"A Candlestick of Pure
Gold: of Beaten Work" Exodus 25:31
"The Testimony of Jesus" Revelation 1:9
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|May -- June, 1969
||Vol. 47, No. 3
FROM THE EDITOR
OUR last issue of the paper was in the press before we could give
fuller information regarding the change of premises, and we had to be
content with inserting a slip. We sought your prayers very earnestly on
this matter because it involved so much of concern for the right place,
and quite a heavy piece of work. The Lord very graciously answered
prayer. Every attempt that we made to get new premises was thwarted by
the authorities because we are in a residential area. We did have the
question as to whether we should move right out of the London area, but
there seemed to be no seal of God on this. Eventually, in a very quiet
way (just like the Lord) we were reminded that accommodation existed
outside the 'Fellowship Centre', at the back. A large hut, where years
ago the literature was dispatched, still stood empty and a 'workshop'
of considerable size was also available. The use of these places is not
outside of the law, and so willing hands got to work clearing, cleaning
and painting. We have been able to secure a small and comfortable house
nearby for the residence of Miss Guy and Miss Read. This all has one
particular advantage: for these recent years the element of uncertainty
and tentativeness has kept us in suspense, but now there is a sense of
release from this and we are hoping that concentration will result.
What the Lord means in the larger realm of the ministry we do not know,
but this will become clear as we go on. Just now the year seems to be
filling up with many calls for wider ministry, and your prayers are
much needed if all these are of the Lord.
It is never very difficult to surrender to the seeming hopelessness of
the situation in Christianity. Indeed, it is a constant battle to
believe that there can really be at the end a true expression of the
Church as it is revealed in God's Word, especially when we have seen
more clearly and fully what the Divine mind is as to the Church. It is
impossible to describe the real state of things, not only in general,
but in the churches themselves. If one were asked to put a finger on
the point upon which most of the trouble turns, I think that I should
say with considerable emphasis: the absence of real spiritual
discernment. In such a large degree the Lord's people do not see
Leaders, and those responsible, do so many foolish and unwise things,
constantly making for fresh complications and creating situations which
will sooner or later mean confusion and regret. It was because of this
that the Apostle fell [49/50] on his knees and
prayed that "a Spirit of wisdom and revelation" might be given to
believers and the Church. Impulse, reason, human judgment, sentiment,
and the ways of the world so much govern decisions, choices and
procedure, and often, because of disappointment and spiritual death,
there is a leaping to an apparent alternative which seems to promise
better things, but after a time proves to be an illusion and a mirage.
That prayer of the Apostle should be taken up in desperate earnestness,
as confusing spirits are so desperately in earnest to deceive and
confuse. Ask the Lord to raise up ministries for eye-opening, and
ministers whose eyes have seen! But, let there be no mistake
about such ministry. Spiritual enlightenment is the one thing
that Satan is most positively and vehemently opposed to. He will do
anything to prevent this, or discredit it. Because of this the Apostle
so much appealed for prayer that "utterance might be given" him, and "a
door might be opened to speak the mystery". It was for this that he
said that he was "an ambassador in bonds". Such ministry costs
everything! The battle is against letting something go, lowering
the standard, and compromising in order to obtain wider acceptance. The
Lord keep us faithful to "the whole counsel"!
We thank you again for your co-operation, and for the many letters of
appreciation and encouragement. - T. Austin-Sparks
THE CHURCH -- ITS NATURE, PRINCIPLES
3. THE CHURCH -- THE ANOINTED VESSEL
IN the Scriptures there are many ways in which the Holy Spirit's work
is spoken of. There is the 'receiving'; the 'filling'; the 'baptizing';
the 'enduing'; the 'gifting'. It is not our purpose to consider the
meaning of this variety of expressions, but to dwell upon one other,
namely, the anointing. The anointing throughout both Old and New
Testaments is shown to be both general and particular; comprehensive
The first thing about the general aspect of the anointing is that,
because it is the Spirit of God who is the anointing Spirit, the
anointing is God joining and uniting, and committing Himself to
whatever or whoever is anointed. It means that whenever and wherever
the anointing rests there God has to be reckoned with. To touch that is
to touch God. To obtain a real knowledge of this truth and fact we have
only to read those parts of the Book of Numbers which deal with the
Levites, the Tabernacle and the vessels thereof. Life and death were
bound up with all these as anointed because thereby God was bound up
with them. In the New Testament this comprehensive aspect is first
related to Christ and then to the Church.
The very word or name 'Christ' means Anointed. "Jesus of Nazareth, whom
God anointed ..." (Acts 10:38). To Him God was committed. To touch Him
was to touch God, as history has proved. In the end everyone is going
to be judged and their destiny fixed according to their attitude and
decision regarding Jesus Christ. What a tremendous amount of detail is
comprehended by this inclusive truth!
When we pass to the Church we find that, according to the New Testament
THE CHURCH IS THE ANOINTED VESSEL
On the Day of Pentecost a company of over five hundred men and women
were constituted the Church of God by the anointing of the Holy Spirit.
That company came under the anointed leadership of the exalted Lord
Jesus, for inclusive anointing was always upon the head. From
that time the Church carried into the world the implication of God: and
rulers, empires, and peoples had to reckon with God in the Church. All
that was true of Christ as the Anointed passed from Him as Head down to
the Church, His Body. It was not what the people were, or are, in
themselves, but because of the anointing although anointed people are
such because they do not stand on their own ground, but on the ground
It is taken for granted in the New Testament that truly born from
above, baptized believers have the anointing, and surprise is expressed
if the evidence is not present (see Acts 19:2-3, R.V.). Place alongside
of this reference 2 Corinthians 1:21, etc. The very place of believers
as "in Christ" places them under His anointing, or in Him, as the
But while the Holy Spirit is comprehensive and [50/51]
many-sided in meaning, the anointing is everywhere in the Bible
the term which has the particular meaning of position and function,
office and purpose. Satan (Lucifer) in his unfallen position is said to
have been the "anointed cherub that covereth" (Ezekiel 28:14). It was
evidently a particular position and function. So, prophets, priests and
kings were anointed for their position and their vocation. In the same
way the Tabernacle and all its vessels and instruments were anointed to
fulfil a particular purpose, and nothing could have a place or fulfil
Divine purpose without the anointing. Everything and everyone had to be
anointed for a specific use and purposely and no instrument
could either choose its own function and position, or do the work of
another. All this was God's law of efficiency, effectiveness, harmony
and blessing. Life and death were bound up with this principle.
The anointing has always been within the Divine sovereignty, and never
in the choice, power, or hands of men. It is a very serious thing to
either get or be put into a position for which God has not acted by the
When we come into the New Testament this law of the anointing is very
clearly recognizable as to both Christ and the Church. First the
sovereign act , then the many and various
functions. Both in the major appointments, such as Apostles and
Prophets, which mainly relate to the Church universal, and in the
particular functions in the local expression of the Church, the New
Testament is very clear. The Holy Spirit is seen to be the custodian of
the gifts, functions, appointments, and enduements in the churches. It
is God's order; to overlook, to ignore, to violate, to exceed
this law is to mean an affront to the Holy Spirit. This will result in
confusion, limitation, and divisions. Where men have put their hand
upon a work of God the subsequent history has invariably been twofold:
divisions and the relegating of such men to a place where discredit
rests upon them, and their place of full usefulness has been lost. On
the other hand, there is a no more heartening and inspiring truth
revealed in the Scriptures than that, by the anointing every
member of Christ has a particular function and value. The anointing is
different from natural ability and qualification. The least gifted
naturally is not thereby disqualified from Divine usefulness, and the
most gifted or qualified naturally has no advantage here. The anointing
is unique. Just put together 2 Corinthians 1:21 and 1 Corinthians
1:26-30, and all of 1 Corinthians 2.
In the Tabernacle of Israel there were great vessels under the
anointing, and there were such humble instruments as the snuffers, but
even the latter were anointed. Now, be careful! It was anointed
snuffers. There are plenty of people who take on themselves the
function of snuffing. They will snuff anything, and snuff out
anything. The snuffers of the Tabernacle were not for reducing or
extinguishing the light of the testimony, but for keeping it fresh and
from making an unpleasant atmosphere. It needs the anointing for such a
There is another thing that we must always remember, and it is that every
vessel, function, and place derives its value from its relatedness to
all the others. Indeed, no one vessel however important, has either
meaning or anointing apart from all the others. The anointing is one
, although in a variety of operations. The lamps demand the snuffers,
and the snuffers are absurd without the lamps.
All that we have here said is only an indication and pointer to a very
large and important realm of Divine truth; many volumes would be
required to exhaust and expound it all. But surely if this be God's
truth, it is enough to -- at least -- indicate
(1) the real nature of the Church, churches and their function;
(2) why there is so much weakness and confusion, and loss of Divine
(3) why the enemy is so concerned to counterfeit the Holy Spirit and
thereby defeat the anointing of which he was once deprived. This latter
will be a particular characteristic of the last times. That is why in
the Scriptures, the anointing had such a close and vital place with
warfare. Think on that!
THE TESTIMONY OF THE BLOOD
"And the Lord said to the serpent ... I will put enmity
between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed: He shall
bruise thy head ..." (Genesis 3:15).
"... the old serpent ... and they overcame him because
of the blood of the Lamb, and because of the word of their testimony,
and they loved not their life even unto death" (Revelation 12:9,
THE Testimony of Jesus is first mentioned in the
Scripture by the Lord Himself in the above words (Genesis 3:15). It is
all gathered up in that one clause: "He shall bruise thy head." The two
things combine in that clause: "He", the Person, and "shall bruise thy
head", the work; and that with a certain special significance: "thy
head", which is 'thy dominion, thy government, thy sovereignty, thy
crown'. Then we have the Cross introduced immediately as the scene and
centre of the establishing fully and finally in Him of this Testimony,
the central element of the Cross being the Blood of the Lord Jesus. The
Blood; that is the central factor in the Testimony of Jesus -- the
Blood of the Lord Jesus. I want to remind you of the inclusiveness of
the Blood of the Lord Jesus, that in the first place it has to do with
sin. It is immediately related in that passage in Genesis to what had
taken place and to what had entered into the world. Sin, and sin in all
its aspects; sin as transgression, overstepping the mark; sin as
lawlessness, revolt against God; sin as shortcoming, coming short of
the Glory of God; sin in every form in every way. The Blood of the Lord
Jesus has to do with sin in the meeting of it, the destroying of it,
and ultimately in the wiping of it from the universe. The Blood of
Jesus Christ is directed against sin.
Then, in the second place, it is related to all that is meant by that
symbolic word: "the flesh". And the flesh here does not mean merely the
principle of sin, but it means the kind of person man is when he has
fallen into sin. That is the fallen race, the species which came into
existence when sin entered in -- an entirely different type of being
from that intended by God. "He is become flesh" (Genesis 6:3). The
Blood of Jesus Christ has to do, not only with the sin as the principle
and the law of the fallen race, but with the race itself; not only to
wipe sin from the universe, but to wipe that race from the universe; to
put away that kind and type of man and make possible and secure a new
creation, a man, not after the flesh type, but the Man after the Spirit
type, such as Christ in resurrection.
The Blood, in the third place, is related to the consequences
immediately following upon sin and the race becoming what it did when
sin entered. That is death. "The soul that sinneth, it shall die." "In
the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." "And," says
the Spirit through Paul "as by one man's disobedience ... death passed
upon all for that all have sinned," and death is the universal and
immediate consequence upon sin and the sentence concerning the race.
Death in all its range and depth; death in every realm, spirit, soul
and body. The Blood testifies concerning death and has a work to do in
Then, in the fourth place, the Blood of Jesus Christ not only deals
with the consequence and the fruit, but with the cause and the root,
and Satan himself is involved in this mighty issue in the Blood of
Jesus Christ. He is taken up in the Testimony of Jesus, and taken up in
Firstly, he is taken up as "the prince of this
world" -- "The prince of this world cometh"; "Now shall the prince of
this world be cast out."
Secondly, to Satan as "him that had the power of
death, that is the devil". It is not only the death, but him that had
the power of death, and the word "power" there is neither the familiar
word: "dunamis" -- force, nor: "exousia" -- authority, but it is the
other word: "kratos", which means 'to hold'. It is the grip of death;
the one who holds in his hands death, the one who has the hold of
death; and in that connection the Blood speaks concerning him, that
through death -- and the Lord Jesus getting for a moment into the hold,
the grip of death -- He should destroy him that had the hold of death,
that is the devil.
So the Blood deals with him in both those capacities. That is the
Testimony of Jesus as in the Blood of the Lord Jesus.
THE ISSUE IS THAT OF LIFE AND DEATH
Now we see that the main issue in the Testimony of Jesus, in and
through and by His Blood, is the issue of life and death, or death and
life. That is the main issue. Oh, do follow me closely, for you will
see in a moment some of the great content of this thing. The main issue
in the Testimony of Jesus as by the Blood of Jesus is the issue of LIFE
AND DEATH. If the Lord's people recognized that enough, they would have
their ground set and fixed, they would know exactly what their business
is in the world, and they would have a full explanation of all that
which they meet in the spiritual realm when they become related to the
Testimony of Jesus. IT IS THE ISSUE OF LIFE AND DEATH. It is not only
of sin and sanctification, and it is not only the issue of an old man
and a new man, but in all that, and over all that, and around all that
is the far bigger issue, the issue of life and death. And until this
main issue is recognized the whole question of sin, and of the new man,
and the new race, and the bringing in of the new creation, and of the
escape of men and women from the power of Satan unto God could never
be. You will be held up until you recognize the main issue. Where does
the whole question [52/53] of sanctification
begin? Where does the whole question of a new creation begin? Where
does the whole question of the emancipation of souls from the grip of
Satan begin? It all begins at the place where the power of death is
met. It is not sins with which you and I are contending, nor merely
with the old creation. We can be locked up and bound and tied by the
absorption and obsession with our old man and never get anywhere. We
can be locked up and tied hand and foot with all kinds of truth and
teaching about sanctification, the question of sins or sin
specifically, and get nowhere because we are not recognizing the main
issue. The main issue is death, the power of death, and we have got to
come to that central issue of the Blood of the Lord Jesus -- the
question of life and death. That is the Cross at its heart. Unless the
Lord had settled that issue once and for all in His Blood in the Cross
then all other matters would have failed entirely and there would have
been no complete Gospel.
Then, that being the Cross and the content of the Cross, we see what
the Testimony of Jesus is in essence. It is the Testimony to life,
making possible a new creation. That Testimony, when it really is
recognized at its centre, is a Testimony concerning life which is
brought into being upon the basis of death being destroyed, death
having its power broken, and him that had the power of death being
nullified. When that Testimony comes into being, and it is recognized,
and anyone enters into that Testimony and makes that their testimony,
what happens? Immediately the murderer is brought out.
THE ENEMY OF LIFE COMES OUT
He who, as the Lord Himself said, was a "murderer from the beginning",
always has acted in that capacity towards any who were called into the
Testimony of Jesus, whether in the Old Testament or in the New.
Abel was the first to take up the Testimony in history. What was Abel's
testimony? The Blood! Whether Abel understood all the content of that
symbolic thing or not is not our concern for the moment, but God
understood what it meant. He had established it, and it was His way
through all history. That fragment in the Hebrew Letter has governed
all sacrifice in the mind of God: "without shedding of blood there is
no remission." The Blood was the key from the first movement of sin in
this world in the mind of God, and Abel himself stepped into that
Testimony of the Blood with all its significance concerning sin, death,
the race, and him that had the power of death -- and immediately the
murderer came out and Abel was murdered, not by Cain, but through
Cain; and so it has always been! When later Abram set up his altar and
divided his sacrifice, the conflict commenced. You read about it in
Genesis 15. The vultures descending, the beating off until the sun went
down, the horror of great darkness -- and then the coming through of
the Lord. What is it linked with? It is linked with the revelation of
the Lamb and the Blood of the Lamb by which his seed, after four
hundred years in Egyptian bondage, was going to be emancipated. The
Lord gave him the revelation of His method in the earth. What was that
for? To get a people who should be in the nations apart from
the nations, for the Testimony of Jehovah. Israel was to be God's
corporate testimony in the earth, amongst the nations, and be
constituted and sustained upon a principle of blood, the shed Blood.
And when the Lord would come forth to reveal the nature of the
Testimony in the earth as corporate in His people, Abram meets the
impact of the horror of great darkness, and there is set up in the very
atmosphere a state of conflict. You carry it on in the case of Moses
himself: the conflict in Egypt, and the continual conflict through his
This is the explanation of the attack upon Elijah, when he had erected
his altar and stood for the maintenance of the Testimony of the Lord in
Israel. When he stood on Carmel for that Testimony by his altar, and
that Testimony had been established and vindicated against the false
prophets, nay, against all that produced the false prophets and their
system -- the power behind -- THEN JEZEBEL THREATENS HIS LIFE. Satan
anticipated Moses by the slaughter of all the innocents to get one,
as he anticipated Calvary in the Lord Jesus by the slaughter of the
innocents to get One . And here, in the case of Elijah, because
he is standing for the Testimony in Israel, the best and most suited
instrument to Satan, Jezebel, is taken up, and Elijah's life is
threatened. This is the key to all those murderous attempts in the Old
Testament upon individuals and upon companies of the Lord's people. It
is the explanation of the Book of Esther, when Haman would have all the
Jews massacred. Why? Because they were God's instruments in the earth.
The devil is against the Testimony in that people; they are the target
because they are the testimony. Stand in this true Testimony of the
Lord Jesus, in the power of the Holy Ghost and not in the
theory of the thing; stand in it truly, and as sure as anything is
certain the enemy of life will come out, and that is the explanation of
all your experience in the work of God, and in your own personal life,
in body mind and spirit. I am saying one of the most tremendous [53/54] and solemn, and yet one of the truest things
when I say this.
THE TESTIMONY OF LIFE TRIUMPHANT OVER DEATH
Now we take up the whole thing when we take up a part, because there is
no part. You are in it or you are out of it, and you cannot have a bit
of it. Immediately, by faith and in the Holy Spirit, you become really,
vitally related to the Testimony of Jesus, you are in that great issue,
that supreme issue of the Blood -- the conflict between life and death,
death and life. You are in it, and in that realm there is only one
thing, and that is
THE WARRING FAITH OF THE SON OF GOD
There can be no passivity nor generalities in that realm. You cannot
afford to take recreation in that realm. The praying has to be fighting
prayer, and, oh, there is need for a revival of fighting prayer! The
ceasing to say prayers, pray prayers, to take these jaunts in prayer
all over the place, and come right to the mighty issues and battle
through in the Name of the Lord. There needs to come more real fighting
prayer into the Lord's people. You ask the Lord to give you the warring
faith of the Son of God in prayer! It means that there has to be a very
strong stand taken in that warring faith, and a refusal to be diverted
by circumstances and appearances. Is the Testimony to you something
which, if it were taken away and you have nothing left, you go
with it, or is it something you have taken on and that you can change
as you change your clothes? Will you be stripped of everything if that
Testimony of the Lord Jesus is taken from you? If it is like that, you
will say: 'Well, there is one thing which for me is a matter of life or
death, and that is the Testimony in which I stand, the Testimony of the
"And they overcame him because of the Blood of the Lamb, and because of
the word of their testimony, and they loved not their lives unto the
death." Does that sound like a contradiction? "Unto the death." Abel
was killed. But "they" are not dead, and Abel is not dead. Paul, like
Jesus, was slain. But they live in "the power of an endless life"
because Jesus has conquered death and "him that had the hold on death".
By His Cross and by His Blood He conquered!
THE GREATNESS AND GLORY OF GOD'S NAME
THERE are certain truths and concepts which dominate the whole Bible,
and which are gathered into a single word. They are like a bunch of
keys which, if you possess them, unlock the entire revelation of the
mind of God. The most inclusive of these is the word 'Name' as relating
to God. You have only to look at the pages of a concordance where the
word occurs and you will feel overwhelmed by the number of occurrences
in every book. And not just the number of occurrences, but the immense
associations and connections of the Name. I wonder how many books would
be needed to write something on all these statements about the Name!
Here is indeed a theme that would keep preachers going for years! It is
not only the titles of the Lord; that is wonderful enough; but it is
what is meant by the Name of the Lord. We can do no more than approach
it; never exhaust it.
WHAT IS THE NAME OF THE LORD?
1. The Name of the Lord is the full content of His character. It is
what He is by nature and constitution.
This has always been an idea in naming. Sometimes it is prophetic. The
Lord led to the giving of a name because the named would be what the
name meant or implied. The Bible has much on that line, both as to
people and places. Sometimes He changed names with the implication of a
changed nature. Without giving a specific designation, such as Jehovah,
El Shaddai, etc., on numerous occasions it is just: "the name of the
Lord", "My name", "My great name", "My holy name", and so on, meaning
just what and who God is.
Allied to this concept God is shown to be exceedingly jealous for His
Name. Indeed, the great things which God is on record as having done
for or against those concerned are said to have been acts of jealousy
for His Name. The effectual ground of appeal to God for intervention
and help has been that of His Name, His very character. God must
be true to His character. To 'take the Name of the Lord in vain' is to
use it out of harmony with His character. God has a reputation and He
cannot allow that reputation to be injured. He called a people out of
the nations for His Name, which meant showing forth what God is like.
When that people, in character and conduct, [54/55]
violated the principle of the Name, He flung them from Him and no more
called them "My people".
This was the one and sole burden of the Prophets. They were raised up
and anointed for the sole purpose of dealing with what was contrary to
the Name -- the character of God. The Name of the Lord is a solemn and
glorious trust, a trust to be guarded and honoured. But we must
remember that it is not only the title of a Person, but the
very character of the Person, which is to be guarded as a most sacred
deposit or entrustment!
This is the clue to Jesus Christ. Note His jealousy over His Father's
Name! Note how that affected His own walk in this world. He came in and
for His Father's Name, reputation, honour, glory and rights. His life
and His work had His Father's vindication as all-governing. God has
taken two thousand years to answer the discrediting of His Name as
embodied in His Son. Israel has been, and is, God's terrible example of
God's jealousy over this fact: that Jesus Christ bore, lived, died and
wrought for the Name of God. He was a revelation of what God is like
and they slew Him ! This is a clue to Christianity. Christians
are said to be "baptized into His Name", and to have His Name called
upon them (Matthew 28:19: James 2:7). Hence, God is jealous over those
who truly bear His Name. To touch them is to touch Him!
But this is a trust and it should be an incentive to life and conduct
worthy of Him. It should be the motive in our attitude toward any
situation which involves His honour. A proof of this principle of the
Christian life is that any true Christian cannot hurt the
Lord's Name and character without the Holy Spirit giving a sense of
grief. The Holy Spirit is the present custodian of the Lord's Name and
honour, and He is very sensitive to His trust. A mark of
spiritual maturity is an increasing sensitiveness to the pleasure or
displeasure of the Lord; just as a mark of immaturity is that things
contrary to the Lord -- in speech, act, conduct, dress, appearance,
discourtesy, vulgarity, rudeness, etc. -- can be indulged in and
repeated without that inward sense of shame. To bear the Name of the
Lord means a jealousy on our part for the honour of the Lord, and "They
that honour me, I will honour, saith the Lord". As Christians who carry
the Name of the Lord, to be true to that Name we ought to be
progressively taking on the character of the Lord. Paul said: "And they
glorified God in me." The Name, therefore, is a challenge to character.
It must be ever remembered that the one greatest object of the great
adversary is to dishonour the Lord's Name, and this brings the Lord's
people into the great battle of the ages.
Both the individual Christian and the Christian Church are the trustees
of the Lord's Name. What a lot of history of suffering and adversity is
associated with this truth! It explains a whole mass of the troubles
which the assemblies experience. If Christians were more awake to what
is involved in their troubles -- individually and collectively -- how
much more would their jealousy for the Lord's honour make them act and
react differently! Their motive would be: "For the Lord's sake!"
2. The Name of the Lord is the embodiment of His work.
For the sake of His Name He has worked and does work. He makes Himself
a Name by His works, and we can count on Him to work for His Name's
sake. His works are many: He saves for His Name's sake; He keeps; He
gives grace; He sanctifies; He corrects; He delivers; He chastens; He
leads in the paths of righteousness for His Name's sake'.
What a Rock of confidence, assurance, comfort, is the Name of the Lord
when we view it in this light! What a ground of appeal we have when we
really hold an issue to His Name! "What will you do for your great
name?" was the appeal in a very difficult and threatening situation
long ago (Joshua 7:9).
"I wrought for my great name", said the Lord (Ezekiel 20:9).
All the mighty work of Christ by His Cross is now gathered into His
Name. All the power and ability to work by His servants is in virtue of
His Name. (See the book of Acts.) All the ultimate overthrow of the
adversary's kingdom, and the bowing of every knee will be in His Name.
His Name is called ... because He saves! Effectual work is when
the workers correspond to, and stand upon the Name.
3. The Name of the Lord is the embodiment of His Purpose.
God is the God of eternal purpose. To that purpose He has committed
Himself. Being Who and What He is, He could never undertake anything
that He could not finally accomplish. To be defeated in, or cheated of
His purpose would mean losing His Name, His reputation, His character.
This can never be! Hence, infinite persistence, patience, pains, are
components of His Name, and if He is finally resisted by an instrument
and vessel of His purpose, He will make another vessel. The first
generation that came out of Egypt resisted Him unto death -- their
death -- but He raised up [55/56] another
generation and realized His purpose through them. He is the God of Hope
because He cannot be ultimately defeated. The valley may be
full of bones, very many, very dry, and very scattered; God holds the
key of hope in the power of resurrection. Resurrection is God's unique
answer to otherwise utterly hopeless situations. Hence He is called
"the God who raiseth the dead". He will eventually stand possessed of
His purpose for His Name demands it.
For the weakest soul who pleads His Name He will show His jealousy, if
only and truly it is for His Name's sake! His Name stands or falls with
such, and it cannot fall!
We are very deeply conscious of how utterly inadequate our effort to
extol the Name has been and we can only hope that, as a part of this
ministry, it will serve to make some impression. Our common and
familiar language and phraseology concerning the Name of the Lord needs
redeeming from the commonplace. To say: "hallowed be thy name", and "In
the name of the Lord Jesus" to every prayer needs to have the immense
significance of what we say restored and recovered. Indeed, the
numerous mentions of the Name in Scripture need to have a new impact
and meaning as we come on them.
"The name of the Lord is a strong tower: the righteous runneth in and
is raised above" (Proverbs 18:10).
"They that know thy name will put their trust in thee" (Psalm 9:10).
"In the name of our God we will set up our banners" (Psalm 20:5).
"I will set him on high, because he hath known my name" (Psalm 91:14).
"Dear Name! The rock on which I build,
My shield and hiding-place;
My never-failing treasury, filled
With boundless stores of grace."
FOR BOYS AND GIRLS
HOW GOD KEEPS HIS PROMISES
JOSEPH had a lovely house in Arimathaea, but he liked best to journey
up to Jerusalem to the lovely house of God. The Jewish Temple was
indeed beautiful, but unhappily much went on there which was not
pleasing to God. Joseph, however, was one of those who hoped for the
better days when the kingdom of God would really come. He expected it
in his lifetime, but in any case he wished to arrange that even if he
died he should be buried as near as possible to Jerusalem, which he
regarded as the capital city of the coming kingdom.
So he made enquiries and found that just outside the city walls there
was a garden for sale. He found the owner and bought it, not because he
wanted a garden, but because he knew that in it there was a great solid
rock which would serve his purpose well. He arranged for workmen to get
busy carving out a great cave from the side of this solid rock and then
he had the cave prepared for a tomb, feeling that by this means he
could be certain, even if he died, of being near to the house of God.
It was a rich man's tomb, but then he was a rich man, and did not have
to bother about the great expense.
It may seem strange to us that a man should be planning his own
funeral, but to Joseph the place of his burial was a very important
matter. He found comfort in thinking that when he was dead his body
would lie so near Jerusalem, which was the nearest place he knew to the
kingdom of God.
Now Joseph was not only rich; he was an important man. He belonged to
the council of seventy rulers who were in charge of the religious life
of his people. When the Lord Jesus came to Jerusalem to preach about
this kingdom of God which he was expecting, he naturally listened
carefully, and he came to the conclusion that Jesus was certainly the
Christ for whom he had been looking.
The difficulty was that none of the other rulers would accept Jesus.
They were full of spite and unbelief, so much so that when Joseph's
friend, Nicodemus, tried to put in a good word for Jesus he met with a
very hostile reception. This made Joseph decide that the best thing to
do was to keep quiet about his own convictions. Of course he would
never agree to the Council's plots and threats, but would just keep
silent. So he became a "secret believer", a man who was convinced of
the truth but afraid to commit himself. Even when Jesus was condemned
to death he kept silent.
Poor Joseph! As he stood by the Cross and saw [56/57]
the sufferings of the Lord Jesus he felt more miserable than ever that
he had been ashamed to show open friendship to Him. Then when with a
great triumphant shout of "It is finished!" the Saviour died, he could
bear it no longer, and determined to throw aside his fear and take his
stand on the side of the Lord Jesus.
But it was too late! What could he do now? Jesus was dead, and soon His
family and friends would come and take His body away from that horrible
Calvary and bury it. But no! Jesus had no friends to do this for Him.
There were only a few frightened women there, and what could they do?
Then it was that he realized that there was something after all that he
could do. His lovely new tomb was in a garden just by the side of the
hill. He no longer felt any fear, so he boldly went in to the Roman
Governor and asked permission to bury Jesus of Nazareth. The permission
was given. He and his friend, Nicodemus, heavy with sorrow and full of
shame at their previous cowardice, took the body and gave it a most
When Joseph put the stone over the mouth of that cave he thought that
his heart would break. He had failed his Lord. And yet, though he did
not realize it, he had been used in a wonderful way to fulfil God's
Word. Many hundreds of years before either Joseph or Jesus were born
Isaiah had prophesied that Jesus would die among the wicked and yet be
buried with the rich. The Jews fulfilled the first part by having Him
crucified between two thieves, but how could the rest of it be
fulfilled? How could Jesus have His body kept safe in a rich man's
tomb? Joseph was the answer. He provided the tomb.
It must have been wonderful for him to find on the resurrection morning
that the tomb was no longer needed, and that he could now openly show
his love to Christ. No more secrecy for Joseph! He was filled with the
Spirit and glad to confess Christ as his Lord.
And no more worrying about where he was to be buried, either. The
kingdom he looked for had truly come. With a heart full of love and
rejoicing in eternal life, he thought no longer of death and tombs, but
of his new brothers and sisters in the faith. So he gladly sold all his
possessions -- including the garden tomb!
Joseph's story teaches us a wonderful lesson. It is that God can look
after every detail of our lives if we commit them to Him. Through
Joseph He provided His Son with just the right tomb in the right place,
where His body could wait for the Easter morning of resurrection. Which
helps us once again to say that "We know that all things work together
for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to
his purpose" (Romans 8:28). The Lord Jesus proved it. Joseph of
Arimathaea proved it. What about you? - H. F.
Some years ago a much-used servant of
God gave a series of messages which have been a great help to many
Christians. From that series we have selected the following, believing
that it well help many at this time.
THE BLESSEDNESS OF THE UNOFFENDED
[J. S. H.]
"Blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me"
"These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not
he offended" (John 16:1).
One of the greatest perils of the Christian life lurks in the common
pathway of discipleship. It is the peril of being offended in Christ.
The fellowship to which the Gospel summons us inevitably brings a
constant new and humiliating discovery of self, an unvarying
disturbance of established order in our lives, as His will corrects and
opposes our own; and a ceaseless effort to attain to the ideal; that
is, to make our lives as followers increasingly correspond with His as
Forerunner. And the danger is that we are apt to break down under the
test and training of it all, to go back and walk no more with Him, to
become, in fact, offended in Him. It is always possible, despite every
sincere profession of the soul, that what God meant for blessing should
become blight to us by our misconceptions. It is always perilously
possible that the light of today may become deep and impenetrable
darkness tomorrow, by our failure to obey and keep step with Him, by
our lagging behind or turning aside from the compelling guidances of
Christ's companionship. Men have, in this way, unconsciously and
imperceptibly put themselves far out of the range [57/58]
of Christ's ordinary influences; and have become, like the derelicts of
the ocean, occasions of danger and disaster to countless other lives.
But Christ, with that absolute frankness which is a large part of His
attractiveness to men, cannot be held to blame for such pitiful
defections. For He never disguises the otherwise unthought-of
possibility. In His Evangel He combines welcome with warning as none
other has ever done. His Word, while it opens the very heart of God to
our consciousness, opens also our own hearts to us. By Him we come to
know the Father, and by Him also we come to know ourselves. He reveals
the entire faithfulness of God to us, but He reveals also the
instability of our own wills, and the untrustworthiness of our own
emotions. He treats us not as ideal but as real men; and forewarns us
of the destruction that wasteth at noonday, as well as of the
pestilence that walketh in darkness. Hence it is that to the most
earnest and self-convinced of us all He says: "Blessed is he
whosoever shall not be offended in Me. " The implicate is obvious
and ominous. But the reality and richness of His grace is the
sufficient and silencing answer to every one of our fears. The
blessedness of the unoffended, despite all the danger without and the
weakness within, is the possible acquisition of each one. And it is
Now it is necessary to remember the meaning of the word "offend". In
its original form it is the very word we frequently use -- scandalize,
and has the force of causing to stumble. So we may translate and expand
this saying of Christ as being: 'Blessed is he who does not find in Me
any cause of stumbling, who can keep his feet in My ways; who is not
tripped up by any obstacles in the path into which I have directed
him.' He uses the word quite frequently in this sense; as, for
instance, when He speaks of a man's hand or eye being a cause of
stumbling to him, when He denounces those who cause little ones to be
offended, and when He declares that in the day of His glory all things
that offend shall be rooted out of His Kingdom.
But He never uses it so surprisingly as when He declares the
possibility of men finding occasion of stumbling in Him. We are
prepared to find it in the world, in the opposition of the devil, in
the proven insincerity of others -- but in Him![?] This is surely the
most startling of all His warnings. For in Him we have already found
life and salvation, guidance and peace, inspiration and satisfaction.
And now to contemplate finding in Him also any cause of offence fairly
staggers us. Had this word been applicable to men of the world, it
would have occasioned little, if any, surprise. For instance, we are
not greatly taken aback when those who knew Him so familiarly should
treat Him so contemptuously and say: "is not this the carpenter's son?"
Nor are we entirely unprepared to find that the Pharisees were offended
in Him when He spoke to them of the evil thoughts, adulteries, murders,
and the like, which proceed from the hearts of men; for his words
convicted them of sin. We are not much surprised that He should be a
rock of offense to those who are avowedly disobedient to His demands.
But that His own friends, those who really know Him, and have been
admitted into the intimacies of fellowship with Him, should find cause
of offence in Him is passing strange. And its very mystery warns us to
take heed to ourselves.
The setting of the first of these gives us the key to their
significance. John the Baptist was languishing in prison on the shores
of the Dead Sea as the outcome of a life of the utmost faithfulness. He
had been tremendously loyal to Christ, splendidly in earnest concerning
his mission, wonderfully courageous in giving forth the message
committed to him, and yet it had all ended in a dungeon.
What a test for such a man!
It seemed as though his faith, his self-restriction, his willingness to
decrease that Christ might increase, had all been unrecognized and
unvalued. His experience so entirely contradicted God's assurance, that
it is easy to understand the perplexity of mind which led him to send
his disciples to Christ with the pathetic query: "Art thou he that
should come?" For here is One who has avowedly come to deliver
captives, and yet He does not deliver the man who, more than all
others, seemed to have claims upon Him. He has proclaimed His own
mission in terms of sympathy and love for the heartbroken, and yet here
is a crushed and heartbroken man of whom He apparently takes no notice.
Is it to be wondered at that at last doubt overcomes faith, so that he
sends the messengers to Christ in the hope that He will declare Himself
plainly, and interpret such utterly inexplicable and contradictory
experience to the one who had at immense cost to himself maintained a
devoted loyalty to the Son of God? Christ's only answer to these
messengers is an exhibition of His sovereign power over the forces of
destruction and death, and an injunction that they should tell John
what they had seen, and give to him this message which calls for a new
triumphant trust on his part: "Blessed is he whosoever shall not be
offended in me." For it means that in the pathway of blessing the
providence of testing will always be experienced. Its implication is
that there is true peace only for [58/59] that
man who will trust Christ when he has no external aids to faith, who
believes Him when he sees only the seeming denial of his confidence,
and who holds to his loyalty without stumbling when His treatment tests
his endurance to the uttermost.
The second of these words of Christ helps us to understand how His
message to John applies to ourselves: "These things have I spoken
unto you, that ye should not be offended." Spoken as they were on
the eve of His departure, when the fierce tests of discipleship were
about to be experienced by His followers, they imply that they will
need to stay their souls on the things He has told them concerning His
purpose and power, if they are to avoid the peril of stumbling and
going back from Him. For they are bound to come into experiences of
test and strain as they carry out their consecration vows; and "in
those days", says Christ, "be true to your own best experience of Me.
Rest on that which no man can take from you -- the personal knowledge
you have of My grace. Hold to those things I have spoken and shown to
you. Be loyal to Me. Trust Me entirely, despite every unexplained
mystery and seemingly unnecessary tribulation. And you shall not be
stumbled but strengthened by these very things which are all of My
Now it is not disloyal to Christ to say this: that He not only masters
men but mystifies them also. While He blesses them He bewilders them
too, so incomparably higher are His ways and thoughts than ours. He
persuades us to love and loyalty; but He puzzles us too, often to the
point of distraction. He certainly answers the questions of our hearts;
but at the same time He arouses even more than He answers. And in the
life of every true follower of Him, there will always be, as there was
in His own, some great unanswered "Why?" None of us will ever be exempt
from the need of acquiring by faith and patience the blessedness of the
For think of an ordinary and typical instance of offence. It is not
commonly a matter of open backsliding, of heartless renunciation of the
truth, or of bitter denial of past experience. Rather does it begin
with the disappointment of some hope, the failure of an expectation,
the weariness of an unanswered prayer, or the ache of a heart which
seems to evoke no sympathetic answer from God. All this generates an
unspoken and almost unspeakable distrust; and as we brood over it, a
sense of injustice grows, a feeling that we have not been treated quite
fairly by Christ, which becomes positive resentment. Until, after a
while, His yoke becomes irksome; we challenge His right to control our
lives so; and it all ends in a secret repudiation of His mastership,
and often in an outward renunciation also of all spiritual interests
and aims. This is a typical cause of offense in Christ. And how many
there are all around us of whose lives it is a true description! From
small beginnings of distrust the largest disasters grow. If two
parallel lines are produced into infinity, there will never be any
variation of the distance between them. But let them diverge at any
point by only a hair's breadth. Then the farther they are produced, the
wider the divergence becomes, until at length there is a universe of
distance between them. So with our fellowship with Christ. The smallest
distrust or disobedience is charged with the potentiality of the
infinite; and if undiscovered and unchecked, will eventually put an
eternity of distance between the soul and the Saviour. If, therefore,
we can estimate some of the unchanging certainties of discipleship;
explore some, at least, of the perilous causes of offense in Christ;
and at the same time also establish a new relationship of implicit
trust with our Lord, we shall be saved from this threatening peril. And
this is surely the aim of His forewarning Word.
There is first of all the severity of His requirements. When we first
come to Christ the pathway seems to be strewn with roses, and the air
seems filled with sweet and soothing perfumes. For while Christ is
absolutely frank with us, and veils nothing of the hardships and
conflicts we must endure, our own powers of apprehension are so limited
that we see but one thing at a time, and that one thing is that Christ
meets all the need of which we are then immediately conscious. Hence we
march to a glad strain with which our hearts are in tune. But before
long we discover that the conditions of companionship are severe. For
instance, we find that a real separation from the world in spirit and
purpose is entirely necessary to the maintaining of fellowship. We find
that we cannot march to two tunes at once -- and the world's strains
are seductive indeed. We learn that we cannot keep step at the same
time with Him and with popular opinion, with Him and the world, nor
always with Him and the outward professing Church.
And when this discovery is made, it often means that men are offended
in Him. For His demand involves a costly disturbance in the regulation
of home and business and social life, according to His order. It means
possibly for some the relinquishing of a kind of popularity which
exists only because of shameful silence regarding Him. It involves
others in the severance of ties which have become a large part of their
life, and the sacrifice of material prosperities which partake of the
nature of unrighteousness. It means for all the [59/60]
end of self-indulgence, a crucifixion in order to a coronation, a
dethronement in order to an enthronement.
And when all this comes to be clearly apprehended, then it is that men
are offended in Christ. When He says: "Cut off thy right hand; pluck
out thy right eye; forsake all that you have; take up the cross and
follow Me", then comes the test which determines everything. Then too
often men go back to walk no more with Him. Not because they do not
understand Him, but because they have come to know Him too well! When
He comes to be recognized, not only as the Christ of the sympathetic
heart, but also as the Christ of the steadfastly set face, then great
is the blessedness of the unoffended.
Then there is the mystery of His contradictions. It often seems as
though Christ were unsympathetic with our best desires, with those
desires which have originated in our fellowship with Himself. You want,
for instance, to do some great service and to fill some great sphere;
but Christ's answer to your longing is to set you down to face the
difficulties of a small work in a place where there is little, if any,
recognition of your toil. You ask for spiritual service, and all that
has been granted is a monotonous round of secular duty. And you are in
danger of being offended in Him, just because there seems so little
justification for His treatment of your high aim.
Or, you have asked the gift of rest, and claimed His great promises on
this head; but the answer has come in the necessity for stern and
continuous conflict. The fires of temptation blaze around you, not
less, but far more fiercely than ever, and you are both puzzled and
provoked at such a fulfilment of the Word upon which you have hoped.
Or, you have desired to have a life less burdened and strained, but His
only response has been to impose other and heavier burdens upon you.
And you are well-nigh offended in Him. The mystery of it all baffles
every serious purpose, and the temptation to distrust is at times
almost too much.
Now it will help us if we remember the simple fact, that He knows and
does just what is best both for the development and repression of our
lives. In reality, He is only unsympathetic with our egotisms. He only
seeks to destroy within us anything savouring of self-love, self-pride,
and self-sufficiency, and to reproduce in us something of the beauty of
His own character. In His contradictions rightly apprehended we may
always see the expression of His perfect wisdom with regard to our own
highest interests, and the interests also of the Kingdom in which He
has given us a share. Then "blessed is he whosoever shall not be
offended", who accepts the direction of Christ as His love, and trusts
Him, 'when to simply trust Him seems the hardest thing of all'.
Beyond these causes is yet another in the slowness of His methods. We
come to Him and put our lives under His control, expectant of immediate
realization of a deliverance which shall lift us beyond all concern
regarding temptation and opposing forces. But how disappointingly slow
is this realization; and how hardly won are our victories even when we
are reinforced by His Spirit.
Quite early we find that life is not a song, but rather a strife; that
the grace of Christ is not a mere ecstasy but rather an energy which
works painfully for righteousness in us; and that it takes all the
watchfulness of which we are capable to occupy the ground already
conquered, as well as to conquer fresh territory. And the slowness of
Christ in this matter of our own spiritual conflicts is often the cause
of offense to us. For it disappoints our hopes, and contradicts our
misconceptions as to anything like a passive and easy victory over our
strong enmities. But in reality, this method, slow though it may seem
to us, is the only one He could possibly pursue, having in view the
greatness of His purpose and the contrariety of our nature. And every
experience of victory, however small and insignificant, is prophetic of
an ultimately complete triumph.
If you go into the Observatory at Greenwich you will see there a
delicate instrument, by means of which the astronomers measure the
distances of the stars, as well as their magnitude. Upon a sensitive
mirror is reflected the light of the star points; and a measurement of
the angles at which any two of the rays meet furnishes sufficient data
for all the astounding calculations of millions of miles. And so it is
in our lives. By estimating what Christ has already done we are assured
of His unvarying purpose. Every bit of experience of His power to
sanctify, to cleanse, to redeem, to deliver, is prophetic of the whole
-- "that he who hath begun the good work will perfect it." And if we
cling to this fact, we shall find it an inspiration to the steady
continuance of faith, and shall not be offended because He works so
slowly -- and surely.
The same is true also in regard to the progress of the Kingdom whose
interests we are called to serve. How often we find in the slowness
with which spiritual results are achieved a cause of offence in Christ.
We begin by expecting that when we lift up Christ we shall immediately
see crowds flocking to Him. We imagine that we have but to [60/61] work faithfully in the service of God and man,
and results are certain to be apparent. But how different is the
realization! How hardly souls are wooed and won! How true it is that
tares grow up with the wheat! How certain that he who goes forth
bearing precious seed must needs weep as he goes!
And the difficulty of believing that God is on the field when He is
most invisible is too much for many who commence to work for Him with
high hopes and valiant beliefs which seem all unjustified. Like the
disciples, they think that "the Kingdom of God should immediately
appear"; and in the discipline of their enthusiasm, and the conversion
of their consecration into continuance, they are apt to be "offended".
Now it would not be difficult to bring instance upon instance to prove
that, in spiritual work, when results are least visible they are often
most real. The worker who will go on without the stimulus of outward
success, who will continue His witness even when he is met by cold
indifference, who will carry out Christ's work in the unfailing
inspiration of knowing that it is His work, is the one who gets the
blessedness of the unoffended. And part of it is in the certain harvest
of all his sowing, and the sure reward of all his service.
But perhaps over and above these suggested causes of offense in Christ
is the unreasonableness of His silences. I have every sympathy with
John the Baptist in his perplexity: 'If this is really the Christ, why
does He not act as Christ? Why does He do nothing to deliver His
captive herald, or to bring peace to his troubled heart?' One visit
from Christ would have changed his prison to a palace. One hand-clasp
from Him would have transmuted his gloom into glory. But He did not
give it. Just so was it also at Bethany, when He left Martha and Mary
to their sorrow for two long and weary days. I sympathize with them in
their utter inability to understand His delay in the light of His love;
and in the implied protest of the word with which they at length
greeted Him: "If thou hadst been here, my brother had not died." His
silence seemed so entirely unreasonable. And still does it seem
unreasonable when He apparently pays no heed to our prayers, and we cry
as to a silent heaven. Who does not know this bitter experience and the
subtle temptation lurking there? You have prayed for the conversion of
loved ones, but they are apparently today as unyielding and impenitent
as ever. You have prayed for temporal things which seemed entirely
necessary, and no answer has come. You have sought relief from some
pressing burden, but no lightening of the load has been given; and
today it is heavier than ever. And the thought that Christ's silence is
unreasonable is never very far away. Loyalty to Him is strained sorely,
almost to breaking-point. It is almost excusable to be "offended" in
Him. But as with John in prison, and the sisters at Bethany, and hosts
of others in all ages, He is not unmindful, however His silence may
seem to point to it. He is training them, and us, to undaunted faith,
to live in the realm of the unseen and eternal; to walk in His own
steps. Sometimes what we call unanswered prayer proves beyond question
a greater blessing than the desired answer could possibly have been.
When Christ responds to our requests in the negative, we may be certain
that the positive would have been for our undoing. He withholds
secondary mercies to teach us the importance and value of the primary.
His denials are our enrichments, not our impoverishments. For His
purposes are vastly bigger than our prayers; and while His speech may
be as silver, His silence is as gold. "Blessed is he whosoever shall
not he offended in me."
'These things have I spoken unto you; that, despite the severity of My
requirements, the mystery of My contradictions, the slowness of My
methods, the unreasonableness of My silences, ye should not be
offended.' What things were these? What will secure His people against
the peril of defection? What are the permanent securities of our faith?
In a word, the sureness of His way before us -- "I came from the
Father", "I go unto the Father", "I am the way." Then the certainty of
His love towards us -- "The Father Himself loveth you." And the
constancy of His union with us -- "Ye in Me and I in you." These are
the germ-truths of all His forewarnings. And their expansion is in the
lives of His people. Blessed is he who resting upon these facts of God,
makes them the factors of his own life; and goes on unoffending and
unoffended, always radiant with "the peace that passeth all
understanding", and increasingly becoming part of the world's
illumination as he reflects is Lord.
But let us beware of putting any undue value upon our mere perception
of this truth. Let us beware of over-estimating the strength of our own
resolves and resources. Let us beware of saying anything like: "Though
all men should be offended because of Thee, yet will I never be
offended." Rather, in a sensitive, humble dependence on Christ, which
always expresses itself in iron devotion and loyalty to His Word, let
us seek to live as men of manifested faith. For this is the condition
which governs all the blessedness of the unoffended. - J. S. H. [61/62]
"AS I WAS WITH MOSES ..."
Reading: Joshua 1:1-9.
"Certainly I will be with thee" (Exodus 3:12).
"And he said, My presence shall go with thee, and I will
give thee rest" (Exodus 33:14).
"As I was with Moses, so I will be with thee"
I WANT, as the Lord shall enable me, to bring to you this word as it
came to Joshua, who stood on the threshold of an altogether new life,
with the land open before him. His whole attitude and purpose was that
of Hebrews 6:1: "Let us go on!" And what would be the secret of it all?
"As I was with Moses, so I will be with thee." You will remember that
there was a moment when the Lord said to Moses: "Speak unto the
children of Israel, that they go forward" (Exodus 14:15); and the
purpose of this word is to remind ourselves that the Lord who calls us
to go on is the Lord who is leading us on. It is not our strength and
our responsibility to go on, it is His, and He pledges Himself and
gives Himself to us for that. So my thought is not so much to open up
an exposition of Scripture as to impress this deeply on our hearts: God
says, 'I am with you!' "The Lord thy God is with thee." He was with
Moses -- and how was He with Moses? That is what we want to consider,
in order to know the kind of God who says to us: 'I am with you.' Moses
His servant is dead, but Moses' God is not dead! He is still alive, and
He is still the same! "As I was with Moses, so I will be with thee."
GOD'S PRESENCE A MATTER OF DIVINE GRACE
What was the first characteristic of God's presence with Moses if not
that it was a matter of Divine grace? Moses, of course, is the one who
is always used to represent the Law, and in some senses he does; but I
think he is used very often in that case not so much because he
introduced the Law, but because the Law which he introduced and his
name became associated, and thus his name became associated with a line
of things which were opposed to grace. So in the New Testament it is
often Moses, as it were, versus Christ, the Law as against grace; and
yet there never was a man in all the record of Scripture who lived his
whole life not upon the basis of a legal relationship with God but upon
the basis of pure grace.
Turn to the eleventh chapter of the letter to the Hebrews. Here you
will read about a mighty man of faith, but before you read about the
faith of Moses you find something that happened before ever he had
consciousness. The faith was not first of all in him but in his
parents. God was with Moses before ever he made the grand decision to
be with God. Just let that come home to your hearts! For it is true of
you, if you are a man or woman of faith. God alone knows how true it is
of all of us! Before ever Moses came to mature years and decided that
he would be God's, God provided a love and a faith that took him and
presented him to God. Is that not grace? God began the movement, where
Moses was concerned. If Moses was going on it was because God started
him going on, and so he began on the basis of pure grace.
And then you know how he broke into things when he became forty years
old, and, as it seemed, spoiled every purpose that God had for him and
had to flee for his life. If the beginning of Moses was grace, the call
of Moses was sheer grace, for, after leaving and abandoning all that
could be for God, and the forty years' caring for sheep, Moses himself
did not resolve in the end that, after all, he would go on. God met him
and said: "Certainly I will be with thee!" What grace! When Moses went
away to the land of Midian he had forfeited everything. Everything was
a failure, a breakdown and a miserable fiasco, and he reveals what went
on in his own heart by the names of the children that were given to
him. Joseph did the same. When Joseph married in Egypt, he called his
first son Manasseh -- "God hath made me to forget": 'The past is
finished and my father's house is all gone.' He called his second son
(and second thoughts are usually best in the spiritual life) Ephraim:
"fruitfulness". Moses called his first son Gershom -- "I am a stranger
here": 'I have lost everything, my home, my own people and my adopted
people, my mother's home, my foster-mother's home, my prospects,
everything that might have been, and even my God. I am a stranger
here!' I suppose he felt that he deserved that, for he had cut across
God's purpose and got in the way, and all this had happened to him. Mr.
Legality was belabouring him rather hard! He [62/63]
had another son -- and again second thoughts are best, for he called
this one Eliezer: "God is my help." He remarked when he put that name
upon the boy: "The Lord saved me from the sword of Pharaoh" (Exodus
18:4). 'I am not dead. Every thing else may have gone wrong, but I am
alive, and I am alive by the mercy of God!'
So the whole atmosphere of this call, so far as Moses was concerned was
the sheer grace of God to him. God had pitied him and had been his
help. And it was the sheer grace of God to the people of Israel. Make
no mistake about that! Stephen says that they thrust Moses from them,
saying: "Who made thee a prince over us?" They rejected him. Open the
third chapter of the book of Exodus, and what do you find? Does God say
to His people: 'Well, you are a lot of fools! I have provided you with
a man who was to be your deliverer and your judge, and you have
rejected him. It serves you right!' The Lord said: "I have surely seen
the affliction of my people which are in Egypt ... and I am come down
to deliver them" (Exodus 3:7). It is the grace of God all round
whichever way you look at it. Neither Moses nor God's people, Israel,
have any claim upon Him at all. If they ever had, they had forfeited
it. Oh, but "who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity?"
(Micah 7:18). He wipes the slate clean. He remembers these erring
people, and He remembers Moses, and appears to him in a flame, a
burning flame that goes on burning.
Moses did not turn aside to that bush because it was a burning bush. He
must have seen thousands of burning bushes; but they all burned out.
This was a bush that burned, and went on burning -- the burning flame
of God's love and His grace. Moses turned aside to that. The Lord was
saying to him: 'I am still here. I still stand by My word and by My
promises! Come now, and I will send thee, but not as though I was going
away from you, certainly I will be with you!'
"As I was with Moses, so I will be with thee." Moses had died, but
Moses' God is still alive. The word to Joshua is the word to us, if we
will take it. Let us go on! How shall we go on? "As I was with Moses,
so I will be with thee, I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee." But He
was with Moses as a God of grace, and if you go through the story with
that in view you will be struck by how true it was, how at every turn
and step of the way somebody failed, somebody, as it were, let God
down. The people doubted Moses, they doubted Aaron, they sinned and yet
all the time God went on with His people and He never forsook them. The
cloud was always with them by day and the pillar of fire by night. For
forty long years God was with them, and always as a God of grace. When
Moses sought the revelation of the Divine glory, you will remember that
what he received was a revelation of God's grace, and his whole basis
of appeal to God for the people had to be this -- the pardoning mercy
and love of God. That is not just a matter of sentiment. It is very
precious to the heart, and we can never make too much of it: that the
God who says He will be with us is supremely marked by this -- that He
is the God of all grace. His basis of relationship with us is not a
legal one, but of sheer sovereign grace. I say that it is not merely a
matter of pleasant thought. Going on depends upon that! Move off the
ground of grace and progress is immediately arrested. You see, the Lord
said: "Certainly I will be with thee!" What basis is there for
certainty except in God's grace?
Now the people again and again, and yet again, had a question about
God. They said: 'Is the Lord with us? Can God provide a table in the
wilderness?' God said: "Certainly I will be with thee!" The only ground
of assurance is the ground of grace. Move off that ground and your life
becomes a big question mark; and how many of the children of God today
have their life curled up into a question mark, doubting, wondering,
sometimes full of confidence, and at other times in the depths of
despair! "Certainly I will be with thee!" With thee!
'Well, Lord, it must be on the ground of sheer grace if there is any
certainty about Thee being with me!' "Certainly I will be with thee!"
You see, Moses, at any point of the way, could have given up, and would
have given up if he had not lived upon this basis.
If you look at the matter from a purely earthly, reasoning point of
view, you will say that the man who lives with the law always before
him -- what is right and what is wrong -- will live a holy life, and
the man who says that God's grace is glorious and wonderful and abounds
to the chief of sinners will do all sorts of things he ought not to do.
That is what men have always said, reasoning as men. But how does it
work actually? Like this: Here is a breakdown and a failure. Legality
says: 'The Lord is angry with me. The Lord has broken with me and it is
no good!' And what does such a man do? He plunges into more sin! After
all, that is what the people of Israel did again and again. They had
broken with the Lord and so they went headlong on their foolish way.
The same failure and breakdown, and yet a sense of the infinite mercy
and pardoning love of God, even to me, melts my heart, and I long never
to fall in that way again. That is how it works spiritually, though [63/64] the opposite is man's reasoning about it. I
think it was John Wesley who said that the great mark of people who
believe in salvation by works is that they never do works and never
have any confidence about salvation. Legality brings a question. It
does not bring a passive hopelessness, but a positive drive of despair.
"Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity?" What a holy
life Moses lived, not merely because he knew God as a holy God, but
because he knew in his own heart something of the infinite riches of
the grace of God to an undeserving sinner, and, knowing that, he was
able to say: 'Let us go on!' That was the mark of this man all those
forty years in the wilderness. We are going on because God is going on,
and God is going on, as far as we are concerned, because He is such a
God of grace that He says even to us: "Certainly I will be with thee!"
Then, if Moses had dealt with the Lord upon a basis of legality as far
as the people were concerned, he would have left them behind. He would
have broken with the people of God and said: 'I am going on alone!' And
that is another great danger of legality, and therein lies the saving
virtue of the power of the grace of God. It binds us to God's people in
love. God went a very long way with Moses, and went so far as to say to
him: 'We have finished with this undeserving, miserable crowd of
offenders. I will wipe them out, and we two will begin again.' And
Moses rejected that. He said: 'No, Lord, it is Thy people, and we are
all going on together!' and though some, as we know, fell in the
wilderness, the purpose of God went on in His people, and Moses was
saved from a spirit of separateness by the grace of God. He never
despaired of God's people, though they were enough to provoke despair.
He clave to them and pleaded for them before God. He was not blind to
their faults. He was a nursing father, but not an indulgent father. Oh,
but his heart was full of love to them! He never forsook them, with all
their faults; he brought them in intercession, faults and all, to God.
That is very important, dear friends. Let us go on, but not alone. Let
us go on in our home, where there are other children of God, but not
alone; not cancelling the others out -- wiping them out, as it were --
and saying: 'They are not going on, so I will leave them and go on!'
The grace of God is such that, while it is true these others may have
grieved Him and failed Him, He has not forgotten them and has not left
them. How can you and I ignore them, in our assemblies, and in all our
contacts with God's children, wherever they are found? There is a
sense, I know, in which we must press on, whatever others do, but there
is also a sense in which we will not. Because of the greatness of God's
grace we will not despair of His people. We will not harshly and
critically rule them out. We will bring them to Him in prayer, if by
any means we may prevail yet further on the grace of God, that His
people may indeed go on with Him.
So this matter of knowing the grace of God is very important, and has
far-reaching effects upon our life. Because Moses knew the infinite
grace of God, he went on. The people often turned away from him,
criticized him, grumbled at him, murmured against him, and slighted
him, but that is another great blessing about the grace of God -- it
produces a spirit of meek patience in the heart. The opposite of
meekness, of course, is pride. Pride is the mark of legalism, pride at
being different, pride of being better, pride of position, or
resentment because of personal injustice. The more we are steeped in
the grace of God, the more careless we become about our own little
rights, and the more we are able to go on and not be offended, even
with those who are sometimes very difficult to go on with. That was
Moses' experience, at any rate. He was the meekest of all men. I do not
think he was so naturally, but because he was taken up with the amazing
grace of God, and that sense of God's grace made him put himself in his
right perspective. He saw how little he was, how puny and how foolish,
and his attitude to these critical people was jealousy for the Lord
indeed, and concern for the responsibility which he had to bear, but
also, who was he that he should fight for himself?
GOD'S PRESENCE MEANS REST
"As I was with Moses, so I will be with thee." Do not begin to think
that Moses was a wonderful man. If you do you miss the point. Do
believe this: Moses had a wonderful God. "As I was with Moses, so I
will be with thee.... Certainly I will be with thee ... My presence
shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest." That was a great
feature of God's being with Moses -- the rest of heart that He brought
to His servant, since the Lord's presence with him was the Lord's
undertaking of all responsibilities for him. Let us go on -- not in a
strained, burdened, worried giving of ourselves to this matter of
spiritual progress, but with a blessed casting of all our care upon the
Lord. Spiritual progress must be restful, or it is not progress. It is
not that fretful worry and questioning, straining, and sometimes,
praying, that [64/65] produces spiritual
progress. There was an occasion when the Lord said to His servant, who
was evidently crying to God to come in and work mightily: "Wherefore
criest thou unto me? Speak unto the children of Israel, that they go
forward" (Exodus 14:15). 'Count on Me! My presence shall go with thee,
and I will give thee rest!' What a restful life!
Moses was responsible for many thousands of people for forty years. He
had nothing with which to make provision for them. He turned to the
Lord sometimes out of rest, demanding in desperation what he should do.
How could he give them water? They were ready to stone him, but how
could he give them water? How could the Lord provide flesh for
a great multitude like that? But, whatever else the Israelites died of,
they never died from lack of water. The Rock followed them -- the Lord
was with them. And not one of them died from hunger, and not one of
them died from malnutrition because they only had manna. They all died,
but they did not die of that. The Lord was sufficient. Moses never had
to produce anything, for God did it. I am quite sure that as Moses
looked back on his life there were incidents that he regretted, and he
must have wondered why he was so foolish as to get in a fret and strain
and worry, when all the time he had God's presence pledged --
"Certainly I will be with thee." That did not mean that he left
everything to God and sat back and enjoyed himself. The life of Moses,
at least during those last forty years was not a contemplative life,
but a life of action, with many responsibilities which he never
shirked. He was a worker. And yet you have only to read the last
chapter of the book of Deuteronomy, which tells of Moses' death, to
find that he was never more alive. Whatever he died of, it was not the
worry and tear of the wilderness life. He was a "hundred and twenty
years old when he died: his eye was not dim, nor his natural force
abated" (Deuteronomy 34:7).
What does that mean? Please do not begin to play foolishly with the
Word of God, as God's children do, and believe all sorts of things that
the Scriptures do not warrant, such as: 'The Lord will always keep you
strong and well and young, and you can always trust Him to send you
money from some miraculous place, and to do extraordinary things for
you.' It does not mean that at all. The spiritual meaning behind is
that Moses had not to contribute his natural energy to carry through
the purposes of God. God did it, and Moses was at rest even while he
"As I was with Moses ...". Do you believe that? And yet, how lacking in
rest are our lives, and what a strain we get into! I think that prayer,
and certainly prayer about our own affairs, should never be a matter of
strain. It may need persistence, but not strain. You remember the great
battle with Amalek, and Moses' attitude -- his hands up lifted to God
-- which brought about the victory. It is true that he tired, and was
weary, but it was not his energy that was winning the battle. In a
sense, though it was not restful, it was an attitude which betokened
rest, a claim upon God, and the strong, maintained affirmation that
this was the Lord's battle and He would be triumphant in it. Moses kept
his watch and lifted up his hands, but it was not his energy that won
the battle. God did it so long as Moses counted upon Him. 'As I was
with Moses, undertaking and providing, bearing the responsibility, so I
will be with thee. My presence shall go with thee.'
GOD'S PERSONAL PRESENCE
How was God with Moses? Personally! We are told that there was no other
such as he who had communion with God face to face. 'The Lord spake
unto Moses face to face as a man speaketh unto his friend" (Exodus
33:11). "As I was with Moses ...". Did God mean that? Yes, He did, but
the pillar of cloud disappeared just about the time that Moses died.
Joshua was entering into the land with no pillar of cloud, no visible
presence of the Lord, no opportunity of speaking to Him face to face as
Moses did, yet God said to him: 'As I was with Moses personally,
Myself, speaking to him face to face, so I will be with thee!' Then the
Lord introduces a new element into the situation which has never been
there before: "This book of the law ...". What does He mean? The Lord
has many ways of speaking, but it is the same Lord Himself who is
speaking. 'Moses had the cloud: Joshua, you have the Book. I spake face
to face with Moses in the cloud. Keep tryst with Me, and I will speak
face to face with you in the Book.'
It is true that the Lord now speaks face to face with us, not in a
pillar of cloud, but through the Book. "As I was with Moses ...". Oh,
Moses did not receive what he had as a mere code of laws and
regulations. He received everything as a personal communication from
the Lord. This Book is given to you, dear friend, not as a means of
rules and regulations, but as a medium by which God wants to speak to
you 'face to face, as a man speaketh to his friends'. Of course, if we
do not expect that, we do not get it, but when we do expect, is it not [65/66] true that we get? The Lord never says: 'Seek
ye My face!' in vain. Oh, what a privileged man Moses was! Whenever he
was in a difficulty the cloud came down and the Lord told him just what
to do. How lovely to be Moses! 'As I was with Moses, so I will be with
thee ... My personal presence shall be the solution to every problem of
yours.' It is not a matter of looking in the Bible to see what it says
as a kind of principle and rule of life, so much as seeking the Lord in
"Beyond the sacred page, I seek Thee, Lord,
My spirit pants for Thee, Thou living Word."
God said to Joshua: "This book of the law shall not depart out of thy
mouth." "As I was with Moses, so I will be with thee." That is the
secret of going on. I think that often the plunges we make in wrong
directions are the result of finding something in the Word, or, more
often, hearing somebody say that something is 'what it says in the
Word', but the safe way is to seek the Lord in His Word. We shall go
on, and we shall not turn to the right hand or to the left. "The meek
will he guide in judgment, the meek will he teach his way" (Psalm
25:9). "As I was with Moses ...". Do you believe that?
"As I was with Moses, so I will be with thee." Who is the 'I'? You
remember the revelation that came to Moses about the Name of God: "I am
that I am" -- 'I always shall be what I am! I always was all that I
ever shall be! I am!' The unfailing unchanging, eternal, faithful,
enduring character of God. That is how Moses knew Him. The burning bush
burnt on and on -- and that is God. The other bushes burn out so
quickly. That which is merely natural and human catches fire sometimes
in a great blaze, but how quickly it passes and is gone! But God goes
More than four hundred years before; this Joseph's family had gone down
into Egypt. Long before that God had spoken of this very thing to
Abraham, and all through those hundreds of years His purpose was to
bring His people into the land. Abraham was dead; Isaac and Joseph were
dead. Another order of things had come. But God was not dead, and His
purposes were still the same. Even if Moses dies, God is still alive,
the same God with the same purpose. Do let us take hold of that -- He
is the unchanging, enduring God. You remember that in the letter to the
Hebrews it says that Moses endured and, as you know, the New Testament
force of that word is always one of time, and not just an enduring for
a moment. Moses endured, and if we are going on, we have to endure. If
we are going to reach God's goal it is perhaps a matter of endurance as
much as anything else. Oh, shall we be the bushes burning with a
natural flame and burning out, or shall we burn with a Divine flame and
burn on, not being consumed? Moses became, as it were, a burning bush,
for he endured. How? 'Wonderful man, Moses! Great faith, Moses!
Tremendous strength of purpose and will and character!' No! A wonderful
God was with Moses: "My presence shall go with thee." I AM is with
Moses. God is true to His purpose and faithful to His declared aim.
This dispensation has gone on for a long time, and in the Church the
flame of revelation and of devotion to the Divine purpose has
flickered, has faltered, has sometimes been ablaze, and sometimes
apparently extinct, but through these hundreds of years God has never
moved one fraction of a centimetre from His own Divine purpose. His
flame has burnt on, and will to the end, and we are called to that
We are called to endure. "Certainly I will be with thee. As I was with
Moses, so I will be with thee." Oh, do not let us get preoccupied with
our side of things. Let us more and more concentrate our attention on
the Lord who is with us. That is the important thing.
I have not yet said how Moses endured. How did he endure? "As seeing
him ...". That is the explanation of all those wonderful things you
find in Hebrews 11 about Moses: faith that chooses, that renounces,
that endures. It is all a matter of God's revelation, of His presence,
and of Moses simply but firmly putting his hand into God's hand and
clinging to the Divine promise of God's presence. That is the other
side of the picture, but it is the most real and the most important
side -- the invisible One who meant everything to Moses.
Just a last word. Moses, we might think, was rather a heavy, grim,
burdened, dull kind of man. Do we think that? "Let us go on!" So often
that rather sounds as if it is going to be a hard, tough, grim affair,
but I do not think that is true of Moses at all. He had many burdens
and cares, and doubtless shed many tears, but I read the last words
that Moses spoke -- and there must be special importance in the last
words: "Happy art thou, O Israel: who is like unto thee, a people saved
by the Lord" (Deuteronomy 33:29). It is a glorious life, this life of
going on! And I read a Psalm that was written by Moses, the man of God,
and in it I find these words: "Satisfy us early with thy mercy that we
may rejoice and be glad all our life" (Psalm 90:14). It is a blessed
thing to be going on when God is with you. "As I was with Moses, so I
will be with thee. I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee." - H.F. [66/67]
THE MISSION AND THE MESSAGE OF JESUS
3. IN THE GOSPEL BY LUKE
"And Jesus himself, when he began, was about thirty
years of age, being the son (as was supposed) of Joseph, the son of
Heli ... the son of Enos, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of
God" (Luke 3:23, 38).
BY way of linking up with what we have already been talking about, let
me remind you that we have said that the whole of the New Testament is
occupied with three things -- the mission, the meaning and the message
of Jesus Christ, the Son of God -- and we have said that every one of
the twenty-seven books in the New Testament contains some aspect of
that mission, that meaning and that message of Jesus Christ. That is,
the whole New Testament presents Jesus Christ in three ways. Then we
proceeded to see some of these aspects in the New Testament books. In
Matthew's Gospel we saw the foundation of all Christianity, which is
the absolute lordship and authority of Jesus Christ. In Mark we saw the
activity of the Lord Jesus as under the government of His Father.
Working backward, we saw that all work for God must come out of
subjection to God. Of course, there is a great deal more to be
said about both of those Gospels.
Now we go on to the third of these Gospels, the Gospel by Luke.
WHO WAS LUKE?
We must ask: Who was Luke? because we can only arrive at the message as
we know the man. It cannot be too strongly emphasized that God's method
is always to pass on His message through the spiritual history of the
messenger; not to get a man to go to the library and study books, but
to make the messenger the book. People have to be able to read the
messenger and see the message of Christ in him. I think I dare not
apply that any more closely!
This is particularly true in the case of Luke. We know that he was a
companion of the Apostle Paul. He joined Paul at a certain time and in
a certain place, and was his fellow-traveller for a great deal of the
time of his ministry, and then, at the last, in the prison in Rome,
Paul wrote: "Only Luke is with me" (2 Timothy 4:11). We know from the
Letter to the Colossians that Luke was a physician, for Paul speaks of
him as "Luke, the beloved physician" (4:14). I think there is a great
deal bound up with that, for it is a little sidelight on a lot more.
You know that the Apostle Paul is the only apostle who speaks about the
Church as 'the Body of Christ', and in many ways he likens the Church
to the physical body. He speaks of the members of the Body as hands and
feet and ears and eyes, with all the members dependent upon one
another, needing one another, and all making one Body. Paul uses a
Greek word which our doctor friends will appreciate: "syndesmos".
Syndesmology is the science of ligamentary tissues, and it is by the
ligaments that all the members are joined together and function.
Now, where did Paul get all that? I can see Paul and Luke travelling
along together on their long journeys and talking about the Church.
Presently brother Luke says: 'Paul, isn't the Church very much like the
human body, with all the members and all the ligaments and all the
functions making one body?' And Paul says: 'Thank you, brother Luke. I
am sure the Holy Spirit has taught me something. Some day, when I get
time, I will put that in writing.' And Paul did get a lot of time in
his room in prison, and he wrote his letters to the Ephesians and the
Colossians, which are all about the Body.
That is all very interesting, but I think there is a message in it. We
have several doctors here with us, and you doctors ought to have very
special light on the Body of Christ and you ought to use your knowledge
for spiritual purposes. But not only doctors. Surely this says that we
ought to use all our special knowledge for spiritual purposes.
Well, let us get back to Luke. We know that he wrote two volumes.
Volume 1 is his Gospel, and Volume 2 is the Book of the Acts. Again,
who was Luke? Well, we have said that he was a physician, but he was a
Greek, the only Greek of the four Gospels. Then he tells us that he
spent a time in research. Now, in order to be a doctor, of course, he
had to do a lot of research; but then he turned from his medical
research to research about the history of Jesus. In the first chapter
of his Gospel he tells us that he made it his business to find out very
carefully all that could be known about Jesus. [67/68]
Now Luke, not being a Jew, did not know the Old Testament to begin
with, so the first thing he had to do was to get the Old Testament and
he worked his way carefully through it right from the beginning. He has
put it down here in chapter 3! He takes Jesus and then he works his way
right back through history, all through the Old Testament, until he
reaches Adam. That was a good piece of original research! Luke says
that he wanted to give his friend Theophilus the most definite,
positive data concerning Jesus. Not only did he study the Old Testament
closely, but he took a journey to Nazareth to do a very delicate thing
-- I think a thing that only a doctor could do. He went to ask the
mother of Jesus about His birth, and he puts it down here. Mary told
Luke the secrets of how Jesus was born.
Well, evidently Luke took more than one journey to make some enquiries.
It looks as though he went to Bethlehem to see the registrar of births
and deaths and to find in the records the ancestors of Jesus. Need I go
into more detail? You have it all here in the first chapters of his
So Luke was a very careful, particular student, but note this: he
intended to write all this down for his friend Theophilus. That was all
that he had in mind, but the Holy Spirit had a great deal more in mind.
Luke did not know that he was writing the Bible. It never occurred to
him that twenty centuries afterward a group of people would be in a
mountain village called Aeschi studying what he wrote to his friend
Theophilus, and through all the centuries between his writing it and
today people have been studying his writings. The Holy Spirit had
greater thoughts even than Luke's.
We never know what the Holy Spirit is going to do with what we write.
Although we do not write the Bible, we may write a letter, or a little
booklet, and years afterwards we discover that someone has had a
blessing all through the years from that letter or from that little
book. Pray whenever you write! Ask that the Holy Spirit may make you do
better than you know.
Of course, all these are just fragments of the message, and not the
real message. We are going to get to that very soon.
THE CONTEXT OF LUKE'S GOSPEL
Luke takes up Jesus with Adam, then he takes him up as a little babe,
and then he lands Him in glory. Do you notice the last thing that he
says in his Gospel? "And he [Jesus] led them out until they were over
against Bethany: and he lifted up his hands and blessed them. And it
came to pass, while he blessed them, he parted from them, and was
carried up into heaven" (Luke 24:50-51).
Now we have come right on the line of the message: the son of Adam, the
Babe of Bethlehem, the glorified Man in heaven. Luke takes up the Child
of Adam and makes Him the glorified Man in heaven. Do you see the
immense context of Luke's Gospel? The context is the whole human race
from beginning to end. Adam was the first of the human race. Created by
God with a great divine intention. It says concerning him: "Thou madest
him to have dominion" (Psalm 8:6). God's thought in Adam for the human
race was that it should have dominion. That is the revealed intention
of God for the human race, but we know of the human tragedy: the human
race in the first Adam lost the Divine intention. Put a circle round
that word 'lost' and we have the heart of Luke's message.
The human race lost its Divine inheritance because it lost its right
relationship with God. The whole of this Gospel by Luke is summed up in
one verse: "The Son of man came to seek and to save that which was
lost" (19:10). Note the terms: "The Son of man came to seek and
to save." That is the mission and the meaning, and the message! In Adam
universal dominion was lost to the human race. In Abraham an elect
people lost their heritage; the seed of Abraham, after the flesh,
lost their heritage. The New Testament is largely about that. That
elect race was called by God to fulfil a special vocation -- a heavenly
vocation amongst the nations of this world. God said to Israel: "The
Lord shall make thee the head, and not the tail" (Deuteronomy 28:13).
They were called by God to be the governmental instrument among the
nations, but that elect race lost their heavenly vocation.
"The Son of man came to seek and to save that which was lost": lost to
Adam, lost to Abraham, lost to Israel, but found in the Son of Man.
The whole of the Gospel of Luke is concentrated into one chapter, the
best known chapter in the whole of the New Testament -- chapter
fifteen. Everyone knows what is in Luke 15! It is the chapter of lost
and found things. Its setting is very significant, for it begins with
these words: "Now all the publicans and sinners were drawing near unto
him (Jesus) for to hear him", and official Israel, in the persons of
the Pharisees and the scribes, murmured: "This man receiveth sinners."
That was a funeral march to the Pharisees and the scribes, but it was
music to the sinners' ears! Then Jesus began to speak to the Pharisees
and the scribes, and he gave them these three [68/69]
stories: The Lost Sheep, the Lost Piece of Silver, and the Lost Son.
THE LOST SHEEP
Israel had always been called 'God's flock', and God had always been
called the 'Shepherd of Israel'. Jesus takes up that thought and says,
in effect: 'Israel is no longer God's flock.' Really, He is implying
that Israel, like the ninety and nine, is lost in its own
self-righteousness and traditional security and exclusiveness. So He
enlarges the concept and says: 'I have other sheep which are not of
this fold, and those other sheep are these publicans and sinners.' In
the rest of the New Testament the Lord's servants are called shepherds.
Peter said to the elders of the Church: "Feed the flock of God" (1
Peter 5:2), and "When the chief Shepherd shall be manifested" (1 Peter
5:4). We know that Jesus said: "I am the good shepherd" (John 10:11)
and when Israel is lost another Shepherd comes and has another flock.
He makes up another flock out of Israel and out of the gentiles. Here
is Luke! The new flock and the new Shepherd. From that which was lost
He has found a greater flock than the one which was lost. How did this
sheep get lost? The prophet Isaiah cries: "All we like sheep have gone
astray" (Isaiah 53:6), and how did we go astray? How did we become lost
sheep? "We have turned every one to his own way." That will take us
back to the beginning of the human race when Adam chose his own way and
the human race was lost.
THE LOST PIECE OF SILVER
There are many interpretations of this parable, but the most commonly
accepted, and I think the right Ones is this.
When a young woman was betrothed and married in Palestine her husband
gave her a string of silver pieces. I expect you have seen pictures of
such a young woman. You wear your necklaces round your neck, but they
wore them round their foreheads. You wear a ring on your finger when
you are married. Your husband gave you that when you were married and
said, or meant: 'I give you this ring as a token that you are mine. I
have taken you to be my own. This ring, or this string of silver pieces
round your head, is the token that you have accepted me as your master
and lord, and husband.'
Now there was a superstition connected with that string of silver
pieces. If a woman lost it, or even one silver piece, everyone said:
'That means she has been unfaithful to her husband! She is not faithful
to her marriage vows.'
Do you see the meaning of the story? Israel was the lost bride -- the
prophet Jeremiah said that the Lord espoused Israel to Himself, but
they forfeited their honour as the Lord's bride. Israel lost the
wonderful relationship of a bride to her husband, and the cry of all
the prophets was that Israel was an unfaithful wife. You see what Jesus
is saying to the Pharisees and the scribes? 'You have been unfaithful
to your marriage vows to Jehovah! You have lost the most sacred
relationship that anyone can have.' No wonder this woman is seen
lighting the lamp and searching every corner of the house until she
finds her lost piece of silver! Jesus enlarges the idea of the lost
bride. Yes, there may be some in Israel who will be found in the Bride
of the Lamb at the end, but that Bride is a bigger thing than Israel.
He is making His Bride out of publicans and sinners.
I may not take the time to carry you over to the later New Testament to
show you the new Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God
"as a bride adorned for her husband" (Revelation 21:2), nor to speak
about the marriage supper of the Lamb, but by these very references you
can see that something was lost, but that which has been found is very
much greater than that which was lost. The human race lost its honour
because it lost its Lord, but the Revelation in the New Testament is of
a Bride "without spot or blemish or any such thing" presented to the
THE LOST SON
Israel was formerly called 'God's son': "And thou shalt say unto
Pharaoh, Thus saith the Lord, Israel is my son, my firstborn: and I
have said unto thee, Let my son go ..." (Exodus 4:22-23). Israel
occupied the most wonderful position that it is ever possible to
occupy. There is nothing more wonderful than to be sons of God, to be
those whom God Himself has begotten, to be those who have been born out
of heaven, to be those who bear the Name of God, to be those whom God
brings alongside of Himself and honours them to represent Him. All
that, and much more, is meant by sonship.
Now the Lord Jesus, when He saw what Israel had lost, came to seek and
to save that idea of God, to recover sonship. Sonship is a special
Divine conception and is the dearest thing to the heart of God.
Therefore it is the most wonderful thing that can ever be true of man,
and it is that principle [69/70] which is at the
heart of this parable which we call 'The Prodigal Son'. All the
wonderful privilege and honour of sonship has been despised by this
prodigal. All that Divine conception has been regarded as of no
account, and he goes out into the world and repudiates his sonship. Of
course, he comes in the end to recognize what he has done. Jesus is
very true to principle, and He makes this prodigal son say: "I have
sinned against heaven, and in thy sight: I am no more
worthy to be called thy son" (verse 21). There are principles in ever
one of those sentences. Israel forfeited that high position and honour.
It is the principle of sonship that is the supreme factor
Why did this son leave the father and the home? The prince of this
world deceived him and told him that he could have something better in
the world. Oh, that is what the great deceiver is always doing! He
deceived Adam that way. He has deceived the whole human race in that
way. He deceived Israel in that way: 'You can have something better in
this world.' Jesus said that he was a 'liar from the beginning', and
men are finding out today what a lie this world is.
THE MESSAGE OF A NEW HUMANITY
Now, having said all that, I have only now come to the message. What is
the message of Luke? The Son of Man has come to secure a redeemed, new
humanity. Paul calls Jesus 'the second man, the last Adam' (1
Corinthians 15:45, 47). Out of Jews and gentiles Jesus is redeeming a
new humanity. Listen carefully! The message of this Gospel, and of the
New Testament, is this: God is not now particularly interested in Jews,
nor in gentiles, nor in Protestants, nor in Roman Catholics, nor in
Baptists, nor in Methodists, nor in Dutch Reformed, etc. God is not
interested in those things at all! He is interested in men. All God's
interest is in man, let the man be British, or Swiss, or German, or
French, or any other nationality, white, black, yellow or brown. That
does not matter to God, for His only concern is with man . Are
you a man -- and God called both woman and man 'one man' -- and are you
of the human race? God is interested in you as mankind, to take out of
the nations, and out of the denominations, a people for His Name. Are
you a "minister"? God is not particularly interested in you as a
"minister", but He is interested in you as a man, and that is true of
every other category. You do not think, do you, that because a man is a
"minister", a servant of God, God lets him off when things are wrong?
God does not say: 'Well, he is my servant so I will overlook all his
faults.' Nor does He say: 'Oh, he, or she, is My child, so I will not
take any notice of what is wrong.' No, God's concern with us is as
people. The Son of Man came to seek and to save a lost
humanity, and to make Himself the Shepherd in that humanity, to make
His Bride out of that humanity, and to make His sons out of that
Where do we end? Where Luke ends, with the Son of Man, as the
representative of the new mankind, glorified in heaven.
I hope I have not made you tired. It is all too wonderful and too big!
I could only give you a little hole through which you see a new world,
but do remember that in all God's dealings with us He is seeking to
make another kind of humanity.
ATLANTIC STATES CONVOCATION, U.S.A.
The Convocation at Wabanna, Mayo, Maryland, is to be held this year
from the 7th to 14th July. Ministry will be shared by Mr. DeVern
Fromke, Mr. Stephen Kaung and the Editor. Fiends wishing to attend
should write early to: Mr. E. L. Chase, 1370 Ray Street, Norfolk,
Virginia 23502, U.S.A. [70/71]
We acknowledge with gratitude the following gifts received from 28th
January to 28th March 1969:
Aberdare £3, £3; Addis Ababa, Ethiopia £9 13s. 7d.;
Barking £3; Belfast £1; Bexhill-on-Sea £1; Brentwood
10s.; Bristol 10s.; Bromley £6, £5; Burnham-on-Sea 10s.;
Burnley 14s. 8d.; Canterbury £1, £2; Chardonne, Switzerland
£3 17s. 4d.; Coulsdon £2; Crediton £1; Cromer 10s.;
Deal £3, £30, £5, £5; Dudley £1 1s.;
Eastbourne 10s.; Farlington £1; Feltham 6s. 2d.; Gateshead
£5; Glasgow £4, £2, £5, £2; Gormley,
Ontario £1 18s. 7d.; Greystones £5; Gy, Switzerland
£5; Hassocks £5; Hastings £5; Heathfield 10s.,
£1, £1; Helsingfors, Finland £3; Hong Kong £2
13s.; Horley £7 16s. 3d.; Hunter's Quay £2; Ipswich 4s.;
Keighley £2; Keith £1; Kells 6s.; Kirkcudbright 10s.;
Lancing £1; Leamington Spa £5; Leask, Sask. £7 14s.
6d.; Leicester 5s.; London E.12 14s.; N.W.3 £2 14s. 8d.; N.W.10
£1; S.E.15 £1; S.E.22 £1; S.E.23 £1, £5,
10s., £5, 5s.; Louth £10; Mato Grosso, Brazil 10s.; Mt.
Waverley, Victoria £2 6s. 5d.; Nairobi, Kenya £2 2s.;
Newcastle-upon-Tyne 10s.; Nicosia, Cyprus £5; Norwich £15,
£2, £3; Nottingham 12s. 6d.; Ottawa, Ontario £8;
Penticton, B.C. £3 17s. 3d.; Peterboro, Ontario £1; Port
Jervis, N.Y. £1 0s. 10d.; Regina, Sask. £1 18s. 7d.;
Rozenburg, Holland £1; St. Austell £2; St. Lucia, Australia
£1 7s.; Salzburg, Austria 10s.; Sevenoaks £1; Sheffield
£1; Shrewsbury 8s. 6d.; Somerset, Tasmania £1 17s.;
Southend-on-Sea £5; South Molton £1; South Shields
£1, 12s. 6d., 6s., 10s., 10s.; Strasbourg, France £4;
Swansea £1; Torquay 10s.; Tunbridge Wells £1; Ventnor 16s.
5d.; Vevey, Switzerland £4 16s. 5d.; Wanganui, New Zealand 10s.;
Weston, Ontario £3 17s. 3d.; Whitstable £10; Yarmouth, Nova
Scotia £2; York 10s., £5; Zürich, Switzerland
£2. Total: £295 2s. 5d.
Annandale, Va. $10; Arlington, Va. $5; Barnstead, N.H. $2; Beaumont,
Texas $2, $6; Bergenfield, N.J. $10; Birmingham, Ala. $10, $10;
Coleman, Texas $1; Dayton, Ohio $3; Granite City, Ill. $5; Greenwich,
Mich. $2; Hacienda Hts., Calif. $1; Haddon Hts., N.J. $30; Hebron,
Maine $25; Houston, Texas $3; Irving, Texas $20; Jamaica Plain, Mass.
$6; Kokomo, Ind. $5; Lancaster, Calif. $10; Lansdowne, Pa. $5; Largo,
Fla. $5; Los Gatos, Calif. $10; Lynchburg, Va. $10; Marionville, Mo.
$2; Martinez, Calif. $15; Matthews, N.C. $5; Mt. Vernon, N.Y. $50;
Nagano Ken, Japan $10; N. Hollywood, Calif. $3; Paradise, Calif. $5;
Pasadena, Calif. $5; Philadelphia, Pa. $5; Pickens, S.C. $3. Salzburg,
Austria $1; Upper Black Eddy, Pa. $2; Waltham, Mass. $5; Wellesley,
Mass. $15; Woodland Hills, Calif. $10. Total: $332.00.
Calgary, Alta. $5; Campbellford, Ont. $6; Cobokonk, Ont. $5; Don Mills,
Ont. $20; Orillia, Ont. $2; S. Burnaby, B.C. $2; Westmeath, Ont. $5.
Copenhagen, Denmark DKr. 50.00.
Gümligen, Switzerland Sw. Fcs. 40.00.
If the Lord so wills, the conference in Aeschi, Switzerland, will be
for the period:
Saturday evening, 6th September, to
Monday morning, 15th September, 1969
Further details and forms of application for accommodation, which will
be available in English, French and German, can be obtained from:
The Conference Secretary,
Witness and Testimony Literature Trust,
39, Honor Oak Road,
London, S.E. 23, England. [71/72]
WITNESS AND TESTIMONY LITERATURE
The books and booklets listed below can all be ordered
by post from the addresses given at the end of the list. More detailed
information about the literature is available on application to the
Witness and Testimony office in London.
|By T. Austin-Sparks
|THE STEWARDSHIP OF THE MYSTERY
| Vol. 1 ALL THINGS IN CHRIST
| Vol. 2
||(Art paper covers)
|WHAT IS MAN?
|THE ON-HIGH CALLING or COMPANIONS
| OF CHRIST AND OF A HEAVENLY CALLING
|DISCIPLESHIP IN THE SCHOOL OF CHRIST
|GOD'S REACTIONS TO MAN'S DEFECTIONS
|WE BEHELD HIS GLORY (Vol. 1)
||(Art paper covers)
|WE BEHELD HIS GLORY (Vol. 2)
||(Art paper covers)
|RIVERS OF LIVING WATER
|THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO PAUL
|WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A CHRISTIAN
|FUNDAMENTAL QUESTIONS OF THE
| CHRISTIAN LIFE
|THE GOLD OF THE SANCTUARY or
| THE FINAL CRITERION
|THE CITY WHICH HATH FOUNDATIONS
|THE RECOVERING OF THE LORD'S
| TESTIMONY IN FULLNESS
|THE SCHOOL OF CHRIST
|THE SPIRITUAL MEANING OF SERVICE
|THE SIGNIFICANCE OF CHRIST
|IN TOUCH WITH THE THRONE
| (Some Considerations on the
|THE CENTRALITY AND SUPREMACY OF
| THE LORD JESUS CHRIST
|GOD'S SPIRITUAL HOUSE
|HIS GREAT LOVE
|UNION WITH CHRIST
|THE MORE EXCELLENT MINISTRY
| (Incorporating Union with Christ
| The Ministry of Elijah and Stewardship)
|CHRIST -- ALL, AND IN ALL
|CHRIST IN HEAVEN AND CHRIST WITHIN
|"I WILL OVERTURN"
|THE SUPREME VOCATION
||or 5/- per dozen
|A GOOD WARFARE
||or 5/- per dozen
|WHAT IS A CHRISTIAN?
||or 5/- per dozen
|THE BLOOD, THE CROSS AND THE
| NAME OF THE LORD JESUS
|THE WATCHWORD OF THE SON OF MAN
|THE ARM OF THE LORD
|CHRIST OUR LIFE
||or 1/6 per dozen
|By H. Foster (Booklet)
|THE REALITY OF GOD'S HOUSE
|By Various Authors
| (Each volume contains a number of
separate messages )
|THE WORK OF THE MINISTRY
| The three volumes, when ordered
|For Boys and Girls
|By G. Paterson
|GOSPEL MESSAGES FROM THE ANTARCTIC
| (170-page cloth-bound book.
|By H. Foster
| (All with illustrated art paper
|READY FOR THE KING (48 pp. Illus.)
|ON WINGS OF FAITH (52 pp. Illus.)
|BURIED TREASURE (48 pp. Illus.)
|OPENING IRON GATES (40 pages)
|Published by SURE FOUNDATION
|By DeVern Fromke
|THE ULTIMATE INTENTION
|UNTO FULL STATURE
Printed in Great Britain by Billing and
Sons Limited, Guildford and London [72/ibc]
[Inside back cover]
A WITNESS AND A TESTIMONY
The six issues of the magazine, bound together, to form a volume with
light blue art paper cover, are available for the following years:
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Telephone: 01-699 5216
Witness and Testimony literature can also be obtained from:
|P.O. Box 68505,
||1505 South Westmoreland Avenue,
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||(Mr. Donald J. David),
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[Back cover is blank]