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SALVATION

Romans 10:1 - 21

The idea of salvation is in regard to the present time. The coming of the Lord changes the whole condition of things here upon earth. Now, nothing is changed outwardly, and yet salvation has come in, salvation from what is here. In this chapter the important thing is confession. What we want in regard of God is righteousness. What we want in regard of enemies is salvation. When Israel saw their enemies dead on the sea-shore it was salvation for them. Salvation is now realised in the confession that Christ is Lord. That is the condition of salvation. The great thought of the kingdom is salvation. Confession is the habit or attitude of the soul. It is characteristic of the man that he calls Christ "Lord", owning His authority and power. We grow up to salvation by tasting that the Lord is gracious and then we desire the sincere milk of the word. Salvation is from your enemies and from the hand of all that hate you. Israel's enemies were outward -- ours are spiritual enemies.

Salvation is from all that to which a man's soul is in bondage, from that he needs to be saved. It is present and it is in order that we may serve God. This is the purpose of the gospel. In the first eight chapters of Romans we get how God brings this about. The kingdom of God exists now in the soul of the believer. It is in the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit is in the soul of the believer. "He shall save his people from their sins" means from the governmental consequences of their sins. You could not be in salvation apart from the Holy Spirit.

Israel will have to pay the uttermost farthing. It will be the discipline through which they pass in the great tribulation. When a soul is awakened what he wants

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is righteousness. You must have belief in the heart before confession. Righteousness lies in believing God's testimony. Confession with the mouth cannot be until the Holy Spirit is received -- no one can call Jesus "Lord" but by the Holy Spirit. When the power and authority of the Lord is owned in the soul all fears are removed and you have on the helmet of salvation. Confession is characteristic: it is not one act only, and the man can stand against any evil -- he has no fears. The great point that Christ is risen is God's testimony. Man cannot have to do with God as a mere act of mind -- it must be the heart -- man's mind is an eye.

Christ is the testimony which God has been pleased to set forth to men. Men are not free to serve God until they are at liberty to worship God -- they must be set free from bondage first. The coming of the Lord brings in the kingdom but we have it now in the Holy Spirit who is the power to maintain it in us. "Righteousness, and peace, and joy". Israel never sang "Jehovah reigneth" till they were over the Red Sea. 'Salvation' is from what is without -- 'deliverance' is from what is within. In order to be maintained in the enjoyment of salvation there must be the continuance in confessing Christ as Lord. The Holy Spirit not only starts a person but He maintains him in it and produces "righteousness, and peace, and joy".

Death is God's judgment, the fear of death is in the hands of the devil and salvation removes this fear. The purpose of the gospel is to bring salvation to man, so that he may be delivered from his enemies and set free to serve God. Every intelligent being ought to serve God. God is entitled to the service of every man. Anyone who has apprehended the grace of God will desire to serve God. Salvation is an effective thing -- it is a question of realisation. The power and authority of the Lord are maintained in us by the Holy Spirit.

Righteousness means that you are free from liability.

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Enjoyment is found in God Himself. The grace of God brings salvation to you -- salvation from the power of evil.

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THE WAYS OF GOD IN THE GOSPEL

1 Timothy 2 and 1 Timothy 3

This epistle is addressed to one who was by birth a Jew. It was to establish on a broad platform the ways of God in the gospel. The reason is given in verses 15 and 16 of chapter 3. This is a very different idea from all that was in the mind of the Jew in regard to God. The Jew looked upon God as a kind of national God, but here all is on the broad platform of the gospel. Christ gave Himself a ransom for all, and it shows the place which the house of God has in respect of God's ways in the testimony.

The first great thing for the servant was how to behave himself in the house of God -- this is most important. Many think that because they have the Scriptures they are independent of the house of God. If a man has not learnt how to behave himself in the house of God, he cannot be an effective servant because the house of God is the pillar and base of the truth. The house of God is the assembly of the living God -- it is still here. If a man receives light from God, He will put him in circumstances where he can carry it out. The two things go together -- the enlightenment and the circumstances in which you can carry it out -- where you can conduct yourself on the principles of the house of God. This is individual. One has to find out what the house of God is by the Spirit, which is innate in every christian. The house of God is soon found when people are conscious of the presence of the Spirit. It is astonishing how soon people are clear as to the house of God when they are clear as to the presence of the Spirit. The Spirit brings us into the house -- it is a place of prayer, a place where God dwells and where you get acquainted with God and you learn what is suited to Him. You never find the house of God spoken of in any epistle to

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the church. It is spoken of either in the catholic epistles, such as Peter's, or it is to the servant.

You have the temple in Corinthians, but it was characteristic there -- it was their place and privilege. He was impressing upon the Corinthians holiness and unity. The temple is not so wide a thought as the house -- the former being connected more with sanctity. The temple of God is holy. You get God's family, which is God's house or His household. The "house of Aaron" meant Aaron and his descendants -- that is the idea of house now; those born of God are His house. Thus a christian is never out of the house for he forms part of it. Jew and gentile are built together, thus it covers the whole company of God's chosen. This is why it is not a local assembly. It is the house of God because God dwells there. As a man is known by his house so God is to be known in His house as a Saviour God and a God of grace -- His children are to be the expression of this. God gave testimony to Israel but very little testimony went out from Israel, but now the house is evangelical. The work of God through the evangelist should go on whatever the state of confusion in the world, because the house is still there.

Baptism brings you into the system of christianity in contrast to judaism. It brings you into the "court which is without", Revelation 11:2. John was to measure the altar and the temple and the worshippers -- the true thing -- but not the court without. Children do not form part of the house of God but they are in the kingdom, "for the kingdom of the heavens is of such" (Matthew 19:14), and they come within the court of the temple but do not form part of the house itself.

The epistles are addressed to those who were on the ground of profession. What characterises the house of God is life, it cannot go beyond the limits of the Spirit; it is a spiritual house. The "great house" is the system of profession built up by man and it will be

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rejected. The house of God is composed of those who obey the gospel of God. Those who do not obey are left to judgment on account of the jealousy of God with regard to His children. There is no confusion in what is of God: the confusion is in what man has set up. What has been built by Christ has been obscured -- but it is there all the same. Everything is of the living God -- the christian is the child of the living God -- everything is connected with the living God who has come out in the power of resurrection. You cannot connect a dead world with a living God -- death is upon all else.

"My house" is the centre of approach for all the world (Isaiah 56:1 - 8). It gives you the idea of it -- a centre of gathering, not only for Israel but for all nations. Jehovah was the God of the whole earth. The Spirit of adoption brings you beyond anything of earth. A man goes up to the house of God in his own soul, in the apprehension of it. All progress must be spiritual. First we go into the courts of the tabernacle and eventually find ourselves in God's house. We never can know God except in His own house. Every child of God who has the Spirit forms part of God's house. Every justified person has the Spirit.

The point in 1 Timothy 2 is "testimony" -- what suits God. If I go into a man's house I study him because I would like to be in accord with that person and with his mind. So, in God's house both the men and the women have to be in accord with God. The house of God is known by the prevalence of unity. The house of God is what God has set up here on earth -- it is the work of God and no one had any hand in building it but Christ. Responsibility connects itself with the ground people take. If you take the place of a servant you have to be faithful. Christ is Son over God's house but you are companions of Christ there. You could not enter the holiest save as in the house of God. The house of God will ultimately take in the whole universe;

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"... whose house are we, if ..". (Hebrews 3:6) -- that is we are tested. The Spirit of God will not own them unless they hold fast.

The thought of affection and love is proper to the house of God because God is there known according to His nature. Piety ought to be the great characteristic of the house of God. Faith is the introduction into God's things, but piety brings God into my things and there is a lack of piety in christians generally. The knowledge of God in the house ought to beget piety and confidence. It is a mystery because the care of God to His children is not manifest! There is no moment of your lifetime when you are not of God's house. It would be bordering on irreverence for any one christian to address God as "my Father". In approaching God, as Father, you have to acknowledge that you are one of many children. You say 'our Father' -- the Lord only could say "my Father". God dwells in His house and His testimony is where God is. The saints in chapter 2 are looked upon as in a place of intercession in connection with the testimony of God to the world, and His mind and attitude to the world. In going out in testimony men ought to carry the sense of the house with them; and to enter into the mind of God who will have all men to be saved. We should take character from God. We testify that the "Father has sent the Son as Saviour of the world", 1 John 4:14. You hold forth the word of life. Every christian has a certain responsibility with regard to evangelistic work; first in intercession and then in the conduct of the men and the women which often hinders the testimony. They may very easily hinder it -- they must not falsify his testimony. If a man does not lift up holy hands and if a woman adorns herself in worldly attire, they give people the impression that God is going on with the world. But God is acting entirely outside the world's order. God is one, and in regard to the testimony of God it is outside all nationality. The

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church looks at the world as a whole and prays for all, it has no national place. It desires the quiet of the world that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life. No European country has any national existence in the eye of God, they form part of the fourth beast (the Roman power).

We should honour the Government and the powers that be. I am bound to honour the king and to submit to the powers that be. The house of God is world-wide, that is the great point. The relation of God in regard to His house does not recognise any nationality. We want to get an apprehension of the house of God as morally outside of the whole world's system. Verse 4 means that there is nothing in God's mind against any man. His nature is love and it is love toward all men. We must not stretch the passage to mean "purpose". Why do not men get the benefit of God's testimony? It is not God's fault that men are not brought into the enjoyment of His grace: it is man's fault. It is in the consciousness of this that we go out with the gospel, but the practical difficulty is that christendom knows it.

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THE LOVE OF GOD AS THE SOURCE, AND ETERNAL LIFE AS THE RESULT

John 3:14 - 21

It is the feature of John's writings that he takes you back to the source of things and then takes you on to the final result. He does not take up what is intermediate. There is not much in John about grace and righteousness and justification, but what does come out is desire, love and eternal life -- he takes you back to what is the source of grace. So you get the statement here in the 16th verse, the love of God as the source and eternal life as the result. Grace and righteousness come in between the two. Christ is the fountain of the water of life. Where the love was expressed no one was outside the "whosoever", but now many are outside it. All is brought to an issue by the presence of the light. The light has come in and man has not believed it, so he is already judged. This issue is universal in its aspect and bearing, or rather, was universal. There was a moment when God came into the world, and His coming into the world has altered things greatly. Light has come into the world and men loved darkness rather than light. Love finds its rest and satisfaction in those who have eternal life. The coming of God into the world was light and men were found out by the light.

"God is love". No one of us can understand a Being who is love. We accept it, but cannot understand it, because we are finite. Judas was in the world when God gave His Son, but Judas was the son of perdition. God's love has gone out to every man -- God so loved "that he gave". The testimony of the cross is towards every man. The testimony of the gospel is the testimony of the grace of God. "He that believes not has been already judged" (verse 18) -- they are irreconcilable and we could not say that God loves them. God

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knows them, I do not know them. We are justified in telling people that God came into the world in the Person of His Son and He is the object for faith, so there is the chance of eternal life for man. Paul prays that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men because "all men have not faith". God knows them. There is in the world irreconcilable hatred to God. If a man has turned away from the faith you can have nothing to say to him. The love of God was expressed in sending His Son into the world.

God's attitude towards the world is not changed but the world's attitude to Him is changed. He proved His love to the world and it was the end of the world because His love was rejected. His love has achieved its purpose and found its rest and satisfaction in those who have eternal life.

The state of the case is that God's coming into the world brought irreconcilable hatred to God. In preaching you want to present the truth. We are perfectly safe in saying that the love of God is proved by men having eternal life. There is the purpose of God -- the purpose of love. "God who is rich in mercy" etc. This verse 16 is not purpose -- it is on the ground of "whosoever". All the world were enemies to God and God loved the world in spite of its enmity. The world is condemned already. The presence of Christ brought out man's enmity. The fact of our being sinners did not hinder God's love -- He loved us in spite of our being sinners. What we can say to any man is that God's love has been manifested: and on the ground of that is "whosoever".

If you see a soul accept the testimony you know that there is a divine work there. You cannot say that God loves all men, for there are men who are obnoxious to God -- those who are "already judged". Those who have eternal life have left the world. Men are not "already judged" until they have rejected Christ. If a man is not subject to the Son the wrath of God continues

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on him -- he is already judged -- it is not 'he will be judged'. There is a door out to any and every man but there is no such application to an apostate. God came close to man in love and this was the test to man.

Virtually in the eye of God the world is divided into two classes -- those who do not believe in the Son -- and those who have everlasting life. The heathen are in a different position to christendom. You could take John 3:16 to the heathen. God proves His love by coming into the world and the door is still open. The difficulty in this day is that christendom has been formed by the testimony. If the purpose of God's love had effect all would have eternal life. Verse 16 is a great revelation of God and in this way a man may be greatly affected by it. The testimony was clearly set forth at the outset -- but now it is obscured.

The difference between grace and love is that you could not say God is grace but you do say God is love. Grace is the way God adapts Himself to the need of the sinner. Grace reigns through righteousness unto eternal life. God is the creditor -- man the debtor. Grace meets him and love is behind the grace. There are those who are in the purpose of God's love. Paul was one -- a pattern of the elect. The attitude of God is grace toward all men. "Not willing that any should perish". The glad tidings are glad tidings of the grace of God. The love is behind it and it has eternal life in view. Grace is an activity of love. Love will satisfy itself. Love was there before the necessity for grace existed. The door is open for everyone and the love of God has come in to open the door -- so that anyone may go out. "Whosoever will, let him take" etc. Those who go out at the door which God has opened go out into the love and leave the world. You could not apply this to sinners generally. Christ had to come in and meet the state of every man (verse 14). God's purpose had to be accomplished.

Christ is the Son of man on behalf of men and Son

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of God on behalf of God. Romans 5:8 refers to saints. The cross is a standing witness to the love of God. God has done all that love could do. All that remains for God to do in regard to the world is to judge the world. There is nothing for the world, as the world, but judgment. "Now is the judgment of this world;" John 12:31. Christ wants people to be saved and leave the world -- the door is still open -- because of the death and resurrection of Christ. God, at the cost of His own Son, has opened the door out of the world. I can preach Christ as far as I know Him, and no more. If people are determined to remain in the world, they are "already judged", but we preach a way out of the world. It is there for "whosoever will" to go out of it. Satan is the god and prince of the world -- but anyone may leave the world by faith in Christ -- Christ receives sinners in grace. I should tell sinners that Christ receives them in grace. God does not love us because we were sinners but in spite of our being sinners -- it was the love of purpose. When you have got the Holy Spirit you are proved to be the elect of God. Romans 5:8 is spoken of those who have the Holy Spirit. The grace of God brings salvation to all men and they are tested by the light. On the one hand they get eternal life and on the other they are "already judged". The kindness and love of God our Saviour has appeared -- you cannot improve upon that! Things are far more accurately expressed by the Spirit of God than we can express them. God made man and He loved the man He made, but that was not when the man was a sinner. Man now finds a place in heaven and Satan is cast out because he has corrupted the man whom God loved. If a man rejects Christ he puts himself outside the love of God. The gospel comes in by Christ holding the door open for man to leave the world. The great object of all preaching is to lead souls to Christ so that they may get living water, but in order to reach Christ they must leave the world -- they

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cannot find Christ in this world. That is when baptism comes in -- it means a man leaving the world. A man is manifested before God. Repentance is preached in the way of grace, not in the way of demand. A man cannot repent until he believes. The great subject of preaching is Christ. Death is upon man and judgment is before him. The great point is to preach what you know and what you know is by the Spirit. The lake of fire is connected with the sovereignty of God -- it is beyond me altogether. If the preacher does not preach Christ he has nothing to preach.

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THE SPIRIT IN THE HOUSE

1 Timothy 4:1 - 16

This chapter and the remainder of the epistle have to do with the latter times of defection. This is why he is exhorted to take heed to the doctrine. We come to this point that we contemplate the presence of the Spirit in the house of God and the utterances of His voice in the way of warning against defection. The Spirit of God keeps an eye upon things and is always upon the alert to warn against defection. Verse 6 indicates the direction which evil would take, setting up abstinence as a kind of superior sanctity. It is the principle of ritualism and the acknowledgment of the flesh. Timothy was to be on the alert and to warn the saints against things which tend to corrupt. Many things appear specious and people are taken in by them before they know. It is not everyone who can see what principles are involved in things which may naturally appear very good. The apostle exposes the evil of the thing in itself, he says "For every creature of God is good", etc. (verse 4).

The presence of the Spirit gives a proper place to every ordinance of God -- it does not set them aside. It is one great proof of the Spirit of God that every ordinance of God is maintained in its proper place -- marriage and such like. Celibacy would be introduced into the established church if they dared to do it. If you take Papacy it is all a system of lies, and ritualism is not much better. The only idea they have of holiness is in a material way. All that system is hypocrisy without their knowing it, and then the conscience becomes cauterised. If the conscience were alive they would be afraid to touch these things. The men are the demons, as satanic doctrine may characterise a man. What satanic influence is being carried out in the world

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under the name of Christ! Prayers for the dead, etc. is doctrine of demons. In the house of God the Spirit of God keeps up His warning voice against these things, but they go on in the "great house" -- christendom!

It is evil coming in in a systematic form -- they depart from the faith -- it is apostasy in principle, though it is connected by profession with the name of Christ. It is departure from the faith and the introduction of a great deal which was originally heathenish. It is not like the tares; they are heresies. Corruption is subtle because it is generally things carried beyond their proper limits, which were originally of God. Death with Christ is right but if you carry it too far and make it death to nature, it is corruption.

Men trafficking in divine things end in having their consciences cauterised. The best man that ever lived can get corrupted by dabbling in evil. The corrective is piety, for piety respects every divine ordinance. You get piety on the part of children to parents because it is a divine ordinance. It is a divine ordinance that God is the preserver of all, specially of those that believe, because they respect every ordinance of God. A priest goes in for celibacy because he disregards the ordinance of God. You draw on a living God -- that is what piety does. The apostle went on labouring and suffering reproach because he trusted in a living God. There is no moral corruption in any food -- it is set apart for man's use. A man never abuses what he receives with thanksgiving; it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer. The word of God here is the principle through which we know God -- the testimony of God -- and prayer is testimony with God. The creatures of God are properly for those who stand in relation to God and we stand in relation with God through His word and prayer -- a divine testimony having reached us. It is intercourse with God (verse 6). The way in which divine things have reached us are as food to us. The words in which the faith is expressed are taken up and

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become food to us. The faith must be conveyed to us in words. A man cannot pretend to anything beyond what be has attained but be is nourished by the faith and sound doctrine. It is in the Holy Spirit. The mind of God is there to perfection for the Spirit is the truth. Christ is the Spirit of truth objectively and the Spirit is it subjectively. You must have the medium of communication and there are the Scriptures.

The Jews have the Scriptures but they have no light from God so that they are a dead letter to them. Until God begins to work in the Jews it is no use. You can only know divine words by the things. Whatever Scripture contains you get intelligently, but you have it first by the Spirit. It is possible to have your head crammed full of doctrine and know nothing by the Spirit. You get no real light beyond the teaching of the Spirit. What can be more important than that a man should have the truth in a divinely appointed form and the Scriptures give you the truth in a divinely appointed form. A man needs to get the truth in a divinely given shape.

If a man made light of the Scriptures that man could not be led of the Spirit of God. Our minds are liable to run riot and we need the Scriptures to keep us within bounds. The intelligence of the house comes by the Spirit. If Paul had attempted to communicate to the saints anything outside of the knowledge of the twelve apostles they would have been justified in refusing it -- for all had come out in Christ. The Spirit had brought all things to their remembrance, whatever He had said to them. Nothing could be taught by Paul which had not come out in Christ Himself. It was given to Paul to communicate it -- not to the twelve. It was impossible that the Spirit could seal an incomplete testimony. The Spirit of God is the witness for Christ and He maintains the truth. God, in His wisdom, has given the Scriptures for a guard but the Spirit is the power of the testimony. He is the witness for Christ.

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People need an interpreter and God, in His mercy, furnishes the key -- the Spirit of God and He uses a vessel. What was given to Paul completed the testimony of God.

It was not given to Peter to give out the truth of the assembly -- it was given to Paul. The apostle deposited the testimony in the church -- for the assembly is the pillar and base of the truth. All light is got by the Spirit of God from Christ. No one can attempt to define how the Spirit of God teaches -- it is the anointing. Man is to have the light of life. The word of God in Scripture is a moral idea -- "For the word of God is living and operative", etc. Hebrews 4:12. Christ was the Word of God -- it was not simply the words He said -- but He was it.

The great fact of the resurrection is the word of God -- it is God's testimony -- Christ is God's great expression of Himself.

In chapter 6 we find heterodoxy; any man who would use christianity to upset the ordinances of God is heterodox. A christian does not seek to undermine what God has established. Christ taught His disciples to respect things which existed. This chapter 6 is dissent and also suffering worldly advantage to be an end in piety; pursuing and using christianity as a means for present advantage. All the principles which we see abroad at the present time, the Spirit warned against at the outset. It all shows the importance of not being affected by what you see, but by the Spirit of God. All outside the Spirit of God means departure. There is a great deal amongst us that is only external -- we can only help each other as inside what is of the Spirit. Brethrenism might have a very great semblance of the truth and yet be very far from it.

Timothy is the typical servant -- he continues until the coming of the Lord -- Paul passed off this scene. We should be very well content to be judged by Scripture in all that we say and put forth.

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SPIRITUAL VITALITY

2 Timothy 1:1 - 18

The first epistle lays down the course and conduct of the servant when the house is in order -- the second when all is in confusion. In the second the house is not seen and when the house is no longer seen as a witness then it is that life comes into prominence. A pillar is a witness. "Great house" is a figure -- an analogy.

Life is that by which you can counteract the force of evil -- what is genuine witnesses itself. The epistle has its importance in being addressed to the servant -- he has to go on with those who are like-minded -- those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.

Paul charged him to keep the commandments irreproachable until the appearing, so that the servant is looked upon as continuing until the appearing. The only way in which the house can express itself or come into view is by life. The house is spiritual life brought to light. The magicians could imitate up to a point, but they could not produce life. What good are we as to the existing state of things around us save as there is evidence in us of spiritual vitality -- we are not a single bit of good beyond that. We get the marks of it in the epistles. There is wonderful energy about life -- an energy that will not be overcome. You cannot get the unity of the Spirit in that way but you ought to see the energy of life in being superior to the state of things around and going on in spite of it all (verse 7).

The energy of life overcomes death. Everything serves God's purpose even though the church has failed as a witness. The apostle speaks of himself in the first chapter as an apostle according to the promise of life in Christ Jesus. It is prominence given to Christ as Head -- life and incorruptibility are brought to light. So the great thing for us is to be apart from Adam and from

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the world. All is "in Christ Jesus" now -- we get it seven times in this epistle. The collective thing has failed so we cannot look for it now. In the first two chapters of this epistle a company is contemplated but in the last chapters the servant is standing alone. The servant has to be prepared to stand alone if need be, as the apostle found himself alone. You are prepared for what may never occur. It would not be the mind of God that such should be. Paul committed his happiness to the Lord "against that day". It was not the idea of making the best of both worlds. He had suffered the loss of everything here.

In chapter 4: 3 - 5 Timothy is contemplated as alone -- it is what the servant must be prepared for. There might be a good many Timothy's and the energies of life coming out in each! What is right for the servant is right for everybody! The servant is simply a pattern -- he sets the example. The servant is not worth much if he does not set the example. In chapter 2 you get his course -- his relation to things. It marks out the course and path of the servant and in which he is to be the pattern for others to follow. It is not only what a man says but what a man is -- this is his power -- he must be an exponent of the truth. Many do not get beyond a thought of expounding Scripture! Everything to the man of God is in the Spirit of God and the Spirit's work. Gift is by the Spirit direct from Christ. A man might be able to set forth truth and yet have no gift at all. It does not depend on a man's acquirements. Gift would, in a measure, affect people, as Christ affected people. An evangelist would affect people by the glad tidings as Christ did though not in the same measure. The person is characterised by the gift. The perfection of all was in Christ and He gives what is of Himself.

Evangelists, pastors and teachers, still exist -- they are all of Christ Himself. Christ receives them from God to give them. The servant is to use what he is entrusted with. We have not to be taken up with what is going

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on but turn away and pursue a dear path.

It is not ecclesiastical -- it is moral. "In Christ Jesus" is in contrast to Adam, as head of another stock and all that is done here for God is in that "man Christ Jesus". All is life in contrast to death. Life comes out morally in faith and love and grace, etc. Where are they if not in Christ Jesus? They are not in "us"! They come out in us by the Spirit. These things never were in Adam -- it is all in Christ Jesus. Faith, love and grace are characteristic of Christ. He is the source of them. Circumstances have changed but He has not changed morally for He is the same "yesterday, and today, and for ever". He was the Head of a new stock the moment He became Man.

Christ "risen" is the common testimony to Jew and gentile. Everyone who has the Spirit is in Christ. But you must be born again first or there would be nothing for the Spirit to attach Himself to if we were not born again. Nothing will avail down here except as what is of Christ. If a servant takes up the methods of the world sooner or later he will become the world's servant and be overcome by the world. Spurgeon is a sample of it -- he wrote against the down grade and he adopted the ways of the world and fell under the power of it, and when on his death-bed all the great people of the world were enquiring after him. In a day of departure such as the present, nothing of Adam or of the world will stand -- the only thing in real power is in Christ Jesus. Our faith is that Jesus is the Son of God.

"My gospel" was the testimony confided to Paul -- he presented that Christ world-wide, as He is, is the expression of God's mind for man. The portion of anyone, who believes the apostle's gospel at the present time, is complete conformity to Christ. This is a world-wide Christ in glory as God's thought for man, and that comes out at the rejection of Stephen's testimony. God revealed His Son in him that he might testify of Him among the god-making heathen (Galatians 1:16).

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Life and incorruptibility are brought to light in respect of man in Christ risen. The testimony of our Lord is the testimony which the Lord had confided and Paul was the special vessel of the testimony. The subject of it was Christ. We ought not to be ashamed of this testimony. The Holy Spirit carries it out now. It means the complete displacement of man as man -- hence comes in the rub! God gets rid of the best as well as the worst! and man does not like to be displaced. The testimony brings out all that is in the heart of God for man. The gospel means to carry into effect what was effected on the cross -- which is reconciliation; that is, that man is utterly set aside. This brings opposition. If you maintain the gospel as Paul did you will get into trouble. It is impossible in the very nature of things that, when God has removed the man who was obnoxious to Him, He will suffer that man now.

What we want to manifest is that we are from the stock of the Man who was raised from the dead. You may preach God's thoughts to man but whether man can take in God's thoughts is another matter -- so that is where ministry comes in. The distance is gone for man and where the distance was there is complacency -- that is that God can have complacency, not in me, but in Christ. God has only Christ before Him. It is very wonderful to see how the power of life comes out in the apostle in this epistle. All men forsook him, but there was not a bit of 'give in' in the apostle. In the present day it is a difficult thing to stand rigidly apart from the evangelical work. People are bonded together in societies and all their bond is work -- it is a kind of world of its own. Their gospel does not come up to the ministry of reconciliation! It does not go beyond meeting the need of man. Results wholly depend upon God. You can present the light of God, but results accomplish the sovereign purpose of God. This is the work of the gospel.

If God causes the sun to shine the light is for every

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man. The light fell upon the pieces of silver and the silver was manifested by the light. The great object of the light coming into a city is to make manifest the elect. When the church got under the power of the world, it adopted the world's methods. If an evangelist came into a town there would be no harm in going from house to house and giving a notice, but in posters and placards you are trading on the world's toleration of christianity. It is the right thing for saints in a place to try and bring in all they can, but we want to be independent of the world and its toleration. If we do not stand clear of the world we shall come under the power of it. When Hezekiah showed all his things to the king of Babylon he was in his power and the people were carried captive to Babylon. Whatever trades on the world's toleration puts you under its power. You may preach when you like in the open air for the air does not belong to the world! The point is that God never intended the gospel or those who preach it to be in bondage to the world. The great thing in the gospel is to take men out of the world. It is not fair to preach in a chapel, because if the people to whom I preach accepted my preaching it would break up the chapel! The Spirit of God was enough at the beginning, for three thousand people were converted at one preaching. Now it takes three thousand preachings to convert one man!

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RIGHTEOUSNESS AND SALVATION

Isaiah 51:5 - 6; Romans 12:2

Righteousness and salvation are coincident and contemporary -- this is an important point to remember. You get it in Isaiah 51:5 - 6 -- all prove that God's righteousness and His salvation are parallel -- they run together. Salvation is one step further than righteousness. Righteousness is that we stand in relation to God morally. If a man is not in righteousness, he is in lawlessness. God has had in view that man may be brought morally into relation to Him. The point is to see it in Christ, not in Scripture. We are too doctrinal and we want to see it in Christ. The wonderful thing has come to pass that Christ is the revelation of God's righteousness and He is also our righteousness. God has made Him unto us righteousness. What is wanted is for people to apprehend things morally, that is, as they must be. The great point on the part of God was to declare His rights. Sin having come in, it became necessary for God to declare His rights and He has declared them in the righteous One. Romans 3 is the doctrine of it, but the reality of it is in Christ. God Himself took up man's liabilities and met them in the righteous One. That was His grace in order to enforce His righteousness and His righteousness is His rights. To assert and declare the righteousness of God and His rights are to govern the affections of His creatures. Until a man bows to the grace of God he will never own the rights of God. The third chapter of Romans is more moral than judicial. God begins entirely de novo in Christ. The great point is that man should submit to the righteousness of God. If God had not approached man in grace, man would have had to come under judgment God acts for man and yet independent of man. It is the declaration of God's rights -- it is

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apart from law. The righteousness of God was there before sin came in and will exist after sin has been finally judged. Until sin came in the rights of God had their place -- God now wants to bring man back to that. Judgment rested on man and God took it up in Christ to bring man back to His righteousness.

God's rights have their foundation in His nature, which is love, and love is of God, and He claims the love of man. Grace brings man to the righteous requirements of the law. Everything is centred now in Christ. In the new heavens and the new earth no sin exists, so that righteousness and sin could not be correlative there. In the very fact of God being the Creator He has a right to the affections of every intelligent creature.

The great principle with God is recovery and in order to do that God has taken up man's liabilities. Noah regained, typically, what Adam had lost. Judgment is God's strange work. In Isaiah 1, for instance, there is no judgment; salvation runs parallel to righteousness. His righteousness is towards all and His love is the spring of it. It gives you a wonderful thought of God. Man is brought to righteousness by being brought to God in his affections. Man gives up seeking to establish his own righteousness and submits to the righteousness of God and now the righteous One conducts him to the paths of righteousness. We see it in Proverbs 8:20 - 21. You are righteous as He is righteous -- you apprehend that Christ is your righteousness -- but He has, in that, terminated you. He could not be holden of death. He terminated us that we may live in Him. Our liability was death and if He takes up our liability He terminates us -- so that if you believe in Christ the next thing is you are baptised. You are terminated as in Adam, but you count yourself as alive unto God in Christ. Propitiation is the termination of all, so that you can be in Christ. It is all moral. The gospel and what is connected with it is all moral. Righteousness is a moral thought, not judicial. It is the

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rule of the moral universe. The rule of the physical universe is attraction. There are certain laws by which all is governed -- there is no lawlessness. A meteor may be described as 'lawless'. But the rule of the moral universe is righteousness and when a man becomes lawless he gets out of his orbit into space like a meteor. You really can read the gospel behind the law -- behind it all was the great truth that God is love. The devil could not command love -- only a Being who is love could command love.

The great moral principles of the law are, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God", etc. The declaration of God's righteousness in Christ explains everything. It is in His death that Christ is the declaration of God's righteousness. The great point is to see the purpose of the gospel and that is to bring man back to God. In the moral universe you must have righteousness. We are attracted to the righteous One by the very fact that He took our liabilities and now He leads in the way of righteousness.

Christianity is a living system and all is centred in Christ. It has all been set forth in Christ. The two great principles of the will of God down here are that there is no lack and that we overcome evil with good. As we live in Him, He lives in us. Man knows nothing of the love of God till he believes in Christ. People often confound relation to God morally with practical righteousness. The love of God brings you to holiness; grace brings you to righteousness. Practical righteousness is that you are here for the will of God. Everything is out of course down here, and the great point is that the will of God should be proved in us "that we may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God" as it marked the pathway of Christ here. There is abundance for every need.

Righteousness is the first principle in the moral universe. The love of God is the source of it. No one will be right until he apprehends it. It is divine love --

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not our love. Salvation runs parallel to this and you are free from the power of the enemy -- you are not afraid of man or devil. It is only in darkness that evil can work. The moment you come into the light the power of evil is broken -- the enemy is dead on the seashore. The will of God has been perfectly set forth in the world in Christ, and He always overcame evil with good. His appointment is eternal life (John 12:50 and Psalm 133:3). There is no lack there! In the body of Christ there can be no lack; it comes down even to 'mercy'! Grace is enjoyed but righteousness is a moral necessity. Apart from righteousness all the world would go into perdition. The effect of grace reigning is to subdue people and bring them to God. It is like the influence of the sun upon every planet -- so the righteousness of God is upon all that believe. It is God's estimate of the man. The last verse of 2 Corinthians 5 is the expression of divine righteousness, everything in perfect gear with God. In the heavenly city there is also unity and perfection, it completely meets the glory of God. His glory abides in it. By means of the heavenly city God puts Himself in relation to the whole universe.

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THE HOUSE OF GOD AND THE REST OF GOD

Hebrews 3:1 - 6

Israel was God's house but they did not enter into God's rest. The thought of God's house carried the thought of God's rest. Israel was God's house because He dwelt amongst them. Moses was faithful in Israel. The real builder of God's house was Christ. The great idea of 'house' is God's dwelling. The tabernacle of God is with men and in that sense the universe becomes the house of God. The tabernacle and all the material for building it were taken from Israel -- they became His household (Exodus 25:8). The tabernacle was identified with the people and they with the tabernacle. Israel always fell short of their privileges. Things would have been very different if Israel had come up to their privileges. It is all moral rather than material. There must be a certain means by which God could dwell among men and that was set forth in the detail of the tabernacle. When the people were out of gear with the temple, the Lord said "But the Most High dwells not in places made with hands", Acts 7:48. Christendom has departed very far from the true idea when they think God can be worshipped in temples made with hands. God's great idea was that He should dwell among His people. "Whose house are we" is moral and conditional. Profession and possession ought to go together. The divine thought in the house is that God is close to us, dwelling among us that He may be known. No one can know God at a distance. If a soul enters into the knowledge of God he enters into the rest of God. You reach the knowledge of God in the house of God. You are the house. Believers compose the house. The house was formed by the descent of the Holy Spirit. The material was

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there and the stones were there and the Holy Spirit came to form it.

You get the idea of the house in the day of Pentecost at the descent of the Holy Spirit. Christ is Son over the house and that gives character to the house of God. Water baptism brings you into christian profession -- professedly into identity with the church. The apostle pressed on the Jews to save themselves from this untoward generation, and they were baptised in order to do this. There is privilege connected with it. The families of believers in the early days of Christianity were brought up in the light of that instead of in the darkness of heathenism. The children of saints have thus a great deal of advantage. They have a recognised place in the epistles. They come under the Lord, they are in the kingdom -- "for the kingdom of the heavens is of such", Matthew 19:14. But all that is not the idea of the house, it is more in connection with the kingdom. The similitudes of the kingdom shew that both good and bad are in it. The house may be where the kingdom is not. If judgment first begin at us, the 'us' is the house of God. That scripture in Peter is very conclusive as to what the house of God is -- for if God is so particular about His own -- what will become of the sinner?

Believers have to be led on. We do not come to the good of it (the Living Stone) and realisation of it all at once. The house of God and the holy priesthood are in God's mind for people -- but when people connect Christ with the world it is very certain they have not come to Christ as the "living stone", disallowed of men. People may be sanctified in an outward way and yet become apostates. The Spirit of God addresses people on the ground which they assume. They take that ground and God takes them up on that ground. This refers to Hebrews 10:29. The man here esteemed the blood of the covenant, whereby he has been sanctified, common ... -- he was only a professor. We must have

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God near to us to know Him. He has come near to us that we may know Him and know how He orders His house. The conduct that suits His house is lowliness, meekness and forbearance. You become companions of Christ in God's house. He is over God's house. God is learnt in His house close at hand in a wonderful way in connection with His ways, and His people in discipline and care.

Any man in his own house orders things for himself; and in God's house He orders things for Himself; and thus He orders things for the blessing of His people. If God's house is here and God has a supper He has something to put before them. There is the fatness of His house. "I will abundantly bless her provision; I will satisfy her needy ones with bread", Psalm 132:15. People are compelled to come into God's house to God's supper now. You get the mind of God through being brought into God's house. We do not get any light as to God's things until we recognise the presence of God by the Spirit. "I will satisfy her needy ones with bread" is what we get in God's house.

The divine idea of God's house is that He would lead us into His rest. It is His thought in regard to us. The marriage supper in Matthew 22 is a similitude of the kingdom, but Luke 14 goes much further. The thought of the rest is very important. The point is, are you complacent in yourself or have you reached God's point of complacency which is His rest. We are the house, Christ prepares the material but we cannot be said to be of the house until we have received the Spirit. We must get hold of things morally if we want to see the kingdom. It has a great moral effect on us if we see God's complacency; it takes the self-complacency out of us (see chapter 4: 12). You fall into self-complacency.

On the other hand, if you are labouring to enter into the rest of God, it is a continual exercise -- the word of God is continually probing you. It is labour to enter into that rest and for the reason that the word of God is

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"living and operative", etc. and dissects everything. God will not allow us to be self-complacent because we are then in danger of falling. The word of God here is the testimony. You are continually coming to Scripture and you find you never come up to the standard. Things are laid down there which are according to the mind of God and we find we are very far below it. It detects us. The thing is, are we going to enter into God's complacency and if we do we enter into the rest of God but if we become self-complacent we are in danger of falling.

We are put in touch here with the great High Priest -- Jesus the Son of God -- who is touched with a feeling of our infirmities. The word of God is that in which God is expressed. Here it is the moral idea in contrast to the letter. Any book composed of letters would be a very poor expression of God. The word of God brings us into the presence of God Himself. God has seen fit to express Himself and when you come into the presence of that expression you find yourself judged. You are continually brought to the Scriptures. The rest of God now involves a place where God can be complacent and that is found in the ark of the covenant. God set aside all the first order -- the order connected with responsibility.

The place of God's choice was mount Zion. There are thousands of people in the present day who are zealous for the letter of Scripture and yet they ignore the Spirit of truth. The letter kills. The great purpose of God is to bring us to Himself. The reason why all is not plain to us in Scripture is that we are not up to it. There may be a place where we can enter into the rest of God now. It must be through a good deal of exercise -- you have to labour to enter into it.

The holiest is the place where all is according to God's glory and there is no flesh -- this is the point to be reached. The hope is along the way -- the rest is at the end, though we reach it morally now. The idea of the

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holiest is that flesh is excluded and there is nothing but what is according to God's glory. God rests there in Christ -- there is no conflict there. We are according to His glory by the work of God. Reconciliation is known and God is complacent. God cannot be complacent where all is not according to His glory. When we enter into this we shall understand Hebrews 4. People get into a self-satisfied, self-complacent state and that is their rest, but God wants to bring you into His rest, and that is only reached through labour and exercise. In regard to the rest of God we must reach Christ; He is God's rest.

Chapter 4: 1 - 2 is connected with what comes before it. You will not enter into rest without faith. Everything culminates at the end of the third chapter in unbelief! and then God swore that they should not enter into His rest. Neglecting the great salvation proves the absence of faith. Rest now is all a point of reaching Christ where Christ is. There is nothing but labour in our life of responsibility all along the line and all the time of our sojourn here.

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THE CHURCH AS THE WITNESS

Ephesians 3:14 - 21

F.E.R. Do you not think it is a general principle in the ways of God before He displays anything in result in glory, He gives the witness of it beforehand?

F.W.J. Yes.

F.E.R. Nothing comes out in display till God gives His witness in the first instance.

A.M. Would you give an example or two of it?

F.E.R. You do not want an example of every principle. A principle speaks for itself. The kingdom is our example. Eternal life is not set forth in display till there has been the witness of it.

J.B. There has been a display of nothing yet.

F.E.R. But there has been witness of many things.

F.W.J. Is not that principle true of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself?

F.E.R. Yes. He came as a witness before He comes in glory.

F.W.J. The witness of the church is especially connected with the absence of Christ?

F.E.R. Yes, I think so. Christ is absent and hid. The Holy Spirit is the witness. Christ speaks of Himself in Revelation 3:14 as the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God.

F.W.J. Is the church the continuation of the witness following on the Lord Jesus Christ Himself?

F.E.R. Yes, the church is the witness of Christ. That is what this prayer is. There is witness of Christ here in the church.

F.W.J. And that especially to His exaltation?

F.E.R. It is more moral. Christ dwelling in the heart by faith.... "that ye may be filled even to all the fulness of God" (verse 19). The point of it all is that there might be sufficient witness for God here

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before He comes out in display.

R.E. Why is it that there should be divine testimony first?

F.E.R. It is difficult to say. There is divine wisdom in it. God is to work out His purposes in a world of evil. It could not be otherwise. I do not see how the purposes of God could be worked out down here in any other way.

T.H.R. It forms us according to it.

F.W.J. Is the witness a kind of education that we may be formed by it?

F.E.R. Yes, I think so; we are formed by it.

Ques. That we might have it in faith before we have the display?

F.E.R. We are fitted to have part in the display.

J.B. Otherwise God would be left without a witness.

F.E.R. If God left Himself without a witness it would mean the world was given over.

Ques. Is there any display now?

F.E.R. No. It is a time of witness now, while Christ is hid within the veil it is not a time of display.

Ques. I was wondering if the three kinds of power in the end of the epistle meant display.

F.E.R. That power is not power of display but moral power. It is that we can stand here morally against the evil. Probably you might have to be a martyr. "Unto all endurance" (Colossians 1:11). That is where the power comes out.

St.C. What you spoke of is entirely connected with the Holy Spirit -- entirely dependent on the Spirit.

F.E.R. Yes. That we might be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man. You get the idea of witness running through all time. I suppose there was never a moment when there was no witness. Scripture is not the witness but records what the witness is.

Ques. The whole of Hebrews 11 were the "great cloud of witnesses"?

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A.S.L. The witnesses were persons then?

F.E.R. Yes. Enoch or Noah, then the patriarchs, then Israel. That is the burden of the latter part of Isaiah. Then Christ came and now the church is the witness.

A.S.L. So that there was a witness for God before the record of Scripture was written down?

T.H.R. God must close up things if there were not a witness.

F.E.R. When the witness of God ceases to command respect there is nothing left but for God to come in in judgment.

Ques. Does Laodicea give us an instance of that?

F.E.R. When men set up to have need of nothing, that is, express entire competency -- witness is no longer possible. That is the state of things pretty much as we have got them now. The witness of God is subject to criticism. The testimony does not command respect.

A.S.L. Then testimony and witness are the same thing. What would you say then is the witness?

F.E.R. The Holy Spirit. His presence is the witness, but the Holy Spirit is not the witness apart from the vessel.

J.B. How is the Holy Spirit the witness?

F.E.R. The witness of the Holy Spirit is that there is a Man in heaven who stands as Head to every man on earth.

A.S.L. "That the Christ may dwell, through faith, in your hearts" -- that is collectively, not that He dwells individually?

F.E.R. I think it is "the Christ may dwell", etc.

T.H.R. It is "the Christ". Christ is Head of everything.

A.S.L. Not the idea of Christ personally?

F.E.R. "Apprehend with all the saints".

F.W.J. I do not think everybody understood your remarks, Mr. Reynolds.

T.H.R. Everything God manifests in Himself comes

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out in Christ. Set forth in Him -- in Christ now exalted.

F.E.R. We get in Christ the full and perfect expression of the mind of God in regard to man expressed in Christ personally.

A.S.L. That Christ is the Head of every man. Then the Spirit is here to bear witness of another Man?

F.E.R. Yes. In relation to every man on earth. The witness is contained in the assembly, but the assembly is the worshipping company.

A.S.L. And the assembly is a witness?

F.E.R. Yes, but that brings in the idea of the worshipping company. The church may serve two ends. God can have His part and it may be the witness.

J.B. "... Filled even to all the fulness of God" -- is that the witness?

F.E.R. I think the vessel suited for the full setting forth of God's mind constituted it.

J.B. What is the difference between Ephesians and the epistle of John -- ... "God abides in you", 1 John 2:14?

F.E.R. That is moral. His love perfected in us. This is more the setting forth of His mind -- what He is to be.

J.B. Man-ward? What does length, breadth, depth and height mean?

F.E.R. It shows you the whole expanse of the 'country' and what is going to fill it. The love of Christ will fill it.

F.W.J. Do you think the church ever rose to that?

F.E.R. I do not know enough of church history to answer that. I think not.

F.W.J. I was wondering if it did at Pentecost?

F.E.R. Perhaps so, in a way.

A.M. What do you mean by the 'country'?

F.E.R. The whole expanse in which God will be displayed in the universe of bliss.

T.H.R. The whole of the universe of bliss will be

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characterised by "the Christ".

F.E.R. He will fill all things.

A.S.L. "That the Christ may dwell, through faith, in your hearts" -- not the Spirit?

F.E.R. It indicates it is God's pleasure. It is God's pleasure that Christ should dwell in our hearts by faith. The way of it is -- strengthened with might by the Spirit in the inner man, resulting in Christ dwelling in the heart by faith.

E.B.G. Faith is before the time of display?

R.E. The Spirit's work here is not apart from faith?

F.E.R. Nothing is in actuality in the present. It is all moral and must be to faith. The Spirit could not be apart from faith. We must get the light of things first and then the Spirit works on that. The first thing is that God enlightens a man and the Spirit works through the light.

J.B. Could Christ dwell in the heart in any other way?

T.H.R. It is not Christ as we get Him in Colossians.

F.E.R. No.

T.H.R. Ephesians brings in God's counsels in Christ. Christ the centre of God's counsels dwelling in the hearts by faith. It is not the testimony in a golden box but in our hearts by faith.

Ques. Does it not give character?

F.E.R. I think it gives intelligence, not character. It must be looked at in the abstract.

A.S.L. Then the next step is "rooted and founded in love" -- capacity.

F.E.R. You do not get intelligence in divine things except by love. It is one of the most important points that could be imagined. The great thing that expands man is love. With God intelligence is absolute, love is infinite. Just as a man enters into divine nature and answers to it, that man gets expanded. I do not think a man will get expanded by the study of Scripture but if he gets acquaintance with God he gets expanded.

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T.H.R. Mere study would make a man cramped.

A.M. Is the idea of expansion "filled even to all the fulness of God"?

F.E.R. Yes, that gives the idea.

A.B. Is it not that everything must be cleared out to make room for it?

F.E.R. Affection is very expanding.

T.H.R. We must take in all saints.

A.B. What do you mean by taking in all saints?

T.H.R. All the glory of God in the church comes out in all the saints. You must at once take in your mind all the saints. It is the riches of God's glory, but all that comes out in the church. Abraham saw the wealth of glory in the sky. The church is the vessel in which everything of Christ is to beset forth.

F.E.R. I have come across men of very great natural intelligence but if you get a christian who is formed in the divine nature he can enter into things a great deal better than such men.

A.S.L. There might be the capacity to take in but not to give out.

F.E.R. A man ought to take in more than he can express. He cannot express up to what he has taken in. Just as in common things a man's intelligence must go with his growth.

Ques. In the thought of witness do we take it that at the present time the church is an adequate witness?

F.E.R. There is no other witness. Everything is in the church which is necessary for witness.

J.B. It depends on the present state of the saints I suppose?

F.E.R. I think the witness is greatly obscured. Everything lies in the Holy Spirit who is still here. The house of God is still here in its greatness and completion but greatly obscured.

R.E. The apostle preached the "unsearchable riches of Christ" -- is that the witness?

F.E.R. The preaching of it produced the witness.

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We are apt to get the idea that everything is gone and we must do the best we can.

T.H.R. Everything cannot be gone while Christ is at the right hand of God and the Holy Spirit is here.

A.S.L. Nothing is gone.

A.M. Does it not tend to weaken us to say that everything has gone?

F.E.R. Yes, it does.

A.S.L. Mr. Stoney once said to a man, who said everything had gone, that nothing was gone but he (the man). The 'man' is gone.

Rem. There is not the power of the Spirit now as there was.

F.E.R. There is no decline in the Spirit -- only the witness has become obscured.

A.S.L. Would you say what the individual exercise and responsibility is in regard to the witness?

F.E.R. The first thing is to get clear of everything that is not of the Spirit. Break away from everything you are bound by. Human organisation and order is not of the Spirit of God.

A.S.L. And you become in a way a witness in yourself?

F.E.R. Yes, in a way.

T.H.R. There is the need to see the meek character of the church.

Ques. Then we have to break away from everything?

F.E.R. That is what the Spirit has been leading to. You want a sense that Christ is enough for you. You want to have a sense that even if you have to stand alone Christ is enough for you.

A.S.L. Then you would seek the company.

F.E.R. You will find yourself there.

Ques. Did not the apostle stand alone?

F.E.R. Yes, but the Lord stood by him.

A.M. It practically comes to the individual in these days.

F.E.R. People come into the order of fellowship

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really without individual exercise and faith and if the form were to break down they would all be adrift.

Ques. Do you not think there is a great lack of men in this day?

F.E.R. Yes. How far we are really men?

Ques. If we are not men we might wish to be.

F.E.R. We are more like children -- carried about by every wind -- not much stability. We listen to this person and that -- there is very little of 'men' about us. It is trouble that really tests people -- how much stability they have.

F.K. What is the witness of God on high?

F.E.R. God has given to us eternal life and that life is in His Son.

F.K. The Spirit bears witness to that in the church.

F.E.R. It is a tremendous thing to say we have "the Son". The saints at the beginning could say so and if they were asked to prove it they could say 'The Son comes out in us'. The witness down here was really the life of God. "He that has the Son has life", 1 John 5:12.

J.B. What is that -- love?

F.E.R. "By this shall all know that ye are disciples of mine, if ye have love amongst yourselves", John 13:35.

F.K. It says that there are three that bear witness -- the Spirit, the water and the blood. What about the two latter?

F.E.R. They bear witness that we are apart from the world; apart from all that is contrary to God in the world. Your conscience is perfected. The Spirit brings in all that is positive. The Spirit is the Spirit of the glorified Man -- the Spirit of God's Son.

F.K. The water and the blood then clear us from all that we were.

F.E.R. Christ came in through water and blood and the Spirit is the witness of the heavenly Man.

Ques. Then you would say that the Spirit is the

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witness to the church and the church is the witness to the world?

F.E.R. Yes. The saints are the vessels of witness to the world. You get the thought in John 17 "that they also may be one in us, that the world may believe that thou hast sent me" (verse 21).

J.B. "He that believes on the Son of God has the witness in himself", 1 John 5:10.

F.E.R. That is more -- it is the Spirit.

A.S.L. There is a difference between believing and having, is there not?

F.E.R. 'Having' the Son is a most wonderful thing. I should hesitate to say I have the Son. It goes beyond believing in Him.

R.E. Is the truth of christianity set forth in the Son? What is eternal life?

F.E.R. It is the enjoyment of life in the Son which holds in abeyance and renders powerless the power of death and evil. You come into the influence of life. They saw it in the presence of Christ. In the energy of life the power of evil is impotent. He has "the keys of death and of hades", Revelation 1:18. The powers of evil will be held impotent in the power of His life. He is not simply a man.

T.H.R. That means that He might be the source of life to us.

F.E.R. You will have to be in accord with this mighty energy in Christ.

Ques. Is that implied in the expression "Son of the living God"?

F.E.R. Yes. "On this rock I will build my assembly", Matthew 16:18. He says "I became dead, and behold I am living to the ages of ages, and have the keys of death and of hades", Revelation 1:18.

T.H.R. It is a wonderful thing if we see that the church is not of the course of things here, but it will take its place in it -- come down out of heaven. Morally it has come down from God out of heaven now. He has

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created for Himself one new man.

Ques. Is not the church here as much as ever it was?

F.E.R. The real point is that the Spirit is here and in the vessel. The vessel may be hid but it is here.

T.H.R. The church has descended to be the chaplain of the world -- like Micah who had a levite to be his priest in his house of gods. The world has a house of gods and wants the church to be its chaplain.

A.S.L. Is the Spirit in the vessel in virtue of being in the individuals who form the vessel?

F.E.R. Every believer has part in the Spirit but if you take the Spirit in the sense of dwelling, He dwells in the whole church.

A.S.L. Then there are two ideas?

F.E.R. There are two reasons. The Spirit dwells in the house. He dwells in every one that composes the house and He is said to dwell in the house that Christ builds. What Christ was occupied with while down here was building the house of God. The foundations were laid in redemption and the Holy Spirit came to dwell in it. No one but Christ ever had a hand in building the house of God. Moses was in a way the type but Christ was the real Builder, Christ the true Son of David. The Holy Spirit came down to dwell in the house that Christ built.

A.S.L. Then you put it rather the other way to what I did?

F.E.R. The Holy Spirit dwells in the church but it has been greatly obscured by the professing system.

Ques. Are we fellow-citizens of the household of God?

F.E.R. We come into the goodness of the house. Psalm 132, all the concern is the 'building of the house'.

A.S.L. Then you say the house was prepared for the Spirit?

F.E.R. The house was ready before the Spirit dwelt in it.

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T.H.R. In resurrection life He breathes life.

A.S.L. I only thought He must be in glory before He built?

F.E.R. All the time He was here He was attaching people to Himself. He gathers them and when He goes up on high He sends the Holy Spirit to dwell in the house. In John 20 all the material was there. The point in the house is that there is a witness here on earth to a Man in heaven.

A.S.L. What about 1 Corinthians 3?

F.E.R. There is no question of the house there. It is man's building affecting people but that is never spoken of as God's house. Keep to the idea that is carried through Scripture. God would have a house, but would not allow David to build it -- it was to be his Son -- Solomon built it and God repudiated it. Then the true Son of David built the house and God came to dwell in it.

R.B. What is the idea of judgment beginning at the house of God?

F.E.R. Discipline has to begin.

Ques. It is present?

F.E.R. Yes.

J.B. Was it not necessary from the beginning?

F.E.R. Not in the first energy.

Ques. Did it not begin with Ananias and Sapphira?

F.E.R. It is difficult to say anything about them or when it began. The house may be enlarged but the house is there. My house was there when I had, say, three children but it may be enlarged to ten children.

Ques. The house was there when you dwelt in it?

F.E.R. I do not think it was a house till I had children. Perhaps I ought to explain myself. We must get out of the material idea. What do any bricks and mortar care for me! That is not my house. My house is composed of those who have affection for me.

F.W.J. 'House' gives the idea of 'household'?

F.E.R. Yes, where the sufficiency and goodness of a

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man are known. The house of God is where the sufficiency and goodness of God become known.

Ques. I was going to ask a question about Psalm 132:16 "and her saints shall shout aloud for joy".

F.E.R. They do not shout aloud much today. It is an immense thing when you get the divine thought made known.

A.M. It says in 1 Corinthians 3:9 "Ye are ... God's building".

F.E.R. You must allow in the mind of the apostle he was writing to real christians -- "Ye have been washed" (1 Corinthians 6:11) he says. He takes them up as real genuine christians.

A.M. But had he not suspicion of them?

F.E.R. They were "called saints" (1 Corinthians 1:2) and he does add "with all that in every place call ..". but he has before his mind real genuine christians. He takes them up on the ground of the one body.

A.M. But does he not appeal to them to "come out from the midst of them ..".? 2 Corinthians 6:17.

F.E.R. That was an appeal to come out from idolatrous associations. He takes them up on the ground that they were really christians. He wants to bring them out in manifestation. If you take the general purpose of the epistles he has before him genuine christians -- those who were the subjects of the work of the Holy Spirit.

R.E. Does the thought of failure come in in connection with the house?

F.E.R. No, I do not think so.

R.E. I was thinking of Luke 12; the ruler of the household who failed.

F.E.R. That was failure on the part of the steward. The servant may go wrong but the household is there and has to be regarded.

A.S.L. What was the Lord's thought in introducing baptism?

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F.E.R. It was to mark definitely and distinctly the association of those who were baptised from the old, taking new ground.

T.H.R. Then the epistles are not written exactly to those in the house?

J.B. Then the epistles are written to the profession?

F.E.R. He takes people on their profession. Only two or three epistles take up the house of God. We have no allusion to it except in 1 Timothy, Hebrews and Peter. The epistles are written to the external body in any place known as christians.

A.S.L. "Whose house are we, if indeed we hold fast .."., Hebrews 3:6. The proof would be in the continuing.

F.E.R. That is in a catholic epistle. I think we need not contend as to trifles. There is the thing spoken of as the household of God -- the builder, the Son of David. The idea prevails in the Old Testament; He shall build Me a house and He shall establish the kingdom.

Ques. Will you make it plain the difference between the house and household of God?

F.E.R. I cannot. There is no difference. Our being God's household constitutes us God's house. We form part of it. "Ye are a spiritual house". We are brought into the house that we may know God's goodness. You come under discipline and training. You come under the influence of all that God is. You learn all the goodness of God -- no dearth -- Psalm 132. There is no tone about you if you have not come under the discipline. You are pitched up and down and knocked about.

R.B. "For this cause", etc. What is the "cause" on which he bases the prayer?

F.E.R. The cause is the special place given to him that he should preach the unsearchable riches of Christ and enlighten. The prayer is regarding saints universally.

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A.M. What had the Lord made the foundation of?

F.E.R. Nothing but the foundation that is laid. In ordinary building the architect has the whole superstructure before him when the building is commenced.

A.S.L. The idea is that of an architect.

A.M. He said they were God's building.

F.E.R. That point was to press upon them that the work was really God's. He was really in the hand of God, that he could say "ye are God's husbandry". The house was formed before that in knowledge and purpose. Paul laid a good foundation in Corinth.

J.B. It has been said it was the foundation of the house.

F.E.R. That is going too far.

T.H.R. The Corinthians were looking at the apostles as men. He throws them back on God and God's work.

Ques. Then the house was built?

F.E.R. Yes, it was built and it is enlarged, but not outside the pale of true believers. At the same time I do not ignore the system man has set up.

A.M. There could be no privilege connected with that?

F.E.R. I do not know that. They have the light of God. The house of God is the source of light and the system comes into the range and benefit of the light. The very philanthropy that exists in the world is owing to christianity.

A.M. But if all the system is outside, God is not the author?

Ques. Inside all the profession there is the real thing.

F.E.R. The world has adopted christianity and has the benefit and responsibility. I ask people to take the testimony of Scripture. It speaks of it as a spiritual house, "pillar and base of the truth" (1 Timothy 3:15). "Whose house are we, if indeed we hold fast ... firm to the end", Hebrews 3:6. It is surrounded by christendom like the court of the temple -- given up to the

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gentiles -- though close to the real thing.

Ques. Profession would not hinder the house of God?

F.K. How could a man be a partaker of the Holy Spirit?

F.E.R. He has come under the influence of the Holy Spirit. The builder of God's house is Christ -- the Son of David. The Father gathers to the Son. The Son builds the house -- and then the Holy Spirit comes to dwell in the house.

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THE SANCTUARY

Hebrews 8:8 - 13

A.S.L. You made a remark this morning, Mr. R. that there was something in Ephesians 3 about the worshipping company.

F.E.R. I forget exactly what was the connection -- it was a passing remark in connection with the 'body' I think.

T.H.R. You get the worshipping company in Ephesians 2:18 -- "For through him we have both access by one Spirit to the Father".

E.B.G. I think it was said that 'God might have His part'.

F.E.R. Yes.

A.S.L. The sanctuary must be the place of worship?

F.E.R. It is inseparable from the house of God. If God is known and men are taught of God, the effect must necessarily be that they approach God. The sanctuary is consequent on the house. The two hang together.

A.S.L. The sanctuary is no more material than the house. It might be said that the saints are the house but not the sanctuary.

F.E.R. The sanctuary presents the conditions of worship. You must find the sanctuary in the house and it is in the house that you do find the sanctuary.

T.H.R. The sanctuary is really the presence of God -- the sense of His presence.

A.S.L. The 'holiest' is the same thought as the sanctuary?

F.E.R. The sanctuary is taken up from the idea of the holiest. The holiest is the sanctuary to us.

F.W.J. Is Christ the Minister of the sanctuary as the Head of the body?

F.E.R. I think the two thoughts are very nearly akin.

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He is the Head of the body -- the firstborn among many brethren. In that light He is the Minister of the sanctuary. Aaron set forth what is now fulfilled in Christ. The general ordering of the sanctuary attaches to Christ as Minister of the sanctuary.

A.S.L. As Son over God's house?

F.E.R. Yes. I think Aaron had all the responsibility of all connected with the worship of God. In all that was connected with the sanctuary and priesthood, his sons were associated with him. They were to share in the responsibility of the sanctuary.

A.S.L. Then the thought of the sanctuary for us is in association with the Son?

F.E.R. I would not quite say that. Aaron and his sons set forth association with the Son, but the sanctuary, as Mr. R. said, is the presence of God.

A.S.L. How do we find ourselves in the sanctuary?

F.E.R. I think people find the sanctuary as they are prepared for it. As you are prepared for it you find it.

A.M. In what way are we prepared for it?

F.E.R. You are brought into the house and taught by the Spirit -- instructed in the knowledge of God. You then begin to apprehend the sanctuary -- that is the light in which God can be approached.

A.S.L. I suppose there is no possibility of saints being in the sanctuary without Christ?

F.E.R. No. If He is the true Aaron He is the Minister of the sanctuary.

A.S.L. If saints find themselves in it, in what relation to Christ are they looked at?

F.E.R. "Firstborn among many brethren". Christ is apprehended as the true Aaron.

Ques. In what way is He Minister of the sanctuary?

F.E.R. He is divinely charged with the care of the sanctuary -- with approach to God.

A.S.L. The French translation gives it as 'official administration'.

F.E.R. The minister of the holy places.

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Ques. Is that the thought in Exodus 29 -- "minister unto me". It is God-ward?

F.E.R. Priestly service is God-ward. The levitical service was different -- bearing the tabernacle.

Ques. Is He the conductor into the sanctuary as the great High Priest?

F.E.R. I do not think 'High Priest' is used in that connection. High Priest is in regard of the service of Christ to His people down here. That title comes in the earlier part of the epistle.

Ques. Can you tell us the difference between ministry God-ward and ministry man-ward?

F.E.R. Ministry man-ward may be any kind of service to the saints or even to those who are not saints. Ministry God-ward is service to God -- waiting on God.

F.K. Is not the word 'serve' in Hebrews used in a peculiar sense -- serve in a religious way -- to worship?

F.E.R. Exactly. There was divine service in connection with the tabernacle.

A.M. Would "serve the living God" in Hebrews 9:14 be worship to God?

F.E.R. Yes. It is in contrast to the priests going into the first tabernacle to serve the living God.

F.K. In the New Testament 'worship' is translated as 'service'.

F.E.R. Yes. Service in the sense of worship.

Ques. Is He the great priest in the sanctuary?

F.E.R. More as the Son. What is an interesting point in the Old Testament, in this connection, is that the true principle of priesthood is seen after the gain-saying of Korah -- that is Aaron's rod that budded. In the apprehension of things that is a point of very great importance in their application to us.

T.H.R. You must bring in life out of death to apprehend worship. One has to go to God's side of things. "Thou shalt bring them in, and plant them in the mountain of thine inheritance" (Exodus 15:17). One has to have a sense that one belongs to the things

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of God. We have been brought into another system of things.

F.E.R. In the fellowship of His death. The gain-saying of Korah represents the apostasy of christianity. The professing system perished. Christendom never gets into the holiest. After that you get Aaron's rod that budded -- that is the true principle of priesthood.

F.W.J. Do you mean by that there is a peculiarity to priesthood now?

F.E.R. There always was -- in the thought of God. It comes out distinctly in Aaron's rod. It did not establish the priesthood but it brought out the true character of priesthood in Christ Himself. Christ is in life -- out of death. Priests in christendom do not take that ground at all because they say priesthood is consequent on levitical service and not life out of death.

J.B. Must one know something about new creation also?

F.E.R. I do not think you can have anything that is properly priestly unless you have the idea of new creation. You have to learn death.

J.B. Would you exclude one who did not know that from worship?

F.E.R. If they have affection for God they might join in the worship of God. Priesthood in Christ Himself can only be in life out of death. It is a question of association with Christ.

A.S.L. Christ was priest personally -- was He not?

F.E.R. Yes, but I do not think that He could take priesthood up on that ground. If He is to take up priesthood in relation to man it must be in life out of death, because man is in death. Aaron's rod literally was life out of death. You get the real character of the priesthood -- the setting aside of the system that made Aaron priest and in the next chapter Aaron dies.

A.M. Would the "corn of wheat" go in that line at all?

F.E.R. Yes; quite so.

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F.B. Then it was more than a confirmation of the priesthood?

F.E.R. It was an indication of what in God's mind is to be the real power of priesthood.

A.S.L. The power of an endless life?

F.E.R. Yes. Life out of death.

J.B. Is every person quickened who has received the Spirit of adoption whereby they cry "Abba, Father"?

F.E.R. A person might say "Abba, Father" in the power of the Spirit and not be quickened together with Christ. A person might have instinct and might in a sense be carried on by others.

Ques. But there would not be any exclusion of a 'babe' in Christ from the breaking of bread?

F.E.R. Not at all, but I was speaking of the question of the worship of God, and how He will be served. A young christian has everything in the Spirit but may be but little formed in it. Every man begins as a 'babe' and is formed in divine things. The father is nothing more than a babe, but the father is a father and the babe is a babe.

J.B. But is not every person quickened who loves God?

F.E.R. I admit that is a proof and evidence of the Spirit being there.

T.H.R. You must be brought on to the ground of resurrection in your soul.

F.E.R. You must be on a certain platform -- the platform on which God is. I think the first point to be ascertained is 'what platform is God on?' Then you must serve God on that platform.

T.H.R. I see the first intimation of worship in Abraham. God came in Genesis 15:1 and says "I am thy shield, thy exceeding great reward" -- that is the earthly side. But in Genesis 17:1, 2 God takes Abram to His side "walk before my face, and be perfect. And I will set my covenant between me and thee ..". etc. and Abram fell on his face. It was the first recorded

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act of worship -- the bowing down of the soul in the presence of God. Abram was called to God's side of things.

A.M. You mean by that the way He has revealed Himself?

T.H.R. There is a great difference between God's coming to me and my going to Him on His ground.

A.M. Would you say that sonship was the great qualification for worship?

F.E.R. Yes. But we were talking about the sanctuary and worship. In what light is God going to be approached? He is going to be approached in the light of what He is. It is a great point. You can contemplate God and give Him thanks. You can worship God in the working out of the purpose and counsel of His own will. It is what He is that brings in the platform of resurrection. Resurrection is the real beginning for God. The church is on the principle of life out of death. The whole range of divine purpose is on the principle of life out of death. We have to apprehend that He is working out His own will. "Ye have been also raised with him through faith of the working of God who raised him from among the dead" (Colossians 2:12). That is the principle -- hence if it is a question of worshipping God, He must be apprehended in that light.

A.S.L. So that if our faith does not go as far as resurrection we do not get to worship?

F.E.R. I think there are many give thanks who do not come to worship. The fact is we have not quite got an idea of the sanctuary.

Ques. "Worship the Father in spirit and truth" (John 4:23) -- is that in connection?

F.E.R. Yes.

Ques. You would make a difference between 'title to enter' and 'entering'?

F.E.R. Oh yes. Everything belongs to the christian. There is no gift beyond the Spirit, but we only

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enter as the Spirit of God gives us power.

Ques. Is the sanctuary the apprehension in the soul?

F.E.R. It is the apprehension of God in the light of His counsels in Christ.

A.S.L. You made a remark at the beginning to the effect that we get into the sanctuary when we are ready for it. Will you say a little more as to that?

F.E.R. There is an important preceding point -- that is, acquaintance with Christ. Those that live have to live under the conditions that God imposes. You cannot take up things on the ground that there is no harm in them. God has laid down conditions and everything outside of these conditions is death. If you are content to live under the conditions God has imposed, you live in the good of the covenant. We have come into the good of the covenant and if you will live by the benefits, then you will get the knowledge of God. The new covenant expresses God's disposition to us.

T.H.R. The soul really finds the rest of God.

A.S.L. What are the conditions you refer to?

F.E.R. The love and mercy of God -- all outside of death -- and all that is spiritual.

Ques. "One thing have I asked of Jehovah, that will I seek after: that I may dwell ..". etc. Psalm 27:4. That was his desire?

F.E.R. Yes.

T.H.R. Many do not understand that the thought is a place to 'dwell'. It is not a place to visit.

Ques. If we realise the presence of the Lord on Lord's day morning and walk disorderly during the week that does not mean that we should realise His presence the next time?

F.E.R. Everything depends on our condition at the moment.

A.S.L. With regard to the sanctuary; in thought you have not got the 'Lord' before you as in the Supper?

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F.E.R. In the Supper it is not the 'Lord' before you. The title refers to us individually. He is the 'Head' to the assembly.

A.S.L. Is not the Supper the divinely appointed way by which the Lord introduces us to the assembly?

F.E.R. Yes. We recognise Him as Head. He is the Head of the priestly family. Mr. Darby always maintained that the title 'Lord' was introduced on account of their state. It is a title of reverence and respect.

F.W.J. Does not Paul change the title in 1 Corinthians 10? He speaks of the blood of "Christ" but when he is contrasting the cup with the cup of demons he speaks of the cup of the "Lord".

F.E.R. Yes.

A.S.L. We are gathered together in the name of the Lord Jesus.

F.E.R. Sarah obeyed Abraham calling him "lord", but Abraham was not 'lord' to Sarah. It is a question of respect and reverence.

T.H.R. Sarah obeyed Abraham. He was her head though she called him lord. She was true to her head.

R.E. Is the sanctuary the sense of apprehension of a Man in resurrection -- the thought of rest?

F.E.R. It is the resting place of God. It is the Man in whom God is working out the counsels of His own will. In the question of approach to God the first question is the 'call of God'. What are we called to? Too many never think of what they are called to. What was Abraham called to? If people took this question into account it would generally affect them. 'What has He called me to?' Then you get grace for the call.

A.S.L. What would you say the call is?

F.E.R. Sonship, through Jesus Christ, to Himself Then He has given us grace suited to the call -- the power of access by Jesus to the Father. Then the condition of the call is life out of death, proved by the statement that you are risen with Christ.

Ques. Why do you put that at the end?

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F.E.R. Because you get that in type in Korah. They disregarded the call of God. Clergymen have no call and are trying to carry out the call without the grace. If God has called us (and we take that ground) we have grace suited to the call. Then the condition of the call can be carried out.

J.B. When you say that the call is sonship, it is the purpose of God?

F.E.R. It is what God has called us to.

J.B. So we can enter into it now?

F.E.R. We are sons of God by faith in Christ Jesus.

R.E. Would you say that Israel apprehended the call in Exodus 15?

F.E.R. Yes. It is a curious thing that the first time sonship occurs in Scripture is in Exodus 4:22 -- "Israel is my son, my firstborn".

R.E. Then would you say that a soul must be in the good of Exodus 15 to enter the sanctuary?

F.E.R. Yes. We must apprehend the call. It is impossible for God to give us a call without first giving us grace to answer to it and the condition is life out of death. The principle of His operation was on the principle of life out of death. We have access by one Spirit to the Father. We have got the Spirit which cries "Abba, Father". We should be formed according to God's purpose. The renewing of the Holy Spirit can only come after the Holy Spirit is given.

Ques. Is the sanctuary the proper sphere for sonship?

F.E.R. Yes. I think so.

Ques. Will you say a little as to Exodus 15, 16 and 17?

F.E.R. How exceedingly interesting that is. First you get redemption. God took up His right in regard to His people. Then there is the thought of the "abode of his holiness". Where is it? His love is the abode of His holiness. Then "thou shalt bring them in". They must be according to His holiness. He brings you

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to the sanctuary. In Hebrews 12 He chastens us that we may share in His holiness. His holiness abides in His nature. The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit.

A.S.L. That brings us back to Ephesians 3.

F.E.R. The condition in which a christian is to live is in the love and mercy of God.

J.B. The love of God shed abroad in our hearts. Is that the abode of His holiness?

F.E.R. Yes. The love of God -- His nature -- is the abode of His holiness. You regard God in another light and the next thing is the sanctuary. You are prepared for it in nature. You are holy as God is holy. If we got into the sanctuary we should be consciously before the Father. We feel we are not fit for the sanctuary -- to enter into the nature of God.

J.B. To know the "length and breadth", etc.?

F.E.R. That is exactly it. The love of Christ takes in the whole range of divine counsel. He is the true land of promise. Christ has ascended far above all heavens that He might fill all things.

J.B. Well I suppose no one need be discouraged?

F.E.R. Oh no! We need not be discouraged. I am not, although I feel how small I am morally -- how small we all are. We were all young once.

J.B. Some of us would like to know what you mean by being 'small morally'?

F.E.R. We are so young in the things of God. It does take a time to lead us into these things. We have to accept that we are nothing. I delight in the last verse of Hymn 87 -- 'That we our nothingness may know'. The apostle had a sense of his nothingness.

A.S.L. What is the true tabernacle?

F.E.R. The whole moral system of things -- the moral universe of bliss.

A.S.L. He is the official administrator of that also?

F.E.R. Yes. He has ascended up that He might fill all things. Our moral proportions are according to our

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knowledge of God, and I think our knowledge of God is extremely limited.

Ques. Is it only by the knowledge of God we grow?

F.E.R. That is the only way.

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THE COUNTRY, THE CITY AND THE KING

Philippians 3:17 - 21; Luke 19:11 - 27

We find the Lord saying in Matthew 13 that "every scribe discipled to the kingdom of the heavens is like a man that is a householder who brings out of his treasure things new and old" (verse 52). It is the thought of what would mark the scribe discipled to the kingdom of the heavens to put together things new and old. You find that a very great many thoughts taken up in the New Testament are thoughts found from time to time in the Old. All these thoughts are taken up in the New Testament. One thing about these thoughts is certain. We find them all centred in a Person -- Christ -- in Him is the yea and the amen. Everything in the Old Testament gets its character from the One in whom the thoughts are taken up. We are acquainted with the thoughts I have in my mind to take up tonight in a natural way.

They are (1) Country; (2) City; (3) King. All understand them. We live in a country which has a city -- a metropolis -- ruled by a king or queen. I am going to take up the thoughts in the way they are presented in the New Testament. All these thoughts serve to test christians at the present time; to test the fidelity of christians. You find a great many thoughts in the Old Testament taken up in the New. In Abraham it is God blessing; in Israel, God dwelling and in David, God ruling. Three great thoughts came out in the Old Testament times. In Abraham, righteousness; in Israel, sonship, and in David, eternal life; all of which are part of God's purpose for man, and all set forth in Christ, and all of which came out in the course of God's ways. We get the character in the one in whom they are centred. I take up the three thoughts. In Abraham you get the idea of 'country';

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in Israel the idea of 'city'; and in David the idea of 'king'. Moses was king because he was the meekest man on earth. That is the proper characteristic of a king according to God. My object tonight is to try and show what the divine idea is in connection with each; how they are taken up in the New Testament and their application to us and their effect on us at the present time. I do not think they are much to us if they do not tend to establish and instruct us in divine purpose. Each of these thoughts are peculiarly applicable to us at the present time and test each one.

God promised Abraham that in his seed all the nations of the earth should be blessed. He gave to Abraham an inheritance referring to a country. He was called out by God from his country, kindred, and father's house, to a land which he should afterwards receive for an inheritance. There it is you begin to get the idea of country. It presents the idea of expanse. It is not exactly like a city. A city cannot exist by itself. It would be nothing without a country in length and breadth. There is room in the country for men to contemplate the beneficence of God. It no doubt came out in a special way in the promised land. The eyes of God on it marked it. The expanse is a witness to the goodness and beneficence of God. There was room for it to be enjoyed. There is a great deal more but you can accept that much.

Now look at the 'city' for a moment. It is a place where religious and political elements combine. It is the seat of light and rule. The influence of London is felt all over England -- it must exercise immense influence. If everything is right in regard to the city the effect is felt throughout the country. Jerusalem became a city and had influence over the garden of God, which included all the surrounding nations. It was the city of light and rule. Light from God and rule had their influence in the city. Man has a city for his own glory and that city will most surely come under destruction. Babylon came under destruction never to be restored.

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The Psalms are continually speaking of the beauty of the city. The heavenly city is the seat of light and rule from heaven. So that I have given you the idea of 'city'. I am not laying down the law but I give you ideas and thoughts. I have not gone beyond giving expressions Scripture would make on our minds.

Now as to 'king'. The king is the vessel of rule, not the seat of rule. The king is the representative of God for light and rule. When the kingdom was set up in the time of David, Nathan was prophet, Zadok was priest and David king. What God intended was set forth in three persons. They were not combined in one person, nor could they be. The prophet was a check on the king in order to bring the mind of God to bear on him. The king was always subject to the prophet. The king never takes priestly functions. The mind of God was expressed in the three persons. That is the Old Testament.

Now I want to come to the New Testament. But first as to Abraham -- he was not content with an earthly country; he sought a better, that is a heavenly country. He sought a city which had foundations whose builder and maker is God. Abraham was familiar with the cities but he did not find a city on earth that had moral foundations; he looked for one which had foundations; the thought and aspiration of Abraham really went beyond what was of earth. The answer to that was "wherefore God is not ashamed of them, to be called their God; for he has prepared for them a city", Hebrews 11:16. All that God spoke to Abraham about was earthly, yet his faith went out to the heavenly city.

Now I pass on to the New Testament. I want to show that all these thoughts come out in application to us. We have a country. The Jews have no country on earth. Then how can the gentiles claim a country and be patriotic? If what Peter said to the Jews in his first epistle is true they have no country, and surely that

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might apply to the gentiles. They can only claim a country providentially. The world is a wilderness and there are four wild beasts, which are the four gentile powers or empires, the last of which is now going on. The gentiles cannot claim a country when the Jews have not got one. Peter calls them "pilgrims and strangers". People according to God -- entitled to a country! Everything is out of course. If you claim a country you put yourself in the way of covetousness, taking the place of the elder brother. He is our portion. He never intended to give the prodigal the portion of the elder brother and no people can claim a country while the Jew is dispersed. In Philippians 3:20, "our commonwealth has its existence in the heavens". That was the country Abraham sought. It is not a new country if Abraham sought it. I do not doubt that others sought it. Moses had to die without going into the land but I do not doubt but that he sought a better country. When he was prohibited from entering the land of promise the grace of God gave him to anticipate the heavenly country. We have a country -- Paul was caught up into it. The eyes of God are continually on it, and the goodness of God is in it. It is a large country, a vast expanse, and God's will is done in it.

The angels of little children behold the face of Christ's Father who is in heaven. It is a large expanse and our living links are there. The Father is there and the Son is there. The present is a most remarkable moment.

God, the Spirit, is on earth, and Man is in heaven. The Spirit is a witness to the fact that a Man is in heaven. It is a large and blessed country where God's will is done -- the scene where the goodness and beneficence of God is fully known. "Our commonwealth has its existence in the heavens, from which also we await the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour", etc. Philippians 3:20. Again as to the city. We have a city. In Hebrews 12:22 mount Zion represents moral principles. Not the city of the great King but city of the living God.

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The holy Jerusalem (Galatians 4:26). Those two expressions I just want to touch upon. We come to mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem. The city of the great King -- Jerusalem -- on earth is desolate and a waste till the time of the gentiles is fulfilled. We have come to the city of the living God. When the kingdom comes to pass it is not simply the kingdom of the great king David, but the kingdom will be Jehovah's. The earthly Jerusalem is really not a great enough city for the living God. A city is required that is really morally greater than Jerusalem on earth. That can never be the city of God's glory. I really could not see that Jerusalem below could answer to the demands of the glory of God. It takes a long time for the city to form. He has been forming it for nearly two thousand years. He is forming a city which is according to His glory. You must get the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God, because the earthly Jerusalem is not sufficient for the glory of God. You are part of that which answers every demand of the glory of God. We are to behold Him without a veil. I cannot imagine anything more wonderful than the city of the living God that comes down from heaven having the glory of God in its full blaze. It is the seat of light and of rule. Jerusalem is free (Galatians 4:26) -- what marks the heavenly city is perfect liberty. We take our character from Jerusalem above. People take their character from their city. Londoners, who are citizens, take their character from London. We take our character from Jerusalem above. If you get a saint who has no kind of idea about Jerusalem above, there is not much character about that saint. On the other hand, one who is in the light of that city is in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free. What brings us into liberty is the consciousness that we are according to God. If anything is allowed that is not according to God it brings us into bondage. If nothing is allowed contrary to God we come into liberty. I bring you back to the thought

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that it is a wonderful thing to form part of that city which will bear the full blaze of God's glory. It is His moral glory. We want even now to get hold of the moral thought of glory.

So much for the country and the city. They should have their effect on us as we have a great deal to do with them. Most men take their character from their mother. Most men who become great have mothers who have fine characters. Jerusalem above, which is our mother, is free. Jerusalem above is only seen now in Christ as Man, the only Man who is according to divine glory.

Now we have to do with the king, but the king is Lord to us. There is the blessed vessel of God's authority. Christ is not king to us exactly. The rights of Christ as king are in abeyance. He is the Son of God, the Son of David, and the Son of man. He is Prophet, Priest and King. We find in John they said "This is the prophet" and they would have made Him a king; then He went up into a mountain to be the Priest. It is a very interesting point to me that when the Lord was about to suffer He rode in as King -- meek and sitting on an ass. "Thy king cometh meek" not condescending. His right hand could teach Him terrible things. He could be a lion against the enemies of Judah but the lamb is His character. In Luke 19 we find that a certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and to return. He has received it. He has gone within the veil, He has received the kingdom but He has not yet returned. We ought to be loyal to our country, patriotic to our true country -- loyal to the One who is King according to God. At the same time our faithfulness and loyalty is really tested by our absent Lord. He committed goods to His servants and their loyalty was tested by the use they made of His goods in His absence. He has interests down here. All Christ's interests are on earth. All that the Father told Him, He has told us, that we may know what His interests are in

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His people. He does not judge us in a hard measure, but He measures us according to the grace given us. The absence of Christ is the test of faithfulness and loyalty. What can I think of a king on earth when Christ the true king has gone to receive a true kingdom and to return. He will return and His enemies will be brought before Him, and every one of us must stand before the judgment seat of Christ, but we shall be in heaven. We shall come before the bar of Christ and we shall know what He thinks of the way in which we have used His goods. If you are a christian you are bound to be patriotic and loyal. "Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might" and to take to us the whole armour of God and having done all -- to stand! (Ephesians 6). I claim all things down here for the Lord. I am not going to allow that all belongs to man or the devil. Christ is the Head of every man. We have to stand in the power of His might against all the power of evil. Christians form the heavenly city which is the seat of heavenly light and rule. We are undergoing great education in order to reign. No one can reign without education. The principles are fitting you to reign -- righteousness, faithfulness and power. A king shall rule in righteousness. You want to be faithful here in every obligation under which God has been pleased to place you. God is faithful and we learn faithfulness as we learn God. It is a great thing to be faithful. We want to be "strengthened with all power according to the might of his glory unto all endurance and longsuffering with joy" (Colossians 1:11). Power is expressed in patience. The patient man is a powerful man. A man might be able to knock an ox down and not be powerful, in my mind. Meekness comes in -- meekness -- lowliness -- and I think you want love. All these things -- power, meekness, love -- are education to prepare us to reign with Christ. Then there is suffering. The man who suffers is suitable to reign. It is a righteous thing for God to reward us according to our suffering for the kingdom. Now these

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things are important practically. You want to come under the influence of the country, and the city, and under the administration and subduing power of the Lord. These are two characteristics of the Lord and we want to come under these two. The first wave of His power will change these vile bodies, etc.

I can only pray God to bring home to us more really the country and heavenly city in relation to which we stand. Stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free. The true secret of liberty is that by God's work we are brought into His glory. The king is Lord to us. I cannot conceive anything more important than being here at the disposal of the Lord and coming under His subduing power which takes effect while the Lord is absent. I want the Lord to be more to me. I accept God's ordering down here in patience. I want to be loyal to an absent Lord and to be taken up with His interests on earth: to be using His goods diligently until He comes again. Get your direction from the Lord. The Lord will teach every one how to use His goods in His absence and when He comes in as King then will be the reckoning time to those who have been loyal to Him in His absence. I think nothing will touch me more, though I am very little, than to hear Him say "Well, good and faithful bondman ... enter into the joy of thy lord", Matthew 25:21.

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ETERNAL LIFE

John 5:17 - 47

D.L.H. You said last time that in chapter 5 we get what eternal life is.

F.E.R. Yes, chapters 5 and 6 follow on chapter 4 in a kind of moral sequence. Chapter 3 is the commandment of God, and chapter 4 is how you get to it. Chapters 5 and 6 give us the idea of what is meant by eternal life. I should connect chapter 5 with the last verse of Romans 5 and chapter 6 with the last verse of Romans 6.

D.L.H. Is the idea in chapter 5 you get the victory in regard to death?

F.E.R. Yes, in Romans 5 sin has reigned by death, and grace reigns through righteousness unto eternal life. In chapter 6 it is the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus.

J.B. Do you mean that in chapter 3 eternal life is the commandment of God?

F.E.R. I think so; you can see that in verse 16 that is the commandment of God. It is His thought for man -- His commandment, what He has ordained -- and in chapter 4 you get what follows on it. Chapter 3 is God's side and chapter 4 is ours. It is not only that you do not thirst, but the water that Christ gives is a well springing up to eternal life. Chapter 3 is for faith, and chapter 4 is the well of water in the believer.

J.S.O. Do we not get here the question raised by the Jews as to who the Lord was?

F.E.R. The point is that the accusation of the Lord brings out the unity of the Father and the Son, and the authority of the Son to deal with the whole domain of death. "Even as sin has reigned in the power of death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life ...". Romans 5:21. What comes out in

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chapter 5 is the domain of death, and chapter 6 is the scene of dearth. Divine authority in the Son meets the question of death, and living bread meets dearth. That is how eternal life is brought into the world dispensationally.

D.L.H. Is it presented mediatorially in chapter 5?

F.E.R. It is in chapter 6. But it is not enough that there should be authority to deal with death; you want something to meet the dearth, that is living bread.

J.S.O. Do you distinguish between the Son of man judging and the Son of God giving life?

F.E.R. It is the Son of God who judges as Son of man. Life-giving involves sovereignty. The Son of man maintains responsibility and judges, but He also quickens whom He will in sovereignty.

J.S.O. Is the sovereignty there in view of His rights as Son?

F.E.R. It is authority which is proper to Him, but which is given to Him because He became Man. It is not conferred authority as in the kingdom. He has authority to deal with the whole question of responsibility and death.

D.L.H. He has annulled death and brought life and incorruptibility to light.

F.E.R. Quite so, people have very little sense of Christ; they believe in Him personally but do not apprehend Him officially. They do not apprehend that in which He is in regard to the universe of bliss, the system of things which is connected with Him and which comes under Him. All is there for us, we have come to it.

J.S.O. You mean displayed in Him as centre.

F.E.R. Exactly, all that will be brought to light in Him. He is everything in that order of things and we need to apprehend Him in the light of that. He is the beginning, Head, bond, centre and principal of that order. It is a remarkable expression, "the mystery of Christ" (Colossians 4:3), and also "that the Christ

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may dwell, through faith, in your hearts ...", Ephesians 3:17. There is One who in unity with the Father has authority to deal with the entire domain of death. I see responsibility and death on every hand, but when I look at Christ I apprehend One with authority to deal with it.

J.B. It takes up the whole question of every one.

F.E.R. Yes, "...that an hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that have heard shall live". (verse 25). Then, "...for an hour is coming in which all who are in the tombs shall hear his voice, and shall go forth;" (verse 28). He deals with the entire domain of death.

J.B. He is God but He judges as Son of man.

F.E.R. That is because of the Father and the Son being in unity. The Son can do nothing of Himself but what He sees the Father doing. It is the most practical moral unity between the Father and the Son. There is no divergence from the mind of the Father.

J.S.O. It is remarkable how the unbelief of the Jews brings this out as to His Person.

F.E.R. Really it brings out what in all probability is one of the most remarkable revelations in Scripture, the relation between the Father and the Son.

Ques. Who are the dead in verse 21?

F.E.R. Every one is alike in the eye of God.

Ques. Physically and morally?

F.E.R. The sentence of death is upon them. It was said to Adam, "for in the day that thou eatest of it thou shalt certainly die", (Genesis 2:17), but as a matter of fact he lived hundreds of years after. In the eye of God people whether here or in their graves are under death. "... that one died for all, then all have died", 2 Corinthians 5:14. They would not be under the judgment of God if they were not morally dead.

J.S.O. Would you say a word on authority here? Do you mean that the Son receives authority from God as Son?

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F.E.R. What was in my mind is that the authority of God is represented in the Son. All authority is given unto Him in heaven and on earth in connection with the revelation of God. All the authority of God is represented in the Son so that whatever the Father does the Son does; He judges and there is quickening which involves sovereignty. Judgment is committed unto Him because He is Son of man. The greatest thought in this chapter is the Son of God, and in the next chapter the Son of man.

G.J.S. Is Son of man a divine title?

F.E.R. It is an official title; it is the fulfilment of Psalm 8. The title which is properly peculiar to the Person, is the Son. It is the Father and the Son which come out here. The Son is the peculiarly personal name of Christ.

A.S.L. The Son of God is different from that?

F.E.R. I think there is a shade of difference.

A.S.L. When you said that the point in chapter 5 is the Son of God and in chapter 6 the Son of man, would you say a word as to the difference?

F.E.R. In chapter 5 the point is authority, in chapter 6 it is bread. Chapter 5 is a death scene and chapter 6 is a dearth scene. The living bread meets the dearth scene, and authority given to the Son of man deals with the whole domain of death; it is only authority which can deal with it; responsibility can only be taken up on authority.

D.L.H. What would be the difference between this and chapter 11: 25 "I am the resurrection and the life"?

F.E.R. The Lord simply says here, "... for an hour is coming in which all who are in the tombs shall hear his voice, and shall go forth". They shall go forth in connection with Him because He is the resurrection and the life. Those that are in their graves shall come out as surely as He came out.

J.B. The domain of death is broken up entirely.

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F.E.R. It is dealt with in the extent of it. It is a point of the last moment for our hearts to be established in. The thought of a great many does not go beyond the soul going to heaven. I doubt if the large proportion of christians entertain the thought that there is power and authority in Christ to deal with the whole domain of death.

I suppose that the man at the pool is figurative of Israel. When the Lord comes He speaks the quickening word to them. The nation lives really by the voice of the Son of God. It is not evangelical. Quickening raises the thought of sovereignty, it comes on that line; if it were otherwise you would not have responsibility maintained, but the Lord is careful to show that it is maintained, while, at the same time there is quickening. I refer to judgment being committed to the Son. Judgment maintains responsibility; God will maintain responsibility, and yet He quickens according to His mercy, but that means bringing in sovereignty.

A.S.L. The giving of life is always connected with sovereignty.

F.E.R. I think so. In general you will find in Scripture the thought of sovereignty connected with mercy; it is so in Romans 9, 10 and 11.

A.E.W. Grace is more general.

A.S.B. As many as were ordained to eternal life believed.

F.E.R. That is the principle here, it is awakening. Chapter 3 presents the command of God and the outcome of it. It was His mind towards the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, and, as a matter of fact, there is a point of contact between God and man, and that is, Christ is available for every man. Men may not avail themselves of it, but it is there, and there is no other. Everything for us really depends upon the knowledge of Christ and the knowledge of the Father. We get all the good of what belongs to Christ in anticipation.

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J.S.O. Mercy brings in the state of the people, and grace is rather more the style and way in which He does it.

F.E.R. Grace represents the attitude of God, it brings salvation to all men.

J.A.T. Grace is a New Testament doctrine, and mercy is an Old Testament one. It disappears in the New Testament except in those passages you quoted.

F.E.R. It is perfectly intelligible too; because grace is based on redemption. Righteousness being accomplished, it represents the attitude of God.

A.E.W. Is authority based on the cross?

F.E.R. No, it is what is proper to the Son. The right of judgment belongs to God, but now you have the revelation of God as the Father and the Son. The Lord shows that, that judgment is committed to the Son, because the Son has become Man. He secured His honour on account of His having become Man. The Son simply exercises that which belongs to God. Things are not going to be left in the world as they are, in a state of death and confusion. It is a great comfort to me to have the light of God, of the Father and the Son, and that one is acquainted with the competency there is in Him to deal with it. I cannot see how a man can desire the continuance of things as they are.

D.L.H. As we are really in the light of His victory we have plenty of food.

F.E.R. What will be fulfilled in the day of Christ's glory is available to us now in anticipation. We get death swallowed up in victory before the actual time of quickening comes. We have passed out of death into life. The word 'Son' is that in which the Son is expressed, it is expressive of Himself. I connect it with John 3 and 17. The Son is the sent One of the Father. Chapter 6 is the apprehension of the Son in another light, yet we have to apprehend Him in both lights. Many apprehend Him as having authority to meet death, but I do not know if they apprehend the

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One who meets dearth.

J.S.O. That would be subjective, the result of His working in us.

F.E.R. Exactly; chapter 6 is Christ bringing the good of heaven within the reach of man's appropriation. The principles of the world are lust and ambition, and it would be nothing without them, they are the moving springs in it, but Christ brings into it the good of heaven -- rest, satisfaction, goodness and love. In that way God begins again completely in Christ, and He gives character to the whole scene, He gives the new start, and all take character from Him, and, instead of a world governed by lust and ambition, He brings in a world governed by love. The world is governed by literature. People think they are going to get great light from the East, and hence you have the light of the East -- Mohammedism and Buddhism -- brought into England.

J.S.O. If you feed on the food provided in chapter 6 you do not want much else.

F.E.R. No, God can do better for the world than man by his lust and ambition. No one but a divine Person could take up what we find in chapter 5. You will never get eternal life brought into the world until death is swallowed up in victory. It is characteristic of the coming age.

Ques. Is eternal life objective in chapters 3, 4, 5 and 6?

F.E.R. In chapters 3 and 4 you get the thought of it without any explanation as to what it is. Chapters 5 and 6 really show you what it means, they show that in which eternal life really consists. Christ takes away the sin of the world and gives life to it.

J.B. The Old Testament made known things to come.

F.E.R. It hinted at it. Life is given to Christ in order that He may communicate it. Eternal life is for Christ in order that it may characterise His age, and salvation is for Him that He may have great glory in it.

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Everything is for Him.

J.H.K. Is eternal life for the earth?

F.E.R. That is the bearing of it in these chapters. The domain of death is not in heaven.

J.H.K. Does it go beyond the earth?

F.E.R. I think it is presented in contrast to "even as sin has reigned in the power of death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life .."., Romans 5:21. It is eternal life in the place where death has reigned.

J.S.O. You have got into the sphere of eternal life although you are here on earth.

F.E.R. Christ was here in that way and we come into it by the Spirit. Eternal life is objective in a way because Christ is it. It is the Spirit -- not the life -- which is subjective. If we know anything about it, it depends upon the light in which we apprehend Christ. It is one hearing and believing who has eternal life.

Ques. Is it characteristic of such a person?

F.E.R. Yes. It is characteristic of a person that he hears the word of Christ and believes on Him that sent Him. It is a continuing thing.

What a wonderful thing it is that He should bring to light the unity of the Father and the Son, and that was not touched in any way by the fact of the Son being Man. The Lord was working here in the presence of men, but in unity with the Father doing things shown to Him by the Father; raising up the dead is the operation of the Father. It is not only raising up the dead, but He also quickens. There are plenty of people who would tell you that there is nothing better than death, but there is One who is competent to deal with the entire domain of death and that according to God in divine wisdom and righteousness. It is all according to divine love because everything must be carried out according to the command of God.

J.S.O. How far will the knowledge of the Father and the Son be known hereafter?

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F.E.R. I am not sure about that. The truth will be there for them, but the question is capability to enter into it.

J.S.O. Eternal life in regard to the saints gives you a deeper thought.

F.E.R. Quite so, it lies in knowledge, with them it will lie in fact. When the Lord comes there will be the actual quickening. Israel will be quickened and death swallowed up in victory.

Another thing is this, that even the very knowledge in which eternal life consists is qualifying us for heaven to be with God.

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THE ASSEMBLY AS THE CITY

Ephesians 3:14 - 21

H.A.D. We had thought of taking up the assembly in connection with the world to come. We have had before "the gospel", "the will of God", "the world to come", and now we had thought of taking up the assembly, and its place in connection with the world to come.

F.E.R. The church is really more on the line of the city, the holy Jerusalem, then the world to come, as "the holy city, Jerusalem", (Revelation 21:10), but when it is a question of new heavens and earth, it is "the holy city, new Jerusalem". "Holy" is in contrast to the false city in chapter 17, and it is the "holy city" in connection with the world to come; but when you come to new heavens and new earth, it is the "new Jerusalem". It has its place in regard to both, it is suitable to both, so it is holy in the world to come, and new, when all is new. What God has been working, culminates in the city; every pledge of divine ways is gathered up in the city, with the object that God may be displayed. The harlot is the rival of the bride, and of her it says, "which has kingship over the kings of the earth".

H.A.D. You were speaking of "the Israel of God" as maintained in the church last time?

F.E.R. Yes, it is so I think; the thought of God's Israel is taken up in the companions of Christ. You see that it is entirely impossible that there should be any lapse in the ways of God.

Ques. Is that continued in the city, as seen in the new heavens and new earth?

F.E.R. Well no, all that comes to an end in the world to come, and you get a new order of things entirely; but the point is, it is suitable to both.

Ques. Is the new heavens and new earth an eternal

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thought?

F.E.R. Well I suppose so, in the kingdom everything is subjugated to Christ, so that God may be all in all. Of course there is some relation between the dispensations and what is eternal; it must be so, they must have some relation to each other.

Ques. Chapter 2: 7 would be eternal purpose?

F.E.R. Yes, "That in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus". There is no doubt that all through Scripture, there is some general thought connected with the city.

Ques. Is it not the seat of government?

F.E.R. To my mind it is symbolic of imperial rule, wherever you get the idea of the city, it has that meaning pretty much. Men set to work to build a city for themselves -- Babylon came in in that way, and so too with Rome -- and it was a city which represented imperial rule. That is the thought in the harlot, it is "the great city", and it rules over the kings of the earth. That is the thought always attached to the idea of a city.

Ques. What do you mean by imperial rule?

F.E.R. The idea of "Lord of lords and King of kings" you know. You get a striking illustration of it in Babylon; there is the assumption of absolute imperial rule, and of ecclesiastical rule. It has taken the character of a city which rules over the kings of the earth, and there is the assumption of imperial rule there beyond all doubt.

Ques. That is still to be, is it not?

F.E.R. Well the harlot will yet ride the beast, but the beast hates the harlot and. casts her off. She assumes to reign over the kings of the earth; she is the rival of the holy city. A city is the expression of man's glory, "Is not this great Babylon that I have built?"

D.L.H. Cain called his city after the name of his son, that was in a way, for his own glory.

F.E.R. Yes.

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Ques. But God takes up the idea, He too will have a city?

F.E.R. Yes, I think so; Jerusalem is the city of the great King, it is no common king but the great King.

W.H.H. Why do you take up the thought from Ephesians 3 instead of from the Revelation?

F.E.R. Well you get it in Ephesians more from a christian point of view than in the Revelation. There are two great lights in which you can look at the church, inward and outward; there is an aspect of the church which is outward, and that is very specially its aspect in connection with the world to come. But then there is another aspect of the church and that is its aspect inwardly, and for God. It is inward and God-ward. The outward takes its character from the inward.

Ques. Is that the bride and the body?

F.E.R. Well I am inclined to think so, but even then the bride is presented to Christ according to Himself; holy and blameless, it is presented to Himself; suitable to Himself. You must not make the bride merely display, that was pretty much Mr. Cluff's mistake I think.

D.L.H. The bride is the vessel for the display of Christ.

F.E.R. Yes, it is Christ's body, and Christ is the life of that body. The house is really a thought taken up from what had been with Israel; so many things are taken up and applied to us whether they are new things entirely, or things which had a previous application to Israel. For instance, the house, and the flock, or sonship; all these thoughts are taken up from the previous ways of God; but then there are certain things which are entirely peculiar to the church, it is not only that they are taken up in the church, but they are peculiar to the church. I do not think there was ever such an idea in Israel as the body, that is peculiar to the church, and evidently it is peculiar to the church on account of the indwelling of the Spirit; that gives its

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peculiar character to the church at once, it is distinctive of the church.

Rem. It was a mystery hid.

F.E.R. Quite so, and it is easy to understand that in the Spirit, Jew and gentile are built together, they are one, made to drink into one Spirit. Whatever may be the effect of the pouring out of the Spirit in the future, I do not think people will be indwelt by the Spirit, that is peculiar to the present time. All flesh will come under the influence of the Spirit, but the Lord could speak of the coming of the Comforter and say "He abides with you, and shall be in you".

Ques. Does the Spirit go when the body goes?

F.E.R. I suppose so, it is to those who obey God, and when those who obey Him are gone, then the Spirit will go too.

F.R.K. In the sense in which He dwells now I suppose. In the Revelation you get, "Yea, saith the Spirit"?

F.E.R. But that is a present utterance of the Spirit I should judge, "Blessed ... the dead ... from henceforth". You constantly get these interjections through the book of the Revelation, but they have a present bearing, a present application. For instance, "Come out of her my people", and then on the part of the Lord "I will give to him that thirsts". In the midst of all the judgments you get an appeal having a present force. In chapter 14: 13, "Yea, saith the Spirit", is a kind of response of the Spirit.

In looking at the assembly in Ephesians 3 the great point is what God is going to set forth in the church. The church is to rule but how? It is the vessel of rule, and the nations will walk in the light of it, but how? I think it will be like the sun, she will rule by the superiority of her light! The church will know more than all else, it will be so acquainted with God, and with God's ways, that it will be competent to rule. The heavenly city will be able to inform the earthly city of all

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that concerns it.

W.H.H. In that way will God administrate through the church?

F.E.R. Well, you are able to comprehend with all saints, that is, you are acquainted with the whole scheme and plan of God's ways. You are able to comprehend with all saints what is the length and breadth and depth and height. Every part of the system will be in communication.

Ques. Like John 1, "Henceforth ye shall see the heaven opened"?

F.E.R. It is that the earth is responsive to heaven, and the heavens to the earth.

Ques. What is the force of verse 10, "in order that now"?

F.E.R. For the time being the church is here upon earth, but in the time to come, the church is taken up into the heavenly places.

I think that the whole point of the prayer is, that the Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; you want to entertain the thought of the Christ. If the Christ is dwelling in your hearts by faith, you must surely take your character from Him. He has ascended up high above ail heavens, that He may fill all things; Christ is going to displace everything, just as with the sun, when he gets up in power, the early morning mists and fogs are all cleared away. So with the Christ, darkness, and clouds, and mists are all dispelled before Him, and He fills the whole scene. That is the idea to me in the Christ dwelling in your hearts by faith.

Ques. Does not the line of the hymn express it, 'The centre Thou and Sun'. (Hymn 11)

F.E.R. Yes, then you comprehend with all saints the breadth, and length, and depth and height, and know the love of the Christ which passeth knowledge. The warmth that will fill the universe of bliss, is the love of Christ. The point in the prayer is, that there might be present glory to God in the church, but there

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will be glory too, to Him throughout all ages. The Christ is to dwell in your hearts by faith that you may be filled to all the fulness of God; all that is of God is set forth in Christ. Where have we learned to love one another? Why do we learn to have love one for another? Because we have perceived the love of God towards us, in Christ, we learn the love of God in Christ. To know the love of the Christ, as the verse in Mr. Darby's hymn puts it --

'But not an eye those hosts among,
But sees His glory Thine'. (Hymn 178)

You cannot separate between them.

Ques. You would say that John helps Paul in that way?

F.E.R. Yes, always. God has been pleased to give us things in detail so as to help us in the understanding of them. It is just like the light shining on a precious stone, the light is all broken up into different rays, it is all variegated. The sum total of the rays is light, it is just light that will come out by and by.

I do not wish that we should get exaggerated ideas of the church and yet one must see that in the Revelation it has a most extraordinary place.

Ques. Does the future glory depend on the present knowledge?

F.E.R. The vessel is being formed; that is the present operation of the Spirit of God. In the epistles we get to a very large extent the formation of the vessel. You get in Colossians "From which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God", that is the vessel again. The, vessel is being formed that it might be according to Christ. If you take the divine idea of a wife, the husband is known in the wife; a woman does not shine in her own light, but like the moon, by the glory of another. So the woman is the effulgence of the man, and the church is being formed in the love of Christ, in order that it may be His glory.

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The husband of the virtuous woman is known in the gate. There are two things, you are to be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man, and the Christ is to dwell in your hearts by faith; the one answers to the other, and you must have the strengthening of the Spirit in order that the Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith. Faith presents this, that it is God's pleasure that Christ should dwell in your hearts by faith.

Ques. Would you say that you are being formed for two things, to meet the heart of Christ and to rule?

F.E.R. The two things go together. Christ is the most competent to rule, He is the Head of all principality and power, and no power knows how to rule but Christ. Acquaintance with Christ is the secret of rule. "By me princes rule". I do not see any king on earth who knows how to rule, though I may be considered radical for saying it, it is "by me", that princes rule. The extraordinary thing is that the christian is able to judge them, and to pray for them; it is by the knowledge of Christ that I am able to judge them, I discern them.

Ques. What is, "spoiled principalities and powers"?

F.E.R. He took all power out of their hand, when God was revealed in the cross the principalities and powers were spoiled, it was by the death of Christ, for in that, God was fully revealed. You get thrones and dominions too, but that is another thought, but they too are taken up. A monarch today has title by heredity, but he has to be trained for his great office; well, Christ has proved His qualification to rule and now you are compelled to judge by that standard. You cannot but see the weakness of kings and queens today, power is really in the will of the people; the power of the sovereign is really extremely small, but it is covered up by a great deal of show. In the world to come you will have a system which is maintained morally. "Thou hast loved righteousness and hast hated lawlessness". Christ will be the fountain of divine authority, and He

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is meek and lowly in heart. "Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek and sitting upon an ass", but then He has got all divine power. The heavenly city takes its character from Christ, and we are being brought now into accord with Christ in mind, in nature, and everything. "If we suffer, we shall also reign with him". Who is the man who rules now? The man who will suffer. It is the man who is prepared to suffer who conquers. I believe that christianity was established in the world, because the testimony was placed in the hands of men who were prepared to suffer the loss of all things; and you can easily see that if you overcome morally now, how it qualifies the saints to rule with Christ in His kingdom. I think the Lord chose men at the first who were prepared to suffer for their testimony, and it was in that way they overcame and christianity became established.

W.H.H. There is no temple in the holy Jerusalem?

F.E.R. The earthly city is the city of the great King, but it was never wholly of God as the new Jerusalem will be. It was a city taken up by God, it was the city of David, and God saw fit to take up that particular city, but when you come to the holy city the new Jerusalem it is all according to promise, it is all of God. The kings of the earth are delighted to bring their glory and honour into it, they are delighted to see what is set forth by God in Christ. I have no doubt that greater light is taken in by Israel than by the nations, but they walk in the light of the city. Everything lies in the shining of Christ. There are certain nations which come into salvation, and they walk in the light of the heavenly city. The whole thing is explained in Ephesians 3. If you get that prayer fulfilled, everything is explained. But then how is it to be? You are to be strengthened by might by His Spirit in the inner man, but are you prepared to sacrifice the outward man? The two cannot go on together. The inner man is in contrast to the outward man, it is true of every christian. The outward

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man is the man who is in touch with all that is present; and the inner man is the man who is in touch with God, and all that is of God. The holy Jerusalem is not in connection with the outward man, but the inner man. The outward man is not merely the body, but it is the man that is in touch with present things.

E.G. It used to be said that the man who is under judgment is gone in judgment, is that the outward man?

F.E.R. Oh no, that man is gone in judgment so that God might not be hindered in His work; it is the removal of the old man so that God might put the new man where the old man was. God has removed the old man in order to make room for Christ. Both terms "old man", and "new man" represent an order of man; but the "I", the individual, is the christian, and he has put off the old man and put on the new. Characteristically the new man is Christ. The inward man represents the work of God in a man; men cannot touch the inward man; if you think of the very strongest man on this earth, he is perishing, but you cannot touch the inward man. It is a mental conception. The seat of divine knowledge is the inner man.

In Galatians you are the children of the city; in Hebrews you have come to it, and in Revelation you are in it.

D.L.H. What is the force of Jerusalem, our mother?

F.E.R. That is a great point, you are the children of promise; the purpose of God is our mother, Jerusalem above is all of God's purpose and we are the children of promise. The earthly Jerusalem was David's city, and God took it up, but if I apprehend that I am of God's purpose, that Jerusalem above is my mother, and that for God, the old man is gone in judgment, then I come into liberty. You have to apprehend that the old man is gone in judgment. I think those two things are needed for liberty, the old man is gone in judgment, and that you are of God's purpose; you have come to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem;

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that is the city of purpose, there is no single element in it which is not of God, and of God's purpose.

D.L.H. Then is "our mother" that we derive from the purpose of God?

F.E.R. Yes, I think so; it is the city of His purpose. What a wonderful thing it is when I come to it, that I am really according to God's purpose, He sees nothing in me but what is His work. Christianity really lies in the Spirit, and the Spirit gives realisation.

Ques. Is that like "in Christ" in Ephesians?

F.E.R. I should think so. When you come to the holy Jerusalem in Revelation there is not one single thing in it from foundation to gates that is not of God, it is all perfect, there is not a bit of man's work in it. The walls are exclusive in the very nature of it, it is so holy that it must exclude everything which is impure. Then the gates show an outward relation, and the angels are the guardians in a way; the executors of God's pleasure. When Christ was on earth He was put in the charge of angels.

Ques. Was "Henceforth ye shall see the heaven opened" fulfilled in the life of the Lord?

F.E.R. Well perhaps. In one way I do not think it is so much a question of the heavens being opened now, they were to Stephen, but today God and Christ are hid behind a veil of providences; God will come out in the city, He will be no longer hid then.

I think you have first to come to the fact that Jerusalem above is your mother, you have left earth and all earthly props. Earthly systems are all more or less bondage, but Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother. Until people are free from these earthly links and attachments, they never really get free. God gives a man just light enough to deliver him from those things. Isaac was begotten of Sarah, he was the child of promise, and we are begotten of promise, we are of God's purpose.

Ques. Is this like leaving the boat?

F.E.R. Yes, people have to get free from earthly

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entanglements and bondage, to get into the reality of divine things.

Ques. What about "rooted and founded in love"?

F.E.R. That is capability "You ... hath he quickened", the real power of intelligence is affection; I do not think anyone is intelligent except in proportion to his affection. So we are knit together in love, we do not get intelligence except by affection. What I feel is that intelligence requires to be more universal, and the secret of that is affection. You may get a man of very great intelligence in the world but the extraordinary thing is that very generally he is lacking in great affection, and therefore he is not broad. For my part I would much rather have a man of much affection and sympathy than a man of great intelligence. A child in one way has very great capability.

Ques. How would you understand the prayer being addressed to the "Father"?

F.E.R. I think I should connect it with the thought that counsels belong to the Father, counsels are attributed to the Father, though they all centre in the Son.

Ques. What is the thought in the families?

F.E.R. All the work of God is connected with the families, the saints, Israel indeed even in the midst of Israel you may have some select family. The 144,000 who follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth, appear to have a very special place; they learn the heavenly song, and certainly they are very closely in contact with heaven.

'All the Father's counsels claiming
Equal honours to the Son'. (Hymn 14)

Rem. It is the Spirit of the Father that strengthens you.

F.E.R. I think so; the point in the passage is that God may be livingly presented in the church. The place of the church has been greatly overlooked, people think they have got an inspired text-book in the Scriptures, but the fact is that they have got it all livingly set

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forth in a vessel. Underneath what is outward, you have really got the body of Christ and God has gathered up every thread in the church.

Ques. What is the force of the 18th verse?

F.E.R. It is the whole expanse of divine purpose in Christ. I think it is most wonderful how God has acted, He set forth the responsible man first, and then when he is set aside, He set forth the Man of His purpose, and everything -- every thought of His mind -- is set forth in Him. In the Adam all died, but it is in the Christ that you are filled to all the fulness of God. It is in Christ that you are filled, and He is great enough to fill all things.

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THE SPIRITUAL HOUSE

1 Peter 2:1 - 10

H.A.D. Does what we get here refer to what we get in Matthew 16?

F.E.R. It is generally said that the first epistle connects itself with Matthew 16 whereas the second epistle connects itself with Matthew 17, the first the church, and the second the kingdom. This epistle does not go properly beyond what was true for Israel, it does not go beyond what is connected with an earthly people, it does not touch the heavenly side of the truth.

Ques. Are spiritual sacrifices what God will get from Israel by and by?

F.E.R. Yes. You do not get sacrifices in heaven, and a royal priesthood, and a peculiar people do not properly connect you with heaven. It is extremely important to distinguish these thoughts which are taken up in the church, and those which properly belong to the church. There are some things which exclusively belong to the church.

W.H.H. The offering up spiritual sacrifices does not really give you the idea of association with Christ?

F.E.R. Not at all; it does not touch the idea of the church, or the bride, or the heavenly city. There are a great many thoughts which are taken up in the church, and which form part of our education, but they are not what is distinctively for the church. This epistle gives you the idea of a house, and of a priesthood, and of spiritual sacrifices, but these are 'old' thoughts, there is nothing new about them, and they will be given to Israel again in the future.

W.M. Would you say that spiritual sacrifices could be applied to Israel?

F.E.R. Yes, sacrifices which have not a spiritual significance would be of no value to God; you must

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bring in the spiritual element, or they will be of no value to God at all.

T.H.B. Is the spiritual house the house of God?

F.E.R. It is the church looked at in that light. The house today is really the place of the temple, and the thought of God in the house is fulfilled in the church; but then it is in a spiritual way, and therefore in a way a contrast to what was true before, and yet it is a continuation of a privilege accorded to Israel.

W.M. When would you say you come to the living stone?

F.E.R. When you come to Christ not simply as the termination of the old order of things, but as the beginning of a new order entirely. You see that He has not come simply to remedy the old things, but to bring in something entirely new. When Peter said "Thou art ... the Son of the living God", he apprehended Christ as the new point of departure, that God had begun again in Christ. Now every previous thought of God is maintained in Christ and the companions of Christ, everything is maintained there, but nothing is yet displayed.

E.McB. If it was not maintained it could not be displayed.

F.E.R. No. The peculiarity of the present is that we have come to the fulness of the times. The dispensation of the fulness of the times has come for us because we have come to Christ. We have put it too much into the future, but the truth is the fulness of the times has come, or as we get it in Ephesians 1, "the administration of the fulness of times". It has come simply because Christ has come, it is the lack of the apprehension of that which is such a defect with us today.

Ques. When you speak of Christ as the new point of departure, what do you refer to?

F.E.R. Christ is the beginning of the whole vast system and scheme of blessing in which God will be glorified, the breadth, and length and depth and height.

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All that system of things which is gathered up and centred in Christ, nothing is displayed yet, but all is gathered up in Christ.

Ques. Will Israel come to Christ as the Living Stone?

F.E.R. I do not know that the expression will apply to them, because coming to Him as the Living Stone, we as living stones are built up a spiritual house, but in that day, the temple will be restored. I was thinking of the house as the continuous idea.

J.McK. The disallowance of men must apply to the present?

F.E.R. Yes; and on the other hand He is chosen of God and precious, and then it goes on to say, "To you therefore who believe is the preciousness". It was to those who had believed in Christ, not to the nation publicly, but to those who had believed in Christ. Israel was tested by Christ, but He gathered up whatever was for God in Israel.

Rem. "Behold I, and the children which God hath given me". Christ was a point of attraction in the midst of Israel, like He was to Peter. And now all those who come to Him come to Him in His rejection.

F.E.R. Yes, He becomes a test on the one hand, but on the other everything which was for God was attracted to Him. It is in the same way that the gentiles are attracted to Him now.

Rem. And what He introduces is a new and living order, in contrast to a carnal and dead one.

F.E.R. Yes, all those who are for God among the gentiles are being attracted to Christ; it is something to Him in the soul's apprehension of Him as a Living Stone.

W.M. Is that appropriation?

F.E.R. Yes, it is one thing to see Christ as Saviour, meeting all our responsibility, and quite another to see Him as the new point of departure for God. You have to share in His disallowances, you have to leave all the present order of things, and come to Him on the water. It involves leaving the world order of things, if there is

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to be the apprehension of Christ as the Living Stone.

I think the thought of two heads, and two races, has very greatly bewildered people, but it is not true at all. Adam never was the real starting point for God, he was but a figure of Him who was to come, the real point of departure for God is Christ.

H.C. That is a real living Person who attracts you out of the world to Himself.

F.E.R. Yes, I think so.

Rem. Christ gave Himself that He might deliver us out of this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father.

F.E.R. Yes, the will of God and our Father was the first thing; sin and death and the curse came in by Adam, but Christ has accomplished redemption that He might deliver us from this present evil world. But then after all Christ is the Man, He is the beginning of another world, and hence you get the fulness of times, because Christ has come. You see everything comes out of Christ, the church comes out of Christ, it is His body; then you get Israel too, and the nations, they will all come out of Him.

G.J.S. And is that the true force of "Why dost thou persecute me?"

F.E.R. I think so.

Ques. What is the force of the expression "a living stone"?

F.E.R. It is the foundation of the building, of the house. It conveys this thought of a house built upon Christ; He is a Living Stone, and you come to Him, and you are built upon Christ; He is a Living Stone, and you come to Him, and you are built up as living stones a spiritual house. All christianity is living, and all has to do with a living God, the church is the church of the living God, and there is the house of the living God and many other thoughts. God will ensure that the building is complete, but today, and here it is a question of movement towards Him, you come to Him;

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it is a question of a movement in the soul of the believer towards Him.

Ques. What is the difference between the thought of the foundation and the chief corner stone?

F.E.R. The chief corner stone is the most conspicuous stone, the crown.

D.L.H. Is not the man in John 9 a very good illustration of this point: he is first relieved by Christ, and then he finds Him again, but it is as disallowed of man; and then Christ says to him, "Dost thou believe on the Son of God", and he says, "I believe, Lord" and he worships Him.

F.E.R. Yes, quite so; and then immediately after you get the one flock and the one shepherd; and though both those thoughts belong previously to Israel they are now applied to the church, and hence they get a more spiritual character.

Ques. What is the difference between this scripture, and what Paul says, "Other foundation can no man lay besides that which is laid"?

F.E.R. Their faith was built up on Jesus Christ, it is not a question at all of the foundation of a house, but of their faith. He had laid the foundation in Corinth, and they were built upon it. The house comes in for God; God saw fit to dwell among men, He would have a response from man. He expected to find a response in service; He would so make man conscious of goodness and blessing, that He might gain a response to Himself. He dwells among men in order that He might make man alive to His goodness, and in that way secure a response to Himself on their part.

Ques. What is the idea of a sacrifice?

F.E.R. It is that which costs you something, something devoted which cannot be recalled. The offering was connected with the house and the priesthood. If God dwells among men it is for His own pleasure. What we have here is not exactly a collective idea, it is more individual. I should connect it rather with

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Hebrews 13. The thought of the sacrifice is connected with the house.

Ques. Has a man the character of offering priest in his own house?

F.E.R. Yes, quite so; but he is a priest always; it is not just now and then, but he has that character continually; all our conduct ought to be governed by that. The house of God is where we come under the discipline of God. All of us ought to be careful not to take up things which are inconsistent with our priesthood. People pursuing great ends in the world are not consistent with their priesthood. This takes in the life of faith, it is a life of spiritual sacrifice; we are to offer the sacrifice of praise continually; then too we have to do good and to communicate. There are sacrifices which are man-ward as well as God-ward.

D.L.H. There is a remarkable passage in Malachi 2:4 - 7 with regard to the priest, "The priest's lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth; for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts".

F.E.R. Quite so; that ought to be true of every one of us. We ought to be intelligent, divinely intelligent. I think the holy priesthood is connected with the service of God, whereas the royal priesthood is more connected with their position in the world. It is not quite the same idea as Melchisedec; he was priest and king, but that is not quite the idea here. Israel was a royal priesthood, but it requires a sort of moral elevation to maintain that. No one can form part of that royal priesthood unless they are completely superior to the influences of the world. Israel was set in that place, but they did not maintain their dignity, they came down to the level of the world, and wanted a king. To be completely superior to the influence of the world, that is the idea to me of a royal priesthood. I would not care about art, taste, or any kind of influence of that sort, but I would seek to be superior to every worldly influence.

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H. Would not the type of that thought come out in those who were prevented from going in to minister on account of personal infirmity, or the crooked-backed?

F.E.R. That is more the inside line, the holy priesthood; you cannot approach God freely unless you are in accord with His nature, you must be holy. I do not want to come under any influence of the world.

T.H.B. Would that be like the crown of anointing of Aaron.

F.E.R. I do not know; but it was not simply a question of Aaron, the whole nation was to be a royal priesthood.

E.McB. Do you not see this superiority coming out in such men as Elijah and Daniel?

F.E.R. Yes, you do; and look at the moral dignity of Paul! He had sought no man's gold or silver or apparel. With Abraham too.

Rem. "To do good and to communicate forget not, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased". Hebrews 13:16.

F.E.R. That is more the holy priesthood; it refers to what will come to pass when Christ comes out when it speaks of our blessing man. Moses and Aaron came out and blessed the people.

Ques. But do we not bless today?

F.E.R. Perhaps, but it is more a question of going in today, than of coming out. Israel ought to have shown forth the praises of Jehovah who had brought them out of Egypt; and so too I think we ought to show forth the praises of God who has called us out of darkness into His marvellous light; we ought to be so in the consciousness of God's goodness, that we must show forth His praises. You see everything that tends to give a man place or standing in this world is really an incubus to them. There may be spiritual energy to throw off the incubus, but for all that looked at in itself, it is an incubus. People cling to many things which are an incubus to them. You do not get the royal priesthood

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first, but the holy priesthood, you have what is for God first.

Ques. Why do you exclude the thought of the Lord's day morning meeting from the holy priesthood: is it not the fact that we are a holy priesthood, that gives us boldness of entrance?

F.E.R. But boldness to enter the holiest is not the assembly, it refers to the privilege which attaches to the believer. The only epistle which speaks of the assembly come together, is 1 Corinthians. I regard entering into the holiest entirely as an individual matter; both the boldness to enter and the going in is our privilege. What we come to when we enter is more holy things, not so much the idea of holy places.

Ques. Does not boldness belong to all?

F.E.R. Yes, and if a man were in the consciousness of his privilege so much the better would he be qualified for the assembly; but then that is true of every individual who takes up his privilege he will be better qualified for taking up the assembly. But really today it is the assembly in the wilderness.

Ques. Why do you say in the wilderness?

F.E.R. Well, if I take the first of Corinthians; it never goes beyond the wilderness; it never takes you on to what is beyond, to the land, it is simply a question of the wilderness.

Ques. What is the idea of the holiest?

F.E.R. What was the holiest place to them, is more the holy things to us; it is to me the idea of entering into the whole scheme of divine wisdom in Christ; you come into the whole system of divine blessing in Him.

Ques. But do you not want boldness to enter into all that?

F.E.R. Yes, but the boldness must be got before the Lord's day morning else you will never get it at all and you will not enter. In the case of Israel the proper idea connected with the wilderness is movement, but then while that was so, the ark of the covenant went before

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and sought out a resting place for them, now that is the idea of the assembly to me. The wilderness is a scene of continual movement, that is of continual exercise, but the ark goes before and it is all set up, it has found a resting place, and there you too, come to a moment of rest. At that moment you are withdrawn from the movement of the wilderness, and from all its exercises, and you come to a season of rest. I think it is the appreciation of Christ as the new point of departure; but then I go a step further, and see the whole system of blessing of which He is the Head and centre. The Head of that system is the Son of God.

Ques. How does that differ from what we have in connection with the Father and the Son?

F.E.R. Well after all the two lines run very closely together.

Ques. You do not get the Father in Hebrews. What would be the difference between John and Hebrews?

F.E.R. I think the two run very closely together. In Hebrews 10 he is taking up the thing in a way suitable to Jews, but you must read Hebrews in the light of John. He does not state things in the same way to Jews and gentiles, that is all; but the lines run very closely together. Take Colossians, you are risen together with Christ, and He is our life, our "life is hid with Christ in God", well, that is all very priestly.

Ques. What is the force of "to you ... who believe is the preciousness"?

F.E.R. The preciousness was to the believer, not to the nation as such; it was to those who believe in Him who got it, they entered into it.

J.McK. And in coming to the living stone, you are attracted to the precious One?

F.E.R. Yes, I apprehend Christ as the new point of departure, and I am attracted to Him as that. Israel looked on to Christ as some great King coming to confer glory on the nation, but it was a total mistake; you

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must have the living stone before you can have the house, and you must have the house before you can have the nation. To think of the figure you must have Eve before you can get Israel. They simply thought of Christ as conferring glory on the nation, they never apprehended Him as a new point of departure altogether for God.

Ques. What is the sincere milk of the word?

F.E.R. I think it is taking up things intelligently; not at all the text-book thought. You see the fact is this, no single thing is revealed in Scripture; Scripture is the inspired record of what is already revealed. Christ Himself is the revelation, and as it says in John's epistle, "Ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things", it is the anointing teaches you all things, it is the intelligent apprehension of Christ.

Rem. In Isaiah 28 where the quotation as to the corner stone is taken from, it is in the sense of a foundation, "Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation"?

F.E.R. I think in general the idea connected with a corner stone is that of the conspicuous stone; but if Scripture calls it a foundation stone, of course it is a foundation stone.

Ques. What do you mean by saying nothing is revealed in Scripture?

F.E.R. Well, if you trace the way God has seen fit to communicate His mind, it was first through Moses, then through the prophets, then Christ came and now the Spirit is here. But when I think of the Scriptures, I see them to be the inspired record of what is revealed, but the way you get things is from the unction; you have an unction from the Holy One and know all things, that is the way Scripture puts it.

Ques. What about the "word of God is quick, and powerful"?

F.E.R. It is that it separates in the most subtle way between what is of God and what is not, and between

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flesh and spirit. The position now is this, we have to do with a living Christ who has attached us to Himself by His Spirit, and He has given us an unction so that we may know all things; but on the other hand, the great point is, that the Scriptures are the test of everything. The promises were made to Abraham, they were given to him by God, and we have them chronicled for us in the Scriptures, but the way we are able to understand them, is just in proportion as we are acquainted with Christ; it is as we have acquaintance with Christ that anything and everything is unfolded to us. You really hear of Christ through the preacher, "how shall they hear without a preacher?" people get an apprehension of Christ through the preacher.

J.McK. If you had to deal with an anxious soul, would you refer them to the Scriptures?

F.E.R. Certainly, because Scripture is for doctrine, and it has authority and therefore, I should certainly refer an inquiring soul to the Scriptures; but what I should like to do with such a soul is, I would like to tell him what I know myself of God. The fact is this, Scripture is put in the place of the living witness of Christ and the church.

D.L.H. Do not let anyone go away with the idea that there is any thought of underrating the Scriptures.

F.E.R. Not at all, but do not let us overlook the living witness of Christ today and the church. The word of Christ to me has two parts, the one is His death, and the other the communication of living water; those are the two ways in which Christ is expressed.

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THE ASSEMBLY AS THE BODY

1 Corinthians 12:12 - 31

We all recognise the existence of one body, and how it is formed; that is simply dogmatic; but I think we need to see the reason why there is one body. We ought to know in divine things the reason why. There is nothing in Scripture, so far as I know, that is intended to be taken up merely dogmatically.

Ques. Is it the displacement of Jew and gentile?

Well that is an effect of the formation of one body, but why should God bring about one body?

Ques. Is it that the one Head, Christ, might be seen here?

I have no doubt that the body is to express Christ, but I think that comes in as a consequence rather than as the reason for it.

Rem. God is one.

That is what I think lies at the bottom of it. God was always bent on giving expression to unity; it was always in His mind that there should be unity. There was the thought of unity in Adam and Eve, but it broke down because will came in on the part of the woman. Then there was the same thought in Israel; there were twelve tribes, but the table of shewbread witnessed that the mind of God was that they should be one. But that unity broke down. These cases indicated that God intended to set forth unity here, and I think the reason lay in Himself. God is one, and unity is a witness to God. The unity of the three Persons of the Godhead did not come out until Christ came, but the unity was there. Then when God's thought had broken down in connection with men in the flesh the Spirit came to establish unity in the Spirit. This was consequent on redemption being accomplished. The Spirit came to form Jew and gentile into one body, that is to bring

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about unity of an entirely new character from that of Adam and Eve, or that of the twelve tribes. The whole of the twelve tribes will be brought together, and unity established in Israel in a coming day; Psalm 133:1 speaks of that, "Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!"

In looking at divine things it is most important to get at the moral reason for things, and the reason is found in God Himself.

Ques. Does that come out in John 17?

Yes, the unity of the saints is to be the witness that the Father sent the Son. The thought is really carried on to glory, "I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me".

It is extremely interesting to trace the divine thought of unity in Scripture. Consequent upon the breakdown of unity in Israel, and upon the rejection of Christ, the Spirit of God came and established a unity of an entirely different character, but the thought of unity runs through Scripture.

1 Corinthians 12 brings out the truth of the unity of the body in order to meet the tendency to schism; in Romans it is brought in as a check to independency. In neither epistle is there much instruction in regard of the body; it is brought in incidentally as a check upon some tendency. Saints have to recognize that the Spirit is here to establish and maintain unity, and we have to see that we do not thwart that in any way; we have to endeavour "to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace".

The manifestations of the Spirit may be used to create schism. If some go after one teacher, and some after another, as they were doing at Corinth, it tends to use these manifestations of the Spirit to create schism. The members should have the same care one for another, not to have preferences or particular care for some. The apostle brings out the truth of the one body as a check

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upon this tendency to schism, so that whatever there might be in the way of gift, the members might have the same care one for another. For instance, my eye has no particular preference for any member of my body, it has as much concern for my foot as for my hand. I am sure we have to guard against the tendency to partiality; it works out practically in some preferring teachers, and others preferring evangelists. There is a great deal of that kind of thing, and we have to watch against it. All the manifestations of the Spirit are for the good of the body; there is place for all and we have to be careful that no schism is brought about. The members are to have the same care one for another. If one member be honoured, we are not to be jealous; if a man advances spiritually, and is brought into a kind of prominence, you are to rejoice; and on the other hand, if you see a member declining, you are to be grieved.

Ques. What about heresies at the present time?

Well, heresies do arise; God allows them to be brought out to make manifest the approved. But I would say in regard of that, that I do not believe that any one christian is competent to judge of heresy. An apostle could judge of it, but I think we have to wait until heresy becomes clearly manifest, and we are dependent upon the Spirit of God to make it manifest.

Ques. Would you say a word as to what you mean by heresy?

Heresy is using some peculiarity in doctrine in order to form a party. It may be done by exaggerating some particular doctrine to such an extent that it is taken out of its proper import, and becomes a rallying point for a party.

Ques. Is not all evil doctrine heresy?

I think heresy has the forming of a party as the end in view.

Ques. May heresy arise out of a true doctrine?

The exaggeration of true doctrine might become that;

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for instance, if undue importance were attached to baptism, it might become heretical as leading to the formation of a party.

Rem. Even the truth of the one body might be used in that way.

Yes.

Schools of opinion are allied to heresy. Some particular opinion is the basis, and a party is formed by it.

Ques. Did you say that no one person is competent to judge of heresy?

I think you have to wait for the Spirit of God to make the character of the heresy manifest to the saints. What appears to you to be heretical may not be so after all. People sometimes judge hastily because things are contrary to their own ideas. The Spirit of God will make manifest, and we have to wait for Him.

Ques. What is the force of being made to drink into one Spirit?

We have not only been baptised by one Spirit into one body, but the unity is made effectual in saints by their having been made to drink into one Spirit; that is, the Spirit of Christ becomes characteristic of us. I take it that the one Spirit is the Spirit of Christ. "If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his". The Spirit is often spoken of characteristically, and we have been made to drink into one Spirit characteristically.

The apostle took up the existing fact that they were one body, and they had all been made to drink into one Spirit; he does not set forth how it came about, but states the existing fact that all believers, wherever they might be, Jews or gentiles, had been baptised into one body, and made to drink into one Spirit. What we are brought into is simply an extension of it; there was no other baptism of the Spirit than what took place on the day of Pentecost; the gentile was brought into it afterwards in Acts 10. The Jew had lapsed into the world, and got away from the ground of being God's people, and then God brought about a unity, not by

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marriage or by nationality, but by one Spirit.

Ques. What is the difference between the one body and the new man?

The one body presents the idea of unity, but the new man gives the thought of another order of man. There are three great witnesses to Christ. One witness is the Scriptures, another the apostles, and the third the new man. The Lord says of the Scriptures, "they are they which testify of me". Then the apostles spoke of what they had seen and handled, what had come within their own observation, and that made a difference between their testimony and all Scripture that went before. They are spoken of in John 15 as those who were to testify of Him because they had been with Him from the beginning. Then there is the testimony of the new man -- an order of man that is the effect and product of the revelation of God in Christ, characterised by righteousness and holiness of truth.

Ques. What is the meaning of holiness of truth?

It is holiness which is the effect of truth, and is characterised by truth. It is holiness of truth in contrast to ceremonial holiness. There is the same thing in principle in John 4, worship in spirit and in truth is in contrast to ceremonial worship. It is not outward holiness in the flesh.

Ques. Is it the same in the Lord's prayer, "Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth"?

His word is the expression of His mind, and when we are led into His mind it has the effect of sanctifying us -- of setting us apart for God.

The new man is created after God in righteousness and holiness of truth; it could not be created until God had revealed Himself. The new man is the witness to the fact that God has come out in Christ. Neither judaism nor philosophy could produce that man. Philosophers wrote well, and had a certain judgment of things, but they were personally corrupt. But the new man is created after God; it is the result and product of

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the revelation of God. It is in the knowledge of what God is in righteousness and holiness as revealed in Christ that we come to put on the new man. The having put off the old man and the having put on the new are both truth in Jesus; it refers to the death of Christ. If the old man had not been put aside for God in the death of Christ you could not have the new man in his place. The new man is in the place where the old man was. It is we who have put off the old man, and have put on the new. God has been declared, and the effect is that the new man is here. We ought all to be concerned about it, that the new man should be seen in us as a witness to Christ. It is not simply now that the Spirit is a witness to Christ, but the work of the Spirit is a witness to Christ; there is that here which is the result of the operation of God by the Spirit.

The one body is for divine complacency. I think that comes out in Colossians; we see there the place it serves; it is the first-fruits of reconciliation. The body holds the Head, and increases with the increase of God, and so there is divine complacency.

Rem. There is nothing so precious to God as the body of Christ.

Christ was infinitely precious to God when here on earth, and now the body is here for divine complacency as the first-fruits of reconciliation. The body is descriptive of all the graces of Christ. In Colossians it is "Christ in you the hope of glory". In Ephesians the thought is that the body is adequate for the setting forth of the glory of Christ; it is like the heavenly Jerusalem; it is a vessel which can carry the full blaze of divine glory. It is the fulness of Him who filleth all in all, and that refers to ages to come, for Christ does not yet fill all things. There is nothing in the body which is not of God, and the body is increased by the increase of individuals in the knowledge of God, that is, by divinely given intelligence. We can help one another; it is by joints and bands that nourishment is ministered.

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Sisters have a place in that as much as brothers; spiritual sisters have much place in the body as joints and bands. The body is the first-fruits of reconciliation, so that God has a spot of complacency. All the sensibilities of Christ, as Mr. Stoney used to say, are found in the body. There is the word of Christ, and the peace of Christ, and Christ is everything and in all. The body is the continuation of Christ morally; Christ has been here under the eye of God, and the body is here as a continuation of Christ, and of all that was expressed in Him. The body is to be descriptive of Christ under the eye of God for the complacency of God.

Rem. God has tempered the body together, and made every part suitable to the other.

Yes, and we have to look to it that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members have the same care one for another. We ought to guard against partialities and particular intimacies. If people become peculiarly intimate it works sometimes in the direction of cliques and parties. We have to remember that our links are spiritual, and there is to be no preference or partiality. It does, not matter to me whether a person is high-born or low-born, rich or poor. Christ takes account of people in an entirely different way; the first are last, and the last first. We have to take account of people in regard to Christ, and as of a spiritual order.

When we come together in assembly we come to meet one another. I do not think that is the ultimate object, but it is the immediate one, and we have to see to it that we meet one another in spiritual affection, outside every worldly distinction. It is spiritual links which bind us together, and if we are not right with one another in that way, we shall not meet the Lord. The Lord enunciated the principle, "first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift", and we have to act upon that principle.

Rem. There may be other difficulties as well as social ones, such as personal peculiarities.

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Well, the great thing is to approach people carefully, and seek to gain them; it never does any good to go full tilt at a person's peculiarities.

Rem. When we come together we ought to be conscious that we are members one of another.

Yes, and that in a vital way, because all that Scripture expresses to us is vitality. Things are expressed to us in the way of doctrine, but what is expressed in doctrine is really vitality. It would be a great joy to saints to come together if they realised that they had been made to drink into one Spirit, and if they recognised one another according to Christ. Coming together in assembly is more than the mere formal meeting; we come together in assembly with "one accord". Partaking of the one loaf is the symbol of this. "We being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread".

Ques. What is meant by Acts 2:42, "They continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers"?

The apostles' doctrine was the standard and basis of fellowship. Without the basis of revelation there would be no real ground for fellowship. Then fellowship, breaking of bread, and prayers follow in divine order.

When the saints come together it is the assembly in function, and when thus together we have to recognise the distinction between male and female, because the woman is to be silent in the assembly. But really when we come to look at the body or the bride of Christ in its own proper character there is neither male nor female; the most marked distinction which exists after the flesh is gone is Christ. What difference can Christ make between a duke and a beggar? All these distinctions disappear before Christ. The value of the assembly as come together is that we find out our relation to one another and to Christ.

Ques. Has gift no special place when we come

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together in assembly?

No, I do not think so. There are manifestations of the Spirit in the body, but all the members are to have the same care one for another. We have to take account of one another according to what we are to Christ. We are all equal objects of affection to Christ, and we have to think of one another in that light. I do not think the assembly comes together for the exercise of gift. Gifts may be present, and it is a great thing to be in a state to be contributory to the assembly, but each one should come there, as Mr. Stoney used to say, with his mind like a clean sheet of paper. The true preparation for the assembly is to enter the holiest, so that in the effect of it we may be efficient when we come together in assembly. No one can tell how the Lord may lead.

Ques. I suppose gift would be recognised in other meetings?

Yes. A teacher waits on his teaching, seeks opportunity and has it; so too the evangelist waits on his work, and the exhorter on his.

The great point is to see the purpose the body is intended to serve at the present time. I believe it is for divine complacency. It is the first-fruits of reconciliation, and it is marked by holding the Head -- the Head in the widest sense possible, the universal Head.

Ques. What is the thought in "ye are the body of Christ"?

The church at Corinth had that place, but they needed to recognise that they were Christ's body; there was that coming in which was of man, and it had really no place there.

The truth of the body is to regulate us at all times in our relations to one another. We have to take up certain things here which do not belong to this order, but the more we are in the truth of the body, the more we are qualified and helped for all that lies in the will of God for us down here. The relations which subsist in the body must have the first place; spiritual ties are

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superior to natural ties; and a person converted in a worldly family will soon find that the truth of the body will bring in trouble with his relatives.

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CHRISTIAN STATE

Philippians 2:1 - 30

The epistle to the Philippians does not present doctrine to us; it is taken up with the state of the saints. The apostle says, "I have no man like-minded, who will naturally care for your state". This gives it an individual character.

Rem. I thought it was more as a company going on together.

Well, if you do not get that you do not get christianity, but when it is a question of state it must be very individual. There can be no christian conduct or affection apart from state. We are to be "blameless and harmless, the sons (children) of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world".

This chapter gives us a clue to the way in which christian state is reached; the way to life is through death. "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus". You have to humble yourself down to death in order to come out in life; it is only through death that you can reach the result spoken of here -- shining as lights in the world. No man can possibly get out of the world except by death. We have to enter into the fellowship of the death of Christ, to take up the cross and follow Him.

In Romans we learn first principles, it is elementary; but Philippians gives the experience of one who has entered the land, and who has apprehended the breadth and length and depth and height. It is the experience of the heavenly man -- the Ephesian -- in the wilderness. The apostle puts it forward, and it was answered to in a remarkable way in himself. The experience of Joshua and Caleb in the wilderness must have been very different to that of the others, for they had been in the

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land, and had surveyed it in the length and breadth of it, and that was bound to affect the experience in the wilderness.

Ques. What is it to hold forth the word of life?

No one can hold forth the word of life if he is not himself in life. "We know that we have passed from death unto life because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death". The testimony of life is held forth in the ways, and conduct, and demeanour of the children of God. "The word of life" means the expression of life. People have been too much occupied with the doctrine of life, but we want to get at the thing itself. If we are in life we shall be able to hold forth the word of life, and not merely to quote Scripture. Christ came that we might have life, He is the Tree of life; He will be the Source of blessed and health-giving influences and principles which will go out to the utmost extremity of the universe of bliss. The nations will be healed, and will become occupied with what is good. The Lord said, "Ye will not come to me, that ye might have life". When we have the consciousness of being in life, then we understand the doctrine.

"Holding forth the word of life" is the witness to Christ that goes out from a circle characterised by light and life. The same things come out in Ephesians, but there they are spoken of as light and love. There is a circle where you get a continuation of Christ down here, and you could not be in life apart from that circle. Life is individual, and yet there must be a company, for it is in relation one to another that life and fruit come out. The question of state must be individual, but all the Spirit's work is in view of our relation one to another. The object of the Spirit is to set us in relation one to another according to God.

Ques. What is the force of "work out your own salvation"?

Salvation is a large expression. Israel had salvation

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from the power of the enemy at the Red Sea, but you must carry the thought further than that. Salvation means a new order of things, and it really involves the putting off the old man, and putting on the new. If people are entangled with the world system they do not realise salvation. Salvation is really inherent in Christ; it is "in Christ Jesus". He said, "By me if any man enter in, he shall be saved". Every epistle leads up to salvation.

The great effort of many in the present day is to assure people that they have salvation while they yet remain in the world. You cannot remain in the world system, and at the same time be in salvation. Abraham left the world system, and Moses left Egypt. I could not say they were in salvation, for Christ Jesus had not come, but they illustrate the principle.

Believing on the Lord Jesus is the road to salvation, but salvation itself is in Christ Jesus by the Spirit. We believe the testimony presented to us in the gospel, but we come into the life of things by the Spirit. It is by the Spirit that we are brought into living relations with Christ.

The Philippians, in the absence of the apostle, were thrown upon their own responsibility. They were exposed to many snares, and there was necessity that they should be on the alert, and work out their own salvation with fear and trembling. We need fear and trembling in regard of the enemy's snares, and in regard of ourselves. The dangers are very real; the world's influence besets us on every side.

Salvation has been effectuated for us by the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Spirit. Our side of that is that we are clear of the whole system which is obnoxious to God, and in which we were previously entangled. The Hebrews were in danger of neglecting the great salvation; it is most important that we should not do so, but that we should turn the salvation to account. Our position should be definite,

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either in the world or in the christian circle; the effort for centuries has been to mix the two. As the inward man is strengthened and becomes more capable, salvation is more realised. If we were set for the will and pleasure of God here we should realise salvation, and He is working in us to this end. Saints in the early days needed these things to be opened up to them as we do. God works in us, not only to do, but also to will: that has often been a great comfort to me. The way in which God's good pleasure works out in us is in our relations one with another; it is by our being in the reality of the christian circle.

It is an important point that in assembly we meet one another. Coming together in a formal way at a certain place and time does not secure the Lord's presence. But if we come together as the children of God in the unity of the Spirit, and in spiritual affection, we meet the Lord, If it is only a question of coming at an appointed hour on Lord's day morning, you may as well go to a chapel. Many nave the idea that it is a more scriptural way of meeting, and do not apprehend that we meet in the light of Christ's assembly. If people have strife and envy amongst themselves, how can they have the presence of the Lord? The coming together to break bread is a great test as to our relations one to another, The obligation lies on each one to judge himself. If we came together in that way the Lord would draw nigh to us. If there is a difference we are to forgive as Christ forgave us, and that is pretty absolute! The secret of these personal differences is that people are unspiritual.

Saints ought not to come under reproach; we are to be blameless and harmless. In the early days the effect of the influence and testimony of a company answering to this description must have been marvellous, and especially as having just emerged out of heathendom.

The apostle was prepared to be a martyr for the faith; he was prepared to go on to the end that the truth might

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remain. Apart from grace any one of us might apostatise; we are only kept by the power of God through faith. If I were confronted with being burnt alive I could not count upon my own stedfastness, I could only count upon God; no christian could trust himself. A man is very foolish who trusts himself.

We have to look to it that we are in the reality of things. I have no inclination to build up brethrenism. If it is not the reality of spiritual affection, and what is of God, I do not care anything about it.

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UNION

Romans 7:1 - 4

I think it is a little remarkable to notice how the thought of union appears through Scripture. You will find it pervading Scripture from the beginning. In the first great relationship formed was the thought of union; God made a woman and brought her to the man, and union was brought about. That thought came out very early in Scripture. Then the same thing came out in regard to Israel. God was a husband to them, but they were like an unfaithful wife. Then when we come down to our own time and the church, we get again the thought of union. It fills a large place in connection with christianity. In this chapter there is the thought of union -- to be married to another.

In the beginning God did not think it well that man should dwell alone. After the fall a husband becomes a necessity. It is from a husband we get support. Christ is that to us that we may bring forth fruit to God. Israel, too, will be brought back to their Husband, to Jehovah, that they may bring forth fruit to God.

This thought of union pervades Scripture, Christ as the Bridegroom. The Lord speaks of Himself in that character. "The bridegroom cometh". It is a very wide expression in regard to Christ. It is the One who comes to enter into relationship with what is for God down here, and all will obtain the moral support of the Bridegroom.

Now I want to come to the point of this chapter. It is of all moment that we should bring forth fruit to God. God looks for fruit. The Lord cursed the fig-tree, but there was fruit to be found for God. Now the mystery is solved and we know the secret through which fruit is brought forth. No one would contest for a moment that it is suitable that there should be fruit for

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God. It is wonderful that God should care for fruit. God is good -- all will admit that -- and God delights in that which is good. He has no pleasure in evil, but He has delight in that which is good, and fruit is good. God is pleased to present to us what I may call a great central figure. That is of all moment to apprehend. All Scripture is detail. The more you read the more you see it. For all has to be put in its place, fitted in with the central figure, and you must get the figure before you to understand the detail. If you have not got the central figure into which the detail fits you will never understand Scripture. The object of preaching is to present to us the attraction of Christ. Christ is the great central figure, and we become attached to Christ by the Spirit of Christ. What the preacher presents is the attractiveness of Christ. "I ... will draw all to me". That is the way I should judge the effectiveness of a preacher. The measure of a preacher is his ability to present the attractiveness of Christ. Their great object is to enlarge us in the apprehension of the attractiveness of Christ. What is preached is in the name of Christ, and His name is presented as a name of attraction. The apostles knew full well how to present Christ, and they presented all the attraction in Christ in a powerful way. If we assume to preach, our point should be to present the attractiveness of Christ.

Now there is another thing God has in view, and that is that He has the purpose to deliver us, to detach us from all those things by which men are bound. If there is attachment on the one hand, God is working equally on the other hand to bring about detachment. Souls are drawn to Christ but there is another object in view, they are to be delivered from this present evil world. Christ died for our sins; He was the blessed expression of grace and truth, but with the end in view that He might deliver us from this present world according to the will of God and our Father. I could not impress upon you too strongly what this world is in the eye of God.

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Scripture speaks of the friends of the world as adulterers and adulteresses; stronger language could not be employed to describe those who go on in commerce with the world. They are unfaithful, they enter into commerce with that which is hateful to God. Deliverance from sin means that we are dead to the world. There is deliverance from law in chapter 7 and in chapter 8 we are not in the flesh but in the Spirit. All these things go together, and the Spirit lies at the bottom of all. The Spirit is life. A man cannot deliver himself from sin, it is only by the Spirit of God that a man can take that place. And so, too, in regard to the law; we are free from law, for God has dissolved that bond in order that we might be married to another and bring forth fruit to God.

Now the real secret of all deliverance lies in the Spirit of God, or attachment to Christ. It is only in that way that any of us is kept in this world. We are kept on the principle of attachment to Christ. The one who is true to Christ is not prepared to go on in sin. He will not be lawless, but duly subject to Christ, walking here under the rule of Christ. That is where we want to be found down here. People try all kinds of experiments to escape the world, but they do not succeed. But the divine way is for people to be kept in their souls, and the principle is attachment to Christ. A faithful wife's constant thought is fidelity to her husband.

Now the effect of all that is fruit for God. In deliverance and salvation you will have fruit. The same principle guarantees deliverance from what is not according to God. The same power which enables me to bring forth fruit is the same power that maintains me in deliverance from this world. The point is fruit-bearing. There was no fruit-bearing till Christ came. God's design is that whatever fruit there is should be by Christ. Then we can understand the character of fruit acceptable to God. God looked for fruit, but He did not find it. All God's ways looked forward to Christ.

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Now that One has come and He is the true Head and the beginning and centre of the universe of God, and that world of glory and blessing in which God will be glorified. Christ is the Head of every part of it. Therefore in that system God will be glorified and there will be fruit for Him. Nothing can be more important than the apprehension of Christ in that light. When Adam was here he was not the real man for God, but now the real Head is before God, and everything is attached to that Head. We could not say that Christ was fruit for God. It would not be reverent to speak thus. But God looks for fruit from man and Christ is the source of all fruit, and in Christ we learn the character of fruit acceptable to God. We must not bring Christ down to our level. He is the source of fruit. He was the true vine, not the branches. The fruit came out on the branches, but they were dependent on the vine. So now in Christ you learn what fruit is. Fruit is the expression of Christ in us. What can be acceptable to God except what is of Christ? We get it as the effect of union with that One, thus He is expressed in us. It is the result of attachment to Christ. God has been pleased to bring me into attachment to Christ by the Spirit of Christ, and in proportion as Christ is appreciated I bring forth fruit to God. So it is not difficult to discern the character of fruit. Christ now is expressed in us by the Spirit of Christ, and the fruit of righteousness is by Jesus Christ to the praise and glory of God. It is not only that there is fruit-bearing, but we know by Christ what the true character of fruit is. Christ brought all that was divine into manhood. Love and joy were not expressed in a man until Christ came. He was everything that was acceptable to God, the delight of heaven, and we are brought into attachment to Christ that He might be expressed in us down here: and that is fruit for God. The earth is the scene of fruit for God. Christ was the true vine, and now we are married to Him who was

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raised from the dead to bring forth fruit for God.

Now anyone will see how that is connected with the thought of deliverance. There is no fruit for God in the world either at its best or its worst. God has tested that system and it is obnoxious to Him. It is a system governed by principles intensely hateful to God: lust and pride and the mammon of unrighteousness. Riches are worshipped, for they minister to pride, and pride and lust are entirely opposed to God. So the friend of the world is constituted the enemy of God.

Now God has set Himself to allure us from all that system, and it is by the power of the attraction of Christ. We know the One now who is the beginning and centre of another system, and He has tasted death in order that the system should be set forth. The Spirit of Christ attaches the soul to Christ, and it is a great thing when that is brought about. When you get appreciation of Christ you get fruit for God.

This chapter takes up the detail of the things that hold us. We shall never get deliverance doctrinally. Deliverance is only to be found in the appreciation of Christ. Salvation is in Christ Jesus. You grow up to salvation because salvation is in Christ, and if a man is conscious of attachment to Christ he knows that what God has brought about is to deliver him from all that held him in bondage. Then he brings forth fruit to God, While bringing forth fruit he has part in the expression of Christ down here. The great witness to Christ down here is the Spirit of Christ. It is Christ characteristically in the saints. Nothing short of that can be a true witness to Christ. Now what we want is that every saint might be brought into the reality of the witness, that he might have part in the expression of Christ down here on earth.

These chapters are of the greatest moment to us. They indicate the divine starting-point. He is the true Husband, and the object of it all is that we might be consciously connected with the One who is Head.

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I can only bring forth fruit in proportion as I have appreciation of Christ. Christ has given me living water to bring that about. The Spirit of Christ is given to lead us into the appreciation of Christ in that light. Fruit is not connected with heaven but with earth. Our relation to Christ is very different to what Israel's will be. We are united to Him, brought very close to Him that we might have a great knowledge and apprehension of Christ and become vessels in which Christ is expressed. You get liberty from the world. There is no contentment in the world, but it is found in Christ, and when you have found it in the appreciation of Christ He will be expressed in you and there will be fruit for God. God does not intend us to be self-sustained, but dependent on Another -- on Christ -- to bring forth fruit.

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THE VALLEY OF ACHOR A DOOR OF HOPE

2 Kings 7:1 - 20

I am taking up this incident as an illustration of the truth of the gospel, and I have no doubt that the leprous men express the condition of man in the sight of God. I will take up the circumstances till the point is reached when they become evangelists.

The state of things was full of distress; a famine in the city and the enemy without. To remain in the city meant starvation, things looked as dark as they could be. But there was the intervention of God for His people; they were crooked and perverse, but God regarded them, and the mercy of God was not only to deliver them but to meet their need. God came in to deliver them from the fear of the Syrians, and their need was met by abundance of food. Death stared them in the face. There was dearth within and the enemy without. Now that is the state of things in the world today, there is the enemy without and dearth within. The world is a scene of dearth; that is felt in the moment of weakness and death, people have nothing to satisfy their soul. There is plenty to minister excitement, but nothing to minister satisfaction, because men do not seek it in the right place. People think that if they could get this or that, they would be content, but satisfaction cannot be found apart from God. Man cannot be really happy without God.

The condition of these four leprous men was very pitiful. They were outcasts from the city and their situation was desperate. They say, If "we will enter into the city, then the famine is in the city, and we shall die there: and if we sit still here, we shall die also". They would die in the city or out of it, and so they proposed to go into the camp of the enemy, and when they got there they found that God had come in in some

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extraordinary way; the camp was left, and everything standing, and the Syrians fled. They had fled under the influence of imaginary terror. These leprous men's new circumstances were quite overpowering. The condition of things was beyond their necessity. They say, "This day is a day of good tidings, and we hold our peace", and that led them to become bearers of good tidings to the city. Those in the city investigated and found that the state of things was as reported. They found that the enemy had gone and that there was abundance of food according to the word of the Lord.

These things happened long ago and are not in themselves of very much moment to us, but the circumstances furnish an illustration of what concerns us very much. We are much in the position of these leprous men. A leprous man was defiled; he could not come into the city, he was disqualified for man and God. Every man is really leprous under the eye of God. He may not be so in the eyes of his fellows, but in the sight of God every man is defiled. The Lord says, "Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries", etc., and these defile a man. A man may be defiled by reading bad books or looking at bad pictures, but the secret of defilement is from within. There never yet was, since sin came in, a really pure man in this world. Some people are more corrupt than others, but there never was a pure person in this world, for there is a spring of defilement within. I do not speak of what you are in the eyes of your fellows, but of what you are in the eye of God. I have come to know what I am myself in the sight of God, and we are all alike defiled and leprous and unfit for His presence. If a man of this world were taken to heaven, he would not care to be there; God's presence would give him no pleasure and he would be glad to get out of heaven. There are degrees of defilement, but as to principle all are alike. We are all leprous men in the eye of God, and all unfit for God, like the prodigal in the far country.

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Now these leprous men had no doubt of their leprosy. They knew it, and it is a great point when we are conscious that we are leprous. The beginning of all hope for man is when he is conscious that he is leprous. It was thus with the prodigal when he came to himself. He was a leprous man before, but when he came to himself he was conscious of it.

Now I will touch upon the course the leprous men took in going down to the enemy. They thought that possibly there might be a door of hope that way. There is a very remarkable scripture in one of the prophets, "I will give ... the valley of Achor for a door of hope", Hosea 2:15. The valley of Achor was the place where Achan and his house were stoned (Joshua 7). They had defiled Israel by their covetousness; judgment was executed upon them, and the place of judgment is to become a door of hope. The leprous men thought that possibly there might be a door of hope in the camp of the Syrians. When a man is leprous and conscious of it, it is well for him to look the enemy in the face, for he has got to meet the enemy, that is, death and judgment. Many people imagine that everything is going to terminate in death, but there is no real reckoning in this life. A good man may suffer, while a bad man may prosper in his wickedness. It appears to me that if God is God there must be a reckoning day, and Scripture says, "It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment", that is, the reckoning day is beyond death. God might have put the reckoning day on this side of death, but He has seen fit to put it the other side. "Those that have done evil, to resurrection of judgment". You have to face the enemy. Death is a tremendous enemy. Death reigns, and will conquer you, and judgment is appointed after death.

I speak to those who recognise the authority of Scripture, and what I would advise you to do is to go down and look the enemy in the face and see if it is not possible that in the valley of Achor is a door of hope.

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Do it fairly; do not put it off till tomorrow. There is a gleam of hope to those who look the enemy in the face. People are not disposed to do it, but it is wise if you have to meet it. Do not defer it till it comes upon you; look it in the face and see if it is not possible that there is hope.

Now I want to show that, in place of hope, there is a great certainty. The love of God has come down into the place of death and judgment that man may find a way of deliverance from the enemy, the fear of death. The love of God has taken all that into account. You have all heard of Jesus, the Son of God, the One who died upon the cross. He died upon the cross in order that He might bring the love of God into the place of man's enemy, death. The Son of God has died that man might be freed from the fear of death and from the certainty of judgment. God has been pleased to open the door of hope by Himself coming down by the Son. I want you to believe in the love of God and how it has been expressed, in the Son of God. He died to make known the love of God toward men and to communicate the Spirit to man, so that man might live. God has intervened, and His Son has come under the judgment to which we are liable. If you are prepared to recognise that you are leprous and you will look the enemy in the face, you will very soon see how the love of God has been expressed in the death of Christ, that God might impart the Spirit of life to those who believe, that they might not perish but have everlasting life. If God has loved man, God has loved you. The "kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man" have appeared. "God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life". None here are beneath the notice of God. His love has been expressed to men in the death of Christ, and he who believes receives God's gift. It cannot be given to a man who is indifferent to all that lies before him and to the love of God, God cannot

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give him any gift; but a man who faces the reality of things, apprehending his own defilement, and who sees how that in the valley of Achor God has opened a door of hope, to that man God gives eternal life. Death has no terror for that man, and he never will come into judgment, because Christ is the propitiation for his sins. That is what I want all to receive, the witness of divine love in the death of Christ and in its application to everyone. That love of God that has had its perfect expression in the death of Christ is towards all. God wants that all your wrong thoughts should be dispelled.

Have you received from God the Spirit of life? Many here have. You will not get it without faith. Do you believe in the death of Christ as the expression of the love of God? You will have to face death and judgment in their terrible power, but you may look at them now and find in them a door of hope. God has made death itself the expression of His love to man, that you may no longer fear death.

If you believe that, you get the Spirit of God. God gives the Spirit, in order that man may live without fear of death and judgment. The effect will be to make you evangelists. You will go home and tell your friends what great things God has done for you. It is when people have believed the glad tidings that they become evangelists. It is a great day in a person's life when he can go and tell his friends what great things God has done for him and has had mercy on him.

But there was a nobleman who had ridiculed the word of the prophet. In those days everything was by the word of the prophet; in this case Elisha was the prophet. This nobleman was a skeptic, and when the prophet foretold abundance, he said: "Behold, if the Lord should make windows in heaven, might such a thing be?" In the day of good he got no good; he saw the abundance with his eyes, but never tasted of it. The nobleman is a warning to those who profane and ridicule the testimony; they may see the good with their eyes,

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but will not taste of it. His position did not save him from the judgment of his profanity.

It is of all importance to be prepared to face realities. Death and judgment are upon man and he cannot evade them. Judgment is an absolute moral necessity, in order to maintain the relative positions of God and man. The reckoning day is before men. If you look these things in the face, there is a door of hope for you. Divine love has come in that you may believe in God and receive from Him the gift that God gives, the Spirit. May God grant that you may not be indifferent. There are many who have received the gift of God, and God is no respecter of persons. God gives to the believer the gift of the Spirit without money and without price. Everyone that thirsts is to come and drink. May you believe in the love of God expressed in the death of Christ that you may receive from God what God gives.

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SPIRITUAL ADVANCE

1 John 2:7 - 28

The apostle was not writing to the saints here exactly with the view of teaching, but with the object of keeping them in right lines. The point in the latter part of the chapter is that they had an unction from the Holy One and knew all things; the apostle says, "ye have not need that any one should teach you". He sought to guard the saints, because there were many antichrists. There were those seeking, even in that day, to introduce the corrupt thing that we have around us. The Son of man sowed good seed in His field; but no sooner had the seed been sown than the enemy came and sowed tares. The tares and the good seed were almost contemporaneous. The antichrists went out early, but they did not revert to what they had previously been; they set on foot the corrupt system which we see around.

If, when people departed from the truth they had returned to what they came out of, to judaism or heathenism, it would have made matters comparatively simple; but they did not do that; they started some counterfeit of the truth, and that tended to make matters difficult. What we get in the epistle is apostolic care to guard the saints from being carried away by what was not of the truth. At the same time the Spirit of God, by the apostle, insists very strongly upon the fact that the saints had the truth in them. "Even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him". Now, if the saints in that day could be marked off, as they appear to be in this passage, into different gradations, I judge the same thing might hold good today. We do not know much about one another, but in the present time it would probably be possible to find the fathers, the young men, and the little children.

I will make one remark before passing on to what is

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characteristic of each stage of advance. A young man does not lose what is proper to the babe. There is not growth in that sense. In natural things, when a babe grows to a youth, a youth to a young man, the youth ceases from the things of the babe, and the young man from the things of the youth. But that would not always hold good in divine things. There is that which is characteristic of the young men; but the young men do not lose that which was proper to the little children, and the same thing would apply to the fathers. The apostle has only one thing to say in regard to them, and that is that they had known Him which is from the beginning. But that which was descriptive of the young men and of the little children remained with the fathers. That is an important point to bear in mind. If we advance, we do not lose what characterised us in what we have advanced from. You may get saints entering upon the land of promise, that is, on the ground of divine counsel, but they do not lose what is proper to the wilderness, for we are in the wilderness, and whatever advance we make in the knowledge of divine counsel we never can lose the things which are proper to the wilderness. We have to continue in the faith, and not be moved away from the hope of the gospel; that must have its application to us so long as we are in our present condition. It is a great mistake to think that you can march through the wilderness into the land, and have done with the wilderness. In spirit we may enter upon the ground of divine promise; but you can never take yourself out of the wilderness, you must wait until the Lord comes to take you out of it.

Meantime every christian in the wilderness is himself an evidence of the truth. We see that coming out in the fifth, sixth, and seventh chapters of John. In the fifth of John, he lives by the voice of the Son of God, and is thus an evidence to the Son of God. Time was when he was dead; he did not hear the voice of God at all. The man that does not hear the voice of God, proves he

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is dead; but the one that has heard the voice of the Son of God and lives, is a standing witness to the truth of the Son of God. In chapter six the believer is in the wilderness, and finds bread. Every christian is a witness to that. He is in the wilderness, a dry and thirsty land; but in a land of dearth, he finds experience of grace. That is witness of the Son of man. Then in chapter seven, out of his belly flow rivers of living water. He is a witness to the Spirit of God. It is a testimony to the power of the Spirit, keeping the soul in the joy of the Lord.

The individual believer in the wilderness is an evidence to the Son of God, the Son of man, and the Spirit of God. If challenged by an unbeliever or a heathen, he ought to be prepared to say, 'I carry the evidence of the truth in my own person'.

Now to come back to our passage. What marks the babes is, they have an unction from the Holy One, and know all things; what marks the young men is, that the word of God abides in them; and what characterises the fathers is, they have known Him which is from the beginning. As babes have an unction from the Holy One, and know all things, they stand in relation to every divine Person, that is the truth of things at the moment. Every christian knows the Father, because christianity is based on the revelation of God as Father. You would scarcely account a person a christian if he did not know the Father. The fact of the Son having come, proves that the Father is revealed.

Then we stand in relation to the Holy One, for we have received the living water from the Holy One, and stand in relation to Him; and further, we have the unction from the Holy One abiding in us. The christian does not lose the anointing, it continues in him. It is not like the Spirit of Christ coming upon the prophets in Old Testament times; the anointing abides. That began with Christ Himself, the Holy Spirit descended and abode upon Him. When the baptism of

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the Holy Spirit came to pass in connection with Christ going on high, then the anointing abode upon those who received it. The anointing is truth. You cannot add anything to truth, and having the anointing, it is clear that the christian has the truth in himself: That is the ground on which the apostle says, 'You have no need that anyone teach you'. What do you think the truth is? The truth was hardly here until Christ came. The mind of God was communicated from time to time; God made known His word to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and in the midst of Israel to Moses and the prophets, but I doubt if the truth was here until Christ came. The truth is the revelation of God, and the revelation of God in nature was not here until Christ. God could not be revealed through the agency of prophets. Anyone ought to be able to see that though His mind might be made known, it was entirely impossible for God to be revealed by prophets. He must Himself in some way come out, and that is just what God saw fit to do (John 3:16). The apostle John says in the introduction of the gospel, "No man hath seen God at any time: the only-begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him". Hence, until Christ came, you have not the truth. I believe the force of the expression, "the truth", is the revelation of God.

The Lord said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life". The presence of Christ was entirely different from any other moment. The law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came to pass by Jesus Christ, because God was revealed. How was God to be known? I know but one way, and that is, in revealing Himself by Himself. Hence it is that you get the anointing. The anointing is the truth, in order that we may be in the good of the revelation, and I do not believe any one could be in the good of the revelation except by the anointing. The anointing is truth, and teaches that we may be in all the gain of the revelation of God.

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Apart from the anointing it is absolutely impossible that God can be known. I can understand the testimony of the grace of God coming out to man; but that does not in itself bring the knowledge of God. If God is to be known in His nature, He must be revealed in Himself. By the Spirit we can enter upon all that in which God has been pleased to reveal Himself: A christian is competent by the Spirit, carries the competency in Himself (whatever may be true of him practically). In principle, in virtue of the anointing which he has received from the Holy One, be knows all things, and has no need that anyone teach him.

No man can teach you the knowledge of God. God may use teachers -- apostles or what not -- to guard and guide you in a way; but you may be confident that as to the real knowledge of God no one can teach you short of God Himself; that is, the Spirit of God. Hence, the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. The Spirit has been pleased to take the place of the truth down here, not objectively like Christ, but subjectively, that the saints may have the gain of the revelation which God has given of Himself in the only-begotten Son. Christ has communicated the Spirit to be living water in the believer -- a well of water springing up into everlasting life.

I suppose we would all take the ground of being babes. The thing for the babes to covet is to be spiritual. We would all desire to advance in the knowledge of divine things; the way is to advance in the knowledge of God Himself. The way for this is, confidence in the anointing, in the Spirit of God that dwells in you. There is no truth more wonderful than the presence of the Spirit; and where is the Spirit?

The presence of Christ was outside of man in a sense. The Spirit is in saints, in God's house, dwelling in believers. One would desire to bring people back to confidence in the Spirit of God that dwells in them. It is the only means by which we can be led into the

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knowledge of God. The one that knows God is the one that loves. Why do we love? Because God has been pleased to acquaint us with His love. We love by the Spirit. "Every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not, knoweth not God; for God is love".

Thus you see how dependent we are on the anointing for everything that touches the real knowledge of God. The truth means that which may be known of God -- that which is revealed in the only-begotten Son. One can speak to you of these things, but can do nothing whatever for you. No man can teach you in the knowledge of God. One would seek to guard you from anything which would divert you from it, that your attention might be directed God-ward, and your confidence increased in the One who can lead your heart into all that in which God has been pleased to reveal Himself.

It is a great thing if we are shut up to God. But our attention is so readily diverted by man; ten thousand things down here tend to distract the attention of saints -- social and business obligations. You have to remember these things are but for a moment, however they may seem important to us; but the knowledge of God is for eternity; and therefore, it is of all importance that our attention should not be diverted from what tends to lead us into the knowledge of God. The truth is there in Christ, and in the believer, that the believer may, by the anointing, be led into all truth, into the knowledge of God as He has revealed Himself.

Now, as to the young men. Speaking in regard to them you must suppose the truth to be known. That is common to every christian. It is not one particular class that has the anointing; "If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his". The "word of God" conveys to me a different idea. I understand by the word of God the communication of God's mind to man, and in general, the communication of God's mind

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in relation to man. This is a different idea from the truth. Through all time, almost from the beginning, we get the word of God coming in. The word of God always addressed itself directly to man, without any kind of intervention. God communicated His word, His mind, to the patriarchs, in the way of promise. He called out Abraham, and communicated His mind to him. It was not exactly the revelation of Himself, but what He proposed to do, and what He intended to make of Abraham.

In the case of Moses God communicated His mind to him and in a general way it had reference to what the children of Israel were to be for God. God first communicated His mind as to the children of Israel on mount Sinai, then afterwards from off the mercy-seat. Later on, in the prophets we still get the idea of the word of God. Sometimes God would address Himself by them to the people, at other times He would go outside the boundary of the people, and speak to the gentiles. Holy men of old spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.

Now I pass on a step further, and that is, the climax of God's word has now been reached in Christ. There is the announcement of God's mind in regard of man, made known in the Man whom God had been pleased to raise from the dead. That Man is the Head of every man, and in that Man is fully expressed and communicated the mind of God in regard of man. Christ is Himself the Word, and it is in Him that God's mind in regard of man at the present moment is made known, and it is maintained here by the Spirit of God. That brings us to the point in regard of the young men. The testimony of God abides in the young men. I think that is the case today, activity in the testimony of God is characteristic of the young men, just as the truth is in the babes. So what is characteristic of the young men is, the word of God abides in them, and they have overcome the wicked one. The word of God is not

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bound, it is maintained and promulgated, and it abides in the young men. Now, there is a snare as to them, and that is, the world. It has been unhappily true in our experience that some of those who had been extremely active in the testimony of God have been engulfed more or less by the world. There is no man who can possibly go on in the testimony of God without support. If a man does not have the support of the Spirit he will surely turn for support to christendom.

Where a man loses the sense of the Spirit's presence and the truth of the church, that man is bound to turn for support to christendom, and christendom means the world -- the 'christian world'. Such a man has lost in his testimony the savour of the Spirit of God. They may tell us of the wonderful results produced by his work, but the testimony has lost its savour, because he has got away from the Spirit of God, and is looking for support from christendom.

We have to be on our guard against the snare of the world. The world is subtle; it presents itself to us in many forms and shapes. The influences are almost unfelt, and people get under the power of things before they are aware of it. Its influences may come in in domestic arrangements, to bring the young men under its influence, and in that way to mar the brightness of their testimony. If the word of God does not abide in the young men I do not know where it abides. I think that all christians are in the truth and have the unction, but the word of God abides in the young men. We that are young men have to look to it -- God holds us responsible -- that we are not poisoned by the evil influences of the world; "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world". Our ways should be simple, and we must not run in accord with the world. What could be more simple than every way of Christ? We want to walk in the simplicity that characterised Christ Himself.

As to the fathers the apostle says, "I have written unto

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you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning". It is difficult to give a definite idea as to that. I merely suggest a thought or two. "Him that is from the beginning" is in a way indefinite. From the beginning of what? "From the beginning" is an expression rather characteristic of John's writings. "The devil sinneth from the beginning", etc. The form of the expression raises a question in the mind. The idea I have in connection with it is, 'from the beginning of the day'. I take it up from what occurs in the early part of the chapter; the darkness is passing and the true light now shines. The day has dawned, and now you can speak of Him that is from the beginning of the day.

The system of things in the world with which we are acquainted began from the introduction of the sun. There were certain things antecedent to the sun; but the order in which we live began with the sun. In the sun there was the principle of rule, and I do not believe any order of things according to God can exist without the principle of rule. When God brought in that principle then it is that you get the up-springing of life; life comes in consequent upon the introduction of rule.

There was light previous to that, at the outset; but not rule. I should connect light morally with the revelation of God. Rule comes in in connection with an appointed light. God appointed the sun to rule the day, and in connection with an appointed light came to pass, life. We live in an order of things which is ruled by the sun, and the sun is potent in that way. It is not simply that it rules the day, but it fills the world with light and heat; there is nothing hid from its heat. God has been pleased to bring to pass a spiritual order of things analogous to that. The beginning of it was the introduction of a great light; Christ has come in as a great light, who is to give law to the universe of God. I take that up from Psalm 40, "I come: ... to do thy will, O my God; yea, thy law is within my heart".

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The moment He became Man there was a new outset; there was a sun appointed in regard of the moral universe. The day began to dawn; you have One in whose heart is the rule of God.

Now, the law of God is love. "Thy law is within my heart". The object of that was that He might give the rule to the universe which God intends to bring to pass. In the presence of that great light all life is developed. When the appointed light comes in then He communicates the Spirit of life, that in the presence of light there might be life. The day has begun. The One in whose heart is God's rule -- that Man has come in, who will give the law to the Jew and to the nations; He gives now the law to the church. It is God's law; the law of love, which is to rule, and in the presence of that everything is to be subdued. Just as the light of the sun is great enough to fill the world, so Christ is great enough to fill all things. He is exalted far above all heavens, that He might fill all things. The apostle John says that if all that Christ had done were recorded, the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Christ is the great appointed light, and with the introduction of the light a new order of things has come to pass. A man is brought upon the scene who has accomplished redemption so that God may take up His rights, and in whom God can give the law to the moral universe.

It seems to me strange if God cannot bring in a better order of things than what exists now in the world. "The lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life" are the things which rule man, and give birth pretty much to the strife which is upon earth. I defy the most acute man to find out the rights and wrongs, politically, of anything in the world. God will introduce a world of His own; but then that world will have its own proper character of righteousness. The day has begun, the darkness is passing, and the true light now shines, and the appointed light is great

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enough to fill all things.

One word more. You must remember that our part is with Him. What for? That we should be like a faithful wife in the absence of her husband. I pity a man taken up with the things of the world, because these are not the interests of Christ. The wife has to be faithful to the interests of her husband in his absence. The church is left here in the absence of the Bridegroom, to be faithful to His interests, but when Christ fills all things then the church will share with Him the glory of His exaltation. There is nothing that is conferred upon Christ as the exalted Man that the church will not enjoy with Him in that day; like a wife who has been faithful in the absence of her husband; when her husband returns and takes up all that belongs to him, shares in all that belongs to her husband. It is a great thing for our souls to be in the light of the day.

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THE COMPANIONS OF CHRIST AS THE TRUE ISRAEL

Isaiah 8:13 - 18; Luke 22:28 - 30; Hebrews 3:1 - 6

I desire to draw attention to the place of christians as companions of Christ, for it is a point of the greatest moment for us to apprehend. I shall be able to shew you that a very great deal depends upon it, not only for us, but for God. A very important place is filled by the companions of Christ in the course of divine dealings, in that in them the continuity of the ways of God is maintained. If I judge for others by myself, this has a great effect in establishing our souls in the truth.

It is evident that there can be no lapse in the ways of God. Everything must be maintained for Him, and He has His own way of maintaining all. Things may appear to us to go to the bad, for if God takes up a people and they do not answer to His mind, He will set them aside. This is what He has done, and will do, but for all that He preserves the continuity of His ways.

There are two principles of God which underlie the whole of Scripture: that is, He works out His purpose, but never gives up responsibility on the part of man. His purposes are not dependent on the responsibility of man. He has His own way of working them out; but, at the same time, He retains man in responsibility, and, so far as I understand things, the wisdom of God is apprehended in seeing these two most important principles maintained by God in His ways.

We all see the lapse of Israel after the flesh, but the Israel of God is maintained in the companions of Christ, so that there is really no lapse. God had His own way before Him, and, if there was an apparent lapse in the ways of God, He knew how the continuity was to be maintained; I am going now to shew how the Israel of God is maintained in the companions of Christ.

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That we are companions of Christ is a truth of profound moment to us. The Lord said to His disciples, "Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations". Now we are the companions of Christ in the time of His rejection. Whatever may be our position and connections in this world, if they are of the most exalted kind, nothing can compare with the idea of companions of Christ, "For we are become companions of the Christ if indeed we hold the beginning of the assurance firm to the end".

It is very evident that if Christ has companions they must take their character from Him. In a family where the eldest child has brothers and sisters, they are his companions, and will be very largely influenced by him, the first-born. And so, too, in companies on earth, there is commonly a leader who influences and gives character to his companions. Now that is the case with us when we take Christ into account; Christ has ability, not only to influence His companions, but to make His companions answer to Himself.

It is important for us to see that everything must in result be for God, and that is assured in the fact that Christ is the Head and centre of the moral universe which is of and for God: the universe of bliss. From the position He occupies in the ways of God, of necessity everything must be for God. You may test that as you like. There is no principle of truth with which we are familiar but has its first application to Christ Himself.

I will take up one or two points in connection with that. I do not, for the moment, refer to what is moral, but to what is more material. I take up the thought of the world -- all is for Christ. Every part of the creation was for Him. He was the Creator of all things, and in that connection we get the statement: "All things have been created by him and for him". He is the "image of the invisible God, firstborn of all creation". Creation was for Him. God placed Adam in the midst of it in the first instance, with dominion over it; but

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all things were created not only by Christ, but for Him. It was ever in the divine purpose that Christ should become Man, and all was formed in view of His becoming Man and occupying the place, as in the counsels of God, of the Head of the universe of bliss.

This is confirmed in Revelation 4 and 5. In chapter 4 all creation is taken up by Christ as Creator, as having been created for Him. All were created for His pleasure, and He takes up creation on that ground. In chapter 5 He takes all up on the ground of redemption. He is the Lamb, that was slain, in the midst of the throne.

Christ is the Heir of all things. God created the worlds by Him, and, in order that He might take up the inheritance, redemption was accomplished, and has its application thus to Christ Himself. The same thing is true with regard to the accomplishment of righteousness. It was accomplished for Christ that, the lawless man having been removed from under God's eye, He might be the Sun of righteousness.

But I come to a narrower circle: Israel. The point with Israel was, that they were God's house. You get that thought in Exodus 25:8: "And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them". Also in 2 Corinthians 6:16: "for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people". These thoughts evidently had reference to Israel. God took them up to dwell among them and walk in them. Until you get the figure of redemption you do not find the thought of God dwelling among men. He visited man, like Abraham, to communicate with Him; but there was no indication of His dwelling until there was the figure of redemption. Israel was taken up provisionally in order that the purpose of God might be accomplished. God did not dwell among them nakedly, that is, without a temple, because they were taken up after the flesh. Israel had a national calling,

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and the highest point of it was, that God would dwell among them. All the material of the tent of meeting was taken from the people to construct the tabernacle; that is, God came as close to them as it was possible for Him to come under the circumstances, and it was intended that they were to be affected by that.

I have no doubt that Israel was really called out for Christ: just as creation was made for Him and by Him. They were God's inheritance, which was to be taken up in due time in Christ. Christ came to His own, but His own received Him not, and hence we get the end of Israel after the flesh, but not the end of Israel according to the purpose of God. All connection with Christ after the flesh terminated in His rejection. Israel lost the place they had provisionally, because they did not receive Christ. That is referred to in Isaiah, and whilst there is a lapse as after the flesh, yet God has taken care that there is no real lapse. What was lost in Israel was secured in the companions of Christ, the children given to Him: "Behold I and the children which Jehovah hath given me;" they were for signs and portents, they were given to Christ in the time of the hiding of the face of Jehovah from both the houses of Israel, and in them you get the true Israel.

You will find a confirmation of that in John 15. Israel had been the vine, but the Lord said to the disciples, "I am the true vine ... ye are the branches". We have the same thought continued, though not in connection with the vine, in verse 7: "If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you". That is, the thought of fruit-bearing is maintained in that which was before God as the true Israel: the children which God gave to Christ; thus the continuity of things is preserved in the companions of Christ.

In them you get, for the time being, the Israel of God, and that thought is taken up in Hebrews. In the chapter which I read we get two points. The first is, that christians were God's house, and the second, that

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they were companions of Christ. In the gospels the thought of the companions of Christ comes out continually in connection with the disciples. The Lord says to them, "I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; that ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel". We see there that they had not lost their relation to Israel in being the companions of Christ. We all know that the beginning of the church was in a remnant of the Jews. God added the saved ones daily to the church, they were brought into the place of companions of Christ. There was no gentile as yet brought in, we do not get one until Acts 10, when Cornelius received the Spirit.

Our place is that of companions of Christ because we have received Christ in the time of His rejection. That thought comes out in the beginning of John's gospel. "He came to his own, and his own received him not; but as many as received him, to them gave he the right to be children of God". We have the Holy Spirit's testimony to Christ in the time of His rejection, while He is hid from the world at the right hand of God, and by faith of it come into the place of His companions. God is bringing many sons to glory: He has revealed in this His thought and mind.

The apostle Paul says in Romans, "he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: but he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God". And in Philippians he says, "we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit". God has the circumcision, the true Israel, the true Jew, because all is found in the companions of Christ.

Another interesting point in connection with this is that the companions of Christ, in the time of His glory, come out as the holy Jerusalem. The link with earth and Israel is not lost. The holy Jerusalem comes down

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from God, and the names of the twelve tribes of Israel are inscribed on the twelve gates of the city. Paul suffered for the truth and the hope of Israel, and we find these maintained now in the church. There will come the time when all Israel shall be saved: a nation will be born in a day, but, in the meantime, the true Israel is maintained in the companions of Christ.

The place which the heavenly Jerusalem occupies should, in a sense, have been occupied by Israel. The nations of the earth ought to have walked in the light of Israel, but what will come to pass is that they will walk in the light of the holy Jerusalem. She has the glory of God, and her light like unto a stone most precious, and the nations of the earth bring their glory and honour unto it. But all Israel will be saved. There will come the Deliverer out of Zion, and they will have their own proper connection with the heavenly city. Israel will be responsive to the heavenly city, while the nations will be responsive to Israel. That will be brought to pass when Christ is manifested in glory. In the meantime, we have the exalted Christ, the Head, the Sun of righteousness, the Beginning of the creation of God, and we are companions of Christ, in whom the truth and hope of Israel are maintained. We are brought into the light of the coming age.

No one can understand christianity who does not see that the real power of it lies in the anticipation of the coming age. The day has dawned, Christ shines upon us though the Sun of righteousness has not yet arisen with healing in His wings. When Christ shines upon us we get an apprehension of the whole system and order of things of which He is the Beginning and Head.

A first principle of this is that the truth and the hope of Israel are maintained in His companions. The Jew today calls himself a Hebrew and maintains Jewish traditions, but the hope of Israel is not found in him. He is self-seeking and pursuing worldly advantages, but Israel's hope is not there. The Jew after the flesh is

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lost in the world, and the truth of Israel according to God is maintained in the children given to Christ.

Now as to what is to mark the companions of Christ: Christ is pre-eminent among them, that must be so in the very nature of things. Thou hast anointed him "with the oil of gladness above thy fellows". The house of God is, in a sense, for Christ, as being Son over it. Moses was a servant in it, and for him it was a test of faithfulness, but for Christ it is the sphere in which He is entitled to order all. That will expand as wide as the universe, because all things will, in a sense, form God's house, and in the universe of bliss Christ will order all things. In the meantime, we are His house, and there it is that Christ orders all according to God. There can be nothing which is according to God now save that which is of Christ. He is the one Man before God.

This will be verified even in Israel: Christ will give character to them when the law is written in their hearts. They will be according to God because they have taken character from Christ.

We get in John 12 the thought of the power of attraction in Christ: "I, if I be lifted up out of the earth, will draw all to me". I should connect that with Matthew 11. The Lord recognises there His rejection by Israel, and consequent upon that you get the word: "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light". Christ is the point of attraction now, the outset and Head of the world to come. He is the true Sun of righteousness, though not yet arisen with healing in His wings. It is not yet the moment of His coming in glory and dissipating the darkness, but the darkness is passing and the true light now shines. Christ has been lifted up, and draws all to Himself. There is a mighty, beneficent, moral influence

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in Him which has the effect of drawing all to Himself in order that all may take character from Him.

There comes a moment in the experience of people weary and heavy laden. They become jaded by life in the world, and it cannot satisfy; and God works so that people really become burdened; then it is that the Lord's word is heard, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest". No mere impostor or philosopher would ever have said that. Then He goes on to say, "Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me". He virtually says, 'I can come down to you'. There never was a man but He who was meek and lowly in heart. We have not to get up to Him, the difficulty for us is to get down. The qualities which were in Christ do not obtain in this world. The man who is meek and lowly in heart cannot be successful in the world because he has not the qualities for it.

But there is a people here heavy laden like Israel in Egypt, and, for them, there is the One who has been lifted up from the earth: the magnet, the point of attraction for the heart: and He says, 'Take my yoke upon you, become my companions, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls'. If we are brought to that point we partake in the qualities which are suited to the house of God. That comes out clearly in Ephesians. In chapter 2 the saints are spoken of as being of the household of God, and in chapter 4 they are to be characterised by lowliness and meekness. The part of the Lord Jesus is, that He presents Himself to us as the point of attraction. Just as the sun is the point of attraction in the material system, so the Sun of righteousness is the seat of attraction and the power of it in the system which is, not material, but moral. He presents Himself to us, and in that way brings us into the place of companions with Himself. We are here sharing His rejection, and if we suffer with Him, we shall also be glorified together. That is the point to which we are brought now, suffering

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with Him, and yet, at the same time, the house of God, where Christ is entitled to order all according to God. He is the first-born among many brethren, and, from what He is and where He is, He is entitled to give character to His companions.

We are not like people in old times, believing in God and waiting for Christ's coming. The Lord has come, the world to come has dawned in the Sun of righteousness, the day-star is there. He has arisen in our hearts, and Christ is shining upon us. We have been brought out of darkness into God's marvellous light. The best thing I could do for you, if it were in my power, would be to bring all your hearts into view of Christ as the Sun of righteousness, the centre and Head of the system in which God is glorified, and in which man is placed according to God; and that system is there. Christ is the beginning, and the first-fruits of it are the companions of Christ, and there it is that the true Israel is maintained for God.

The One anointed with the oil of gladness above His fellows has the right of the first-born. All belongs to Him, and not only do we all take character from Him, but He leads us in the service of God. The service of God properly belonged to Israel, they had the oracles of God, but now the companions of Christ have that place. The truth is maintained now in the power of the Holy Spirit, He is the witness; whom God hath given to them that obey Him. The service of God is provided for. We are built up a spiritual house and a holy priesthood. In Psalm 22 the Lord said, "In the midst of the congregation will I praise thee". The strict application of that verse does not, perhaps, go beyond the Jew. But the companions of Christ come in now as the true Israel, and the gentile as the seed of Abraham. They are become fellow-citizens of the saints and of the household of God. That is the place of the gentiles. The companions of Christ are the company in the midst of which Christ can praise God. That is taken up in

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1 Peter. We have come to Christ as the Living Stone, the foundation of the building, and are built up a spiritual house. The service of God is provided for in the true Israel, in communion with the One who is the Head of the universe of bliss.

Provision is made also for testimony to man, and that which should have come out in Israel comes out in the companions of Christ. We are to shew forth the virtues of Him who hath called us out of darkness into His marvellous light. Israel was called out of Egypt, and was to be a witness to God in the midst of the surrounding nations, and the point for us is to shew forth His praises. We are a testimony of the virtues of God, known and maintained in the companions of Christ. I think you will admit, if you have followed me, the great moral importance in the present time of the companions of Christ. The importance to Himself is the first point, for they are God's house so that Christ may order all according to the glory of God. We are brought into the place in order that the interests of the true Israel may be maintained, that God's virtues may be set forth in those who form His house.

Now these things are vital. Christianity is life, not simply doctrinal orthodoxy. It is well to be orthodox, but christianity does not consist in that, it is life, because it is centred in Christ, the living One, the Sun of righteousness. He has come that we might have life, and have it very abundantly. Life is there, maintained by the energy of the Spirit of Christ, and we are brought into view of the One who is the beginning, sun and bond of the universe of bliss. For us the day has dawned, and the day-star has arisen in our hearts. If you do not see that, you will come under the influences of the present world. You only escape by the apprehension of Christ in the system and order of things which, according to God, is centred in Himself.

God had that order of things in view from the outset. It is remarkable that when of old God took up a man

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He did not speak of accomplishing anything in the man himself. For instance, Abraham was taken up, but everything was to be accomplished in his son. The same thing was true with David: everything was to be accomplished in the son of David, all the ways of God had regard to Christ. Abraham never had companions, nor had David, Isaac or Solomon; but when Christ comes in He has companions.

The point of importance is that in the companions of Christ, the children given to Him, you get the maintenance of the Israel of God. They are hid for the present, but will come out in the holy Jerusalem. If we get the apprehension of our place in regard of Christ, it will alter our whole course here. With the young there is often an assent to the truth, and an outward association with the people of God, but the point is, are they going to come out as men of faith and companions of Christ: holding to Him and admitting His title to give character to them? He is entitled to give character to all His companions, and the point is to accept that. You are bound to submit to the influence of Christ, and take character from Him. You are to take His yoke upon you and learn of Him, and then you come out, accepting your part in the service of God and in testimony to man.

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THE FLOCK OF GOD

John 10:22 - 33; Acts 20:28 - 32

It is extremely important to apprehend that in the coming of Christ every divine thought previously made known is taken up afresh. Christ, the Son of God, comes forth from God, not simply to establish something new, but to take up things that are, in a sense, old. They are taken up in a peculiar way, but they are taken up, so that nothing is allowed to drop.

I have attempted to point this out in the gospels. In Matthew we have the idea of Israel. God had taken them up as the seed of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Ten tribes had been carried away captive, and, after that, Judah and Benjamin were carried away, and a remnant only were brought back to the land. Their moral condition was worse than their outward condition. The house was empty, swept and garnished. They had purged themselves from idolatry, but the house was empty, and hence at the end the idolatrous principle comes back. But whatever might be the then condition of Israel, the thought of Israel is taken up again in Christ. That is not a new thing, but the church is new. Israel is old, and old things are taken up in Christ.

In the gospel of Luke we see that the nations had a place in the thought of God. Christ was a light for the revelation of the gentiles. The gentiles were to be brought into the light of Christ. The coming of Christ meant not simply the blessing of God's people Israel, but the revelation of the gentiles. That is not a new thought, it comes out in the Old Testament. It is there said, "Rejoice, O ye nations, with his people". Many other passages in the Old Testament speak of the blessing of the nations. When Christ came, all that was brought into view, for He was a light for the revelation of the gentiles.

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So, too, in Mark the word is taken up in Christ. The prophetic word had lapsed for many years, but in Christ it is again presented. In John the same principle applies. There the temple is spoken of. As regards Israel, it had become a den of thieves, but now it is seen in Christ. It is really a point of the deepest interest to see that Christ came, not simply to be the foundation of what was new, but to take up what was old. The Lord in Matthew 16 said, "Upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it"; but He was here also that every divine thought might be established. Whether it is Israel, the nations, the word, the temple, or any other thought, all is taken up in Him. If you apprehend that, you will see how in Christ the divine ways are bound together.

Christ is the bond of everything. We see in Him the establishment of all that was old, and the introduction of what is new. The holy Jerusalem is a new thought; but all that had been spoken of and predicted in the Old Testament is not inconsistent with it. Christ comes in as the foundation of the church, but, at the same time, we get every previous thought of God established.

Now we have on the other hand the fact that Christ was rejected by man. Jew and gentile joined in His rejection. That is brought out in John. "He came unto his own, and his own received him not". "He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not". The simplest person can see that the rejection of the Son of God must make a great difference on earth. It came out very soon in connection with His presence here. Man's will was bent upon the rejection of all that was of God. That is, alas! the heart of man. You can see it in the world today: the spirit and purpose of man is the rejection of Christ. The thought of God in any moral sense, and as having any spiritual relation to man, is intolerable to the world. The simple thought of Creator may be admitted, but when you present to man the idea of a

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living God who regards man, and to whom man has responsibility, the thought is obnoxious. The mind of the flesh is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. A great many people read that as if it applied to the ten commandments, whereas it applies, I judge, to the rule or principle of God. The mind of the flesh is not subject to the principle of God, and neither indeed can be, so that they who are in the flesh cannot please God.

But I was saying that Christ was rejected here. Pontius Pilate no more accepted Christ than did the Jew; and the consequence is, that Christ becomes a test. The one thing follows upon the other. If Christ is presented to man and is not received by man, then He necessarily becomes a test to man. I admit that if God did not work, Christ would not be accepted by anyone; there is the activity of God underneath all. But the position is, that He is the Head of every man: He is placed thus in regard of every man, and the result is, that every man is tested by Him.

The consequence of His being the test is, that you get souls attracted to Christ. In John 12 the Lord says, "Now is the judgment of this world; now shall the prince of this world be cast out: and I, if I be lifted up out of the earth, will draw all to me". There is in Christ a power of attraction, and men are attracted to Him. This has been verified in all of us. We have been attracted to Him, though we may not have understood very much about it. A great many are content with believing what is written in the Scriptures, and that is of all moment; but the secret is, that there is a power of attraction in Christ, though He is rejected of men, and that souls have been and are attracted to Him.

Christianity will endure every assault of the enemy, and for this reason, that in every part of it it is living. Christ is the principle of it. There is a contrary principle at work in the world which blinds men to the glory of Christ, but in Him there is an irresistible attraction

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which will draw all to Himself. That is what is coming out at the present time. Christ -- unknown of the world and rejected by His own -- has become the test of every man. If He had been received there would have been no testing of man. But He has become the test of the Jew and also of the gentile.

And what is the secret of that? He is full of grace and truth. John speaks of this, and says, "The Word became flesh, and dwelt among us ... full of grace and truth". Grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. In Christ we have the revelation of God and the expression of His mind toward man. "The only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him". He has declared God, and that is the power of attraction in Him. God is declared according to His disposition and thought toward man, in grace and truth. Christ did not come like Moses as a law-giver, but the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth, and of His grace have all we received.

No power of evil can ever get christianity out of the world, because it depends upon the living Christ who has declared God, and God is declared in such a way that the word is irresistible. Men come to feel the need of what is presented in Christ: grace and truth. They are conscious of being infirm and sinful, and they want God; they feel that they are in the dark in regard of Him, and have need of the truth. From the moment that Christ came here to the present time the principle of testing has been going on in the world. Man will be tested to the end by Christ, and the result is, that while some are drawn to Christ, on the other hand, the testing makes man darker and worse than he was before. We have all been drawn to Christ by what is presented in Him. You may not have understood it, but when you heard the gospel He was drawing you to Himself. He is the magnet. Christianity depends upon the living Christ, who is the point of attraction to men. What is presented in Christ precisely meets the need of men,

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though it is another thing for man to realise His need. Men would like to know forgiveness of sins; well, grace is presented in Christ. And man would like to know what is truth, and it is there in Christ. When you look at Christ you see all in its proper place and proportion.

Now while we see the truth set forth in Christ, we get all those thoughts of God which He had previously made known established in the companions of Christ. When I speak of the companions of Christ, I refer to those who have been drawn to Him. They are companions of His rejection. No divine thought has lapsed. I once had the idea that many things made known in connection with Israel had, in a sense, for the time being lapsed, and that they would be taken up in the future; but the truth is, that nothing has lapsed and every thought of God is taken up in the church; in the companions of Christ. They are His companions in the time of His rejection. They are much like the disciples to whom the Lord said, "Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations". Our part is, that if we suffer with Him we shall be glorified together. If a christian wants to be much in the world he falsifies christianity immediately. The idea in connection with the children of God is, that we are in the fellowship of Christ in rejection.

I pointed out previously that you get the Israel of God; the true Jew, the circumcision, and the house of God taken up in the companions of Christ. This shews us how the thoughts of God are established, in spite of the rejection of Christ by those who, after the flesh, were His own people. The mind of God has found a way to establish itself. The apostle said to the Galatians, "if ye be Christ's", that is, companions of Christ, "then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise". The gentiles came into that position. If the thought of the true Israel were not fulfilled in the companions of Christ, how would the promises be taken up? The gentiles could not take them up as such,

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because they belonged to Abraham and his seed, and yet the promises are for glory to God by us. The true Israel is taken up in Christ, and fulfilled in His companions, and the promises are for glory to God by us. That is not for the future, but now.

I pass on now to another thought: the flock of God. That is a thought which is undoubtedly connected with Israel. If you have read the prophets you must have seen that to be the case. God was indignant with the nations for their treatment of His flock, and with the pastors, who fed themselves instead of the flock. Israel came out of Egypt as Jehovah's flock, they were under the leadership of Moses as such. They had that place as after the flesh. It was not that the thought of God was really fulfilled, but He gave a foreshadowing, of what His thought was.

In John 10 we find that those who were ostensibly the sheep were tested by the coming in of the Shepherd, and the result was, that while the sheep were led out of the fold the Lord had to say to the mass of the Jews, "ye are not of my sheep ... My sheep hear my voice". The effect of the testing was to bring to light those who really were the sheep.

Christ was the Shepherd of the sheep and He entered by the door. He did not come into the fold clandestinely. Abundant witness was given to Him when He came into the fold. "Many good works have I shewed you from my Father". He came in by the door. He spoke of His being the door of the sheep, the good Shepherd, and the one Shepherd. What comes out is the fact that the Jew was tested by Christ, and failed to answer to the test.

Now you get the thought of the flock of God fulfilled, in the present time, in the companions of Christ; that is, in those who have been attracted to Him. I cannot conceive anything more important than to apprehend the reality of a living Christ, in whose name grace is presented. In the darkest period in the history of christianity there was the idea in the world of a living

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Christ, and of grace in His name. No one can gainsay that. In the darkest days of popery, mixed up as things were, there was the thought maintained in the world. God had made provision for this in the power of the Holy Spirit here, and His name has ever been the test, and continues to be so.

Now the first point about the sheep is, that they hear the Shepherd's voice. The reason of this is, that He presented what they wanted to know. They did not want to know law, not even prophecy, they wanted to know grace and truth. His was the voice of wisdom and wisdom is to attract man. "I lead in the way of righteousness, in the midst of the paths of judgment: that I may cause those that love me to inherit substance; and I will fill their treasures". Wisdom cries in the world, in spite of everything, to attract man into the way of righteousness. Wisdom presents to him grace and truth with that object in view.

"My sheep hear my voice". That indicates a work of God underneath, and so the Lord says, "I know them". It is a wonderful thing that there are those in the world who are known of Christ. He knew Mary of Bethany, and Mary Magdalene, Peter and John, and He knew them individually. Each one of them had a secret history with Christ, and so it is with every one of us. "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me". It is not only that we have believed certain things about Christ, but He is to us a living reality. He knows every one of us intimately, far better than we know one another. Each of us has a history with Him which would be impossible with one another. He knows us and we follow Him. If you have not heard His voice and are not conscious that He loves you, you are not prepared to follow Him. It is a great thing for the soul to know that it is known of Christ.

And now He says, "I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish". That should have been fulfilled in Israel. They ought to have heard Christ,

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then they would have understood that He knew them, but it was not so. "He came to his own, and his own received him not". Israel will in result come into their own land and blessing as the flock of God, and everything will be fulfilled in them; meantime, everything is fulfilled in us. Christ gives to His sheep eternal life. The thought of eternal life is not deferred. It is properly connected with the coming age, but every thought of God is established in the companions of Christ. The particular form in which it is given to us is no doubt in the way of knowledge. The Lord speaks in John 17, "as thou hast given him authority over all flesh, that as to all that thou hast given to him, he should give them life eternal. And this is the eternal life, that they should know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent". It is in that form we have it. It will not be quite in the same sense in the future. When Christ comes He will be eternal life in the world, but the peculiar way in which we have it at the present time is in the knowledge of the Father and the Son. That knowledge is fitting us for courts above.

The thought we get here is of what properly belongs to Israel, but, for the time being, Israel has perished. It may be said of them that they have been plucked out of the hand of Christ, but the Lord says in regard of His sheep, "They shall never perish nor shall any one pluck them out of my hand". What we come to is, that we have those who have been drawn to Christ, by the power of attraction in Christ, who have been given to Him of the Father, and every thought proper to the flock of God is fulfilled in them.

I read the passage in the Acts because there we find the flock of God spoken of by Paul, though we have been accustomed to think it is peculiar to John. Paul speaks of it to gentiles. He is speaking in Ephesus. In John to the Lord was speaking in the midst of the Jews. The passage in the Acts shews the fulfilment of what the Lord predicted in John 10, "I have other sheep which

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are not of this fold: those also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one flock, one shepherd". Paul charges the elders to take heed to the flock of God, and predicts what would take place after his departure. It had been the case in Israel that grievous wolves had come in. This took place very early in the history of the church. They did not come exactly into the flock, but into the assembly, into that which was outward in a way, but their object was the flock.

The flock is not taken up on the ground of profession, it is that which God has purchased with the blood of His own. The thought in the early church was (and it succeeded only too well) to scatter the flock, that is, to destroy unity. If the enemy succeeded in doing that, he succeeded in destroying testimony. Unity was the testimony of the flock. The Lord prays in John 17, "That they may be all one, as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me". We are intended to be a testimony here for God. God was the Shepherd of Israel, and they should have been a testimony to Him.

I speak of these things, because it is important that they should be maintained in the saints. In the coming of the Lord every promise will be fulfilled. In the meantime all the promises are for glory to God by us. Everything which God has had in view, and which He had made known, is established in the companions of Christ, and hence the church becomes the connecting link between the past and the future, and the practical result is that we come into many blessings and privileges which properly belong to Israel. There are things which are peculiar to the church. The heavenly places belong to the saints, and the calling on high of God. He has blessed us in the heavenly places in Christ, that never could be said of Israel.

We have been drawn to Christ of the Father, and are

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joined to Him in the power of the Spirit, and in us every divine thought is for the time being established. We come into very great blessings which have reference, in their strict application, to Israel. In the light of the holy Jerusalem, Israel resumes its own proper place down here as the house of God; the church comes down from God out of heaven, having the glory of God. That is the climax, and God is forming us in the sense of it now for heavenly glory, to be the vessel in which He will display His glory in the presence of the universe. We ought to cherish every divine thought. To me it is a matter of the greatest comfort that God had in Christ His own way of taking up all things, and, once taken up in Him, they are established in the church of God. I want you to apprehend that. We come into the place of the flock of God. We hear the Shepherd's voice and know Him, and He knows us individually.

May God give us to see every divine thought in its establishment in Christ and the church, and yet the church as that which is new has its own proper glory in being called to Christ above.

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BLESSING AND LIBERTY

Galatians 3:1; Galatians 4:7; Galatians 5:1

I have been endeavouring, on former occasions, to shew that things foreshadowed in God's dealings with Israel have their fulfilment in the church. We have been too much accustomed to think that the things there foreshadowed had reference only to Israel hereafter. My impression is that whatever came out had the church in view. The truth of the church was not made known; it was hid from ages and from generations; but it was in the mind of God, and everything was to have its place there. God made clear the end of Israel after the flesh in the prophetic books. It was made known that they would come under the curse of a broken law, and would be scattered over the face of the earth. But they would be gathered again by God, who would bring them into their own land and proper blessing. When that comes to pass Israel will take its character from the heavenly city, because the church has, in the meantime, come in as the centre of God's ways.

It seems to me that the holy Jerusalem, the heavenly city, is really the Israel of God, and the Israel which will be upon earth will take its colour from that. The same principle will apply also as to the nations. They will walk in the light of the city. The connection of the church with Israel is carefully maintained; the twelve apostles were to sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel, and yet their names are found in the foundations of the heavenly city; also on the gates of the city are written the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel. The connection is very intimate between the church and Israel.

On past occasions I have taken up one or two thoughts on that line. I took up the thought of the house of God. Israel was God's house, and Moses was faithful in all

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God's house. God set up His dwelling-place among them, but the truth of the house is fulfilled in the church. I spoke, too, of the companions of Christ. It is in them that you get the thoughts of God fulfilled. Last time I took up the thought of the flock. Israel was God's flock. He led His people like a flock through the wilderness, but, after all, the truth of the flock is really fulfilled in the church. The Lord brings that out in John 10. Israel was God's flock, but they were limited to the fold, and the Lord came to lead His sheep out of the fold. The thought of the flock properly belongs to Israel, but we find it fulfilled in the church at the present time. Israel in the future will take colour from what is fulfilled in the heavenly city.

The dealings of God in the past were in shadow. There was no present fulfilment of the promises. Now we get every divine thought established in the church, and the church is the great light of the world to come. The heavenly city has the glory of God, and her light like unto a stone most precious, the saved nations walk in the light of it, and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honour unto it. No one can gainsay the immense importance, in the ways of God, of the heavenly city.

I am going now to take up other points, in connection with God's dealings with Abraham and Israel, which are gathered up in the church, and will be also fulfilled in Israel. Israel will have its part in them, but my point, for the moment, is that they are accomplished in the church, so that Israel hereafter will take its colour from the heavenly city. All these things of which I am going to speak belong to us, not in a public way, but they have come to us. They are hidden and unseen, but they are real: they come to us in such a real way, that they exercise the greatest influence over us.

People are too prone simply to believe things. We must believe things which God has made known to us, but we must not end there. The point is, that whatever light God is pleased to give us should be operative in

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forming us according to God. All that God makes known to us is to have the greatest moral effect upon us to that end.

The two points before me are blessing in connection with Abraham, and liberty in connection with Israel. Liberty is in connection with sonship. This is introduced in the passage I have read. The first thought is connected with Abraham. It was promised to him that in him and in his seed all the nations of the earth should be blessed, and this is spoken of in Galatians as the blessing of Abraham. The blessing of Abraham had come to the gentiles in Christ Jesus. In the beginning of chapter 4 we get the reality of sonship. It had been God's thought in regard of Israel, and bondage was unsuitable to it. God said to Pharaoh, "Let my son go that he may serve me". It was inconsistent with the thought of God that His son should be in bondage, and therefore the charge to Pharaoh.

There we get sonship as the calling of Israel and the idea connected with sonship is the knowledge of God, so that one can serve God in holy liberty. If God is to be served, the one who serves Him must be clear of the bondage of evil. In the present time if a christian is in bondage to the world or to man he cannot serve God. He needs to be freed from bondage to Satan, the world, and man if he is to serve God.

These things belong to Israel in a literal way. They will come hereafter into the blessing of Abraham, and will be brought into sonship that they may serve God in righteousness and holiness all the days of their life. In the coming day Israel will take its colour from the heavenly city, in which every thread of God's ways has been gathered up, for God's glory.

The blessing of Abraham entirely depended upon the true seed of Abraham, because man as such was really under the curse of God. The law brought man very definitely under the curse, but it was not required to bring man there. That was his place as the effect of

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sin, and hence the introduction of the blessing depended upon the coming of the seed of promise. Abraham was called upon to offer up his son Isaac, and received him again from the dead in figure of resurrection, and then God confirmed the blessing in the seed. The reason was this, that man was morally at a distance, in darkness, and away from God. God had withdrawn from him. The effect of sin was to alienate man from God, but God withdrew Himself also from man, and man came into moral darkness. The legitimate effect of this is seen in the heathen. Man got into the darkness of heathenism, and, in a certain sense, was forsaken of God. God left the nations to go on in their own way, and they were under the curse of God. That was the true position of man by reason of sin. On the other hand, the idea of blessing is seen in God drawing nigh to man and making him conscious of His favour. Divine favour is the way in which blessing would be known to man.

We come now to the way that God took to accomplish that. Blessing was promised in the seed of Abraham; but that, of necessity, involved that the seed of Abraham must remove the curse. In the cross of Christ you get the complete setting aside of man. He is first set forth in his true position relatively to God. Christ on the cross demonstrated the true position of man. He was made a curse by being hanged on a tree, and was forsaken of God. What was forsaken of God was the man under curse. Christ in being hanged on a tree, represented man under the curse of God, which lay upon man in its reality. That was not simply the place of Israel, but of man. It was definitely the place of Israel, because they had brought themselves under a broken law; but what was true in the case of Israel was really true in regard of man universally. Every man is lawless, and Christ represented the lawless man under the curse of God. On the cross we get the demonstration of that. He was made a curse by being hanged on a

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tree, and entered into all the consequences of the place which He had taken. That is the explanation of Psalm 22"My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" The forsaking was the forsaking of Christ as Man. It was the righteous One who was there; but, for the moment, He represented the lawless man.

What came to pass was this, that the lawless man was terminated. There was the end of the old man. "The truth is in Jesus" is the having put off the old man. There was the termination of the old man, in the ways of God, in the death of Christ. It was not simply that Christ was made a curse and entered into the condition in which man was, but He terminated that man in death. There was no revival of the victim: the priest was revived. Depend upon it that man after that order was never revived. The lawless man was terminated for God. That is one side of the truth.

But what is true on the other side? The blessed truth abides, that in Christ man is made nigh to God. He was raised again from the dead and is now the Head of every man. In Him dwells all the fulness of the Godhead bodily, and man is brought nigh to God in Christ, so that the curse is gone with the man that was under curse. Hence you get the blessing of God. You can see that at the close of the gospels, where the Lord comes into His own company. The lawless man was gone; and Christ was among them, and He brought God close to them. In John 20 the Lord breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit". He brought God close to them in blessing, and they must have been conscious that God was nigh to them in favour.

In chapter 3: 13, 14, we get two classes spoken of. It is said, "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law", and then, the blessing of Abraham come to the gentiles. Those redeemed from the curse of the law were the true remnant of Israel, and this was with the object that the blessing of Abraham might come to the gentiles. Blessing could not come to the gentiles without

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Israel. You must get Israel first, and then the blessing of Abraham reaches the gentiles. That is what came to pass in the church. A remnant of Israel was brought into the church. That is seen in John 20, Christ was there as Head to communicate to the disciples the Holy Spirit. They were brought into the place of the church and made conscious of it, but then the blessing of Abraham reached the gentiles in Christ Jesus that they might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. That is what has come to pass, God has gathered up in the church every thread. In the church you get the Israel of God, and the blessing of Abraham has come to the gentiles in Christ Jesus.

In resurrection Christ comes out into a wider sphere. The ministry of Christ was first to a people after the flesh, but in resurrection the ground is larger. He comes out as last Adam and second Man, and it is not simply to gather in the remnant of the Jews, but that the gentiles might be brought into common blessing with them. They come into the place of the companions of Christ. Those who believed in Christ were the children whom God gave to Him, and they could not be more than companions of Christ, and the gentiles too have that place: hence these are spoken of as "fellow-citizens of the saints, and of the household of God". The blessing of Abraham has reached the gentiles in Christ Jesus. The reality of the blessing is assured to us in the gift of the Spirit. It is not only that the people of God are forgiven, but they are brought nigh in Christ Jesus, and the proof of it is in the gift of the Spirit. I can believe in the delight of the Lord in John 20 in communicating to man the gift of the Spirit. It was the proof of what had come to pass, and God was brought nigh to them so that they might be conscious of the favour of God.

If you look at the seed of Abraham after the flesh, what sense have they of what has come to pass? Take the mass of professing christians, what sense have they

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of it? God has brought Himself near to man to make him conscious of His favour. How far do we realise the blessing which has been brought to us in Christ Jesus? The Spirit is communicated to make us conscious of the blessing of Abraham. Instead of being at a distance from God, He has been brought to us. A great many people would like to live piously down here and then go to heaven, but that is not christianity. The first element of it is, that God has brought Himself nigh to us in blessing in Christ, and made us conscious of it by the Spirit. That is brought to pass in the church. Israel will be brought into it in a public way, and will take their colour from what has come to pass in the church.

If you were to question people today about the blessing of Abraham, I do not think you would find that they understand very much about it. We ought to understand what it means. It stands in contrast to the curse which lay upon man, and which was demonstrated in the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ.

We come now to the other point -- namely, sonship. In the blessing of Abraham, God spoke to Abraham that he might have His way before him. I do not think that the blessing could be spoken of as fulfilled while God was dealing with man in the flesh, but it has now been brought to pass in Christ. He has necessarily brought God to man. God withdrew from man as the consequence of sin, but Christ has brought God to man, and made the consciousness of it effectual in the communication of the Spirit. But there is another thing, that is, of necessity Christ brings to man the knowledge of God, because in Him all the fulness of the Godhead was pleased to dwell. The truth came out in Him as to what the Father was to the Son, and the Son to the Father. The love of God came out in Christ. God's nature was revealed in Him. The whole truth of God was revealed in Him. His body was the temple of God, and there was the setting forth of God in Him here. God was revealed that man might know Him, not simply in His

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attributes, but in His nature. In the blessed reality of His nature lies the spring of all His activities. One might be fearful of the holiness of God, but in Christ I learn that the abode of His holiness is His love. Love is the spring of righteousness and the abode of holiness. The source of all the divine activities is in what God is, and there is no dark part in Him. God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all. All that He is came out in Christ. "No one has seen God at any time; the only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him".

And there is another thing in God, He is to be trusted, because there is nothing in Him contrary to His love. "God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believes on him may not perish, but have life eternal". The death of Christ was the expression of the love of God. Love would not tolerate the lawless man, and God in love removed him, that love might be effectual for man. The practical result of it is that in the knowledge of God, man is brought into sonship. God indicated that even in regard of Israel. Before ever they were put under law, He said, "Israel is my son, my firstborn". That will be fulfilled in Israel hereafter.

Now the knowledge of God is available to us that we might serve Him without fear, that we might be educated into perfect confidence in God. Our being the sons of God by faith in Christ Jesus hangs on the fact that God has appeared in Christ. In Christ God is perfectly revealed that He may be known, and served by those who know Him. Sonship is no good practically to any that have not the knowledge of God. It is the calling of God, and God brings us into His house to mould and form us according to the revelation of Himself and we are affected by that. God is love and we are brought under the influence of love. We are brought to the abode of His holiness -- His nature -- in order that we may come under the influence of holy love, to serve God.

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On the other hand, bondage is entirely inconsistent with serving God. We cry "Abba, Father" in the liberty of the Spirit. We were under bondage to the world, but the divine thought was to deliver us from all bondage. God took in hand to deliver His son out of Egypt to serve Him, and He has come in to deliver us from this present evil world to serve Him without fear. If man is to serve God it is plain that he cannot serve Him without the knowledge of God. The knowledge of God is of the last moment to us. And how are we to get it? There is only one way, by the Spirit of God. You must not suppose for a moment that listening to lectures will bring you the knowledge of God. The first great point is, that He is revealed in Christ; but there is another, namely, that what is revealed is made good in us by the Spirit of God.

In the death of Christ God commended His love to us, but now the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given to us. We are in the light as God is in the light, but the light is to be effectual in us by the Spirit, so that we are formed in the knowledge of God to serve Him without fear. If we are not free from bondage we are not at liberty to serve God without fear. Egypt is not a suited scene in which to serve Him. Israel was to serve Him in the wilderness.

Now, all that has been fulfilled in us as christians. Christianity is living, and the first element of it is the consciousness of divine favour and blessing brought to us in Christ Jesus, and made good to us in the Spirit. All these things will in a public way be fulfilled in the future. The heavenly city will be the light of the moral universe. God will shew in the church the surpassing wealth of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. The place of the church is of great moment in regard of the universe of bliss. At the same time the blessing of Abraham, the calling of sonship, and the service of God will be made good to Israel hereafter. Zacharias sang, "that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies

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might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life", Luke 1:74. All that will be fulfilled, but it is fulfilled in regard of us in a spiritual, not in a public way. We come into the blessing of God. Christ has brought Him to us, and we are assured of divine favour and blessing. The knowledge of God forms us according to Himself so that we serve Him without fear.

I would like to see a man here on earth wholly characterised by the knowledge of God. He would be a wonderful man who has been formed entirely by that knowledge. Christianity would be a true witness on earth if we were all in the good of that. "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another". If you are disciples of Christ, what have you learned from Him? I would be able to answer, I have learned from Him the love of God, and I know God, and the more I know God the more my heart is established in confidence. I have no fear, perfect love casteth out fear, and without perfect confidence in God I could not serve Him in holiness and righteousness.

That has come to pass in the church, the companions of Christ, the true Israel of God, in it God has established everything that He had foreshadowed, and whether it be Israel or the nations all will take its colour from that which God will set forth in the heavenly city.

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THE PREPARATION OF GOD WITH REGARD TO THE WORLD TO COME

Hebrews 12:18 - 29

I want to make clear the preparation of God with regard to the world to come. He has prepared everything for Himself in regard of it, and that is evidently a matter of interest to us. From the way in which things are spoken of here, it is evident that we have not come to mount Sinai, but to mount Sion.

Now, if God brings people to a mount, He intends them to be affected by that to which He brings them. He brought the children of Israel to mount Sinai, and He intended to affect them by that which was terrible to flesh. That comes out here. The people were affected; even Moses said, "I exceedingly fear and quake". The people entreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more. They could not endure that which was commanded.

But now it speaks of our being brought to mount Sion, and God intends that we should be affected by it. It is of God that we should come under the influence of that which is presented to us. Mount Sion is presented to us not in literality but as a symbol. No one here probably has seen it, and therefore its introduction must be to us symbolic. And what follows is extremely important to help us to know what mount Sion symbolises. God presents certain things in order that we may be affected by them down here.

What God presents is His preparation in regard of the world to come. Mount Sion had not always a place, but now that it has we can speak of the world to come, and can apprehend the way in which God has prepared Himself with regard to it. If we had these things in view we should not be so attentive to the world that is. The introduction of the world to come involves the complete

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overturning of the world that is. The Lord, when here, said, "I am not of this world", and, "Now is the judgment of this world". You have only to turn to the prophets, or to the New Testament, to see how evident it is that the introduction of the world to come must break up and overturn the world that is.

Christianity is not adapted to the world that is, though men have tried their best to so adapt it. Christianity will not admit of expediency. Christ has loved righteousness and hated iniquity, or lawlessness, and there is nothing of human expediency in that. However sorely pressed christians may be as to holding the truth, the way is not to turn to expediency, because there is always an outlet. You may be pressed above measure, but you have an outlet, and that is, you can die. We are not really prepared for christianity except we are ready to die. Things in the world go on the principle of expediency and accommodation, but there is not expediency or accommodation with Christ. Men tolerate things in the world as they are, and hence they have to resort to expediency and accommodation; but when God brings in the world to come there must be the complete break-up and overturning of this world. Christ and this world cannot go on together.

What is before God in regard of heaven we do not know much about because He has not told us. We know a little of the Father's house, and that Christ is going to take us there. The only one who went to heaven to return here was Paul, and he heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter; and I think I am thereby justified in saying that we do not know much about heaven. But, on the other hand, we do know a great deal about God and His relation to the world to come, which must necessarily set aside the existing world. One point makes that very clear. In the arch of God's dealings on earth, Israel, evidently, is the keystone. God has been pleased to make Israel that. The world today therefore cannot be according to Him

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because Israel has no place in it. Israel is not in view in the world. It knows nothing about Israel. It knows something about the Jews -- a people under reproach -- but Israel, at the present time, has no national existence.

If you turn for a moment to the prophet Hosea 3:4, it says, "For the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an image, and without an ephod, and without teraphim: afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the Lord their God, and David their king; and shall fear the Lord and his goodness in the latter days". There we get two things: they were to abide many days without a king; but in the latter days they would fear Jehovah and His goodness. They are to be so impressed by Jehovah and His goodness that they will fear Him in the latter days. I quote this to prove that Israel has now no national existence. They have no king, no prince, yet, as a matter of fact, God has every true principle connected with Israel before Him, and therefore He can present to us the reality of the world to come. Everything which is proper to and characteristic of the world to come God has before Him, and it says we have come to it. We have come to the apprehension of it, and that implies that we have the capability of apprehension.

What I desire is that we may get some understanding of the things to which we have come. The world to come could not be manifested while Israel is scattered, and yet God can so present to us the reality of His preparation that it can be said you have come to it.

Now all this follows on the line that I have attempted to pursue; that is, to shew how God has been pleased to gather up every thread of His dealings in Christ and the church. The church is inseparable from Christ, and what is gathered up in Christ, of necessity, has its place in the church. The saints are united to Christ; therefore whatever is gathered up in Him must, of necessity, have its place in us.

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If you read from verse 18 to 21 you will find that everything is leading up to God, while in verses 22 to 24 everything is working down from God. We are come to mount Sion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, the general assembly, to the church of the first-born, which are written in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, which speaks better things than that of Abel.

Apart from Israel and God's dealings with Israel, you could not understand these things. Every point that is touched upon here has some relation to God's dealings with Israel, and to the issue of His ways in reference to them; and yet, after all, these things are effected in Christ and the church. The least intelligent of us know how mount Sion is bound up with God's dealings with Israel. The allusion is probably to the bringing of the ark to mount Sion. The force of it is that, while everything has been forfeited by Israel on the ground of responsibility -- they are suffering the consequences of it at the present time -- yet, on the other hand, everything for God has been recovered in Christ. What has been forfeited by unfaithfulness on the part of Israel is recovered in Him. That is the principle of mount Sion. The people had lost the ark, and it was impossible for them to get it back, but God did so. He smote His enemies and put them to a perpetual shame, and the ark was brought back and placed on mount Sion. That is the first principle of God's dealings with regard to the recovery of Israel. It sets before us the thought that God has established all for Himself in Christ. Everything has been lost in man, but all is secured, in the sovereignty of divine mercy, in Christ, so that man should have part in it.

A mount is symbolic of a great power. Mount Sion is a great moral power, and is presented to us in Christ,

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where everything is secured for God, and we are to be brought under the influence of it. Israel will not be brought again to Sinai, but to Sion, to be affected by the sovereign mercy of God. They will respond to it, as in the utterance of David when he brought back the ark, "His mercy endureth for ever". Israel will learn that lesson. We learn the principle that everything has failed in man, but God has secured all for Himself in Christ and the Spirit. Christ would be unavailable to us except by the Spirit.

Another point in the course of divine dealings with Israel is a city, and we are come to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. I understand a city to be symbolic of continuance and permanence. A tent is not that. When God tabernacled with the people in the wilderness He dwelt in a tent, and there was no pledge of continuance as they were. They were on the move toward the promised land, but in the promised land there was a city, a most important element in divine dealings in the world to come. God comes down to man in that way, to give to him the pledge of continuance and permanence in the order of things which belongs to the world to come.

Now this is not the city of the great King, it is the heavenly Jerusalem. Mount Sion and Jerusalem were most important factors in God's dealings with Israel. Jerusalem upon earth was called the city of the great King because it was David's city, and God takes it up on that account. David begged God to dwell in it, and He responded to the request of David; but it was not the city of the living God. We are come to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. It is the city of the living God because everything in it is living, and in that way answers to God. The city of the great king answered to David, the city of the living God answers to Him. Jerusalem in the future will answer to Christ, the great King.

I am sure you can see how very evident it is that we

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have two most important elements in God's ways in regard of Israel in mount Sion and in the city. We have them now not in a literal way, but in the principle and truth of them. The city of the living God is not material, but it is a real idea in the moral bearing of it, as being the pledge of security and permanence. There is nothing in it but what corresponds to the nature of God, and we get liberty in the city.

When there is instability in the government of a country there is not the sense of liberty. Permanence and stability are essential to the enjoyment of liberty. If there were not permanence and stability, life and property would not be safe, and people would not be in the enjoyment of liberty. The city gives the pledge of permanence and stability, in that all is secured, and we can stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free. We want to look at the unseen things, and then we are brought into the sense of stability. You get the idea of that in connection with the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. Things are very unstable here. No politician can tell what is going to happen in the world during the next fifty years. There is no pledge of stability in this world, for that you must come to the divine order of things, to the world to come.

We now come to another point, to an innumerable company of angels. Angels are very difficult to talk about because we know so little about them. I would refer you to a few passages for a thought in connection with them. The first is Psalm 91:9 - 12. I refer to that on account of the place which the angels have in the psalm. Then you can look at John 1:51, Hebrews 1:13, Revelation 21:10 - 12. It is not difficult to gather up from these passages the idea of the place which angels have in the administration of God. The prophet Elisha, when the Syrians came against him, prayed God to open the eyes of his servant, and he saw the mountain full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha. Elisha was under divine protection, and, in the history

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of Israel, God interfered on the part of the people by the ministry of angels.

Then we get the prophecy in regard of Christ, "He shall give his angels charge over thee". He was in the charge of angels. In John, the heaven is seen to be opened, and the angels are attendant upon Him as the Son of man. So, too, in the first chapter of Hebrews they are spoken of as ministering spirits sent forth to minister for the heirs of salvation. The guardianship of the saints may be entrusted to angels. And in the close of Scripture you get twelve angels at the gates of the holy city. All is expressive of guardianship entrusted to them. We have come to an innumerable company of angels, the universal gathering, and that cannot be left out. The point before us is, the ways of God in connection with administration down here, and as there are powers of evil which affect man, angels are sent forth to minister for them who are heirs of salvation. We read, "Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire". So, too, in the harvest, they are sent forth to sever the wicked from among the just. In regard to the city they are its guardians, as they had that place in regard of Christ. He was under their charge.

We come now to the church of the first-born, which are written in heaven. This is important in connection with God's ways in Israel. Israel was the assembly in the wilderness. The gathering of the twelve tribes was really the assembly. Here upon earth, in the ways of God, Israel will have that place. They are the assembly. There was that in Israel which was peculiar for God. When He undertook to redeem them He laid down that the first-born were for Himself. The first-born had to be redeemed, and the levites took the place of the first-born of Israel. With regard to Israel, God has now the assembly of the first-born. The remnant of Israel gathered into the church was the assembly of the first-born. "In the midst of the assembly will I sing

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thy praises". That was the assembly of the first-born, the assembly of those who were pre-eminent in the ways of God in Israel.

God has everything before Him in regard of the world to come. He has mount Sion, the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, the innumerable company of angels, to whom is committed the guardianship of the city, and the assembly of the first-born, which are written in heaven. All is there for God. He has the first-fruits of Israel.

My point is that we may have these things under our attention. I want our attention to be diverted from what is passing here: from the world, that it should have little place with us, and that we might be strangers and pilgrims here. Our attention should be taken up with what is of God so that we might be affected by it. It is surprising to see that while, apparently, everything that God ordained and instituted in this world has failed, yet, God has gathered up, in Christ and the church, everything for the world to come. Mount Sion is there in Him; the heavenly city is there too. He is the foundation of it, and the chief corner-stone. The innumerable company of angels attend on Christ, and there is the church of the first-born, which are written in heaven: the assembly is there before God.

I am not attempting now to unfold what is really proper to the church in its heavenly calling, what I want to make plain is, the things into the presence of which God has called us. I want you to see that which God has before Himself, all for the world to come. No further preparation is necessary, everything proper and necessary is now there before God in Christ and the church, and He can interfere at any moment to bring all into display. These things are all of them real, and we have come to them. God has given to us the power to apprehend them. If it were not so it would be of no use to say we had come to them. We have come to them by the Spirit, and if we apprehend them God intends

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that we should be affected by them. We should be deeply impressed by the wisdom and faithfulness of God, who has gathered up every thread of His ways in Christ and the church. Man has failed in every direction, and yet God has secured all for His glory.

We have now "God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel". "Judge of all" is the attitude of God in regard of the world to come. He takes all judgment into His own hand. Many are much too limited in their idea of judgment. Judgment in Scripture often means government. In the Psalms it is used continually in connection with government. God takes the judgment into His own hand. In the same sense, in our own country, the king is the supreme magistrate. God has "appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness;" that is, in the way of government. He will govern in righteousness. There were judges in Israel, and they were called gods on account of their greatness, but when we come to God, He is Judge of all.

Then we have, "the spirits of just men made perfect". They, too, have their part in the world to come. Now that redemption is accomplished the just men are made perfect. They have not yet received their bodies, but the spirits are there, and they wait for us.

Next we have, "Jesus the mediator of the new covenant". That has its bearing in regard of man here on earth. Although the new covenant is the expression of God's disposition toward a particular people, yet it has its bearing in regard of men universally. The covenant will be established with the house of Israel and of Judah, yet it is the expression of God's mind in regard of man. In many of these expressions we are much too limited in our thoughts. What God establishes for Israel is His mind for man. The heavenly city will be the light of all.

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Lastly, we have "the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel". The blood of Abel was the token and witness of the guilt of man, but the blood of Christ is the means and witness of purgation. What has been brought in by man has really been purged by the blood of Christ, so that God has His own satisfaction with regard to the world to come. All is there for Him. God is Judge of all. He may not for the moment display Himself as such, but He has that place now. I do not want you to judge of these things by the natural mind, but by the Spirit of God, and if you judge by the Spirit of God you will apprehend that all is prepared for God. God brings Himself under our attention as the Judge of all, as having taken up every thread of government into His own hand. That is the place He has. Christ is the Head of all principality and power, and all principality and power is tested at the present time by Christ. We are not to be disturbed by the apparent glory of principalities and powers. Christ is the Head of all, and every principality and power should take its direction and character from Him.

Now these things are practical in their effect on us so that we may be apart from the world and the glory of it. There is nothing lost for God. "We see Jesus ... crowned with glory and honour". He is the Mediator of the new covenant. We come now into the good of it, and Christ presents Himself to us every Lord's day as the Mediator of it, and in that way we are familiar with Him.

It is a wonderful thing that we can pierce through the veil of providence which, for the moment, hides God, and can apprehend that everything is prepared for Him in regard of the world to come. But it is not possible to understand the preparation apart from Christ and the church. All is explained there, and only there can we understand the thought of mount Sion, the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and so on.

The fact is this, that, for the moment, the church

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holds the ground here for Israel; the Spirit of God would maintain us in the sense that God has prepared everything for Himself in regard of the world to come. I want every one to meditate upon these things that you may have the sense that we have come to them. God spreads them before us so to occupy our attention with them, and if we are occupied with them we shall be greatly affected by them. They are eternal things which will not pass away. They are stable. "We receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear". We are to have our attention taken up with them so that we may be delivered from the influences of this world.

The world is christianised, but it is an evil world still. The principles of it are extremely obnoxious to God. I cannot conceive a greater working of evil than the connection of christianity with the world that is, or rather, the attempt to connect Christ with the world that is. In the very nature of things, if the Son of God comes into the world, He is the beginning of another world -- God's -- and the attempt to connect Christ with the world that is, is to falsify the whole character of christianity. That is what the devil and man have succeeded in doing. The vision of many a christian has been so obscured by things here that be has not taken into account the world which is centred in Christ. No one of the things which have been before us has anything to do with the present evil world; but all have to do with the world which is of God, and that world has its centre and keystone in Christ.

May God give to us to understand these things, and the great importance of the church as that in which every thread of God's ways has been gathered up, and to see that the church is the pledge of the accomplishment of all God's purposes.

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THE BODY

Colossians 2:6 - 23; 1 John 4:11 - 15

I think all would consent to the thought that the church is left in the world in testimony. It is that which led me to read the passage in 1 John 4. The height of the testimony is the presentation of God. This is not in what people say, the witness is in what people are. The apostle, taking up a form of expression which is found in the gospel, "No man hath seen God at any time", adds, "If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us". His love abides in us in testimony here. In the church there should be the expression of God. That came out in Christ, otherwise it could not come out now. The point is, that there should be the perpetuation of that which came out in Christ.

It is impossible to understand a great many things which are found in the epistles if you do not apprehend the purpose that the church should be a witness, not simply to Christ, but of God, morally. It goes on in the subsequent verses to say, "And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world". This is bearing witness in word, but, at the same time, the great witness is moral. The church is witness for God by the Spirit, in order that in it the nature of God may find its expression here.

Now, we come to the same thought in Colossians, "from which all the body by joints and bands, having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God". Like a body in a healthy state, it increases all over proportionately. There is an energy in it by which every part increases. What I bring under your attention is, the point for which the church is left here. I am going to work up to that, for I feel the great importance of our learning the special purpose of

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the church here.

I have been trying on previous occasions to shew how God has gathered up every thread of His ways in the church. The church is the first-fruits of redemption. There were dealings of God in the past, but now we have come to the end of the world: the consummation of the ages: God is accomplishing His purpose, and the first-fruits of this is the church. Christ has been brought in upon the scene. You do not get any light with regard to the church until He had ascended up on high. He has ascended far above all heavens that He might fill all things, and now we get the truth of the church, and see that every thread of divine dealings previous to Christ is gathered up in Him and in the church.

The more I meditate upon things the more I see that the real point of departure for God is Christ. Every dealing of God up to Christ was in anticipation of Christ. That was true from the beginning of the world. The very order of things at the outset, the position in which Adam was placed, the relation between Adam and Eve, and all the detail in the Old Testament was in anticipation of Christ, so that it is true in a moral point of view, though not historically, that Christ is the beginning. He "is the beginning, the first-born from the dead; that in all things he might have the pre-eminence". He has not come in simply as a kind of remedy after previous failure.

But there is another thing which is almost of more importance, God has come out. Everything is fulfilled and centred in Christ. He is the centre and bond of the moral universe, but the moral universe subsists in the full light of God. The full light of God has shone out in Christ. "God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ". The reference here is evidently to what took place in the beginning of the creation. But that was not the true beginning, there was material light, but the

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true light is the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. That is moral light, and in it all God's purposes are accomplished.

Now, the starting-point for us is in verse 6 of our chapter. "As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him". The apostle is speaking to gentiles, people who had been idolaters. The Colossians are taken up in that way, and the apostle is speaking of what had been true among them. I refer to that because there was a difference between the Jew and the gentile. The Jew had the oracles of God committed to him, while the gentile was left, in the main, without light; the gentile was left to philosophy, which was not light from God. All that it had to go upon were the traditions of men and the rudiments of the world. There were traditions preserved among men concerning creation and the flood and other things, and there were the rudiments of the world -- the elements in which men had been educated in the world, whatever these might be. That is all philosophy had to go upon. There was no more to be had, simply because they had no revelation from God. They had the light of creation. This was a witness to God which ought to have had an effect upon men, but it was not revelation, therefore, as far as man's instruction was concerned, he was dependent upon the traditions of man, and if he went beyond that he must trade upon imagination. There could not be any light in philosophy, it was impossible that it could go beyond the traditions of men and the rudiments of the world. Philosophy may ignore revelation, but philosophical writers cannot now help being affected by a certain knowledge of christianity, though they themselves may not admit it.

When the apostle Paul wrote, men had been brought up in the traditions of men and the rudiments of the world. But man by wisdom knew not God. Philosophy never found God out. He never intended to be found out by it. If man's mind could find Him out, man

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would be as great as God. All that world came to an end morally. That is what God intended. The world by wisdom knew not God, and in the death of Christ it came to an end before God. "Now is the judgment of this world", the Lord could say, and "Now shall the prince of this world be cast out". The world came to an end in the death of Christ, and, consequent upon that, you get the real starting-point of God.

Christ now is all, and the first principle in that connection is, that God has come out. In Him dwells all the fulness of the Godhead. God has disclosed Himself. In the very fact that He is revealed we have a point of the greatest moment. Apart from what God is revealed to be, the very fact of His having revealed Himself becomes the touchstone of everything. In Christ "dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily". That word "bodily" brings the revelation of God in close touch with man.

When the Lord was here His body was the temple of God, and in that way the oracles of God were brought to man. The Lord said, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up". It is difficult to understand how the revelation of God would have been available to man, or even possible, but in a man. But God has revealed Himself and the power of that revelation remains. No power in the universe can uproot christianity, because it is based on the revelation of God, and is maintained by the Spirit of God.

The truth of God came out in Christ, and that stumbles man to the present day. In Him we have the revelation of the Godhead: the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Until He came no one had any real idea of it. The Lord speaks about His being one with the Father, and when the Jews heard it they accused Him of blasphemy; but there was the only-begotten, and all dwelt in Him. The Father was in Him and the Holy Spirit, and in that way the fulness of the Godhead was brought close to man.

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It is in that connection that God has come out. We know what He is. We apprehend in Christ God's attributes, righteousness, holiness, mercy, grace, all that He is has come out, and, at the same time, His love. What God is in nature was disclosed in Christ, so that He could say, "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father". The revelation of God in a man is the first principle of the new order of things: of that universe of bliss of which Christ is the beginning and Head. This universe subsists in the light of the revelation. The present world does not.

Heathenism, idolatry and philosophy, all were here in the absence of the light of God. They throve in darkness, but now the light has come in. It is of profound moment that God has revealed Himself, but you need to go a little further, that is, to enter into that which God has revealed Himself to be. Had there not been the Trinity we could not have had redemption. "The Father sent the Son, to be the Saviour of the world". There could be no living bread come down from heaven to give life to the world had there not been the Father and the Son. No seeking of man. Everything that came out in Christ's ministry is dependent on the revelation of God. The revelation of God is essential in order that we may be able to enter into the ways of God in Christ. Those ways are dependent upon what God is. It would be irreverent to speak of God dying, yet the One who died was God, and God has come out in the only-begotten Son, and redemption has been accomplished. The Son of God has become Man that He might be to man the bread of life, give life to the world and take away the sin of the world. All that is dependent on the fulness of the Godhead dwelling in Christ bodily, to make it available to man.

We come now to the universe of bliss: God's world in contrast to the world that is; Christ is the Head of all principality and power. People plead strenuously for subjection to the powers that be, and I am not disposed

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to be insubject to them, but not for a moment am I going to be dazzled by their glory. No glory has any real place if it is without moral foundations. Such glory is shame rather than otherwise, and we are compelled as christians to form a judgment even of principalities and powers because Christ is the Head of them. They now have a standard in Christ, and have to be judged of by christians according to Christ. If they do not answer to Him they are not of much account.

In Psalm 45 we read, "Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: the sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre. Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness: therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows". It is very important to apprehend that when the throne of God is established it has its foundation in perfect discrimination between good and evil. There is glory according to God. Jesus received upon the mount of transfiguration glory and honour when there came to Him such a voice from the excellent glory, "This is my beloved Son". The foundations are moral. In the ministry and pathway of the Lord Jesus upon earth there was the testimony to His fitness to occupy the throne. When here He found abundant lawlessness and very little righteousness, but He loved righteousness and hated lawlessness, and therefore He is anointed with the oil of gladness above His fellows.

Christ was among the meek of the earth, and the meek are to inherit the earth. He rode into Jerusalem as Sion's King, meek and sitting on an ass, and on a colt the foal of an ass. Meekness was characteristic of the King who was to occupy the throne of David, which is really the throne of God. Christ is now brought into view as the One in whom dwells all the fulness of the Godhead bodily, and the Head of all principality and power. God has brought to light the system in which He will be glorified, and that system is subsisting at the present moment in Christ. Until Christ came every

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allusion to it was prophetic, but now it is brought into view because Christ is brought into view. The foundations are laid of that universe of bliss which has its beginning, centre and bond in Christ. We have to accept the order of things here until God interferes to put it aside, but at the same time we are compelled to form our judgment of principalities and powers by Christ because He has come in and is Head of them.

Of the order of things in that universe of which I speak the church is the first-fruits. I want now to shew the peculiar purpose which is intended to be served by the body. Every family in that order of things will serve its own particular appointment. The Old Testament saints will fill their part, as will also Israel, the nations, and every family; all in that order of things which is centred in the Sun of righteousness will fulfil its own appointed place. They are all named of the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. The point for us is, what place has the body?

First, I may ask, what is to form the mind of the christian? The mind of philosophers was formed by the traditions of men and the rudiments of the world, but the christian mind is by Christ. If you want intelligence according to God it comes from the apprehension of Christ. There are those who would like expansion of mind, but the point is to get it according to Christ, because then you get it according to truth. It will be intelligence characterised by goodness. I have known of men in the world of great intelligence both as to men and things, but their intelligence has been disfigured by cynicism. When you come to the intelligence which is according to Christ it is heavenly intelligence, and always replete with goodness. That is the great importance of what is according to Christ, and it is very different to philosophy. The result of philosophy is, that people believe nothing and have no confidence in anything. When you get intelligence according to Christ it forms you after Him. The formation of the

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mind is a very important point in regard of each of us. We are formed according to Him who is the Head of all principality and power. We are complete in Him.

The apostle is leading up to the thought of the body, and in order to come to an adequate idea of it he brings in the reality of our association with Christ. You cannot understand the body if you do not see that it hangs upon association with Christ. We get a great deal of the body in the New Testament. It seems to be a kind of understood expression, but we have to consider what it means.

Nothing can be plainer than that the body is consequent on the Spirit. The moment the baptism of the Spirit took place, of necessity, there was the body. "There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling". Men, under the baptism of the Spirit, could no longer remain isolated. "By one Spirit are we all baptised into one body ... and have been all made to drink into one Spirit". Though the Spirit was not given through Paul -- it came in connection with the twelve -- yet the particular testimony which we have from Paul is the unfolding of all that depends upon the presence of the Spirit. We get thus the truth of the body. You could no longer have the idea of children of God scattered abroad, they were gathered together in one, and therefore you get the body.

In Colossians we do not get a word about the baptism of the Spirit, but we get the suitability of saints for association with Christ. That is the peculiar privilege of those who compose the body: they are called into association with Christ, and are rendered capable both in mind and affections. I understand "circumcision", "buried with him in baptism" and "risen with him" to be a question of mind. The mind of the believer is in accord with the death and resurrection of Christ. All in the world to come is fulfilled on that ground, and if my mind is not in accord I cannot enter into the truth of the universe of bliss. It is impossible. The effect

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would be that I should connect christianity with the world that is. God has before Him a world which is based on resurrection, and that is the principle on which Israel will stand; and now my mind is to be in accord with Christ. I am buried with Him in baptism: I am dead to this world, but, as to the state of my mind, I am in accord with the resurrection of Christ. I have a little bit of apprehension of the operation of God by which He intends to establish the universe of bliss.

All is connected with Christ risen, and in the universe of bliss the principle which runs through everything is resurrection. That brings me to another point, that we are quickened with Him. If the mind is not in accord with Christ it would be vain to talk about being quickened with Him. How can two walk together except they are agreed? What is true in Christ is circumcision and resurrection. If they have come to pass in Him your mind must be in accord with them. It is not said that you are risen with Christ in any other sense, for we are here in flesh, and it can only be in the state of our mind that we are now risen with Him. The mind of the christian may be, and ought to be, in accord with the death and resurrection of Christ. It means this, that, by the death of Christ, I have passed out of one order of things, and I have entered on another of which He is the beginning and centre; I am risen with Him.

In being quickened with Him you are capable of association in point of affections. The Spirit had wrought effectually in the Colossians, and the well of water had sprung up to everlasting life. They were brought consciously and suitably into association with Christ. It is that to which we are called, and the work that God carries out in His people is to render them suitable to Christ, and competent in heart, 'Close to thy trusted side, in fellowship divine'. That is where the drawing of the Father leads us. It is the privilege of every christian to be close to Him, and how can that be but in spiritual affections?

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When the Lord was here, who was closest to Him? It was John. And why? Because he appreciated Christ. Peter loved Christ beyond all doubt, but he never was so close to Him as John, and if we are to be close to Him we must appreciate the affection of Christ and answer to it. "Quickened" in general applies to the body. We are not like Christ yet, and yet we are suitable for association with Him. God has quickened us with Him, and has removed everything that existed between Himself and us, so that there might be no obstacle to our nearness to Christ.

Now we get a word of warning. "Let no man judge you in meat or in drink", We have come to the apprehension that the body is of Christ. If you look abroad in the world there is little of Christ there. The one thing for Christ here is the body, but it belongs to another order entirely. You cannot connect Christ with this order. He is the beginning and centre of another order altogether. The body is of Christ. It does not belong to this order of things. It belongs to Christ. It is of Him, and those who have their part in it are competent in apprehension, and by the work of God, but they have to hold the Head. He is Head of all principality and power. Head of the divine system. Every part of it will take its character from Christ. But then we have to be apart from the world, that is, in spirit. Your mind must be in accord with the death and resurrection of Christ, because you are not holding the Head if you are not clear of worldly associations. The Head is great enough to fill all things, He has ascended up far above all heavens to that end. He is the Sun of righteousness.

In the vision of Christ in the Apocalypse John saw "his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength". He is the Head of the system, and every part of it -- the church, principalities, powers, Israel, the nations -- will take character from Him. We have to hold the Head, but there is another point, and that is, we are in

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connection with the Head. From Him all the body fitly joined together, and having nourishment ministered, increases with the increase of God. We come to the great point which will be served hereafter in the holy Jerusalem; that is, that there might be an expression of God. The body is knit together in spiritual affections, and having nourishment ministered it increases. The natural body must have nourishment ministered, and the body of a child increases in every way proportionately. Christ's body becomes larger and larger, and for the purpose that God may be expressed. Anything short of that is not the divine thought with regard to the body. "If we love one another, God abides in us, and his love is perfected in us". It was the purpose of God in the church that there might be a continuation of what had been set forth in Christ He declared God. "The only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him". Now it is "No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us". The body increases with the increase of God.

It is difficult to speak of these things in the present day because they must be looked at so abstractly. But what could be more important than that there should be here an adequate answer to Christ in heaven. You may talk of people about a Man in heaven, but that is contrary to all experience. They never heard of a man going upward except in a balloon. It might be asked, What witness have you that there is a Man in heaven? I reply, God is upon earth. "If we love one another, God dwelleth in us". The church is the real witness to the Man in heaven, and that is what God intended. "That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me".

God never intended the gospel to be set forth in the world, and a testimony to be given to a Man in heaven, without adequate witness of that Man here upon earth.

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Some might say, Is not the Spirit the witness? I quite admit it, but the Spirit never became incarnate, and if the Spirit is to be seen it must be in the practice, ways and affections of christians. In time past people were affected not only by miracles, but by what was expressed in the saints: in the body. "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another". That is the evidence of the body. It was formed by the baptism of the Spirit. The suitability of the body is, that the saints are risen with Christ and quickened with Him in order that they may be close to Him. The very thought of the body is Christ. "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?" He is the first principle of it, and therefore we have to hold the Head.

I have the power of judging of principalities and powers, and intend to exercise that power by the grace of God. I do not care about the world system, nor its glory, because I am called into view of another system which subsists in the light of God, and where He is revealed, and which has its Head in the Sun of righteousness. I seek to hold the Head by the grace of God, and if we are all doing that we shall be held together. There will be the increasing with the increase of God. There will be growth, and the expression of God in us. If you want to be anything of a christian here upon earth you must give yourself up to it entirely. You must not allow any other consideration to come in conflict with it. Your one supreme interest must be in that which is of God: that which finds its centre and beginning in Christ.

May God be pleased to grant that we may be somewhat, in spirit and in mind, in the reality of these things, understanding that to which we are called. It is a great thing to hold the Head. A woman will hold her husband as sure as possible if there is affection for him, and so it is with Christ and us. He is absent from this scene, yet He -- yea, even God -- is to be reflected in the body here.

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For the present time Christ is the test of the world, but He is coming in as its Saviour, and at the same time to establish morally an order which will take its character entirely from Himself.

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THE BRIDE

Ephesians 1:15 - 23; Ephesians 2:1 - 22

My thought is to enlarge a little on what is peculiar to the church: the privileges peculiar to it. I have attempted, in what has come before us from time to time, to shew how that in the church God has taken up every thread of His previous dealings. All the previous dealings of God had Christ and the church in view. That was a necessity, because there was nothing really accomplished in His dealings. Promises were made to Abraham, and certain things were conferred upon Israel, but there was nothing really accomplished or final: all had reference to things which were yet to come. Everything looked on to Christ and the church, where God purposed to gather up every thread of His previous dealings. You can understand that, in regard both to the promises, and to the kingdom, and to blessing, and to life; whatever was spoken of in that way was in anticipation of what God intended to establish in Christ and the church. There are other things which are yet to come to pass, but the first thing with God was, to gather up and establish all in Christ and His companions.

Now there are also certain truths which are entirely peculiar to the church. The church, in the scheme of divine purpose, has its own place distinct from anything else, and it would be a very great pity to lose sight of that. In the Old Testament you find, in the headings of chapters, the idea that Israel was the church, but it is much more true that the church is really Israel: the Israel of God. The true Israel was the nucleus of the church: the beginning of it. God gathered the remnant of His people into the church, and they were the first-fruits. But we have to look at the church in the light of what it is to Christ. You can never learn what is peculiar to the church except by learning what the

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church is in relation to Christ. That is what I want to come to now -- the church as the body and the bride of Christ. It never could be said that Israel had that place. It belongs to the church. So, too, the holy Jerusalem, the centre and joy of the heavenly land, is entirely peculiar to the church.

We get here a remarkable expression; that is, He "gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all". In the beginning of the next chapter we have the thought of union. This connects itself with the idea of the bride. In chapter 5 we read that "Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish". There again is the thought of the bride. So, too, in the same connection, we learn that the Christ is the Head of the church, as the husband is the head of the wife. The husband being the head of the wife is the figure employed to shew the headship of Christ to the church.

It is a very wonderful thing that the church should have the place of the bride of Christ, and it is impossible to understand that apart from the ways of God in Christ. If you are to enter into the idea of the church's place in relation to Christ you must know something of God's ways. In a way the church is necessary in order that those ways may become manifest.

A point which I desire first to touch upon is the interchange of thought you get sometimes in Scripture. By way of illustration, we may turn to Psalm 132. In the first ten verses we have a kind of appeal, taken up by David, to Jehovah, then in the eleventh and following verses we have the word of Jehovah. David was a remarkable man. He was one marked by very great failures. He had a sort of absolute power, and, at

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times, he used his power and opportunities in a very gross way indeed. And yet if you have studied what the Chronicles say of the house of David, you will have seen that the first book is almost entirely taken up with two thoughts. The first is the bringing up of the ark to the city of David, and the second the building of a house for God. Jehovah was to arise and to enter into His rest, He and the ark of His strength.

What led me to read Psalm 132 is the interchange of thought between David and Jehovah. David's thought was to find a resting-place for the ark of Jehovah, and Jehovah's thought was to build a house for David and to establish his throne. His enemies were to be clothed with shame, but upon himself his crown was to flourish. All that is remarkable in contrast to the great blemishes which marked David. As a matter of fact, David never was allowed to build God a house. He was a man who had shed much blood; Solomon was to build the house for Jehovah. But the real house of God never was built by Solomon, he built a material house which perhaps pointed on to the church, as Solomon himself pointed on to the real Son of David. I have no doubt that the thought of Christ in His ministry down here was really to secure a house for God, that He might dwell here. But, on the other hand, the divine thought in regard of Christ is that He should be glorified above all principalities and powers. When you come to Christ, things are not for a moment to be compared with those of David. David would build a house, but his thought was a material one. Christ, on the other hand, purposed to build God a house, but one of a very different character to that which David proposed to build. That is what He has done. There was a house prepared for God to dwell in, and, as the result, God has been dwelling here from that time to this. The Holy Spirit descended on the day of Pentecost, and has abode here ever since.

There are two facts of profound moment on which christianity entirely hangs. The first is, that there is a

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real Man at the right hand of God; and the second, that by the Holy Spirit God is present down here. If a man does not accept those two facts, I would hardly recognise him as being in the profession of christianity. I would like every one to consider those two things. They are not clearly seen, but nevertheless christianity hangs upon them. I think a great many people who profess christianity have no sense at all of Christ being a real Man, but He is a real Man in heaven. While still on earth, the Lord took great pains to assure the disciples that He was a real Man risen from among the dead. "Behold my hands and my feet, that It is I myself". Now He is a real Man in heaven, angels, authorities and powers being made subject unto Him. People may object because they know nothing of the conditions of life and resurrection. It is in the power of God to raise the dead, and He does raise the dead, but they do not live in the conditions in which we live. The first principle of christianity is a Man risen from among the dead and gone to heaven, and the Holy Spirit is dwelling here in witness to that Man. That Man is not always to abide at the right hand of God. He is to be manifested. All the thoughts which came out in regard of David subsist and are substantiated in Him. The thought of Christ, as we have seen, was to provide a dwelling-place for God on earth, and He secured it; and, on the other hand, the thought of God for Christ was that Man should be set not simply upon the throne of David on earth, but above all principality and power and every name that is named. Man is set in the very highest place. That is the way in which God exhibits His triumph. The work of Satan was to corrupt man upon earth, and he succeeded only too well. He gave man inflated notions about knowing good and evil, and led him away from God; but the divine answer to it is, that God has set man, in Christ, in the highest place, at the right hand of God, above all principality and power. "He has ascended up far above all heavens, that he

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might fill all things". "We see Jesus ... crowned with glory and honour". All things are put under His feet. What was set forth in David is fulfilled in Christ, all that beautiful interchange of thought which we find in the Psalms between David and Jehovah, the mighty God of Jacob, has come to pass in Christ.

I go on now to shew that the body and the bride are necessary to the place which Christ has taken. What I understand by the body is the vessel in which Christ should be perfectly expressed. If you entertain any idea of the greatness of Christ, the body is that in which He is adequately expressed. The body serves that purpose now. It is that in which Christ lives, which is animated by Him, and consequently He is expressed in it. That is a point of all moment at the present time. I was dwelling upon that in a former lecture in connection with the epistle to the Colossians. The thought connected with the body is that there should be that in which the sensibilities and graces of Christ should become manifest down here.

But now we come to another thought, and that is the bride. The thought of the bride is that she may be for the perfect satisfaction of Christ. "He that hath the bride is the bridegroom". Another point in connection with the bride that I desire to call attention to is that the bride should be entirely according to the glory of God. Nothing that is unsuited to the glory of God could be a suitable helpmeet for Christ, and because it is suited to the glory of God therefore the glory of God can be set forth in it. I take it that is the place that the bride will occupy in the time to come. It is the holy Jerusalem, the heavenly city, which comes down from God out of heaven, having the glory of God, and her light like unto a stone most precious.

If you take the figure of Adam and Eve, Eve was formed out of Adam for the satisfaction of Adam. God intended Adam to have the joy of that which He brought to him. She was for his satisfaction. I am sure all

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christians would like to be for the satisfaction of Christ. The same thought is found in the latter part of this epistle. Husbands are bidden to love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it. One is not saying too much in stating that the bride is to be for the satisfaction of Christ. The bride is His. "Christ loved the church, and gave himself for it". It was not that the church loved Christ.

But if Christ is to have satisfaction in the bride, she must be according to the glory of God. I can understand, even in the millennium, God allowing certain imperfections upon earth, but when it is a question of the bride there can be no imperfection, and therefore Christ presents the church to Himself glorious. It is according to God's glory, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but holy and without blemish before God. Each of us ought to covet that. The bride of Christ will be before God according to God's glory, otherwise it would be unsuited to Christ. After all, Christ is God, and the bride of Christ must be according to the glory of God. That is the thought taken up in the epistle to the Ephesians. I look forward with joy to the day when one will be before God according to His glory, but then it is fulfilled in a way now, for there is the work of God in saints, so that we should be according to His glory.

If it were not for God's work in us we never would be according to His glory. It is all His work. No advance on your part or mine in intelligence can ever make us according to His glory, and His glory is seen in my being according to His glory; according to Himself, really that I am before Him according to His nature. But then that which is according to God's glory is for the display of that glory. The holy Jerusalem has two aspects: it is the bride of Christ, suitable to God's glory, and then it becomes the vessel in which the glory of God is set forth in the presence of the universe. "That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus".

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If we are according to His glory there is nothing to obstruct His kindness. Kindness is natural to God, and when we are according to God's glory, so that there is nothing to obstruct, then He makes known to the universe the exceeding riches of His grace.

The body is that in which Christ lives and in which He is expressed, but the bride is for the satisfaction of Christ and is according to the glory of God, and thus in it the glory of God can be set forth. In the day of display the universe of bliss will be lit up by the light of the holy Jerusalem, the heavenly city, which comes down from God out of heaven, having the glory of God, and her light like unto a stone most precious. We have to do with things which are blessed realities, not impostures.

Now in chapter 2 is stated what God has effected. "But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ (by grace ye are saved); and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus". It is stated as if all were effected. The connection is with the end of the preceding chapter; and the consequence of that is, that God is enabled in the beginning of chapter 2 to state that which we do not yet see, but which is really effected for God. We are quickened together with Christ, raised up together and made to sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, but that hangs on what is spoken of in chapter 1. If we could see things according to God: if we apprehended the greatness of the power of God which is toward us who believe, and understood how God has made us capable in point of spiritual affections, so that we can sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, it would bring us to union: that is the thought in the passage.

We read in John 3:16, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life". Also in Titus, "But after that the kindness and

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love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us". In John's gospel, the love of God toward the world was evidenced in the giving of His only-begotten Son who was the test of the world. Death lay upon men, and judgment was before them, and God gave His only-begotten Son, the evidence of His love, and the Son of man was lifted up to be the test of the world. It is not there a question of the sovereignty of mercy, but of the grace of God that has provided for man an outlet from the world. Here, in Ephesians, it is another thought, "God, who is rich in mercy". It is not here a question of divine grace to the world, but of the way in which the mercy of God is expressed in working in us, and that involves the sovereignty of God. In the operation of God the sovereignty of God is involved, because He will not engage Himself to work in every man. His grace is toward every man, and He has proved His love to the world, but He will not engage Himself to work in every man. That is what is spoken of here. While, on the one hand, Christ has wrought in order to secure a dwelling-place for God, on the other hand, God is bent on the exaltation of Christ, and that Christ shall be satisfied, and therefore the bride is provided to sit in the heavenly places for the satisfaction of Christ.

Now, this will be literally effected and displayed when the Lord comes. We shall be quickened with Christ, raised up then, and made to sit together in the heavenly places, but that is anticipated here in connection with the exceeding greatness of God's power which is towards us who believe.

In the latter part of the chapter we get certain proofs of the reality of these things, and my object is to shew that what is stated in the first part of the chapter is not only a reality, but that we get the present gain of it. It does not speak of things which are going to take place, but of things which have taken place with God. The

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first thing is, we have "become nigh by the blood of the Christ". The second, "For through him we have both access by one Spirit to the Father". The third is, "in whom ye also are built together for a habitation of God in the Spirit". These privileges are proof of what God has effected. I want you to apprehend the great present reality of these things, and what the reality is the pledge of. They are the pledge of this, that God has given effect to the purpose of His will for the glory of Christ. Christ has built a house for God to dwell in, and now God is bent upon the glory and satisfaction of Christ. God has raised us up together and made us sit together in the heavenly places, and the effect of that is, that we have become nigh. We are no longer outcasts. We were a long way from anything connected with Israel. The gentiles were in darkness and idolatry, but that is not the case now. "Ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God". We have become nigh dispensationally.

But another point is, that we both have access by one Spirit to the Father. Jew and gentile are joined together here by one Spirit, and have common access. In the New Testament there is very little injunction or direction in regard of worship. In the Old Testament you get the most explicit instructions. I have often turned this over in my own mind really to satisfy myself about worship, and have come to the conclusion that there is little said about it, because it is all involved in access. We learn that through Jesus we both have access by one Spirit to the Father, and we get no more. All the difficulty with regard to worship disappears when we are conscious of being before God in the light of His love. If you have the sense of that which God is, and are before Him in that way, you could not want any direction in regard of worship. In worship Christ is the Leader. It is through Him we have access to the Father.

The next thing is, Jew and gentile are built together

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for a habitation of God by the Spirit. God is dwelling here, and, if God is dwelling here, there is christianity. Christianity depends upon two things: Christ in heaven, and the Holy Spirit here. There must be provision for Christ somewhere, and God has made known what provision He has made; and there is no christianity on earth -- except in name and profession -- outside the work of the Holy Spirit. I cannot conceive anything more extraordinary than that christendom should have lost sight of the presence of the Holy Spirit, because everything depends upon it. Christ has prepared for God a house, and therefore of necessity God dwells here at the present time by the Spirit. We are become nigh by the blood of Christ, then we have access through Him by one Spirit to the Father, and are built together for a habitation of God by the Spirit. All these things are brought before us in the latter part of the chapter as a pledge to us of the great reality of that which God has effected for Himself.

The body has its own proper place. Christ said, "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?" In the early days the body was in the love of Christ and was the expression of Himself, but then there is not only the truth of the body, but of the bride also. Christ went down into the lower parts of the earth, lower than any one ever went, and now He has ascended far above all heavens that He may fill all things. God will confer glory upon Him, and work in order that He may have satisfaction. The bride is the closest to Him in the day of display, because it is according to God's glory. To get a proper thought of it you must read the detail of the heavenly city in the Revelation.

All these things are realities, and we get the present fruit and pledge of them in the privileges which belong to us here. The mere profession of christianity will not enable us to stand. Christianity is supported by all the power by which God can support it: the power of the Spirit. God is dwelling here by the Spirit, and His

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people are supported by the Spirit; therefore they can stand against all the powers that are.

May God engage our interest in these things that we may get to understand better what the church is as the body and bride of Christ, in which God has gathered up every thread of His previous dealings so that nothing has lapsed. The companions of Christ, the house of God, the flock of God, the promises, blessing -- all are gathered up in Christ and the church.

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THE RENOWN OF CHRIST

Acts 3:1 - 26; Acts 4:21 - 22; Ephesians 4:20 - 24

There are three or four points which are apparent at the latter part of chapter 3 (see verses 18, 21, 23, 25). (1) What God had spoken by the mouth of all the prophets that Christ must suffer. (2) Whom the heavens must receive until the time of the restitution of all things (verse 21). (3) He is a test. (4) God's purpose is fulfilled, the restitution of all things and all nations would be blessed in Him (verses 23 - 25). These are great points in regard of Christ. Christ has suffered; He has been received up; He has become the test of everyone, and in Him all the nations of the earth shall be blessed. I shall give you a little as to these points, and shall then show the witness to Christ meanwhile. The effect of the name of the Man in heaven is that it gives perfect soundness to the lame man in the presence of them all. The witness could not be gainsaid. The man was above forty years old on whom the miracle of healing was shown. God gave manifest witness to the Jews that there was a Man in heaven -- the lame man got perfect soundness. God had thus given adequate witness, for in chapter 2 they "began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance". The witness comes out in the new man, which is in correspondence with the Man at the right hand of God. Christ is the "Holy One and the Just", and that new man comes out created after God in righteousness and true holiness. The man in chapter 3 prefigures that. The new man is in correspondence to the "Holy One and the Just". Christ is received into heaven, but He has His witness down here to show the power of His name.

Now faith has ever been dependent upon the glorified Man -- the last Adam. The lame man was a cripple from the womb, over forty years -- the full time of

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probation. The man is not only made whole, but he becomes a witness to another Man -- to a Man in heaven. It was faith in another Man that gave him the soundness in the presence of them all. Now I take up the first point. Christ must suffer. We often get the thought of suffering in connection with Christ. "It became him ... to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings", Hebrews 2:10. It was all in view of the place that Christ was going to take up in regard of the world to come. Christ accomplished righteousness, that He might be the Sun of righteousness.

Salvation, too, has its first application to Christ, and redemption, too. How could He have taken up the inheritance which belonged to God, except by taking up the liabilities? Being the Sun of righteousness put Him in relation to the universe of bliss. He is placed in relation to others, but how could He without accomplishing righteousness. The same in regard of salvation. Salvation was accomplished, that His glory might be great in God's salvation. It is important to view all that is accomplished first in their relation to Christ, before we view them in their application to us. All has been accomplished -- Christ has suffered; He went into the lower parts of the earth. Now He has gone to the right hand of God, far above all heavens. The Holy Spirit has come, and we are wholly dependent upon Him for the report of His glory, of His renown, of His name. He is Head of all principality and power, and Head of every man, and the Holy Spirit has brought down the report of His renown, of His name. We have to apprehend Christ according to His renown. We have renown brought to us from heaven by the Holy Spirit, of a Man who is Head of every man, of all principality and power, Head of the church, of Israel, and the nations -- the Head -- the Man at the right hand of God, the place He occupies according to divine counsel, based upon redemption. I feel I need to be impressed with the renown of Christ -- the report of it by the Spirit of

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God; but the truth, the report is there, and the report of Christ should unceasingly engage the attention of His people, and then the colour it would give us here would be brightness. Christ would shine upon us, We want to get away from the obscuring influences of this world, and so show forth the shining of Christ.

The heaven must receive Him, until the moment, the restitution of all things of which God had spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets, since the world began. Many things have been snatched away from God in the history of things. Man was snatched away, the temptation came in, and man was corrupted and became lawless. Then the same thing is repeated over and over again. Whenever a thing became corrupted, God could not go on with it. Israel was snatched away from God; they came under the power of idolatry. Then again, the throne of David was Jehovah's throne, but it became corrupted, and in that sense was snatched away from God. I might speak of the nations also in that way -- they were snatched away. Now, beloved friends, there is restitution to be made -- all is to be restored. Christ has tasted death for everything. Restitution is brought about in Christ on the ground of redemption. The heavens receive Him until the time comes, when these things will be effected. Israel will be renewed again in Christ -- so too the throne of David, and the headship of the nations, all will yet be renewed again in Christ -- all will yet be brought under the moral control of God. The heavens receive Him, until the appointed time, according to the testimony of all the holy prophets. They all testify to the restitution of all things, from the time of Samuel downwards. God had to call out the heavenly company, too, who would be associated with Christ in glory. I ask, have these things occupied your attention? Has what has been transpiring in other parts of the world been occupying your attention, or are you occupied with that of which all the holy prophets testified? -- the restitution of all things. We want to

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fix our eye upon that moment when Christ will be revealed from heaven to bring about the restitution of all things.

Now as to the third point (verse 23). God is God, and Christ is Head of every man, whether men like it or not. As Head of every man, He is the test of every one. The gentile is tested now of Christ just as He was the test of the Jew. People prefer to be lawless, and if they go on as such they will come under judgment. The company I address have answered, I thank God, to the test, and He has become to us "unsearchable riches". He has led us in the way of righteousness, and in the midst of the path of judgment. A wonderful place to be in, and if in it we ought to be looking for the appearing of the glory, when the restitution of all things will take place.

Now in regard of the fourth point -- the literal fulfilment of all nations being blessed is still future. The aged Simeon was called to be identified with Christ, because he had the Prince of life in his arms -- He was a light to lighten the gentiles, and the glory of God's people Israel (Luke 2:32). It is looking on to the restitution of all things. Do you not think our attention should be exclusively taken up with that Man? People plead to have a little look at the newspapers to see how the war is going on, while attention should be fixed on that Man, who when He comes again will bring in the restitution of all things. Christ is brought into view, and He is to take up all things, in heaven and in earth -- all are to be gathered up in Him. We can afford to leave alone the potsherds of the earth, striving with the potsherds. Our whole attention is to be taken up with the One hid in the heavens, until the moment of the restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of His holy prophets.

Now I come to the witness. Now there was faith in the world before Christ came, but if God had not had that Man in reserve there could have been no light vouchsafed to man, and consequently there could have

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been no faith. God had a Man in reserve who could accomplish redemption and impart a new character to everything. Abraham's faith, and David's faith, had in view the Man whom God would bring in, and the world which would be brought in through that Man. All along the line they had the Man in view. Abel could not have had witness borne to his gifts except as connected with Christ -- or Enoch -- or Noah, all faith was by that Man. Peter says here "the faith which is by him" -- a Man who is able to introduce an entirely different character to man. The introduction of that Man opened the door of faith to man along the line, it is the faith which is by Him. Now faith which is by Him gives perfect soundness. What is your soundness? Our soundness is that we are in correspondence to Christ, and that is to put us in soundness here -- it is by the faith of another Man. The faith of another, who presented the name of that glorious Man, "the faith which is by him" gives soundness in the presence of men down here. Now the significance of that is that we have put off the old man, and "put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness", Ephesians 4:24. God acts in that way to introduce a witness (the new man) to the glorious Man in heaven, and the new man is the witness to Him here. How far is it true with us? The measure of our soundness is our appreciation of Christ -- if we appreciate Christ, it is true of us, that we have put off the old man, and put on the new. If so, we can have no crooked things, there can be no lusts, no temper -- these things are put off, and the new man is God's witness, real and effectual, to that Man hid in heaven, till the times of restitution. Now what is it takes up our attention? I should like to labour with all the ability and strength God would give to bring into view of the saints the Man hid in the heavens, and the system and order of things connected with that Man. Stephen saw the glory of God, and Jesus. The glory of God is the shining out

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of the effulgence of God in the accomplishment of all His purposes. How do you answer to the new man?

How far are we adorned by the new man? Outward appearances cover up a deal of defect with people, but we want to be characterised by the new man, which is after God, and characterised by righteousness (which is the maintenance of fidelity in every divinely appointed relationship) and holiness, by which we repel and shrink from that which is contaminating. The soundness of that man is by the faith of the glorious Man in heaven, and is the witness to Him here on earth, in the meantime, while the heavens receive Him until the times of restitution of which God has "spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began".

I beseech you to abstain from all that contaminates -- the new man is created after God in righteousness and true holiness. When He comes out, we shall appear with Him in glory, and in complete conformity to Himself in every way.

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THE INFLUENCE OF CHRIST

Matthew 5:21 - 48; Romans 7:4

We read in Scripture that "there is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy", James 4:12. I want to refer tonight to the character of this Lawgiver. In Matthew 5 the Lord presents Himself as the Lawgiver; we read constantly "I say unto you". I want to make plain the Lawgiver and the character of the Lawgiver. My object will be to show how we can carry out what the Lawgiver enjoins.

The Lord, in the chapter I have read, marks out a line of practice, but the question arises, how is it to be carried out on the part of the disciples, and then on our part? The point of all that the Lord enjoins is the distinct discrimination between good and evil -- the disentanglement of good and evil. God has seen fit to disentangle them. God's dealings had all that in view, the distinction between good and evil. When christianity came in, things became more urgent, and the Lord would enjoin upon His disciples a discernment between good and evil. The proof that we are no longer babes is, that we are able to discern between good and evil. We are set between them here, and if our senses are exercised, to discern the good and the evil, and then to choose the good and refuse the evil. We are in a difficult day. The world has become christianised. We are not surrounded by idolatry, the influence of which is very debasing, the principle of it being denying God, and in that way they got sanction for many evils, and thus the effect was debasing. We have nothing of that kind about us; we are surrounded by a very different state of things. There is a moral light about and around us, and we have been brought up in it. But notwithstanding this, there is a great deal which is not according to God.

Men of genius around us speak of exercising their

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powers to the glory of God. It is all a delusion. God is not glorified in what a man does, but in what the man is himself. God looks for glory in the man himself; not in the way he uses his ability. The point with God is the secret principle of the actings of his being. God wants truth in the inward parts, and righteousness for a breastplate. In the exercise of genius or ability man uses them with the thought of renown for themselves -- they seek glory for man. If we are to be to the glory of God, we must not seek self-importance, in a name, or glory, or reputation. But men do not answer to that standard at all; they use their gift with a view to reputation and self-seeking. Man has got out of the place of the creature, and has become a centre to himself. In contrast to that, there was nothing of that about Christ. He "made himself of no reputation", no self-seeking. Now when we come to the line of practice enjoined here, we must first see the lawgiver and His character. Moses was a lawgiver, but the law itself was what God wrote on the two tables of stone -- but the law that Moses gave was but the expression of himself. Faithful as he was in general, there was failure with him, and for that reason he was not allowed to enter the promised land. In this chapter what we get is that whatever Christ laid down and enjoined He Himself was the expression of it. What He enjoins is the expression of Himself. He was absolutely that which He said unto them. Thus Christ becomes law to us. He is the Lawgiver in the sense that He Himself is the law. Christ will occupy that place in the universe of bliss that the sun gives the solar system: 'Of the vast universe of bliss the centre Thou and Sun'.

Have we taken account of the fact of Christ being the Sun of righteousness, and of the world of which He is the Sun, and what is involved in that? To that world Christ will be the law, He will give impulse to all that is of God in that universe. Every impulse will proceed from Himself. Now one principle in regard of Christ

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Himself; when He was here, in His walk and ways, was, that we get the perfect solution and discernment of good and evil. The question of good and evil has been perfectly solved. He refused the evil, and chose the good in all His ways down here -- that was the detail of Christ's path down here in the world. Christ is the standard therefore. If you study the pathway of the Lord here, you will get an apprehension of the discrimination between good and evil. He "loved righteousness and hated lawlessness". God "hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness". On that ground He will take up the glory of the kingdom. All that principle comes out in detail in this chapter, that is, loving righteousness and hating lawlessness. The Lord rebukes violence and corruption, the fruit of man's lawless will. Then another principle is overcoming evil with good. God is good, and He overcomes evil with good. The world is full of corruption through lust, but the principle which ought to regulate our conduct is to overcome evil with good. The Lord Himself showed the superiority of good. He suffered at the hand of evil, but He was so divinely perfect in good that He overcame evil in the power of good. Now what He enjoins, He was the expression of Himself -- see what comes out at the end of the chapter, verses 44, 45, 48.

Now when Christ was here, His pleasure was to gather to Himself. He was entitled to be a centre of gathering. We are not so, we each stand upon our own responsibility. The Lord never discouraged any one coming to Him. He said, "Come unto me" -- "and ye shall find rest", etc. -- Christ was a divinely constituted point of gathering, and all that were gathered to Him came under His influence. The two disciples who left John to follow Jesus, came to see where He dwelt, and they abode with Him that day -- they came under His influence, and it was as having come under that influence that they were enabled to carry out the practice which the Lord enjoins here, He was Lawgiver to them. He

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enjoined their practice and they carried it out in this way, that they came under the influence of Christ. The company who was gathered to the Lord when here, He attracted to Himself that they might come under His influence. He was a centre of light and power, and they became imitators of Him. They were so acquainted with the good they found in Christ, that they learned to refuse the evil, and cleave to the good. Christ had put them in the place of the children of God, and their practice was to be according to Christ -- according to God.

To be according to God is righteousness. God has made Himself known to us, according to His righteousness and goodness, and therefore we should be characterised in that way, being the "children of your Father which is in heaven". Now turn to Romans 7:4. "Become dead to the law" -- "married to another" -- to "bring forth fruit unto God". In the present time we cannot bring Christ again to earth. I have often thought I would have liked to be associated with Christ when He was here upon earth -- but it is an impossibility, for the heavens have received Him till the restitution of all things. What about the meantime then? We are to be married to another, to Him raised from the dead, that we might bring forth fruit to God. Now the way in which we can carry out what is inculcated in Matthew 5 is by the Spirit of Christ. He is the great life-giving Head, and He gives us His Spirit, that Christ may attach us to Himself, and in the appreciation of Him may bring forth fruit to God. The first effect of Christ being in our vision -- we have found the perfect standard, and learn to discern between good and evil. It is only in the light of Christ that we can trace what He approved and what He refused. The Lord refused and disliked much that was highly esteemed among men, and yet the Lord approved many things which man despised. The Lord approved of the woman who sat at His feet and heard His word. He approved of the woman who cast

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in two mites into the treasury, and the woman who washed His feet with her tears. On the other hand, He disowned the conduct and the springs of the conduct of the scribes and Pharisees. This all tends to prove that in the pathway of the Lord upon earth we get the perfect discernment of good and evil. It is only, however, as we have the Spirit of Christ, that we can appreciate what comes out in the pathway of the Lord Jesus.

Now another thing, Christ was prepared to suffer at the hand of evil. He was meek and lowly in heart; He did not resist evil. He left evil for God to deal with. But another thing, you get the Lord ever ministering good, sight to the blind, having compassion, etc., but at the same time suffering at the hand of evil. If we partake of the Spirit of Christ, we ought to be able to appreciate Christ. If we appreciate Him, we imitate Him; we are married -- attached to another, to Him raised from the dead.

The principle of vitality in christians is Christ, and that is the secret of fruit-bearing down here, but first we must learn to appreciate Christ. When Christ came here, He brought in all the light and goodness of heaven, and thus we have a perfect standard. The Lord met the self-seeking and ignorance of man down here, but He Himself was found in the lowest place, making God and His goodness known down here; He Himself really was the expression of all the good in God.

The only place which the Lord felt more congenial than another, was in the house of publicans and sinners, because they were prepared to listen to the witness of grace and goodness which came from the mouth of Christ. When we learn of Him, we come to answer to Him -- we are content with the lowest place here, and draw back from self-importance, and self-seeking and conceit, and content to suffer loss and overcome evil in the power of good, and thus Christ becomes law to us. The Galatians were anxious to be under law -- well, the

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apostle says, fulfil the law of Christ, and bear one another's burdens.

The great point is to keep close to Christ, and thus you come under His influence. It is personal contact which is influence. Nothing could be more important to practical life, than for us to learn the hard and fast distinctions between good and evil, which have been so defined, since Christ has made a division between good and evil. We are acquainted with good in Christ. God is known to us because Christ has made Him known to us, and we get all the benefit of it. May divine goodness be the stay and comfort to us, and thus may we learn to discern between good and evil. The source of all evil is hell -- it is from beneath, but good is of God. If we overcome evil with good, when Christ reigns we shall reign with Him. What the Lord enjoins is perfect -- moral and practical -- and now we have received His Spirit, and we can thus be enabled to discern between good and evil, and so acquainted with good that we may be able to overcome evil with good.

It is the principle upon which God Himself acts, and it is the course and practice marked out for us.

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THE TWO COVENANTS

Galatians 4:21 - 31; Galatians 5:1; 2 Corinthians 3:6 - 9; 1 John 4:9 - 19

It is a very important point that a great many thoughts which we find in God's dealings of old, are taken up in the church. It shows this much, that no thought of God lapses. Israel were the people of God upon earth and God made known in connection with them a great many thoughts; but so far as they were concerned these thoughts lapsed. "Lo Ammi" had to be written upon them, and so these various thoughts of God lapsed. Take the thought of the flock of God -- that thought lapsed. Take again the thought of Jerusalem -- it was the place where God had placed His name -- the ark of the covenant was there -- the Urim and Thummim were there -- the light and glory of God were there. But so far as Israel were concerned, the light and glory departed.

Ezekiel the prophet saw the glory depart. It lingered, but it departed, and it never returned. In the millennium the glory will return (Ezekiel 43:4, 5). The city was re-built, and the walls, but the glory did not return. Jerusalem became captive, and was trodden down of the gentiles. The Lord wept over it; it was so perverse. Jerusalem is trodden down of the gentiles still. But my point is this, that these thoughts (and I might take up a great many more) have not lapsed. You get the thought of the flock and also of Jerusalem, as both taken up in the church. I do not touch on the flock tonight (I may do so on a future occasion), but the flock is there, and so too is the shepherd. Tonight I shall merely take up the thought of Jerusalem. Jerusalem is taken up as to the moral thought in the church, but these become the means of our education. We are educated by these means; when these things come to pass in Israel, it will not be their education, as

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it is ours. God has taken up the thought of Jerusalem in the church, and the object is to fit us for the great display in the world to come -- the church must be instructed in every way of God.

I want to touch upon the thought of Jerusalem above, and my object is to show you the secret of liberty; that is the moral effect I should like it to produce. People are more or less in bondage, some to one thing, and some to another. Fear brings bondage -- that is one kind of bondage. Then there is bondage to the world, and with that bondage people are not really happy, because they have a conscience about it. The point is this -- we should appreciate liberty and the ground of it. "Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage". The Galatians were getting under bondage to the world, in a religious way; but it really meant bondage to the great world system. There are a great many parts of the great world system. Christendom is part of it, and we may be in bondage to one part of the great world system or the other. There is great happiness connected with liberty. If you want to be truly happy you must be free from bondage. My point tonight is to show the ground of liberty (Galatians 4:20 - 31). Jerusalem above is free which is our mother. We brethren are the children of promise. What I want to touch upon to make the subject clear is the intimate connection between a city and a covenant. The two covenants were represented by two cities. Jerusalem on earth was connected with the first covenant. But Jerusalem above as connected with Sarah. Liberty is always dependent on your parentage. Ishmael was not free -- he was the child of a bondwoman -- freedom depended upon birth. The apostle Paul said, "I was free born", that is he was begotten of a free woman. That applies to us spiritually. Jerusalem above is free, which is our mother. The point I want to make plain is that Jerusalem is our mother. The literal Jerusalem

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was a Canaanitish city, and all along the line was identified with the first covenant, and the result was all her children came into bondage. They are accounted of as being the children of Jerusalem, but they were in bondage. They could not yield to God what was required. They were under a burdensome system, which neither they nor their fathers were able to bear. God had a purpose in view in bringing it in, but all the same, all who came under it were begotten to bondage. The city was identified with the covenant. Now in connection with Jerusalem above, it is identified with the new covenant, and the children of the city take their character from the covenant, and hence it is they are begotten to liberty. Isaac was free, because he was the son of a free woman, just as Ishmael was a bondman, because he was the son of a bondwoman.

It is important to understand this, if you are to be brought into liberty. It was for that reason I read the passage in 2 Corinthians 3:6 - 9. We have in it what corresponds to Sarah. The new covenant is what corresponds to Sarah, and all who are begotten of Sarah are born to liberty. The children of the city take their character from the covenant. The character of the covenant is spoken of in the passage read, as the ministration of righteousness and the Spirit -- Christ Himself is the expression of the new covenant in contrast to the law. Therefore the new covenant is the ministration of righteousness and the Spirit. Christ is the Spirit, and Christ is the righteousness. Christ is our life, by the Spirit, but at the same time, Christ is our righteousness, therefore Christ is the proper expression of the new covenant. The covenant expresses the conditions under which God is pleased to be with man. The first covenant expressed the conditions upon which God was with Israel, and so too did the covenant made with Noah.

The covenant always expresses the conditions under which God was pleased to be with the people. The

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new covenant presents the conditions or terms upon which God is pleased to be with man, and Christ Himself expresses these conditions, and hence Christ is the Head of every man, because in Him you get expression of the terms upon which God is pleased to be with man. Christ accomplished redemption, so that in His death the covenant might be ratified, and Christ Himself is the expression of that covenant.

You may get the two things -- the Spirit and righteousness. If we live in regard of God at all, we live by the Spirit of Christ. "The water that I shall give him", etc., and the water is symbolical of the Spirit. If we do not live by the Spirit of Christ, we do not live in regard of Christ at all. "Nevertheless", the apostle could say, "I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me". Christ lives in us by the Spirit. The new covenant is the ministration of the Spirit. So too in regard of righteousness. Christ is my righteousness. I am wholly clear in the eye of God, because He is my righteousness, from every reproach of the world system in which we were. Christ is just as much our righteousness as He is our life, and that is the ministration of the new covenant. But Christ is the Spirit and the righteousness. No one can apprehend the terms upon which God is pleased to be with man, unless they see Christ. In Him the terms are set forth. I live -- but how do I live? I live by Christ. The terms upon which God is with Christ are the terms, so to speak, upon which He is with me. I am clear of every reproach which was connected with me, when I was in the world system. Here is my righteousness. I am justified in Christ as regards all that I was involved in by reason of the fall and my connection with the world system. We do not understand the new covenant unless we understand Christ as Head of every man. Christ is towards every man, and those who accept Him as Head, to them Christ is the expression of what God's mind is in regard of them. Turn to Romans 5:5 - 8 to illustrate this, "hope maketh

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not ashamed, because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts", "God commendeth His love toward us", "Christ died for us". Now pass on to Romans 8, the last two verses. Nothing can "separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord". Thus Christ is the true expression of what God is towards us. "The love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord". Christ Jesus as Lord is the expression of divine love to man, and nothing can separate us from it.

The new covenant is the ministration of the Spirit and righteousness, and that is Christ; it can be nothing but Christ. The ministry of the new covenant is Christ, and that as the blessed expression of God's mind towards man. The passage in 1 John 4 is full of it (see verses 9, 10). The expression of God's love was giving His Son. Suppose the ministry of the new covenant has become effectual with regard to you, then the love of God so far as you are concerned is realised. You have entered into what God's thoughts are in regard of you. Herein was the love of God manifested, that He sent "his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him". Now being children of the covenant (Galatians 4), and the ministry of the covenant having become effective in us (2 Corinthians 3), Jerusalem above is our mother. The spring and secret of liberty is the knowledge of the love of God. If you want to be in liberty you must have your heart assured in the love of God.

Deliverance and liberty have been greatly discussed, but the liberty is measured by the acquaintance of love. The liberty of children is dependent upon the love of the parents. If children are assured of their parents' love, they are in liberty. If we are acquainted with the love of God as expressed in Christ, the necessary effect is we are free with God, we being assured of the love of God. We can say, "We love him because he first loved us". God has established us in life and righteousness in Christ, and we love Him "because be first loved us".

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We were at the time connected with the great world system; hence we have been delivered from it, by connecting us with Christ as Head, and thus we are set in liberty. Where would man have been had it not been for the love of God? The love of God delivered the world from idolatry, and we should have been steeped in it, but God manifested His love toward the world that we might be delivered from it, and attached to Christ, who is the blessed expression of divine love, and the knowledge of love is the real spring and secret of liberty. It is true in a household. If there is liberty, it is the result of the knowledge of the love of God, and even for that reason that He is the expression of the covenant, the terms upon which God is pleased to be with us. God would have us made perfect in love, to be free from fear, and free from bondage to the great world system. Then it is by love that we can serve one another. We come under the law of Christ. There is no such thing as free will. God had no free will, for He is bound by His own blessed nature -- by His love, and what is not possible to God is not possible to any creature. Liberty is emancipation from fear, to love, and from the world system which is contrary to His holiness, because His love is a holy love. We are to stand fast in the liberty, and Christ makes us to take His yoke, which is the service of love. We are to take our part in the service of love; bear one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. Bondage is that people are hankering after this thing and that thing. If our hearts were established in the love of God, we would not care to cherish anything that was inconsistent with the holy love of God. He guides into the abode of His holiness, that we might be acquainted with the holy love of God.

May we be at liberty with God, according to the love of God which is expressed in Christ. May our hearts be directed into the love of God -- and again, "keep yourselves in the love of God". Christians are hindered

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by the deadly world system, and so do not enjoy the holy love of God, which is the real secret and spring of true liberty, and thus being free to fulfil the law of Christ -- by love to serve one another.

Liberty is a very blessed thought in regard of christians, and therefore it is very important that we should come into the true secret of liberty according to God.

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SALVATION AND LIBERTY

John 9:39 - 44; John 10:1 - 18

I was referring last night to what was an important principle, that is, that God has been pleased to gather up the threads of His past dealings in the companions of Christ which otherwise would have lapsed. In the setting aside of Israel they would have dropped, but God foresaw, and having done so, He saw to it that there should be no loose threads; and that is, that every thread should be gathered up in Christ. Now tonight I purpose to take up the thought of the flock. Now the thought of a flock does not connect itself with heaven, but like that of the vine, with the earth. The thought of the flock is taken up in a peculiar way in christianity. In the Old Testament you get expressions which show that Israel took that ground -- "We are his people, and the sheep of his pasture". The expression is prophetic, and refers to when Jehovah reigns; then they will say, "We are his people, and the sheep of his pasture". Then again we get, "He led them, like a flock". Now the strength of a flock and the sheep of His pasture properly belongs to Israel, and will be taken up in a future day, and then Israel will be a known and recognised people, and God will make it patent that they are His people, and He (Jehovah) their shepherd. It will be a public thing, and made evident in the world. It is not so now. You can neither see the flock nor the Shepherd. We can only know it by the revelation of God -- the Shepherd too is unseen. All that is proper to the flock is at the present time remarkable. I have thus so far shown that the idea of the flock is therefore still existing, and finds its place in the companions of Christ, but is not manifested in a public way, as it will be in the future in connection with Israel. Everything is peculiar and paradoxical at the present time. Things

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are fulfilled now in principle, and in the power of the Spirit. Everything for God is by the Spirit of God -- we have to learn what is here of the Spirit of God. Professing christianity is outside the Spirit of God; it has become a great religious system of the world -- but there is nothing for God here which is outside the Spirit of God. The Lord said of the Comforter's coming, "Whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him", "He ... shall be in you". I shall now say a little about the flock and the shepherd but I want first to tell you the gain we get from it. The question is appropriate, What gain do we get from being the flock of God, and Christ being the Shepherd? Well, it forms part of our education. We are undergoing an education. A man does not become a professor before he himself has gone through a course, and obtained a degree. A professor is a public teacher, and has a chair, but it is the result of having gone through a long course of training, and obtained a degree. Now how is the church going to fill the place which God intends it should in the world to come? We are going through a most important training, in order to give us instruction in every way of God. That is going on, and the effect will be great. We are brought into the knowledge of the Father, and of Christ, and this will qualify us for the part we have to fulfil in glory. God is qualifying us for the peculiar place which will be exercised by the church, the Lamb's wife, in the day to come. The church will not be unintelligent in any way of God, for all the ways of God will be centred in Christ for the blessing of man. Christ is the Mediator of the new covenant. We have come to Jesus -- the "mediator of the new covenant", Hebrews 12:24. That indicates the place which Christ will have in that day -- it is most essential therefore that we should be instructed in every way of God. Now turn again to John 10:1 - 10. We get here two figures under which Christ is spoken of: (1) The shepherd of the sheep (afterwards He speaks of Himself as "the

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good shepherd" and the "one shepherd"); (2) He is a door. Both are figures -- but both quite different -- Shepherd of the sheep -- a door of the sheep. As Shepherd He is the One entitled to be followed by the sheep. He was entitled to gather the sheep, and if need be, to lead them out of the fold. Christ could not have abode in the fold -- it was too narrow and restricted, but He led them out of the fold. A fold is a religious enclosure, which existed in the world, and where the sheep of God were kept, and into which Christ came. He entered in legitimately. We are not unaccustomed to these enclosures. Popery is a large enclosure. A papist would tell you that you could not be saved outside that enclosure. An Irvingite would say, you could not escape the great tribulation, save as you came within the enclosure. There are many enclosures, and the advocates of each have much to bring forward as to the special advantages of its own enclosure. The Jewish fold, however, was divinely constituted, but it was too narrow for Christ. So He led the sheep out. Christ is there, outside the fold. He is outside the camp -- He is outside every enclosure in the world. They are too narrow and restricted entirely for Christ, and Christ is outside of them all, outside of the whole religious organisation in the world. There may be sheep in them, but Christ is outside all. He stands at the door and knocks. Mark that! it is very serious. All christendom acknowledges Christ in some way or another, but the truth in regard of Christ is, that He is outside all -- He is not to be found in anything which has the nature of an enclosure.

Now I come to the next point. If I want to get to Christ, I have to get outside of the world. When Christ was here judaism was the world. I ask, what is the world now? Christendom is the world, christendom is not of the Spirit of God, and if you want to find Christ, He stands at the door, and knocks, and you have to find Him outside all the enclosures in christendom.

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But (2) He is the door of the sheep. The door is a way of entrance, and it is an entirely different idea. It is not entering an enclosure. The Lord does not leave one enclosure to establish another. He did not leave judaism to establish christendom. If you have apprehended Christ as the door, where do you enter? You enter in to God, and that according to the way in which God has been pleased to reveal Himself according to the truth and love in which God has been pleased to make Himself known in Christ. It is made good to us, in the Holy Spirit which is given to us. "By me if any man enter in". The door is open to any one; the passage is essentially evangelistic. If any one does enter in, he will get the love of God which is shed abroad in the heart, by the Holy Spirit given to him. Now I see the result of entering in -- "he shall be saved", and "go in and out and find pasture". There is thus the greatest gain in entering in by the door to the knowledge of God. These blessings were never found in the fold, and if not found there, it is certain you could not find them in any organisation set up since. There is nothing here for God outside the Holy Spirit. The church is in God the Father. No organisation in the world could pretend to have salvation, liberty, and pasture. If I go in to God by Christ, I get salvation. In Christ there is salvation, that is, deliverance from this evil world. You get that in Christ. We have gone in to God to the love of God, and in Christ we get salvation, liberty, and pasture. We do not need a fold. A christian can walk above the world, without an enclosure. I have salvation in Christ. I am not afraid of the wolf; or of the roaring lion, or of the serpent. The wolf might terrify me by death, but I am not afraid. In Christ I have salvation, and there we have life, and have it abundantly. We have life by Christ; we are kept here by attraction to Christ. Every sheep is effectively attached to Christ by the Spirit of God, that is, Christ has given to each sheep living water; they are there

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attached to Him, and they are sustained in fidelity to Christ, and thus can say, 'I am saved, and go in and out and find pasture'. I could not conform to the demands of any system. I am maintained here in the state of salvation, and the secret is I have gone in to God, and I am attached to Christ, and that maintains me here, without the necessity of an enclosure.

It is amazing to me that a person should have known salvation and liberty, and have had pasture, and then go back again into an enclosure. It is appalling that such a thing could take place. What holds me is the Spirit of Christ to Christ, and I should not need an enclosure.

Life depends on two things: (1) that I have gone in to God, and (2) we respond to that love. God has given us a habitation, and that is the love of God, and we want to abide in the habitation appointed us. We can abide there because we have the Spirit of God. We have a well of water, springing up to everlasting life. The subtleties of evil are against the believer, but by attachment to Christ I am saved, and not afraid of anything. With us, all hangs upon knowledge -- there is nothing manifest. All our blessing depends upon knowledge spiritually; by the Spirit of God we have knowledge of divine Persons -- I touch now upon another point. We come to the thought of the good Shepherd, and that is very important as regards our education. The object of the good Shepherd is to prove and make manifest goodness, so that we are enabled to overcome evil. What should mark a christian is goodness -- not hardness, not sourness. Suppose you were marked by goodness -- it proves you are acquainted with goodness, and that you have learnt the goodness in the good Shepherd, and the sure proof of it is that He laid down His life. We know Christ in goodness as the expression of divine goodness. Our goodness is the answer to His goodness made known to us. If God looks at the harm in us, He may need to bring in discipline. The good Shepherd has given proof of goodness in laying

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down His life for the sheep.

Now one point more; there were other sheep to be brought, and He becomes the one shepherd, and we want to become acquainted with Him as such. We must remember there are other sheep; some of these may not be agreeable to me, but if I recognise that there is one flock, and one shepherd, I should do all in my power to maintain the unity. We do not want to produce a jar between the sheep, we do not want to mar the thought of Christ. We are to endeavour to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Now all that I have spoken of is a great education for us. The ability to maintain goodness here is proportionate to my acquaintance with divine goodness. As we appreciate goodness we express goodness. If you appreciate Christ and His mind, the One who was to have but the one flock and is the one Shepherd, both in the power of the Holy Spirit, you will endeavour to keep the unity of that Spirit.

These things are a great education to lead us into the mind of Christ then to be led to the Father who sent Him. We know the Father, as we know Christ. How do we get eternal life? It is eternal life to "know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent". If we are thus educated, we shall have obtained a degree; we shall be qualified to fulfil the function which God intends to be fulfilled by the bride, the Lamb's wife; and all will be the result of the blessed training to which she has been subjected. "Her light was like unto a stone most precious". There will be no gifts in that day -- but all the grace she will exercise will be according to the education by which she was fitted when down here. It will be wonderful in that day to see the church come down from God, out of heaven, all prepared. May we be ready for the training through which He passes us.

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THE BLESSING, LIFE FOR EVERMORE

Psalm 133:1 - 3; John 6:31 - 62

There is a remarkable expression in this psalm, "for there the Lord commanded the blessing, even life for evermore". It is connected with the ointment that was poured on Aaron, and the allusion is to the things of the Spirit which had been ordained by God. Any intelligent christian would say, it was the blessing which God had ordained for the earth, and which is in contrast to the condition of things which now prevails down here. Death has had dominion over man universally, and in contrast to that God has ordained "the blessing, even life for evermore".

Nothing could take God by surprise, because He ever had wisdom, and therefore He can meet every emergency. The blessing was ordained before ever sin had come in. I think we get this thought taken up in the New Testament. In the twelfth chapter of the gospel by John we read, "I know that his commandment is life everlasting". It is that which the Father purposed to establish, and therefore the Lord speaks of it. I will now take up three chapters of this gospel, 5, 6 and 7, because they bring before us the solution of the question of eternal life. One person and another came to the Lord enquiring about eternal life, and in the gospel by John the subject has a very prominent place. We get not only the solution of the question of eternal life, but we are instructed as to the conditions in which it is brought to pass, which are found in the connection in which each divine Person stands in regard of men on earth. It involves the question of what God is. In the Old Testament times they had no idea of the Godhead; what was made known to them was that Jehovah was one God.

There is progress in these chapters of John's gospel.

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In chapter 3 we simply have the thought and purpose of God's love, that the believer might have eternal life; in chapter 4 there is the well of water in the believer springing up into eternal life. Then in chapters 5, 6 and 7 we get the light in which eternal life consists. It consists in the relations in which divine Persons stand in regard of men down here. In chapter 5 we see that the works of Christ were a witness to the Father; they were properly characteristic of the Father for the carrying out of the counsels of His love -- raising the dead and quickening. It is not raising men to judgment, but to life. Even with regard to Israel they will be liberated from the power of death. Ezekiel did not think it possible that the dry bones could live. There is no life spiritually about the Jews now, and what the prophet had to learn was that God could bring them together and cause them to live. It is a picture of that which God will accomplish in regard of Israel as a nation; they will be made to live by the power of God.

The Father raises up the dead and quickens them; but then we get another point; that the Father has given to the Son to have life in Himself; that He might be a point of contact in regard of men, with the result that they who hear the voice of the Son of God are made to live. Then the Father has committed all judgment to the Son in order that all should honour the Son. God in His supremacy has imposed the sentence of death on the man who sinned, but the Father in the counsels of love raises up the dead and quickens them.

Now we come to another point: men cannot live naturally without food, and this I believe is also true with regard to the one who has been raised up. In the millennium things will be entirely different from what they are now. Discontent and confusion now prevail; but there will be a mighty change in the condition of things down here; the Father's works will revolutionise the world. The introduction of Christ into the world as living Head must produce a profound effect on earth.

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Man is not like God. Man, in order to live, needs something which will minister to him unfailing satisfaction; he must have bread, and what will come to pass in the world to come will be unfailing satisfaction to man down here. The Father is not bread, but is known by His works; it is the Son who is bread for man. The Father, the Son, and the Spirit, are one in unity, but quite a different thought is presented with each divine Person; it is a point of great interest. In the world to come, man, instead of being restless and dissatisfied, will have his heart satisfied with the goodness of God, and thus as we get in the next chapter, the feast of tabernacles will come to pass.

You remember that chapter 5 is introduced by a sign: the sign gives us a clue to the chapter. The man at the pool was quickened; at the word of the Lord, he took up his bed and walked. It was a figure and sign of the activity of the Father, and hence when the Lord was challenged about healing the man on the sabbath day, He replies, "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work". It is very wonderful that, in a world of sin and death, the Father should be working; and yet christians are really a proof of it. We are not exactly quickened as to our bodies, yet in a sense we are quickened, it is in regard of our affections that we are quickened; it is the fruit of the Father's work, and if we live a little longer the Father will quicken our mortal bodies by His Spirit which dwells in us.

The sign in chapter 6 is the feeding of the multitude -- a multitude without adequate provision for them: what was there was wholly out of proportion to their need, but at the hand of the Lord they are not only fed, but there is an abundant surplus. It is sometimes spoken of in regard of Psalm 132. "I will abundantly bless her provision: I will satisfy her poor with bread". Jehovah was there, and He abundantly blessed their provision, and satisfied her five thousand poor with bread. Now the instruction we receive from this miracle is

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brought out in the remainder of the chapter. It is not that Christ ministers the bread, but He is the bread. Bread is symbolical of goodness, goodness which is capable of satisfying the heart of man, so that he may be content. The scripture speaks of bread as satisfying the heart of man, and the object is that he might be maintained spiritually in the enjoyment of the goodness that has come down to him from heaven.

In this chapter we get Christ spoken of in three positions: first, Incarnate, living bread; second, Giving His flesh for the life of the world; third, He ascends up where He was before.

These three positions are alluded to in the earlier part of the chapter. "Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world. When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone". It refers to what comes out in verse 62. You shall see the Son of man ascend up where He was before. The light in which we know Him at the present moment is as priest. We have to regard Christ as incarnate, then as giving His flesh for the life of the world, and then as priest gone up on high, so that the thought of His being bread, connects Him with every position of grace.

The incarnate Christ is the bread of God; He says, "The bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world". The chapter presents Christ in regard to the world. My conviction is that what will really change the whole course of things down here will be the coming in of the bread of heaven. The pride, the arrogance, the lust, and the selfishness which characterise man did not come from above but from below; but now we get the bread of God as He which came down from heaven and will wholly change the character of things here. You will not get in that day pride, and arrogance, and lust, and all that kind of

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thing, but a most wonderful change will be wrought on earth, and every man's heart will be satisfied and content with the goodness of heaven.

If we want to take account of the world as presented to us in Scripture, we must carry our thoughts back to the time when Christ was in it. Every lust of man's heart -- drunkenness, fornication, and so on, was really deified, Satan had most unlimited power, philosophers were no exception to the rest of mankind. You get a remarkable picture of it in the first two chapters of the epistle to the Romans; they give a most deplorable and vivid picture of the progress of evil in the world. The Jew was no better than the gentile, there was no goodness on earth. People make a great mistake to view the world as it is now; it has been largely influenced by christianity. The Son of God became Man, He came into this world, and brought into it the goodness of heaven. He loved righteousness and hated lawlessness. You must not separate goodness from moral righteousness. Christ when here on earth was instinct with goodness, He was here for the satisfaction of the heart of man, and here and there He was appreciated in that way on earth. The woman came to Him when in the house of Simon the Pharisee, and He was the satisfaction of her heart; mercy abounded towards her, and her heart was contented. Mary of Bethany sat at the feet of Jesus and heard His word. What immediately preceded this was the parable of the good Samaritan; he did not consider himself, but bound up the wounds of the man who was in distress and set him on his own beast. It is to show how Christ was instinct with goodness; every act was the expression of goodness. The next thing is that Mary sits at His feet and is satisfied with the goodness of heaven.

Take another case: the thief on the cross. He was sustained by the sense of goodness, which was available to him in his direst extremity. This gives us an idea of what came down to earth in the incarnate Son of God:

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He was instinct with goodness, and goodness abounding in the form of mercy. You get, in these instances, the heart of man satisfied with the goodness of heaven. I have no doubt the woman in Luke 7 would say, I have been brought into contact with goodness, and I have nothing to desire. That is what will happen in the world to come. He will command the blessing and abound in mercy. We look for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, unto eternal life. When Christ comes publicly into the world He will give life to the world. The sun of righteousness will arise with healing in His wings, and men will be satisfied with the goodness of heaven, and then every man will be prepared to show mercy to his neighbour.

Christ gave His flesh for the life of the world. Death is in the world, and Christ gave Himself that He might bring to an end the man who brought death in; He gave His flesh for the life of the world, and the result will be that the world will live. That will not be a time of self-assertion on the part of man. Christ will come forth as Priest, and as such He comes to bless. He is Priest after the order of Melchisedec, and He will come forth in blessing in the world to come. The divine thought is that man might be satisfied with the goodness of heaven abounding with divine mercy -- with the living bread that came down from heaven.

When Christ comes again and brings healing into the world it will change the whole state of things down here, but now the living bread has been brought within the reach of our appropriation, and the power is given us to appropriate. We eat the living bread and live by it. We sit at the feet of Jesus and hear His word, that we might have our heart familiar with goodness, the goodness which has visited the world in the incarnate Son of God. It would be a very good corrective if we were appreciating the goodness of the living bread. It would have a great effect on each of us in relation to one another. It would make a great alteration if the

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hearts of saints were contented and satisfied with that which has been expressed in the living bread come down from heaven. It is blessed to contemplate the goodness of Christ. The Lord was moved with compassion for the widow of Nain. Also for the thief on the cross.

If any one were to say to me, Are you doing better than other people? I would reply, No! I am worse than other people, but I have the power of appropriating the goodness of God toward man. In the Old Testament death was upon man, but he did not accept it; but now Christ has died, and I can accept death. It is not merely that Christ has ended the life of man after the flesh, but also that in His death the love of God is revealed, so that His death becomes the food of my soul, and the practical result is that I have eternal life. We can live in the love which has been expressed in that death; the death of Christ has altered everything, He has made known the love of God, and now I can accept death.

Christ as Priest is instinct with goodness, and the object of His priesthood is to attach our hearts to Himself. Peter did not fall away though he was about to do so, and the Lord says, "I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not". His object was to make Himself indispensable to Peter. He foresaw what would happen, and it must have had a profound effect upon Peter; he must have felt greatly indebted to the Lord, and that He was indispensable to him.

The appropriation of Christ as food for our souls is of the greatest importance. He is the Head of every man, and He gives living water and is available to every man; if men avail themselves of Him, they come to know His goodness and appropriate His death, which opens the way to the love of God, and in this we live.

Then as Priest He sympathises with our infirmities, and is indispensable to us. It is a great thing to know that we are represented by our Priest; He is available for every man, but He does not represent every man.

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It is the believer who can appropriate the death of Christ, because he can live in the love of God. He is on high representing His people, and He is indispensable to us down here. We should have sunk in the depths of depression if it had not been brought home to us that there is One above who intercedes for us, and who sympathises with us. The One who represents us loves us, and nothing can separate us from His love.

I desire that every one may appropriate Christ in this way. We ought to be satisfied as with marrow and fatness. Divine goodness has become incarnate, that men might be satisfied with the goodness of heaven. That is what will give character to the world to come, because the Sun of righteousness will give another impulse to the life of the world in that day.

We can now appropriate the death of Christ and live in the love of God. We can also appropriate His life, He has gone up where He was before. Christ having gone down into death, we can accept death and live in the love of God, which grace has made known to us.

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RIVERS OF LIVING WATER

John 7:37 - 53

I desire to point out that chapters 5, 6 and 7 of this gospel go together. You often find chapters connected in this way in Scripture, and especially in John's gospel. We have in chapter 7 the climax of what comes out in chapters 5 and 6. The point in chapter 5 is the revelation of the Father -- the Father made known in the works of the Son. The Father had always been working since sin came into the world, but there was no interpreter; so Christ came into the world to that end, and the works that He did were the revelation of the Father. The Father's works are the fruit of the counsels of love. Each divine Person is presented distinctively, and the Father is made known to us in that way. These works go on now, and I have no doubt will, in a way, be completed in the world to come. It is going on in a moral way at the present time -- the raising up and quickening of men. We know the Father as connected with the counsels of love, and as giving effect to these counsels of love in regard to man.

In chapter 6 we have Christ presented as living bread come down from heaven; the great thought in this is, that man might be fed with the goodness of heaven. In the figure at the beginning of the chapter Christ feeds the multitude, but the point of the chapter is that He is the living bread, He came down from heaven to make men acquainted with the goodness of heaven. Nothing but goodness was found in Christ, and if men had appropriated Christ they would have been satisfied with the goodness of heaven. People are not hungering and thirsting after righteousness, or else they would be satisfied; men may be gratified with the things of this world, but they are not satisfied. It is all made available to men in the fact of the Son of God becoming Man.

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He is the mercy-seat and the Mediator, and in that way He has put Himself in relation to men, and He gives living water to every one who receives Him, as we get in chapter 4. And for what is the living water given, but that man may appreciate the goodness of God? We are married to another, even to Him who is raised from the dead, that we might appreciate the goodness of God and bring forth fruit unto Him. You may depend upon it, that until man's heart is satisfied there is not much likelihood of his bringing forth fruit unto God.

It is in the knowledge of the Father and of Jesus Christ His sent One, as presented in this gospel, that eternal life consists, and what is extremely interesting is that in chapters 5 and 6 the Father and the Son are presented in relation to men on earth. The life of the world is wholly dependent on the position Christ has taken as Man. In redemption He has given His flesh for the life of the world, and we ought to appreciate the goodness which is expressed in the Father's works and in the position Christ has taken in regard of men.

Now we come to a further point: "In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water". You see we have to do with the things that are living; living bread is instinct with life. I think we get the experience of life in having to do with the things of life. All the things of this world are the things of death, and they cannot give the sense of life. We have to do with the living Father, and with Christ as living bread by the Spirit of the living God. If I have to say to the living Father and to Him who is the living bread, I have that which will never pass away. It is the fact of having to do with that which is living which brings one into the consciousness of life. The outward man may perish, but the inward man is renewed day by day. If we were continually occupied with that which is living and

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eternal we should be dying daily, like the apostle Paul.

I cannot conceive of any greater privilege than that our souls should be brought into contact with that which is living; into the appreciation of the Father in His love, and of the Son in His grace as having set Himself in relation to men down here. It is as we are brought into contact with that which is living that we get the sense of life; the water that Christ gives springs up to everlasting life, leading our souls into the appreciation of the Father in His love, and the Son in grace accomplishing redemption. He has given His flesh for the life of the world, and has taken up the position of last Adam in regard of men down here; as such He gives living water, so that we may appreciate the Father and the Son. He completes His work as last Adam in raising us up at the last day. Christ is the Head of every man, and invites all to come to Him, but man is dying by means of the influence of the world, so that he cannot come except the Father draw him. But the Son says, "Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day". You will forgive me for going over that ground again.

We now come to the last day of the feast in chapter 7 where we get the Spirit, so that our instruction is complete.

There is an allusion to what will be brought to pass in the power of the Spirit in the world to come. The living water refers, I have no doubt, to the world to come. Jerusalem will be a source of living waters that will flow out in every direction, that is, that all wholesome and beneficial influences will be centred in Jerusalem. There are plenty of poisonous streams in the world at the present time, all flowing westward, and threatening to deluge christendom; theosophy, spiritualism,

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and such like; but when God sees fit to display the world to come, Jerusalem will be the source of wholesome and healthful influences. We get it brought out in the prophets: Jerusalem will be the joy of the whole earth, and the source and spring of all delightful and wholesome influences. The father of a family ought to be the source of all good influences in his household; he should not be always discontented and complaining, but the source of wholesome and cheering influence affecting the whole family, so that the children should be held in check by the influence that pervades the household. I think this is what every believer ought to be.

The feast of tabernacles is set aside for the time being. It will be a great day for the world when heaven and earth will be brought into communion. The feast of the passover and the feast of weeks have both been fulfilled, but the feast of tabernacles will take place when heaven and earth are brought into contact with Christ the living Head. "In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink". His brethren wanted Him to go up to the feast, because they did not believe on Him; they said, "If thou do these things, shew thyself to the world"; but the Lord replied, "My time is not yet come; but your time is always ready ... I go not up yet unto this feast; for my time is not yet full come". Afterwards He goes up secretly to teach, carrying out His testimony in unwearied patience, and He says, "If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink". The same thing is brought out in the last chapter of Revelation, "Let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely". Christ is available for the thirst of every man. Then follows, "He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water". And the apostle by the Spirit, explains, "But this he said concerning the Spirit, which they that believed on him were about to receive; for the Spirit

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was not yet, because Jesus had not yet been glorified". This refers to the day in which we live; we have come to the time when Jesus has been glorified.

I desire to press the extreme importance of apprehending Christ as Head, the source of living water. On the day of Pentecost they who had believed in Christ received the Spirit. We read in Colossians, "Seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God". Every hope of the christian is centred in heaven. We look for the Lord Jesus Christ from heaven as Saviour; hence it is right that the heart of the christian should be set upon heaven. But remember, on the other hand, that the Spirit of God is here upon earth to make available to men all the goodness that is in heaven. That is a point of the very last moment. If there is one thing more than another that has been overlooked in christendom, it is the presence of the Spirit of God. We used to pray for the influence of the Spirit, but were very dull indeed as to the reality of the Spirit of God being down here on earth. And if the Spirit is here the house of God is here. The Lord prepared the material for the house of God when He was here upon earth, as David did, then on the day of Pentecost they received the Spirit.

The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Spirit, we have not to go to heaven for that. In Colossians we get a wonderful expression, "Christ in you the hope of glory". Then the goodness of heaven is really brought down to the house of God by the Spirit. If the love of God is shed abroad in your hearts you have the goodness of heaven, for you have by the Spirit the love and the holiness of God.

There are two things found in connection with the christian: he is running a race from earth to heaven with his eye on the goal, but at the same time the Spirit of God is dwelling down here in the house of God, in order to instruct our hearts and to make known to us all the goodness of God. There is nothing more important to

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hold to than that God dwells here by His Spirit, because it becomes the ground of our practice. We are to walk in lowliness and meekness, endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. If that is really fulfilled in us, then out of our bellies will flow rivers of living water. Our hearts need to be under the influence of the love of God. There is another thing connected with the love of God, and that is mercy. It is a great thing for the heart of the believer to be subdued by the sense of mercy, and to have his heart pervaded by the love of God; and this is the result of the Spirit of God being here. But there is more: we are "married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God". We get grace in the relation in which Christ is pleased to be with His people. The husband seeks to conform his wife to himself, and that is the way in which things work in christianity -- we come under the influence of Christ in order that we may partake in that which is expressed in Christ, that we might be conformed to Him. Love, joy and peace are heavenly graces, heaven is a scene of holy love, and joy, and peace. These graces did not come from a scene of confusion such as this, but from where love, joy, and holiness prevail, and these beautiful graces of heaven are to come out as fruit in the believer. I refer to these things to show that the love of God and the grace of Christ are by the Spirit made available to us in the house of God down here.

Our hearts ought to be filled with joy in the knowledge of the goodness of God, for we are brought into contact with all that which savours of life, the effect is that we might be filled with joy. I do not see much of it amongst christians. There is joy in heaven in all the activities of God's work down here, and if we are made acquainted with all the goodness of God we ought to be marked by love, and joy, and peace. If you want living water to flow out you must participate in heavenly joy.

The Spirit is the source of all healthy influences

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affecting all we come in contact with down here. I do not think that living water is connected with gift; it is for every christian, and it gives an extraordinary status to the believer. Think what the world would have been without believers. It would have been sunk in the darkness of heathenism. The Spirit is the source of all refreshment, yet the living waters really flow from the belly of the believer. The christian down here upon earth is the channel by the Spirit of all that is morally wholesome for man. What can science do? I do not think that science is any good to man morally. A scientific man may be a very bad man. So with philosophers. My great sorrow is when I see people turning from christianity; they want to pursue after some worldly advantage, some mess of pottage, instead of wholesome, sound, and beneficent influences. These flow from the believer by the Spirit, and that is the reason we are left here upon earth, not to corrupt one another. You will not get those rivers flowing out from the believer unless the flesh is judged, and his soul is in all the goodness of God which the Spirit has brought down to us here in this world. It is a very great point for the soul to be acquainted with goodness, and there is no way in which you can get any real idea of goodness except as you see it in Christ, the living bread come down from heaven -- it is seen in righteousness, holiness, fidelity, love, grace, and mercy. You must learn it in the living bread come down from heaven, and if you appreciate the goodness of God, out of your belly will flow rivers of living water.

May God grant that we might be each more familiar with the goodness of God.

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THE BEGINNING OF THE CREATION OF GOD

James 1:17 - 27

I want to bring before you the position in which christians are placed with regard to God, and what is suitable to that position. You need to understand your position. The object in preaching the gospel is to bring man to the understanding of his position with regard to God. It is important that the position should be apprehended. All that God creates stands in relation to every other part, for God is not the author of confusion. You have only to look up to the heavens to see this. All the heavenly bodies form part of one great system, and if that is so in regard of the physical creation, it is the same in regard of the moral creation. David saw all that in Psalm 19 but when he looked at things on earth everything was in confusion. The great point is that we should recognise our position outside of the confusion.

God has wrought to bring about a new order according to His mind, and He is using the material down here to evolve a system according to His mind. Christ is the beginning of the creation of God: that is how the Lord presents Himself to the church in Laodicea. He is the faithful and true witness, and all takes its character from the One who is the beginning. It is not new creation, but a system that is existing now. It is in that we see the complete triumph of God over evil, and God intends to evolve out of the confusion a system according to His mind; Christ is the beginning of that creation.

The rest of God has been interfered with by the coming in of sin, but God will surely find His rest. All creation -- I refer, of course, to all intelligent creation -- will take its character from Christ. There are people who might be described as children of the devil; I

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would not put that down as absolute, because there are some beauties of divine origin left in man, such as natural affection. The Lord could look upon the young man in Mark 10:21 and love him, though the moral springs within him were all wrong. I do not think that young man was converted.

"Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first-fruits of his creatures". God has begun anew in the One who is the beginning of the creation of God, and of His own will He has begotten us by the word of truth. I think the word is as seed sown. God has been pleased to sow the seed. You get several expressions kindred to this in Scripture. You get Christ is the truth, the Spirit is truth, and there is the word of truth. What is truth? I do not pretend to give you a definition of truth; you will have to go to a dictionary for that, and I am not a dictionary. What helps us with regard to the truth in that it exhibits everything in its true character and proportion. Christ is the truth, that was the case when He was here upon earth; all was tested by Him, and the practical result is that we learn everything in its true character and proportion. If that is so, and it really is, then christians are a very remarkable people in the world. I would rather be a lowly christian than a man of great research or scientific knowledge, because I have been begotten by the word of truth; and therefore I am able to form a true judgment of things in their character and proportion before God.

There are three points touched upon here. First, "the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God". Second, "lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls". And third "whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty and continueth therein".

When we come to the creation of God, and see things in their true character, we are slow to speak and swift to hear. My thoughts are entirely reversed; all my

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lifetime I have been entirely at fault, all my judgment of things is entirely overturned. In regard of the Lord Himself, all was divinely perfect. He said, "As I hear, I judge". "He openeth mine ear morning by morning". He was slow to speak. You can see how suitable it is to be swift to hear and slow to speak. The wrath of man is the expression of man's will, and proves that man's will is in activity. Now man's will is lawlessness, and is diametrically opposed to righteousness, and hence can never work the righteousness of God. We have to move in the orbit of God's will, and on the other hand we have to receive with meekness the engrafted word which is able to save our souls. It is deliverance from what I call snares. The implanted word discloses these snares; then it is the snare is broken and we escape. A snare must have a bait, and every bait tends in the way of self-gratification. We are not left here to please ourselves -- even Christ pleased not Himself. It is a great thing to receive with meekness the implanted word. Christians may say there is nothing wrong in going here and there -- there is no harm in it; but that is doing your own will, and the secret of true happiness is doing the will of God. Paul said, "I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day". Committed what? His happiness! Until when? When all would be manifested in the world to come; he gave up all his happiness here on earth, in order that be might receive it at that day from the Lord Himself.

"Whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty and continueth therein". We are all tested by continuance. In a race all start well, but the test is endurance. If you continue in it you will be a doer of the word. What do you think the perfect law of liberty is? I think it is the love of God. The law of the ten commandments was not liberty, but the secret of it was the love of God.

It sprang from the perfect law of liberty. When God commanded men to love one another, it was really love

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that underlay it. What is the law of liberty in a family? It is the consciousness of the affection of the parents. So in regard of christians -- the consciousness of the love of God. There is no such thing in the world as free-will. It is all rubbish. Man is under rule in various ways -- under the rule of his fellow, the rule of public opinion, and so on. But we are under the rule of the love of God. I love to see a bird at liberty, then it can sing; God has appointed rules for it also. My point is that we should get a right apprehension of God. What wonderful creatures christians are, they apprehend everything according to the mind of God. Then we are slow to speak, swift to hear, and are delivered out of every snare of the fowler; we look into the perfect law of liberty and continue therein. Christianity does not consist in holding doctrines, it is extremely vital. We have to look to it that the fruit of vitality is seen in us, and that we walk in the enjoyment of the perfect law of liberty and continue therein. It is a great thing to get a proper apprehension of the love of God.

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THE CHRIST, THE SON OF THE LIVING GOD

Matthew 16:13 - 28

I desire to say a little on the way in which Christ is presented to us in this passage. We get the thought of the Son of man, and it is in that way the Lord speaks of Himself all through this chapter; but we also find, by the Spirit of grace accorded to Peter, that he confesses Christ as the Son of the living God, and then the Lord forbids them to say any longer that He was Jesus the Christ.

Now, I want to say a little on what is connected with the Son of man, and then on the privilege of christians -- because it is a privilege -- of knowing Christ as the Son of the living God, given to Peter by revelation of the Father. It is not a question of the mere name, but of the significance of the name. Any one can repeat the name, but the important point is to know the significance of that name. What does it convey to you? I can only speak of it according to the apprehension I have myself; one cannot do more.

The Lord continually speaks of Himself as Son of man, and in each place the responsibility of man is connected with it; but as Son of the living God it is a secret, and was so important that the Lord says, "Flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven". It was of the highest importance that this should be known in regard of Jesus. I think the title of Son of man is that with which the responsibility of man is bound up. It goes right on to the coming of the Lord and to the kingdom, when the Son of man shall come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He shall reward every man according to his works. The Lord raises the question, "Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?" Every one had his own thought with regard to the Son of man. He was

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the veritable seed of the woman, but all had their own ideas in regard of Him. Some thought one thing, and some another. It is much the same in the present day. Men do not reject Christ out and out, but they are answerable for their own opinion, because responsibility with regard to man is bound up with the Son of man. Peter could not understand how that which was most respectable could have part in the death of the Son of man. I think the same sort of thing holds good today, because the rejection of Christ is mostly by the religious leaders of the world rather than by the common rank and file. Peter could not bear the thought of Christ being rejected by the religious leaders, and says, "Be it far from thee, Lord; this shall not be unto thee". He gets a sharp rebuke from the Lord: "Get thee behind me, Satan; thou art an offence unto me; for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men". Christ was looking at things from the point of divine necessity, but Peter was looking at them with regard to men.

Then the Lord further speaks of what the pathway would be to those who follow Him. We have to share the rejection of the Son of man. His rights are in abeyance now, and therefore for the moment we have to suffer with Him. The present moment is the moment of suffering. Looked at down here, we only know Him as the One who has suffered. He has been lifted up on the cross, He has no place here, and hence it is a time of suffering; but at the end of the chapter He comes again in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will render to every man according to his works. It is in that way that man's responsibility is connected with the Son of man. I have no doubt the foundations of all God's purposes have been laid, but then He comes again in connection with the responsibility of man. When He comes He will render to every man according to his works. We have the same thing in John's gospel -- all judgment is committed to the Son, because He is the

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Son of man, if you are really governed by this, you will take up your cross and follow Christ. That is the true path of faith, but the test of people is continuance.

The apostle John says to the young man in his epistle, "ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one"; but then he goes on to say, "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof; but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever". So when the Son of man comes in the glory of the Father with His angels, He renders to every man according to his works; that is, He will bring responsibility to an end in judgment.

I now pass on to the other light in which the Lord is presented in this passage. "He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona; for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven".

I just refer to three points we get in connection with this confession of Peter. The confession was the result of the revelation; but, there are three things the Lord speaks of afterwards: (1) He pronounces a blessing upon Peter, and tells him the source and spring of His confession; (2) He would give him the keys of the kingdom of heaven; (3) He forbids them to say any longer that He was the Christ. Here we have Jesus presented to us, not in connection with the responsibility of man, but in the light of divine counsels. Peter really knew very little of what he spoke about. Flesh and blood had not revealed it unto him, but the Lord laid great stress upon the confession. It is a great thing to be in the secret of what Christ is as the Son of the living

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God. There is very much in that. It is no longer Jesus the Christ, that is after the flesh. He is the anointed Man, and hence Head of every man. Christ the anointed Man has come in, and He has taken up all the liabilities to which men were subject, and on that ground becomes Head of every man; but Christ was also to be known in another light. You first get the thought of Christ as Head of every man, the last Adam, and then He is the Son of the living God. It was a wonderful thing that there was a Man down here who was the Son of the living God. The Jews could take in the Son of Abraham, or Son of David, but not the Son of the living God. He was a Man, the anointed Man, but yet He was of God, really was God, He was a divine Person incarnate, and therefore His source was of the living God.

Now there is the beginning of the creation of God, that is, all has its source in God Himself. That is what I understand by being in the secret of God. You get to the ark of the covenant. No one had access to the holiest but the high priest, and that only on the great day of atonement; but now the true ark of the covenant has come into view, that is Christ, the Son of the living God. Everything has its source in the living God -- the church of the living God, the word of the living God, and so on. If you speak of the living God, all must be characterised by life, Christ is the beginning of that; but now we have the Spirit of the living God, by which the writing of Christ is made effectual in saints; writing not on tables of stone, inanimate, but by the Spirit of the living God, on fleshy tables of the heart. Everything that is living is of the living God, and is in holy, blessed affections. That is what the Lord made known in John 5 that man may be quickened in the seat and spring of his affections.

It is in that way Peter confesses Christ. The church is built upon that confession; it could not be built upon any other. Christ has built His assembly; and therefore

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it is all stable. There is that in the apprehension of Christ as the Son of the living God that forms the assembly; those who compose it are brought into contact with His Father, and they serve the living God. Christianity has come to be regarded as a religion of the world. The Lord does not present it in that light, but as of the living God. You cannot connect the living God with a dead world. There is nothing here upon earth for God but Christ's assembly, there is a very great deal connected with man's responsibility, but there is nothing of Christ but His assembly.

It is a very great thing for us to be in the secret of God, and to apprehend Christ in the counsels of divine goodness. If you look at things from the divine standpoint, there is nothing but the spiritual house, the holy priesthood, and that is His assembly, it has His mind. We get a little taste of it when we come together.

The Lord was very considerate with His disciples when here upon earth. He was so ready to impart everything to them, but He found them so very dull, they never really understood what He said to them until the Spirit came. That is not the case now; we understand that which Christ has been pleased to declare to us, and in the midst of the church He can sing praises to God. What a wonderful thing to have the mind of Christ! I can conceive of no greater privilege than coming into contact with Him personally. It is not by Scripture, but by the soul coming in personal contact with Christ.

The Lord says to Peter, "I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven", and then forbids any one to speak of Him as Jesus the Christ; that is, He has cut off all connection with the world as after the flesh. If we know Him as Christ the Son of the living God, we know Him as He is now above. His church was built, I have no doubt, on the day of Pentecost.

Now all this is true at the present time. The title Son of man is bound up with the responsibility of man;

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but in the meantime, by the revelation of the Father in the power of the Spirit, we are in the light of that which Christ is in connection with the purpose of the Father's will -- the Christ, the Son of the living God.

May God give us to know a little better what it is to be of His assembly, and to covet the intelligence of Christ. After all, whatever men may take up in regard of things down here, the gates of hell can never prevail against Christ's assembly. What I understand by the gates of hell is the powers of evil. The harlot will ride the beast, but the gates of hell will never prevail against the assembly of Christ.

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CHRIST THE POWER OF GOD, AND THE WISDOM OF GOD

Luke 18:15 - 30

Man's wisdom is limited to this life, but we have to consider the fact that there is something beyond this life. If there was something before it, there must be something after it, there must be something beyond it in regard of man. If a man has been a great author, or if he has accumulated great wealth, he leaves it all behind him, and the wisdom which he has got would be unsuitable to another world. If such a man passes into a scene where there is no money making, his wisdom is of no avail there. Wisdom should be serviceable to man, not only with regard to this life, but also to that which is beyond it.

The thief had wisdom with regard to that which is beyond; he said, "Lord, remember me when thou comest in thy kingdom". He had wisdom which availed him not only at that moment, but also to the life beyond. I will tell you what wisdom really is, it is the apprehension of Christ. He has been content (pleased) to become wisdom for man, not only for this life, but for that which is beyond, that is, for eternity. That is the place in which God has been pleased to place Christ in regard of man. You have an illustration of it in chapter 7 of this gospel. Christ was as near Simon as He was to the woman, but she only of the two apprehended Christ as wisdom both for the present and the future, and I am sure she never went back to the habits of her former life. Simon, on the other hand, never apprehended Christ as wisdom. I do not seek to help people in regard of this world, but my desire is that they may have wisdom not only for this world, but also for the life beyond.

Christ is the wisdom of God, and what I understand

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by the expression is that Christ is the resource of God and is able to carry out all God's purposes; He has become Man, and hence is wisdom to man. We read that wisdom crieth in the streets where men do congregate. Every form of folly is to lead men from the path of rectitude; but wisdom is capable of directing us into the right road, so that we may be found in the way of righteousness, in the midst of the paths of judgment, that is, the path of God's will.

Everything depends on the apprehension of the position God has set Christ in with regard to men. You cannot alter the position, the mediator between God and men is Christ Jesus. The point is to apprehend Him in that position, which is, that He gave Himself a ransom for all. There are plenty of people who do not deny it, but I should like to ask them, Have you ever come in contact with the Mediator? He has something to give. Have you received anything from Him? Then the next point is that you turn to the Mediator; the responsibility of man lies there, in order that he may receive something from Him. The Mediator is a giver. Christ gives the water of life, and man takes the water of life. The great point is that there is a Mediator who is available to men, that is, to every man. The wisdom of every man would be to turn to the Mediator and receive the living water. "Let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely". This is the last appeal we get in the Bible, and it comes from heaven. There are some who do not know what living water is. It is that which satisfies the thirst of man and enables him to live. If a man is dying of thirst, water becomes life to him.

I have spoken of Christ as wisdom, I want to make that plain. The apostle John speaks of Him as the Word. The Word was wisdom incarnate. He was wisdom in this way, that He was the perfect answer to every question that was presented to Him. Men questioned Him, but the answer given was never

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satisfactory to men, for it exposed them. Christ Himself was the answer. Men came temptingly, and wanted an answer to suit their question; but, as has been often said, He answered the questioner and not the question. The Pharisees with the Herodians came to the Lord to tempt Him, and asked whether it was lawful to give tribute to Caesar or not. But suppose they had apprehended that Christ was God they never would have said a word more, but would have confessed they were not rendering to God the things that are His.

I take another case. The Sadducees came tempting Him in regard of the resurrection, and the Lord gave them an answer that exposed them; but He Himself was the answer to the question. If they had apprehended Him as the resurrection and the life they never would have questioned Him at all. Then other people came asking Him, which was the great commandment of the law. Well, Christ was the law (He expressed it), and He gave them an answer which confounded them. So also in regard of the young man who came to the Lord and questioned Him as to eternal life; he wanted an answer according to his mind; he was fond of the world, had great riches, and came in a way tempting the Lord; but if he had apprehended that the Lord was eternal life he never would have asked the question; he wanted eternal life without Christ, like many in our day, but Christ was Himself the answer to his question.

Christ is the answer to every right and proper question which can possibly arise in the heart of man. You may have every kind of difficulty, but Christ is the solution of them all. If it be as to anything beyond this life, or with regard to going through this world, you will find the answer to it in Christ. You may not see it all in a moment, but you will find Him the answer to every difficulty, every right question which may arise in your mind.

Now with regard to the passage we have read, "A certain ruler asked him, saying, Good Master, what shall

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I do to inherit eternal life? And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good; none is good, save one, that is God". To begin with, he had no true thought of Christ; he called Him good teacher, or good master; he had no true apprehension of who Christ was, and I think that is why people fail in the present day. It is not a question of what Christ teaches, but of what He is; He was the answer to the ruler's question. He does not tell you anything about mediation, but He is the Mediator; He is the Son, the Man appointed by God, in whose name there is forgiveness of sins; to Him men may turn and become attached to Him. That is really what the Lord propounded to the ruler. The point for the ruler was that he should become attached to Christ. I think the earth would be useless unless it were attached to the sun. The gold of the earth would be of no value without the sun, and so man is useless if he is not attached to Christ, and the simple reason is that he is out of gear, and not attached to the Sun of righteousness. The Lord answered the ruler's question, but it was only to bring conviction home to him. He says, in effect, 'If thou wilt be perfect, sell all that thou hast'. To be perfect was to apprehend the situation, and the solution was to apprehend the presence of Christ and follow Him. You could not say that any one was perfect who did not follow Christ. But in order to follow Christ the ruler had to leave the world. Many are spoken of in the gospels who tried to follow Christ and still maintain a connection with the world; but it was futile. In a kind of way the world was lost, even Christ's own brethren rejected Him. The ruler's riches were his link with the world, and in order to follow Christ he had to break that link. That is what it is to be perfect, and that involved that Christ was wisdom; in coming to Christ he really owned that he had no wisdom of his own. The point was to come to Christ as wisdom, and be prepared to submit himself to Christ; and that is what the Lord meant when He said, "Come, follow me". If he had

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remained in possession of what he had, he never would have continued, even though he had begun to follow Christ.

All men need wisdom. There are very clever politicians in the world, but a politician could never tell you what was going to happen in six months' time. They are not characterised by very great wisdom. So in regard of men who pile up great fortunes, and do not know what effect it will produce. Man is not wise enough of himself and he wants wisdom; all classes want wisdom, and the real answer to that want is Christ Himself; He is the Mediator, and is available to all men, the point is for the soul to come in contact with the Mediator; He gives and man takes. Christ first gave Himself, and now He is the giver of living water. It is not a question of coming to make terms with Christ; this ruler would have liked to come to terms, but God will not allow you to make terms; you have neither wisdom, strength, nor ability, and you have to be content to take what He gives. Nothing can be more simple than that. You must not come to the Lord and say, "Good Master". You must remember you have to come to God. The ruler did not apprehend Him as God, and the Lord would not have it.

The one essential thing for all is to come to Christ, I wish every one pressed it more -- the coming to Christ as God. God is presented to you in Him. I do not think that any one will get anything from Christ unless he recognises Him as God. It will not do to say, "Good Master". If you are going to be perfect you must sell all that you have, that is, come to Christ Himself and leave the world. How is the snare to be broken? There is only one way, and that is by the presentation of the grace of God.

Men think the world to be everything, but God does not think so. He that will be the friend of the world is the enemy of God, and God is going to break in pieces the world system. Man may be competent to get a

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position in the world, but does not know what lies before him. The great thing is to see things from the divine point of view. God does not think men are competent to go through this world. If a man has his face towards Christ then his back is turned upon the world. When the Lord comes, He will turn this world upside down and wipe it out, as a man does a dish.

What does man get by coming to Christ? He gets peace, Christ is the Prince of peace, and He now preaches peace. The ruler's spirit was in a turmoil, Christ made peace by the blood of His cross, and if a man turns to Christ he gets peace. He also receives living water, and is attached to Christ. The Lord said, "Now is the judgment of this world; now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me". He becomes the chief point of attraction. You cannot give people too much encouragement to come to Christ, because He is the point of attraction to draw men out of this world.

The ruler was not at all prepared to break with this present world, so he went away sorrowful, because he preferred his possessions to Christ. Alas! that is what people prefer in the present day. Have you come to Christ? Have you apprehended Him as Mediator? He is available and accessible to every man. Do not be content with the mere statement, you have to come to Him as a poor sinful creature, in order that you may take from Christ the living water and be attached to Him in the power of the Holy Spirit; otherwise you are all out of gear. Christ gives peace and living water; come to Him without any reserve and be content to turn your back on this present evil world. You will then get peace, living water, and wisdom, not only for time but also for eternity. He will lead you in the paths of righteousness, and you will have treasure in heaven.

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THE KINGDOM OF GOD AND DISCIPLESHIP

Luke 14:15 - 35

I think there are two positions in which we ought to be found as christians, I mean christians in reality. There are two positions which we occupy, one as guests, and the other as disciples. You get the first in the former part of this passage, the parable of the great supper. The teaching of the Lord was often in parables, and conveyed the truth better than could have been done by doctrine. The latter part of the chapter is taken up with discipleship, and forms pretty much the sum total of our lives down here as christians. In the supper we are fed, nourished, and sustained; but the purpose of it all is that we might come out as disciples. God presents His things to us, and we are refreshed and invigorated by them in order that we might come out in the world as the disciples of Christ.

The supper is that which marks the present moment, and the occasion for this parable was the remark made by some one, "Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God". I do not think that the idea in the mind of the person who spoke was anything more than a pious aspiration, and that he did not look at the matter in the light in which we apprehend it now. In contrast to that the Lord presents the idea of the great supper, and shows the way in which it would be regarded by different classes. I will endeavour to give you some idea as to what the meaning of the great supper is.

In the passage you get the supper, the guests, and where the guests come from. They were brought from the streets and lanes of the city, and from the highways and hedges; and the purpose was that the house might be filled. I do not think we can doubt but that the Lord refers to God, and that His house might be filled.

The supper gives the idea of celebration, and what has

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taken place during the last two thousand years has been a celebration. We have not as yet the public celebration. A little further on in this gospel the Lord speaks of a certain nobleman who had gone into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and to return. The people thought that the kingdom would be immediately manifested, but what the Lord taught was that the fidelity of His servants would be tested. The kingdom was not yet to come into manifestation, and the period of the Lord's absence covers a long period. The Lord, as represented by this nobleman, did go into a far country, and I have no doubt received the kingdom, but has not yet returned; we are waiting for His return.

In Matthew 25 there is another striking parable as to the position of believers, namely as having gone forth to meet the bridegroom. I only speak of this in order to show that the kingdom is deferred, and in the meantime the supper is going on. The kingdom is really established at the right hand of God, and there is the celebration of it in the great supper down here. It means the reign of grace on behalf of men. Psalm 68 says: "Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast led captivity captive; thou hast received gifts for men". And the beginning of the epistle to the Hebrews shows that the throne has been established at the right hand of God: "Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever; a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom". That is a great point for our apprehension, that the throne and the kingdom are really established at the right hand of God. Christ has received the kingdom, the throne is established, and that means a great deal for man. It means the subjugation of every enemy of man, the casting down of Satan, the breaking the power of death, and the taking away the sin of the world, in fact, the setting aside of all that oppresses man, because it is the introduction of the reign of grace. We read in Hebrews of the throne of grace, which is established in the Man who has ascended up on high, but the celebration of the kingdom

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is down here. All things are ready because the throne is established, and only waits the return of Christ when the kingdom will be manifested.

Many look forward to the coming of the Lord, and sometimes forget that grace is established on the basis of all things being ready, and that the Holy Spirit has come down as witness to it. We have Jesus as Lord, and for those who have eyes to see, the throne and the kingdom are established at the right hand of God, the reign of grace has begun. Yet Satan still reigns, and the rule of death still goes on; lawlessness is rampant in the world, and will mount up to a height which it has not as yet attained. I can understand that there are intelligent objections, because outwardly nothing is changed, and all this makes it appear that the kingdom is not established; but what has come to pass is that the Holy Spirit has come down to maintain the kingdom here, and thus we get the good of it.

It is to my mind a wonderful thing that believers can be maintained in the power of the Holy Spirit in spite of the power of the enemy, the power of death, and the lawlessness of man; maintained in all the good of God's kingdom -- which is righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit -- even while the outward conditions of things remain unchanged, and will remain until the coming of the Lord. Righteousness, peace and joy are things that characterise heaven; righteousness is in heaven, peace reigns in heaven, and joy is found in heaven. They are brought down to us in the power of the Holy Spirit, and are thus established in our hearts in spite of everything we see around us.

When I look at a christian I see righteousness, which is fidelity in every appointed relationship, and the effect of righteousness is peace. If you walk faithfully, loving God and loving your neighbour, and carrying out fidelity in every relationship, the effect will most unquestionably be peace. Then following upon peace you get joy, and the secret of joy is that we rejoice in the Lord. We can

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look up to heaven and see the throne established, and in a few moments, so to speak, every enemy will be for ever subjugated, Satan will be bound, death swallowed up in victory, and the sin of the world taken away.

The supper is the celebration of the reign of grace in God's house down here. The house of God was dependent on the Holy Spirit coming down from heaven, and it is there that the celebration of the kingdom, that is, the great supper takes place. It is celebrated by those who are really in the good of God's kingdom. There were those who would not come, and such were really attached to the earth. There is no greater hindrance to the things of God than the things of earth; the things that hindered them were not immoral things, but the ties of earth. They had peculiar reference to the case of the Jew, and they hindered his coming in to the supper, and hence it is the invitation goes out to the highways to compel others to come in, so that God's house may be filled.

Then a solemn word is given, "None of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper". The Jew found himself actually excluded from the great celebration, and we have been brought into it. We have the enjoyment of it now, but there is a good time coming when every enemy will be subjugated by the power and authority of God in a Man, and that Man the Son of God. He has been called up to the right hand of God, and the moment of His rising up will begin the subjugation of every enemy of man; but in the meantime the light of its glory has been brought to us in order to maintain us in divine blessings. We receive the kingdom in receiving the testimony of it, and in receiving the testimony we get all the good of God's kingdom maintained in us in the power of the Holy Spirit -- righteousness, peace, and joy -- how few are really in the enjoyment of these things! I do not think people will make great headway unless righteousness be maintained. Righteousness is extremely simple; a man who pays his

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way and maintains his family will be looked at as a righteous man; but that is not the divine thought of righteousness. A man who has received the kingdom is capable of fulfilling righteousness in every appointed relationship. The Holy Spirit has come down to maintain us in the fulfilment of every obligation in which we are placed, so that every righteous requirement of the law is fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit. That is the only way in which we can be maintained in peace, and joy follows.

What marks the present moment is that all things are ready; the supper is prepared, and the celebration is in God's house where His Spirit dwells; it is a scene of feasting; and the object of the testimony is that men may be compelled to come in and have their part in it.

Christianity is nothing except in the light of what is going to be manifested; but what I desire is that all may have the sense of God's house and the benefit that belongs to it; which is in the realisation of the presence of the Spirit of God. It is not seen by the natural eye. I think I may say that whatever intelligence any may have in the things of God really begins in the recognition in the soul of the presence of the Spirit down here. I was converted a good long time before I knew that, but until I apprehended the presence of the Spirit, I had no knowledge of the throne being established in a Man at the right hand of God. You may get help from God, but if you want to make advance in divine things you must recognise the presence of the Spirit of God in His house down here, and this will make you a follower of Christ.

We will now look at the latter part of the chapter, verses 25 - 33. I do not think the Lord would have us expose ourselves to shame. The king who goes out with ten thousand against another with twenty thousand only exposes himself to shame and ridicule. Many have attempted in the energy of nature to follow the Lord, but have only exposed themselves to shame and defeat. It

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is no good combating with the devil. I have seen people come out with apparent freshness as followers of Christ, but in the long run the devil was too strong for them. The fact is man has no power to complete the tower, and the same thing is true of the king going to war with ten thousand against another with twenty thousand. The Lord says in effect, that if he is really sensible he will send an ambassage and desire conditions of peace. It is just what the church has done. At the beginning when maintained in the power of the Holy Spirit, it overcame twenty thousand, but when brought under the energy and activity of man it sent an ambassage and desired conditions of peace.

If you are going to follow Christ, you have to hate father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and your own life also. There is nothing in the world but what is antagonistic to God; it is a hard thing to say, but I firmly believe it. There may be a most amiable mother with a child, but the influence of that mother is antagonistic to God. The Lord is referring to the influence of those with whom we are most intimately connected down here, and the secret is that man is lawless, for if it be true that man is lawless then every influence of man must be antagonistic to God. The Lord never intended man to be without natural affection, indeed the absence of it is condemned in Scripture; but the Lord intended to place us in a distinctive position as regards Himself against every natural influence down here. It is not that a man ceases to love father or mother, but if he is held back by natural influences, by the things that are natural and suitable to himself then he cannot be a disciple of Christ; he is not able to break away from these things where God is concerned. There is another thing, a man is to take up his cross and follow Christ. Christ is not really honoured in the world, and if you are going to follow Him you must take up your cross. We have to put our cross between ourselves and the world. When I was

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converted I did not cease to love my brother or sister, but they hindered me, and I had to recognise that man is lawless. It does not matter so much as to those with whom we do not come much in contact, but we are tested by those with whom we are intimately connected after the flesh. There are obligations to be taken up down here; a converted wife is not to neglect her obligations as a wife, but we have to recognise that there is no obligation we can really carry out but by Christ. We have to accept the ability of Christ to enable us to discharge our obligations in this world -- to come to the sense of our own lack of resources. I cannot complete the tower, and as regards the various obligations I have to perform in the world, I have to own that I have no power nor competency to fulfil them. A pattern husband is one who appreciates Christ. So, too, in regard of a wife; she will be a pattern wife in giving up all competency in herself to fulfil the obligation, and in looking to the ability of Christ to do so. This means that we have Christ for power and competency.

We want to enjoy the goodness of God in His house, so that Christ may really have His proper place in controlling our affections. Thus it is a man can be a follower of Christ in this world, and can carry out every obligation in every sphere in which he is placed with regard to God. It is very wonderful that we can really carry out this in a world of confusion. It is the way in which Christ is made available to us down here, and depends upon our hearts' appreciation of Christ. But then we must of necessity forsake all that we have; every pretension, and every idea of competency and ability of our own has to go. The most able man can never discharge his obligations in life in a way suitable to God; but Christ will suffice to enable a very stupid man to do so. There are men who are competent in many ways -- competent business men and competent teachers; but the only morally competent man, one who is capable of carrying out every obligation according to God, is the

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one who appreciates Christ; he will acquire that competency only by the appreciation of Christ. He has to forsake all that he has in order to follow and have the competency of Christ.

I have spoken of that which is within the reach of all, and if you appreciate that all things are ready, you will be ready to go out into the world and carry out every obligation. I desire that these things may have a practical effect on our pathway through the world.

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PRIESTHOOD

1 Peter 2:1 - 10

I think that in the minds of christians generally there is a great deal of indefiniteness with regard to priesthood. In evangelical Christianity it is pretty much the custom to claim priesthood for all christians, to set forward the assertion that all christians are priests. I do not doubt there is truth in this, for no one can question for a moment that God has but one thought in regard of christians. None of us would contradict that. The expression of God's mind with regard to all of us is Christ; He is the perfect expression of that.

But there comes in another point, and that is, what is apprehended by us, because, in christianity, nothing is of much good to us beyond that which we have apprehended spiritually. I have no hesitation in stating that. God may have in His mind many thoughts with regard to us; but if we have not apprehended them, they have not become available to us.

There is a power in every christian by which everything may be available to him, for every real christian has part in the Spirit of God; but then it is equally true that we must avail ourselves of everything.

I do not think it is prudent to claim anything beyond that of which, by the Spirit of God, you have availed yourself. It is wisdom to keep within those limits. In christianity, reality is a great point. If you attempt to claim things beyond your spiritual apprehension you are in danger of getting into unreality, and unreality is a kind of bog that may let you through. None of us can claim to have got very far on in apprehension; there is a great deal more for us, and it is a great thing if we are wakened up to go forward; but as to what we assert, prudence would dictate that we should keep within the limits of our spiritual apprehension, because anything

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beyond that has not yet been availed of.

Christianity is not like Israel. You would hardly get babes and young men and fathers spiritually in Israel, but you get them all in christianity. There are such distinctions in Scripture, and in marking progress of that kind, evidently the Spirit of God has regard to the point of spiritual apprehension. No one can read the second chapter of John's first epistle without coming to that conclusion. But whether those addressed were babes, or young men, or fathers, God's thought as to them was the same. From that point and onwards, John speaks in a general way, "Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us".

Now, I would touch upon a point in regard of Israel as to priesthood. I am going to try to make plain how we come to it in spiritual apprehension, so that it becomes really available to us, and we get the gain of it. I do not think that in our meetings we see great evidence of priesthood. We do not see such great liberty of access. Of course, there are comparatively few meetings known to me, but in the few that I know, I have not seen so much of that liberty of access which should mark priests, so that I may be borne with in attempting to shew how we avail ourselves of that which is in the mind of God with regard to us.

Now in Israel priesthood was limited to a special family. The whole tribe of Levi were not priests; the priesthood was limited to a special family of that tribe. God took up the man most distinguished next to Moses to constitute him high priest. Moses was mediator and lawgiver, but Aaron was the high priest. He was called of God, and there never was another called of God except Christ. Aaron was a type; he was not the antitype, the reality, for, after all, Aaron was a poor, failing man; he made the golden calf. The One really called of God to priesthood is Christ; Christ did not glorify Himself to be made high priest, but was called of God, as was Aaron, the difference being that Aaron was the type, and Christ

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the reality. You get the same idea with regard to "the Head". Adam was the head only as a figure; the reality has come; the Head of every man is Christ.

In speaking of Israel, one point has struck me, that is, that the application of the sacrifices was general -- for all the people. Any Israelite might have offered a burnt-offering; the sacrifices were free to all, they were not limited to priests. The priests offered them; but the availability of the offerings was not limited to them. The book of Leviticus is a very interesting book, for it opens up the terms on which God would be with the people, not only with the priests, because, as I said, any one might bring a burnt-offering for his acceptance, and, in a sense, the meat-offering and the peace-offering stood on the same platform. If an Israelite brought a peace-offering it was usually in connection with thanksgiving; but it was free to all the people to approach God in that way. That is an important point, and shews the distinction between the fact of acceptance and priesthood.

In christianity you cannot run to extremes the same distinction, but you do get a distinction between the fact of acceptance through an offering and priesthood. They may belong to the same persons, but the things themselves are different. You get the principle of offering all through Scripture, from Abel onward. An Israelite might approach God with an offering; it indicated a movement of soul. A man brought his offering and was conscious that he was before God in the acceptance of it. But you have not yet got to the point of priesthood. Now, priesthood hung, to begin with, upon the calling of God. But what about Aaron's sons? I do not think they are spoken of as being of God. Aaron alone was called of God, and his sons were originally priests by reason of being related to him.

In the time of Ezra and Nehemiah the priests had to prove their genealogy. They could not take the ground of being called of God. If they could not prove their genealogy they were put out of the priesthood. The

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priesthood in the case of Aaron's sons was the effect of being kindred to Aaron.

I am now going to speak of the application of these things to christians. In the beginning of this chapter you do not get the thought of priesthood. Certain people are addressed by the apostle, and the ground on which he addresses them is that they had believed in God, had received His testimony. What I understand to be the testimony of God is Christ risen. It is the witness on the part of God that He has broken the dominion of death, Christ is risen, redemption has been accomplished. One man is risen, and the dominion of death has thus been broken. Those addressed had believed in God, who had raised Christ from the dead and given Him glory, and their faith and hope were in God.

But Peter recognises another point with regard to them, that is, they were born again. The work in them had originated with God. Now he says, 'As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby unto salvation'. What I understand by that is that in growing by the sincere milk of the word, people leave in spirit the system connected with man down here, and come into the apprehension of that system of which Christ is the Head. God has been pleased to bring into view the second Man, the true Head, and the world to come in connection with the one Man.

I do not quite like the common idea of two men, because the first man was really the type or figure of the second Man; the second Man is the reality, and the world to come is all built up on the reality. That reality was brought into view, and the growing up unto salvation meant turning the back on the world system, coming into the reality of baptism and growing up to Christ, in whom is salvation. Salvation belongs to the system of which Christ is Head. It is in Christ Jesus. You have to change your ground. People often think to get salvation as a sort of experience in themselves. You have to recognise that salvation is in Christ, and to

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get the salvation which is in Christ you turn your back on the system which has grown up in connection with man departed from God.

You have your face towards Christ and the system which is centred in the Sun of righteousness. Some would ask me what scripture I have for it; I answer, the apostle endured all things for the sake of the elect, that they might obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. We are saved in His life, not in our own life. We are undoubtedly confronted with two systems. No one fails to take in the idea of the world system. If you look at the newspapers -- I look at them sometimes, but I dislike them -- they bring the world system into view. It is a system in which man departed from God is glorified. What dominates in the world more than perhaps anything is the importance of money. I have come across people of position in the world, but I found that they were prepared to bow down to riches. People do not consider if a man is rich what that man is morally; they pay homage to the man on account of the part which he has in the mammon of unrighteousness.

That is one system. But in Christ Jesus we have another system brought into view, the head of which is the Sun of righteousness, like the sun is the centre of the solar universe. We have a system revealed -- not yet displayed -- in connection with the Sun of righteousness, in which all that is perfect morally prevails -- righteousness and holiness, and at the same time in which God is perfectly glorified. Whether people understand it or not the fact remains that two systems are in view, and if you come into salvation you turn your back on one and have your face towards the other, that system where only you can realise what Christ is to the glory of God, the One on whom that blessed system of glory is built up. Salvation lies there. It does not lie simply in an experience of soul, but in the apprehension of Christ Jesus. If you apprehend salvation, you apprehend it in Christ

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Jesus, the blessed Head and centre and beginning of the moral universe in which God will be glorified, and which will endure.

The line on which I am going at this time is the line of spiritual apprehension, the apprehension of that which is available to us by the grace of God.

Now I pass on to verses 4 and 5. We have here the thought of priesthood brought into view. The beginning of priesthood is that you have come to the Living Stone. So far as I understand this, it is by the power of attraction which is in the Living Stone. I would wish to make that clear. We get an instance of it in Peter. Peter came to the Living Stone; he was drawn, but the attraction resided in the Living Stone. At the beginning Peter was drawn to Christ by Andrew, but he was held to Christ by the attraction which was in Christ. We begin as christians by faith in the Head; there is no doubt about that. The name of the Head is presented to us, and forgiveness of sins in His name, in order to attract us to Him. Christ is the Head of every man, that forgiveness may be presented in His name to every man, and every man may be attracted to Christ. The Lord refers to this in John 12, "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me".

The next step was that Christ gave to us living water, the practical result of which is to attach us to Him. You cannot have the Spirit of Christ without being attached to Him, because the Spirit is given to that end. Now the next point is that we get an apprehension of Him, we begin to apprehend the greatness of Christ, that He has ascended up far above all heavens, that He might fill all things. He is great enough to fill all things. He is the good Shepherd who gave His life for the sheep, and there is goodness enough in Him to give character to every circle connected with Him. He will fill all things morally.

The sun fills the universe with light and warmth, and that is what Christ will do; He will fill the moral

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universe with the light of God, and the love of God. Now, being thus drawn, you come to Him as the Living Stone. That means that as He is disallowed of men, you are disallowed of men. You must be in accord with Him. If He is rejected, I am rejected. If He has died, I have died; I am in accord with Him. We witness this every Lord's day morning. I am in His rejection on the one hand, but on the other hand He is chosen of God. I apprehend Him as the One who is called of God, like Aaron; He is the one elect of God. In Psalm 110 His rejection is recognised, "Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool". Then He is selected as priest for ever.

Another thing is, that He is precious. In Christ you have One chosen of God, like Aaron was; on the other hand, He is precious to man. What would be the value of a priest for us if he were not precious to man? There must be a certain reciprocity between Christ and us, else you would not get the true idea of a priest. So the apostle goes on to say, Unto you which believe is the preciousness. The nation did not care for Him; they rejected Him; but to you which believe He is precious. He becomes a link as between God and us; the One who is precious to us is the One who is chosen of God.

The early verses of the chapter do not contemplate priesthood: they contemplate the believer. There are a good many real believers who have never entered upon the ground of priesthood (I do not say that priesthood is not available to them), because they have never found salvation. Salvation is the crucial point to my mind. They have never turned their backs on the world system and got an apprehension of the system of which Christ is the Head. No christian in system knows salvation, because every system that I know of is part of the great world organisation, and any one who continues in that does not know salvation, because salvation is in Christ Jesus, and Christ Jesus will not touch the world organisation. If I have anything to say to saints,

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it is to put Christ Jesus and all connected with Him in the strongest contrast to the world system. Salvation is the crucial point, the bridge, so to speak. People may have believers' meetings and all that, but that is not priesthood. When we come to that we are drawn to it by the apprehension of the preciousness of Christ and of His greatness. He went into the lower parts of the earth, as low as it was possible to go, but He has gone up far above all heavens, that He might fill all things. What a contrast to all which subsists in the world as it is!

Now I can prove my priesthood; I have my genealogy. I should say, if challenged, I am kindred to the One who is Priest; He has given me of His Spirit. I appreciate Him as the good Shepherd; He knows me and I know Him. I find delight in the thought that He is going to fill all things. Any one that has been attached by the Spirit to Christ can prove his genealogy, like the priest of the line of Aaron. If you cannot prove your genealogy you are not entitled to take up priesthood. The point at which you can do that is when you have been brought, by the Spirit, to the appreciation of Christ. How can you prove that you are kindred if you are not in accord with Him? I am in spirit outside of the world system, and set in that system of which He is the centre. When God raised Christ from the dead, He in a sense brought forth another world; the world to come was brought into view when Christ was raised. He was raised -- I am risen with Him; I belong to that order of things of which He is the Head and centre. Not only am I rejected of the world, but I reject it. The friendship of the world is enmity with God. I am crucified by the cross of Christ to the world. I wish I could impress that upon all. There seems to me to be often a hankering after some sort of place in this world, and the consequence is, that saints are hindered in their apprehension of Christ, because Christ will not be connected in any way with the present order of things. We are disallowed, and should be content to be disallowed.

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We do not want to be recognised by the world.

We come to the truth, too, that we are elect, chosen of God. We are kindred to Christ by His Spirit -- not after the flesh. Every christian is kindred by the Spirit. A Jew might have been so after the flesh; but that no longer subsists. We arrive thus at the sense of His preciousness. Is Christ precious to you? Have you an apprehension of the greatness of Christ? As He is precious to us, we are built up a spiritual house. At the present time God would be well pleased if every christian realised the preciousness of Christ and could prove His relation to the great High Priest, that thus we might get the completely priestly company.

Now I have a word to say with regard to consecration. I think the consecration of the priesthood really took place on the day of Pentecost. I doubt if the consecration is repeated. The consecrated company were there before God. I think a first principle of consecration is having our bodies washed with pure water. You must be in accord with the death of Christ, cleansed from the world. I do not think there can be any idea of consecration if you do not accept that. The apostles had that; they were completely clear of the world system -- so clear of it that Peter had to say, "Silver and gold have I none". I do not know anything that impresses me more with profound satisfaction than the testimony of the apostles in the beginning of Acts. They had the power of the name of the heavenly Man, but they had not silver or gold, and the power of His name could make a poor cripple perfectly sound. Do you think the world is going to be made sound or set right by silver and gold? I do not think so. It is Christ who will do it without silver and gold. Then, on the other hand, they were very conscious of being kindred to Christ. In John 20, we see them kindred to Christ; He breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit". When they began, in Acts, every one of the hundred and twenty could have proved, without any difficulty, his genealogy

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-- they were kindred to Christ. Every one of them was impressed with the preciousness of Christ. Many had been in His company continually. They had true riches, gold tried in the fire. They had an idea of perfect moral excellency, that which had stood the test of the searching judgment of the altar. Christ was the righteous One, but in death He had taken the place of the unjust. He was the holy One; but when tested by the judgment of God He does not make a parade of His holiness. He confesses the holiness of God; "Thou art holy". He was perfect in love to the Father, and yet He was forsaken of God. The righteous One, the holy One, the One who perfectly loved the Father and was perfect in obedience to the Father -- He was subjected to the searching fire of the altar, and the perfectness stood the test.

The offering was wholly consumed by the fire on the altar. One cannot doubt for a moment that the apostles had the sense of that; they had gold tried in the fire. They were rich toward God, had the sense of the tested moral excellency of Christ. A man that has that sense is rich toward God. It was not simply that they were in accord with the death and resurrection of Christ, but being rich toward God were qualified for priesthood. Their hands were full of the excellency of the One who had been offered a sacrifice to God. They had nothing else to bring to God. They had every qualification in their apprehension of things. That apprehension of Christ was of great value in the eye of God; they had that with which they could come before God with extreme acceptability.

The consecration has taken place; but we, too, enter, so to speak, into the consecration. We are prepared for it; we come to the apprehension of Christ as rejected of men, but elect of God; we can prove our genealogy and we have true riches, in regard of God, in the apprehension of Christ, and so we take up priestly service.

The great result is seen in the heavenly city; that will

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be entirely a priestly company. They will be perfect according to God's glory, and perfect, too, in their appreciation of Christ. Whatever appreciation of Christ is given to us now is true riches, which stands by us for eternity. We shall carry the true riches beyond the grave. There is another point in connection with the heavenly city; that is, that it will be the light of the moral universe. Christ will be the light there, but the light will shine through the heavenly city, coming down from God.

What constitutes the light of the heavenly city and qualifies it for priestly function is the appreciation of the moral excellency of Christ. The heavenly city will have a large place in giving character to the universe of bliss. One can see these things, and appreciate the grace and goodness of God that leads us on step by step. No one is able to take half a dozen steps at a time. We can only bear a very little progress. Each step of progress that we make demands a certain amount of disruption here, as well as a kind of readjustment of things in your own mind, and that is not easily done. People do not like to give up or modify any thought which they have entertained, and yet our thoughts have to be continually modified. People would like to go on with everything undisturbed; but you may depend upon it every step in spiritual apprehension is sure to bring about a certain amount of disturbance in the engagements and connections in which we are found. That is not altogether pleasant, and yet it must be. But it is wonderful that God should take such pains with us, and lead us on as we are able to bear it. God can teach quickly; Paul was taught quickly; the thief on the cross was taught quickly; but in a general way, we are led on in spiritual progress step by step, and it is great thing when we come to the Living Stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God and precious, and the preciousness is to us. When you come to that, you will not care for much except Christ. You will be content to work for

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your living, using the world and not making use of it as your own, but your apprehension will be of true riches. Christ has become precious to you, and you enter by the Spirit of God more and more into the blessedness of that excellency which has stood the test of the fire. What called that fire into exercise? Our condition called in the searching judgment of God, but the fire of the altar only brought out the excellency of Christ. In the appreciation of that, you enter into the consecration, and find yourself acceptable in the presence of God. The man who has that appreciation of Christ can approach God with great liberty; he comes before God in the appreciation of that which has been approved in every way of God.

May God give us a true sense of Christ in that way, and to remember that Christ is the one Man, the Head of every man, of all principality and power, Head of the church, of the nations, of Israel -- the divinely constituted Head, and everything for God is going to be developed morally from the Head; the universe will issue from Christ. May God give us an apprehension of the greatness of Christ, the One who has ascended up far above all heavens, that He might fill all things.

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THE WAYS OF GOD, AND HIS CALLING ON HIGH

Psalm 23; John 10:1 - 18

I want to point out the difference which exists between the two distinct lines on which the Spirit of God leads us. I have no doubt that one line on which the Spirit of God leads, or which the Spirit of God teaches, is to lead our hearts into the consciousness of association with Christ where He is; and I think there is also another line on which the Spirit leads us, and that is to the understanding of all God's ways down here. When we go to be above, we shall pass out of the scene of God's ways. God's ways are wrought down here. The church is to be in the secret of all God's ways, in order that it may fulfil its proper function in regard of the world to come. "Her light was like unto a stone most precious". That could not be the case if the church were not instructed in every way of God. That is our education.

There is another line on which the Spirit of God conducts us, and that is into the sense of association with Christ above. The truth of our calling is that we are predestinated to be conformed to the image of God's Son. That is brought out in Romans 8:28 - 30. We get the thought of that passage confirmed in Hebrews 2, where you find definitely that God is bringing many sons to glory. The work of the Spirit of God is to connect our hearts with Christ, God's Son, in glory. The Spirit is the Spirit of God's Son, and if He is that He evidently witnesses to God's Son, and His mission is to connect our hearts with Christ in glory, for we are predestinated "to be conformed to the image of his Son". Hence it is of all moment that God's Son should be known to us. Our calling is above, it is the calling on high of God in Christ Jesus. That is what God has called us to. He has "blessed us with all spiritual

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blessings in heavenly places in Christ: according as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself; according to the good pleasure of his will". I cannot conceive anything more important than that our hearts should be instructed by the Spirit of God's Son in the knowledge of God's Son: then it is we can understand something of the calling on high of God in Christ Jesus.

That is the line the Spirit takes, and in connection with that we have access to the Father. "For through him we both", that is, Jew and gentile, "have access by one Spirit unto the Father". I should like for myself, and everybody here would echo it, to be led more into the knowledge of the Son of God. "Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ".

That is one line on which the Spirit of God conducts us. He is the Spirit of God's Son to enlarge our hearts in the knowledge of God's Son. He is the One who came out to reveal God, and He was perfectly suitable, and answered in every way to the thoughts of God.

What I want to come to is the other line of the Spirit's teaching, instructing the saints in the ways of God, and every way of God is taken up in the church. There are many things in which we are instructed which do not directly apply to the calling above. If I take up what we get in this chapter, the Shepherd and the sheep, that is not connected with the calling above; but it is a very important item of God's ways down here on earth. As saints we are left on earth for the moment, and while we are left here we are led into the reality of the flock and the Shepherd. The purpose of it is that we should be so instructed in every way of God, that the light of the heavenly city may shine very bright in the world to come. I think everybody then will learn everything

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from the heavenly city. "Her light was like unto a stone most precious". That could not possibly come to pass unless we are instructed by the Spirit of God in every way of God. Then we learn what fruit-bearing is. That does not apply to the calling on high in Christ Jesus, but undoubtedly to a people on earth.

The shepherd is a great idea in Scripture. It is astonishing how continually it breaks out. Abel was a shepherd, "a keeper of sheep". Then Moses kept the flock of Jethro, and he was being trained in that way to shepherd God's people -- the sheep of God's flock, to lead the people through the wilderness. David was a shepherd. God took him from the sheepfolds that he might shepherd His people Israel. That will show the importance of the shepherd in Scripture. In modern ideas we should not connect a king with a shepherd, but that is the divine idea. The suitability of a king is a shepherd; it is evidenced in Moses and in David. Moses and David stand very distinctly as types of Christ, and both are types of Christ as Shepherd. In the close of Hebrews it says, "Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus", now mark the remainder of the expression, "that great shepherd of the sheep". That refers to a people on earth, not in heaven. It properly applies to Israel. Christ is the great Shepherd of the sheep, and Israel is Jehovah's flock, and will have that place in time to come; but they will learn the features of this place and what is suitable to it in the heavenly city. The heavenly city is the great lesson-book to the universe. "The nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it". You remember the expression in Ephesians 2 -- "that in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace". That is what God is going to show forth, and how? -- "in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus". That is what makes me say that the church will really be the great lesson-book to the universe because the church is instructed in every way of God.

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I want to touch on a few points in connection with the Shepherd and the sheep. It is all of great gain to us in our way down here. The Spirit of God centres our affections on the Lord Jesus on high. He came to make God known; He died for us, and the Spirit conducts us to Him on high. Then there is what Christ is to the flock on earth. That instruction is for the world to come, and it is part of our education.

I will take up two or three thoughts in John 10:4, "And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice". Verse 9: "I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture". Verses 14 - 18: "I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep", etc.

Now, so far as I understand these things, the purpose of Christ in coming here was to lead the sheep out of the fold. He was not going to leave the sheep in an enclosure. There are plenty of enclosures here at the present time. Christendom is a system of enclosures, and that is where the sheep of Christ are kept. I look upon the state church as an enclosure, and dissenting systems as enclosures too. The sheep are all mixed up with a mass of profession, and they are all provided for in enclosures; but that is not at all according to God. The Wesleyan has got his system of doctrine, to keep the sheep right and straight in that system. It is all with the idea of keeping the sheep from the wolves, keeping people sound in doctrine. All these enclosures are where the sheep are supposed to be kept secure. It was the same when Christ came, though then it was a divinely constituted fold; but Christ came into the enclosure to lead the sheep out of it. He must pass out of it Himself He came into the fold, but He could not abide in it, because He must needs die. You do not find all through this chapter that the Lord speaks of

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dying at the hand of man. It was an absolute necessity that Christ, having become Man, should die, and for the simple reason that He became Man to die. All were dead under the eye of God, and Christ became Man to die. If He dies, He leaves the enclosure; and if He leaves the enclosure, there must be an end of it. He does not come back again to establish the enclosure. He leaves the fold, and the result is that the sheep are led out of the fold. What value could there be in the fold if Christ led out of it? People in the present day have the thought that Christ is in the systems; but if Christ is out of the systems, what value can they have to man? If Christ is not in system, I would much rather be out of system. He leads the sheep out. That is not at all evangelical; there is no gospel in that. He leads the sheep out of the fold. Now He becomes the door of the sheep. That is evangelical. He found the sheep in the fold, and He led them out. There was no question of gospel preaching, but He led them out. Now He becomes the door of the sheep. "By me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture". Where do they enter in? Not into the fold, because the Lord abolished the idea of the fold. I take it that they go in to God. What Christ came for was that by Him they might enter into the knowledge of God. The practical result of that is, "by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture".

I read Psalm 23 on that account. "Jehovah is my shepherd; I shall not want". What is the practical result? "He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; he leadeth me beside still waters". What is the practical result to us of the knowledge of God? We are saved, and go in and out, and find pasture. All these things are proper to the sheep. Every blessing which we enjoy down here, which is proper to the sheep, we enjoy by the knowledge of God. All the blessings of christianity are included in knowledge. The power to

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know them is by the Spirit of God, but what have you in the way of blessing but by knowledge? Our blessings are spiritual, they lie in the sense of salvation, liberty, and pasture. All are found in the knowledge of God. God has "given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness".

I should not be here tonight if I were not conscious that all the blessings which are proper to me, and which it is my privilege to enjoy, are by the knowledge of God. It is by the knowledge of God I am saved, and have liberty. You cannot get yourself disengaged from other things but by the knowledge of God. All liberty is by the knowledge of God. "He leadeth me beside the still waters". I say without any hesitation that all the blessing which we are privileged to enjoy -- the secret of it, the power of it, the reality of it -- all lies in the knowledge of God. It is a great thing to be led by the Spirit into the knowledge of God, the knowledge of His love, His mercy, His goodness. God has no reserves in His heart. Even if discipline comes in -- trials in circumstances, or sickness of the body -- it is only to remove some hindrance in us in order that we may be led more distinctly into the knowledge of God. "Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord".

That is a very beautiful expression I quoted from 2 Peter 1. "According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness". Why do we meditate on all God's dealings with His people of old? Because they all instruct our hearts in God's goodness, patience, kindness, and forbearance. We are led in that way into the knowledge of God, and we are saved, and go in and out and find pasture. That is the effect of entering in by the door. There is no way into the knowledge of God save by Christ; but if we do enter into the knowledge of God, we get the blessed consequences of it in salvation, liberty, and pasture. That is a very great thing.

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The Lord goes on to say, "The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly". How do you think we get life, and what does life consist in? In the knowledge of God. God is known to me, His love is known to me. I know that I am superior to death and all evil by the knowledge of God. His love is witnessed in the death of Christ, and now His love is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, and that is the secret of life. Life really consists in the knowledge of divine love. We get life, and we get it very abundantly because the Son has brought to us and made plain to us the knowledge of God, and the knowledge of God's love. "The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given unto us".

Other points come out here. "I am the door", etc. Then, "I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep", etc. We have got the good Shepherd, and He is the Shepherd of the sheep, and He led out of the sheepfold. He is the door of the sheep, and we go in, as I said, to God and find salvation, liberty, and pasture. Now the Lord presents Himself in a little different light, as the good Shepherd, and the good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. Now the Lord says, "I ... know my sheep" -- that is the good Shepherd -- "I ... know my sheep, and am known of mine". That is not by learning. I want to draw your attention to the peculiarity of the knowledge. It is not by learning. Certainly the Father does not know the Son by learning, and the Son does not know the Father by learning. There was some bond between Christ and the disciples when Christ was here on earth. They knew very little about Christ; and yet the Lord says, I 'know my sheep, and am known of mine as the Father knows me and I know the Father'. There was some kind of indescribable bond between Christ and the disciples; and so it is between Christ and ourselves. It is not a question of how much we may

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learn about Christ, but there is a kind of indescribable bond which is not gained by learning. There is that kind of knowledge which exists between Christ and the sheep. It is instinctive almost. I "know my sheep and am known of mine", etc. I think Christ is able to touch us. Christ was able to touch the disciples. They were very unintelligent. It was very rarely that they were able to understand the words of Christ, and yet there was that indescribable bond. When Peter denied Christ we should hardly have thought that he knew Christ; yet he did, and the Lord recognised it. We find it coming out in John 21. There was an indescribable bond between Peter and Christ. "Thou knowest that I love thee". The bond exists in affection. The secret of the knowledge lies in divinely formed affections. "As the Father knows me and I know the Father". You might find the simplest and most unintelligent christian, and yet there is that peculiar bond between that christian and Christ.

There is one point more -- "And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold (flock) and one shepherd". Now we get another very important point which is practically learnt down here, and that is unity. Unity has a very great place in the ways of God. Unity comes out all through Scripture. When God made the man and the woman, they were to be one -- "they shall be one flesh". Then with the twelve sons of Jacob, all were to be one. You get in Psalm 133"Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!" God attaches very great importance to unity, and He will have unity maintained. God will have unity in the time to come in the twelve tribes of Israel. All are to be bound in one bundle under one Head. We have to keep the unity of the Spirit; it indicates really that wills disappear. There is unity in the Godhead, the Father and the Son are one; and God will have unity down here, and unity is the

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witness that the will of man disappears. As long as Jew and gentile are there, Jew and gentile will not be one. They can only be one by the practical setting aside of Jew and gentile. The Lord would have one flock and one Shepherd. There is to be a witness here by the Spirit of God that man's will disappears. "That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me". Unity was to be a witness to the world. "Other sheep I have, which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold (flock) and one shepherd". That was to be really as a witness on the part of God down here on earth. Unity is the great witness. Nothing could have brought unity about between the Jew and the gentile but the Spirit of God, and the Spirit of God did bring it about. We find it coming out in the Acts; and unity will be witnessed in Israel. All these things apply to Israel in a kind of way -- salvation, liberty, pasture, the knowledge of Christ, the flock -- all is to be fulfilled in Israel in the time to come, but then they are fulfilled in a peculiar way in ourselves, and they are part of our education. The ends of the world meet in us. "Her light was like unto a stone most precious".

It is of great importance for us to understand what Christ is to us down here -- the gain we have got by knowing Christ as the door. How far do we know Christ? He knows us as the Father knows Him and He knows the Father. It is a great point that we should appreciate that which Christ is to us down here. It is very important that unity should be maintained down here, "that the world may believe that thou hast sent me". It was a remarkable spectacle to the world to see Jew and gentile walking together in spiritual affections. All the world knew the enmity between Jew and gentile; how could they explain their walking together? The truth was that some extraordinary power had come

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to pass which had broken down the barrier. All that came to pass in the revelation of God. How could fleshly distinctions be maintained in the light of the death of Christ, and the presence of the Spirit of God? If we can regard ourselves in the light of the death of Christ, and in the power and presence of the Spirit of God, what divergence can there be between us? If I see the assertion of will on the part of the saints, they are not in the light of the death of Christ, they are not in the consciousness of the love expressed in the death of Christ. What a wonderful thing it will be when Israel is restored -- they have been split into two great parts. What a wonderful thing when they come together, when they are joined into one stick under one Head! What a witness it will be to the power and grace of God in the midst of the world. We are to be a witness to that unity in the power of the Spirit.

What I would press on you is that we should not be content with the mere letter, but that we should get the reality of things, and when I speak of the reality of things, I mean the Shepherd and the sheep. He knows us, and we know Him. How far are we affected by that?

The disciples did not read many books when Christ was with them. They did not want to be entertained with literature; they did not want relaxation of mind. Christ was enough for them. It grieves me to see the number of things you find saints turning to for occupation of mind. It rather seems as if Christ were not enough for them. Christ should be enough for us. Everything else should be secondary and subordinate, and really governed by Christ -- all should be tending to the knowledge of Christ. I "know my sheep and am known of mine", etc., and all goes on to this, that you get unity maintained here amongst the saints. Christ was their bond, and Christ is our bond; and so it is that unity is maintained in spiritual affections one with another. I want you not simply to read this chapter as a very beautiful chapter. Do not rest content with that,

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for that is not the work of the Spirit of God. The Spirit of God will not leave you simply to admire. Do not stop there -- the point is not simply to admire, but to adopt these things; what I mean is, to be led into the truth and reality of them by the Spirit of God.

It becomes an extremely important item in our education as to the place the church will fill in the time to come. It is a point of transcendent beauty that her light is like unto a stone most precious, because she is so instructed in every way of God. The ends of the earth meet in the church. She takes up all that is past, and will take in all that is to come.

The purpose of divine teaching is that we should be in the reality of these things, not only that we should admire them as very beautiful lessons to be learnt, but that we should adopt them. Christ, as Shepherd, is a great reality to us, and we are His sheep to follow Christ down here. Then if we follow Christ, we turn our back on a very great many things in the world, and a very great many false shepherds in the world. It is a wonderful thing to be brought out of the fold, and to find every blessing in the knowledge of God. We do not want to be kept in an enclosure; in the knowledge of God we are led into every blessing. Everything accrues to the christian by the knowledge of God. He has "given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue".

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MOSES A TYPE OF CHRIST AS DELIVERER

Hebrews 11:8 - 30

There are certain men who stand out in a very remarkable way in the history of God's dealings. We seem in a kind of way to know them well. God has presented them to us in such a way that we seem to be well acquainted with them, such as Abraham and Moses and David. I am going to speak especially of Moses, and about the history of Moses; it is only what Moses is in the ways of God that is of interest to me.

When I come to these men, such as Abraham and Moses, all connected with them is of very great interest, because the ways of God are bound up with what they did, especially with Moses.

I just touch for a moment on Abraham. It is very interesting to see in times gone by how God was foreshadowing all that was to come out. That is the great interest of the Old Testament -- "Whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we, through patience and comfort of the scriptures, might have hope". No one can understand the Old Testament except in the light of Christ. In the Old Testament you get detail. If you want to get the great principles of things, you have to come to the New Testament. The New Testament is far greater than the Old, because it gives all the principles of things.

Abraham stands out as a witness to us of the heavenly man; he is a pilgrim and a stranger. He was that because he was a heavenly man, and he was the witness to a commonwealth above. He looked for a city and sought a country. When you put together a city and a country, you get a commonwealth. That is what Abraham was a witness to. He was called out of his own land, he had no part in any commonwealth below, but he was a witness to a commonwealth above. "He

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looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God". He was a witness in the ways of God to a commonwealth in heaven. That is what God will bring to pass in due time, a city and a country. That is what Abraham sought, and the practical result was that he was a stranger and pilgrim below. It is very wonderful that God should have had a witness to that so early, but there it is. And then he is a witness to resurrection. He gave up his son, Isaac, and then in a figure received him from the dead. Where is the city and the country if there is no resurrection? The very fact of there being a city and country above shows there is resurrection. Man is not translated above until there is resurrection, or what is equivalent to it. To get the thought of a city and country above, you must have resurrection. It is set forth in Abraham.

In Moses you get another thing. He comes in on the line of deliverer. There were other deliverers. Abraham was employed as a deliverer to deliver Lot. Joseph was employed as a preserver of life. Moses comes in on that line; he was employed of God to destroy the world power, and in that way he becomes a striking type of Christ. Moses was employed to destroy Pharaoh and his power, in order that the people of God should be delivered and brought into the land of promise. That is what he represents to us. As I said before, I take up Moses more particularly because he presents to us a very striking type of Christ. Pharaoh represents the great world power that held in bondage the seed of Abraham, and Moses is employed as deliverer to set them free that they might serve God. God would not be served by a people in bondage to the world power, so He said to Pharaoh, "Let my people go, that they may serve me"; but He had a further thought than that, He wanted to bring in and plant them in the mountain of His inheritance. They were to be brought in to the place which the Lord had made for Him to dwell in, into the sanctuary which His hands had established. That is

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what Moses was employed for.

There are two or three points I want to touch on. To begin with the discipline of Moses: it comes out in this passage Hebrews 11:24 - 27. We get two things here with regard to Moses. The first is that he refused Egypt, and then he forsook Egypt. Things generally follow pretty much in that order. If he had not refused Egypt, he would not have forsaken Egypt. He had a status in Egypt. He refused Egypt, and then he forsook Egypt. He braved the wrath of the king. It brought about the destruction of Pharaoh and his host. That is the case in a certain sense with regard to Christ Himself. He refused Egypt and all the glory of man. Then he forsook Egypt.

I will say a word or two with regard to the first. He "refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season". He would not have any part in the world system, or the world's glory. He esteemed "the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward". That is a very remarkable word to be used more than a thousand years before Christ came -- "the reproach of Christ". Moses preferred to be identified with the suffering people of God. He would not have any part in Egypt. He felt that moral glory was to be identified with the suffering people of God. He esteemed "the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt". Can any one doubt that he is going to get the recompense of the reward? If he was content to be identified with the reproach of Christ, he will get the recompense of Christ. If he was identified with the people in bondage, he will be identified with Christ in glory. He refused Egypt, and he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king. I take it that that was when he was leading the people out. He forsook Egypt with the people of God. He led them out, not fearing the wrath of the king. It ended in the

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destruction of Pharaoh and his host; they were swallowed up in the Red Sea. They assayed to follow the children of Israel into the Red Sea, and they were drowned. That was the end.

Moses in a kind of way fails as a type, because he never brought the people in. He brought them out and brought them to God, but he never brought the people in. It is a remarkable thing that no allusion is made here to Joshua. Moses failed, and had to die in the wilderness, and God had to employ another man to bring the people in. That is why Moses falls short as a type of Christ. If you want to get a complete type of Christ, you must put Moses and Joshua together.

I want now to pass on to Christ, and see how these principles come out in Him. Christ has undertaken to bring the people out that they may serve God, but at the same time to bring the people into the land of promise. Christ does not fail. He brings the people out and He brings them in. I want to make it plain that the people are brought out and brought in. The thought of God is not merely to bring a people out, but to bring them in. I wish I could bring that home to you. God's purpose is to bring us in, and the means or instrument by which God brings us out and brings us in is Christ.

I take up a thought or two with regard to Christ. When Christ came to earth He came as a Saviour, as a Deliverer. That is why Christ came here. There was another thing about the Lord. He came into Egypt, and He refused Egypt. All the world into which He came was Egypt. The Jews were no better than the world. Christ came into Egypt, but He refused Egypt, He refused the world. He was carried down into Egypt that it might be fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet, "Out of Egypt have I called my son"; but He refused Egypt. I look upon Egypt as a type of the world and all its glory. You will remember the temptation of the devil, when he took the Lord "up into an exceeding high mountain" and showed "him all the kingdoms of

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the world, and the glory of them". The Lord refused all the glory of the world. He said unto him, "Get thee hence, Satan".

It is equally true that Christ forsook Egypt. He left the fold. That is brought out in John 10. The Shepherd went before the sheep; He left the fold in order to take the sheep out of the fold. I want to speak a word or two with regard to the ministry of Christ on earth. Every one saw that He did wonderful things -- that was evident enough; but it was equally evident that in thought and spirit He was completely outside the world. His brethren said, "If thou do these things, show thyself to the world". They recognised that He did wonderful things. "Jesus said unto them, My time is not yet come". He did wonderful things, "healing all that were oppressed of the devil: for God was with him"; but He was entirely outside all the system of this world's glory. He was a Stranger here, entirely outside all the present course of things.

There was another thing. He was the point of attraction. There was something about the Lord down here on earth, which drew people to Him. All sorts of people were drawn to Him. Joseph and Nicodemus were not amongst the poor, but the cultured. So, too, women were drawn to Him. He was the point of attraction here on earth. It was not only that virtue went out of Him; but He was the point of attraction. I will just read a verse in Luke 8 which will serve to show it (verses 1 - 3). It is plain enough that all these people had been attracted to Christ; they were drawn to Christ outside of the world. They ministered to Him in the world, but morally He was outside the world. The proof of that is plain enough, because when Christ was dead and risen, you find all these people gathered together in an upper room. It is plain enough they were outside the world. The effect of the influence of Christ here on earth was to attract to Himself, but they were attracted to Him outside this world. "Now is the judgment

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of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me". As I said, He refused Egypt, and in a sense, He forsook Egypt, but He was the point of attraction. He drew to Himself, or rather the Father drew to Him, but those who were attracted to Him were delivered from the world system and the bondage of it.

In the Lord's ministry here below His thought was to be a Deliverer. In that way He was the antitype of Moses. I refer again to John 12, He presents Himself as lifted up from the earth as a point of attraction in contrast to the world which comes under judgment. A great many people have a difficulty in discerning where the world is. The difficulty at the present time is that the world is no longer heathen, nor Jewish, but christianised. I will give you an idea which makes it clear to me what the world is. It is a system of glory built up which is not according to God. Do you see God glorified down here? It is the place where man is glorified. All the great principles of the world are "the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life". The world system is where death reigns: sin is reigning unto death. If I apply these tests there is not much difficulty in discerning where the world is. The principles of lawlessness are to be developed in christendom; the man of sin is to arise in christendom. Protestantism will drop down to the level of the world; and on the other hand, popery will ride the beast.

My point is this, that the very thought and purpose of Christ at the present time is to deliver people from this present evil world. "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me". How is it that Christ delivers people from this present evil world, and how does He bring them to the land of promise? With regard to Israel, how was it that they were brought through the Red Sea? Because they were attached to Moses, and had they not been they would never have been brought through the Red Sea. Their deliverance

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through the Red Sea depended on Moses. How were they delivered from the power of Pharaoh? Pharaoh was swallowed up in the Red Sea. Really the secret of it was their being baptised to Moses. How do you think we are delivered from Pharaoh and his host, for no one will deny that we have what answers to Pharaoh and his host around us today? I think it is by attachment to Christ. How is attachment brought about? In the recognition that He died for us and rose again. Christ came down from heaven and became Man according to the demands of divine love. It is in the appropriation of Christ who died for us and rose again that we become attached to Christ. It is by being attached to Christ, like Israel was attached to Moses, that we get deliverance from Pharaoh. I will tell you how it works: the one who apprehends that Christ died for him and rose again is attached to Christ by the Spirit of Christ. All kinds of temptations come to that person -- the thought of how much he is losing -- his position -- his friends. All that comes from the god of this world trying to overwhelm that person, as thus losing opportunities for privileges and the enjoyment of pleasures in this world. What is your answer to it? How are you able to stand against it? By attachment to Christ. I am attached to Christ, and I gain a great deal more than I can lose -- "an hundred-fold now in this time". That is a great thing, because I see deliverance thus from the world system. I do not think any other thing will save us from the world system. In my own case I was not insensible to how much I was losing; it was pressed home pretty much on me, but the thing was answered by attachment of heart to Christ, and I feel I have gained very much more than I have lost. The things are not to be compared for a moment. The things I have lost are nothing but dung and dross, and I have gained infinitely more. Every one will be prepared to admit that who is attached to Christ -- "he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves,

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but unto him which died for them, and rose again".

I go a point further. Attachment to Christ brings you to the promised land. I do not believe any person ever gets into the promised land at the present time except by attachment to Christ, Ephesians 3:14 - 19. I will tell you what enables me to understand that prayer. It is the thought of a husband and his wife -- an absent husband and a faithful wife. The absent husband dwells in the heart of the faithful wife, and it is by that that the wife is able to enter into the whole range of the husband's interests. Her intelligence will be greatly quickened, and she will be able to understand all her husband's concerns. It is the case with us down here. The apostle prays "that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith" -- that Christ might have the supreme place in our affections. He is the absent Bridegroom, and He dwells in the heart of the bride. What is the effect? "That ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height" -- to discover the whole expanse of the land of promise. The way to intelligence is attachment. When Christ dwells in the heart by faith you have very great ability to understand the breadth, and length, and depth, and height. It is really by attachment that we enter the land of promise. I do not think we shall get to heaven until Christ comes to fetch us there. Attachment to Christ is that by which I am delivered from the world's power; I live to Him who loved me and gave Himself for me; and it is by the same power of attachment to Christ that I am led into the land of promise. I can view the whole extent of the land.

There are two other things that I want to touch upon. You will come into conflict with things down here. There are very few who have not to meet conflict or persecution in some way. You will not meet that by your attachment to Christ, but by Christ's attachment to

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you. I turn to a verse in Romans 8 which may serve to impress it upon you -- "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors, through him that loved us". Just think of those things, tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, sword. You see the apostle had been exposed to every one of these things. There are very few of us who are not exposed in some measure or other to tribulation or distress, to something which would come in to shake our confidence in God. "In all these things we are more than conquerors, through him that loved us". The Lord knows we are exposed to many things which tend to shake our confidence, and we get His priestly care for us, and His love so that we are more than conquerors. You get it in the case of Peter. The Lord knew how Peter would be exposed, and that it might lead him to despair, and he prayed for him. Even Peter became more than conqueror through Him that loved him. The very man who was cowed in the high priest's palace and denied the Lord, was afterwards bold in confessing Him.

It is by attachment to Christ that we are delivered from the world power, and led into the land of promise, but attachment will not take us to heaven. If it is a question of conflict we want priestly help, and if it is a question of going to heaven we want somebody to take us there. It is Christ's love to us that takes us to heaven. That is brought out in John 14. That which comes out in the beginning of that chapter is the proof and expression of Christ's love to the disciples. Did you ever think that Christ loved the disciples? I am sure you have. They were very dull and unintelligent, but they had one thing: they were attached to Christ. It was because there was an indescribable power of attraction

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in Christ which drew people to Him. But the Lord loved them. Just think what a wonderful thing it was that the Lord had pleasure in their company. "I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; that ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom". It is most wonderful to me, and beautiful, too, to see that the Lord had delight and pleasure in the company of the disciples. If they loved Him, He loved them, and "unto the end". It was because of that love to them that He would come again and receive them unto Himself He says, "I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also". Undoubtedly no one can question that that was the expression of His affection to His disciples, and if it is the expression of His affection to them, undoubtedly it is the expression of His affection to us. The Lord says in John 17"Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word".

Attachment to Christ will undoubtedly bring about deliverance of soul from the world's power; and attachment to Christ is the secret of entering the land of promise, but you want something more to enable you to stand in the presence of conflict here. Attachment to Christ will hardly take you to heaven, but Christ will come and take us to Himself that where He is there we may be also. These things prove that Christ is a great Deliverer. We look for Christ as Deliverer. "There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob". He will come out as Deliverer.

I have only spoken of things of which we have experience. I trust that all here have attachment of heart to Christ, that we have all proved the reality of attachment to Christ. It is a great place that Christ gets in the heart the more I am delivered from the world, and the god and prince of it. I have not a less sense of the god and prince

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of the world than I had forty years ago; I have a greater sense, but it is through attachment to Christ. I have the power to live to Him, and it is through attachment to Him. I know the love of Christ which passes knowledge. It is very wonderful that having Christ dwelling in the heart by faith, we can enter into all the expanse of the divine thoughts, into that scene in which God will be glorified. "Our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ".

I only wanted to bring before you what Christ is, and the very spirit and principle of Christ is the destruction of the world power. As long as the world power abides here, we are free from it by attachment of heart to Christ, and by the same attachment we are led into the blessed expanse of that scene where God will be glorified, and of which the centre is Christ, who is the blessed Sun of righteousness.

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THE GRACE OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST

John 20:17 - 24

I had a desire, beloved brethren, in continuation of what has been before us, to bring before you the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. While it is possible (and I speak in self-condemnation in that sense) to say a great deal about the position and standing of christians, what really tends to growth is the ministration of Jesus Christ. As the apostle says: "Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ". The ministration of Christ was thus the means, by the power of the Spirit of God, of practical growth in the saints.

When you come to the practical side of things every one must begin small. You may get a commission, as we have heard, and you cannot improve it. It is just as good at the beginning as at the end, but practically we must begin small. I admit the difference between Paul and John. John presents the things in their nature. Paul presents them in their application. Therefore, in Paul, as I said, we all begin small; we all begin as babes. It is not the condition in which we are to remain; he does not for a moment contemplate that, but he says, "Whom we preach ... that we may present every man perfect in Christ", or literally, full grown in Christ. There is the ministration, the presentation of the grace of Christ, that we may grow up into Him in all things, as we read elsewhere, that we, holding the truth in love, may grow up to Him in all things, which is the Head, even Christ.

I just want to allude to two or three passages in John's gospel, and would to God I could bring them before you in the unction of the Holy Spirit, so as to illustrate the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. I could not convey to anyone the sense, poor as it is, which I have of the

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grace that is presented to us in His Person, especially in the gospel of John. Every one, I think, must be alive to this, that Christ is presented in a very peculiar way in John's gospel. How entirely the gospel presents Him as One morally outside this world! The world is looked upon as reprobate. "He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not". He was a heavenly stranger here upon this earth, but He was also the "Son of man which is in heaven". There was a scene where He was at home. The purely human side is not prominent in John. He presents One who was a real Man, but as outside this world -- actually in this world, making the Father known, declaring His name, ministering grace in the most blessed way, but as to Himself, morally outside the world; and more than that, the effect of the testimony He presented was to draw souls to Himself outside this world. There was an internal work of grace going on, the Father drawing souls to Christ; as He says, "No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him".

I would rather only suggest, and leave every one to work it out for himself, but we will turn to one or two scriptures, and first, John 2:9 - 11. Now, beloved brethren, we are not here on heavenly ground, that is certain, but we get a wonderful expression of the grace of Christ. The first thing brought before us is, that man's resources, even at best, run out; then it is Christ comes in; the water of purification is turned into the wine of joy. It is an earthly scene pictured before us, but who is it brings it in? It is Christ. And there is another thing, He "manifested forth his glory", and the effect was the confirmation of the faith of His disciples. There we get, to begin with, a sample of the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. No doubt every one knows that the scene has a dispensational character -- it points on to the future, but it proves, even with regard

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to the earth and the hopes of Israel, that they are dependent entirely on what Christ shall bring. Man's resources will run out, and, after all, it is the water of purification that is turned by the power of Christ into the wine of joy. "This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him".

It is wonderful and beautiful! There is a great deal more in believing than we sometimes think. In John it is not simply believing certain things about Him, but if I believe in a Person I commit myself to Him. We read in this same chapter: "Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men". The disciples committed themselves to Him. It is a great thing to commit yourself to Christ. The more you go on the more you have confidence in Christ. It is like saying, I believe in Christ; He is the One for me.

Just a word on chapter 3: 13. "No man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven". That verse, beloved brethren, conveys a very great deal to me, since as a matter of fact the Son of man was bodily present on earth. He says, at the close of chapter 1, "Henceforth ye shall see the heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of man". But in chapter 3 I get another idea connected with the Son of man, and that is "the Son of man which is in heaven". There could be nothing more marvellous. I can understand the Son of man on earth, the object of the attendance of heaven; but here it is the Son of man in heaven. The contrast, I doubt not, is to man in paradise. Man was there innocent, perfect as God made him; but now I get the Son of man which is in heaven. There is a vast deal connected with it. He is the object of affection in heaven; not there for a moment, but the place where He is at home, the object of supreme affection and delight. That is what He was, though bodily present on earth. Man might reject Him here, but could

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not alter what He was in heaven. I wish we could lay that to heart, and see the wonderful thing that had come to pass in the very fact of the Son of God having become Man. Then He goes on to speak of the Son of man being lifted up from the earth.

I turn now to chapter 6: 32, 33: "my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world". Here we get another thought of grace connected with His Person. The Jews referred to Moses because they regarded themselves as a people of privilege, and had eaten the manna in the wilderness. Now the Lord gives them another truth: "Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven". Because His business was to make known to them the grace of the Father. "The bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world". We have seen Him as the One who brings in the wine of joy; then we find He is the Son of man which is in heaven; and then the bread of God come down to give life to the world, where there was no life, where all was death. The whole thing originates in heaven. He is the revelation of grace; the living bread come down from heaven to give life to the world is the revelation of grace where all was barren, everything dry, no moisture here. He comes down according to the grace and thought of the Father, and gives life to the world. What He brings before us is how the whole thing originates in heaven in the heart of the Father, and the Son comes to effect these purposes of blessing, these thoughts of love. It is heavenly grace which is to support man down here in life. It is not people taken straight away to heaven, but man down here upon the earth. Man supported here of God in the power of heavenly grace.

The whole idea in this chapter is, that it is a dependent life. I am supported by grace that comes down from heaven. (Another thought comes out namely, of

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deliverance, but I do not dwell upon that.) The Lord says later on in the chapter: "he that eateth me, even he shall live by me". I am sustained by that living grace come down from heaven. But the point in my mind is to bring before you the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the whole thing originating in the heart of the Father, and the Son the way of its communication.

I pass on now to the chapter I read, 20: 17, "Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God". We have a great deal here; redemption is accomplished. And we have here the Lord, not simply morally outside this world, but, as I might say, actually outside it -- though He was not yet in heaven, but you cannot connect the risen Man with this world. As having come down from heaven He was always morally outside this world, but now was actually so: but the link was not broken between Himself and His own. Not a bit! They were to be associated with Him as He is. He makes known to them the grace come down from heaven, the full effect and result of what He had wrought for them, the full consequences of redemption -- the source of all being the heart of the Father, and the Son, who came to accomplish the Father's will, having done all that was needed to bring them into His own place before the Father. He Himself announces to them the full consequence and result of redemption. "I ascend to my Father and your Father, and to my God and your God". His place was theirs. No distance now, all is gone in His death. Not only were they justified in the place where they had been guilty, but all that stood between God and them had been removed in His death, and His place as Man before God was theirs. He would not hold back anything. That was the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ! It is a wonderful thing! We do not understand giving in such sense as that. Our hearts are so narrow, so selfish; we poorly

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understand it. Everything comes from above, nothing from beneath. Everything was accomplished according to what He knew to be needful. Now He places them along with Himself, as near to His Father and God as He was Himself. It is of interest that we get all brought out here, apart from any question of the Holy Spirit; that is, apart from the question of realisation on their side. It is all His own grace. I have no doubt He gave them a sense of it before the Holy Spirit came down at all. Who is to sustain us in it? We are before His Father and His God, and who is to sustain us there but Himself? That I doubt not is the idea in John 6, "he that eateth me, even he shall live by me". He speaks of it here, apart from the question of realisation on the part of the disciples. It is the fruit of grace and the redemption He has accomplished for us. Look at the announcement to Mary. He does not delay after He is risen. The Lord knows her, calls her by name, she responds at once, and He makes her the messenger to His disciples -- "Go to my brethren". He owns them; He does not wait for them to own Him. 'Go and tell them the consequences of what I have accomplished; they are placed in the presence of God according to what I am'. That is the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.

I ask any one here, is it not the most marvellous and striking contrast to all the selfishness of our own hearts? I do not know how to impress it upon you, I know it so little; but I would press upon you the grace of Christ, the Bread of God which came down from heaven. Spiritually the disciples were very small in stature, but we get the "commission". You cannot improve upon that. You cannot add to relationship; "my brethren" in relationship with Christ and with the Father. However little they might realise it, there can be no improvement upon it.

Then in verses 18 and 19 we get another truth of all moment. Jesus comes into the assembly. I am not dogmatising, but I am bold to say I believe the assembly

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was here. They were gathered by the testimony to Christ's resurrection. Their tendency was to scatter after His death, but they were gathered by the testimony to the resurrection. Shut off from the world, in the upper room where the doors were closed, Jesus comes into the midst and His presence gives us the assembly. I am alive to the position of things; the Holy Spirit was not here, the body was not formed, but here was Christ's assembly. There was the Lord; He called them; they were brought together by the testimony to His resurrection. He was in their midst. It was the assembly in pattern. I delight in it because every point of grace is brought before us in its distinctness in connection with Christ Himself, and apart from any question of realisation. First, "Go to my brethren", and then, "In the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee". Other truths in connection with the church were not brought to pass yet; but it was Christ's assembly, the place where He was supreme and pre-eminent, the place where He made known His pleasure, and there they get their mission. He sends them out. "As my Father hath sent me, even so send I you". And then it is He says, "Receive ye the Holy Spirit". The Holy Spirit is another fruit of redemption. The first-fruit is relationship; the second the assembly; the third is the communication to them of the Holy Spirit. A most important point, because in connection with that comes in the whole question of realisation. It is in connection with sending them forth that He breathes on them and says, "Receive ye the Holy Spirit". As long as He was with them the Holy Spirit could not come. I think it is in connection with the Holy Spirit that we get the whole formative process. All that goes on subjectively in the believer is in the power of the Holy Spirit. "He that eateth me, even he shall live by me". It is by the Holy Spirit that this goes on, that Christ is assimilated, that deliverance is realised, and we are practically formed by the power of the Spirit in the

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affections and thoughts and feelings of Christ Himself. That is the process that goes on in us by the power of the Holy Spirit. Those the Lord speaks to here had received His word, were already clean, but all the things brought out here were the consequence of the redemption He had accomplished; relationship with His Father and with His God, association with Himself, now in the presence of the Father.

We are in the world still in a sense, but in the power of the Holy Spirit we may say we are outside the course of things here, because we are connected with this wondrous Person who is actually outside and who has made known to us the Father's heart of grace and the wondrous grace of His own Person. As I said before, we all begin small. We need to feed on Christ that Christ may be assimilated in us, that thus we may grow by Him. We need, too, to realise the perfect deliverance Christ has wrought for us. Now He has removed every bit of distance between God and us. We need to enter into it as part of the redemption that He has accomplished. We have not only the "upper springs", Christ up there, but also the "nether springs" -- what answers in us to every movement of the heart of Christ. No doubt the Holy Spirit is in us the servant of Christ.

I readily own that I feel myself very defective in the ability to minister Christ to the saints, to communicate to the hearts of the saints a sense of the blessed grace Christ has brought down from heaven. With regard to the blessing of Israel in the future, I believe this will be just as true in principle as now. Now it is grace come down from heaven to lift us up to heaven. Not actually yet, but while down here in the world, that we should find ourselves by the power of the Holy Spirit in faith in these heavenly things, the objects of the Father's affections as the Son is Himself. As He says, "That the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them".

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THE LIBERTY WHEREWITH CHRIST HAS MADE US FREE

Galatians 3:23 - 29; Galatians 4:1 - 31; Galatians 5:1

There are two thoughts that come together in the latter part of the passage that I have read. The children of promise are children of the freewoman. The children of the flesh are children of the bondwoman, but the children of promise -- like Isaac, for he was the child of promise -- are children of the freewoman.

I will say a few words about the children of promise, and then about that with which they are connected. They are the children of the freewoman. I want to shew you, if I can, what it is that brings us into christian liberty -- I think the greater part of saints very poorly enjoy liberty. The apostle says, "Stand fast ... in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free". That is the end and object of what the apostle brought before them.

The apostle brings before us here the secret of liberty in the mother of whom we are begotten. I can understand the contrast to it in Ishmael. Ishmael took his character from his mother, who was a bondwoman. I have no doubt that he became an Ishmaelite from his mother: his hand against every man, and every man's hand against him. That kind of man is really in bondage, knows nothing of true liberty. Nor did he know much of dwelling in a house or of being at home. He was the son of the bondwoman and took character from his mother.

On the other hand, Isaac, being the child of promise, was the child of the freewoman, and he too took his character from his mother. Sarah was Abraham's wife, and Isaac was brought up under the influence of his mother. A man takes character from his mother, though not perhaps ability. You will rarely in the world

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see children of character if they have not a mother of character. You can readily understand this. While character is being formed children are thrown so much in contact with their mother, that it is no wonder if they take character from her. So it was with Isaac, and so with Ishmael and so with us as christians. "Jerusalem above is free, which is our mother". As christians we take our character from the testimony presented to us, and the character we derive from that testimony is practically liberty. Jerusalem below was in bondage with her children, they were begotten of that system. The mother was in bondage, and so too her children. They took their character from their mother, as did Ishmael from his mother; but Jerusalem above, which is our mother, is free. It has that character like Sarah.

The secret why so many christians are not in the enjoyment of liberty is probably because they have not been sufficiently affected by the testimony.

I was lately speaking to some one with regard to special meetings in London for young men, and the observation was made that, whatever subject might be before them conversation eventually came round to the question of deliverance. I can very well understand this. You get together young men who have been converted, but they are not in the enjoyment of liberty. My impression is that they have never as yet taken character from their true mother, they have not yet been sufficiently affected by the testimony. Had it been so they would be in the enjoyment of liberty.

The Galatians had not taken character, were not in liberty. That is why the apostle brings this subject before them, and at the end he says, "Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage". That is the admonition. What a sorrowful thing to see these Galatians, who had begun in the Spirit, now turned away from the testimony -- for that is what had taken place. Turning from the testimony and going back to

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some past testimony -- it had a most mischievous effect. How do you think you can at the present time connect the thought of liberty with a christian in the Church of England? He never goes to church without repeating the ten commandments and prays over and over again, 'Lord, have mercy upon us, and incline our hearts to keep this law'. How can christians brought up in such associations be in the enjoyment of liberty? They too have gone back to a past testimony, and they take their character from it, and are consequently legal; and if legal, as sure as possible they are worldly. The two things are bound to go together, legality and worldliness. Legality recognises the world and men as they are; not the world to come. If we do not live in the light of that we are legal, and because legal we are worldly.

Now, as to the children of promise, I understand that they are the children of God's purpose. Isaac was the child of purpose, and therefore the child of promise. Since the time of Abraham God has always been acting on that principle of sovereignty. It is declared in Romans 9, 10. There were two children of Abraham -- and if the principle of sovereignty had not been acted on Ishmael would have had part with Isaac, for he was the son of Abraham after the flesh. Had it not been for the principle of sovereignty the same would have been the case with Esau and Jacob. But God chose Jacob. He says, "Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated". Israel could not complain of that principle, for they were the children of Isaac and Jacob, and it was the principle on which Ishmael and Esau had been rejected. Isaac and Jacob were the children of promise.

The first thing, then, that comes out here is, that christians are the children of promise, that is, the children of God's purpose. If you refer to the previous chapter you will see that "before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by

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faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus". That is the way in which faith brings us into the light of God's purpose. In that light we are God's children through faith. Law had had its place up to a certain time. It was a schoolmaster up to Christ, but the divine purpose in Christ is revealed for faith, and according to that we are the sons of God. We have a place before God according to His purpose. I could say to any christian, You are a son of God according to His purpose. You may not have entered much into it, but it belongs to you according to God's purpose. When God reveals His purpose it belongs to me. Time was when it was not known, but now it is revealed in Christ, and therefore I appropriate it. It is not a question of progress or attainment, but of relationship. We have passed the law and have got into the light of faith, and have apprehended by faith the expression in Christ of God's purpose. God is bringing many sons to glory, and His purpose in regard of them has its expression in Christ.

You have a picture of this in Matthew 14 where the Lord encourages Peter to leave the boat to go to Himself. The picture is not completed till chapter 16. As far as I see, Peter did not reach Christ in his soul till then. In chapter 16 Peter reaches Christ by the revelation of the Father. He confesses Christ: "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God". Peter apprehends Christ in that light as the blessed expression of the purpose of God, and in answer to that the Lord says: "thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it".

The fact is, that the assembly is really built on the truth of sonship, and the light of sonship is come out in Christ. God has been pleased to reveal to us in Christ what sonship means -- we could not understand it otherwise-it could not have been fully expressed otherwise. You may get the name in the Old Testament, as, for

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instance, "Israel is my son, my firstborn": and so "out of Egypt have I called my son"; but this will not give you a true idea of sonship. It is vain to talk of sonship apart from affection. If sonship is revealed it is in One who is the object of the Father's affection. That is how the Father revealed Christ to Peter, and Peter confesses Him as "the Son of the living God", and the Lord says, "Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church". Christ was the object of the Father, and He was an object to Peter.

How can the gates of hell prevail against that which is formed in the divine nature? If Christ is known in the Father's love, and we are formed in that nature, how can the gates of hell prevail? They might prevail against faith as a system here, but they could not prevail against that which is built upon the Rock, that is, Christ as the divine expression and revelation of the purpose of the Father.

Now, in chapter 4 you get a point farther. "When the fulness of time was come, God sent forth his Son" verse 4. That is very much like Matthew 16. Christ comes of a woman -- that had reference to the ways of God with regard to His humanity; He is made under law. Those who were the heirs of promise were under law. Christ comes into both positions, "come of woman, come under law, that he might redeem those under law, that we might receive sonship", be brought thus into the light of purpose. Sonship is the gift of God. It is of great importance to apprehend that. It is something akin to what we have in John 1:12: to "as many as received him, to them gave he the right to be the children of God".

Then further: "because ye are sons, God hath sent out the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, Abba, Father". So far what we have got to is this. The christian is in the light of God's purpose, apprehends His gift, and has the Spirit of God's Son. This could never be till Christ was in glory. Sonship refers to

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Christ in glory. For us sonship means that we are to be conformed to the image of Christ in glory, and the Spirit is the Spirit of God's Son, not as He was, but as He is: and by the Spirit the christian cries, "Abba, Father". The apostle continues: "So thou art no longer bondman, but son" (verse 7). It is a great point to insist upon relationship. God looks upon every christian in the light of relationship. He is a son, and he has the Spirit of sonship, and by the Spirit cries, "Abba, Father".

And yet after all the Galatians were very little grown -- they had made but little progress! You see what the apostle says, "My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you", verses 19, 20. They had not gained much ground spiritually. Christ was not formed in them. They had the Spirit, but they were not in the good of sonship, for the Spirit of God's Son cries, "Abba, Father". They had poor apprehension of the love of God, and there was but a poor response to that love. They knew nothing about the assembly as Christ's body though they had the Spirit. Until Christ is formed in us sonship is not of any very great account to us. You may rejoice in the term and in the knowledge that it belongs to you, but it is of little avail for present enjoyment. As I understand it the truth is made known that you may be in state and nature what is suitable to sonship, and what is suitable to sonship is Christ. To put it in other language it is to be holy and without blame before God in love. That is the effect of Christ being formed in you. There is a nature suitable to the relationship in which God has been pleased to place me, and the consequence of Christ being in me is that I am before God, not only in the light of His purpose, but in a condition to enjoy the position and the relationship that He has been pleased to give to me. "Before him in love", "holy and without blame" comes by the way, but the great point is, "before him in love".

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I know but little of it, and therefore cannot talk much about it, but it appears to me a most wonderful idea that I can be in the presence of all that God is, and in love, conscious that I am there for His pleasure.

There is one thing more connected with it. It has often been impressed upon us that love will have company. That thought is not so prominent in grace. It is because God loves us ("for his great love wherewith he loved us") that He will have us with Himself in His holy habitation. Just as God would have Israel in the land of Canaan. The wilderness would not satisfy God. And so God now desires His people to be with Him in His holy habitation -- near Him. He has "raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus".

Now I want to come to an important point, and that is of character, and how you get it. Our character as christians is undoubtedly formed by the testimony, and I must refer a little to the testimony. Look at the latter part of the chapter, verses 21 - 31. We were speaking on a previous occasion of the testimony of God, and I will refer to it again in a very limited way. I go back only as far as Abraham, for the special testimony began with Abraham, and what came out in connection with him was this, that it was the purpose of God to bless; and not only to bless one special people, but "in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed". The principle that has come out in connection with that is that the blessing of Abraham has come to the gentiles in a risen Christ, as you see in chapter 3: 13, 14, "Christ has redeemed us out of the curse of the law ... that the blessing of Abraham might come to the nations in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith". That is how it reaches the gentiles. Christ had to come after the flesh to redeem the Jew from the curse of the law, but to the end "that the blessing of Abraham might come to the nations in Christ Jesus".

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You may be assured of this, that every one formed on that testimony to Abraham will take a certain character. Isaac took a certain character; I do not doubt that he was formed on that testimony of the purpose of God to bless.

Now when we come to the law we find another testimony for faith, and what is shadowed there is this, that in virtue of the law being written in man's heart God would dwell among men. It all depended on what we get in Psalm 40Christ comes forth to be the reflex of God as a Man down here, and in connection with that God dwells in man. That is the next great testimony. If faith had apprehended that, the apprehension would have had an immense effect. It does not set aside what preceded -- the blessing of Abraham, which really means that a man is justified in the eye of God, stands good, but that is followed by the further thought of man being the reflex of God, and, in consequence of that, God dwelling among men.

The present time is marked by two things: Christ, the last Adam, in the presence of God in subsisting righteousness, and the dwelling of God by the Spirit down here. Christ having taken up that last Adam position in blessing the Spirit has descended, dwelling in believers, and thus forming the house of God down here.

Now I come to a further testimony, and that is the throne. The testimony in David is this, grace acting in power. That is what the throne meant. What was established in David, was not merely the principle of grace but grace acting in power. The enemies of God's people were subdued. It was the effect of God coming in. Grace was predominant when Israel had forfeited everything after the flesh. One thing comes out very prominently in connection with David -- we have heard of it already today -- "His mercy endureth for ever". In a limited way it was the reign of grace. The beginning was that the ark had been taken captive and Ichabod

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written on Israel -- the glory was departed. God raised up David from the sheepfold to be the shepherd of His people. He chose the tribe of Judah and mount Zion which He loved, and David to be king. The ark is brought to the city of David and the people sing "His mercy endureth for ever". Thus we have the testimony of the throne; it was in principle the reign of grace. Any one that entered into the testimony in those days would be greatly affected by it, and would get the sense that, whatever the unfaithfulness of man, God was faithful, and "His mercy endureth for ever".

That brings me to another point. The testimony of God is identified with a city. I could not say so much with regard to the blessing of Abraham; but when you come to the dwelling of God and to the throne, both the one and the other have eventually become identified with the city of the great king. Jerusalem was not the first resting-place of the ark. It was pitched at Shiloh, then brought by David to the city of the great king. When Jerusalem proved unfaithful, like an unfaithful wife, then God allowed Babylon to come into prominence. The idea of a city is maintained. The present time is really the time of Babylon, the fact being that the Jerusalem down here has had to give way to the Jerusalem above. That is what has come to pass, though eventually it will be restored to its place here. Now it is desolate, but eventually it will return to its first affections. But what marks the present time is "Jerusalem above". What I understand by that is that there is a point where every testimony of God is centred. "Jerusalem above" is the full expression of God's pleasure. It is not simply this testimony or that testimony of God, but the full expression of God's pleasure. Every testimony rests and will be displayed there. If you want a definite idea of Jerusalem above I can only point you to the Lord Jesus Christ at the right hand of God. In Him every testimony rests. We have a full expression of God's pleasure in the glory of the Lord. It speaks of righteousness;

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of God's pleasure in having a dwelling-place in man; of His pleasure in subduing every enemy of man. In connection with the Lord Jesus we read, "The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death". What marks the present moment is that grace reigns through righteousness past death "to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord".

I believe that if the truth of God's pleasure is apprehended it will do away with legality in us. For God is not on the ground of legality at all. Law was never the pleasure of God. The law had its place as a foreshadowing of what was to come, but God never had pleasure in law. It is not the time of law now; God is not on that ground at all. We could not reach God's pleasure on that ground. God now gives to man the testimony of His pleasure. Every part of it combined in the Man who has accomplished redemption and is now at His right hand.

If I were an evangelist I could go into the world and declare the pleasure of God. It is wonderful light to be set forth in the midst of the darkness of this world. God no longer on the ground of requirement but making known His pleasure, what He has accomplished for Himself in Christ. His blessing has reached the gentiles though they were afar off. It has reached them in Christ Jesus. God has found in Him His dwelling-place and the throne of grace.

I speak of these things because, if apprehended, we shall take our character from them, you will be brought into the enjoyment of liberty; for we can only enjoy liberty in the light of God's pleasure. You are the children of that city in which the pleasure of God has been secured.

Nothing could come out fully till Christ came. There might be a little bit of light here and there, but the truth could not come out fully till Christ came. The fact is that in coming after the flesh Christ removed in His death the man that was an offence to God, and

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now, raised again from the dead, He is the blessed vessel of God's pleasure, in whom the full light of God's testimony shines. And it is now that we are formed by the testimony; when all comes to light in a public way people will not be formed by it though they will rejoice in the light. We are formed by it before the display. The Holy Spirit is come down from heaven the witness of how completely God has found His pleasure, of the pleasure which God has prepared for Himself in the Lord Jesus Christ.

I can understand the apostle saying "Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage".

May God grant that every heart here may be affected by the testimony of God's pleasure!

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A GOSPEL PICTURE IN A DARK DAY

2 Kings 6:1 - 23

I do not desire to say much as to the details related in this scripture, and I take up this passage in it (verses 8 - 23) as giving a striking picture of the grace of God. The ministry of Elisha differs from that of Elijah in that it is for the most part a ministry of grace. It corresponds to the Lord's ministry, which was in contrast to that of John the baptist. The object of Elijah's ministry was to recall the people to their allegiance to Jehovah. The ministry of Elijah failed in that respect, but God's claim was maintained, and then the ministry of Elisha comes in, which was the grace of God in the helplessness and ruin of Israel. Elisha had a double portion of Elijah's spirit, that is the portion of a first-born.

Things were very dark in Israel at this time. It was the reign of Jehoram and immediately after Ahab. The previous chapter shews us what was the darkness of Israel at this moment, as the Lord says in Luke 4, "many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian". Israel did not get the benefit of the light, but Naaman the Syrian got it. I only speak of that to point out the state of things when this circumstance occurred.

I want first to call your attention to this fact, the testimony of God was in Israel, but the light was not with Israel; the light was with the prophet. You have in a day of confusion to distinguish between the vessel of testimony and the light, and when such is the case the protection of God is with the light. The king of Israel got the benefit of the light, though the light was not with him.

The king of Syria was opposed to God's testimony and to Elisha. He was sore distressed because the king

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of Israel was continually made aware of his whereabouts. He thought that there was a traitor amongst his servants, but they explain to him that there was not, but the light was with the prophet in Israel. The king of Israel had not the light, but he had the benefit of it. Thus at the present time christendom, though it has not as a whole got the light, gains the benefit of the light. If it were not for the light of God and that light being maintained, I wonder where christendom would be; it would quickly become apostate. Though they have not the light they get the benefit of the light, and they are protected and may be affected by the light. You may say there is very little value to be attached to any little company that have the light. I think there is more importance to be attached to it than people think. I have no doubt that christendom gets the benefit and, in a sense, the protection of the light. There is the holding to the truth of God, and that is an immense benefit even to those who have not got the light.

The next point is, the protection of God is with the light. Look at verses 13 - 17. "Go and spy where he is, that I may send and fetch him. And it was told him, saying, Behold, he is in Dothan. Therefore sent he thither horses, and chariots, and a great host: and they came by night, and compassed the city about. And when the servant of the man of God was risen early, and gone forth, behold, an host compassed the city both with horses and chariots. And his servant said unto him, Alas, my master! how shall we do? And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them. And Elisha prayed, and said, Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha". If your eyes have been opened like the servant of Elisha, you will see that the protection of God is with the light -- the care of God is there. To refer for a moment to the seven churches,

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Revelation 2 and 3. Where do you think the Lord's interest was in these churches? No doubt His eye was on them all, but I think the interest of the Lord was in Philadelphia where there was little strength, but He could say to them, "Thou hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name". The shelter of the Lord and His protection were there. So here, the place where Elisha was protected. The chariots and horses of fire were not around the king of Israel, but they were round about Elisha.

We might have good reason to fear any little bit of light being extinguished were it not for divine protection; but my conviction is, that if the light is there, God will take care of the light to the end. I do not believe that His protection will be around assumption, or anything of that sort, but where the truth is held in lowliness God will not fail of His protection. I cannot tell you where the light may be at any future moment. Supposing that we have the light with us today, there is no saying where it may be another day, but wherever the light may be, the protection of God will be about the light. There was no fellowship in Israel in that day -- save in evil, none for good; Elisha was a solitary man, but the protection of God was around that man. I think in this day God has given us the light, however small the appreciation of it may be, and He gives us also the privilege of fellowship; and as the light of God was bound up with that solitary man, and the protection of it, so now the protection of God will be round about the light, and those who are identified with it.

Verses 19, 23. Now what I want to shew you from this passage is, that when you have got the light of God, you have a very deep sense of grace; it is only where the light of God is, that there is a true sense of grace. It is only one who has got the light of God who can really evangelise, for the more light I have the more sense of divine grace I have. Here we have a very beautiful picture of grace. The Syrians were the opponents of

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God's testimony; the first thing is they are made completely weak. They are smitten with blindness according to the prayer of Elisha. I do not know that you could have a greater picture of weakness and helplessness than in a company of blind men. Elisha prays for it, but he did not ask for judgment on them, but that they might be completely weak -- and that in a strange country. That was no enviable position. I have seen blind men in a city getting along pretty well with the help of a stick and the kerbstone, but I do not expect there was much in the way of kerbstones in Samaria. The next thing is, they are conducted to Samaria, the very place their heart was set on reaching; and what then? What did they meet? An enemy? Nothing of the kind. They met with grace. The king of Israel did not rise to God's grace; he said "Shall I smite them?" The prophet says, 'Why, you would not treat your captive enemy in that way'. "Set bread and water before them". That is a beautiful picture of grace.

And I will give an antitype of it. I think you get this in Saul. Saul was not going to Samaria, but to Damascus, the city of these very Syrians, and on the way he was struck with blindness; he was made completely weak. It was not judgment, but God struck him with weakness, and he was brought to Damascus -- the place to which he in his maddened rage was bent on going. He never expected to arrive there weak; he expected to be there strong in authority to carry out his mission of persecution; but God had other thoughts for Saul, and to that end He makes him utterly weak. God can make a strong man weak. I could give you other instances besides Saul. The thief on the cross was made weak. The Philippian jailor was made weak, and as we have seen, Saul was going to Damascus "breathing out threatenings and slaughter". Think of the expression! He had to be led by the hand and brought to the place where he purposed to go. What a humiliating position, to be led by the hand!

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When Saul reaches Damascus what does he find? Not retribution; the disciples were a bit afraid of him at first, but Ananias comes to him, and instead of reproaching him sets before him the ministration of "bread and water". Saul became acquainted with two things in Damascus, the grace of God in forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit. Bread in Scripture is, I think, emblematic of grace, and Saul had grace ministered to him and the refreshment of the Spirit.

Then, as we read in verse 23, "the bands of Syria came no more into the land of Israel". So we have in Acts, "Then had the churches rest throughout all Judaea". The persecution ceased.

Now think for a moment of the Syrians when they went back to their master, do you not think they must have been altered men? Had they not a tale to tell -- an experience of grace -- the experience of what we might call a converted man? They could have said, We came to the man of God but we were struck blind -- made completely weak, and then he led us to Samaria. And when we got to Samaria we did not meet with retribution but were met with a great store of provision. It is a beautiful picture of the grace of God, who has His own purpose in making men weak. He brings them to the very place they would go to, but He brings them there broken down; they are "born again"; they have collapsed, and thus are prepared for what God has to give them, and they have "bread and water" set before them.

One word more about the grace of God. The grace of God brings salvation, but then there is another thing. When it has brought salvation, it teaches you. "The grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared ... teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly and righteously and godly in this present world". People think when they have got the knowledge of salvation that grace has done its work; but then there is the teaching of grace, that is, the proper

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moral effect of grace in the heart, and its effect is, that you deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and your course is changed. It is not a legal man who does this, but one in the sense of divine grace. That was the effect on Saul; he did not go back to his master; I can understand the Syrians being sent back to their master, like the Lord saying to the demoniac, "Go home to thy friends", but in the case of Saul, the Lord had other work for him to do; so he did not go back at once to his masters, the Jews, but testified in Damascus what God had done for him -- two things, he had a great experience of the grace of God, and he had received the gift of the Holy Spirit.

I have great delight in the incidents of Elisha's life, for I see the same principles reappearing through the Scriptures. There is never any alteration in the principles of God's grace; and what has come out now in the gospel was ever in God's heart. What could judgment have done for Israel? Nothing could help them but grace.

The light was a protection for Israel, though as a nation they had not got it; but the shelter of God was around the one who had the light, and so will it ever be. I have confidence that God will not fail to protect those who have the light, even in a providential way. But then you may be sure of this -- the more light you have from God the more sense you have of what is in the heart of God for man; and the more effectual you will thus be in the ministry of grace. Perhaps it may be permitted to us to see what Israel did, namely, those who oppose made weak, and brought to the place they wanted to reach; but not to silence the truth, but to receive "bread and water".

May God give us to know more of the greatness of His grace ourselves, that thus we may be better fitted as instruments for the communication of it.

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UNDERSTANDING IN GOD'S WAYS

Romans 8:1 - 27

I have nothing that can be called new to present to you. I only thought that it might be profitable to touch a little upon the ways of God. Nothing helps one more, or is more confirmatory, than in spirit and mind to review the ways of God. The ways of God extend over a long period of time, but we have to remember this, that there is no such thing as time with God. If we could look at things exclusively in a moral point of view, as God looks at them, there would be no time with us, but we are not constructed in that way, but all will admit that with God there is an ever-existing present. You get the statement that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day. It is important to bear that in mind when you pass in review the ways of God.

Speaking of things that are figurative, I think the starting-point of the ways of God was, in a sense, the brazen serpent. A good many things had transpired previously in connection with Israel, all undoubtedly having a figurative bearing or signification; but all these set forth in type things connected with our conscience, and the grace of God meeting our responsibility. A good deal that occurred in the deliverance of Israel out of Egypt was figurative of light coming in to man's conscience to reveal where he is, so that by grace he might be delivered from the power of the enemy. But in all that the state of man was not met, and the starting-point for God was the taking up of man's state, and that is what you get at the brazen serpent. Many things preceding are very necessary to us, but I am looking at things in view of God for a moment. It has been said that in John 3 you do not get the beginning of the gospel, but you do get there the true point of departure for God.

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This chapter (Romans 8) looks at things in a different way from the previous ones, and in connection with it I want to call attention to what the position of man was in the sight of God consequent on the fall. I do not know if that is always apprehended as it ought to be. All would allow that the effect of the fall was that man became morally dead in regard of God. I understand that to mean that he was devoid of feeling or sensibility toward God. But the judgment of death lay on man from God. "If one died for all, then were all dead". There certainly were two questions: the question of man's state, and the sentence of death which lay on him. And God "drove out the man". I think we want to attach great importance to that fact. Not only was man morally insensible in regard of God, but the sentence of death lay upon man. What that meant was this: it was absolutely impossible for God to form any link or enter into any relationship with that man. That is a point of great importance: "If one died for all, then were all dead". That refers not so much, I think to man being morally dead, as to the fact that the judgment of death lay upon man. That judgment lay between God and man, and made it an impossibility that God could enter into relation with man as he stood.

That truth comes out abundantly in Old Testament times. Abel was accounted righteous, but then his offering had come in: a type of the offering of Christ. Acceptance was in that way prefigured by Abel's offering. "He obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts". His acceptance was by another man.

I take up another case, Abraham; he was not only called out of country, but out of kindred and father's house; he was severed in figure not only from the world but from the flesh. He became in that way typical of what has come in in Christ. He left country, kindred and father's house at the call of God, and this separation is verified in Christ.

Then, with regard to Israel, the ground on which

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God dealt with them was that they were the seed of Abraham, God's chosen. God called out Abraham, and he was accounted righteous; and God took up Israel simply because they were the seed of Abraham. It was not the establishment of a relationship with man as man stood, but God formed a link with one apart from the world and the flesh in His eye. You may depend upon it God never lost sight of the fact that the judgment of death lay upon man. This was perhaps even more serious than man's moral state. God never forgot it. If you examine into the dealings of God with this and that man, you will find some indication that God never forgot the position in which man was as driven out from His presence and under sentence of death.

You will understand now how the brazen serpent is the beginning for God. It is that which is alluded to here. "God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh" (verse 3). Three things have come to pass: 1st, The introduction of the Head who is the beginning of the creation of God; 2nd, The Head has borne the liabilities under which man lay by God's judgment; 3rd, The Spirit is here as the power to form man according to the Head.

These are three most important elements in the ways of God which come out in this chapter.

I will speak about the consequences directly; but in referring to the Head, I speak of the Head in the widest possible sense, the beginning of the creation of God; the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the first-born from the dead. I think we want to apprehend Christ more in that light. I am impressed with the thought that we have an inadequate idea of the greatness of Christ: "ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things".

"The beginning of the creation of God" is a most remarkable expression. We might have said Adam was the beginning of God's creation, but Scripture says

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Christ is the beginning of the creation of God. I have often said (and others too) that God began very small. In an outward sense Christ did not begin so great as Adam. He was "come of woman, come under law". Christ came into human life in the lowliest possible way, but nevertheless He was the beginning of the creation of God, and He is the Head and crown of that creation.

Then He came to take up the liabilities under which man lay in regard of God, and in so doing He has brought to an end before God the lawless man. "God sending his own son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh". There was the termination of that state for God, a very great point for us to apprehend. God could form no link with that man. That man was useless or worse in the ways of God, he was no profit to God nor to himself. The death of Christ was the termination of that man for the glory of God, and we have the introduction of another man, the beginning of the creation of God.

Now consequent upon redemption the Spirit is here in order that He may form man according to the head, so that he may derive his character from Christ. This principle goes out to the widest limits, for in every circle man will in result take his character from the head. That is the purpose and work of God.

I want now to touch on what comes out in this scripture in connection with the Spirit on two or three very important points. We get the thought of life and peace and righteousness, and all in connection with the Head. What I understand by life is that one who is in life is, in soul, outside the claim and domain of death. That described the position of Christ here on earth: "In him was life". Death had no claim upon Him.

But there was also peace. There could be no question between Himself and God. And there was righteousness; He was the preacher of righteousness. He loved righteousness and hated iniquity. All these things characterised Christ, as Man here, as Head: life and peace

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and righteousness. Well, by the Spirit of God the same things characterise us. We are cleared of liability before God, and it is a great thing to be in life; to be sensible that death has no claim upon me. That is true. I do not mean but what one may die, but death has no right over me. The rights of death are destroyed and I am in life by the Spirit of God. There is in the christian a man over whom death has no right. Death may touch my body, but if I regard myself as I am before God, I am in life by the Spirit of God, and have come to ground where death has no right over me. We get peace, too, by the Spirit, that is, the sense that there is no unsettled question with God. And so, too, in regard of righteousness. "The Spirit is life because [or in view] of righteousness".

All these things were found in Christ, and it is no small thing that the Spirit of God has come down to form us according to Christ as Head. It is a great thing for anyone to say, I live by the Spirit; I do not account of myself as in natural life, I live by the Spirit. The apostle says, "If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit". When I look at myself in that light death has no claim upon me.

Do you understand what it is to live in the Spirit? Christianity is not a garment which I put on to cover the flesh; christianity is that I live by the Spirit, the flesh being crucified.

Christians, properly speaking, are a wonderful generation in this world of lawlessness, they are more wonderful than they allow themselves to be; but we have so poor an idea of what it is to live in the Spirit. The great part of christians have taken up christianity as though it were a question of orthodoxy in doctrine; but in the true power of it, it is, we live in Christ by the Spirit. Peace and righteousness are necessary consequences.

Now I take up two other points coming out here: sonship and liberty in connection with Christ, for Christ being the Head, you cannot have a standard less than the

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Christ, and it was equally true that there was sonship and liberty; and indeed the one hangs on the other. All these things work out to the utmost bounds. I do not look upon them as having exclusive application to us -- they have now their application to us; we are here for the will of God for the moment -- but they work out to every family. Christ gives character to each and all, not in the same degree, I admit, but in principle the Head gives character to all who come under Him. The Spirit is to be poured out on all flesh. What for? In order that everything may be subdued to Christ. The Spirit of God will give character to all that creation, every family will take character from Christ. It is of great moment to get some idea of the greatness of the Head and of the system to which He gives character.

I do not suppose any one of us has apprehended the greatness of that expression, "the beginning of the creation of God". Then it belongs to Him to give character to the creation of God. All that creation will be brought into the rest of God. He will have complacency in all. The secret of that complacency is, that all comes under the Head and more or less takes its character from Him.

Well, I suppose most of us are conversant with these things. We can speak something of life, peace, and righteousness, and we know something of sonship and liberty. They are good things to be in the reality of down here; but what are we here for? I think, for the will of God until all is expressed. We are going on as saints, gaining intelligence in the ways of God; they are opened up in the succeeding chapters; and this intelligence in the things of God is to qualify us for the time to come, when we are to be companions of Christ reigning in glory. We are qualifying for the day of glory. God's ways are educating us that we may be fit for our part in the day of Christ's glory.

The holy city comes down from God out of heaven, having the glory of God, and her light like unto a stone

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most precious, like a jasper stone, clear as crystal. It becomes a vessel of light for the universe of bliss and all we are learning now of divine ways is fitting us for our part in that day of glory. What then can be of more vital importance than to see the greatness of Christ as Head, and to know and understand something of God's ways in Him. They are very wonderful. The bringing in of Christ was that everything might be entirely according to God's heart. Not only do you get God revealed, but everything in Christ for God's pleasure. "Lo, I come to do thy will, O God". Then you get life, peace and righteousness, and also sonship and liberty. You get the working of them out by the will of God to the utmost bounds, for the reason that Christ is the beginning of the creation of God. And the beginning involves the climax, just as the foundation of a house involves the roof. I think it is very important to take these things in.

We have our part in Christ, and He has His own place in us. The Lord says, "At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you". If we are anything at all for God, whatever character we have is derived from Christ, as He says, "I in you"; and the object of our being here is that Christ might be seen in us. He must be here in the saints. Then do not let us underrate the present moment or neglect it; do not let us fail to understand the value and importance of the time when we can gain intelligence in the ways of God. With all our getting, the principal thing is to get understanding. I do not think I would lay myself out, at my time of life, to gain much in this world, but I would covet understanding. "With all thy getting get understanding", and understanding must have its application to the divine way. Christ is the divine way, and we want understanding in Christ. You may depend upon it if you get understanding you will be a great man -- not in the eyes of the world or of man, but you will be great in the eyes of God.

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CHRIST THE CENTRE OF A SYSTEM

John 12:27 - 37; Romans 6:9 - 11

I think it is a great point to apprehend the purpose with which Christ is presented to us. The preaching of the gospel is the presentation of Christ, not merely of the benefits to be obtained by Christ. The gospel is the glad tidings of the Christ, not simply of something about Him. The truth is that Christ is the centre of a system which God has now before Him, and is presented as the light of that system, and, as such, there is virtue in Him. When He was here there went virtue out from Him, and now forgiveness is preached in His name. The setting forth of the virtue that is in Christ is not the end in the presentation of Christ. The point of attraction is Christ Himself. That is why I read John 12:31, 32. In verse 31 we see one system judged, and in verse 32 another system introduced in the presentation of the Son of man lifted up. When the Lord cast out seven devils from Mary Magdalene virtue went out of Him, but it was to attract her to Himself.

In chapter 9 of this gospel we find that after the Lord had given sight to the blind man, He presented Himself to him and said, "Dost thou believe on the Son of God?" He gave the man sight that he might be attracted to Himself. I believe that God's object is to attract everyone to Christ, and forgiveness of sins is presented, not to occupy us with the virtue that is in Him but to attract us to Himself. I dare say all will accept this. When the light came into the world it was largely rejected, but there were those who came to it, and in coming to the light they proved that they were attracted by Christ.

The Lord said, "I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me". That is Jew and gentile irrespective of nationality.

Now God is not only drawing men to Christ but

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attaching them to Him. In 2 Corinthians 1:21 we read, "Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ ... is God". He does so by the Spirit. He has communicated the Spirit as living water to this end.

Now Christ has been lifted up from the earth, that He might be the point of attraction for all. He attracts to Himself as One who has died from the earth. It has been said that He could hardly have died on the earth, it would have been unsuitable that the righteous One who had glorified God on the earth should die on it. He is lifted up out of it vicariously, and, as lifted up from the earth, draws all to Himself. We have each and all, if believers, in one way or another been drawn to Christ Himself, and He is the Head and centre of God's system -- He is the sun of that system. That system is founded on redemption, and the head of that system is necessarily Christ Himself.

In the coming day that system will be brought out into display; but it is already established for God in Christ. He has prepared it in every part, and will set it forth in due time, and it is in connection with that system that we have been attracted to Christ.

I will ask you now to turn to Romans 6:9 - 11. I want to give you an interpretation of that passage. Suppose, for a moment, I put 'the world system' in the place of "sin" here, and read, 'In that he died, he died unto the world system', that would largely convey the idea, for sin is the ruling principle of that system. In the sight of God, every bit of this world system is sin.

I do not deny that man is under responsibility and in a sense entrusted with government here; but the glory of the world is entirely another thing.

The natural man finds pleasure in the glory of the world, but if you take the whole thing morally from top to bottom, "sin" is the one word that describes it. And why? Because Satan is the god and prince of it, and God has no place in it. If I do, at times, take interest in anything that belongs to the world I am ashamed of it,

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for the whole system of this world is enmity against God. The Lord when here would not receive a bit of its glory, though Satan offered the whole of it to Him. Satan got only from Him a rebuke.

People think, and say too, that there is no harm in many things here, but the true way to look at things is in inquiring if this thing or that is of the system of which Satan is the god and prince.

Now the position of the christian is, that he corresponds to Christ. He is the point of attraction, and "In that he died, he died unto sin [the world system] once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God".

Christ had died to sin and to the whole world system, and we are associated with Him in that death. We reckon ourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, that system to which Christ has died. Every christian properly is to reckon himself as crucified with Christ. On the other hand he is attached to Christ, and that by the Spirit of God, so that he can recognise himself as alive unto God in the system of which Christ is the Head and centre. We are privileged to take that place in Christ Jesus our Lord.

"In Christ Jesus" is an expression of wide bearing. It implies our being in Him as the Head and centre of a system, and consequently in correspondence to Him in that system.

Now in the system of which Christ is the Head three things will prevail -- righteousness, holiness and eternal life. And these three you find here in Romans 6. They are principles which Christ has brought in, and are in marked contrast to the principles that prevail in the system of the world. These may be described as lawlessness, impurity and death.

Man is naturally lawless, insubject to rule; he may be outwardly moral and orderly, but he is in mind insubject to God. There is another thing that marks him, namely, impurity, and that comes because of the absence of righteousness. And, further, there is death, to which

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men are universally subject. You do not imagine that, apart from Christ, God is going to relieve man of the consequences of his sin -- death? I think it is really a mercy that God allows man to suffer the consequence of his sin in sickness and death. What would the world be morally if it were not so?

Now in the system which God has brought in by Christ, the principle that rules is love, and love is really righteousness in practice. You love your neighbour as yourself. Love being the bond between all, righteousness prevails in every circle. Righteousness is fidelity in every divinely appointed relationship. Where fidelity is thus maintained, there is righteousness.

As each planet fulfils its own appointed course in the solar system, so, when the will of God gets its proper place, in every circle righteousness will prevail.

Now where there is righteousness, impurity becomes intolerable. In this world system we are surrounded by it -- it is seen in the newspapers, in the placards on the walls, and there has been an immense increase in that way in my time, and the worst is that much is said not to be impurity. Now in the universe, which is according to God, impurity will not be tolerated. The principle which will be present in the day when Christ takes up His true position as the centre of the universe of bliss will be holiness. I am quite sure that the judgment of death in a world of sin, is of the wisdom of God, but in the system which is of God, eternal life will rule as the blessed consequence of righteousness and holiness. Now we reckon ourselves dead unto sin and alive unto God in Christ Jesus, and so are in that system of which He is the Head, the first principle of which is righteousness, and we have to look to it now, that we do not fail in fidelity in our obligations, and love is that by which those obligations are discharged.

We have to see to it that nothing is allowed that hinders our love being in activity towards God and towards Christ, so that He has His proper place in regard

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of the saints. And then that in all the relationships in life every obligation is fulfilled. I love my wife, my children, though this is secondary to the relationships which subsist in Christ. Love to God leads to holiness, and in fact you will never reach holiness but in getting under the influence of God's holy love. In true love there is no room for impurity.

Our blessing at the present time takes the form of knowledge. "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent". And if you want to get into this knowledge the way to it is in being led by the Spirit into the love of God. I believe we can be in spirit entirely outside of this world system in the knowledge of the Father, and of His sent One Jesus Christ.

May God give us to appraise this world system according to its real value, and to be apart from it in mind. On the one hand reckoning ourselves dead to it, and on the other alive to God in Christ Jesus.

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AN OPEN DOOR FOR CHRIST

John 14:1 - 31

I desire to touch on two or three points in this chapter; and I just observe that evidently the chapter divides itself into two parts: the one goes down to verse 14, and the other begins with verse 15. The first part is what I might speak of as objective, and the latter part as subjective, that is, what has come to pass in connection with the coming of the Comforter. That is a simple thought.

The first part is connected with faith. Faith always refers to an object. We are not called on to believe anything about ourselves; we are never the objects of faith. The thought of faith necessarily involves what is objective. "Ye believe in God, believe also in me". In the latter part of the chapter we have what is dependent on the presence of the Comforter. These are the two points I am going to touch upon. In the first part, Christ as the object of faith, and in the latter part a very important principle, and that is, that there should be an open door here for Christ. That is what Christ would bring to pass in a world to which He was obnoxious. "The prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me". The point before the mind of the Lord was that, in spite of His leaving the world, there should be an open door for Him here in the affections of His people. A very important point, and one that might well exercise every one of us.

Eventually the Lord makes this very distinctly individual. He speaks in a more general way in connection with the coming of the Comforter at first, but afterwards He passes on to what is essentially individual. It is a little striking that you find the same thing coming out in the address to the church at Laodicea. "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my

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voice, and open the door, I will come in to him and will sup with him, and he with me" -- there is the idea of an open door. The Lord invites us to open to Him. It is in such a state of things as is presented in Laodicea that there may be an open door for Christ. There is no good in making much of anything collective at the present time, for we are in the day of the church's ruin, and in such a moment everything must depend upon individual fidelity, so that each one of us has to look to himself or herself.

I say a word or two with regard to faith. I connect these chapters with the prayer of the apostle Paul in Ephesians 3. You will find they run pretty much on the line of what he prays there. He desires for the saints that they may be strengthened with might by the Spirit in the inner man, that the Christ might dwell in their heart by faith. In this chapter in John, Christ contemplates having a place in the affections of His disciples -- that is what I mean by an open door, a place in the affections of His people; but, depend upon it, you will not get that side of the truth unless you get the first. If we are not right in regard of faith, we shall not get the other side. The Spirit could not fulfil it to us, because the Spirit will never work in any of us beyond our faith.

The Lord says, "Ye believe in God, believe also in me". Evidently the Lord in this changes the ground, enlarges the view. Faith in God was no new thing; it had marked many a saint in times gone by: Abraham, for instance, believed in God. But faith in Christ was new in a sense. Evidently the thought of the Lord was not limited to the disciples -- they had believed on Him; but He is laying down a new platform, and thus the ground is changed. It is now not only faith in God, but also faith in Christ, and that is to us a point of the last moment. I suppose we are all in the reality of that; we believe in God, but we also believe in Christ. This does not invalidate any faith that had gone before, but a new object of faith has come in in Christ's Person. The

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Lord is anticipating here the day of Pentecost when He, as the ascended Man, made Lord and Christ, would be presented to men as an object of faith.

The Lord does not say, You believe in the Father, believe also in Me. I do not think it is exactly a question of the Father and the Son. He goes on afterwards to speak of the Father's house, but in the first expression it is more the idea of God and Christ than of the Father and the Son. Things have become very much more defined to us because the exaltation of Christ, following upon the accomplishment of redemption, brings at once into view another system of things. The apostle's words in the beginning of Acts, "God hath made this same Jesus ... both Lord and Christ", are pregnant with meaning. "Lord and Christ" is a wonderful thing to be apprehended by us in a Man in heaven. Faith in Christ, in that point of view, is to us a matter of the last moment. It is not only that He is Lord, but He is Christ. There is power in Christ not only to set aside the existing order of things, but to introduce an order of things that is according to the love of God which Christ has revealed. Not only "in him dwells all the fulness of the Godhead bodily", but He "is the head of all principality and power". The Lord says, "Now is the judgment of this world; now shall the prince of this world be cast out". In Christ there is power to break up and set aside the existing order of things, so as to make room for an order that takes its character from Himself.

You get hints in the Old Testament of the break-up of the order that exists. It was the lesson God was teaching Job. God let loose the forces of evil, and shewed him in a way the break-up of the existing order of things, and that is what will yet come to pass in a wider sense. God will allow the lawlessness of man and the power of Satan to come to a head; He will allow the upheaval and break-up of the existing framework of the world; the foundations of the world will be discovered.

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He will in this way bring to pass that man will find himself cut off from everything on which he has been accustomed to lean, and then God will reinstate man according to Himself. Of course, in the case of Job it was one single man, but he represents many who will be found in like circumstances. The upheaval of all here will teach them that nothing avails but confidence in God, who will in due time reinstate man according to His mind, and that will be brought to pass in Christ. Christ can say, I bear up the pillars of the earth. He is capable of this. He held back the power of evil when on earth; He is capable of controlling all the forces of evil hereafter. He can still the winds and the waves. This is in the power of His hand for He is not only Christ but Lord. If He uses His mighty power to hold in check the forces of evil, it is that He may introduce a world which in every part of it will be answerable to the revelation of God. It is a world which Christ will bring in; an order of things suitable to the holy love of God.

The moment I think of Christ, I think of God revealed. The only-begotten Son has declared God. A system of things brought to pass by Christ must be, in the very nature of things, suitable to the revelation of God. Everything must be in accord with what is revealed in Christ, responsive to the holy love of God of which Christ is the revelation.

I have said this much in regard of faith in Christ. "Ye believe in God, believe also in me". Now a word or two as to the Father's house (verses 2, 3). The Father's house must be a large place for the reason that in it there are many mansions. The Lord would not speak thus if the house were not wide. I should suppose many mansions must imply many families. I do not understand an abode -- a mansion -- apart from a family. The place of Christ is that of Son over God's house. He is a great Priest over the house of God, and I take it He is that in order that He might usher every family into its

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appointed abode. Every family is named of the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. There are many abodes and many families, and Christ is the great Chamberlain, so to speak -- a great Priest over God's house (not a servant, like Moses) to set every family in its appointed place. How is that determined? You remember James and John desired to sit one on the right hand of the Lord and the other on His left in the kingdom, but He said, It is for those to whom it is appointed of My Father. I think the place of each family is determined by the character which it takes from Christ. Every family will surely take character in some sense from Christ. The Old Testament saints, for example, took character from Christ. That may seem strange, seeing that Christ had not come. But the Spirit working in them was the Spirit of Christ. We have been accustomed to think of it in that way. Scripture speaks of what "the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify". If you think of it, there could not be any other Spirit than that which we have received. You cannot doubt that it was the Spirit of Christ active in Abraham, Moses, Daniel and many others. These saints, in spite of every difficulty and opposition, held tenaciously to the promises of God. That marked them, and they walked in the fear of God. No doubt in the Father's house that is the character by which they will be distinguished.

I might speak of other companies. There is the company that will suffer in the time of trial yet to come. I do not attempt to describe what character they will take from Christ, but Christ passed through, in anticipation, all that to which they will be subjected, and they, too, by the Spirit will take character from Christ.

But now to come to the church. The place of the church is peculiar. It is "the fulness of him who filleth all in all". It is not distinguished by any particular detail of character; but it is His body. The point in the church is that nothing might be lacking. I might use another word in place of "fulness". It is the "completeness"

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of Him that fills all in all. Therefore there cannot be any quality lacking which characterised Christ as Man. That is the place of the church as characterised by the Spirit of Christ. If I understand the working of the Spirit at the present time, it is in the complete displacement of the old man, the flesh, that the Christ might be dwelling in the heart by faith. It is not one particular trait or character of Christ that is in question, but, as the apostle says, "that ye may be filled even to all the fulness of God". He says elsewhere, "that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus". And again, that "we may grow up unto him in all things". Not in one thing or another thing, but in all things, that we might be marked not simply by fidelity or attachment or any particular feature, but grow up unto Him in all things, which is the Head, even Christ. It is to that end the Spirit of Christ is working in us now.

Though there will be saints in the time to come who will be subjected, like Job, to the upheaval of all things, yet Job must have some instruction in regard of us. I think it is that we may be free from every prop down here, so as to find our resource in God Himself. I believe every heart will be privy to what I am saying, that we are ever ready to rest in something down here. We have to learn to be loosed from dependence on every prop on which man can rest, so that we may find our portion in God and in Christ. The Spirit is working to that end, so that one can say, I do not thirst; I have sufficiency; I have all and abound; all that heart could desire in God and in Christ.

I only say that much with regard to the Father's house, I have tried to open out the place of Christ in regard of the Father's house -- there are many abodes, and each abode appointed for the family to whom it is ordained, and each family ushered into its place by Christ.

In the Revelation we see the whole heavenly company merged in one. There must be a point of unity, and you find that. But in the latter part we see the bride distinct

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from every other company. No company loses its own peculiar place and character, but there is a point of contact between all the families. Christ went to prepare a place for us, and I do not think any family will get its place until the church has its place in the Father's house, for the church is His fulness. No company will be made perfect without the church. The Lord says, "I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also".

It would be a great point if we were kept here in faith in God and also in Christ. If you look about the world and see the way things are going on, you cannot find much satisfaction there. The secret of all rest and stability and comfort in a world like this is faith in God, and faith in the One who is capable, on the part of God, to fill all things, who has ascended up far above all heavens to that end, and the church is His fulness.

Now I come to the latter part of the chapter, just to say a word with regard to there being a door here for Christ (see verse 15, and onwards). All will admit that Christ is going to have a place here. We are only left here for a moment in the absence of the Bridegroom, but He will return and have His place. We forget that too often. It is not only that He has a place in heaven. His place as Bridegroom is more connected with earth than with heaven. John speaks of it here in John 3"He that hath the bride is the bridegroom". We have gone forth to meet the Bridegroom, that shews He is coming. We are left here to fast in His absence; but the point is, the Bridegroom comes again. If there is any truth in our profession, we have left the world to meet Him.

While He is absent we are fasting, and in His absence there is a door open to Him here. That is what the Lord is opening out here. All depends upon the Spirit of truth and on the saints. I do not think you could understand an open door now without the saints. It could not be without the Spirit, because no one can hold for Christ but the Spirit; but it is in the saints. That is

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what the Lord contemplated.

He speaks first of what is normal. "At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you". There is the open door for Christ, because not simply are we in Christ, but He is in us. You shall, the Lord says, be conscious of the position of things in that day. "I am in my Father", that is in His affections. We are in Christ's affections, and He is in ours. Then there is a door for Christ. He can come in; He can present Himself. He is present in the affections of His people down here. The truth is maintained, because there is a company of people here who live because He lives; not because the world goes on, but because Christ lives. There is thus the witness in the world for Christ. What testimony could be greater than that we live because He lives? That is what maintains christianity on earth. Were it not for that, christianity would be a dead letter. Christianity may be here in name after the church is gone, but it will be a dead letter. It is not so now, because there are those who live because He lives. He is present in our affections.

That is the mighty power here of the Spirit of God. I do not care much for anything else if Christ has an open door here on earth, and that is entirely dependent on the Spirit of truth and the place that Christ has in the affections of His people. In that way everything depends on the heart. Propriety and orthodoxy are all very well in their place. I am not going to run a crusade against them, but I do not see any great power in them. The power is Christ in the affections of the saints. The gates of hell will not prevail against that. They may prevail against orthodoxy and propriety, but not against the place which Christ has in the affections of the assembly.

Now we come to verse 21, and that is more individual. We get in the first few verses what is properly consequent on the coming of the Comforter, but what is normal has been gravely obscured; yet, after all, there is the individual, and that is what we have to see to. We see this in

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the Lord's appeal to Laodicea, "I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door". If you have the commandments of Christ and keep them, you will find you have to do violence to the desires of the flesh. That you may be sure of: they are bound to run counter to all the dispositions of flesh; but the Lord says, "He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me". It is vain to talk of loving Christ if you do not keep His commandments. Then the Lord says, If you do that, there will be an open door for Me. Christ will manifest Himself. By and by He will put Himself in evidence; then there will be a great open door; but the point is now, there is an open door for Him here A great thing that! We ought all to covet that it might be. Even though we may be very conscious how everything collective is obscured by the great mass of profession, still it remains true individually that if any man open the door Christ will come in.

Do you think Christ manifests Himself for nothing? Depend upon it it is a great day in a person's history, when Christ does manifest Himself. One will be a witness for Christ here then. He will never revert to his old ways. He will be careful henceforth about nothing but that there may be an open door for Christ in His absence. He will be characterised by loving Christ and keeping His commandments more abundantly.

But the Lord goes further in verse 23. If the commandments of Christ are bound to run counter to every inclination of the flesh, so the word of Christ is bound to run counter to the course of this world; because the word of Christ will undoubtedly bring to light the elements of another world, and in the nature of things that must run counter to the elements of this world. I ask any thoughtful person: Do you expect to find the word of Christ in a newspaper? You will find much about this world and the present course of things, but the word of Christ brings to light all that is of God. Now look at the gain you get, "we will come unto him, and make our abode with him".

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Christ is not content simply to find an open door for Himself, but He will have an open door too for the Father. That is a great thought. When He comes into the world hereafter He will not only bring in Himself but also the Father. The Father will get His proper place then, everything will be in accord, and there will undoubtedly be witness to the Father and the Son. It is true that if we love Christ and prove it in keeping His word we do not merely get the gain of Christ, He is in evidence, but He brings in the Father and makes Him known. "We will make our abode with him". That is a very great thing.

We are in a place of reproach, and I do not think we are found in a place of reproach for nothing. We have great gain if Christ is in evidence. You will be prepared to abandon everything that gives importance and position to you in this world. He is much greater than any worldly position or self-importance. What is the greatness of this world in comparison to Christ? Christ is equal to filling all things. He will fill all things with moral glory according to God. I can learn thus to be nothing, and to give up all that would give importance to me; I have learned my nothingness in the presence of divine love. The great thing is that Christ should have an open door, and I cannot see how that can be at the present time save through the affections of His people.

I do not want to put out these things merely as a matter of interest; but my desire is that we may enter into them by the Spirit, and if we do enter into them, and they are made good in us, they will give a very remarkable character to us down here. We shall be morally distinguished. We shall not be what we were before. The man to whom Christ has manifested Himself, to whom He is in evidence, will bear the stamp of it.

And the man with whom the Father and the Son make their abode will evidently bear a very peculiar stamp down here. It may not be appreciated by man or by the world, but it will undoubtedly be beneficial to man on

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earth.

I just touch on these things. It is for us to enter into them by the power of the Spirit -- the Comforter. He only can work all in us.

It is most wonderful that after two thousand years we can go back to this chapter and find everything as fresh and real as at the beginning.

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RECOVERY

Matthew 2:15

I just desire to add one word on the subject of recovery. (Matthew 2:15.) What struck me (and I was very much interested in what our brother was bringing before us) was that it is a wonderful thing to see that God has the power of recovery with Himself. That is what I want to indicate. And that Christ is that power of recovery; and all recovery, whatever it may be -- and it is a great principle with God beyond all manner of doubt -- is really the revival of Christ. There is no recovery in man as man. All recovery, whether in the individual or in whatever circle it may be, is the revival of Christ in that individual or that circle.

You see the principle in Israel. In a sense Israel began with Christ. This is seen in Moses. Israel has lost all savour of Christ, but all recovery and blessing for them in the future is the revival in them of Christ. You get the expression of this in Isaiah 53. Christ will be revived in them. It is wonderful that God has thus the power and principle of recovery with Himself. It is all involved in Matthew 2:15: "Out of Egypt have I called my son". Christ is identified with Israel. God had brought Christ in, and He is the power and principle of recovery.

So in regard of the church. There is defection in the church. The principle of recovery is the revival of Christ in the saints. That is the force of what the Lord says in Laodicea. "I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire". What is the recovery there? It is Christ. So in regard of the individual. We might take Peter as an example of this. Peter called to mind the word of Christ. It was the revival of Christ in him; he remembered the word the Lord had said to him.

If there is recovery for any one of us -- we have all had

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to be recovered in a kind of way -- it is the power of Christ in us. The power of recovery is in Christ, and the way in which it works is by the revival of Christ, whether it be in the church, or Israel, or the individual. We all ought to be set for recovery; but I think the point is, that the principle of recovery should be seen in us. God would desire the revival of Christ in us, wrought by the Spirit of God, so that we ourselves might be the expression of the power of the Spirit of God in the way of recovery.

It would be a good thing, and I heartily go with the desire for recovery to any extent in the saints down here, but it must be brought about by the revival of Christ.

Revival is a very great thing. I do not limit it to the conversion of people. It is in the saints. No doubt if Christ were revived in the saints there would be much more work and power in the gospel. The revival must work in us. You may be confident there is no revival in man; the revival is the revival of Christ in man.

God has brought Christ forward as the blessed One in whom He accomplishes all the purpose of His will, but also as the great principle of recovery for every one, whether Israel, or the church, or the individual.

I only just desired to add that word.

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BELIEVERS OR PRIESTS?

1 Peter 2

Ques. Is it not important to recognise that these epistles were written to those who had been Jews?

F.E.R. I think so. There are many allusions to what had been, to things foreshadowed in Israel and taken up in the church. Here it is the spiritual house, the holy priesthood.

Ques. Is the first chapter the thought of the kingdom?

F.E.R. I think Peter's object in writing was to fill up certain gaps, to shew that nothing had lapsed. The priesthood and the nation had apparently lapsed; but the epistle comes in to shew how God had maintained the reality of these things. You get the spiritual house, the holy priesthood fulfilled in Christ's assembly. "I will build my assembly, and hades' gates shall not prevail against it". The truth of the house was maintained. These things were only foreshadowed in Israel; the reality of them is found in the church. Aaron and his sons were typical; you get the antitype in Christ and the church; and the same is true of the holy nation, the peculiar people.

Ques. I should like to know the character of the service.

F.E.R. It does not, I think, go beyond the capability of the offering priest. It corresponds with Hebrews 13 where they had not got the tabernacle or temple service, but were to go forth outside the camp, in the place of reproach; but they had the service of God, spiritual sacrifices.

Ques. Is this on certain occasions only?

F.E.R. No. It is the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His name. I never could understand the offering of sacrifices in connection with the holiest. The holiest was not the place of sacrifice, though on certain occasions

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the blood was brought in there. This passage in Peter gives us an insight into the true character of Christ's assembly. You get steps in a way. "He that has called you". "Not redeemed with corruptible things". "Purified your souls". "Born again, as by the word". "Grow up to salvation". You get all that, but you have not yet come to priesthood. I think the idea of priesthood has been made too small in the great anxiety to insist on the common priesthood of believers. It is God's thought for all, but it is too much to say that all are priests. We are "believers" before we get the thought of a "spiritual house". The coming to the Living Stone is a distinct step. Those who come are outside of what is of man; they are the building of Christ.

Ques. Is Christ's assembly composed of priests?

F.E.R. I think so. It is Christ's assembly, of His kind, as Aaron and his sons. The priestly company has its accomplishment in those who have come to Christ as the Living Stone.

Ques. Are they those in verse 3?

F.E.R. They are on the way to it. In Hebrews 13 we have, "By him therefore let us offer". They are offered by Jesus Christ. In Ephesians we have, "through him we both have access". You touch God at the present time in the appreciation of Christ. The man who does not appreciate Christ does not approach God except in a formal way.

Ques. Is there liberty for 'believers' to take part in the assembly?

F.E.R. Yes; but the point is whether the part they take is as believers merely, or as priests. It may be difficult to determine.

Ques. "To you therefore who believe is the preciousness".

F.E.R. I take it, it is to us He is precious. Everything depends on the light in which Christ is apprehended. You want to apprehend Him as the centre of

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the company; you come to Him in that light, and in that light we are associated with Him. A man who is seeking to prosper in the world has not come to Him as the Living Stone, for virtually he does not admit disallowance. It is as having put on the new man that the apostle can speak of saints as elect, holy, beloved. You cannot get at priesthood apart from Christ being the centre of the company. "Ye in me and I in you". You might have a very good believers' meeting, plenty of rousing hymns and so on, and people mistake this for a happy meeting. I daresay it pleases the flesh pretty much.

Ques. What is tasting that the Lord is gracious?

F.E.R. We appreciate Him. The point is, is the Lord alone good enough for you? People will say they like to have the Lord, but they want a good deal besides. Is He enough for you without anything besides?

Ques. In Matthew 16 is the assembly a house for dwelling in?

F.E.R. Christ refers to gathering to Himself: it was building His assembly. David built up his own house, or God built David a house: that meant a family. The connection between assembly and house is intelligible.

It is a wonderful thing that the church is identified with Christ in acceptance and in rejection. When He shines out as Sun of righteousness He will be precious in the universe -- everybody likes the sun -- but meanwhile He is precious to us: we are partners in His rejection. In Hebrews, if you go inside the veil, you go outside the camp. The test in our coming together is what we think of one another. It is very important that we come together aright with one another, or we shall not meet the Lord. The Lord meeting us is dependent on the way in which we come together. If we come together out at elbows with one another we are not entitled to think of meeting the Lord. It is a great satisfaction to come together here, where we are necessarily so much separated by our callings. The disciples came to meet one another in the upper room, and the Lord came

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to them.

Ques. Is it not a great test to come together to meet one another?

F.E.R. I think what seriously affects us in it is under-currents of feeling. There would be more blessing to others if we were more in the fatness of God's house. People would confess "that God is indeed amongst you". If we came together in love there would not be these undercurrents: there ought to be a power in the Spirit to carry us above even the peculiarities of one another. The Lord will not make His presence felt when we are going on badly.

The ultimate object is that there may be room for Christ: the immediate point is that we meet one another. We have to take into account the strength of the tie that exists among saints. It will necessarily draw us together; it is a powerful bond that holds us together. Partners in a business come together and are well pleased to meet one another. Everything depends on our appreciation of the bond that holds us together. At Corinth I think they came together in a very loose way.

It is instinctive in the unity of the Spirit to come together. J.N.D. was asked why christians come together, and the answer was, 'Because they cannot help it'. To come together in assembly would be perfectly natural if we understood the unity of the Spirit. I do not think the disciples had much difficulty when they came together in the upper chamber; they came because Christ was such a powerful bond to them. They came with one accord to one place.

Rem. This has not been a prominent thought among us, but I see its importance.

F.E.R. We come together to meet and touch one another in the unity of the Spirit. You have nothing of the Lord's presence mentioned in 1 Corinthians 11. There is fellowship -- the bread and the cup -- we express we are one body. Every heart answers to Christ, and it is that that brings us together. Christ is the bond. I

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think we are tested by our relation to one another. I am sure we do not respond to Christ if we do not to one another. Where there is estrangement and strong feeling, I doubt if a person should come into the assembly; let such go and be reconciled and then come. Every person is responsible to free himself from such feelings.

Ques. Are we to come together as believers or as priests?

F.E.R. If as believers only, you are very individual; but if as priests, you are living stones come to the Living Stone. The first point in coming together is, that you are outside of the world, you also are disallowed, but by the Spirit you are in association with the One who is accepted. The whole universe of bliss hangs on Christ:

He is "chosen of God and precious". If you are baptised to Christ you are in a sense disallowed.

Ques. You quite admit that we come together to meet one another and the Lord?

F.E.R. Certainly; but our meeting the Lord is dependent on our meeting one another. The presence of the Lord is not a matter of course. We come in affection to one another and expect the realisation of the Lord's presence. My expectation is to meet the Lord. People take it that if you only come together in proper form, the Lord will be there. I do not believe that. The presence of the Lord is dependent on what we are in relation to one another. It is very possible to come together continually and not have the Lord's presence.

Ques. Would the few who come in a right state be deprived of the Lord's presence?

F.E.R. I would not say so, for the few might save the meeting, and His presence be made good to the two or three, for they morally represent the assembly.

Ques. May we not be edified by the love expressed in a meeting where there is no ministry or gift?

F.E.R. I think in a little meeting there may be fervent affection one to another; while in a big meeting there

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is often so much under the surface.

Ques. You would not put any hindrance in the way of the assembly to any one who is only a believer?

F.E.R. Certainly not; that is a point that I have desired to make clear. You must take the meeting as you find it; we have to accept it in that way. The priests ought, however, to have the conduct of the service among us. The part that people take in assembly must be according to where they are.

Ques. Is it not a very serious matter to give out hymns beyond the state the company is in?

F.E.R. I think people ought not to give out hymns that are beyond their own state; the great point is that it should be done from the heart.

Ques. I thought the Lord ordered all this if we are dependent on Him?

F.E.R. I think it is rather that the Lord joins Himself to us. Everybody is affected by the Lord; but the thought that I should have with regard to His singing praises in the midst is that He attaches Himself to our praises. Christ is present in and to our hearts; it is more that thought.

Ques. In connection with the assembly?

F.E.R. Yes. You have not got to conjure up an imagination.

Ques. But you have scripture for it?

F.E.R. But it is because He is in us. He is pleased to identify Himself with two or three.

Ques. "I will come to you"?

F.E.R. That is explained afterwards. "In that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you".

Ques. In John 20 they were together, and the Lord came into their midst?

F.E.R. Yes; but they had not the Spirit. He only came for a little while; everything was completely changed in the communication of the Spirit. He makes us conscious that He is in us.

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Ques. I thought "I will come to you" was a question of visiting?

F.E.R. Well, it may be that; but the Lord goes on to explain it. "Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also. At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you". He is showing what would characterise that day.

Ques. You keep up the thought of "I will come to you" as visiting?

F.E.R. Yes; but because we are conscious He is in us: His presence realised. It is because we are in His life. The affections of Christ are in His body. They rest in His body here.

Ques. "We will come unto him"?

F.E.R. That is individual; it is a different thought. It is wonderful that there is a company here on earth identified with Christ. And Christ is precious to the company. "To you that believe he is precious", not to the priests only. There is no believer on the face of the earth to whom Christ is not precious. The real power of christianity is in the appreciation of Christ; a person will never give that up. Christ is entirely peculiar: a real Man; but entirely unlike every other man. He did not do things or speak like any one else. The gates of hell cannot prevail against the assembly because there is appreciation of Christ there.

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READING ON MATTHEW

Matthew 13:31 - 46

Ques. In reference to the tree -- is it the thought that the outward proportion is according to the inward corruption?

F.E.R. Yes; but I think you must distinguish between them. The leaven and the mustard tree are two different similitudes. One represents one thing, and the other represents another. The tree conveys the idea of imperialism, a great conspicuous figure, which affords shelter. On the other hand, the leaven hid in the three measures of meal represents a great inflated mass leavened by corrupted doctrine -- they are two distinct figures.

Rem. The mustard tree represents the hierarchical system of things.

F.E.R. Yes, it becomes conspicuous in the world, ruling over the kings of the earth. The harlot will ride the beast. That is imperialism. The three measures of meal leavened represent a great inflated mass.

Rem. Permeating a given sphere.

F.E.R. Exactly.

Ques. Do you get the end of those two views in Revelation 17 and 18?

F.E.R. I should think what you get in Revelation is more the mustard tree. It is the great city Babylon that rules over the kings of the earth.

Ques. Does the apostle speak of leaven in 2 Timothy 3 where he gives a moral description of the last days? Does that give the idea of leaven?

F.E.R. Not quite to my mind. I think leaven is very much more what is human. It is the adaptation of christianity to man. Everything is humanised.

Rem. That is the point -- christianity adapted to human ideas.

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Ques. Is it what is spoken of in Colossians 2?

F.E.R. Yes, that is it. "After the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world".

Rem. "They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world hears them".

F.E.R. What is our place in regard of all these things? We have a perception of them, and are professedly apart from them, but I do not know whether we are apart from them morally, and I fear in many minds there is a kind of hankering after them. What was said at the beginning was that if you stand outside these things, as recognising the character of them, you are a witness to the ruin. It is a poor kind of thing to be a witness to the ruin, but that is pretty much where we are. I do not know how far it is understood.

Rem. That is what was before me, that we might see how far we are sensible of the ruin and outside of it. The mustard tree is the ruin.

Ques. This is a picture of the ruin of what?

Rem. It is the ruin of the kingdom of heaven that is spoken of here. The mustard tree is the ruin.

Ques. Do you distinguish between the church and the kingdom of heaven?

Rem. I do; but in bringing in the kingdom the church comes into view. The mustard tree is a great hierarchical system which Christ never intended the church to be.

Rem. It is the product of a false kingdom instead of the true. Babylon is a false system.

Rem. You get the beginning of it in 1 Corinthians. "Ye have reigned as kings without us".

F.E.R. It is worth while to know what is in our minds when we speak about the ruin. When christianity assumed a form and character which God never intended, it was morally a ruin. God never intended that there should be clergy and sacramentalism and all that sort of thing; but that is the form that christianity has taken to a very large extent.

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Ques. When we speak of the ruin, do we not think rather more of it in connection with a house than a tree? You would say that the house has broken down.

F.E.R. I do not know that I should say that. I think christianity has.

Rem. Christianity was really intended to produce a moral witness for Christ here, and in that sense it has failed.

Ques. Does the failure embrace both the kingdom and the church phase of things?

F.E.R. I think the ruin has come in upon christianity as a whole. I think every one who takes a place outside the great world order is a witness to the ruin.

Ques. Are you not a witness to what cannot be touched by ruin? Was not Paul?

F.E.R. You are not qualified to be a witness to the ruin if you are not up to the mark.

Rem. Our collective position is a witness to the ruin.

F.E.R. I do not understand a collective position.

Ques. "With those that call upon the Lord out of a pure heart", does not that imply a company?

F.E.R. I do not mind who it is: it is anybody who calls on the Lord out of a pure heart.

Ques. What was in your mind when you said that you do not understand a collective position?

F.E.R. I think our position is essentially individual. I cannot see any warrant for anything save what is individual in the present state of things.

Rem. But Scripture says, "Two are better than one".

F.E.R. I agree to that. I cannot see how we can be a witness to the ruin if we are lawless. A lawless man cannot be a witness to the ruin, he is in the ruin. If you get two people walking in righteousness they will naturally be drawn together.

Rem. A good deal has been said about our fellowship.

Rem. I think that means christian fellowship.

Ques. I often hear the expression, 'So-and-so is not in our fellowship'. If we use such terms, what is meant?

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F.E.R. I should suppose that what is meant is that So-and-so is not walking in the truth. If a man is going on in Bethesda, I should not say that that man is really in the fellowship of the truth.

Rem. I have heard you say that the only warrant for our going on together in fellowship is in that passage in 2 Timothy: "follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart".

F.E.R. Quite so. It is the only warrant I know for it.

Rem. Then we must go on without any pretension, or without any idea of what is called corporate witness.

Rem. What you mean is that we cannot claim to be an ecclesiastical company in any sense.

Rem. We are in danger of becoming a tree.

F.E.R. Well, a small tree.

Rem. I suppose we cannot help walking together if we are each walking in the truth.

F.E.R. I do not mind at all if the truth is the bond. There are, I fear, a great many in fellowship with us who look upon brethren as an association, or something of the kind, on scriptural lines, and they are borne along with it.

Rem. I suppose it is that you really stand aside and through grace wait for Christ, and if there are any others waiting they are glad to break bread with you; not forming anything.

F.E.R. Quite so.

Rem. I do not see in the seven churches that anything is under the eye of Christ but Romanism and Protestantism -- Thyatira and Sardis; all the sects, and so on, are not anything under the eye of Christ, they are all part of Protestantism. It is Romanism on the one hand and Protestantism on the other.

Ques. What about Laodicea?

Rem. That is part of Protestantism.

Ques. What of Philadelphia?

Rem. That is also part of Protestantism.

Rem. Do you think these parables have any connection

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with the previous part of the gospel -- the tree and the fruit -- and the tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is cut down? I thought of Christ as the green tree. He was removed. The trees of the earth were cut down because of the evil in them.

F.E.R. I think the fig tree has been cut down for good; but the fig tree represents man under culture, and it is cursed.

Rem. The tree that is spoken of here is not in connection with fruit good or bad. It is connected with shade and overshadowing.

Ques. When you speak of 'individual', is there not such a thing as the unity of the Spirit?

F.E.R. Yes; but if you are a witness to the ruin, you do everything right, else you are no witness. If you are lawless you are involved in the ruin. The mystery of lawlessness already works, and it is only as we are apart from it that we are a witness to the ruin.

Ques. Is there any company that can act with authority?

F.E.R. No.

Ques. How then can we deal with evil?

F.E.R. You do not go on with it. There is no need to go on with evil.

Ques. Are we to look for "faithful men" today?

F.E.R. Yes, I think so. I think we seek to act according to the truth.

Rem. It has often been said that it is only the assembly that can put away.

F.E.R. I am a bit afraid of the collective idea. The meaning of putting away is to get apart from evil. I think the only thing that can act with the authority of Christ is the church. I do not think two or three acting in Christ's name is really the church, only they are guided by the principle of the church.

Ques. If you went into a place you would try to find those who are calling on the Lord out of a pure heart?

F.E.R. Yes, certainly; but I should not recognise a

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company. If I were asked to what company I belong, I should say, To none.

Ques. Would you address a letter of commendation to the saints?

F.E.R. Yes; but it is not because I recognise a company, but because I know there are saints there who call upon the Lord with a pure heart; but those few saints are not the church.

Ques. What is it if it is not a company?

F.E.R. A sort of two or three held together by the truth. In acting we can only act in the light of the church.

Ques. Would the expression "Tell it to the assembly" hold good now?

F.E.R. The principle of it would, but I think we are in danger of getting into an organisation. We have lists of meetings or address books.

Ques. When you speak of a company you are using the word in a sense of an ecclesiastical company?

F.E.R. Yes. People do their best to force us into some ecclesiastical position. Brethren are not an addition to the system around us; it is the very thing we have to contend against. I do not see any warrant for standing apart from what is in christendom, but in seeing that it is not according to God, and this is individual.

Ques. How would leaven affect us now?

F.E.R. You will find in christendom that the precepts of christianity are very largely adapted to man as man. Men can take up an official position as men. For a clergyman it is not necessary that a man should be converted. I have no doubt that a great part of the world is largely affected by the precepts which you get in the epistles, but they are applied to man as man.

Ques. We have heard recently that many have taken the path without faith in it; is that what is in your mind to guard against?

F.E.R. Yes; if people take account of brethren as a company, and attach themselves to them as such, there

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is no faith for the path, and they are hanging on some one else. I do not know what the end of it will be. We are, I fear, dragging on a lot of unwilling people.

Ques. What about young people who desire to take their place to remember the Lord? May they not be instructed?

F.E.R. Yes; but they not only want instruction but faith for the path.

Rem. Abiding in Christ meets every difficulty.

F.E.R. The sad thing to me is, that I see a great number today who do not seem to be abiding in Christ. I do not say that they are not christians, but they are in measure lawless. The only antidote to lawlessness is abiding in Christ.

Ques. What is our warrant for breaking bread at all if you get rid of the company idea?

F.E.R. If you do not act in the light of the Lord, you are lawless. We want to walk in the light of the church. The moment we go out in thought to the whole church all is plain sailing. If a christian isolates himself he is lawless; but we want to keep ourselves and our own minds clear of the company idea.

Rem. There is a sense in which you can look at the company by taking in all saints.

F.E.R. Yes, you are on plain ground then.

Rem. You would have a great objection to a christian isolating himself.

F.E.R. Yes, I think he is lawless.

Ques. Does not breaking bread give the thought of a company?

F.E.R. I break bread in thinking of the entire company.

Rem. The one loaf takes in the whole of the saints.

F.E.R. Yes. In mind you take in all saints, and you break bread in view of all christians; we cannot compass all in fact, but in our mind we take in all saints.

Rem. You take in in your mind what is in God's mind.

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F.E.R. Yes, exactly. "We being many are one body". I do not see any warrant for taking the place of a company; we stand apart from the organisation of christendom.

Rem. The use of the word 'company' involves in many minds the idea of some kind of corporation.

Rem. The brethren.

F.E.R. Yes. The great point is that we must each individually be in faith. I take myself as an example; if any one challenged me as to what I belong to in christendom I should say, 'To nothing'. It would not be a quibble in my mind.

Rem. 2 Timothy is a great book for us now. It shews a clear path. Follow first righteousness, then faith, then love.

F.E.R. Yes; but it is with those who call, &c.

Rem. It would be unbecoming for any company of christians to claim that they were calling on the Lord out of a pure heart.

F.E.R. Yes, the individual does that.

Ques. When you speak of a company, would not that imply every one forming that company?

Rem. It is very difficult to convey an idea of what it is to others. It is inexplicable to people outside.

F.E.R. I am not considering what they think, but what is in my own mind. My point is as to where we are in regard of these things in our own minds. I believe the thought in a great many minds is that brethren are a company in christendom gathered together on scriptural ideas.

Rem. You would refuse their putting you in a false position.

F.E.R. I am anxious to be out of a false position in my own mind. I have no doubt the position is an exceedingly difficult one.

Ques. When we use the plural number, 'we' and 'us', ought we not to take in in our minds the whole church?

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F.E.R. Yes, I think so. The point with regard to it all is the idea that people have in their minds of the position taken up, and of our relation to all that is going on.

Ques. Did not all this come out some years ago in Fragmentary Remarks?

F.E.R. I am quite sure all this was in Mr. Darby's mind. No one was more averse to anything like organisation than he was. The very fact that any one of us is seeking to pursue the truth of necessity brings us together for the moment; but there can be no collective witness to the ruin; it is individual.

Rem. Mr. Darby maintained that we were only two or three, and if we were a witness to anything we were a witness to the ruin.

Rem. You are a witness to the ruin by abiding in Christ rather than by taking pains to let people know whom you are associated with.

F.E.R. I think so. I want to see an end of lawlessness amongst those with whom we are associated. If we were abiding in Christ we should stand clear of a great many things we are now associated with. I see many people in fellowship who assent to the truth, but who are not governed by the truth. Do you think if people were abiding in Christ, they would be found in picture galleries? Is that suitable to abiding in Christ? If you are not abiding in Christ, you are sure to be lawless.

Ques. How is this difficulty to be met with regard to those who seek for help?

F.E.R. The difficulty is, there are people who have not faith for the path.

Ques. What do you mean by faith for the path?

F.E.R. Take Moses. Moses had every opportunity in the world, but he had faith for a path. If people have faith for the path they will be prepared for self-abnegation. If they want to get the best of both worlds, to get the things of this world as well as the things of Christ, they will not be much good. It is not that we make a

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company, but our bond is the truth. What we want to know more of is living down here in relation to the One in heaven. I defy anybody to find any antidote at all to lawlessness excepting abiding in Christ. It certainly means the entire setting aside of our own will.

Ques. Do I get a right impression that the only thing for us is for the truth of God to be made good in our souls individually?

F.E.R. Yes.

Ques. What would you say abiding in Christ is?

F.E.R. It is like the earth abiding in the sun. It is coming under the influence of Christ; you are held by attraction to Christ.

Rem. If we are walking in the Spirit, we shall be abiding in Christ.

F.E.R. I think the whole universe will abide in Christ, and that is how God intends to set lawlessness aside. In the meantime we abide in Christ and He in us. I do not think Christ will abide in you if you do not abide in Him. If Christ is your Head Christ is your intelligence, and you view everything according to Him. Christ in the gospels never viewed anything according to man. Man's thoughts were continually presented to Him, but He never viewed anything according to man. We have the mind of Christ, and we view everything in relation to Christ and not to ourselves.

Rem. I remember a brother saying that practical christianity may be summed up in two expressions: the sum of the Spirit's teaching is abide in Christ, and the sum of Christ's teaching is "Love one another".

Rem. I suppose if two persons were abiding in Christ they would be loving one another, and there would be unity?

F.E.R. I think so. The true principle is -- "If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another". We cannot get out of that -- "We have fellowship one with another".

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ONE FLOCK, ONE SHEPHERD AND ETERNAL LIFE

John 10:1 - 18

In chapters 8, 9 and 10 of John's gospel we have shewn to us God coming down in divine love, in the Person of His Son, to dispossess death and undo the works of the devil. It also brings into view the bread and water of life as available to man. It goes back to the serpent of brass, in chapter 3 without which all promises are unavailable. From chapters 1 to 7 light is brought to the Jew. In chapters 8 and 9 the light is rejected. Chapter 10 shows that in spite of the Jewish refusal, God secures a flock and the privilege of it is, "I give unto them eternal life". This promise was not made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. In chapter 9 the Lord gave the blind man his sight in order that he might be a witness to the Jew that He (the Lord Jesus) was the only begotten Son of God -- the One who was with God before the world was. The first six chapters of John are extremely evangelical, both in character and spirit; "whosoever" and "any man" are continually brought in. It is not now confined to the Jew, but "whosoever will" can take of the water of life freely.

Ques. Does the fold, spoken of in chapter 10, represent Israel?

F.E.R. Not exactly; it was an enclosure in which the sheep of God were kept for protection from the wolf (verse 16). "Other sheep I have which are not of this fold" -- Christ came to lead them out. It is a new system of things, Christ is the door. "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me". This is going on now.

Christendom is made up of folds, or enclosures, going back to an old state of things. For instance, Roman Catholics affirm that salvation is to be had in their church,

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and not outside. All other bodies, or sects, that tie the flesh come under the same name. It is fancied security, or judaising. "I have come that they might have life". He came to annul the power of death; so, now, man passes out of death into life. Eternal life is the purpose of God's love in the gift of His only Son. The Son is the point of contact between God and man.

In chapters 8 and 9 the world is tested by the light. He leads a flock outside the world's order. Fold is the character of this world, and must be avoided. Christ is the door of the sheep, not only to lead them out, but, by Me if any man enter in (to God by Christ) he shall go in and out and find pasture. As in the case of the blind man, when he told them he was saved they put him out of the synagogue -- or fold. Christ takes him up there. Sheep have liberty to go in and out and find pasture. They have no fear of the wolf. The power to save us from the wolf is the Spirit, and it is inside instead of the walls outside.

The pasture spoken of is the word of God: all the goodness of God at our disposal, a clear knowledge of God by Jesus Christ which is an altogether new thing. "They shall abundantly utter the memory of thy great goodness". (Psalm 145:7.) Perish, in verse 28, is the contrast to pasture. Acts 2:21 refers to the same. Could I crack my finger at the devil now? Not exactly, as he does not always come as a wolf, he is transformed to an angel of light and we need to have on the whole armour of God to be able to stand.

Dissenters, etc., are all too narrow. They, perhaps, have a certain amount of truth, but being narrow there is no liberty. We want to be outside of all that. Where the Spirit is there is liberty. Outside the fold, but near the Shepherd; that is, well within the bounds of the Spirit. I am dead against brethrenism. When conceit or self-satisfaction comes in, or a fancied possession of the real truth, it is a bad time; or if they seek to be aught but the broken people of God -- there is one flock and

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one Shepherd. In this there is no outward glamour or worldly show. When God brought Israel out of Egypt, through the wilderness, all the world knew of it. It is not so now. Blessing at the present time is the consciousness of God knowing us and our knowing Him: "I know my sheep and am known of mine". Christ is the good Shepherd, He gave His life for the sheep. He came that every thought of scripture might be gathered in Him as Son of Abraham, Son of David, but that is not of much importance. The great thing is 'He knows His sheep and is known of them'. It is a wonderful thing to know Christ. Christ is my intimate Friend. He knows all about me. I have often said I have not a friend on earth. Certainly there are some saints that I am more acquainted with than others, but I know Him without any kind of reserve, a real impression of liberty. The good Shepherd knows and loves me perfectly. He knows me in reference to that which God has wrought in me, and promotes me to it. An earthly minister, or hireling, is one who serves for pay, he makes a living out of it. He has no love or affection for the sheep, it is officialism. He is not constrained by the love of Christ; the good Shepherd, and the one Shepherd. All true knowledge has its seat in love; so with sheep in Christ. We expand by the knowledge of God. It is impossible to know God without loving Him. God is love. The good Shepherd prepares the way for the one Shepherd. One flock, one Shepherd because it is all of God, not of man. It not only breaks the power of death, but brings us into that place where death cannot reach us -- resurrection ground.

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THE LORD AS GATHERING POINT FOR ALL

John 12:20 - 33

Chapters 11 and 12 of John take up what is personally Christ Himself; His own glory, and also the present place of Christ, as in verse 32: "I, if I be lifted up out of the earth will draw all to me". This refers to Christ as the gathering point at the present time. The question is of Christ "lifted up" and the prince of this world to be cast out.

In this part of the gospel we get Christ presented in three characters. In chapter 11 we have witness to the "Son of God" in giving life to Lazarus. In chapter 12 as "Son of David" -- thy King cometh, verses 12 to 16; also as "Son of man" He must be lifted up. There He is: Son of God -- life-giving power; Son of David -- sure mercies of David; Son of man -- over all things as Head.

The previous chapters bring out the fidelity of God. He will have a flock in spite of the perverseness of man. The effect of the death of Christ is that much fruit is being brought forth (the good seed) as in the "corn of wheat". The "much fruit" is the flock that is being gathered. God will have the children of Israel for a flock hereafter. At the present time every thought of God is centred in the church. It has the place of the "Israel of God", not in a public way, but spiritually.

Old Testament prophecies are left out for a time. God's thoughts are taken up with the education of the church, hence the church will come down out of heaven as the holy Jerusalem, having the glory of God and like unto a stone most precious. (Revelation 21:11.)

The "corn of wheat" (verse 24,) brings out the principle of death. The Lord Jesus could have gone back to glory without dying, but He must die to bring forth much fruit. At present, many sons are being brought to

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glory. Verse 28, "Father glorify thy name ... I have both glorified it and will glorify it again". The raising up of Lazarus from the dead is a witness to His glory. In Hebrews 2 we see Jesus crowned with glory and honour, but all things are not yet put under Him. He is not yet displayed. The church is a witness for Christ on the ground of resurrection. It must be so, or everything would not be in accord with Christ risen. Death is swallowed up in victory. Christ in resurrection is a gathering point for all. "I, if I be lifted up ... will draw all to me" is on the ground of redemption, and if drawn to Christ all are gathered unto one. He is the point of attraction. A feeble illustration is the magnet, how it draws the little pieces of steel. Testimony is now being borne to Him and the result is that men are being drawn to Him. All power is in His name.

There are several instances in Scripture in which this thought is expressed. "In his name", "Through faith in his name", "At the name of Jesus every knee should bow". Also in the Psalms, "How excellent is thy name in all the earth!" No man on earth is equal to a christian for soundness, that is one who has put off the old man, and put on the new. Peter used the power of His name and we ought to use it, too. In preaching, too much cannot be made of His name; concerning His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. His name is His renown.

When men lifted up the Son of God they thought they had got rid of Him; but not so with God. It was not the purpose of God that He should stay there. The character of testimony at the present time is that people are being brought to Christ; not merely that they should be converted, that is not sufficient, they should be drawn to Christ. The Man lifted up is a rallying point for all.

In the present day God is working out the disentanglement of good and evil. In preaching the speaker must have faith in His name. Peter said, 'I have neither silver nor gold, but such as I have give I unto thee', or, I have nothing of this world's goods, but in the name

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of Jesus of Nazareth rise up and walk. That was a wonderful scene.

God has given Him a name which is above every name; the name of a glorious Man who is Head over all things. Evil could have no power where His name is in power. The name indicates what God sets forth in a Person. What God set forth in Him, when down here, was "Emmanuel", that is, "God with us". He shall save His people from their sins. We have now got the world in the name of Christ, 'christendom'. It is a very dangerous form. Satan is the god and prince of it. It shews that we should be separate from it. The expression 'world' in John is the ordinate system which has pretension to light. There is no reality in the worldly system; it is that in which man is glorified.

The last Adam has gone up into heaven, and the Holy Spirit has come down to bring report of Him. No one is adequate to bear testimony to the Man in heaven but by the Spirit, and nothing can deliver us out of system but the apprehension of the Son of man lifted up as the Head of the vast universe of bliss. This has a very separating effect. The Man lifted up on the cross is the point of attraction. In believing on the Lord Jesus Christ you touch God.

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THINGS NEW AND OLD

Hebrews 2:5 - 18; 3: 1

I seek to connect things new and old. There are personal links between the saints and the fathers; Abraham and Isaac. We get in chapter 6 the inheritance of promise given to Abraham. We, on believing, are exhorted to lay hold on the hope set before us. The dealings of God with Israel were unfruitful, and are now set aside for a time. We are now in the promise of God -- not connected with the law. The principles of our position now are seen in God's dealing with the fathers; Abraham and Isaac. God took the seed of Abraham, also a number of nations, and they were called the "Garden of God". Israel was God's vine. It was brought out of Egypt and planted in the land of promise, illustrating man under culture. Instead of bringing forth fruit unto God it was only productive of wild grapes. God judged the vine, also the nations, because of their rejection of Christ. The Jew is now cast forth a vagabond and wanderer on the face of the earth; without king, prince, or any kind of recognition. Nevertheless, God has a mark set upon them that they may not be exterminated.

The parable of the fig tree is an antitype of them. It brought forth no fruit for God, therefore He says, "Cut it down". Although God dealt so long with Israel there was really no great advance in His purposes. The golden calf brought out their hopeless condition, but judgment was not then executed. Read Hebrews 11:7 - 10, 13 - 16 and 27 - 30. In verse 8 we see that by faith Abraham left all, or severed all his fleshly connections, and went out not knowing where he went.

In Psalm 8 we see Jesus crowned with glory and honour; God has made Him to have dominion over the work of His hands; also in Hebrews 2 and 9. In these the world to come is in view. This bring us back to Abraham and

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Isaac, as Abraham is heir of the world to come (Romans 4:13). He was made the depository of promise and represents the world to come in which all the promises are fulfilled. He sought for a better country, or looked for a city which hath foundations whose builder and maker is God. The purpose of God was to have a heavenly company, and he was made the heir. The existing world has been set aside by God and He has the world to come in view in connection with the "Son of man".

Sarah is connected with Abraham. She, in Galatians 4, symbolises Jerusalem above; Hagar, Jerusalem below. We, like Isaac, are children of promise (Galatians 4:28, 29). As he was mocked by Ishmael so we may expect it from our relations after the flesh.

There are three points thus brought out. (1) Our connection with Abraham. (2) Our connection with Sarah. (3) Our connection with Isaac. Israel is put aside as they do not advance God's purpose. They shew out more distinctly God's dealings with man. Our connections with these are great landmarks.

Abraham was called out of the world. This separated him from all flesh outwardly that he might become a vessel of blessing. We are his children by faith in Christ. We are in Christ and are attracted to Him by the Spirit; a moral link by which (from real attraction, not formal, very real in the heart) we are become His seed and heirs according to promise. In God's call of grace to us we have not to go from one country to another as in the case of Abraham; but He, by His Spirit, separates fleshly links, also attracts to Christ, as John 12; "I, if I be lifted up". He forms the centre of attraction to men. If we are in Christ we are children and heirs according to promise. We do not sufficiently take into account what a great inheritance is ours. Free from sin and sorrow; we have got the Earnest now, the Spirit (Ephesians 1:14). The inheritance is very great; as great as could be. We are heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ, if we suffer with Him. It is a great, grand thing

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to look for His coming, when all things shall be put under Him and we shall be in the full enjoyment of it. It is, however, our privilege now to be led through it by the Spirit of God.

Sarah is our mother. We are children of Jerusalem above. It is said that, naturally, the character of a child is taken from its mother. Most men of note or fame have had illustrious mothers. Ishmael was born into bondage; Isaac, freeborn, liberty. Thus we, being children of Jerusalem above, take our character from that and are in the liberty and truth of the new covenant. People brought up under law are characterised by Hagar -- bondage. God has no pleasure in bondage. The new covenant sets forth God's disposition towards us. If we are really in the good of what it is we should know perfect deliverance from everything contrary to God. The true reason why we are not enjoying liberty is because we are not sufficiently acquainted with God's disposition towards us. "Perfect love casts out fear".

We get this set before us every Lord's day. "This cup is the new covenant in my blood". Wherever the Spirit of God is there is liberty. We are, by the Spirit, in the region of divine love. We ought to be in the good of perfect love, even on the judgment day. The two disciples asked Jesus, "Where dwellest thou?" He answered, "Come and see". We only need to "come and see" and we find ourselves in His abode in full liberty, and in the blessed presence of divine love.

Isaac associates us with the true Isaac; that is, Christ risen. Isaac was, in figure, the child of resurrection and the promises were confirmed to him in resurrection. We are on the ground of His death (dead to sin) and on the ground of His resurrection, in accord with Christ risen, and the Head of the universe of bliss. The resurrection morning was an event of immense import. There was never a morning like it. It meant the revival of everything for God; the introduction of a universe, the church is seen.

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By faith we have died with Him, but we are also risen with Him. Therefore, set your mind on things above; that is, the Son of man crowned with glory and honour. If then we are risen with Him, we are the children of promise. He says to the Father, "I in them and thou in me". Also, "Go to my brethren and say to them I ascend to my Father and your Father", and, "He is not ashamed to call us brethren". He has annulled the power of death and destroyed him that had the power of death and He is now the leader of our salvation that He may save and conduct us within the veil. Israel was a stiff-necked and rebellious people; there was nothing for God in them -- like the barren fig tree. We are viewed in Christ, and by the Spirit are seed of Abraham according to promise. The seed of Sarah, secret of true liberty. If a christian is in bondage there are some fleshly links that have not been severed. We are children of a free woman and associated with the true Isaac.

May the Spirit conduct us to the place where Christ abides; as Ruth said to Naomi "Whither thou goest I will go". May we be influenced by the power of His life, with His love in us and associated with Him in glory. Man's legality always hinders the unfolding of these blessed truths.

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THE HOUSE OF GOD

1 Timothy 3; 4

The object which the apostle had in writing the epistle is given as: "That thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God".

The epistle, therefore, is of extreme importance. We know how to behave in one another's houses; we have an idea as to proper conduct in regard of them; here we get instruction as to our behaviour in the house of God.

The house of God is the place of light, it is the place where light is, because God dwells there. The tabernacle was the place of light, because it was the house of God. In christianity God dwells by the Spirit in the house; it is the place of light. If God dwells there, then conduct suited to this is needed; and if you know how to behave there, you will know how to behave everywhere. A man would be so affected by the house of God that he would not misconduct himself anywhere. People take off their hats out of reverence when they go into a church, but they put them on again when they go out, their conduct is not affected by it, but we are always in the house of God, and our conduct is ever to be affected by this thought, God is ever here.

It is a spiritual house; but this term, used in 1 Peter 2:5, does not apply to a local assembly; it is a general idea. The house is as much here as ever, but the idea of it is greatly obscured; the Spirit is here, and if so He dwells in the house. It was Christ who formed the house, then the Spirit came to dwell in it, and the house was widened out greatly. Testimony goes out from the house: the leading thought is that it is the pillar and ground of the truth, to guard it, and it is the place of our education, and so discipline goes on in the house. So also we read that judgment must begin at the house of God, that is, discipline as Ananias in Acts 5; also persecution

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is allowed for our education in the house of God, and you get in 1 Corinthians 11 those weak and sickly among them; so, too, you get comfort and encouragement in connection with the house.

All is vital in the house; it is a spiritual house: it had been a material house, but Stephen said, "The most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands". For a time christianity had the character of God's house, but when man came into authority then christianity ceased to be the house of God, because man then ruled rather than the Spirit of God.

The house is still here, but man's rule has come in, and hence that which is of God has been lost sight of. I ought to rule in my own house, and God rules in His. True believers only form the house of God, the church of the living God. In the house of God restoration of order is really seen, man and wife are seen in their true relationship, and from the house of God there is prayer, intercession and giving of thanks, made for kings, etc. In my sense of things the thought of the house of God ought ever to be present with me. It is anticipative in a way, for God will dwell in the whole universe, now He dwells in the house; it is provisional now, not final. When He dwells in the universe, then we find that God is all in all. A person might say, What is the good of getting a thought of the house of God, why not make the best of things as they are? It is only in separating from things unsuited that you get any idea of the house. To very many the building is the house of God, and so they have very little light in regard of Christ. Here you get very definite thoughts of Christ.

Ques. Why is Christ Jesus (chapter 1.) our hope?

The apostle saw everything failing, so it is our hope, though everything be failing, He is our hope, there were certain truths that became prominent as soon as failure came in. When everything decayed in Israel in Old Testament days, then faith was sustained by prophets, who spoke of the coming of Christ, so in the New

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Testament, when failure had come in, then truth such as Christ, our hope, and the truth of eternal life come more into prominence. In the house of God you get the thought of order; man and wife, elders and deacons. Elders have more to do with things spiritually; deacons more with things temporally, it would not be seemly for a boy to look after people spiritually.

When the assembly came together elders and deacons would not be there as such. God dwelling here by His Spirit is most important, it affects your heart and spirit: I am in the presence of God sensibly; there are a thousand things now that I cannot touch, because I recognise God dwelling here by His Spirit. I cannot resort to certain methods, because God is here: I recognise that God is dwelling here, I have it before me. What is suitable to the presence of God?

In furnishing a house even, or in women's dress, etc., this question confronts you. A person may have a fine house, but what if the children are unruly? In the house of God the Spirit speaks expressly; He knew that things would come in and corrupt the saints. As to the thought of the Father's house, there you get the grand result: the house of God is on earth, we have hardly got to the Father's house yet; we have got to the reality of the house of God, and we know the Father's house.

What we lack is piety; you may get much faith and very little piety; faith does not test as piety does.

Piety means that God is brought in, and that tests; God is a reality to you, you bring in the living God, the man who does that is considered a fool by the world.

In Cromwell's day the saying was, 'Trust in God and keep your powder dry!' but the question is, Was the powder according to God? You must see that things you take up are according to God.

Paul would hardly have insured his life. A man having a free hand ought to trust in God, that is piety.

The line between prudence and piety is very difficult to point out; prudence may develop into covetousness.

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It is a very real thing to apprehend continually the presence of God, and to trust in the living God in contrast to all that is of death around. We have not to do with a God who is subject to such conditions as we have to do with; He is the living God.

When He comes out publicly as the living God, then men will not die; things will be changed. It is a great lever to piety when you apprehend the presence of the living God. He is the Saviour of all, but especially of believers. The great question is piety; it is the doctrine according to piety. We want to see the young more pious; for piety is not merely consenting to truth, but the introduction of the living God into the detail of life.

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THE "WORD OF CHRIST" AND THE LORD'S PRAYER

Luke 10:38 - 42; Luke 11:1 - 4

I desire to say a few words in regard of the expression, "One thing is needful". That was the mind of the Lord; and Mary had chosen that good part, which should not be taken from her. The one thing needful is the knowledge of Christ, and this becomes effective in two ways: one, in bringing about the appreciation of Himself, and the other, in our own practical displacement. Martha presented a contrast to Mary. Mary was silent, she had nothing to say; while there is a record of complaint on Martha's part, and her complaint is often true of us. There was a good bit of self about her. If she had been sitting at the feet of Jesus, she would not have been found complaining. It revealed that though there was real attachment to Christ, there was not practical displacement of self; if there is not that, it indicates that we have not fully appreciated Christ. The two things go together. We sometimes speak about a change from Adam to Christ; that means our displacement on the one hand, and the appreciation of Christ on the other. Hence it becomes a point of moment to us to inquire how that is brought about. That is what I understand by the 'one thing needful'. We cannot take the ground of being benefactors with regard to the world; and if we do not take that ground, what are we worth here except as having, by divine teaching, the appreciation of Christ? That is what I should call the salt of the earth. Nothing gives us any true character but appreciation of Christ, and if the salt have lost its savour, it is good for nothing.

I would say a word in regard of the light in which Christ is presented in the parable of the good Samaritan. No doubt the true condition of the Jew in the eye of God

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is indicated in the state of the man who, having fallen among the thieves, was wounded, stripped of his raiment, and left half dead. It is a striking picture of declension, it was on the way from Jerusalem to Jericho; but the point is, that when the representatives of the law could do nothing, the neighbour came in and shewed mercy; he came from outside. Christ is thus pictured in the Samaritan; He did not really spring up among the Jews; He did, in one sense, according to the flesh, but He came from another direction -- from heaven -- to shew mercy. We have a beautiful illustration of this in the case of the paralytic. All those who accepted Christ were conscious of having received mercy at the hands of Christ, and they knew that they would still receive mercy. When Christ was parted from the apostles, they knew that they could look for the mercy of Christ unto eternal life. They knew that Christ had come on the part of God, to make known to them the grace of God and forgiveness, and that His mercy would be toward them, until the divine result was brought about in them. That is the character in which the Neighbour had come, not to execute judgment, but full of grace and truth, to shew mercy until man no longer stood in need of it.

The picture widens in what follows as to Martha and Mary. The direct application of the parable of the good Samaritan was to the Jew; but now the scene widens, and it is here that we are touched, because the point now is, what is needful for the moment. The one thing is the knowledge and appreciation of Christ. Israel had been tested. The fig-tree spoken of in chapter 13 is a figure of man under culture. Man had been under culture in the Jew, but the fig-tree was about to be cut down. What remains? Christ remains; He has become Man, the Man who has come to accomplish the will of God. Christ has come in according to Psalm 40, and the law of God is in His heart, so that one thing remains. Hence you can understand that the knowledge and appreciation of Christ is the one thing needful. "If

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one died for all, then were all dead". What remains? The One who rose. The bearing of this is of all moment to us. It is not simply a question of shewing mercy to us, but of One having come to do God's will, and who has the law of God in His heart. Both those expressions refer to us in their bearing and import, and we have to learn to appreciate Christ in that light.

Now Mary represents a person whose thought is to enter the holiest. It may be said the holiest was not there, but where do you think the sanctuary was at that moment? In the house of Martha; there cannot be two judgments about it. Christ was the Sanctuary, and Mary pictures one who is set on entering into it. A person seeks to enter the sanctuary, because he wants to become acquainted with the secret of God. When the secret becomes manifest, there may not be the same necessity for entering into the sanctuary to learn it; but it is of all moment that we should exercise the boldness that we have to enter into the holiest, in order that we may gain instruction in the secret of God. Mary evidently had an idea that there were wonderful things in Christ, hence she was content to be silent, and to sit at His feet and hear His word, and the Lord commends her. If we have at heart to enter into the holiest, and to get instruction in the secret of God, the Lord would, I think, commend us, and would say that we had chosen the good part. The secret of God is in Christ, and hence I said that Christ was the Sanctuary, and that Mary's thought was to enter the sanctuary and learn the mind of God. There were two things in the holiest, the ark of the covenant, and the mercy-seat; Christ is both. He came to do the will of God, to abolish that which rendered sacrifices necessary. The condition of man and his conduct made sacrifice a necessity on his part, but God had no pleasure in sacrifices which were offered under the law, and the first principle of the accomplishment of God's will was to remove that man whose condition and conduct made sacrifice necessary. Hence Christ Himself

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became the victim, that He might offer Himself to set aside that man, and with the setting aside of that man, the whole system of sacrifices needful on account of that man's condition, in which God had no pleasure, was set aside, for One had come in to do His will.

You can only know Christ by His word. Mary heard His word. His word is that which is expressive of Himself. The word of Christ is seen in two things: in the accomplishment of the will of God on the one hand, and in the law of God being in His heart on the other. He does not say, Thy law is within My heart and I come to do Thy will. He reverses it. "I come to do thy will" is first, and appears to be connected with the offering of Himself, as seen in Hebrews 10; then He says, "Thy law is within my heart". He is going to give that law to the universe, and how has He given it to us? By giving us His Spirit, that we might be in His life, that is, in the love of God. We could not live in the life of Christ if we did not live in that in which He lives. Christ has made us to participate in that which is a well of water springing up in the believer to eternal life. The requirements of the law are fulfilled in those who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit. If you take in those two thoughts, the accomplishment of God's will in the removal of the man whose condition made sacrifice necessary, and the giving the law of God to the universe, then you will get an idea of the word of Christ. He has been to the cross to abolish the lawless man; but there is something far more blessed expressed in Christ; the law of God, of divine love, was in His heart, that He might give it to the universe. The practical result of what Christ has accomplished in redemption is that He communicates living water. We ought to be exercised to enter into the secret of God, to learn Christ by His word, and the result would be as with Mary, that we should be displaced by the appreciation of Christ. That is the work now going on.

One word as to the beginning of the next chapter.

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The Lord taught the disciples to pray. You cannot suppose for an instant that Christ taught them a form of prayer. The prayer supposes that, like Mary, we have an appreciation of Christ, and accept the displacement of self. That is the practical transfer of the soul from Adam to Christ. How does Christ teach us to pray? By bringing us through His word into concert with His own mind. He says, 'Father, thy name be hallowed'. That is what Christ was set upon. "Thy kingdom come". "Thy will be done". In speaking of these things Christ was bringing His disciples into communion with His own mind and spirit. Think of the greatness of Christ. He will fill all things with the law of God, that all may be responsive to divine love. If we have the appreciation of Christ, we shall say, "Father ... Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done". That is our attitude here in the appreciation of Christ; we enter into communion with His mind, and look forward to the time when those things will have their accomplishment in Himself, when reconciliation will be brought about, and all things in heaven and on earth will be brought within divine complacency. If we are out of sight, and are looking for the Father's name to be hallowed, and His kingdom to come, we shall be kept in very distinct and rigid separation from the whole course of things down here. Then "if we suffer, we shall also reign with him". That will be our part in His day. "It is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom". But what is important for us now is to have self so practically displaced, that we should not think of ourselves and our own part, but really prove the goodness of Christ, and be so in communion with His mind, that we express that which lay upon the spirit of Christ, and which He will bring into effect.

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THE GLORY OF GOD AND JESUS

Acts 7:51 - 60

We all recognise the great interest which attaches to the Acts of the Apostles. It has sometimes been said that the book might have been called, 'The Acts of the Holy Spirit', but I do not quite think this is just, for the reason that the work of the Holy Spirit lies in a sense underneath what is recorded. The Acts of the Apostles presents the work externally, that is, the outward effects of the testimony -- the work of the Spirit lay in what was underneath in souls.

God's work in souls is not done by instruments: it is His own. He does use instruments to communicate light, but the actings of the Holy Spirit lie underneath.

There is a good deal recorded in Acts of the effect of the testimony which did not probably eventually stand. We read, for instance, that a great company of priests were obedient to the faith: that was the outward result of the preaching, but much of that probably fell away; the real operation of the Spirit of God in souls would not. We see nowadays great outward efforts made in the gospel and apparent results produced by the word, but that is not necessarily the measure of the Spirit's work. The work of the apostles was carried out in the power of the Holy Spirit, but even their work and the Spirit's work in souls were not commensurate. The parable of the sower would prove the same point. The Lord Himself was the Sower, sowing the seed -- the word of God. And yet only the seed which fell on good ground brought forth fruit.

The object of the Acts of the Apostles is to shew the transition from judaism to christianity by the testimony of the gospel. The book begins with Jerusalem and ends with Rome.

My object in taking up a few points in this book is, as

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I have already said, to shew the true character of christianity. We need to go back to what was from the beginning to see this, and we thus get light as to the divine thought and intent in the gospel. If we go back thus it will lead us into a narrow, and in a sense exclusive path, because in the light of the truth we cannot go on with things in christendom which are not according to the first and divine thought, but are in principle unrighteousness. It has been said, that the purest water if it falls on the earth becomes mud, and therefore we want to go back to the fountain to find out what the pure water was.

We have had before us the subject of the house of God. God dwelling here by the Spirit. We saw that the establishment of the house was dependent upon the fact of Christ having taken His place in heaven as the last Adam. The tabernacle in Israel was the figure of what God was going to establish here -- His house. Now it is established, for the question of responsibility has been settled, and Christ has taken His place as last Adam in the presence of God in subsisting righteousness. Now I may remark that we do not find in Scripture the idea of a church formation or organisation. There was a company who believed in Christ and had been gathered by the testimony of His resurrection, and the advent of the Holy Spirit necessarily constituted that company the house of God. Church formation was the subsequent work of man, but it is a great thing for us to get back to what was from the outset in the power of the Holy Spirit. When decline had set in the apostle Paul sought to bring the servant back to what were the first principles of christianity -- the glory of the Lord, and the Spirit of God down here. You may say, were there not such offices as elders and deacons? Well, there were men full of the Holy Spirit, and they were appointed to this work on account of their spiritual qualifications. So real was the presence of the Spirit that in the first instance of discipline recorded the sin is said to be lying to the Holy

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Spirit. We have a poor conception of the power that was connected with the church at the outset, for all was spiritual. When the Holy Spirit came down the house was formed, and every office and all that was to characterise it was in the power of the Holy Spirit. Even a deacon who dispensed the bounty of the saints was full of the Holy Spirit. The house depended entirely upon the presence of the Holy Spirit, not upon human formation.

Now I come to another feature of christianity. The earlier chapters in Acts just leave room for the possibility of the restoration of Israel, and yet at the same time the church was being formed by the Spirit. But in Acts 2 all hope or thought of the restoration of Israel was coming to an end, and this opens the way for the true power of christianity to be brought to light. There are two things which come out in the end of chapter 8. (1) The true significance of baptism. (2) The formative work of the Spirit in the saint. But it is interesting to refer to one or two points in the earlier part of the address of Stephen (see verses 14 - 16). The Jews boasted in the fathers, and they boasted about themselves. They assumed that they were the people of God, but they did not take to heart the fact that the patriarchs themselves never really came into the enjoyment of the promises. If Israel was to enjoy the promises it must be with those to whom the promises were made. Therefore their going into the land could only have been provisional; resurrection must come in, for it was not possible that the children could come into the enjoyment of the promises without the fathers, and the latter had been laid in sepulchres. The Jews boasted in the fathers; but these had died, and never got the promise. They boasted in Moses, and they had rejected him, both as a deliverer and as a prophet. (See verses 27, 39): "Who made thee a ruler and judge over us?" "To whom our fathers would not obey, but thrust him from them".

And the ground of boast was in the land of Canaan, and yet they had forfeited the land before they got into it

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(see verses 40 - 43). God had already said in His mind, "I will carry you away beyond Babylon". I believe that this refers to their present dispersion, and this is put down to their worshipping the golden calf in the wilderness. God visits upon them the original sin. Another boast was in the house of God, and yet they had made it a den of thieves; but "the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands; as saith the prophet, Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool: what house will ye build me? saith the Lord: or what is the place of my rest?" They had material ideas of God's house, but God is not to be limited to a material house. The Jew had forgotten that heaven was His throne, and that the earth was His footstool.

Now to sum up these things. In their thoughts they were to enjoy the promises without the fathers, they had refused Moses, they boasted in the land but forfeited it by idolatry, and they brought the thought of God's house down to a material temple. Now I ask what was left to a man like Stephen -- whose eyes were opened to all this? What value was there for faith in the people who took the place of God's people here? Stephen charges them with unvaryingly resisting the Holy Spirit; they had broken the law, persecuted the prophets, and slain the just One.

Now in contrast to all this we get the light which was vouchsafed to Stephen (see verses 55 - 60). Stephen looked up steadfastly to heaven; he was full of the Holy Spirit, and a man who is so always looks to heaven; and he saw the glory of God and Jesus (not Israel), and he apprehended that every purpose of God was established in heaven in the Person of Jesus. The counsel of God had in no wise failed; all was established in a scene where sin and death and Satan's power have no place. It was the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. When the glory of God is displayed when Jesus comes, the effects of sin will be put away. Death will be swallowed up in victory. But what a man who is full of

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the Holy Spirit sees now is that all is accomplished in Jesus; it is no longer a poor patriarch having the promises, but dying, and his body laid in a sepulchre.

Now in heaven the glory of God and Jesus are seen together and all has to come from heaven for the setting right of things here; but a power has already come, the Holy Spirit, by which we can look up, and see all accomplished, and established in one Man, and that one Man is a life-giving Spirit, so that He can quicken millions. It is not only that righteousness has been established in Him, but that He being a life-giving Spirit has power to quicken, and therefore every purpose of God stands steadfast in Him.

Here this comes out in the way of-testimony, and Stephen says, "Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God".

Now another point comes to light, and that is, the formative work of the Spirit in the believer, the life of Jesus was manifested in Stephen's mortal body. We see the character of Christ coming out in him; he was formed in moral likeness to Christ. The expression recorded here, "Lord, lay not this sin to their charge", indicates the life of Jesus, and this was the effect of the formative work of the Spirit. And we get also the true significance of baptism. Stephen was stoned to death, he was literally baptised unto death. He left the earth, where there was no place for him. Do we desire now to get out of sight here? Are we content not to be prominent here; to be identified with Christ's death? If you get out of sight in identification with His death, you will come into sight, but in the likeness of His resurrection. When He comes into sight we shall come into sight. Our life now is hid with Christ in God, but when He who is our life is manifested we shall appear also with Him in glory. Stephen was completely identified with Christ in death; he gets out of sight, but the answer in him will be when Christ shall appear.

The real work and purpose of the Spirit of God is to

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conform us to Christ's likeness; that the life of Jesus might be manifested in our mortal body. Stephen fell asleep; his work was done, but he will be awake when the Lord comes.

It is the mighty power of the Holy Spirit which we see effective in Stephen.

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GOD'S PURPOSE TO BLESS

Genesis 1:26 - 29; Genesis 12:1 - 7; Galatians 3:13, 14

In taking up these scriptures I want to shew the unvarying principles of God's ways. They all go to prove that God ever had His own purpose and mind, and that He is never diverted from it. There are few men steadfast enough to be able to adhere unswervingly to a purpose; so many things come in to influence and affect them. But God adheres to His own purpose and has His own way of giving effect to it. We feel thus that we have to do with a God with whom there is no change nor variableness. This principle remains ever true as to God, "I the Lord change not".

There are three great testimonies of God's purpose which come out in Scripture with reference to man: the first is of blessing, the second of dwelling, and the third of ruling. The first, namely blessing, came out in the scriptures I have read; dwelling appears in connection with Israel; and ruling is typified in David. God has seen fit to identify Himself with a kingdom. He will reign. The Psalms look forward to Jehovah reigning: "Jehovah reigneth ... He sitteth between the cherubim. Let the earth be moved".

The thought of blessing we find came out at the very outset of man's history, long before Abraham. It was for this reason that I referred to Genesis, but the idea of dwelling did not come out until a figure of redemption is present, although it was ever, I suppose, in the mind of God: then the kingdom, the throne was set up in David, but evidently had in view David's Son. These are three great testimonies, but I purpose only to speak of one at present, but at the same time to shew that every testimony centres and rests in one point, and that is Christ; they all converge there.

Now to speak of blessing. God's purpose ever was to

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bless, and neither sin nor curse by law diverted God from His purpose, and I shall trace this through Scripture until we come to the vessel of blessing. The blessing of God really waited until we get the second Adam, the life-giving Spirit. I turn back to Genesis 1. It is there we first read of blessing (see verses 26 - 29). There the thought is plain enough; God did not simply create man, but He blessed him, and man could not be blessed of God without knowing it, that is, he was consciously in God's favour. Everything that was around Adam and Eve was a witness and expression of the goodness and favour of the Creator. They could look round and all was perfect and attested the beneficence and favour of the Creator. Had things continued as they were man would not have been called to hate father and mother to be a disciple of Christ, for he would have been conscious of the bounty and goodness of God in every relationship in which God had set him; and further, the blessing was to descend. They were to be fruitful and to multiply; the blessing was to reach to their posterity. This was the beginning of the world as it is; man was blessed of God. But things did not continue long in that state. Man fell, and Adam and his wife were turned out of the garden, the sense of moral distance had come in, they were afraid, and with that they lost the sense of blessing and favour. Man was then under death on account of sin, according to God's solemn warning. All was changed, and man had to earn his bread by the sweat of his brow. It was a dark day that had come in, and things went on from bad to worse, until at length the wickedness of the world was so great that God brought in the flood of waters and swept all away; He could not tolerate things any longer.

Now I turn to chapter 12, which comes in after the scattering of man. The importance of that passage is that it shews that God had not departed from His mind to bless, although the condition of blessing was altered. God says to Abraham, "in thee shall all families of the

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earth be blessed". He purposed to bless, His thought had not changed, notwithstanding all that had come in. The tower of Babel and idolatry had come in after the flood, but God would bless, but blessing was connected with a man answering to God's call. The important point in the call of Abraham is that it shews that God was to be paramount with man. I do not expect now to experience the favour of God in connection with country, kindred and father's house but in connection with the Lord Jesus Christ. When converted, a soul has to come to the truth that God must be paramount, and that sometimes brings us into trouble. God must be paramount with Abraham, and for the reason that he was no longer in those things in which he had been in the beginning. We have to say to God, to fear God and to walk with God, and our knowledge of Him takes precedence of all and every other consideration. This is all individual and by faith. I know God by faith, and the light of God as revealed is that to which I have to maintain faithfulness by His grace. We have to stand true to the knowledge we have of Him. If kindred were idolatrous, we should have to stand apart from them, or if worldly (and this comes closer home to us), we have to be true to the light we have from God and make it our first consideration. God's purpose was to bless, and therefore God justified Abraham, but outside of all here he was to have a place in the favour of God.

I turn now to the passage in Galatians 3. After Abraham -- four hundred years -- another principle came in and that was law -- which brought a curse. There had been curse before; the ground had been cursed on account of man's sin. Curse is evidently the opposite of blessing. A man's curse is of small account, but if man is under the curse of God it is a bad prospect. If a man is cursed he will be thrust away from God like thorns.

There was, however, hid in the law that which was to be written in man's heart; but as a system law brought

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a curse. Afterwards, though Balaam wanted for the sake of a houseful of gold to curse Israel, the truth came out that in the sovereignty of God's mercy they were an elect people whom God had blessed, and Balaam could not curse those whom God had blessed.

But Israel, when the Lord came to them, being far away in heart and spirit from God, had no sense of favour or blessing from God; but a wonderful thing had come to pass in the presence here of the Lord Jesus, and that was that the vessel of God's blessing was on earth. We could not, I think, speak of Christ as being blessed, for He was the Blesser. The Son had become Man, and was thus the vessel of God's blessing for man. The little company who were gathered around Christ were greatly blessed. They were in the midst of an apostate people, but by the fact of being in the company of the Lord they must have been conscious of being blessed, and that more than they could have described to you. They had instinctively, I imagine, a sense of the favour of God; they could not have explained their experience, but still we read they "contemplated his glory, a glory as of an only-begotten with a father". They could not have been in the company of such an one without having the sense of being blessed.

I pass on to the passage in Galatians. "That the blessing of Abraham might come to the nations in Christ Jesus?" I shall touch here on two points. (1) That the vessel of blessing needed to be adequate -- that is, One who was in the communion of God's thought. The vessel of blessing must be naturally acquainted with the divine purpose to bless. No one therefore but the Son of God could be the vessel of blessing. (2) He must also be one who could take away the curse which stood in the way of blessing, and that is what we get here, "Christ has redeemed us out of the curse of the law, having become a curse for us": and mark the consequence, "that the blessing of Abraham might come to the nations in Christ Jesus".

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Now I see three truths which necessarily come in that we may have part in the blessing and be conscious of being blessed. We need to know (1) the God of resurrection; (2) the vessel of blessing; and (3) the power of the Holy Spirit. Now with regard to the first; all that I have in this world is limited to me by death. When a man dies, his genius and acquirements and everything pass away from him; and if I am to be conscious of blessing from God I need to be acquainted with the God of resurrection -- the living God who can make alive the dead. (God raises the wicked, but it is never said save as to blessing that God makes alive.) Nothing can be more essential to us, being liable to death as we are, than that we should have faith in the God who raises the dead.

Our consciousness of blessing depends likewise upon our nearness to the vessel of blessing -- like the disciple who leaned on the bosom of Jesus. We are conscious of blessing as we are near to Him. The vessel of blessing not only died for us, but He is Priest for us. God blesses through Christ, and to be conscious of blessing means to be near to Him. I ask, Why should you not be near to Christ, when He came into death that you might be? If we were near to Him, how conscious we should be of favour; God has associated us with the vessel of blessing.

But not only are we near to the vessel of His pleasure, but the Spirit has been given that saints may be formed according to Him. One great work of the Holy Spirit is to subdue, and another is to form saints according to the pattern of the heavenly Man. All God's ways looked forward to the vessel of blessing, and the Holy Spirit has come down to form us according to the image of that vessel.

We shall never understand christianity unless we see what the Lord was with His disciples and they with Him down here. In Him in the midst of His own you get the beginning of christianity morally. More light came in afterwards -- redemption having been accomplished and

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the Holy Spirit given -- but we want to be near to Christ, as were the disciples when He was here upon earth.

Thus the unvarying purpose of God's ways from the beginning was to bless, and nothing that has come in in this world's history has diverted Him from His purpose: He has blessed and will bless. I ask, Can there be anything wanting for us if we stand blessed of Him? "We have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God".

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GOD DWELLING AMONG MEN

Exodus 25:1 - 9; Revelation 21:9 - 27

My thought and desire is to pursue through the scriptures the ways of God, with the view of shewing how steadfastly He adheres to His purpose. The world goes on in its way, but not all the will and perversity of man can divert God from His purpose: the counsel of the Lord, it shall stand.

There are three principal thoughts connected with God's testimonies, and these all rest in the heavenly city, and there is nothing revealed beyond that. There is a point where every testimony of God rests, where all that God has given witness to is displayed, and this point is the heavenly Jerusalem. The Old Testament saints could not fully understand the testimonies of God, for they did not apprehend where they all centred. God gave them a measure of light and glimpses of His purpose, but with us the day has dawned and the day-star has arisen in our hearts; this was not the case with those who went before. When the time of display comes, the Sun of righteousness will arise with healing in His wings. Christianity is different to this: to us the Sun of righteousness has not arisen, but we have in the day-star the light of all God's testimonies. The heavenly Jerusalem is the proper resting-place of these; you get there the display of everything testified of. The nations will walk in the light of the heavenly city. Men are in darkness now; they stumble over this thing and that thing; but there will be no dark infidelity in that day, for all that is of God will be in display.

We saw last time the truth that God purposed to bless; what He did at the beginning of the creation in Adam, He reiterated in Abraham, and the blessing has reached the gentiles in Christ Jesus. Now I desire to speak of God dwelling, and you could not have a greater security

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for blessing than the fact of God dwelling. In proof of this I draw attention to Revelation 21:4: "And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away". This speaks of the blessing and happiness of the time when God will dwell with men. The presence of God among men must bring the greatest possible security for blessing; therefore the thought of God dwelling is an advance on that of God blessing.

Now I turn to Exodus 25, because it is there that we get the first definite idea of God dwelling; we get an allusion to it in chapter 15 in the expression: "Thou shalt bring them in, and plant them in the mountain of thine inheritance, in the place, O Lord, which thou hast made for thee to dwell in"; but in chapter 25 we get the injunction to Moses to prepare for God a sanctuary, that He might dwell among the children of Israel. Everything for the sanctuary was to be taken from the people; it is not here the thought of God preparing for Himself a sanctuary; for all was to be taken from men; but God would dwell among men.

But previously to this the law had been given, and I believe we get in that an intimation of the principle upon which God's dwelling among men depends, and that is that man should be morally a reflex of Himself. Redemption had, of course, to be accomplished, but the fact upon which all hangs is the incarnation -- that the Son of God should become Man -- which was the prelude to the law being written in the heart of man. The law was given on tables of stone, but in the mind of God Christ was in view, and the new covenant in which the law is written on the heart of man; and I believe it is on the ground of this that God says, "And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them".

Man will become a reflex of God when the law is written in his heart, it is in that way that he partakes of Christ, and then God dwells among men. I have sometimes

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had a difficulty in connecting the giving of the law with the setting up of the tabernacle; but depend upon it, that the thought of God was that men must be a reflex of Himself, that is, partake of Christ before He could dwell among them.

In the midst of Israel you get therefore in the way of testimony the fact that God dwelt among men. The tabernacle was much more important in this respect than the temple. The temple came in when the people had come into the land and the kingdom was established; then, too, God dwelt among His people -- but it had not the same force of testimony.

I pass on now to John 2:18 - 22. Here we get a great advance. The thought is no longer of a material temple, but still of the dwelling of God in the way of testimony. God was veiled when Christ was here: you could not speak of display; it was God dwelling here in the way of testimony. Christ spoke of His body as the temple of God. The Father was there, and the Holy Spirit was there; the Father who dwelt in Him did the works, and Christ acted in the power of the Holy Spirit; it was God here in the way of testimony. There could be no greater proof of the grace of God than that in Christ God should present Himself in this way. God in Him had come close to man; the Father's words and works were there, and the energy of evil subdued in the power of the Holy Spirit. In thinking of the Lord when here, you must remember that the glory of God was veiled in a servant's form; but at the same time the fulness of the Godhead was there, not in display, but in the way of testimony.

In Ephesians 2:19 - 22 we get a further thought presented: God is still here in the way of testimony -- Jew and gentile being built together for an habitation of God by the Spirit. It is an actual dwelling of God here, but what is concurrent with that is a building growing, "In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord". Testimony marks the present moment, not yet display; God dwells now

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by the Spirit. God dwells in the assembly, and 1 Corinthians 14:25 shews how that a man coming into the assembly would become conscious through the testimony of God being there. Jew and gentile are built together for a habitation of God by the Spirit, and at the same time the whole building grows.

I pass on now to Revelation 21, the heavenly city, where every testimony will be merged in display. The heavenly city will be a witness of God blessing, of God dwelling, and of God ruling: all meets there. The thought of dwelling passes on to the eternal state, and that assures to men the eternal security of blessing, for there could be no ill where God dwells. In the millennium God will secure blessing to man in His government according to His purpose. The sway of heaven will be in rule over the earth; it will be a time of display, the testimonies of God have come out bit by bit, but they all centre in the heavenly city.

Now for us the heavenly city exists. I call attention to a passage in Galatians 4:24 - 31: "Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all". We have come to Jerusalem above; we have been begotten of it, we are her children, and children are largely formed in the character of their mother. We apprehend the point where every testimony rests, and that is in Christ and the church. I believe the church is the vessel in which all the testimonies of God are displayed. We have come to the city of the living God (Hebrews 12:22). If you turn to Ephesians 3:14 - 21, you get there the vessel, and I ask how can you distinguish morally between the vessel and Christ, when Christ dwells in our hearts by faith? Look at the intelligence of the vessel: "That ye ... may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height". What a range of intelligence is opened up here to the church! "And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge". What wonderful things to comprehend and to know, and to what end? "That ye might be filled with all the

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fulness of God", that is, that not a moral quality of God might be lacking. How else could it be the completeness of God? And thus "glory" is to be to God "in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end". When the heavenly city comes out it has the glory of God, and her light is most precious. The church is formed now by the operation of the Spirit in the divine nature, so that it is all of God. What a wonderful vessel the church is, if you take in the divine thought of it as it comes out here, and will come out in display in the heavenly city. But we have come to it -- to the church in Christ Jesus; and it is there God dwells to the eternal security of all else. We cannot separate Christ from the church. The church is the vessel where every testimony of God rests, and everything which God has witnessed to will be displayed there.

If we get into the light of the heavenly city we come into freedom, into the "liberty wherewith Christ has made us free", and we shall not be "entangled again with the yoke of bondage". It has a great effect upon souls in the way of liberty to come into the light of the city.

The present moment is different to all other times, because we have the vessel in presence, where every testimony of God rests. May God give us to be in the full light of the heavenly city, which is illuminated by the pleasure of God. As I have already said, it would bring us practically into liberty. May we understand better where everything testified of will be displayed!

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GOD RULING

Genesis 11:1 - 9; Matthew 21:1 - 11; Revelation 21:1 - 27; Revelation 22:1 - 5

We get three very distinct thoughts in connection with the heavenly city, in the passages which I have read from the Revelation (1) that the city is the dwelling-place of God; there is no temple there, but "the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it" (chapter 21: 22); (2) that there is a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and the Lamb (chapter 22: 1); then (3) that there is no more curse (chapter 22: 3). I refer to these three points because they connect themselves with what I have spoken of on previous occasions as the three great testimonies of God which are prominent in Scripture, and which at last reach their climax, and find their rest in the heavenly city. The first testimony I referred to was God's purpose to bless, the second His purpose to dwell, and the third His purpose to rule, and what comes out in this chapter is that the church is the vessel in which all the testimonies are displayed. It is seen as the medium of blessing, and the consequence is, there is no more curse. It is the place where God dwells, and it is therefore the seat of heavenly rule, and the throne is seen and the pure river of water of life flowing out of it. Such is the blessed consequence of God's ruling; instead of government being the source of defilement and moral death, as is seen in the previous chapter, it is vivifying. The tree of life is also seen in the city yielding its fruits, and the leaves for the healing of the nations, and if you have read the book of Revelation you will have seen how much the nations will need to be healed, after all that which they have passed through.

But to refer to the thought of God's ruling: I think that all would admit that this is an absolute necessity.

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Evil has come in, and if God's purposes are to be established on earth, there must be rule, and the object of God's rule is the subjugation of every enemy both of God and man, and thus I judge in the eternal state there will not be the thought of reigning, because when every enemy has been put down the kingdom will be given up to the moral supremacy of God, which will be fully established, so that God may be all in all.

I would call your attention for a moment to the place and importance which cities have in Scripture. I think a city in Scripture is the symbol of imperial rule, of a power which rules over kingdoms; so in the book of Revelation, Babylon is viewed as a great city which reigneth over the kings of the earth; and in blessed contrast to it we have the heavenly city, and that too is imperial, for the throne of God and the Lamb are in it. You will find too in Scripture that when one city is in the ascendant, another city is out of sight for the time being; for instance, when Jerusalem was in the ascendant, Babylon had no place; on the other hand, when Babylon was in supremacy, Jerusalem was in a state of ruin and desolation.

God never allowed the two cities to be prominent at the same time. In the history of the church we can see the same principle. When the church will be in the ascendant, Babylon will have no place -- her place will not be found at all.

But I return to the passage I read in Genesis 11. The thought of man, even at that early time, was imperialism. Man intended to have a city, and the principle which budded then came out fully afterwards in Babylon. Babel was the definite assertion of man's will, and the principles which you get in the book of Genesis, although small as a grain of mustard seed, come out in full in the book of Revelation. You see them there in their tremendous development.

There have been from time to time men in the world who have betrayed a remarkable capability of utilising to

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their own promotion a state of things existing at the moment. Napoleon would probably not have come to the front in the way that he did if there had not existed in the providence of God a state of things favourable to him; and I believe that this principle is seen in Revelation 6, in which the four horses and their riders are presented: God allows certain conditions of things to come to pass, and a man or men rise up who can turn them to account -- in fact, who can ride on them.

But I want to shew you that that which follows close upon these things has been testified of God all through Scripture, and I would press the fact that every testimony of God has now been brought to a point of rest, to the glory of God, and that all that remains is the display of His purpose. We have come to the great vessel of testimony -- to the heavenly city (Hebrews 12:22) -- where all is displayed. It is a wonderful moment in the history of the soul, when it sees that every testimony centres in the heavenly city, in that Jerusalem above which is free, and is our mother. We then take our character from it, as a child takes character from its mother; when we come to the heavenly city we find that there is nothing in it but Christ. In the first place you get full blessing. "There shall be no more curse": this is the full accomplishment of God's long-standing purpose. God has been bent upon blessing from the outset, but at the time when this was first made known there was no resting place for the blessing; no vessel competent to carry it, but yet Abraham saw Christ's day and was glad, and "he looked for a city which hath foundations" -- a city in which the testimony of God could rest. The important point now is that what Abraham looked for we have come to, and we are the children of it.

The next testimony of God was His purpose to dwell, and this came out, as we previously said, in connection with the giving of the law. When the law is written in the hearts of Israel, and man thus becomes morally the reflex of God, then it is that God will fulfil His purpose

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of dwelling among men.

In its application to ourselves, we see that God writes now by the power of the Holy Spirit upon the fleshy tables of the heart, and Jew and gentile are built together for a habitation of God by the Spirit. But further, the building fitly framed together is growing unto a holy temple in the Lord. The two things overlap here, but we have anyway reached the resting place of God's testimony in the heavenly city, where God and the Lamb will be.

Now I come to the next point, which is God's purpose to rule. This comes out in connection with David. It is clear that the last testimony is essential to the other two, because if God is to bless and to dwell, then everything contrary to it must be put down. He must by His power subjugate all that is not according to His mind. This is foreshadowed in David. In Psalm 78 we find that God turned away from Shiloh, but He chose Zion, and took David from the sheepfold to be the ruler of His people. Jerusalem is called the "city of the great King". Christ, not Solomon, was the true Son of David; so when you come to the beginning of the New Testament you see how carefully the genealogy of Christ is traced down, and the Lord Jesus is presented as the seed of David after the flesh. In Matthew 21 we find that the Lord rode into Jerusalem as David's Son according to prophecy, and by doing so He claimed the kingdom, and it is a point of vital moment that the Lord here claims the kingdom in testimony. The result of His rejection was that Jerusalem was destroyed, and from that time has been trodden down by the gentiles, and Babylon is in ascendancy. But to faith another thing has come into view, and that is the heavenly city -- a sure proof that Babylon will have to go. The heavenly city is the place where God's purpose to rule has found its rest. Now we have come to it (Hebrews 12), and as we apprehend it we are formed for rule. As an illustration, take the Prince of Wales; it is according to the established course of things that he will in time

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become king, and therefore he has been trained in view of it. So too in regard of the saints, they are to reign with Christ, and they are subjected to a course of training here which will qualify them to reign: and what do you think will qualify for reigning? It is suffering: "If we suffer, we shall also reign with him". Peter and the eleven founded by their testimony the heavenly city, and the burden of that testimony was a glorified Christ at God's right hand, and saints suffered down here. We are left here, I believe, to claim by testimony the inheritance, and I believe we ought to do this by allegiance to Christ -- the acknowledgement of His lordship and glory. It is now the great day of man's glory, but we are called to the path of suffering and testimony to the Lord. At the same time, in regard of the powers that be we are called to subjection, to honour the king and render all that is due to those who rule, but not to render adulation to man, because we are left here to honour and to confess Him as Lord.

While the testimony is here, the vessel of rule is being formed by the Spirit of God, and we apprehend thus our true place down here. I see no king with divine right except Christ, and if we understand His present session at God's right hand, then we can wait with patience till He reigns. The apostle Paul reproached the Corinthians because they were reigning as kings before the Lord reigned.

Although the heavenly city is being formed, yet Babylon is still in the ascendant, but we are able by the Spirit of God to judge its character, and we must remember that in whatever way it may alter its face, its character does not alter. What it was, so it is; it is shewn in its nakedness to the apostle John by the angel as the great whore. The whole character of christianity has been falsified by it; the church has become what God never intended it to become. The great harlot is still in the place of power, yet soon the heavenly city will come down from God out of heaven; it will not be long

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before the dragon, the harlot, the beast, and the antichrist will be put down, and then the throne of God and of the Lamb will be seen.

When Christ came to earth, John saw Him as the Lamb of God, and in the Revelation He is still seen in that character, but the throne is His, and out of the throne comes the pure river of water of life, all the blessed influences of life issuing thence, and the seven spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.

May God give us to see that His successive testimonies, all that He has purposed to establish, are secured, and that we have come to the point where they rest to His glory, and may we understand the work of the Spirit in us so that we may be fit to share in all that will come out in the Lord Jesus Christ!

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GOD'S PROMISES IN CHRIST

2 Corinthians 2:20 - 22

There is this connected with the Son of God, that every promise is now established in Him. The promises of God had relation to man, whatever they were. They regarded man, and therefore, in order that these promises might be effectual, they need to be centred at a point from which God could affect and subdue man, for it was impossible that God's promises could be brought to pass if it were not in God's power to affect man according to Himself; but that is what God has proved His power and ability to do; it is in the Son of God that all the promises of God are yea and Amen. If you look for a moment at these promises, they related both to Jew and gentile. The great promise to Abraham, "In thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed", had relation to the gentile as well as to the Jew, and so, many other passages in the Old Testament relate to the gentile. There are ample promises to the Jew, and at the same time rich promises for the gentile. Christ is to be the Head of the heathen: "a people whom I have not known shall serve me". There are abundant promises for the gentiles, in Christ. The great promise to Abraham was connected with blessing, but we have also foreshadowed the complete victory over the power of evil -- the head of the serpent was to be bruised; then there is, too, the promise of the new covenant -- man was to be morally a reflex of God; and when that came to pass, God would dwell among men. And we have also the purpose of God to reign. God Himself was going to take the kingdom. God had the kingdom, in a sense, when David reigned in Jerusalem. Then, when the line of David became completely unfaithful, and God had to break with them, power was put for the time into the hands of the gentiles, and we have the times of the

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gentiles. But we see in the Old Testament the purpose of God Himself to take up the throne; Jehovah would reign. The kingdoms of this world are to become the kingdom of our God, and of His Christ. Now, these promises refer to man, whether it is the bruising of the head of the serpent, or the blessing of all nations in Abraham. Every promise involves the blessing of man. But then, the promises could not, as I have said, be established until there was a point from which God would affect man. Now there is such a point, that is, the Son of God, in whom is revealed God's love, and every promise of God is held in Him to God's glory. That is the light into which we have come -- the light of God's glory in the face of Jesus Christ, where every promise of God is established and firm, because from that point God can make man willing in the day of His power. That is what will come to pass in the case of Israel, and that is what God has done with regard to us. And now in regard of the promises of God, in the Son of God is the yea and the Amen, for glory to God by us, because the light of the Son of God can affect man.

And now, I just say a few words as to how we are affected. It is important to see that side of it, if these promises are to be the glory of God by us. "Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God: who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts". The first expression that you get there is a little difficult to interpret. My impression is this, that it means, attaching us firmly to Christ. That is the work of God, and I think that work of God, as I understand it, is carried on in the hearts of the saints. God is the One who does it. The way in which it is wrought is this, that God gives Christ such a place in the hearts of the saints, as that He attaches us firmly to Him; He dwells by faith in the heart. Then, God has anointed us. He has given us intelligence in the power of the Holy Spirit, a spiritual intelligence of things. I think I can give you an interpretation

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of it. Look at the apostle's prayer in Ephesians 3"For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love" -- just notice how all the Godhead is brought into the passage: the Father strengthens you with might by His Spirit in the inner man, that the Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith -- "that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend" (that is the effect of the anointing) "with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ" (that is, that your hearts may be firmly attached to Christ) "which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God". I think that anyone can understand that if Christ dwells in the heart by faith, your heart is firmly attached to Him; He rules in your heart. And then, you have intelligence, you are anointed, and can enter into the breadth, and length, and depth, and height, that is into the whole range and extent of divine promises. You grasp the entire system, for all the promises of God form one grand system. The idea is not that there are a number of promises having little or no connection with each other, but that they form one grand system, of which the church is the crowning stone. "All the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us", that is, by the church. The church is the witness of them now, and the glory of God is expressed in the church, because the church has and gives the sense of the stability of all God's promises in the One who is the Yea and Amen.

Then, God has also sealed us. The seal is the mark which God has put upon us, and that is the Spirit. It is the expression, the evidence, that we are genuinely God's property. He has His mark upon us. We get the consciousness

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by the Spirit that we are not our own, but God's property. And more than that, He has given us the earnest of the Spirit; His Spirit is the earnest of the inheritance and of glory in our souls. That is what God has effected on our side. What He has effected on our side is in order that He might subdue the hearts of men by the revelation of Himself. What a wonderful company we should be if we were here in the full sense of the certainty and fixity of everything which God has promised, if our souls had power to take up the whole range of those promises. How conscious we should be of blessing if we saw the beauty of that system, everything established in the Son of God, and we firmly attached to Christ; anointed, that we might have intelligence as to the knowledge of God; sealed, as the property of God; and having the earnest of the Spirit until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of His glory.

Now, I think you will admit that the passage is a very profound one. It consists of only two or three verses, but it is pregnant with profound meaning. It would be a great study for a young christian to apprehend the promises of God as one complete whole. They lie about in Scripture, but they form one whole. God could not reveal them all together; He revealed them in part here and there; but now it is our privilege to see the completeness and perfection of the whole, established and firm in the Son of God.

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Acts 11

We see here that the servant of the Lord has to justify his work as well as carry it out; Peter had to justify it before the apostles and brethren. In any unusual work going on today the servant has to justify it before his brethren, as we see in chapter 14: 27.

No servant can take a ground of independence. It was an unusual course of Peter in chapter 10, which God would have to be justified before the saints. The servant of the Lord now takes his direction from the Lord, but that will not lead to independence, he justifies himself before the saints. A servant has to be guided by the general judgment of the saints. As to what Peter actually did, it was that God shewed him, in the sheet let down from heaven, what the situation was, and all Peter did was to recognise the situation. The blessing of Abraham was gone out to the gentiles: that was what Peter had to recognise. It is important to put before people the blessing side of the gospel, and not the mere escape side. Peter only made known what was already true in Christ. He was used to shew that the door was opened to the gentiles. The nations had received the word of God, and the nations had received the gift of the Spirit, and in verse 18 it is to the nations God hath granted repentance unto life.

Cornelius was just brought in to shew what the situation was; the gospel today makes known the situation. A man gets repentance unto life; directly he gets his eyes open as to God he must be brought to repentance. It is the goodness of God that leads to repentance.

The prodigal arrived at a judgment of himself in presence of the goodness of God. If God were not revealed in grace there could be no turning to God. The reconciliation of the world (Romans 11:15) is seen in the sheet let down from heaven, not the world there in

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the sense of "all that is in the world", but in the way of contrast with the Jews.

Redemption has come in to enable God to take up all men. The promise could only be effected by redemption, because man lay under judgment and death.

In his going to Cornelius Peter was very wise, for he took six brethren with him. Cornelius and his house were to be told of God's salvation, were to be brought into salvation. The expression, "added to the Lord", seems to be added to Him in the way of profession.

The Greeks were gentiles, but the Grecians were Hellenists or Greek-speaking Jews. The wisdom of God was seen in using Peter, a Jew and the minister of the circumcision, to open the door for the gentiles. In the case of Saul of Tarsus, Ananias was indisposed to go to Saul, and Peter was indisposed to go to Cornelius, but the Lord was overruling all. Then we see that it was happily accepted by the church at Jerusalem, and they send down Barnabas.

The christian is one who professes Christ; it may have been at first a term of reproach, but it is adopted by the Spirit, as we see in Peter: "if any man suffer as a Christian". Antioch becomes a special centre of the activity of the Spirit.

He is made Lord and Christ, and then you get His activities: He directs His servants, converts Saul of Tarsus and opens the door to the gentiles. The Lord, gone up on high, does all this.

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THE INTRODUCTION OF LIFE

John 3:1 - 21

Ques. What would you say was the great subject of this gospel?

F.E.R. John tells us at the close of chapter 20. The great thought that prevails is the introduction of life into the world. The world is dominated by death but the thought of God is to bring life into it. This gospel does not bring out as others the faithfulness of God to His people but solves the question of life. In chapter 3 you get what was in the heart of God, He gave His only begotten Son, but the point is bringing life in. He takes away the sin of the world and baptises with the Holy Spirit. John claims the world for God, the bread of God is He which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world. The world is all held in bondage to sin, but Christ comes in to set aside everything, He takes away the sin of the world. On the one hand there is the complete subjugation of all that is not of God, but on the other He introduces the influence of God. Ultimately the world is made to become a scene of life instead of death. It is the world that comes into view continually in John, He gives His flesh for the life of the world; the world does not realise its own position and does not understand it. In result it is "I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh". We must look upon everything in the light of the coming day, everything in John's gospel has that in view: the world to come, bringing God into the world -- we have very limited ideas of the extent of God's ways, we are often limited to our own ideas. The character of Christ is as the sent One, the thought of the sent One is continually used in John's gospel. He is to give effect to the Father's will, there is a purpose in connection with the revelation and not the revelation only, but the bringing in of God's purpose: the light shines in

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darkness and it comprehended it not, there was an end of that. Chapter 3 brings in the great thought of God, that whosoever believeth might have everlasting life.

Ques. What does chapter 1 present?

F.E.R. It brings in the light as the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.

Ques. What do you mean by the sin of the world?

F.E.R. It has become detached from the influence of God but Christ comes and brings the world under the influence of God -- into gear! John takes things up very much in the light of divine purpose, the Father's will. I think it is a very great point. The Son of God was manifested to undo the works of the devil. The end of chapter 1 brings in the accomplishment of Psalm 8 -- the Son of man -- the world to come is put under the Son of man and the angels.

The Son of God is the incarnate Son of God, but the Son of man is a much greater thought; things in heaven as well as things on earth are put under Him. He is set over all the works of God's hands, angels are placed at the service of man. Son of God is an official title. King of Israel in Psalm 2 is in a kind of way limited as the way He claims the nations, but as Son of man all things are put under His feet. The second chapter brings in that everything is put on the ground of resurrection -- man comes to an end in the wine that runs out, but he does worse, he corrupts the temple of God. God can do nothing for man but on the ground of resurrection, it is there that the power of Satan and all evil is set aside. Christ has got power and authority on the ground of resurrection to bring life into the world, it only awaits the appointed time until He comes into the world.

Christ came to meet all that had been brought in by the sin of man not only by cleansing but by expiation. In virtue of that He comes again and binds all the forces of evil and not only that but brings in all the influence of God. In the meantime the believer has eternal life; the way is in chapter 4. You would not speak of Israel in

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that way, it would not apply to Israel in the same way. Eternal life is explained in chapter 3: 17 in the knowledge of the Father and the Son. What is in the gospel is a larger thought than that in Psalm 2; the 8th chapter brings in all, the service of angels and other things. In having the Son you have everything that is in Him. In the end of chapter 2 you have the setting aside of man. I have thought that the Lord's purpose in Nicodemus was to set the Jew aside. In the gospel of John you get three passovers: this is the first, then in chapter 6 and in chapter 12. The cleansing of the temple was introductory to His ministry, He takes account first of all that was here. The marriage feast is the one great occasion in a man's life and the wine ran out -- there is no power of continuance, there is death. The temple then was the next great thing but it was a house of merchandise. Everything is surpassed in chapter 2 on the ground of resurrection. He spoke of the temple of His body. When the marriage really takes place the wine will not run out. I think it is the nuptials of Christ and Israel and the wine will not run out. It really is because man has got to the bottom of himself and does not trust himself. To me, it is extremely interesting that the Lord takes everything He finds down here into account. He went down to the marriage feast and does He not take account of things in the present day? Yes! You see that in the first three chapters in Revelation: everything passes under His eye. Men will be maintained in the world to come in the sense of the goodness of God and so the wine will not run out.

Ques. What is the difference between new birth and eternal life?

F.E.R. Well, new birth is an operation of the Spirit of God, but Christ is eternal life. God gives eternal life, but the way that He gives it is in giving Christ.

Ques. Is this a new thing or was the kingdom there?

F.E.R. The defect was in man. He needed ability to see; the kingdom was there all the time. Born of

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God is that it is predicated of certain people that they are born of God. The position of things in this chapter was that the kingdom of God was presented in Christ but man did not see it. People might be struck by miracles but they take no account of it. The thought of being born of God is when you get the children of God, after the death of Christ. New birth is only stated in this chapter as a necessity, in chapter 1 it is privilege.

Verses 12 and 13 of chapter 1 are a summary. They epitomise the effect of the presentation of Christ in the world. Now this chapter and the next bring in the disposition of God to man, chapters 3 and 4 together -- as is set out in chapter 3: 16. His disposition is in the giving of His Son, that is God's mind in regard of the world. I have generally said that chapter 3 is essentially evangelistic. The Son of man lifted up is the object of faith and you cannot take that away. All that the third chapter gives is His mind. The fourth tells you how you get it, the well of water springing up.

Ques. Why is it in the epistle of Titus the grace of God that brings salvation and here the love of God?

F.E.R. Well, I should say in Titus the point is salvation and here eternal life, one is deliverance and the grace of God and the other what God would bring man into. It must be experimental or christianity is a mere term. It all consists in the work of the Spirit down here in believers. Everything is in Christ; you are not told to believe anything about yourself, but the Spirit works in you according to Christ. You cannot go back to make out the state of things in the Lord's lifetime. The Lord did a great many things that the Holy Spirit does now in expounding. It is all anticipative and all on the ground of the Son of man lifted up. In the next chapter it is on the ground of the giving of the Spirit, verse 16 is the spring of verse 14 and shows the love of God to the world, but He had to be lifted up. You must distinguish between the world as a system and the world as the people in it. The casting off of the Jew was the reconciliation

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of the people in it and not the system. Satan is the god and prince of the system, not of men. All the fashions it is said are set by the lowest set in Paris, they all spring from below. God will not have any peace with that. On the other hand God can look on the world in regard of the people in it. God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself not imputing trespasses. It is to the people He is the Saviour of the world, not simply of the Jew like Joseph. It is all the world in John's gospel -- the revelation of God in His nature. What God was before promise. The world is claimed by Christ for God in spite of Satan. The Son of man is One who is exalted above all things because He suffers for all things, as in Hebrews by the grace of God He tasted death for every thing. A most important thing in the next chapter, He that "drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst" and not only that but it springs up into everlasting life. You get the thirst met, a great point! You must get a man content in the first instance, there is something in it that precludes thirst; the beginning of a new state is "never thirst" and following that is the springing up. The love of God is shed abroad in his heart, he has something that satisfies him for ever. I think it is a wonderful thing that the Lord expatiates on the virtue of the water. I would rather have that gift than forty millions of money because that man might thirst: It is man set up in a wholly new state, as Son of man He takes up the judgment of our state that He may bring us into a wholly new state.

Ques. The springing up?

F.E.R. I think it is in individual knowledge as chapter 17, verse 3: "To know thee the only true God".

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THE MORAL SWAY OF THE KINGDOM

Luke 18:1 - 30

Ques. What connection have these two parables?

F.E.R. The early part of the chapter shews that in the kingdom of God every natural thought is revolutionised. The widow, the sinner without righteousness and the child without strength all come into the regard of God; the widow is heard for her importunity and the children are received. It is extremely important to see what has the regard of God down here, it is not the rich man.

Ques. What is the difference between this and chapter 11 where you have importunity brought in?

F.E.R. It is the same principle. The early part of this chapter connects itself with the end of the preceding -- the chapter is apparently divided, the first eight verses belong to the previous chapter. It is the elect of Israel that are literally referred to, it refers to the coming of the Son of man to avenge His elect, it is extremely important to see what God regards down here. You get a new subject at verse 31. The point with the blind man is that he confesses Christ as the Son of David, then in the beginning of the next chapter the Son of David is in the house of the sinner. I think it gives instruction as to what it is that will really bring God in. Shall not God avenge His elect? It is what commands His regard down here, and then you get what is the great hindrance. The publican is justified; you have to come down morally to his level and to the level of children. The kingdom of God has come in to test everybody, it has not come in power and glory but to test everybody, people are found out as to where they are. You have to receive the kingdom to come into it. On the other hand the Pharisee did not want to receive it. The rich man wanted eternal life in addition to what he had, he was not prepared to

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give it up. What lies at the bottom of all these things is self-righteousness, all connect themselves with a lawless world and the kingdom comes in to deliver people out of the world. The point is whether people are low enough down to come into God's kingdom. What I understand by it is the rule of grace, the reign of grace. The talent is what Christ has left in the hands of the servants, the talent is not gift, a man must be divested of his riches to enter into the kingdom. I think the truth is that the link must be severed that connects a man with this evil world in order that he may enter the kingdom. The kingdom of God is righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, not eating and drinking. The kingdom is brought in that eternal life may exist; you could not get it without it, in order to hold evil in abeyance, for Satan to be bound and death to be swallowed up in victory. In order that eternal life might come in you must get the kingdom, the soul must come under the power and authority of God to be free from that of the enemy, you cannot get eternal life without that. The prophets are all full of the kingdom more than eternal life. The great point is, it comes in that all evil may be held in abeyance, that man may be able to live under the influence of God.

Dr. W. To serve Him in holiness and righteousness all the days of our life.

F.E.R. There will not be the extinction of enemies in the millennium but all the forces held in abeyance. That necessitates the kingdom; victory rules.

Ques. How will you get free from the power of the enemy?

F.E.R. By the authority of God in grace in order that you may reach eternal life. Sin is reigning outwardly by death now and now we get the thought of God that grace might reign through righteousness, it is true to faith now. Christ is Lord. To us He presents all the power and authority of God and therefore it is of great comfort to me; I am strong in the Lord and the power of His

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might, it is a great thing to know the consciousness of the Lord. The Lord said to Paul, "My grace suffices thee". The Lord delights to put forward what is nothing and weak in this world that it may stand against all the power of evil. "The little child": every natural thought, all that we have learnt in the world, is completely revolutionised in the kingdom. God has chosen the foolish things of this world. The thought of the kingdom in my mind is not so much related to the world but to the power of evil behind the world, "the devil". Take the Israelites, they got clear of Egypt but Satan wanted to bring them back. We want to be strong to resist the enemy, not to be brought back to fall down to the level of the world. The kingdom of God is a means to an end; people ought to be set on reaching eternal life. The thought of eternal life was becoming prominent when the church was going to the bad and I believe it to be a great safeguard for us that we may escape Babylon and Egypt too. The kingdom is the means to that end. Egypt is the natural world, the world of man's nature, Babylon is the world of man's lust. The masterpiece of Satan is really Babylon, the mother of harlots. The church lost the rule of the Spirit and was carried away to ecclesiastical Babylon. There is no system in the world that has such power as popery, it is idolatry. Balaam raises the question of association and it is a very great snare to people in the present day -- people keep up links. The young man would have been well pleased to have had eternal life with his riches. Riches are an abomination in the sight of God. It has all sprung up in the world. The principle of Scripture is that the rich man disperses. Men get to love riches, you cannot watch men without seeing them. You will not get an accumulation of riches in the world to come, it is only in the present world. They measure things by appearance and not morally, if a bad man gets riches, men do not neglect him, he gets honour. In the kingdom of God everything is measured morally, that is the great

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comfort. The rich man has the responsibility of using his riches as a steward, he cannot throw everything away, it would only add to the confusion. The point is make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness.

The Lord loved the young man. There are many things that you could love, see a mother with tender affection for her children. I think that you would love it and the Lord loved it. In the constitution of man there is a great deal that is very beautiful and it is a great mistake to overlook traces of God's handiwork in them. The world would be a perfect pandemonium without it. The terrible mischief is that man is under the power of the enemy and cannot free himself. It is a perfect impossibility for a rich man to enter in as such, he must become small. The Lord knew perfectly well the great power that riches had over the heart of man but God knows well how to bring him down, if he has a child taken it breaks him, and all is that he may come into the kingdom as a little child. God knows how to break the power of riches over a man. The kingdom will not be any man's debtor, if they leave all they will get compensation. I never lost anything, but some people stick half in each and never come into the good of either. A man gains much more in the present time, you get out of what is artificial into what is real. The manifold more is in what is real, not in what is artificial. People live in appearances but they are not real. The point is I am not taken in by what is artificial, it is only sham. You want what is moral -- that which will stand in the presence of God.

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LIFE SECURED AND MAINTAINED

John 5:17 - 29; John 6:35 - 45; John 7:37 - 39

F.E.R. I think the idea was to touch on these three chapters 5, 6, and 7 together, they form the revelation of God in suitability to a scene of death and dearth here.

Chapter 5 is the Father, He is really revealed in His works. Chapter 6 is bread, or Christ. Chapter 7 is living water which flows out in life. When you take the three together you have the revelation of God not exactly in what they are but to what they have become with regard to men to a scene of death and dearth. Christ has become incarnate, the Father has revealed Himself in His works and the Holy Spirit is given. The Father's work is raising man up from the power of death. He comes out in that way. The Son came here with the intent of making the work of the Father known, of making evident the work of the Father -- the raising up of man in divine love from the time sin and death came in. That was the time it was really working from, there was no work that Christ really did except the cursing of the fig tree or that kind of thing. You get a picture at the beginning of the chapter which is typical of raising up Israel in the time to come. The point is death and moral dearth, everything is under the shadow of death and not only that but moral dearth. The wonderful thing is the way God has been pleased to adapt Himself to the state of things down here and all in view of the world to come. The coming of Christ brought into view what the Father had been going on with: "My Father worketh hitherto and I work". It was all an enigma before that, no one understood. He brought the Father to light, that is the point of this chapter, the voice of the Son of God is distinctly in His death. It speaks of the love of God in contrast to law, but He says the hour is coming and now is, the utterance was there and abiding. All is on the

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ground of His death. You cannot interpret His ministry except by the light of His death, it is in His death you get the full light of divine love coming out and that explains every act of His life.

Ques. "The voice of the Son of God", would you limit that to the love of God?

F.E.R. Yes, when the light of it in the death of Christ comes home to a person he lives, because it is possible for a person to live in the light of the love of God. There is love in God that can overcome His judgment, you can see that in His death. I think the "Now is" is the present time.

Ques. But did not that start with the first chapter?

F.E.R. Well, yes it did because this gospel started de novo from His death, ignoring all that had gone before. It has been said that you do not get the beginning of the gospel in John, what you get really is the revelation of what was in the heart of God. The beginning of the gospel takes into account the responsibility and forgiveness which you do not get in John. It is not the blood in Egypt and the Red Sea but the brazen serpent. John goes to the bottom and explains how the state of things was to be met.

Ques. What about John 3:16?

F.E.R. It is always true and you are entitled to preach it but you would not get a moral foundation by that because man must recognise where he is in regard of God. His responsibility must be raised and met but that does not interfere with verse 16 because that is the gospel, but not the beginning of it. You will not make man right unless he understands something about righteousness, there will not be a moral foundation, it is a necessity.

Ques. Define righteousness?

F.E.R. Well I think it is relative, as the earth is with the sun and moon. They are not out of gear with each other and that is the point with man, he requires to be brought into gear with God and Christ in his own sense

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of things. Righteousness is the bone of the moral universe. In John the Lord takes account of man's state. A man must be born again. The first element is the raising up of man from the power of death.

Ques. That is sovereignty?

F.E.R. Yes, you get the expression "the Son raises whom He will".

Ques. How do you understand quickening?

F.E.R. Well it is emancipation from all that holds in bondage and it goes on to the body. Quickening is not resurrection it is really liberation from the power of death and applies to those living when the Lord comes. He will quicken your mortal bodies, He completes everything, death is swallowed up in victory. Scripture does not contemplate anything beyond the time of those addressed.

Ques. What about chapter 6?

F.E.R. Well I think it is one of the most difficult chapters in Scripture to explain. It shows what is consequent on the incarnation, that all the good of heaven is really brought down to the service of man that man may eat it and live by it. We have to look at the world as the greater part idolatrous and corrupt when Christ came. Look what a profound effect the incarnation produces, a complete change of the texture of man. As you would change the food of a child, it would almost change the texture of the child. It is the world and that is what Christ will be when He comes, He will change the whole character of things in the world. 'He will give His flesh for the life of the world', it will mean a completely new condition of things morally starting from Himself.

Ques. What about ourselves now?

F.E.R. Well what does a man know about holiness, love or mercy except by Christ? The philosopher knew nothing about them. He could spin out cobwebs about commonwealth, but could not tell you anything about these moral things. You have got to look at it in Him,

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all was here in Him, His death is our side, the thought of His death brings in that, to get the good of what He was here incarnate, your mind must be in accord with the death. To be dead with Christ is that my mind is in accord with the death of Christ.

Ques. Is that Romans 6?

F.E.R. Yes, but one states it positionally and the other practically. In Romans, "reckon yourself dead" is more positional. If I say I am crucified with Christ, what does it mean? It means that my mind is in accord with the death of Christ; what He came to in fact, we come to in mind -- that is essential. A man alive in this world, alive in sin, does not find his delight in the good of heaven. You get it all in the early part of the chapter, the hungry multitude were satisfied with the good of heaven. I wonder how you are going to put on the new man except by eating the living bread; you eat His flesh and drink His blood, that is first and you find delight from it and derive every right idea from what is come down from heaven. The bread of God is not simply to Israel, but He that comes down gives life to the world. All that is benefit to the church.

Ques. Gives life to the world?

F.E.R. People are not going to stay in heaven. The church has to fulfil its function in the world to come and has to come out of heaven for that purpose. I try to contemplate the fearful moral dearth that affected this world when Christ came into it and to think of what He brought into it. No one knows the extent that the world has been affected by it. It is perfect rubbish a young fellow giving up the truth, it is really for a mess of pottage giving up his birthright.

In chapter 7 you get what meets the thirst; it is connected with Jesus glorified. Jesus is triumphant. He is the Head of all principality and power and if you once get a sense of that, there are living waters flowing out to others. You are so well fed and nourished by living bread that you benefit others, you nourish others. What

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an idiot a man must be to give up this; fancy a man getting the Spirit, I cannot conceive anything more wonderful than living bread and that living waters flow out, the effect of Christ going up into heaven to the right hand of God. And so you get here that the time will come when those that are in their graves will hear His voice and will come forth.

Ques. Why is it rivers?

F.E.R. Well they tend to fertilise down here; they run in different channels, the Spirit is the power, Jesus glorified is the source and the believer is the mouth. I do not know how far it is made good in us, I heard one the other day saying how often I have longed for someone to say something to me.

Dr. W. There are a great many bottle christians.

F.E.R. Well I think I am one of them.

R.L. If this were true there would be better times than the feast of tabernacles.

F.E.R. I think you get the thought in Ephesians 3 when the apostle prays "strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith". It is very much equivalent to Christ dwelling in the heart by faith.

Ques. Why did the Lord not want witness from man?

F.E.R. Well the sun shines, it does not require witness. The Lord did not want witness but He accepts it to bring conviction home to them.

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LIGHT DISCERNED AND ITS EFFECT

John 10:1 - 42

Ques. In what way does chapter 10 connect with chapters 8 and 9?

F.E.R. I think all three are connected, you can scarcely understand the chapter by itself; it is a conclusion.

Ques. Well, what are the premises?

F.E.R. Well, they are the introduction of the light. The thought in the 8th is the coming in of light; the Lord says "I am the light of the world", but then everything is reversed, as shown in chapter 10, by the flock which is composed of those who see. The blind man is a sample. The Lord comes out as the light, "then spake Jesus again unto them, I am the light of the world". What occurred in regard of the woman proved Him to be the light because I think everybody was exposed; they were all exposed in their consciences by the light. Jesus stooped and wrote on the ground: that is His touching humanity and He left His mark. The introduction of a great luminary into the world showed the order and proportion of everything. He was the truth and so everything came out in its true order and proportion. The Lord making clay and putting it on the eyes only made the Jews the blinder. Those who saw were made blind and those who were blind saw, things were completely reversed. We see that in the flock, there is a great danger with the young, they become so used to the light that they in a sort of way become indifferent and get hardened. The Jews took the ground of seeing and they really were made blind. I think it was in a way judicial and so their sin remains. They said they had no sin.

Ques. Is Christ the light of the world today?

F.E.R. No, not in the same way as He was when here. For the moment the light of the world is hid in heaven,

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all the light in the present time comes from heaven, but the church is like the moon, it shines by reflected light. The Lord said "Ye are the light of the world" -- it is not inherent light. The effect of Christ being the light of the world was to test it and it resulted in the judgment of the world because they rejected the light. The blind -- those who make no pretension -- are made to see. In chapter 8 you must take into account that those who saw were made blind or you would not have the premises of chapter 10.

Ques. Does verse 12 not suppose that you follow the Lord into another world?

F.E.R. If you follow Him you will have the light of life; death or resurrection did not alter Christ as being the light -- that which He was morally.

Ques. What is the point of chapter 9?

F.E.R. I think, that those who see not, might see. Everything was overturned. All the pretension of man was exposed, the real source of it was chapter 8 -- the devil. There was a regular lying spirit in them, the devil was a murderer and abode not in the truth. The effect of the sin of man is that man has become a liar, he has no sense whatever of his true position in regard of God and not only that but man is naturally a liar. In chapter 8 Christ was from above and spoke the truth.

Ques. Would you say to an unconverted audience that they were children of the devil?

F.E.R. No, because we are only just out of the wood. In chapter 8 man was tested, of course it must be so at the moment. Christ came in because you not only have God revealed but Man according to God -- a perfect standard -- and everything was properly tested, by the standard. The great luminary, the light of God, had come in; not only that but Christ was the Luminary because there you get a perfect thought and order and proposition. The Jews were tested and proved all lawless by the truth. You get righteousness and man properly in his relation to God and proportion; so the

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Jew was tested. The first great lesson that the blind man had to learn when his eyes were opened was that everything was out of gear. It is a most painful experience to go through for one to find everything here out of gear, hollow and false.

Ques. How would you explain the class, those who saw not?

F.E.R. The man who does not see is the man who makes no pretension of seeing.

Ques. What was the significance of the Lord putting clay on his eyes?

F.E.R. It really made the Jew blinder than ever and they were hurried on to perdition like the parable of the demoniac.

Ques. The opening the eyes of the blind?

F.E.R. It is by preaching, their eyes are opened, like Paul's commission.

Ques. Why was it on the sabbath day?

F.E.R. Well I think the Lord was continually putting a slight on the sabbath. What could it be to Him? It was made for man not for God. What was the worth of it? It was a sign of the covenant and they had not continued in the covenant. If a man's eyes are opened it is that a man might get into gear to hold the Head, like the blind man; that a man may be attached to Christ and be brought into gear by holding the Head. When a man gets free from natural relations, he has not much left. What I understand by opening a man's eyes in a moral sense is undeceiving a man. Men are all deceived. It is the apostle's work or the work of the Spirit of God, it is Christ's work but He does it through agents. The water of the pool of Siloam represented the word applied by the Spirit and the result was that the man saw. The pool of Bethesda represented a kind of providential benefit; the testimony of the sent One, of Christ, is what is used to open men's eyes "except a man be born again he cannot see".

Ques. Is there any connection? Why born again?

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F.E.R. Well because I think God just does as little as He can in that way, man must get everything through exercise. God in His sovereignty does what is indispensable, but all has to be wrought in a man morally. You might present the light but I do not get it from you, God has prepared me for it by exercise. I do not think there can be a doubt for a moment that people's eyes are opened by the presentation of Christ. The mistake that people make sometimes is that they think they convert people. I do not mean anyone here. It is a tremendous thing to open men's eyes, to undeceive people when it is a question of God.

Ques. Do you not think it is a great danger to press people to decide?

F.E.R. Well with all respect, it is a dangerous thing to get a confession beyond what people are capable of. Chapter 10 brings in the issue. You have a parenthesis in chapters 8 and 9. In the 10th you get a flock of an entirely different character composed of those who see, the effect of the light of necessity carried people out of the fold.

Ques. What fold are you in?

F.E.R. Well to tell you the truth I do not quite appreciate a fold. A fold was to keep people from the wolf, but a christian is kept now by attachment and appreciation of Christ. Let a man hold the Head and be will not be a bit afraid of the wolf.

Ques. Is appreciation of Christ holding the Head?

F.E.R. Yes, because if you hold the Head you appreciate Christ. How is any one of us kept down here in the world? Not by a fold, it is perfectly powerless to keep you. It is by the appreciation of Christ "I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved".

Ques. Would not seeking a fold now be going back?

F.E.R. The wonderful thing at the present time is that the Shepherd is absent and we are kept down here in the absence of the Shepherd without the need of a fold. The door is to lead us in to God to get the knowledge

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of God.

Ques. What is the meaning of "am known of those that are mine as ... I know the Father"?

F.E.R. That is very wonderful. No one knew Him down here but the Father, now we may know Christ as He knows us. It is reciprocal. People will ridicule us if we say we know Him, it is "the good shepherd giveth His life for the sheep" that there may be "one flock and one shepherd". The people that claimed privilege and saw were those who were made blind and if the Lord could make those that did not see to see, on the same ground, the Lord could bring in the gentile that there might be one flock. A flock is not for heaven, a flock follows the Shepherd like Israel in the wilderness. All the flock is dependent on the Shepherd now like all animals are dependent upon man. All the creation is dependent on man in that kind of way to Christ. Everything in the moment depends on the Spirit; it is not public, it is spiritual now. Israel in the world to come will become Jehovah's flock.

Ques. What is life more abundantly?

F.E.R. Light has come in by the death of Christ and you can live in the love of God. "I am the door" that is evangelistic. You ought to preach the gospel from that.

Dr. W. John 10. Oh, I often do that.

F.E.R. The unity all depends upon life, upon the knowledge of the good Shepherd and upon affection. All unity must be the unity of spiritual affections; if we take the ground of loving Christ, we show it by loving one another.

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WITNESS GIVEN TO CHRIST IN RELATION TO THE WORLD TO COME

John 12:12 - 33

F.E.R. In the previous part, chapters 8 to 10, we had the effect of the light and the change in the character of things as seen in the flock. Here we get the witness given to Christ, in the relation He is to the world to come. In chapter 10 He is the Shepherd. Of course that is applicable in a kind of way to the present time. In chapters 11 and 12 we have the witness borne to Him as the resurrection and the life, the King of Israel and the Son of man. Things must come out in that order: you could not have King of Israel without the resurrection and the life. He comes into Jerusalem as Zion's King but that is consequent upon resurrection, the One in whom there is the revival of everything. He says, "I am the resurrection", the revival of all that God had ever established. It had been lost in death but in Christ all is revived, both promises and what was official. Stephen goes all over that ground and shows how all had been lost but the revival of Christ is the revival of everything for God. It must be on the ground of resurrection to be beyond the power of evil and Satan, because all had been spoilt by Satan, the first man died and lost his place of headship but all will come to light again. You might go all through the history of Scripture from Adam, death came in upon everything.

Ques. Is that the sense of the sheet let down from heaven?

F.E.R. Not quite, that was the result of headship; but in the resurrection you get the revival of everything: headship, priesthood and even the headship of the gentiles. All are in a way revived, every position that God had ever established had been lost in death and in Christ you have the revival of it. The resurrection of

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Lazarus was really a witness of what Christ was, and so He says in connection with it, "I am the resurrection and the life".

Ques. Do you include creation in that?

F.E.R. Well I do in a sense because He takes up everything as Creator. Death came in upon everything but the great truth is that you get everything revived. He tasted death for everything and everything is revived in Him. The resurrection of Lazarus was a sign that the Son of man may be glorified thereby; for the moment all has apparently terminated in death but all these witnesses are in relation to the world to come. God so ordered that there should be witness given to Christ in the relation in which He stood to the world to come. You have not got things in their right connection except as they are viewed in relation to the world to come.

Ques. What do you mean by the world to come?

F.E.R. Both heaven and earth, the connection between them is very intimate, that God might make known "the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus". I have that; that in it I should be able to go and tell a Jew more about his calling than he knew himself, because I think in the present time God has gathered up everything in the church and we are so well acquainted with these things that we could go and tell a Jew his calling. They will be brought into the good of the covenant. I trust we know something of the house of God and the flock. When we get instruction in these things it helps us in the knowledge of Christ, they will be revived in Him; when He comes out these things will come out in Him, He has not come out of heaven yet, He is the second man. The Father is the starting point, everything must come out from above. I think the point is everything should come out from God out of heaven. Lazarus was a witness given to Him as the resurrection and the life. The world to come is where God is glorified; God has been dishonoured here, sin and death has come in, but

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in the world to come, God will be glorified. Everything will come in in a man: in order to have a kingdom you must have the throne established in a man. In the eternal state it will be more the supremacy of God through all; then every enemy will have been subdued, all moral questions are solved. All has that great end in view, the kingdom only exists for a purpose, to solve the question of good and evil.

Ques. What is the meaning of "that the Son of God might be glorified thereby" John 11:4?

F.E.R. I think it was in the witness. I believe in the resurrection of the dead -- that is orthodox -- but the mistake is in not seeing that Christ is the resurrection and the life.

Ques. How does the feast come in?

F.E.R. The supper comes in as a testimony to Christ again, she anointed Him for His burying.

Ques. What is the meaning of "that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad"?

F.E.R. Well He was not confined to that nation. It is a great thought: "I am the resurrection and the life" -- death could not hold Him, He must rise; He might go into death, there was a fragrance about His death. He was anointed for His burial and He must rise, there is no fragrance about a saint's death but there was a fragrance about His death. Christ comes out of death and in coming out of death everything is revived, revived now for God, we come to mount Zion, everything is revived.

Ques. What is mount Zion?

F.E.R. I think it is symbolic of the enduring mercy of God, the sovereign mercy of God when everything was forfeited. David placed the ark on mount Zion and then they say "His mercy endureth for ever". In losing the ark they really lost all link with God, and God in the sovereignty of His mercy brought back the ark. That will be the key-note in the future and the time will come

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when they will appreciate it. Man cannot get any blessing until he is free from the judgment of death; the Sun is risen, that is the point for me. We have the witness brought in to Him as the resurrection and the life and as the King of Israel and as the Son of man. We have all this light as to Christ in the world to come and for the moment everything has terminated in death and we announce the Lord's death till He come. You cannot follow Christ except in the communion of His death, you cannot get to another scene except in the communion of His death. It is as lifted up from the earth that Christ has become the point of attraction and He draws all to Himself. He is lifted up vicariously. The Lord could not die upon earth and it is as lifted up from the earth He dies vicariously, manifestly vicariously.

Ques. Does the lifting up not go beyond the cross?

F.E.R. No, I do not think so because He was lifted up vicariously. In the providence of God, God allowed man to lift Him up, because He was the righteous One and could not die upon earth. It is extremely important to apprehend the place of Christ in the world to come and then the provisional place now. He is the Head of every man. My object in preaching is to try and enlighten people as to the position of Christ in relation to men. You get a beautiful verse in Proverbs 8 "I (wisdom) lead in the way of righteousness". He is wisdom, it is an appeal on the part of One who is the Head of every man to draw everyone to Himself.

Ques. Is that the sense of Christ as the wisdom of God and power of God?

F.E.R. Well, He is wisdom in regard of man, the woman of the city appreciated wisdom; Simon trusted his own head and was a fool but the woman trusted Christ and I suppose she inherited substance. Christ is the resource of God and the power of God. He is the sign and witness of God's intervention on behalf of man. I do believe we would get great gain if we apprehended the relation of Christ to the world to come. In the present

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time He is gathering out the vessel in which God will be glorified, just like God taking a rib out of Adam when in sleep to form Eve. It is the moment of Christ's decease and God is taking the church out of Christ. I believe the world lost a great deal in not seeing Christ when He was here. It is a great comfort that Christ will present the church glorious in spite of all the defection. The kingdom is all dependent on the Lord and we have the Lord and the Holy Spirit. In the 4th book of Psalms we have got a whole book as to the coming in of the kingdom; it is David's kingdom in a kind of way, but it is Jehovah's kingdom. A person could not be in the kingdom unless he has received the kingdom. The effect of the rejection of Christ was the breaking up of all the world system of which Israel was the centre. The times of the gentiles have become much more prominent, the world in that day was the world of which Israel was the centre; when they were prepared to follow the lead of Satan and reject and crucify Christ, all that system was judged and broken up. Abraham was called out but another kind of world was revived in the seed of Israel. The gentile empires are wild beasts and in the present time you have a kind of suspension and these wild beasts will come into view again. The prince of this world is cast out for us, the Lord could see it.

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THE EFFECTS OF THE SPIRIT HERE

John 14:1 - 31

F.E.R. I think in chapters 3 and 4 we get the thought of God's love. The way in which it is expressed and brought into effect is in chapter 4. In the chapters 5, 6 and 7 we really find in what eternal life consists, in the way it has pleased God to reveal Himself and come out in connection with the world to come: the Father in His word, and Christ as living bread and the Holy Spirit as living water. In chapters 8, 9 and 10 the sheep are brought to light. In chapters 11 and 12 we get Christ as the subject of testimony and as the point of gathering. That completes that part, then in the second part we get Christ and the Spirit present. The Lord was always working to the end, that of eternal life, the reason of it was that it was the Father's commandment and it is the last word to the world (see chapter 12: verse 50). Chapter 13 is introductory and 14 brings in the coming of the Comforter. Chapter 13 is preparatory as bringing to light all those who were true. The real work must come out in connection with the Priest, it gets rid of the Judases. The great point, as in verse 1 was to bring to light those who were His own. Feet washing is refreshment I think and if you were to remove defilement that is picked up, it is a service we carry out one toward another. He has left it to us to carry out, Christ does it now mediatorially. The Lord says "if ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them". It comes out in more than one way, it is not literal, a man has to be convicted first, conviction is not feet washing. Paul had got a measure of joy in the Philippians and he said to them to complete his joy, it means refreshment. I think that, by what was said of the widow: "if she have washed the saints' feet". The Lord was sifting -- "have part with me" was to have association with

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the Lord. Where He now is everything was to be changed and they were to pass on to new ground with Him. I think that the question is an extremely important one. I think we are bound to serve one another to refresh one another. You may depend upon it, where people get depressed you will not revive them but by bringing the word of Christ to bear upon them. It is in the intercourse of saints one with another. The very fact of saints being refreshed shows that you remove the defilement. People get a little bit jaded and depressed, that is the effect of things down here on the saints and they want their feet washed, they want refreshment. If I am a little bright in Christ myself I will refresh others, you really want to bring people back to where they started from, to their original brightness.

Where you get a positive disposition to depart from the truth you want more than feet washing, something a little more drastic. There is not much feet washing in the address to the seven churches, we are left under a sort of obligation to it. I feel under an obligation to my own circle, those who are in the faith. I do not think the Lord ever washed the feet of Judas, my reason for it is that it was in connection with bringing Judas to light, the Lord said "Now are ye clean but not all". He puts us under obligation to wash one another's feet. The feet washing was an occasion of bringing Judas to light, there was the definite intent to betray Him, therefore the Lord exposes him.

I think another very important point in the latter part of the chapter is that where you get a great display of evil it is followed on the part of God by the Son of man being glorified. You get the same in Revelation, the exposure of the harlot is succeeded by the marriage of the Lamb. I think it is common in the ways of God, some great combination of evil followed by some great action on the part of God. The Son of man was glorified on the cross. The Son of man being glorified in chapter 12: 23 is as King

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of Zion, the cross is really the effulgence of God -- the Son of man being glorified. Glory is that God shines out, you can add nothing to God. God is really glorified in making Himself known, that all comes out in the death of Christ, it was there that God is effulgent. Christ was glorified "in himself" (God) in being set at the right hand of God; "and shall straightway glorify him" was that He would not have to wait for the public glory as Son of man. Stephen saw that; Son of man is employed as a designation for Son of God because the secret of God being effulgent was that He was glorified in the Son of God. God is not glorified in us in the same way, it is only reflected glory in us, the glory of Christ reflected. It is excessively interesting to see that some great climax of evil is followed by some remarkable interpretation of God. You see it in Revelation, the great red dragon gives his authority to the beast and the harlot rides the beast. What could be more awful, yet it is all followed by the marriage of the Lamb, the bride makes herself ready. You get the same principle in the Old Testament when the enemy comes in like a flood the Spirit of the Lord shall raise up a standard against him.

In chapter 14, you get "a place", access, and works; a place with the Father and the Lord says "I am the way the truth and the life" and then the Lord says "Greater works than these shall ye do". The Lord does not say 'because I die ye shall die also' but "because I live ye shall live also". You can only follow the Lord now through death, you cannot say a person is dead until he is risen, man could not reach resurrection except by death. The three points in chapter 14 belong to us, the Lord says "I go to prepare a place for you". In chapter 13 the Lord surveys the state of things down here and shows how it is to be met and I think it is by our love one to another, but the elements of comfort all come in in chapter 14. The new commandment is what is true in Christ and in us, it is a great thing to get hold of what

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belongs to us, we have got a place. A man likes a place down here, a nice house and garden but we have got a place, you do not want two places. To get to the place Christ comes to take you there but your access is measured by your appreciation of Christ. Greater works are done now than were ever done when Christ was here, you may get a whole heap of people converted. The greater works would be consequent on His position, He goes to the Father and so everything is greater. On the day of Pentecost three thousand were converted, all consequent on His going to the Father. It is done to a much greater extent than when the Lord was here and so you see a much greater extent of works and even greater works. You cannot read the Acts of the Apostles without seeing the great power of the Holy Spirit. You have got no witness now, the witness of the Spirit is so marred, so dimmed. It is a terrific hindrance to unity and spiritual affection. The Lord prays in chapter 17 for the unity of the saints, that the world may believe that the Father sent the Son. Look at all the great organisations all around and see how the witness is obscured. The saints were to be the living exponents of the truth, the living scriptures, all that was of God was to be living in the saints. What conveys it to me more than anything else is the prayer of the apostle in Ephesians 3, that there might be nothing in which God has come out that would not be seen in the saints. The place where Christ was to dwell was in the hearts of the saints, the length, breadth and height, the whole extent in which God will be glorified. A wonderful thing that a power has come in to put everything in its place and proportion in the same. Truth really brings everything to order and proportion, truth in the inward parts -- that is the effect of the Spirit of truth I take it. The apostles were kept dependent, they would have unlimited access and would have abundant answers. The Father and the Son were to be abiding here in the saints. Christianity is the continuation of Christ, that not a jot or tittle that

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came out in Christ might fall, but everything required to be regulated and ordered according to God. Order and proportion is a very great thing, what would the physical world be without it? The Spirit of truth will do it. Man is much greater than the sun, the sun cannot worship God, the sun cannot love God. Science has never done anything for man but the Spirit of truth will regulate everything. What a wonderful and beautiful picture a christian is! He loves God, he loves Christ, he loves the brethren and he is faithful in every relationship.

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FRUIT-BEARING AS PROOF OF VITALITY

John 15:1 - 27

I suppose these chapters bring before us the consequence of the coming of the Spirit. It is important to see what is in view in the disciples being here as witness for Christ, chapters 13, 14 and 15 are all bound up in that way, 14 is preparatory, it is the way in which they were to be fitted for it, by the Spirit of truth, "In that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me and I in you".

Ques. What is "Arise let us go hence?"

F.E.R. You must have everything prepared within before there can be a witness without. Everything must be put in its place by the Spirit of truth before there could be a witness here, that is the great point of chapter 14. It seems to me the necessary consequence of the coming of the Comforter must be the bringing in of the Father and the Son, 'we will come and make our abode with you', but it is necessary that everything should be in gear, "if a man keep my words", a man proves that he loves if he does that. I am not a source and centre of light and therefore I keep His words, if a man loves Christ he keeps His words. Christ is entitled to command us and hence it is if we are in gear we keep His commandments and appreciate His words and keep them; that is what was seen in Christ here, there was order, He kept the Father's words. A commandment indicates His right to command. His word is the revelation of the Father. I have thought these chapters run pretty much with the prayer in Ephesians 3chapter 14 is pretty much akin to Christ in the heart, 15, our relation one to another consequent on the commandment of Christ and 16, the church set as light or witness down here, witness to a Christ to whom everything belongs, "He shall take of mine and shall

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shew it unto you", it brings in the thought of the world to come and so we comprehend the breadth, length, depth and height. A man could not be competent as witness down here unless he knew something of the breadth, length, depth and height, the whole extent of the inheritance.

The great point of chapter 15 is vitality as shown by our affections one to another; so in fruit-bearing there is proof of vitality. I think you must begin with that, Christ dwelling in the heart by faith, the affection of a bride for a bridegroom, of a wife for her husband, that is properly the position of the church down here, you want all your affections put in order and strengthened and maintained. People put the social before the meetings; if Christ were dwelling in the heart by faith we would be devoted to every interest of Christ down here. I do believe we would get on a great deal better if we let everything be secondary to Christ "ye believe on God, believe also on me", the bride comes down as the public witness but in the meantime the bride is left down here as witness to the bridegroom. We do not live in ourselves, it marked the Lord, but no one of us can have life in himself. All vitality is by the Spirit of Christ. If we live in the Spirit let us also walk in the Spirit. Vitality comes out in the way of fruit-bearing; fruit-bearing is for God. It comes out in our relations one to another, it is the product of the Spirit of Christ, fruit really consists in what characterises our relations one to another in love and joy. I think saints are trees of God's planting. The peculiarity in an ordinary tree is that it lives by itself, but saints do not carry their life in themselves, Christ is the source of fruit. It all depends on our abiding in Christ.

Psalm 1 is not Christ, it is the description of a class; you get Christ in Psalm 2. There is no witness except in the evidence of vitality. The present order of christendom is all dead against fruit-bearing; for fruit-bearing we want to be thrown in most intimate connections

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one with the other. The Lord presses upon them that they should love one another and He tells them that the world would hate them. If we do not love one another it shows there is something out of gear in our love to Christ. The Lord contemplated all the disciples in loving one another, feet-washing makes manifest those who are real. I think we wait too long sometimes. If we applied the washing a little earlier it would prove more beneficial, dirt would not accumulate.

Ques. We hear a great deal about John 3:16 -- do we hear as much about James 3:16?

F.E.R. What is that? Well I believe that that is James's way of contrasting the old man with the new. What ought to mark us is the wisdom from above, it is a most beautiful passage. Partiality brings in cliques, the truth ought not to bring partiality. How much the state of things now is against bringing the truth of this chapter! Fellowship must be very limited in the present time, the bond of fellowship is so little understood. If you get people who call on the Lord out of a pure heart then the Lord is the bond, a Lord who is in no way connected with this world. There will be no such thing as fellowship in the world to come when Christ comes out and has His rights but it is a contrary scene and there are those who are held together by fidelity to the Lord, "there is one body and one Spirit". We are really held together by allegiance to the one Lord. The great point is that we have to recognise that the world is lawless and if it were put to the test it would be found out to be lawless. If you take a business where there are half a dozen partners they are partners one of another but they have partnership one with another. The Lord gave the disciples His confidence completely, the witness shows what the church was in the mind of the Lord, the witness is in the saints to the moral excellency of that Man. The new man is really the witness to the Man in heaven, it is the truth in Jesus. You have got the Spirit of truth in the saints and you have the apostles; the

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apostles are gone but the new man is down here in witness to Christ. It is the truth in Jesus, if ye have so learned Christ; the renewing of the mind is the work of the Holy Spirit. Even Paul had not been with Christ from the beginning. The witness now is the Spirit of truth and if that is not the witness there is no witness.

I think that the Spirit of God wrought in the apostles in the most tremendous energy at the beginning. Luther was a lion, a most distinguished man but you must be content with what is now. "A living dog is better than a dead lion". The Spirit of truth being witness, it is connected with the whole company, unity really in spiritual affections. The unity of the Spirit is a unity of spiritual affection and if you have not spiritual affection you have not unity. The point with them was, they should love one another and if we loved one another it would be accompanied with a great deal of joy.

Chapter 16 brings in the thought of intelligence. For saints to be an effective witness down here, they require to be intelligent (verse 12). Intelligence is that you are instructed in the interests of Christ. If you look at Ephesians 1:8 "He hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; having made known unto us the mystery of his will ... that in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ". "All things that the Father hath are mine". Christ is the Head of all and if that, the result is that everything takes its character from Christ; if I am away from home I leave my wife in charge but she must be intelligent in all my interests so that she may not make mistakes. I want to get people out of the world, I am not part of the world and if I had means I could not benefit the world by rescuing people from drink or that sort of thing. The improvement of the world must be left to those who are of the world. It is a study of the most profound interest to get an idea of what belongs to Christ, you apprehend with all saints, you do not

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exclude saints from your mind in the length, breadth, depth and height. "All things" is an expression of constant occurrence, everything I have belongs to my wife. I think the man who keeps anything back from his wife is a miserable husband. The introduction of Christ has brought about a most profound change in regard of men. He has become Head of every man, He is wisdom for every man, the point is that a man should accept his Head and get direction from his Head. You cannot possibly get judgment at the present time except with regard to saints because Christ is Head of every man. When antichrist is set up that will bring in the judgment of God, every man should listen to the Head and get direction from Christ. The present moment is provisional and where man proves himself unaffected by the grace of God, he comes under the original debt.

Forgiveness is provisional now as in the parable of the ten thousand talents. The culminating sin of man is that they set up a rival head and that brings in the judgment of God. He is called the lawless one in contrast to Christ, they will not have the righteous One and they set up the lawless one.

In chapter 16 the access which they would have to the Father comes out, they were not to ask Christ anything. I think it true in regard of us: we have access to God with regard to every interest of Christ, we should get a great deal from the Father if we sought the interests of Christ. If saints love Christ they are loved of the Father and the Father is ready enough to give to those He loves, but discipline comes in and discipline is in perfect accord with love. I believe there is no limit to what we should get in the interests of Christ. We do not get anything except in affection for Christ, it all lies in affection for Christ. You must accept the sovereignty of God. I could not demand God to save all my children, I could beg God to do it.

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THE MORAL GOVERNMENT OF GOD

Psalm 34:1 - 22; Hebrews 1:1 - 14

The subject which is before me tonight is the throne of God. It is important enough in a way; I refer to it in the moral aspect not the dispensational aspect.

The throne of God, how it is established and also a few words in regard of the moral government of God, are points of the last moment with regard to us, the person who does not seek to order himself according to them is not wise. Job was defective in regard of the moral government of God and that led him into trouble, it was that which led me to read Psalm 34, it is wonderful to me how the language of such a psalm should be applicable to us. We do not occupy David's position, we are a humble people down here, yet his language is perfectly applicable to us. The throne is not yet set forth and when it is, the language of that psalm will not be applicable. Though the throne is not set forth yet, it is prepared and it is important in regard of us. If I speak of the moral government of God it was always true and the point is that the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous and His ears open to their cry. What can be more important in regard of us? Who do you think the righteous are? I should say those who admit the rights of God. In the Old Testament justification had not come in but you can see how often the righteous come in. In christianity the believer is righteous, he acknowledges the rights of God, the lawless are those who do not admit them now. If the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous you are worse off than the wicked; they are allowed to go pretty much their own way but the righteous are compelled to order their conduct in regard of the rights of God, so the righteous cannot do wrong. The lawless man is independent, he is not in any orbit and has not to answer anything. If the ways of the righteous are not

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according to the eyes of the Lord he may come under discipline.

God will not answer prayer just at the moment you expect because God will not humour your thoughts. The countenance of the Lord is against them that do evil, they may do it for a very long time. He may allow it for a long time yet the face of the Lord is against them and He will blot them out. To see this necessitates patience on the part of the saint as in Job the Lord came in after due time and relieved Job and he had twice as much as before. The apostle is the one who brings out the moral government of God; in this chapter the Lord inspects your way, your doings, do not be afraid of approaching Him and do not be disappointed if you do not get an answer at once. I have known what it is to cry in deep exercise and not to get the answer at once, but remember the face of the Lord is against them that do evil and a time is coming when their remembrance will be blotted out.

Now as to the throne it is an expression which implies the moral government of God in heaven. It is not yet set forth but it is established, that is what I want to make plain tonight. Look at Psalm 45 "Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever; a sceptre of uprightness is the sceptre of thy kingdom". Now when that psalm was written it was all prophetic, no part was fulfilled -- it was "touching the king". Regarding the throne it is the throne established, the throne of God but established in a Man. You could get no public government of God except in a man. How could the government of God be appreciated in this world except in a man?

Now in Hebrews 1 you get the Man of Psalm 45. It is no longer prophetic. You get in the beginning of Hebrews "unto the Son he saith, thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever". He has inherited a more excellent name than angels, in Him the throne of God is established so that God can come out in public government in the world, but if God must come out in public, of necessity

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He must establish His throne. In the second chapter you get this, but veiled, the One in whom it is established is in heaven.

Look now at verse 5, chapter 1 "I will be to him for father, and he shall be to me for son". What is in connection with the One in whom it is established is that He is in relation to God as Son, so it was said to Israel, "Israel is my son, my firstborn"; so I can understand this saying when spoken in regard of Christ "Out of Egypt have I called my son". The throne is established in that One. You see the relation between the One in whom the throne is established to God and it brings in love, the thought of God, into the kingdom "the kingdom of the Son of his love". So He can say "Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever". Now I understand this to refer to the pathway of Christ here upon earth: He loved righteousness -- everything that was according to the rights of God. On the other hand He hated lawlessness and so He establishes what He loves -- righteousness -- and puts away and removes what He hated.

Now that is the next point, the basis of the throne, the establishment of righteousness and the removal of lawlessness. Now in verses 10 and 11, the One in whom the throne is established is "the same"; everything else changes, the earth will be removed, but He does not grow old. David grew old. We see the last days of David. Now the kingdom is established in the true Solomon and it will not be removed, it retains its character.

I just touch those three points because it gives a character to everything. My point is that all is prepared, it is not yet set forth; the Man is there in whom the throne is established but that Man is for the moment hid within the veil. He has gone to heaven and is hid behind the veil of providences. Providences are not an expression of God and it does not do to judge God by His providences. God hides behind His providences but He will come out yet in His throne. It has been said

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"Sit thou on my right hand, until I make thy foes thy footstool".

Now one word as to the effect. It brings in one important point, angels are put at the service of man. You see it in Hebrews 12, an innumerable company of angels and they are ministering spirits sent forth to minister. The point is that we are not to be governed by providences, we are in the faith of the Lord. The throne is good to faith. It is not simply a question of the moral government but that we get the good and very great gain from the kingdom which is established in the throne in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Now a few points in connection with that: the Lord brings home to me the thought of throne, there is salvation in His name. I have believed in the Lord because I see that there is salvation in His name as the Philippian jailor did: "believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved". Salvation is connected with the thought of the Lord. When God brings forth the kingdom it will be salvation to the people. Meanwhile it is salvation in the name of the Lord. Where do you get it? "If thou sha