strong sense of urge and life to go on with it.
The question of the possibility of continuing our ministry was
raised in the last letter, and some friends interpreted it as a
notice of discontinuance. We did not mean it as such, however, and
we intend to go on so long as there is any way left open. A very
great deal of Christian activity in its more outward forms is
being brought to a standstill, or an end; and that, in many parts
of the world. It has now become difficult in many places - even in London - for the
Lord's people to meet together as they have been accustomed to do.
Indeed, for a year past for various reasons, companies of
believers have been scattered; first by evacuations in connection
with schools, hospitals, and businesses; and now by destruction
and assault. From one point of view, the situation is grim and
dark, and we find ourselves in the company of many of the Lord's
people in different ages who were scattered, driven literally
underground, and deprived of many an accustomed "means of grace".
But are we to call this "calamity", "disaster", "catastrophe"? It
depends on standpoint, and standpoint depends upon position, and
position depends upon fellowship with God. The question arises
everywhere, What does it mean? What does the Lord mean by it? The
danger is to allow the suggestion to gain access that evil is just
taking its course; that the Lord is just holding His hand and
standing back. If we fall into that snare we are finished.
Paralysis will take hold of us with an icy hand.
It is good to be in a position to be able to give the explanation
with certainty and settled assurance, and although the language
and wording may be difficult to understand, we essay to
communicate to you what we verily believe to be the Divine meaning
of what is being allowed on the earth. It is no emergency purpose.
That is to say, it is not something which has just come out of the
Divine mind for a day such as this. Rather is it only the
intensifying and pressing home by these conditions of what has
been the first and pre-eminent thought of God since His Son came.
It is just the very object and nature of the Divine purpose as
bound up with this whole dispensation. One of the earliest
recorded statements of Christ when here is "The hour cometh and
now is when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in
spirit and truth... God is Spirit, and they that worship him must
worship in spirit" (John 4:23, 24). That phrase "the hour... now
is" signified a new dispensation, and the nature of the change of
dispensation is indicated in the context by the other statement -
"The hour cometh... when neither in this mountain, nor in
Jerusalem, shall ye worship the Father". The thought for this
dispensation is that relationship with God, whether it be personal
or corporate, individual or Church, shall not be a matter of
places, buildings, forms, etc., but spiritual, a matter of "he
that is joined to the Lord is one spirit".
The one and inclusive thought of God for this age, then, is that
everything in relation to Himself shall be spiritual, and
spirituality is the key-word to the dispensation. This is why it
is the dispensation of the Holy Spirit in a special sense. This is
why men must be born of the Spirit. This is why the one concern of
such born-anew ones is spiritual
growth. The beginning of the true Christian life is a
spiritual birth. The course of such a life is spiritual increase,
growth. The goal is spiritual maturity, full growth. The education
is spiritual. The consummation of this life is a spiritual body.
The aim of the Holy Spirit is not now firstly or primarily to do things on the earth (that
was in the last dispensation) but to make spiritual people, and to
develop spirituality to fulness.
Spirituality is not an abstract element, but a kind of being, a
constitution. It is an organism with peculiar faculties for what
is of God. When we speak of a "Kingdom" we do not mean just a
sphere or realm, but a kind of being in such a realm. There are
the "animal", the "vegetable", the "mineral" and the "human"
kingdoms. So "the Kingdom of God" and "the Kingdom of heaven" are
realms in which only what is of God and of heaven obtains. There
is no passing from one "Kingdom" to another without being
reconstituted according to the nature of that kingdom. Thus the
true child of God is said to be a "spiritual" man.
We could say very much about this whole matter of spirituality,
but this is a letter just to help at a certain point, and the rest
must wait. The persistent course of man has been to bring things
down to earth, to make something of temporal power, reputation,
glory, appearance. One result of this has been so to associate
Christian life with outward customs, forms, places and activities
as entirely to confuse spirituality with these things. Two things
must always be taken into account. One is that God only blesses things as they really serve
spiritual ends. He has no interest in them as things in
themselves. Then the measure of spiritual
result is the measure of God's countenancing. Means are
comparative things with God, and His mind is to reach spiritual
ends as immediately and directly as possible; the means being as
simple, unobtrusive, and unimportant as can possibly be. So it
comes that, sooner or later, God will test the situation with His
people to discover the real measure of their spirituality; the
measure of real, inward, living, experimental knowledge of
Himself; just how much they can stand up to through that
knowledge, and what it will carry them through. We have no
question at all but that this is the meaning of all such times as
the present, and the coming days in the permissive and sovereign
will of God. Places, meetings, "fellowship", addresses, etc., may
be set aside, and without all these things, under deep suffering,
the test will be made as to how much of the Lord we really have,
and as to how much we really know Him. It will be just the measure of Christ in us
that will decide the issue. So the nature of the dispensation is
bound to be brought in clear definition at its end. Thank God,
Christ is to us all that is needed.
"In Him dwelleth all God's fulness,
In Him we are made complete."
May none of us find ourselves in the hour of darkness like the
foolish virgins, with insufficient spirituality, so that the door
of His fulness is closed to us. Spirituality cannot be obtained in
an hour of emergency, it is only proved then. Let us see to it
that we are not resting on things,
be they most devout; but rather learning to know the Lord.
Beloved, our spiritual fellowship remains and will be of great
value when earthly communications are suspended, and all things
here are under eclipse.
Our love in Christ to you all,
Yours in His eternal bonds,