[Page 1]

Pages 1 - 123 -- "Notes of Readings and Addresses", London. May, 1922 (Volume 57)


Luke 3:21 - 23; Luke 4:1 - 24

J.T. What I had in mind arises somewhat from the introductory remarks of the evangelist. It is said that many had taken in hand to give an account of the things believed among them; evidently there had been much given out, but his narrative is intended to be authoritative, as of one accurately acquainted with all things from the outset. He had in view, among other things, to call attention to the order and comeliness which marked the ministry of the grace of God at the outset. It occurred to me there was a parallel, in a much more obscure way, of course, at the present time. The Lord has helped, and many have been in service and much has come before us, and I thought that perhaps this gospel would help us at this juncture as showing what marked the Lord externally first of all, and then those whom He appointed to serve at the beginning. Besides in our Lord Himself, a certain grace and dignity marked all those who were called into service; indeed, the house of God, which this evangelist takes account of more than the others, was also marked by that outward adornment to which I refer. That may suffice, perhaps to indicate what is in view.

The thought was expressed by some that we could not undertake to go into the book in any exhaustive way, even if we touched on the various subjects in it. The idea was to take it up in five sections with these thoughts in view, so that what is before us now is the section covered from chapters 1 to 4, in which we see how the Lord entered on His service.

F.H.B. Would you speak of the testimony and

[Page 2]

of the suitability of the vessel to whom the testimony was committed?

J.T. Yes; so that the narrative begins with drawing attention to certain antecedents, first of John the baptist, then of the Lord Himself. God never begins in an instantaneous way, there is always preparation; so we get a priest and his wife of the daughters of Aaron introduced, reminding us that in drawing near to man there would be sympathy with man. Indeed, the fact that the gospel is addressed to an individual bears out the same thought, because a communication from one individual to another necessarily carries more sympathy than a communication addressed in a general way such as we see in the other gospels. It is as if God would address each man separately.

J.S. What was your thought in regard to the priest and his wife of the daughters of Aaron as bearing on the subject?

J.T. A reminder that the communication would be on sympathetic lines. Compassion and sympathy were to characterise a priest; Hebrews 5:2.

A.M.H. Are you suggesting that this spirit of sympathy should be one of the features that should mark the vessel?

J.T. Yes. This gospel tells us that after praying all night the Lord appointed His apostles, and then it says He descended with them to a level place; He would descend to the level of men. The early introduction of the priest indicated that God was approaching man in a sympathetic way, and the persons brought into view were in accord with this.

E.N.H. Have you the thought that all that came out afterwards in the twelve, and in the seventy, and in the house of God generally is set forth, first in Himself as a pattern -- the obedient, dependent Man as a sample of the kingdom; not only preaching it, but presenting it in Himself?

[Page 3]

J.T. Yes; He wrought Himself first. The beauty and grace which marked His service are seen before others have part in it.

Ques. Would you say a little more as to what was before your mind with regard to sympathy?

J.T. I think the narrative being addressed by one individual to another would imply that. Luke takes account of Theophilus' state of soul; he needed to be assured, or made certain, of the things he had been instructed in; and then the mention of Zacharias and his wife -- the priestly family -- and he serving in his course, suggests sympathy. He was not merely an official priest, he was righteous, serving in his course and offering incense.

D.L.H. I should like to ask, with regard to the word 'vessel' that has been used once or twice, have you the thought of the individual vessels -- every saint of God -- or of the assembly?

J.T. Both. One has to arrive at the assembly through the understanding one has of God in the way He deals with oneself.

E.J.McB. I have thought that was largely the reason why this gospel was presented to an individual, that he might become personally sympathetic with the operations of God in a corporate way.

J.T. It seems as if God would impress upon us at the outset that He is interested in each of us; this is a very affecting thing. I do not think that ministry can be effective unless the one who ministers is in sympathy with those to whom he ministers.

J.S. What is the force of the fact that he was serving in his course and offering incense? Is it in contrast with the official priesthood?

J.T. Serving in his course would show that he recognised not only the primary thought of the priesthood as given by Moses, but what it was as taken up by David. David took up priesthood in a

[Page 4]

new way. By him the priests were divided into twenty-four courses.

P.L. In view of the yield for God?

J.T. Yes. The first book of Chronicles enters into it; we have a record there that goes back to the beginning -- to Adam. Now Luke is aiming at that, and the Holy Spirit gives us these touches to show how the thread of the testimony was preserved. Luke links up the testimony from the beginning in referring to 1 Chronicles.

J.R.K. Do you mean to imply that the priesthood is brought in early in this book in order that we might see that on the one hand there is a link with God, and on the other a link with man in sympathy?

J.T. Yes. That would come out in Zacharias; he was serving in the order of his course and offering incense, which was according to the custom of the priesthood; and the people were in prayer outside. That was a remarkable feature. In however few the thread of the testimony was, it was there, and it is called attention to in a very remarkable way by Luke so that we may see the antecedents of what we have presented in Christ, and, later, in the apostles.

P.R.M. Then we get angelic sympathy too in Gabriel and the heavenly hosts?

J.T. Just so: "I am Gabriel, who stand before God". He is brought in to show, among other things, how sympathetic heaven was in what was transpiring. We may say that the dignity and intelligence of the heavenly host were represented in Gabriel. The service of God was being carried on by Zacharias. Things were maintained not only according to the primary institution of priesthood, but according to its highest conception in the Old Testament, as represented in David.

J.R.K. So that if the kingdom is established as suggested in David, it is established on priestly lines.

[Page 5]

J.T. It is not only the establishment of the kingdom but of the service of God; that was the great thing in 1 Chronicles -- the service of God was set up; and the courses of the priests and the courses of the Levites were to that end. You might say priesthood was there in its highest form.

Ques. Would the praying company outside carry your thought as to sympathy in connection with the interests of the house?

J.T. Quite. It is not a question of how many were included, but the thing was there. Matthew gives us another picture altogether. Luke takes up what is for God, and one's exercise is that we might see what was at the beginning in this respect, so that it might have its bearing now. Indeed, the Lord would have us to be affected by what was at the beginning as recorded in each of the gospels.

A.M.H. You think then that Luke presents two sides -- the Vessel of God here and all that is of God presented to men in Him, and also the gathering up of what is for the service of God?

J.T. Yes; and he emphasises the order and comeliness that marked all. Another feature is that you feel you are in close touch with heaven throughout; there is a certain heavenly spring in all. Gabriel comes in here and announces his name. In the next chapter there are no names of angels mentioned, but Gabriel in announcing his would be representative of the order of things in heaven, for we may be assured that in the dignitaries there everything is in perfect order. We know from Ezekiel, too (chapter 28: 12 - 14), what personal ornamentation marked angelic dignitaries. If rightly apprehended, the house of God is in close proximity to heaven; there is very little between heaven and the house of God. The first time the house of God is mentioned in Scripture it says it was "the gate of heaven"; thus the testimony is in connection with what is positively attractive

[Page 6]

from the outset.. We can hardly read the record of it without finding it attractive.

Ques. Does this opening portion of the gospel give us the positive assurance that what God had set up in all its moral features was maintained by Himself in spite of the national breakdown?

J.T. Yes, it does; and it ought to touch our hearts that we can be maintained in a broken day in the full height of priesthood according to its primary institution. The reference is to David's day, not to that of Moses.

J.S. Is what you are saying historically illustrated in the antecedents of Paul before going out in service? He went first to Antioch. Here we have the antecedents of the Lord before moving out in ministry.

H.D'A.C. It was "that holy thing which shall be born", and therefore all the surroundings had to be holy and heavenly. There was nothing outwardly glorious and palatial; outwardly things were little, but wonderfully holy.

J.T. Quite; and there is a reminder of the wealth of heaven. Although outwardly small yet there is spiritual superabundance. You get Elizabeth as she is, very comely. At the outset she hid herself five months -- a very fine example of comeliness. As Mary's voice falls on her ears the babe leaps in her womb, and the Holy Spirit comes upon her, and she cries out. Then we have Mary's contribution marked by a wealth of intelligent enjoyment, then Zacharias himself joining in: a wonderful chorus of appreciation of what was there from hearts that were genuinely affected.

J.S. Does it suggest the state of the saints in the appreciation of Christ prior to the ministry going out? Is that how it applies to us?

J.T. That is the thought.

J.R.K. Would you say we have the introduction

[Page 7]

of the kingdom here in the Person of the Lord Himself, and that all the attendant circumstances would suggest the character of the kingdom that is coming in? The kingdom will be manifested by-and-by, and all these various elements will appear -- the house of God connected with heaven, and a system of things which will be quite according to Christ.

J.T. Yes. What we are occupied with is the service of God; that which is affected by heaven and its results God-ward, so that the wealth that is there is reflected.

E.J.McB. Your thought is that the kingdom comes in more incidental to that?

J.T. Well, it does. The kingdom is a means to an end; 1 Chronicles is to show how the service of God was set up under David, and this gospel corresponds.

M.W.B. Will you say a little more as to priesthood in David, as to why it reaches its height there?

J.T. I think David acts typically in the capacity of head. He is not told exactly what to do, although it does say that he had the pattern of the house by the Spirit; but it is not "Thus saith the Lord"; it is not the Lord speaking to David, but what David does; it is what was done by one who was continually affected by God. He sat in his house and considered that he dwelt in a house of cedar, while the ark of the covenant of Jehovah was under curtains, and the word was, "Do all that is in thine heart, for God is with thee". That was the thing, what was in his heart. Then the message comes to him from God through Nathan, and it discloses what was in the mind of God for him and for his house. But the ark was the great thought of David's life, "Lo, we heard of it at Ephratah: we found it in the fields of the wood. I will not give sleep to mine eyes, or slumber to mine eyelids, until I find out a place for the Lord,

[Page 8]

an habitation for the mighty God of Jacob". That is what he had before him, so that what he sets up is in keeping with that.

The author of the first book of Chronicles shows how the thread of the testimony was carried through, because he begins with Adam, showing that everything is preserved and all is now in the hands of David. I think the writer, whoever he was -- probably Ezra -- besides being inspired, was in full sympathy with the mind of God, and so would delight in the thought that everything now is in the hands of one who loved God and who had it in his heart to serve God. The whole book shows how true David was, and how intelligent he was in what he did; I think that the twenty-four courses would imply that he carried both dispensations forward; he took up what was in the previous one and connected it with what was in his own.

Rem. We are not isolated; what we are going on with is what was at the beginning.

E.J.McB. I was going to ask whether you had in your mind as to the twenty-four courses that the priesthood was on a basis that was not so much connected with the wilderness conditions and its needs, but with the service of God at its height.

J.T. I think so. What came out in the wilderness under Moses is not ignored. David valued that, but then there is a new order of things under him -- a kind of forecast of our own day. David's service is typical of our own time, and the reference to it here in Luke 1 is very significant. It shows how the thread of the testimony is preserved. The one who writes the record of David's service reaches right back to Adam. Now in Simeon, who was not of the priestly family according to flesh, we have the change to the spiritual priesthood; he is the true priest in the sense that he is governed by the Spirit, and he says, "Lord, now lettest thou thy servant

[Page 9]

depart in peace, according to thy word: for mine eyes have seen thy salvation". All is now handed on, so to say, to Christ. There is a very great correspondence between 1 Chronicles and Luke.

J.R.K. Would you say that the kingdom reached a climax in the establishment of the ark on mount Zion, and everything flowed from that in the service of song that was appointed?

J.T. Quite. In Chronicles you have the priest, and not only that but you have in David the subjective response to what is presented on the part of God; he is the sweet psalmist of Israel.

P.L. So that if the official system passes over to Christ in the house of God, He must, being greater than the house, adorn it and add to it in the grace and glory of His own manhood as in heaven.

J.R.K. Say a word as to the difference between the grace added in the Person of Christ and the ark as established on mount Zion.

J.T. The ark was God's glory; it represented what was of God and for God, so that David in dancing before it showed he was more than a king; he was a priest, he was clothed with a linen ephod. It was necessary to be clothed with linen, for it was a priestly undergarment, but it was very suitable in one of royal dignity that he should put it on, because the wearing of it tends to reduction, and sobriety, and to the removal of natural feeling. In dancing before the ark he recognised what the ark represented; he had heard of it, but now he had found it.

J.B.C-l. Luke himself not only got the truth of the house of God as it affected the saints, so that he speaks in the way of household affections, but he got it directly from Paul, and thus he had it in a sympathetic way.

J.T. Yes; I think his companionship with Paul enters into the narrative; not that it affects the inspiration of the gospel, but it affects the vessel

[Page 10]

employed; it brings in a heavenly touch. He, being a companion of Paul and observing his manner, would be qualified to write such a gospel. It has a heavenly touch that you do not get in the others.

The second chapter brings in the heavenly host in a very striking way. They are full of sympathy, and it is sympathy out of heaven; they are sympathetic with God.

The shepherds were abiding without, keeping watch by night over their flock; they were without shelter, and were affected by their interest in their flocks, "And lo, an angel of the Lord was there by them", as if to intimate that heaven takes note of this spirit of keeping watch over the flock at night and abiding in the field.

H.F.N. Are not Simeon and Anna a development of that spirit?

J.T. Yes. The chapter goes on next to the announcement, "Unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord". The angel announced something that he called "good tidings of great joy"; one is impressed with the fulness of the thing, the wealth that is in it. Then suddenly a multitude of the heavenly host was with the angel; heaven was thus brought very near in sympathy with God and with man. Then the shepherds go to Bethlehem to see this thing which had come to pass. Now Simeon would gather up all that in his service. I think he represents what is in view in this gospel, the spiritual nature of things; it had been revealed to him by the Spirit that he should, see the Lord's Christ, and he came by the Spirit into the temple and took the Babe up in his arms.

H.F.N. Is that the spot where we begin to touch what is connected with heaven? If the shepherds represent what is without, does Simeon in the temple represent what is within?

J.T. Yes.

[Page 11]

P.L. The shepherds in that way answer to the separate character indicated in the badger skins, and Simeon to the rich furnishings of the tabernacle within.

J.T. The angels are the instructed ones up to this point. The light comes from them. They instruct Zacharias and Mary and the shepherds, but now we have the light through a man, Simeon. The Holy Spirit was upon him. He is representative of what is to be the result; the evangelist is aiming at showing this. He is in the temple by the Spirit, and taking the Babe in his arms, he conveys the mind of God there: "A light for revelation of the Gentiles and the glory of thy people Israel". Christ was God's salvation.

Simeon is a typical priest, not of the order of Aaron, but, in a practical way, such as we have now. It is a question of being spiritual.

Rem. He has no claim to the priesthood apart from that.

J.T. No, nor have we; nor has any one today any claim to it.

P.L. In Romans 1 it is the glad tidings of God concerning His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. The apostle says, "Whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son". This is priestly service.

E.N.H. I suppose the Lord would have us all to be Simeons and Annas -- that is, consecrated priests with our hands and hearts filled with Christ.

J.T. The great thing is to get an apprehension of Christ by the Spirit. Simeon has an apprehension of Christ by the Spirit, and then speaking of Him in a general way comes out in Anna. She spoke of Him to all who looked for redemption in Jerusalem.

Rem. Simeon gathered up what the shepherds heard and saw and presented it to God.

J.T. He had it by the Spirit; that is the point

[Page 12]

with him, and it is suggestive of the new thing that was coming in.

F.H.B. What would mark a spiritual man is appreciation of Christ.

J.T. Right apprehension and right appreciation of Christ would qualify for ministry. Anna is the counterpart of Simeon -- she spake of Him.

Ques. Would that constitute the spiritual house in figure?

J.T. It constitutes you a right minister. If you minister, you must first apprehend Christ by the Spirit, and then appreciate Him by the Spirit, as Simeon did.

J.S. What is the link between her being a widow and being aged and speaking of Him?

J.T. The widow state prepares for Christ. As seen in Anna, widowhood implies that all natural hopes are abandoned and Christ is all.

J.J. Is the thought of priestly sympathy carried on in the twenty-four elders in Revelation?

J.T. I think so. What we see in them is experience, but what we have here is the light at the beginning of things; how you get an apprehension of Christ in a spiritual way, and then you speak of Him. How do I speak of Him?

Ques. Is your thought that the preacher is a development of the priest?

J.T. Quite. You could not speak rightly of Christ unless you had an apprehension of Him in some sense as Simeon had. Christ is apprehended in the temple.

H.F.N. Are all these elements gathered up in the anointed priest?

J.T. Yes; that comes out in chapter 4.

Ques. Would they bring in an atmosphere in which the preacher would come out?

[Page 13]

J.T. Yes.

Ques. How do you regard Mary in connection with these exercises?

J.T. She represents holy maternal instincts. It is right to leave her by herself; I do not think she represents any one else. She is the mother of our Lord and no one else can ever have that place.

J.B.C-l. Do you think Luke presents all these features in a household atmosphere, in the affections that would move along that line? Simeon took the child in his arms. The understanding of the truth of "God manifest in flesh" is not enough. You see in Simeon the affection that laid hold of the truth.

Rem. He spoke of Him as in his arms.

H.D'A.C. The Babe is not put back into Mary's arms; He is left there in Simeon's. The natural has to give way to the spiritual.

J.T. Luke leads up to a spiritual priesthood, and his gospel ends with a company of priests in the temple, and Simeon is a representative of them, I think. One has to know what it is, speaking reverently, to take the Child in his arms. Simeon represents that intelligent affection; he had things by the Spirit -- it was a spiritual action.

Rem. There was a satisfied heart: "Mine eyes have seen thy salvation".

M.W.B. Have we got the two sides you have been speaking of in connection with the prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel -- sympathy in Jeremiah and the spiritual side in Ezekiel?

J.T. That is very interesting. The second chapter brings out additional thoughts as to Christ. He now becomes a test. Taken out of Mary's arms, He is personally detached, and thus He becomes a test. He acquired His own personal place afterwards and became a test to all. Mary sought Him among His kinsfolk and acquaintances; that is not where you will find Him now. You will find Him in the temple;

[Page 14]

that is the point. There is perfect beauty in all that relates to Christ; He is always in perfect keeping with His circumstances.

J.R.K. If we have a due appreciation of Christ according to this gospel, is it not in the apprehension of Him as expressive of what is in the heart of God "mine eyes have seen thy salvation"?

J.T. Yes.

W.C.G. Would Acts 20 support your thought? Paul pours out a priestly heart in addressing the elders of the assembly at Ephesus. Luke was present with him then.

J.T. Yes; I think it is important to bear in mind that Luke was a companion of Paul, and a witness of the truth as it took form in the apostle. You see how the Lord comes out in this chapter; all the people having been baptised, it says, He was baptised, but He is marked off by heaven on the occasion of being so.

H.D'A.C. He had just joined "the excellent of the earth, in whom is all my delight".

[Page 15]


Luke 8:1 - 3

J.T. These verses seem to give the result of chapters 5 - 7, so I thought they would suffice.

W.L. Would you give us in a word or two what was before us this morning, and link it up with what is before your mind this afternoon?

J.T. We dwelt on the connection between 1 Chronicles and Luke's account of the priesthood, showing how the thread of the testimony was maintained, and that in the priesthood sympathy in the manner of the divine intervention was indicated, and how all that marked the scene of the Lord's birth showed the richness of heaven brought down and expressed in the participants. We dwelt at length on Simeon as representative of the new priestly company or family that was to be introduced, having in view also the Lord Himself as anointed by the Spirit as in chapter 3. There is one point that might be noted, namely, that in drawing near to man, as God did in Christ, according to Luke, everything is avoided that would arouse prejudice or resentment. What was of God, however little or obscure outwardly, is noticed. The Lord Himself was connected with man, not simply with Israel, so that the genealogy is traced back to Adam, and to God through Adam.

T.W. Were we not referring to chapter 4 as we closed this morning?

J.T. We left off with the Lord praying; it says, all the people had been baptised; that is, John's work was completed and he was in prison. Then when Jesus had been baptised, He was praying.

J.S. Why do you refer to that? What is the thought in John being in prison and all the people having been baptised?

[Page 16]

J.T. John's work was done before he was cast into prison. Figuratively the scene is clear for Christ and the new order of things which He would bring in.

E.N.H. Although John was not yet in prison actually, yet Luke takes it up as if he were.

T.W. You were making some reference to chapter 4.

J.T. We are coming on to it. We should take special notice of the Lord as praying, and the Holy Spirit coming upon Him while in that attitude.

Rem. John's ministry was to make a prepared people.

J.T. Yes. Before we can see how the apostles and others here were brought into accord with the Lord, we have to take full note of His own ministry, after the Holy Spirit came upon Him.

E.N.H. It is in the grace of the One who had been anointed by the Spirit and owned by the Father as His beloved Son, that the Lord begins His ministry and says, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me". As He was anointed, we need to be anointed, in order to be in correspondence with Him.

H.D'A.C. Why did God anoint Him? Was it not as the One who had been specially before His eye, giving Him infinite pleasure? This came before the anointing.

J.T. The moral precedes the official. Luke brings that out -- the loveliness of Christ as man, the Lord growing up before Him as a tender plant. It is Luke that brings in the "green". "If they do these things in the green tree", referring to what man was under God's eye in Christ. The growing up is intensely interesting.

P.L. "I am like a green olive tree in the house of God". Is that it?

J.T. Yes, quite. He grew in favour with God and man.

D.L.H. I think we are rather anxious to get a

[Page 17]

clear connection between what we had before us this morning and what you have in your mind this afternoon.

J.T. I thought that if the Lord gives us some apprehension of chapter 4 in connection with His baptism and anointing, we might see how those who were to be associated with Him were affected. They are not taken up as in Matthew and Mark. In Matthew, Andrew and Peter are taken up as fishers -- casting a net into the sea, and James and John are called when they were with their father Zebedee in the ship mending their nets, but here we have the Lord reaching Simon and entering into his boat, so that Simon discovers himself. He discovers that he is a sinful man. One has to learn grace; one has to be the subject of grace before one can preach it. Our state being exposed, we learn grace in the way our need is met. The Lord's own example is first outlined; stress is laid on His manner, how He served as the Holy Spirit came upon Him, and was wholly subject as man to God. It is said that He was led by the Spirit in the wilderness forty days -- not simply led into it, but led in it.

P.R.M. Why do you think the Holy Spirit took this unique bodily form -- I suppose for the moment?

J.T. I think the dove would carry the mind back to Noah, and the "bodily form" would be the Holy Spirit as it were in totality; the Holy Spirit was there personally. On a divine Person only could He thus come.

F.H.B. Does it not indicate, too, that it was in a form that men could take account of -- something they could see?

J.T. God presents One in whom He could wholly rest. There is a reference to Genesis 8 here.

P.R.M. And as following on baptism and your connection with Noah and the flood, would it be as indicating Christ as the new Head for man, just as

[Page 18]

Noah typically was? I think you have pointed out that Noah put out his hand and took her in unto him into the ark; there was such intimacy between Noah and the dove in type.

J.T. Yes; and the fruit of the Holy Spirit is, I think, symbolised in the olive leaf. It was plucked off.

P.R.M. Vitality was there. It was not subject to judgment.

W.G.B. Might it not also be that the dove is one of the most timid of creatures? But there was nothing in Him that would perturb it.

J.T. Yes; that is suggestive. It is a sensitive creature, but there was nothing in Christ to cause the least disturbance; God was infinitely complacent in that One.

F.H.B. Would it indicate, too, the character of His ministry, as a ministry of peace -- "preaching peace by Jesus Christ"?

J.T. I suppose so. It was a wonderful moment reached. The manhood of Christ is before us here. John presents a different view, because he is presenting a divine Person.

H.D'A.C. In regard to the saints receiving the Holy Spirit, it is remarkable how many cases there are of prayer preceding that. They were praying at Pentecost, and Saul was praying when Ananias came to him. The Lord takes notice of praying men.

Rem. And the Gentile Cornelius was praying.

E.N.H. The Lord says later to His disciples, "Be ye ... harmless as doves". Would that be an indication that we, as having the Spirit, should be like Himself?

J.T. Yes. In the opening of chapter 4 we have that He was full of the Holy Spirit, and returned from Jordan thus.

H.D'A.C. Is that what is proper to man, or is He simply viewed as a servant there?

[Page 19]

J.T. It should mark us all, but I think it is in view of service here -- the service of grace.

W.G.B. It is characteristic too; the article is left out: "full of Holy Spirit".

J.T. Being full of Holy Spirit implies that the Spirit is accorded His full place. This is pattern for us.

J.B.C-l. Do you think that what you are speaking of, taken in its line through Luke, brings about the "substance" that is spoken of in chapter 8?

J.T. Yes; it is, I think, the result of grace known. The chapters that intervene are wonderful examples of grace -- what came out in the Lord as thus full of the Holy Spirit.

J.McM. Ephesians 5:18 says, "Be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit".

J.T. We have another touch -- that He was led by the Spirit in the wilderness.

J.S. What is the force of that?

J.T. His movements in the wilderness were the result of the Spirit's leading.

P.W. Does it not throw great light on Luke's gospel, to think of the fine flour mingled with oil, and then anointed with oil -- every single thing associated with the Holy Spirit?

H.D'A.C. The flour did not become finer by the anointing. Nothing was added to Christ morally by the anointing. He was absolutely delightful to God, perfectly blessed, but the Holy Spirit brought out how blessed He was in a public way.

J.T. The anointing was for testimony, but the exigencies of the service involved brought into evidence the perfection of the Lord's humanity -- the fine flour. In chapter 3: 22 we have the three Persons: the Man is praying, the Holy Spirit in a bodily form like a dove descends upon Him, and the Father's voice is heard.

[Page 20]

L.M. Would the Father's voice express sonship?

J.T. It does: "Thou art my beloved Son".

H.D'A.C. Now in regard of us, the Holy Spirit is not given before there is some real and true work in the soul on the one hand; and on the other, there is a great deal comes after with us which did not with Christ -- formative work, and a displacing of man.

J.T. Quite; there is nothing of that here. He is full of the Holy Spirit at the outset, and He is led in the power of the Spirit in the wilderness. It also brings in the suggestion that He did not go into it of Himself: He was led there.

Ques. Does that prove to us the greatness of His Person?

J.T. He recoils from the temptation. The statement is that He was led there. In Mark He is said to have been driven of the Spirit out into the wilderness.

D.L.H. Should we be led in any sense at all into temptation?

J.T. There are very few who can take up evil and deal with it.

D.L.H. I was thinking of "Lead us not into temptation". That seems to apply to us and to the disciples.

J.T. Quite. Evil has to be dealt with, but there are very few who are qualified to touch it.

H.D'A.C. Satan does not seem to have attacked Christ personally before His baptism, at least we are not told so; but he acted outwardly against Him as in Herod's attempt to destroy Him; but the personal temptation seems to come after the reception of the Spirit.

J.T. I think He is kept under divine protection until now; but before entering on His service this occurs; it brought out His perfection as Man.

H.D'A.C. Is not that true in a way of many with whom God has wrought, but who are not sealed?

[Page 21]

Satan may make some outward attack upon them, if he knows who they are at all, yet the temptations of this class are more after they have declared themselves.

J.T. When the Philistines heard that David was anointed, then they sought him out. It is "against the Lord, and against his anointed" that the opposition is.

H.D'A.C. Although the saint does not come up to the stature of Christ at the time of the anointing, it involves that. God has committed Himself to that saint. The saint may be weakness itself at the beginning, very small indeed, but the anointing means that he is for all eternity connected with God, and God with him.

J.B.C-l. Do you suggest that these are permanent features of the position -- that they abide? I was thinking of what the apostle, writing to Timothy, said about the Spirit in connection with the Lord -- He was "justified in the Spirit". Is not that the line Luke is pursuing?

J.T. Yes, I think so. What He was as Man came out in the power of the Spirit. Before that He was not in the region of Satanic activity; He is led into that. Satan's sphere of activity is not unlimited. The book of Job helps as to this.

A.M.H. Do you think that before taking up any exercises in relation to the anointed vessel, there has to be something like this experienced in individuals -- though since the Lord has met the power of evil we never meet it in its full force, but the soul has to pass through exercises in connection with it?

J.T. I think we have to encounter evil; we have to learn what it is, and the power that we have to deal with it. What is set before us is that He was led in the wilderness in that power. The temptations are given so that we may know how to overcome. The young men are said to be strong, and that they

[Page 22]

have overcome the wicked one. That has to be learned.

A.M.H. I was wondering whether anyone could stand in relation to the testimony unless these three ways of assailing the heart have first been faced.

J.T. That is just the thing to get at, whether we can quietly rest in the word of God and refuse to be moved away from it.

A.M.H. The first would be a question of piety in regard to ordinary circumstances; then in regard to political principles, and lastly in regard to religious principles.

J.T. If we do not know what it is to trust God in our daily circumstances, we shall be mercenary in our service and exposed to patronage. Not that the Lord would not have those who have ability for His service free, for he who preaches the gospel should live of it; the Lord ordained that. But the question is whether one could take up such a position as that unless he knows how to trust God in regard to it, because one may have to hunger as the apostle did; 2 Corinthians 11:27.

A.M.H. You mean the temptation is not only one in relation to need, perhaps, but you may be brought under the influence of those who have means. The enemy might use such things to divert a servant?

J.T. Those who preach the gospel should live of it, but before entering on that path you must know what it is to trust God. Then you will not be affected by these influences.

H.F.N. Why are all the quotations from Deuteronomy?

J.T. Because it is the wilderness after the Spirit, typically, has been received that is in view.

H.F.N. Yes, corresponding to the latter part of Numbers.

J.T. Quite. Moses wrote Deuteronomy when one hundred and nineteen years old; it would be the

[Page 23]

experience of the saints after they recognised the Holy Spirit. They have entered on that part of the wilderness.

H.F.N. Your thought is that here it is the divine pattern, is it not?

J.T. Yes; the dispensation of God, which is in faith. It is marked by dependence on God and the power of the Spirit.

P.R.M. So He can bring in -- and this is distinctly affecting -- "Man shall not live by bread alone".

J.T. Then He returns in the power of the Spirit. His heart was free in returning; now it was not to be tempted of the devil, but to deliver men from his power; and, as His custom was, He entered into the synagogue at Nazareth. What the Holy Spirit presents to us is the Lord as anointed, and the manner in which He ministered. He enters into the synagogue and receives the roll of the scriptures from the attendant. He receives it. It is delivered to Him, and He finds the scripture which fitted in with the moment. It shows how the scriptures are to be employed.

F.M. Had He done that before?

J.T. It says, "As his custom was". Apparently He had done it before. But this particular incident is brought before our attention because it is where He was brought up, how He acted there.

S.H. He says, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me".

J.T. Yes, quite so.

R.B. What is the force of the expression "upon me" as compared with the other you have alluded to?

J.T. I think it is the anointing -- "because he has anointed me". It refers to what marked Him publicly in His ministry. It is what God would have; it is the effect it is to produce. Some of us were noticing lately in regard to this passage that our attention is called to His sitting down, and that the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed upon Him;

[Page 24]

that is, He was attractive; there was evident beauty there. But then He spoke: "This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears". We were noting that here it is "the words of grace which were coming out of his mouth".

E.R. Would it be right to connect that with Psalm 45, "Thou art fairer than the children of men: grace is poured into thy lips"? "Therefore God hath made thee blessings for ever". Here it is the gracious words proceeding out of His mouth; there it is the grace being poured into His lips, and I thought that rather substantiated the thought that the Lord is the dependent Man.

J.T. The words themselves are viewed and taken account of as coming out of His mouth. In John 6 Peter says, "Thou hast the words of eternal life". Luke occupies us with what comes out of His mouth, the graciousness of the words. John connects the words with the Person. It is not what He spoke so much as the words He had: "Thou hast the words of eternal life".

E.J.McB. I suppose that up to this time they had never come out of anything but the roll. Now the roll is closed up and they come out of a Person. It must have been intensely attractive to them all.

J.T. And the words are now, so to say, available -- words of grace. But for the words of eternal life you have to go to the Person. It is not a question of what He said; John is presenting the Person, and how essential the Person is.

Ques. What is the additional thought in John 6"The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life"?

J.T. That is, they are testing. They could not be received by the natural man. The Lord had said to the twelve, "Will ye also go away?" (The twelve would refer to those connected with the testimony.) Peter replies, speaking for the twelve,

[Page 25]

"Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life".

A.M.H. Would not the words out of His mouth in Luke be more the thought of His public presentation of God in grace, and does not that suggest that the presentation of God in grace should at all times be in such attractive power as to at least arrest men?

J.T. The words of Christ in John tested men; many went back from that time and walked no more with Him. So that the question is, what hold the Person has on me. Peter's answer shows that he had an intelligent apprehension of the words that the Lord had -- not exactly words on record that He had spoken, but the words that He had.

E.N.H. I suppose Peter had the apprehension in his soul that the Lord was the only Person who had such words; He had them, and nobody else. If they did not go to Him, they could not get them.

J.T. We were contrasting the two passages. The words of grace came out of His mouth, and were attractive. All bore witness of them. The passage suggests that our manner in service should be attractive.

D.L.H. I had thought that the words here that the Lord Jesus read from Isaiah were a kind of epitome of His ministry as given Him, and embraced very much the new covenant idea, and the ministry of reconciliation as the completion of it. I thought the "acceptable year of the Lord" brought in reconciliation, whereas the preaching of the gospel to the poor would be the setting forth of what God is, so that the people might know Him.

J.T. The text covers the dispensation from that standpoint -- what is presented to men in a public way; but the point is that the Vessel through whom the announcement of grace had come was attractive. The truth was adorned; Isaiah was never read that way before, nor were there ever such comments made,

[Page 26]

or speaking of this kind. Never could it have been said, "This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears". He began to say this -- the great subject was not finished on that occasion.

D.L.H. Might we connect that with Luke's speaking of the Word in the opening chapter?

J.T. I suppose so, only you have words here.

Rem. Words convey details, do they not?

E.B. And the comments were exactly on the line of the scripture.

J.S. Is your thought how they were said? You said at the beginning there was nothing to repel man, but everything to disarm him.

J.T. The words were fulfilled in their ears that day. The public effect was such that even those not affected by grace recognised the gracious words that proceeded out of His mouth.

A.M.H. Would that be the arresting power of the anointing?

J.T. The truth has also to be announced. He immediately goes on to call attention to the truth, but He was full of grace and truth, not truth and grace; grace is prominent, and His manner adorned what He said.

Ques. Why did He do this where He was brought up?

J.T. It was where there would be least appreciation of Him, so that the test to them was the grace there present; yet they had to recognise that they were gracious words.

J.H.M. Is it your thought that God is vindicated in the way it is presented, as well as in the thing that is presented? The very manner of it is God-like.

J.T. The blessed Vessel adorned the thing He presented. You have the idea of beauty connected with Jerusalem in the Old Testament; we are called upon to "Walk about Zion ... mark ye well her bulwarks, consider her palaces". I think you have

[Page 27]

the beginning of that here. God is setting out to approach man, and all these accompaniments are seen so that there should be nothing in man's way, nothing to arouse his suspicion or prejudice, in so far as it could be.

Rem. We have not, perhaps, been affected by Paul's manner. He would not use words of man's wisdom; but that is another thing, is it not?

J.T. You do not want to use words that are employed in evil associations. A great deal of our language -- all slang -- comes from filthy associations. The Holy Spirit would not employ it. There are "acceptable words", "words of truth", Ecclesiastes 12:10. The apostle enjoins "an outline of sound words", 2 Timothy 1:13.

P.R.M. They would have a preservative and soothing character, like the oil and the wine.

H.D'A.C. If the Lord's words had not been such there would not have been the opposition seen here. If He had taken a legal pharisaical line, they would not have tried to destroy Him. His discourse had shown the over-abundance of grace; how a Syrian leper, a leader in the nation that had overrun Jehovah's land, was healed when none of the lepers in Israel were, and a widow belonging to the heathen race of Canaan, which had ruined Israel, was maintained when none of Israel's widows were. It was this presentation of grace that was more than they could stand.

J.T. That involved the truth as well, which was not yet opened up, God was approaching man in One in whom grace and truth subsist.

E.N.H. The company assembled appreciated the grace in so far as they could. When the Lord spoke the truth, then the hostility was aroused; but He adorned His words, so that, as far as possible, there should be no breach.

[Page 28]

F.H.B. We are to adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things.

J.T. Even a slave can do that.

M.W.B. I was going to ask if both the ministry and the minister are to be attractive. In what way would you speak of that? I was only thinking of the practical effect among us. Our meeting rooms in gospel preachings are very empty sometimes. While there is the truth side, should there not be also the gracious side? You might explain a little more fully what you mean.

J.T. One has to be near God to apprehend rightly where man is in his need, so that one may get near to him, get by him. You have in the service of Paul customs corresponding with this. He went into the synagogue at Antioch, in Pisidia, and sat down. He did not go in and assume that he had light that they did not have. So in Thessalonica; when he arrived there, he went in "among them", and then he preached; that is, he first placed himself alongside the Jews as one of them. As I said, he sat down in the synagogue at Antioch; the law and the prophets were read, as was customary, but he waited to be asked to speak before he spoke. These are indications of a man who is considerate of men; he knows what he has got to present to them, but he does not want to arouse prejudice or resentment; he would gain their confidence.

W.C.G. The little maid in 2 Kings 5 was rather a good example of an attractive evangelist; her words were repeated.

D.L.H. Is it not the case that even natural men can form some conception of what grace is, and delight in it so far; but as soon as it is tested by truth, they revolt against it.

J.T. You want to get their ear, then present the truth to them.

[Page 29]

J.H.L. I was going to ask about Acts 14. They went into the synagogue, and so spake that a multitude believed.

J.T. That is another example. Luke in his gospel presents Wisdom; in the Acts we get the children of Wisdom.

P.L. Does not the apostle remind the Thessalonians of the manner of his coming among them with the brethren, as if they should have that thought with them? He went in among them, then he spoke to them about Christ, but then in writing to them he says, "Ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sakes". What it is to be among people! Even of the Lord, John says, "the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us".

J.T. We might just refer to chapters 5, 6 and 7 in a brief way. Chapter 5 shows how grace is made effective in our souls, so that the selection of the apostles is possible in chapter 6. Peter may be taken as an example, but the Lord's call here is not what Matthew and Mark present. Luke would show how grace became effective in them. In Matthew and Mark they are called upon to follow the Lord at the outset; but before you get the thought here, the Lord comes near to Peter; He got into his boat. That is in keeping with what we were saying, that Paul went in among the Jews. You must get down to where people are in order to understand their need, and convey to them that you are sympathetic with them.

H.F.N. This section is introduced by the Lord preaching the word of God. Is that the definitely formative element of the vessels in correspondence with the anointing?

J.T. What He says is the word of God, and crowds pressed upon Him to hear it.

H.F.N. Would that form the vessels in moral correspondence with the anointing?

[Page 30]

J.T. One always thinks, in regard to our meetings, whether the saints come to hear a preacher, or the word of God. Now He would secure Peter, and if Peter is to preach the word of God, he must learn grace, and he must learn it in One who has come nigh to him into his own boat.

H.D'A.C. The word of Cornelius was, "Now therefore are we all here present, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God".

F.W.P. Do you think grace had been operative in the crowd?

J.T. I think so, and the fact that there was a crowd (chapter 5: 1) made it necessary in the Lord's mind that He should have others with Him. Now the Lord has got one: Peter has to be reached in this way -- reached in his own boat -- if he is to be in the service.

H.H. What does that convey -- "a sinful man"?

J.T. It conveys what the words say, that he was not only a sinner but "sinful".

P.R.M. Leprous?

J.T. Well, the leper comes in immediately after. He has got to learn grace as meeting him in a most loathsome condition. One has to start there if one is to be employed in the service of Christ.

H.D'A.C. "This man receiveth sinners".

J.B.C-l. Is that how the apostle Paul commenced? He brings before Timothy in the opening of his first epistle the fact that he himself had been reached in that way. "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief". Then he goes on to speak of the mercy that accounted him faithful, putting him into the ministry. Is that what we see effected in Peter here?

J.T. The apostle Paul could say it as nobody else could. See the depth of the grace he learned! There is something of a parallel in the woman of

[Page 31]

chapter 7. The greatest lover of Christ is the one who has judged himself most.

Ques. Then is your thought that the spirit seen in Christ in chapter 4 is arrived at by us through chapters 5, 6 and 7?

J.T. Yes; the result of the teaching in chapters 5 to 7 is expressed in the first three verses of chapter 8, where you have the apostles and the women who have substance. Chapter 7 presents the woman of the city who was a sinner; she is a special example of those who learn grace. It takes all the pride out of us to learn that we are lepers -- most loathsome. There is first Peter -- sinful -- the leper next, then the paralytic. He is raised up, and sent to his house; then we get Levi. He has learned things, so that the kind of guests he invites are the sort that would meet the Lord's desires. It was a great entertainment for the Lord.

N.L. Does the thought of power now come in here? In Acts 10 Peter says that "God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power".

J.T. It comes in in Acts 10:38, He "went about doing good and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him".

E.R. It says in verse 17 the power of the Lord was present to heal them, and that follows immediately after the Lord had withdrawn into the wilderness and prayed.

J.T. Then we have Levi's entertainment, showing the effect of the teaching; he would have such as the Lord would have to be with Him -- "publicans and sinners".

F.H.B. He was sympathetic with the ministry of grace.

Rem. He had a great appreciation of the Lord.

E.N.H. He puts himself and his house at the Lord's disposal.

[Page 32]

J.T. Then we have the new wine and the new bottles.

F.W.P. What is the force of the incident as to the disciples plucking the ears of corn on the sabbath recorded in chapter 6?

J.T. I think it suggests that the disciples were learning to take account of the Lord. He was the corn, and they were taking what was available, disregarding the outward religious order of things.

A.W. Is there any importance in the expression "the second-first sabbath"? It seems a unique expression (chapter 6: 1).

J.T. I suppose it would refer to the early recognition by the disciples of a new order of things that was coming in.

A.W. I was wondering if it was connected with the new wine.

H.D'A.C. The first sabbath broke down because the man broke down. Now we have a second-first sabbath, where you have the Man who does not break down.

Ques. Were they gathering substance by plucking corn?

J.T. The shewbread was available to David, but the truth comes out, that the Son of man is Lord of the sabbath. We are coming on now to a higher level of truth.

Ques. Why is the house of God brought in here?

J.T. It refers to David. The Lord vindicates the action of the disciples by referring to what David did, which they could not deny, and then He brings out the truth of His being the Lord of the sabbath.

E.N.H. Just after David and his companions took the shewbread, David goes out to the cave of Adullam and gathers a company of mighty men around himself. So the Lord here gathers the apostles.

Rem. The Lord connected the action of the

[Page 33]

disciples with what David did; he went into the house of God. Were they morally in the house of God, and eating as David did?

J.T. I should not say the house of God was yet set up, but He brings that incident forward as a vindication of the action of the disciples.

Ques. Is the vindication bound up in "and gave to those also who were with him" -- the fact that they were with David, and that the disciples were with the Lord? Does their vindication hang upon their being with Him?

J.T. The new order of things is based on prayer (see chapter 6: 12); it brings God in, God acting in a Man, so that when the question is put later to Peter as to who the Lord was, he says, "the Christ of God". Hence the Lord is acting for God, and so He prays all night and then appoints the twelve, and descends from the mount into the plain with them. All this carries back to the beginning of chapter 5, where He is pressed with the crowd. The greatness of the need is seen, and the necessity that the ministry should be extended. Now He has got the twelve, and chapter 7 brings in another course of instruction in regard to grace. Perhaps we have the greatest evidence of it -- the greatest evidence of its being appreciated -- in the woman of the city, for she anoints the Lord's feet. She recognises that He has brought the grace of God to her.

F.H.B. She had a sense of "how beautiful ... are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings".

J.T. Yes. I think the entering into what is set forth in chapter 7 enables us to bring out what we get in verses 1 - 3 in chapter 8. The twelve are there, and many others, and certain women who are ministering to Him of their substance.

Ques. Would you connect that with Proverbs 8, "may cause those that love me to inherit substance"?

[Page 34]

J.T. Yes; the woman in chapter 7 is one of Wisdom's children. As loving much, she had true substance. (Compare Song of Songs 8.)

E.R. It comes out very plainly. Christ became the absorbing object of her heart, therefore she is willing for this service.

J.T. The Lord directs attention to her, "Seest thou this woman?" She represents grace as learned from Christ who brought it. He brought it, carried it to her, so she anoints His feet.

E.R. What the Lord says about her is very remarkable: "since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet". She was un-detachable.

J.S. This instruction had evidently become effective in the apostles in the opening of the Acts. The twelve were there, and also that subjective element suggested by the "certain women" who ministered to Him of their substance.

P. Would you say that Simon represents the world, but the woman who anointed His feet, those in whom He found His delight?

J.T. I think she is Luke's model of grace. The Lord contrasts her actions with those of Simon.

H.F.N. Is she the typical woman of this section, as Simon Peter is the typical man of the first section?

J.T. I think so. This section abounds with the evidence of the grace of God in Christ; indeed, the depths of divine compassion are discovered here. See the widow of Nain.

H.F.N. Would it be right to say that the instincts of a priest were here? The ark was in the house of a Philistine, but all the reverent instincts that take account of Him intelligently were with her.

J.T. She acted in a priestly way; it was an intelligent action. I think she is a model for us as to the effect of grace.

J.B.C-l. Do you not think that our acquaintance with the truth is calculated to cause us somewhat to

[Page 35]

lose the sense of grace? Most of us have been brought up with the truth; we have had the advantages of it from the outset, and my own feeling has been that one has somewhat lost the sense of grace at times. Our knowledge of grace is the measure of our knowledge of God. In the presence of God we learn what the true grace of God is, because we learn it in Christ.

J.T. It is in the measure in which one learns to judge oneself, learns what one is before God, that one learns to appreciate grace. "Ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ".

J.B.C-l. The apostle Paul, speaking of himself, said four things -- that he was a blasphemer and a persecutor, and an insolent and overbearing man, and one has the impression that in Luke 7 we see the insolence and overbearingness in Simon. One of the deepest lessons the heart learns is that even in the handling of the things of God, it may still be in the spirit that makes little of Christ.

[Page 36]


Luke 14:15 - 24; Luke 15:11 - 32

J.T. It would help if we kept in mind that in all that may come before us this morning the house of God is in view. From chapter 8 we see how the transition came about from Jewish circumstances to the house of God as we have it.

D.L.H. Might I suggest that for the benefit of those who were not here yesterday, you would give an outline of what we had.

J.T. At our first reading we dwelt on chapters 1 to 4, especially on the circumstances connected with the Lord's birth, showing how the thread of the testimony was carried through from the outset -- from Adam. The priest who ministered in Luke 1 was of the house of Aaron and carried on his ministry in the order of his course according to David's appointment, thus linking on with 1 Chronicles. Then we saw that in the temple Simeon represented the new order of priesthood, connected with the present time. That order of priesthood lies in the possession of the Spirit of God. Simeon comes by the Spirit into the temple, and receives the Child in his arms, and indicates the mind of God in regard to the Child -- what was to be set forth in Him. Then we saw that Anna was the counterpart of Simeon, speaking of the Lord to all those who looked for redemption in Israel, the testimony being thus carried forward in priestly hands -- the persons employed being marked by heavenly grace and moral beauty. Then in chapter 3 the Lord comes into evidence, as baptised and praying. The Spirit descended upon Him at that moment, as if God would recognise the order of manhood that was seen there -- recognising also what He had been under God's eye as growing up; because it says,

[Page 37]

"In thee I have found my delight", meaning that God found there what could not be found elsewhere. It refers, therefore, to what He was as Man. God found His delight in Him. Then He is anointed for service, and in the synagogue of Nazareth He exhibits the grace that was becoming -- the grace in His own Person and the manner of His communications -- to the great service entrusted to Him.

In chapter 5 we saw that He would associate others with Him, and so He deals in grace with Simon. I might remark what was omitted yesterday -- that Simon was in partnership with others. There were two boats in the company apparently, and the Lord entered into Simon's boat and spoke to the crowd out of it. The two boats, I think, refer to what existed in Judaism. The Lord then turns to Simon and says, "Launch out into the deep for a draught", and the haul was so great that the net broke. Then Simon beckons to his partners; they were acting together, so that both boats were filled and about to sink, as if the Lord would indicate to them that the great result of His ministry must go for nothing if entrusted to such a vessel as Judaism provided. The draught, through the gospel, must be provided for elsewhere. I think that stands out at the beginning of this section, and so the Lord sets about to produce a condition of things that would contain the draught. What the gospel would bring about must be provided for in better conditions than the two boats, and the partnership involved in them, afforded. They were not to be despised, but the net broke and the boats were sinking; so that chapters 5, 6 and 7 would bring about conditions leading up to the new order of things, which was to take form in the house.

In the beginning of chapter 8 we have the result of what we get in these chapters (5 - 7), in that the apostles were with the Lord: He has twelve now who have learned grace through Him. Peter is

[Page 38]

representative; he learned that he was a sinful man, and came into the light of the gospel. The case of the leper which follows illustrates a further lesson learned by Peter; the paralytic, too, illustrates another lesson, and Levi yet another. Thus there was a building up of grace and truth in their souls, until we arrive at something wholly new -- new wine and new bottles; so that the wine -- the ministry -- is not lost. Hence in chapter 6 He prays all night and appoints the twelve, and descends with them to "a level place". Chapter 6 is to form the new bottles. In chapter 7 you have the grace of God affecting the centurion's bondman, the widow of Nain, and the woman of the city who was a sinner; in the woman the full effects of grace are seen. She loved much because of it, and in loving she had substance. Those that love wisdom inherit substance; Proverbs 8:21. That leads onto chapter 8, where certain women were with others in company with the Lord and ministered to Him of their substance.

Then He introduces the parable of the sower. All this is leading up to the house.

E.M. Does the house present the new conditions which were referred to?

J.T. Yes. The Lord introduces the parable of the sower, implying that there is to be a new crop. What belonged to Judaism was not to be despised, but it is carried over in an administrative way. He does not carry the boats over, but He carries over the persons; they are now constituted twelve apostles. He secures an administrative company out of Judaism, and they are associated with Him in an administrative way. He has taken with Him what belonged to the old order of things, but not as it was; He has taken it over wholly in accord with Himself, that is, it is made new, so that He has got what was of the old with Him, but on a new principle. Now that intimates that there is going to be a new crop, so after the

[Page 39]

sowing you have the brethren (verse 31). The brethren are those who hear the word of God and do it. That is the principle -- the new crop is the result of the sowing.

Ques. Is the parable of the sower connected with the kingdom or the house?

J.T. It is the kingdom, but with the house in view. Then He goes over to the other side of the lake. The brethren have to learn that they must go to the other side. What do you say about that?

J.B.C-l. That is right. Would you mind opening it out a little? Have you in mind the interests in relation to the house as such? House interests are not local.

J.T. One of the greatest lessons is for brethren to go to the other side. We must learn what is elsewhere, otherwise we shall be too local. In going to the other side you get a fresh apprehension of Christ. Then the demoniac comes out of the city; the Lord does not find him, but he meets the Lord. This is in keeping with the sowing, which produces spontaneous results. The needy one meets the Lord; then he is found with the Lord, sitting, clothed and in his right mind. It is the public result.

E.J.McB. A striking statement in regard to the demoniac was that he did not abide in the house.

J.T. And wore no clothes -- a shameless state of things, reminding us of the influence of the city upon the young, and indeed upon men generally. In the demoniac recovered you have what is outwardly right; he is sitting at the feet of Jesus; it is a public position; and he is clothed and in his right mind. It is the public effect of the ministry of the kingdom. God prepares His work without and afterwards builds His house; Proverbs 24:27.

J.B.C-l. Do you suggest that in connection with the demoniac, under the Lord's ministry he became the delineation of the truth -- one of the

[Page 40]

features that Paul makes much of in his epistle to Timothy, that he himself is a delineation of the truth to those who were about to believe?

J.T. Quite. So that they come out to see the Lord and find the man "sitting, clothed and sensible, at the feet of Jesus". Then we have the case of the woman with the issue of blood, and the daughter of Jairus. The Lord brings in a principle in connection with the latter that she is to be given "something to eat". The question of food arises in connection with one brought from the dead; she is to be sustained in life by food.

Ques. Is this the effect that is suggested in regard to the position on the other side?

J.T. Yes. In chapter 8 we have man under the direct power of Satan -- the demoniac; man suffering from sin dwelling in him -- the woman with the issue of blood; and man under death -- Jairus's daughter: all these results of man's disobedience are met in grace by the Lord. Then the apostles are sent out (chapter 9), and they return to the Lord, and He takes them aside, so that they might be with Him in quietude. The crowd comes, and the question of meeting the situation arises, and the Lord says, "Give ye them to eat". It is assumed that they have got something now, so they are directed to feed the hungry multitude.

R.B. Why was the decline of the day referred to before the feeding of the multitude?

J.T. The declining day meant fatigue for them, and I suppose they considered how little opportunity there was to make the provision; they were governed by natural considerations. They had no idea as to how the thing would be met.

W.L. Would it suggest our present position as in the end of the dispensation?

J.T. I suppose so. The Lord's direction tested the disciples; they were now to understand that they

[Page 41]

had something, but their answer shows that in their apprehension they were not yet out of Jewish circumstances. The new day had not yet dawned for them. But the Lord says, "Give ye them to eat". I mention this incident particularly because in feeding the crowd He brings in a principle that has a great deal to do with the house of God, that is, the division of the five thousand into a hundred companies. It is, I believe, a reference to 1 Corinthians. It is better to have a hundred companies of fifty each than one company of five thousand.

A.M.H. You mean the divine thought of setting in assemblies, so that the principles of the house of God can be worked out there for enlargement?

J.T. Yes. The principles of the house can be much better carried out in a small company in which each knows the other.

A.M.H. It becomes practically impossible to maintain family relationships such as are suggested, for instance, in Peter's epistles, in a large company.

P.L. The "Preacher" in Ecclesiastes refers to the forming of assemblies. (See note on Ecclesiastes 1:1.)

J.T. I think Paul is the great "former of assemblies", so that after his three weeks' visit to Thessalonica, he writes to the saints there that they "became followers of the churches of God which in Judaea are in Christ Jesus". They learned what it was to go over to the other side; they overcame national and local prejudices. They went to Judaea for their model; they imitated the assemblies of God there; 1 Thessalonians 2:14.

A.M.H. By going to the other side, do you mean that they were following divine operations, wherever they were taking place?

J.T. Yes, even if national sentiment might be against them. He does not say, however, "Ye became imitators of Jerusalem". They discerned the nature of the divine economy in this respect; it

[Page 42]

took form in assemblies, not in a metropolitan centre.

A.M.H. That is important. As to food, what is the difference in thought between the feeding of Jairus's daughter and the feeding of the multitude?

J.T. In regard to Jairus's daughter. He commanded that something should be given her to eat. It would be the parents' responsibility. The need of being sustained by food in the circumstances in question was urgent. The food in chapter 9 comes in in an administrative way. The word was to the twelve (verse 12).

A.M.H. The setting of assemblies is very important from that standpoint, so that all may get food.

J.T. Yes, and get it in a family way, not as a charity organisation. We are set in relation to one another as knowing each other. "Let Reuben live, and not die, and let his men be few", that is, "easily counted". You can easily count by name a company of fifty.

P.R.M. Would it be different from Mark, where it says they sat down in ranks by hundreds and by fifties?

J.T. I think Mark would have reference to the Jewish feature; Matthew and Mark have reference to the administration of the twelve. There can be no doubt that there were large numbers in Jerusalem, but Paul brings in assemblies, and Luke is in line with Paul. The hundreds might refer to the saints in Jerusalem. There was a vast number there. James says, "Thou seest, brother, the myriads of those that believe". Fifty might refer to the assemblies in Judaea. A large number is apt to become a congregation, and the truth of the house of God in its practical working may thus be lost. In a large company you are apt to get assembly responsibility in the hands of a few -- a sort of central committee.

E.J.McB. Does not Timothy rather follow out that difference regarding the question of Luke and

[Page 43]

Mark? Luke was with Paul, but Mark was profitable for ministry. No doubt you can exceed fifty in regard to ministry, but it is difficult to work out church principles if you have a large number.

J.T. It is indeed. You might speak to any number if your voice would carry. When you are lecturing, for instance, it is to a congregation, not to an assembly. But an assembly means that each one in it is responsible, and supposes intelligence as to what is in hand.

E.J.McB. The child, being in the house of Jairus, is fed parentally, but when you come to the fifties, they are fed, as it were, administratively.

J.T. As to the former, the need is emphasised; it corresponds with John's ministry. But we do well to take note of this principle of administrative order, because in Luke we may be sure that this incident refers to order. That is what he is concerned about in large measure, because he was with Paul and saw how the truth took form. It was in Paul that the word of God was completed, so that his ministry was the last word. He even brings in the Lord's supper in connection with order. Whoever wrote afterwards, there was nothing added.

P.L. Does the Lord bring in a feature of the house of God in looking up to heaven? The house of God is referred to as "the gate of heaven": food supply on the one hand, and lifting up holy hands on the other.

J.T. Quite. Now He is seen praying. We are coming on to elevated ground; we are really ascending, as it were, to the house in these chapters. Think of a Man who could do all these things, and yet He is seen praying! Presently we come to the desire on the part of the disciples that He should teach them to pray (chapter 11), but here He is praying alone (verse 18), and He raises the question, "Who do the

[Page 44]

crowds say that I am?" Then, "Who do ye say that I am?"

J.B.C-l. Is that instituting the glory in connection with the house of God? I was thinking of what you get in the Old Testament, the house built by Solomon in the greatness of his person -- the glory came into the house and then Solomon prayed.

J.T. So that the house is marked by prayer. It was said that it should be called a house of prayer. 1 Timothy is the epistle that regulates the house; it enjoins prayer, and in prayer that proper adornment of men lifting up holy hands, the women to be adorned with modesty and discretion.

Rem. "First of all" -- it is given the first place.

J.T. Quite so.

Ques. Would what you are saying now be linked with 2 Chronicles? The house is introduced there at the outset.

J.T. Yes. Now they have got to answer His question, "Who do ye say that I am?" He has been doing wonderful things, but He is still praying. Peter's reply shows how he had taken in the truth according to this gospel. He says, "The Christ of God" -- not simply the Christ, but the Christ of God.

J.S. Why do you make that distinction?

J.T. Because it brings God in; God had visited His people in this anointed One. It is not simply that He does things. "The Christ" is generally the One who will effect everything, but He is God's Christ -- the Christ of God.

P.L. Is He the true David, the Anointed, gathering the materials of the house?

J.T. That is just the truth of it.

H.D'A.C. Jesus was anointed by God. No human hand was upon Him in that anointing. Antichrist will be anointed by man; he will be man's Christ, but Jesus is God's Christ.

J.B.C-l. Speaking of the fifties, I think there

[Page 45]

may have been a fear that in the handling of matters something might be lost, in the sense of loss of direct control; but does not the understanding of this gospel prove that the reverse is the case? The Lord uses the disciples in administration, yet it is quite clearly the administration of the Lord Himself.

J.T. Quite. But it is to those who "in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both theirs and ours". It is His doing, but He is pleased to operate through little companies all over the world.

Rem. In that way no room is left for independence.

Ques. Would not there be sufficient in each company, so that all would be satisfied?

J.T. Yes; but all given from one Shepherd; Ecclesiastes 12:11. Now another thing comes out after this, that He is praying on high. "He went up into a mountain to pray". What is impressed upon us in approaching the house is prayer. The One who could do all these things and could ascend is praying there, and as He prayed the fashion of His countenance was altered. We should note these continued instances of prayer in the Lord, so that we might be preserved in continuance in prayer and in dependence on God. It is that which the reformers missed; they relied on human support: they accepted the protection of the State. The house of God is to be here on the principle of dependence on God.

Ques. Does not the Spirit of God continually call attention to the thought of prayer in Acts, after the house of God had been formed?

J.T. Yes. They lifted up their voice in prayer to God with one accord, and the place where they were was shaken. That was the answer to this.

H.D'A.C. It is evident that at the last moment of the church's history we shall need God more than ever. If the Lord prayed so constantly, how it becomes us! We little know what difficulties are in

[Page 46]

front of us, and we need to be acquainted with God. We are not told what He said, but we do know He was with God. That is a very great point.

J.T. No combination of circumstances can overcome those who know what it is to trust God. The house is to be sustained on that principle. In Timothy it is said, "the dispensation of God which is in faith" (1 Timothy 1:4), which has reference to the house; it is sustained in faith, not by any outward arrangement; and if it is in faith, it is to be maintained by prayer and dependence on God.

J.R.K. Would you say that the introduction of "which is in faith" is in contrast to what was set up by Moses which you could see?

J.T. Yes. Christendom is a denial of that. Faith does not seek publicity, it is concerned about God, and it is no question of what is great publicly. The principles of the house are carried on in those who have faith in God.

Ques. How do you allow for the thought of increase?

J.T. The question is whether we can "keep house": "He makes the barren woman to keep house". The great difficulty is in keeping house; this comes before increase. These lessons teach us that.

P.R.M. If a meeting becomes too large we can "swarm", to use the figure of the hive.

J.T. Yes. They have done it at -- -- with evident advantage. If you have five thousand, you have the material for a hundred companies. The Lord has much more delight in a hundred companies of fifty each than in one large company of five thousand.

Ques. What do you mean by "keeping house"?

J.T. Well, the thing is not to become too large. Large companies tend to minister to the flesh. Luke mentions the charge the Lord gave His disciples to make the people sit down in companies by fifties;

[Page 47]

and he mentions it for a purpose. I think Paul had that in mind in establishing assemblies.

Ques. Would the exercise in regard to Jairus's household be the preparation for keeping house?

J.T. I think it would. Before anything was done in that house the Lord ordered that the minstrels should be put out; Matthew 9:23, 24. Before you can have the exercise of divine power, all these worldly things must be removed. The Lord takes with Him Peter and James and John, and the parents. You do not want a crowd; you want those who have a direct interest, and who are spiritual. If one has not a direct interest in the house of God he is not in fellowship, nor is he fit to be. Housekeeping in the house of God is the maintenance of the holiness and order suited to it. Increase comes to those who know how to keep house; Psalm 113:9.

Chapter 10 brings in a new thought -- that whilst the Lord would have the saints to know Him as in prayer and to have the housekeeping principle, yet the cities are all to be visited. We are not to be contracted, living on ourselves; so He appoints seventy others also, and sends them out to the cities that He was about to visit. "Into every city and place where he himself was about to come". Now the question arises, If I am to go out and the Lord is to follow me, what is He to find after me? Supposing you go to the cities to minister and the Lord comes after you, what does He find? It is a very great test. We can generally find what a brother is by the effect of his ministry; and the Lord comes to find out what the effect is. Paul tells us about his circuit -- "From Jerusalem and in a circuit round to Illyricum". We may be assured the Lord would approve what He found after Paul, for he fully preached the glad tidings of Christ; Romans 15:19 - 21.

P.L. Is that like John the baptist preparing the way of the Lord?

[Page 48]

J.T. The same thing in principle. The result is "Christ among you", Colossians 1:27. But how could Christ be among the Gentiles if Paul had not come first?

Rem. In following up His servants, would not the Lord expect to find the enemy dispersed and Himself introduced?

J.T. Yes.

H.F.N. Is that in view of the ark getting its place? Do the seventy in that way prepare hearts for the reception of it?

J.T. I think they do. That was the commencement; they were to go before Him, "where he himself was about to come".

H.F.N. Is not the appointing of seventy others a greater thought than the twelve -- something greater than what is merely administrative?

J.T. I think it is illustrated in the ample provision you have in Paul's ministry. The number -- seven times ten -- suggests the combination of spiritual power and human responsibility.

P.L. Would it be the Spirit in energy and perfection?

J.T. Yes; like the seventy palm trees. Now they return (verse 17) and they have been very successful, but the Lord says in effect, That is not the point; you must not dwell on your success. He says, "I beheld Satan as lightning falling out of heaven". That was a great result, greater than what they had spoken of. We have to measure what result we may have with the result we see in Christ. Then He says, "Rejoice that your names are written in heaven". That is another great element in the house of God; those who form it are the assembly of the firstborn ones whose names are written in heaven -- the true Levites. The house of God is heavenly, composed of those who have a place in heaven. It is the greatness

[Page 49]

of the position on high that enables us to be lowly and little here for the Lord's sake.

D.L.H. What is the idea of lightning? Would it be the suggestion of public expulsion?

J.T. I think it refers to the rapidity and force with which he is cast out.

D.L.H. Yes. The Lord uses the illustration of the lightning in connection with His own coming as Son of man, that everybody will see it. Is there any such idea here?

J.T. There may be that, but I think He has in view the force of the fall.

Now the next thing is, who is one's neighbour? Then following upon that you have the formation of the new priesthood -- the priestly element. We have to go over the ground rather quickly, but it is well to get the links, because we have to know how priesthood is formed. The heavenly side of our position is in view in these chapters. Priesthood is seen in Mary sitting at the Lord's feet; she is receiving divine communications from the Lord. We must have this to be priests. Then He is again seen praying. Now the disciples have come to value the thing, and one of them says, "Lord, teach us to pray". The word of God and prayer brought together in this way constitute the priest.

E.J.McB. I understand you mean that the word of God is more your conscious knowledge of Him, and prayer your spirit towards Him.

J.T. Yes; the priest has to be instructed: "the priest's lips should keep knowledge". He has to know what God is towards man in Christ, and what man is towards God in Christ.

J.B.C-l. So that the priests would be without anxiety and burden.

J.T. The priest should be free from care. I think the book of Leviticus helps us in that; Aaron says, "such things have befallen me" (Leviticus 10:19); he

[Page 50]

failed in carrying out his priestly functions because he was so burdened with cares. Prayer is that which relieves us of these cares, but then we have to carry the cares of others. The high priest went into the presence of God with the names of the tribes on his heart.

E.J.McB. I like your suggestion, that the thing grows on the disciples. This desire to pray had grown on them.

J.T. Yes. Then the great result of prayer is seen; the Father who is of heaven gives the Holy Spirit to those that ask Him; chapter 11: 13. It is a priestly company who have the Holy Spirit on the principle of asking. The Lord shows what great results come from prayer. Jehovah said to Moses, "Take the rod ... and speak ye unto the rock". The great lesson to be learned now is not smiting, but speaking. The rod implies that there is no other.

Ques. Is the first step taking the rod?

J.T. Yes. The priestly rod -- Aaron's rod -- had been laid up before the Lord. There was no preference given to it originally, but we read it budded, and blossomed, and brought forth almonds. There was the perfect order of growth; that is the idea in priesthood. There is nothing abnormal there; it is the energy of life, but life according to its kind; the bud, the blossom and the fruit. The Lord says, Take that rod, and speak to the rock. So that you have a priestly company now who possess the Holy Spirit on the principle of asking. The greatest possible thing is given to those who ask.

F.H.B. How does that apply now?

J.T. If you can get the Spirit, you can get everything else. What will God not give to us in prayer? Every possible exigency that may arise is met by prayer. If the greatest thing in heaven is given to those who pray, why then may we not pray for anything?

[Page 51]

J.B.C-l. In Nehemiah you get a great measure of recovery for the people of God. It was brought in by the prayer of Nehemiah; the scripture records that he prayed to the God of heaven.

J.T. Yes. Then look at Daniel, and see the results. "Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day ... thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words". God took account of that man: "O Daniel, a man greatly beloved".

Ques. Would you pray for the Holy Spirit now?

J.T. Not in this sense. Here it is, I think, dispensational. The point is, what is available to those who pray.

Ques. Do you look at the neighbour (chapter 10) from the point of view of the house?

J.T. Well, it is leading up to it. The man that fell among thieves was brought to an inn. We have not yet arrived at the house. We are now, as I said, in the light of the heavenly position; so the Lord says, "The Father who is of heaven".

G.R. Would you connect the thought of praying in relation to the Spirit with the Philippians "through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ"? You can always pray for that.

J.T. Yes, quite. The burden of the house of God is a very great burden, and God attaches great importance to those who have it before them. How are the burdens to be carried and the principles of the house of God to be preserved apart from dependence upon God?

F.H.B. There is a striking passage in Acts 4"The place in which they were assembled shook, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit".

J.T. Yes; when there is the condition God always comes in. There is Barnabas, too, "the son of consolation". God not only confirms what was there, but you have the son of consolation brought to light; you may look for that. It was a new link brought

[Page 52]

in; he is the one that was needed for the moment, and a suited vessel for later movements, too.

H.D'A.C. The answer may not come exactly as or when you expect; but the consolation is there. We often have to wait for God, but God gives some intimation that He has heard, and that ought to be enough.

W.G.B. What was said yesterday in connection with the Spirit being received by people who were praying, connects itself with this, does it not?

J.T. Quite so. The Lord's introduction of Saul to Ananias was, "Behold, he prayeth". A soul often prays before he has the Spirit; there is that sense of dependence on God which God recognises.

Rem. Referring to the word of God and prayer: I suppose the word would give me more His mind, and prayer that I express His mind as it is operative in myself.

Ques. Do you arrive in this way at the thought connected with the ark of the testimony, when the golden altar was set before it?

J.T. That is a little farther on. Here the Lord shows the great result of prayer; it is a question of the formation of the priest. The priesthood that is to be in the house is being formed. The Lord shows the great result of prayer; that is the lesson we have to learn.

Rem. There was a great result at Philippi.

P.L. Was the jailor a son of consolation?

J.T. Yes. And I think Lydia was a great feature at Philippi; Paul goes to her before he leaves. The Lord had opened her heart to attend to the things spoken by Paul -- that was to the mind of God; then she receives His servants into her house. The introduction of the gospel into Europe was in connection with a place where prayer was wont to be made. Women assembled by the riverside for this purpose. Lydia was the prominent one.

[Page 53]

J.V. What has been brought before us is really the ascent to the house of God, and that every step of that is characterised by prayer. Is it your suggestion that we should take that to heart?

J.T. Yes; that is what I was endeavouring to convey, that we might have it before us. Here we have come to where the priestly company is formed, and what is pressed upon us is the great result of prayer. After this, in chapter 11, we have the Lord casting out a demon, and it was said by some to be the power of Beelzebub. The sin against the Holy Spirit appears as the priestly company is indicated. It is the great sin of Christendom; that is the thing to be noted -- disregard of the Spirit of God, the attributing of the power of the Spirit to something else. Then chapter 12 is particularly for the disciples, in view of this whole period. "He began to say to his disciples first, Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees", etc. (chapter 12: 1). The crowds thronged on the Lord, for there were great public results from the testimony. This always contains elements of danger, and hence the Lord's warning here. He was concerned lest the leaven of the Pharisees should be admitted. This is a danger where there are large numbers. But the Lord warns of exposure, however secret things may be.

R.B. Why does He address them as friends just at this point? (verse 4).

J.T. Do you not think that it fits in here? Friendship implies that you are in confidence. As priests we are in His confidence. I think it means that we can be trusted. There are those who can be trusted with divine things.

Ques. Do you think that chapter 12 is in contrast with what you spoke of -- Aaron being overcome?

J.T. Just so; and what our brother called attention to is very important; that is, the Lord would

[Page 54]

have us to be trustworthy. There is not a man living that is to be trusted naturally.

Ques. How can you be maintained in trustworthiness?

J.T. I think it is by continuing in priesthood -- the refusal of the flesh. You cannot trust the flesh in yourself for a moment.

[Page 55]


Luke 12 to Luke 15

J.T. We left off at the beginning of chapter 12. Attention was called to the fact that the Lord addressed the disciples as His friends.

Ques. What does that mean?

J.T. I think it refers to trustworthiness.

A.M.H. Why does He go on from the thought of trustworthiness to say that they are not to fear?

J.T. Danger might test our trustworthiness; we might surrender in view of danger. Therefore the question comes up as to oneself; how much can one entrusted with?

P.L. Do we not see trustworthiness in the woman at the end of Proverbs: "the heart of her husband doth safely trust in her". Is that a feature of housekeeping?

J.T. It is indeed. The test of it is the absence of the One who has placed confidence in her.

J.S. Is that why you said the outstanding element in Philippi was Lydia rather than the jailor?

J.T. Yes. The Lord had opened her heart, and she says, "If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there". So that it turns on whether one is prepared to hold to what is entrusted to one at all costs -- whether one is faithful. The apostle Paul stands out in a special way as holding a trust. He says, "I have kept the faith".

Rem. You confess His name in contrast to denying it.

R.B. In his third epistle John alludes to the friends particularly. He says, "Our friends salute thee", and "Greet the friends by name".

J.T. I think that he had confidence in them;

[Page 56]

they were to be greeted by name. In John 15 the Lord says, "I have called you friends". I think you see in John the baptist the true idea of a friend of Christ. He rejoiced to hear His voice as the Bridegroom. He was the friend of the Bridegroom, and he was prepared to let Him increase; that is, he was ready to go down for the Lord's sake.

H.H. Friend is an unofficial thought?

J.T. It is. It springs from intimacy. Another feature that comes out in this chapter is the Holy Spirit. He says, "Be not careful how or what ye shall answer, or what ye shall say; for the Holy Spirit shall teach you in the hour itself what should be said". That assumes the presence of the Spirit in a known way, and available in any emergency, as to what is to be said.

Rem. At the end of 1 Timothy it says, "Keep the entrusted deposit", chapter 6: 20.

E.N.H. If we had the sense of what we have in the Spirit we should be able to face opposition.

J.T. Taken generally, verse 12 applies to the preparing of discourses and so on. We have to learn what the Holy Spirit would teach us in every hour. What do you say?

J.B.C-l. I think that would be desirable. I was thinking of what you said at the first reading in connection with the Lord being led of the Spirit -- led in the wilderness. We have to be led in ministry also. This chapter fits in with that. The Lord sets out the truth to the disciples, then they were to be tested. So that in the temptation, when the Lord answered, He generally said, "It is written", but finally He says, "It is said". I suppose that is a deeper thing.

J.T. And then the Holy Spirit provides what you are to say. We need to get our sermons fresh. This point is important. Do you not think so?

E.J.McB. I entirely agree. If we were in line

[Page 57]

with the presence of the Spirit here, we should have discourses which were spiritual.

F.H.B. If that which is preached is to go to man as the word of God, it must be the Spirit speaking.

J.T. Yes; and the Holy Spirit keeps us near the death of Christ. I was thinking of Samson's great exploit: he found ready to hand the thing that he used. He had been bound by his brethren, which is a very sorrowful consideration, but the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him, and the bands were broken as threads of burnt flax. Then it says he found a fresh jawbone of an ass; Judges 15:15. It was a fresh one, and with that he slew a thousand men, "heaps upon heaps". Our discourses should be in freshness. It says, "The Holy Spirit shall teach you in the hour itself what should be said"; that is not very old!

D.L.H. Do we get an illustration of this in Stephen -- the mighty word of the Spirit of God, which confounded everybody?

J.T. I think we should learn to live by the week, and by the day, and by the hour. The hour would refer to any specific service, giving an address, for instance; the day would be one's experience with God individually, and the week would refer to our church relations, beginning with the first day of the week -- the Lord's supper.

D.L.H. Have you any scripture to help us in regard to reference to the day?

J.T. Well, you have the use of the word by the Lord; He says, "Take up his cross daily". That is one's own cross.

E.J.McB. It says in this chapter, "If then God so clothe the grass, which is today in the field". He would support a man by the day.

J.T. "Give us our needed bread each day". In Revelation you have time mentioned in so many days, months and years. "Days" refer to human

[Page 58]

experience. "Years" would be the same time from the divine side. The first day of the week is connected with the assembly. The Holy Spirit furnishing what is needed for the hour is very important to notice, because it keeps us in exercise as to our service being in freshness. There is no limit with the Lord, or with the Spirit; there is abundance so that there can be freshness -- fresh supplies from the Lord.

J.M. We read in Isaiah, "He openeth mine ear morning by morning".

J.T. That helps greatly. In John 9 the Lord says, "I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day". One would not lay down any rule, but I believe the Lord would help us to begin with the first day of the week, so that the freshness of the death of Christ is kept before us. Then the Spirit teaches us what to say.

A.A.T. What place has the mind?

J.T. You could not be taught without a mind; the believer's mind is renewed, and thus can take in divine things. We have the mind of Christ. But one would plead for freshness, that things may be living.

J.B.C-l. Do you get the principle that you are alluding to in the shewbread? When the fresh shewbread was presented to Jehovah, it then became the food of the priests; Leviticus 24:9.

J.T. Yes, quite. The shewbread was for the priests in that sense. We are surrounded on every hand by the principle of staleness; there is nothing really living where that is found.

G.R. What is the force of the word, "I became in Spirit on the Lord's day"?

J.T. It shows that the Holy Spirit and the Lord's day are intimately connected. I always like to get what I may have to say afterwards at the Lord's supper, and I certainly should never think of going to partake of the Supper with a word in my mind,

[Page 59]

because that would be disregardful of the position which the Lord takes there. If we accord Him His place He comes in as Head, and that is really what keeps Christians in movement in a spiritual way -- in freshness.

Ques. Do you not receive something from the Head at the Supper?

J.T. Yes, there is abundance there; all the fulness of the Godhead dwells in Him bodily. That indicates the resources available. There is another point in chapter 12 to be noted, and that is the imminence of the Lord's coming; in view of that a state of watchfulness should mark us.

J.B.C-l. Do you suggest that the service and fresh exercise connected with the house is on the line of headship? The thought of the Lord's coming would bring these exercises right up to date.

J.T. Yes, quite. So the Lord says, "Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season?" It is not what you had last year.

Ques. Had you anything further in your mind as to Samson?

J.T. Only to call attention to the fact that he had found something fresh, and he used it -- a new jawbone. Then it says, "he was sore athirst, and called on the Lord ... but God clave a hollow place that was in the jaw [or 'the hollow rock that was in Lehi', i.e., the jawbone], and there came water thereout", and he drank of it. The Holy Spirit and the death of Christ go together.

But to refer again to the faithful and wise steward. The stewardship is over His house, so that food may be supplied. Every brother ought to be concerned as to this, to give a measure of corn in season to the household. The point is faithfulness now. The

[Page 60]

provision is infinite. God has infinite wealth for us in the recognition of the Spirit.

Ques. How would the principles of faithfulness and prudence work out?

J.T. We are to be faithful in regard of what is entrusted to us, and to use it prudently.

J.J. Would Joseph in Egypt illustrate it? He was faithful in the administration of corn.

J.T. Yes, quite so. One important thing is to know how to "measure". The right measure or portion should be given.

A.J.H.B. Peter in Acts 10 is an illustration; he knows when to stop.

Ques. Would the "friend" in the earlier part of the chapter grow into this?

J.B.C-l. It is brought in to affect us at the present time. We cannot plead friendship if we are unfaithful as stewards. The Lord has a great deal to say to the stewards, and friendship would be no plea if there were unfaithfulness.

J.T. The test now is faithfulness, so that Paul, in writing to Timothy, committed certain things to him, and he in turn was to commit them to faithful men who should be able to teach others also.

R.B. Why does the Lord change the word from 'stewards' to bondmen? He says, "Blessed is that bondman".

J.T. He regards us as bondmen, as in His service. One holds oneself as the Lord's bondman. Stewardship involves official responsibility more.

R.B. As regards what one may have to give one is a steward, but as a bondman one is in a peculiar relation to Him.

J.T. Now we shall have to move on to chapters 14 and 15. There is, however, one point to notice as to the woman who had been "bent together" eighteen years in chapter 13; she yielded nothing to God in that time.

[Page 61]

J.S. Why is a woman specified?

J.T. Because it is a, subjective state of things that is in view; man had lost his moral dignity. We have to learn to lift up our heads -- to lift up our faces to God.

F.H.B. Man was made to stand upright.

J.T. Quite. God made him so, but Satan made him bent. God is restoring men to His primary thought.

J.B.C-l. Two features which mark the virtuous woman in the end of Proverbs are strength and dignity, and these two features were lacking in this woman's case.

J.T. She was certainly wanting in dignity. The one who cannot lift up his head is not dignified.

Ques. Does the state of the woman indicate the deficiency of those who should be giving meat in due season? They were not looking up, and therefore had no supplies.

J.T. I think what our brother suggests is right; the thought of dignity enters into it. God made man upright; he was to look up into God's face, and the house of God should be marked by this. It refers to moral dignity; you lift up your head in liberty before God. Satan had bound this woman, but the Lord came to undo the works of the devil, so she was made straight. God looks for it that those who compose His house here should walk in the dignity that becomes it.

Ques. Would you suggest how Satan acted to bind this woman. What would he bring in?

J.T. I suppose the tendency is to keep man occupied with what is on the earth. As it says in Romans, they worshipped the creature -- even quadrupeds and reptiles -- whereas the divine thought, was at man should look up to God. Being "wholly unable to lift her head up" was degradation, whereas God primarily intended man to be in dignity. In

[Page 62]

John dignity is brought in in a family way -- "thy son liveth" the Lord said to the nobleman; natural nobility would be replaced by spiritual nobility. But this case in Luke is more moral. Through God being known in grace in Christ man should look up to Him.

H.F.N. Would it correspond with the end of Hebrews 7"He is able to save to the uttermost"? Is this lifting up of the head a deeper exercise than lifting up holy hands?

J.T. They go together, only the latter is priestly exercise.

H.F.N. Would the principle be seen in Nebuchadnezzar? He lifted up his eyes to heaven.

J.T. Yes. Then his understanding returned to him, and he "praised and honoured" God. You recall how it was said of Jehoiachin, king of Judah, that his head was lifted up by the king of Babylon; Jeremiah 52:31 - 34. That means that he was restored in a measure to his dignity. Here man is brought back into moral dignity. Even a slave may adorn the doctrine; and how can that be except by moral dignity? In spite of his menial conditions, which he does not seek to alter, he adorns the doctrine of God our Saviour. To see this would lift us out of the thought of dignity as man regards it.

Now a further point one would like to call attention to is the fact that their house is left to them (verse 35). I refer to it in connection with the ranks of fifty. There is sometimes a danger of local brethren influencing meetings too much. One may have acquired weight through ministry or otherwise, and thus may have a feeling that the local meeting is his. As soon as I assume that it is mine, then it is left to me. The Lord is not there. Note, it does not say here, your house is left unto you desolate, but it is "left unto you". That is, you have to labour at your own charges now.

[Page 63]

F.H.B. I think I should retire then.

J.T. Well, I think it would be a good thing to do, because it gives the Lord an opportunity to come in.

D.L.H. I should think it would be well to retire before that point.

P.L. Would you say that these instructions regarding the manners of the house are given that those who come into it may adorn it in a dignified way?

J.T. Just so. These things should help us in regard to the house. If the house of God is to be the pillar and base of the truth, then it must be free from all these things that do not adorn it. We want to apprehend the moral dignity that grace puts upon it. Then it is not ours -- "your house" -- it is the Lord's. In chapter 14 we have a dropsical man. The Lord had been invited to the house of one of the rulers, and He noticed how people chose the upper seats -- the first places. That is a most baneful thing among the saints. It is not he who commends himself is approved: it is whom the Lord commends. It is His house and so it is what He will do, so that safety lies in taking the lowest place. Then He may say, "Friend, go up higher".

P.L. The Lord knows where to find His friends.

J.T. That is the point; He will find them out. If the upper rooms are filled. He has no room for His friends, so that He has to resort to a certain procedure to bring about normal conditions, and that may take time. But if He is over the house He will do that.

P.L. The friend in the lowest room is seen in Paul. It came to light at Corinth.

J.T. That is another principle to notice. We are drawing near to the house now, because the Lord is just leading into it. It is wise to take notice of these signs that we have on the walls, because that where they are. Solomon says, "Keep thy foot

[Page 64]

when thou goest into the house of God, and be more ready to hear"; and James says, "be swift to hear, slow to speak". The point at the beginning of this chapter is of great moment in regard to the house. Let the Lord say to you, "Friend, go up higher". You have proved that you are a friend.

H.F.N. Does the same thought come out in Revelation 4, when the Lord says to John, "Come up hither"?

J.T. I think so. John had been true. He had taken the lowest place at Patmos, and the Lord gives him the highest, we may say, in Revelation 4.

A.S.L. It is in the smaller companies that there is room for the development of friendship. "Greet the friends by name". Is not that a significant note for the last hour?

J.T. Quite so; that is very interesting. The Lord knows the friends; they are called by name. "Less than the least of all saints" would be their estimate of themselves. Paul reached the highest point when God took him up to the third heaven.

A.M.H. Does this work out in your spirit or in your service?

J.T. It says, "When thou art bidden of any man to a wedding", chapter 14: 8. It does not refer to your service. It refers rather to an invitation, where the Lord is showing you what He is in His bounty. It is therefore a question of how you act under any circumstances. We are brought together; there are different formations, and the Lord would bring them out. He has His own way of bringing the friends forward. It is an occasion suggested by Him; He invites, so that it is to bring out who is to be distinguished. It is for Him to say, not for me. You may be effective in ministry, but the Lord is considering what is behind all that. He sat over against the treasury and beheld how the people cast money into

[Page 65]

it. He was looking at the motives that were behind what was given.

A.M.H. Do you think that there would be a sort of adjustment going on if we made room for it in the meetings locally, rather than settling down to any official order?

J.T. Yes. The Lord has His own way of indicating who is to be honoured.

J.B.C-l. This seems to come back to what you referred to earlier in connection with the freshness of supplies and service. Without freshness we have stagnation. This dropsical man is an example of what results from stagnation. The Lord healed him and let him go.

J.T. Dropsy is a water disease; the water had taken an abnormal form in him. There was inflation.

J.B.C-l. The healing was not only the act of the Lord as Lord, but the act of the physician. He healed him, and let him go. Do you think that adjustment amongst the brethren is necessarily the act of the physician?

J.T. It is very blessed to know that we have got Him here in that way, so that, if there is any disease like this, He relieves us, and would enable us to take the low place. Now the man who heard the Lord say these things seemed to form a judgment of them; he says, "Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God". He heard the Lord say these things, and then the Lord brings in the remarkable parable of the great supper, which includes the house.

F.H.B. Is this parable brought in in contrast to eating bread in the kingdom of God?

J.T. It is a greater thought. The Lord opens up the great result of His death. It refers to Pentecost, the great celebration that God made in grace, Christ having died, risen and ascended. "All things are ready". Whilst it was in the kingdom, it involved the house. "That my house may be filled".

[Page 66]

F.H.B. The man's thought was a kingdom set up in a future day.

J.T. Quite; but the Lord immediately goes on to speak of Christianity in its present form. It is a marvellous opening up of God's proposal, but the house is the centre of it.

D.L.H. Have you any thought in regard to the man who was to invite the poor, the maimed, the halt and the blind? Would he suggest anything equivalent to what characterises a royal priesthood?

J.T. I suppose so. You are not looking for a return. You do it in a certain magnanimous way, without looking for a return.

J.T. Now all the instructions as to what was suitable to the house having been given, the Lord can bring in this great proposal of God. See how great it is; there is nothing lacking in it. It is a public thing; it includes the saints that have been brought up to it as seen at Pentecost.

Ques. Do you suggest that because the house is introduced here the disciples are ready for it?

J.T. I think they were to form part of it. They were to be brought up to it. It refers to Pentecost, where the great result of the Lord's ministry is seen coming out. It was truly a time of eating bread, and God would have men to come. In Acts 1 we find that the Lord, after He rose, was with them for forty days; He showed Himself alive by many proofs during all that time. They received His finishing touches spiritually in His going in and out among them. "Being assembled with them" showed that He was developing them inwardly by His presence and by what He said to them during those forty days; they would learn how to assemble as seeing Him "assembled with them". Then having seen Him go up, it says of them that they returned to the upper room. That is the inside -- the formation. The chapter shows the inward state of those who

[Page 67]

formed the house. The house of God was to be a heavenly institution here. The Lord could have told them before He ascended who was to take Judas' place, but He left them to decide.

Rem. What marked them too was prayer.

J.T. Yes, and the authority of the Scriptures.

H.H. What is the idea of the house of God; what is the force of the expression?

J.T. It is that in which God resides provisionally here now, and, as residing in it, it is the place in which His order and love are seen; His bounty is there, too, as we see here.

D.L.H. Is not the thought here that it is a place of great provision?

J.T. Say a little more about that.

D.L.H. I suppose we get the excess here. "A certain man made a great supper". I thought there was something peculiar there, something exceptional. The Spirit is here, and where the Spirit is, there must be provision. "He shall receive of mine and shall shew it unto you". It is a wonderful thing that we are in. It seems to me that we very little apprehend the greatness of Christianity. Christianity is for all.

A.S.L. Is there any scripture which gives the house of God more richly than Psalm 36"They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of thy house"?

J.T. I think Leviticus 23 helps in regard to what we were saying as to the great bounty that is there. It will be remembered how, when they came into the land, they were to bring a sheaf of first-fruits. Then fifty days after -- which has reference to Pentecost -- they were to bring out of their habitations two wave loaves of fine flour, baked with leaven, and in connection with those there is a profusion of offerings, indicative of the great spiritual wealth existing there. What is seen here in the parable is the delight that God has in telling out the wealth of grace that is

[Page 68]

presented to man through the death and resurrection of Christ. In order to show what grace was, He first sends to those that were already bidden. Alas, how little they valued the grace that had come down in a Man, labouring amongst them all those years!

Ques. What is the difference between inviting and compelling?

J.T. I think in order to compel you must be in the grace of the One who invited. The invitation was in Christ's ministry. You go out into the highways and hedges and compel them to come in. It is as if you were to say, You must come. It is imperative -- morally so.

W.G.B. Job 30 gives us an example of how much compulsion would be needed. It says, "Among the bushes they brayed ... they were children of fools, yea, children of base men: they were viler than the earth". That is where grace found us.

J.T. Yes. Now chapter 14 presents grace from God's side -- the house; chapter 15 shows how the thing came into the mind of the prodigal, but first only in a very poor way -- "have bread enough and to spare"; but when he arrived there, there were other things -- the music, the dancing and merry-making. We cannot look for this now in a public way, but the Lord would have us to think of what was at the beginning. What beauty marked the house as set up in the world before men! The elder son came up to it and heard the music and the dancing. It was there as a testimony to all. What attraction there was! But the elder son would not go in.

Ques. Does the thought of Zion in Psalm 132 help at all?

J.T. I think it suggests what we have here -- the sovereign side. We see here (chapter 15) "the exceeding riches" of God's grace.

A.S.L. Ought we not always to evangelise with

[Page 69]

the house in view, as a home for those who may receive the gospel?

J.T. I think that is the way the truth is set out according to Luke's presentation of it. It is the house of God; not the Father's house yet -- that is John -- but it is the house of God here as set up provisionally for the support of the gospel, that into which the believer is brought.

A.S.L. You were referring just now to the actual state of things which makes it impossible to point out anything as the house of God now.

J.T. Yes; it can never be seen again as it was; but it exists, and it is a great thing to have the light of it. That is the great advantage of looking into it. The saints are "built together for a habitation of God in the Spirit".

Rem. Whilst the house cannot be seen, I suppose the thing exists just the same; the blessing and all the fatness are there.

J.T. I am sure of it. It has been said to be submerged in a public way. I suppose the crowds have come in: that is what this gospel seeks to check; chapter 14: 25, 26. It has become in that way submerged. Now the saints are seeking to get back to the original, and in the measure in which we do get into the light of it, we get something of the joy and blessedness of it.

A.S.L. What I feel is the constant danger of letting the truth of the house of God go because of this submersion.

Ques. What do you mean by the crowds coming in?

J.T. I think historically it came to pass by the admission of unconverted people. It was never intended at all by the Lord that the house should take a great public form. It was to be seen in little companies of saints throughout the world. The Lord said, "Fear not little flock".

[Page 70]

E.R. Are the music and the dancing going on now in the house?

J.T. I think we may say humbly that we are enjoying some of it this afternoon.

Rem. The house of God properly is what is of God, and living..

J.T. "Whose house are we". Therefore our wisdom is to get back to first principles, and seek to avoid the crowds. The highways and hedges are searched for guests, but even in this very chapter the Lord checks the crowds; chapter 14: 25 - 35.

A.M.H. Have you got the obscuring cause indicated in Ezekiel: "Ye have builded your houses against my house"? The bringing in of human thoughts, feelings, and features obscures what is so beautiful as being of God. If we bring in anything of man, it can only obscure. The "great supper" is distinct from the house.

J.T. It was in the house, but distinct from it. Besides obscuring the house of God with our own houses, there is "household stuff", that belongs to our own houses, brought into the house of God. That is another thing that has done great damage to the house; so it is an extricating time for us -- a very humiliating kind of work. Not that we can ever hope to set up what was at the beginning, but we want elbow room; what is unsuitable has to be taken out of the way. The Lord had in view small companies of people governed by these principles. In the measure in which we have reached that, we can look for expansion. There is no termination to the music and the dancing, although the number participating may be very small. David danced and played before the ark; 1 Chronicles 15:29.

Ques. What do you mean by household stuff being brought into the house of God?

J.T. Family relationships and distinctions having recognition among the saints. They are to be cast

[Page 71]

out. We read of Nehemiah casting forth all the household stuff of Tobijah the Ammonite out of the chambers in the courts of the house of God. The priest having become allied to Tobijah had prepared this chamber whilst Nehemiah was away. That is where the test comes.

D.L.H. He had a natural relationship to the priest.

J.T. Yes, but he had no place in the house of God; Deuteronomy 23:3. Now it says the multitude thronged Him (verse 25). The last paragraph of the chapter fits in with the teaching, so that people should not come in crowds. A test awaits every one that comes; that is the principle of discipleship.

J.B.C-l. Is the position of chapter 15 available right through to the end of the dispensation? If it is the dispensation of God which is in faith, then all that Luke points out is available to the end of the dispensation.

J.T. Yes. Looking into the scriptures greatly helps us as to the church. I was seeking to show here yesterday evening that in Ezra's and Nehemiah's day the people came together in the seventh month; they were all in their cities -- things were settled down in regular order, and they would have the Scriptures read. They came to Ezra and set up a pulpit for him in the open space before the water-gate. He read distinctly from morning until noon, and gave the sense -- he and the elders with him. Then on the second day, the chief of the fathers, the priests and the Levites came together -- a more select or exclusive meeting. They came not only to hear the word read, but to get the understanding of it, and they found written that they should dwell in booths. It shows how we may arrive at first principles and consequently first enjoyment by looking at the Scriptures. So they purposed that they would do this; they would put he thing into practice, with the result that they went

[Page 72]

up into the mountain. It brought about an exercise, and the exercise resulted in a return to a practice that had been given up from the days of Joshua, so that they dwelt in booths; Nehemiah 8:16. They arrived at the enjoyment the saints had at the outset, so by attention in that way to the Scriptures we come back to the thing itself, without pretending to have it openly. They went up to the mountain and brought down olive branches, myrtle branches, palm branches, and branches of thick trees. These were the materials. Anyone can see what principles they represent. When these are put together we have booths to dwell in.

W.G.B. What principles would they represent?

J.T. I think the olive branches would refer to the recognition of the Spirit. The myrtle branches would refer to a living state of things. What do you say?

E.J.McB. I think so. I thought that the cutting down of the trees represented what God had wrought in His people. Originally, when they were brought out of Egypt, they were a people who had been wrought in by God.

Ques. Do you think that the principles of the house work out locally? What about the universal thought?

J.T. They work out locally, but there is only one house of God; there may be any number of assemblies.

J.B.C-l. The Lord helps His disciples in regard to the universality of it, but we have to work it out locally.

A.M.H. So that the more careful attention to Scripture may result in things being done that have not been done in our time or in our fathers' time, but they are not innovations.

J.T. Quite. There are no "pine branches", it should read "wild olive branches". Men may be in

[Page 73]

a measure "wild", but if they have the Spirit, they must be included.

W.C.G. Would the clothing of the prodigal support the same thought of the booths?

J.T. It does not say the prodigal was brought into the house; I think, in principle, he was the house. What would you say?

D.L.H. I think so. We do not read that he was brought into the house, nor do we read that any rags were taken off him.

Ques. You mean that the house is composed of such as he?

J.T. Yes; see the magnificence of it! When he was clothed you have, "It was meet that we should make merry". His elder brother comes up to the house, and this is what he sees.

W.G.B. What is the difference between "bring forth" and "bring hither".

J.T. "Bring forth" would refer to what is inside.

Ques. What does the robe signify?

J.T. It is Christ as He is, the heavenly Man. The greatness of God's thought in the gospel is seen here. The priests in the type had the skin of the burnt offering, but this is Christ as He is now. I do not know anything more magnificent. It is the best robe.

Ques. How is it put on?

J.T. I suppose it is the work of the Spirit, only it is from the divine side here. It is the magnificence of the proposal that we ought to dwell upon. If we could only see one clothed like that -- what a trophy of grace!

Ques. What is the thought of the killing of the fatted calf?

J.T. It is brought in to complete the picture. It is a question of food -- the very best food. It is not the fat calf simply, but the fatted one -- made ready for the great occasion.

[Page 74]

Ques. Is the testimony what goes out in the way of music and dancing?

J.T. That is what the elder brother hears. I think that it is there so as to be known as available to man. "All my springs are in thee" -- that is in Zion. You take a dancer or a singer in the world -- where are their springs? They are from beneath, but all the springs of the singers and dancers here are in Zion; Psalm 87:7.

P.J.F. Would the mention of bondmen bring in the thought of exercise on our part that we might be used?

J.T. The thing is to see the magnificence of the picture. I would go elsewhere for details. It is a great picture of what God had made available to man -- to any one who comes.

Ques. Does it set forth the elements that are here in the poor in spirit?

J.T. It is brought in from heaven. "Bring forth the best robe". We are not far away from heaven in the house of God. "Bring forth" refers to the house. What Christ is in heaven is put upon the believer. The elder son came near the house, but he would not go in.

D.L.H. Does not the report of the happiness of God's dear people reach those outside? I think it does.

J.T. I know it does. One has noticed that, and this happiness is realised as we get back to first principles; we make room for it. We want to be clothed with the very best, in the sense of what man is in Christ. Luke makes a great deal of clothes, but there is nothing like this; we have got the best. It is not priestly clothing, it is a question of dignity -- of what Christ is in heaven, having accomplished righteousness. It is the full expression of supreme dignity in man, that is, of what man is in Christ. It is put on. The believer is clothed with it. This is

[Page 75]

how he appears. You want to make it clear that you have got the best that God can provide. We come to the full height of this gospel here; this is the great end of the divine proposal. What comes in after is another line of things. The best robe is more than reconciliation. Reconciliation is through death, but this is something brought out. Christ, having accomplished righteousness, is put upon us. It is more positive.

[Page 76]


Luke 22:1 - 23; Luke 24:25 - 53

J.T. The scriptures read bring before us what the Lord was for us in death and what He is for us in His resurrection. It may be well briefly to note what follows in the gospel from chapter 15 and onwards. The attitude of the "elder son" implies that the grace that was presented in Christ (not only in Him personally while here, but in the gift of the Spirit and the formation of the house) was refused, so that the chapters that follow, up to the twenty-first, have that in view. They contemplate the saints having to move in an apostate state of things, and they provide instruction for us in view of that, and first in regard to what we may have in the way of earthly possessions. These are dealt with somewhat at length in the instructions, because, I suppose, of their great influence upon men generally and even upon ourselves. It occurred to me that it would be worth our while to take note of the instructions the Lord gives in regard to earthly possessions, because a right understanding of them would enable us to appreciate rightly what these are worth relatively -- indeed, that they are not strictly our own but that it is a question of stewardship, which we may be required at any time to surrender. Thus we are instructed as to what to do with that which is under our hand in this apostate state of things. Chapter 16 shows us how a disregard of these instructions results. The man who fared sumptuously every day refusing to take account of the need that may exist is contemplated.

Rem. As evidence of those conditions, it says the Pharisees were covetous, and mocked Him.

J.T. Yes, that comes in; covetous people would

[Page 77]

naturally deride the instructions given, but they are necessary for us in this state of things.

Ques. Is there any connection with the minding of earthly things?

J.T. There is. Riches tend to induce earthly-mindedness, but they are not to be despised, and if taken up as a stewardship may serve to provide for the future in a spiritual way. The Lord, speaking to His disciples, says, "Make to yourselves friends with the mammon of unrighteousness, that when it fails ye may be received into the eternal tabernacles". Then the subject is again referred to in the ruler who desires to know what he should do to have eternal life; chapter 18. He is to sell what he has. "Sell all that thou hast, and distribute to the poor ... and come, follow me". It occurred to me that it would serve a good end to be reminded of these instructions. The Lord in the case of Zacchaeus enters into his house. He also was a man of means. He says, "Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken anything from any man by false accusation, I return him fourfold". The Lord, however, does not suggest to him that he should sell all that he has and give to the poor, as if He would remind us that there are those who can well be trusted. Jesus says of Zacchaeus that he is a son of Abraham. Then finally (chapter 21) the Lord looked up and saw the widow casting her offering into the treasury of God. So the exercise is left with us as to what we shall do with what is in our hands in the way of means to which no formal claim is made. After all, the saints are not dependent on anybody's riches; the exercise, therefore, is one for those who have them. The Lord shows throughout that riches may be used for the spiritual advantage of the one who has them. But then He sees the widow casting into the treasury of God. What will one do there? This seems to lift the "box", as we

[Page 78]

call it, into its own dignified position; it is the treasury of God. What will one do there with what one has?

A.M.H. What relation has this to the house? How would you connect it with what we have had?

J.T. Well, I think these instructions contemplate the existence of the house, only in an apostate state of things that makes the path more difficult.

A.M.H. In the beginning things could be done very simply. Means could be laid at the feet of the apostles and could be distributed. Now there is more individual exercise in administering what you have, would you say?

J.T. Quite.

J.J. Is the apostate state of things similar to that contemplated in 2 Timothy?

J.T. Yes, quite.

E. Would not the widow be supporting the testimony in giving all that she had?

J.T. That is how the Lord takes account of it. "He looked up and saw ..." It seems as if we get a continuance of Zacchaeus in the widow -- that is to say, one who is to be trusted with means.

A.M.H. Do you think the first step towards that is in connection with selling all that you have -- that in heart it has to be surrendered before you can use it rightly as Zacchaeus did, and then it is to be used God-ward as suggested by the reference to the treasury?

J.T. Yes. Trustworthiness is tested in regard to how you use what is entrusted to you in relation to God. Trustworthiness is tested even if it be with a child; if we are trusted with a child, we are tested as to what disposal we make of him. I think that Abraham is a great model for us in that way. What he most desired was a son, and God gave him a son; it was a trust really, so that he is tested as to how he would regard him. He offered up his only son, whom

[Page 79]

he loved, and it was said of him that he became the friend of God.

H.F.N. Does this at all correspond with the gift of the princes in the book of Numbers? I was thinking of the spoons that were filled with frankincense. Would Luke take account of the frankincense?

J.T. Quite. The widow, I think, sets before us that entire devotedness to the testimony which the princes may be taken to represent. In their case, however, what is so interesting is that it is liberality in unity, a liberality that is in accord with their appreciation of Christ. Each gave exactly what the others gave, and they gave what the testimony required at the time. Chapters 8 and 9 of 2 Corinthians teach us that giving is to be on the principle of equality, that is, it is to be given intelligently according to the requirements and according to what may be available. But the widow represents wholehearted devotedness to what is of God, and such an one can be trusted with means.

J.B.C-l. Paul's first epistle to Timothy closes with a word of injunction to those who were rich in the present age. He enjoins liberality in distributing and the disposition to communicate of their substance, and in that way laying by a good foundation for the future.

J.T. Yes; it is quite in keeping with what we are speaking of. The apostle is very careful not to impose anything beyond what was right and fair. He does not say you are to part with your means, but not to trust in the uncertainty of them; as was remarked, a Barnabas at the outset could sell his land and lay the money at the apostles' feet for distribution; they could dispose of it more intelligently than he could; he was placing it at the Lord's disposal. But then if there be no apostles, there may be no one who can dispose of what I possess better than myself. Therefore the question is -- if you are trusted with riches,

[Page 80]

can you use them rightly? Zacchaeus represents, I think, those who can.

Ques. Does the result come out in the last chapter of Leviticus? You get the position set out in the first chapter, the privilege of drawing near to God, and then, in the end of the book, the question of vows comes in in connection with persons, the house, the field, and so on. That is a question of devotedness?

J.T. All is valued there by Moses "according to thy valuation". I think that comes in in chapter 21. The Lord is valuing, appraising what is presented; it is what He thinks of it, because it is a question of what I have left.

E.J.McB. Why are the ten lepers introduced in this section?

J.T. I think they refer to the effect of Christianity in a public way on those responsible; the number ten indicates that. We are dealing here with conditions that arose after the house was set up and the Gentile was accepted. The responsibility of those who were in outward relationship with God continued, and the one who returned represents God's portion out of it, one out of ten.

B. Is that why this kind of instruction follows after chapter 15?

J.T. Yes, I think so. It deals with an apostate state of things, which in the Acts is recorded historically -- what was seen in Jerusalem and Judaea.

B. What suggests that in this gospel?

J.T. The attitude of the elder brother; he represents the Jew, he would not go in; he had no sympathy with what was going on. This is seen in the Acts, and today we have to do with a similar condition of things, so that the instruction fits in with our own circumstances; we have to do with what is professedly in relationship with God, but far away from Him, and having no sympathy with what

[Page 81]

He is doing; the instructions, therefore, should help us enormously at the present time.

J.B.C-l. Is that borne out by the case of the ten lepers? The Lord sent them to the priests, not to the priest; the plurality of priests seems to suggest a system that retains the priestly form and the priestly attachments without the power.

J.T. Yes. The tenth did not go; he returned. He found that he really had received benefit spiritually, so he returned, and that is how things are now. Those who are genuinely affected return, and one looks for that; then they give glory to God.

E.J.McB. I think it is exceedingly helpful to see that the bearing of the last part of Luke has in view the attitude of the elder brother.

J.T. Then there are so many other points that would help in these chapters. You have the injunction to avoid being a snare to anyone in the beginning of chapter 17. The Lord said to His disciples, "It cannot be but that offences come: but woe to him by whom they come!" Then He goes on, "Take heed to yourselves: if thy brother should sin, rebuke him; and if he should repent, forgive him". That is a word we do well to take note of, because the Lord would not have us go on together as unforgiven. If we have learnt grace in Him, as the woman in chapter 7 sets it forth, then we do not want to go on with unforgiven people. "If thy brother should sin, rebuke him"; the thing should not drag. Sometimes it is assumed that we can go on in a sort of fellowship within a fellowship. Fellowship is fellowship, and if one be in fellowship nominally, then we are under obligation to him and he to us, and if there be anything in the nature of sin, the Lord says, "rebuke him". Then further it says, "If he repent, forgive him. And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him". You see

[Page 82]

how wide the grace extended is. The Lord has in that way given us plenty of latitude; John 20 would fit in here; it is like a signed cheque without the amount; you can fill in any amount. The Lord has confidence in you as having His Spirit.

E.J.McB. You really want the spirit of the house for that.

J.T. Yes; but we do not want to go on with unforgiven people, and we do not need to. The first thing is rebuke.

A.M.H. If "thy brother should sin" (verse 3) -- do you make that general, as distinct from personal trespass?

J.T. Yes. If he be in another locality and the thing has happened there, then the matter has to be taken up there. I mean to say, there is no need for us to be going on with sin. The position provides for that.

A.M.H. I think that is very helpful, and encouraging, too. If there is sin, you do not want that to remain on your brother; the thing should be met in a godly way.

J.T-y. Are you distinguishing between sin here, and trespass in Matthew 18?

J.T. Here it is, "If thy brother sin"; in Matthew 18 it is more a personal trespass between two brothers. Note verse 3, "take heed to yourselves"; these matters should be faced and dealt with.

D.L.H. Would this forgiving apply to the company? I do not quite see the force of the individual forgiving if the sin is of a general character and not of a personal character. If it says, "take heed to yourselves", does not the forgiving apply to the "yourselves"? You have got to do it.

J.T. I think so. "Yourselves" implies that we should keep ourselves clear; we do not need to go on with sin in any one.

[Page 83]

F.H.B. In verse 4 it says, "If he sin against thee".

J.T. Quite; but in verse 3 it is, "If thy brother should sin".

A.M.H. The third verse is general, you think, the fourth verse more personal?

J.T. So it appears. The taking heed to yourselves is the thing, because we should never accept that certain conditions are admitted that we cannot help, for that is contrary to divine principles, and we are furnished with the means of dealing with it.

N.L. What is it that constitutes sin? What is involved in that?

J.T. I think John's definition is the best we can get: "sin is lawlessness"; it would be a violation of the principles that govern us.

J.J. Do you think that each little company is capable of dealing with every question, independently of outside intervention?

J.T. That is what 1 Corinthians teaches us. Now the disciples raise a question about faith: "Give more faith to us", and the Lord shows what faith is and what we can reckon on if we have it at all, because difficulties appear insurmountable at times. I would call attention to the importance of faith in removing difficulties, even if it be in a man like a "sycamine tree"; he would be removed, however big.

Ques. Why do you think there is the change of address here from disciples to apostles in that regard?

J.T. I think it refers to their responsibility. "If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye had said ... Be thou rooted up ... and it would have obeyed you". They were a long time in overcoming the difficulty. Then He brings in the question of service. "After ye have done all things that have been commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done what it was our duty to do". This brings us to our bearings.

[Page 84]

E.J.McB. Do you not think too it is in the light of the immensity of the things that are being done?

J.T. And of the "overhead charges".

P.R.M. What are they?

J.T. See what the Lord has expended on you and me. The apostle said, "Who loved me, and gave himself for me". When shall I give a return for that? He may have given you grace or gift, but whatever you have got has cost Him something.

E.R. I suppose that does not interfere with "Forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord"?

J.T. I am sure it does not. That is said to those whom the Lord would encourage to work. There are those who think they are doing much, but the much we think we do is after all only our duty. Even Paul says, "Necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!" He accepted the obligation.

E.R. The grace bestowed upon him was not in vain.

Geo.N. Do you mean that if we forgive our brother seven times a day we have done our duty, or is it in connection with service?

J.T. The Lord is speaking about a bondman here, but even to forgive would be our duty.

W.H.B. It does not bring any profit to God, does it? If you forgive, it is only what you ought to do; you cannot claim anything.

J.T. No; and more than that: if you are used to conversions, or to minister to the saints, or whatever service it may be, what you have done is only your duty.

W.H.B. There is the same principle in Matthew 25. Their left hand does not know what their right hand has done; they do not count what they have done as profitable -- they say, "Lord, when saw we thee naked and clothed thee?"

[Page 85]

P.R.M. What is ploughing? (chapter 17: 7).

J.T. It is a form of primary work. It does not in itself produce anything, but without it you will not get much of a crop. I think Elisha was a good ploughman; he was with the twelfth yoke.

P.L. Do you mean that Elijah is told to anoint the man who is content to plough and plough last?

J.T. The man that ploughs last is likely to plough best; the others are ahead, so he can see their defects and avoid them.

E. In regard to rebuking and forgiving, we may not get an opportunity to forgive if we have not the grace to rebuke.

J.T. Just so. Rebuking would correspond with the ploughing; it stirs up the conscience. It takes a great deal of grace to rebuke a brother, and yet it is absolutely essential if he is to be recovered. Paul says, in regard of Peter, "I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed". You want to be sure first, however, that the brother is to be blamed.

E.R. There are two services here -- ploughing and shepherding.

J.T. Shepherding is a very important service, and it refers to sheep in John 21, not to lambs. The Lord says, "Shepherd my sheep". It takes great grace and stature to undertake to care for and help an old brother. In this respect a young brother always has a disadvantage which he has to accept. An old brother has an advantage that he can make use of if he so choose, but the advantage he has a young one cannot have, because he is young; so that the exercise with the young brother is, "Let no man despise thy youth", otherwise he would have no weight with an older one.

E.J.McB. Do you not think the real power of the house comes out in the way these two things are balanced?

[Page 86]

J.T. I suppose, as was remarked, the ploughing corresponds with the rebuking, but then the man has to be kept too -- shepherded. The shepherd's heart would avoid anything that would wound or offend.

P.R.M. Rebuke not an elder sharply.

E.J.McB. So that if you plough well, you will have something to shepherd.

J.T. You do not want to shepherd what is not ploughed, because it is the flesh.

H.F.N. Would the two principles come out in Paul? In the first epistle to the Corinthians the ploughshare, and then the spirit of the shepherd in the second, where all the heart of the apostle comes out?

J.T. I think that is very interesting indeed. He lays stress on the evidences of their self-judgment.

Ques. Did Elihu do some ploughing with Job?

J.T. Yes, I am sure he did. He prepared the way for the Lord to speak to him. These points are important.

Then the next element of instruction we might notice is at the beginning of chapter 18; they were always to pray, and not to faint. The Lord spoke also a parable to them to that purport -- the unjust judge -- and He speaks of the elect. Now in this chapter it is not a question of what you get in a positive way from the prayers as in chapter 11, but that you should be supported -- that you should not faint; because service under these circumstances -- that is a state of apostasy -- is extremely onerous, and many have fainted and withdrawn -- given up. Patient continuance is one of the greatest evidences of spiritual energy, so we are instructed always to pray and not to faint; as Paul says, "We faint not".

P.R.M. Is prayer the atmosphere in which you are prevented from fainting -- clear, fresh air?

J.T. Quite. So that James says, "Is any among you afflicted? Let him pray".

[Page 87]

P.L. Does not Anna at the beginning of this book stand on this line? She served with fastings and prayers night and day. There was no fainting with her.

J.T. No, indeed. At a very advanced age she was active.

B. Is prayer doing as Hezekiah did, spreading the thing out before Jehovah?

J.T. Well it is; you keep on.

P.R.M. You know what you want.

H.F.N. Paul says in 2 Timothy that he endured all things for the sake of the elect. What is your thought of the elect in this section -- why are they brought in here?

J.T. It is most important to have the truth of election in our mind in view of the apostate state of things that exists.

W.H.B. It is important to take account of the power of the adversary in the present state of things.

J.T. The constant pressure would make us faint, but the thought of the elect brings in the purpose of God, so that we are encouraged.

W.C. Is there any reference to local exercises in this, "a judge in a city"? Is there the thought of consideration for the saints in that way?

J.T. Yes, quite. Throughout this gospel there is more said about cities and villages than in any other. The Lord was to go into them; they were the localities in which these things should be carried out.

P.L. So that an original feature of the house of God is that elders were to be ordained in every city.

J.B.C-l. Do you intend to convey the thought that the unjust judge in the city and the widow give us the present conditions, and show in the widow's faith and importunity how these conditions, though trying in themselves, are productive of good according to God?

J.T. Yes. The widow state should surely mark

[Page 88]

us. Rome says, "I sit a queen, and am no widow". She is supported by this world, but we are supported by One who is not present. The whole passage as to the widow's importunity is most encouraging. Keep on praying, and the adversaries will be defeated.

R.B. The mark of the elect is that they cry day and night unto Him.

J.T. Just so. As Paul says, "Our whole twelve tribes". You have all the elect in view, you do not leave one of them out.

W.H.B. How absolutely dependent upon God this makes us, in the present condition of things.

J.T. I think it well to note how these things are brought up for our instruction in an apostate state of things. Now in chapter 20 we have questions answered. Every question that comes up is answered in the most perfect manner by the Lord, as if we are reminded that in these complicated conditions no questions can arise that cannot be met. We may thank God for one, as we might say in our time, whom He raised up to meet all the current questions of Christendom. Every question, religious or scientific, that the enemy could bring up to nullify the truth that was recovered was adequately met, and we have now a treasure in the writings of the one whom the Lord employed to meet these questions, so that we are not now baffled by any of them. I do not suppose any of us are troubled by infidelity or religious developments or spiritualism. The Lord has met these questions for us. Chapter 20 is "question-time", and every question is answered divinely, so that the people marvelled and were silent and did not dare any more to ask Him anything. Chapter 21 gives us the political history of Western Europe, including Palestine, so that we do not need to go outside of these scriptures for a right understanding of every question that has arisen in modern times. Thus all questions are solved for us in these chapters.

[Page 89]

P.L. The questions having been all answered, the widow comes forward. Every question being settled, the saints are left free now to care for the testimony undisturbed.

J.T. I think we might go on now to the later chapter. I think all these outward things are disposed of for our souls, and now the Holy Spirit would bring before us what Christ is for us, what a place we have in His heart. For the first time it comes out; He reserved it until He was about to die, but now He unfolds what is in His heart. That is what we get in chapter 22.

M.W.B. Would it be right to say that if these questions are not settled, we cannot rightly enter into chapter 22? .

J.T. I think so. We are like Aaron -- "such things have befallen me". We are not always able to take up this precious institution. The Lord would have us restful. He sends Peter and John to go and prepare, for the day had come when the passover must be killed. That should touch our hearts. The fact that He sends Peter and John has, I think, a meaning.

A.M.H. What is your thought in that?

J.T. I think Peter represents the administrative side in the apostles, and John the family side. He sends those two to prepare.

A.M.H. Do you mean these two thoughts are necessary for us to enjoy the privilege He is bringing before us?

J.T. Yes, that is it. The third and fourth of Acts are what we may call Peter and John chapters, because they present the two apostles acting together. They went up together to the temple and said to the lame man, "Look on us". Peter represents the administrative side -- outward order and experience, because Peter is an elder -- and John represents the

[Page 90]

family side. We need these two things ever present for the Lord's supper.

A.M.H. I suppose unless there is the administrative side, the order and the supplies will not be maintained, and unless there is the family side, there will not be the atmosphere for the development of what we are looking for.

J.T. Yes, because it is really a family affair.

H.F.N. Are they brought in first in connection with the passover as showing the great grace He exercised, both on the administrative and on the family side?

J.T. Yes. The lamb was four days in the Israelite's household before it was slain. So that from the tenth to the thirteenth day, the word 'must' would not apply. But on the fourteenth day it must be slain. The little creature had been in the Israelite's house four days; every one would notice how harmless it was, but the day arrived when it must be killed. That, I am sure, would touch their hearts and should touch ours.

P.L. Would you say that the lamb being amongst them in that way showed that they were the elect? The lamb in the house of the Israelite indicated that he was elect.

J.T. Quite. They were God's people.

M.W.B. You have referred to the administrative side: say a little more about it.

J.T. It refers to what is public; that is what we have been dealing with throughout these meetings. God would have things done in an orderly way. The first letter to the Corinthians governs the administrative side, because the Lord even in regard to the Supper there dealt with the disorder that marked them in partaking of it. The apostle said, "This is not to eat the Lord's supper". It cannot be connected with a sect. Sectarianism existed at Corinth and so what they partook of could not be called the Lord's

[Page 91]

supper. And so none of the sects around us can be said to have it.

J.B.C-l. Do you think that the feast of unleavened bread, which followed the passover, is intended to exclude all the elements of the present age, but the Supper has to say to the saints and their affections?

J.T. They are taken up in that way in Corinthians. This whole passage in Luke 22 is taken up in Corinthians; the early part of it in chapter 5 and the later in chapters 10 and 11. Then there is another thought that fits in with the administrative side, that is the idea of furniture which Luke and Mark speak of -- indeed, all the synoptic gospels -- because they are concerned about outward order -- the upper room furnished. John does not touch on that because he is concerned about the spiritual side, but we must have the two together.

E.J.McB. Would you say that John supposes the furnishing to be there?

J.T. Yes, he does; otherwise the Lord could not come. John says He came where the disciples were. It was no question of the room or the furniture but of the persons. Moreover, he speaks of doors, whereas this passage speaks of only one entrance (verse 10). In John 20 I think the doors refer to spiritual power and vigilance in the saints.

F.H.B. What do you connect with the furnishing?

J.T. The outward order, including the public relations of the saints, which should appear in every company gathered in the light of the assembly. This furniture should be ever present. 1 Corinthians specially gives us the furnishing.

Ques. Will you go into detail a little?

J.T. The women should be covered -- that is one feature of order -- it is one piece of furniture, so to speak. Another is that the saints should be assembled; they should be together, not as a congregation but as a company assembled in relation

[Page 92]

to each other. A company of persons who are intelligent: "I speak as to intelligent persons". There is the refusal of all clericalism. Then there should be self-judgment in every one of them.

E.J.McB. Would the question of the relative positions of the younger and elder brother come in in connection with the furnishing -- the moral suitability?

J.T. Quite. What marks an assembly of intelligent persons is that every one knows what to do, and acts in a comely way. If I were in a meeting with Paul I would wait on him, and love to hear him speak to the Lord; not that there is any restriction in the assembly, but spiritual measure must be taken into account in an assembly of intelligent persons.

A.M.H. So that even in the assembly you would not disregard the question of differences of stature. You would have all in liberty, but each recognising intelligently what God has secured in others.

E.N.H. There is to be not only the outward order, but the inward condition.

P.L. I thought Peter himself illustrates the principle of the furnishings, when he speaks of "our beloved brother Paul"; he waits upon Paul.

P.R.M. Will you distinguish between the furnishing and "there make ready"? The room was furnished, but they were to make ready.

J.T. That refers to what was to be eaten; it would include what is contributed. The outward making ready is having the emblems before us, but it is a question of what is there in a spiritual way.

J.B.C-l. You mean that the furnishing would be in agreement with the One who is the Lord of glory?

J.T. That is right. "The teacher says to thee, Where is the guest-chamber where I may eat the Passover with my disciples? And he will show you a large upper room furnished: there make ready".

[Page 93]

The guest-chamber is in keeping with Him because He sent the message; the goodman of the house is not regarded as knowing what was suitable.

P.L. The Lord placing Himself at table and the twelve apostles with Him would answer more to Peter's line -- the outward dignity, order and comeliness suited to the occasion; while "with desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer" is the spiritual line, and would bring in John's side.

J.T. Quite. "To eat this Passover with you".

D.L.H. In the actual assembly of God's people today on Christian lines, we have hardly got the Passover before us.

J.T. The Passover and the unleavened bread refer to us individually. Unleavened bread refers to the state in which we partake of the Lord's supper. In considering this scripture we have to take account of things as they then existed. The Supper is the outgrowth of what the Lord came to do here.

D.L.H. It is interesting to see how both the passover and the Supper are found in 1 Corinthians -- one in chapter 5 and the other in chapter 11. The former is what we learn individually, and then we are fit to enter into the Supper.

J.T. That is so. Luke carefully separates the Lord's supper from the Passover, and Paul does so too. The apostle received the Supper as a direct communication from the Lord. The Passover was not given to him, but he applies the truth of it; he distinguishes also between the assembly and the saints' own houses. The earlier celebrations of the Lord's supper were in their houses according to Acts 2, but Paul carefully distinguishes; he says, "When ye come together in assembly". We are now apart from household influences; it is the new family really.

[Page 94]

E.N.H. Would what we get in chapters 5 and 10 fit us for the eleventh?

J.T. Quite.

E.J.McB. I think we should like a little more on the side of the spiritual.

J.T. We were remarking that 1 Corinthians carefully distinguishes between the households of the saints and the assembly. The assembly of God is that in which God's order is maintained. Every person in the assembly has a voice, and household influence is left outside. It is a company of intelligent persons come together as the assembly of God, so that God's order is maintained there, and it is in those circumstances that we have the Lord's supper; hence the apostle says, "I have received of the Lord". We have it thus in the Lord's own definitely ordered sphere, free from all intrusion of human influence. Then the cup, "in like manner". The word 'manner' is interesting because it refers to what He did. In both elements it is the Lord; it is His body and His blood. Then there is an additional thought, and that is the new covenant. "The new covenant in my blood".

Ques. "When ye be come together in assembly". Is that the moment we gather together?

J.T. Yes; that is how we should come together.

Ques. How do you distinguish between that and the supper as the doorway into assembly privilege?

J.T. The latter is more the spiritual side, the first refers to order -- the furnishing. There is that known here in this world as God's assembly; we read of "the Jews, the Gentiles, and the assembly of God". The Lord's supper fits in with the assembly in that connection.

E.J.McB. So that your thought is that in regard to the administrative side there is only one door.

J.T. Yes. All go in by the one door. There is only one way in, but you do not go out as you came

[Page 95]

in. Ezekiel helps us there; you go straight before you; "when the people ... shall come before the Lord in the solemn feasts, he that entered in by the way of the north gate to worship shall go out by the way of the south gate".

You go out by John, as it were; if you do not go out spiritually, you have gained nothing; but if you gain something, that will give character to the rest of the week, and thus Christianity is preserved as a living thing -- fresh and heavenly.

P.L. The prince in Ezekiel went out by the door by which he came in.

J.T. Yes; the people went out straight before them.

H.F.N. Is that why you have sometimes pressed the thought that you would not undertake to close the meeting? Would you say a word on that?

J.T. If I close it, that would mean we go out by the same door as that which we came in by.

J.T-y. Our doorway out in London is the reading of the notices!

J.T. We have to see to such matters, but that is not a spiritual thing.

E.J.McB. If we really were in the spirit and power of the present affections of Christ, we should have no notices to read out. They are necessary on the furnishing side.

J.B.C-l. Is it not the idea in Luke's gospel, that we break bread in the scene in which Christ has been rejected and in which there are the elements of apostasy; we break bread in the fellowship of His death; but in John's gospel we do not get the breaking of bread, but rather the spiritual side of the assembly, and are not the entrance and exit nearly defined in that way? As we come together continually there are fresh features of spiritual significance to be gained.

J.T. That is right. So that John 13 is John's

[Page 96]

side of the same position. What you get there is what the Lord did to them as an example; it is what you apprehend in what He does, and you go out in the sense of that. He says, "A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another". It suggests that there is always something new. "If ye have love amongst yourselves"; we get it, I think -- at any rate it is greatly stimulated -- as we get into touch with the Lord in a spiritual way.

Geo.N. Immediately after the Supper we get a strife here as to who should be the greatest.

J.T. Is not that lamentable? It is a most distressing picture. The very opposite should have been the result.

D.L.H. In regard to the doors and going out: what is exactly in your mind? Is it that we go out on the "top note", so to speak? I have often thought that one likes to see the meeting closing on the top note.

J.T. What was that said about notices?

D.L.H. I thought the notices came in quite apart from the assembly proper, unless it is some necessary convening of the assembly, and we come down to sublunary things. I have thought of that as part of something that is outside.

J.T. Well, if it be clearly understood that it is so. Or is it generally assumed that the reading of the notices is the way out?

D.L.H. That would be a very poor ending of a meeting.

J.T-y. Have you not often noticed in a meeting that the top note has been reached, and you would be so thankful to go out then; but you have to wait for the clock and the notices.

D.L.H. Well, I have not noticed that. I think one has some sort of spiritual conception when the moment has come, and it is a very happy thing to be able to discern the moment when the meeting closes.

[Page 97]

J.T-y. There is a good deal of exercise as to why we could not at the outset of the meeting take account of the notices. Anything of a special character could be reserved for the Monday evening.

F.H.B. Would it not be distracting to give out notices at the beginning of the meeting?

J.T-y. Anything that might have that effect could be left until the next night.

P.L. The burial of a saint or any occasion for ministry that might be notified in that way, I thought was a very beautiful piece of furniture.

J.T. It all belongs to the public side. I do not want to suggest anything in the way of legal procedure, but I think the Lord has respect for those who take notice of details.

M.W.B. Is your mind that the Lord would have us as regards the administrative line to be entirely free from everything that relates to that side, so as to be free for the spiritual side?

J.J. As a practical matter, we have to go out after the meeting. What real guide have we when to go?

J.T. I would go out at any time. One would not suggest anything that would bring about a legal process; it is only to have the right thought in our souls, that is, to go out in the full sense of what the Lord is in the special way that He has been pleased to make Himself manifest to us.

P.L. It is one thing to disperse because we have to, and quite another to introduce at the end of the meeting that which refers to outward order, which would be far better placed at the beginning.

J.T. I think it would be very simple to have them at the beginning. As a matter of fact most brethren do think that the notices are the end of the meeting.

M.W.B. "When the hour was come" is rightly introduced at the beginning, but you could not have that verse in the same sense at the end.

[Page 98]

D.L.H. But what has been referred to in regard to the assembly proper -- when we have reached the assembly on the resurrection side, it seems to me that we have reached the right end. We may be sustained there a shorter or a longer time, but I think the moment comes when one feels that we have reached our limit, and that should be the top note, and then there is an end of that. The end of the spiritual line is reached and I think the assembly is over then if we have only spiritual discernment sufficient to discern when that is. Anything that may be in the nature of a notice is not connected with the assembly proper, is it, but rather with the earthly condition in which we find ourselves?

A.M.H. Are not notices connected with the assembly proper but with the administrative side of it?

P.R.M. A brother present has said that he would not like to be one to give a word in the assembly. Is that right?

J.T. I think that would be very wrong, because the Lord would often manifest Himself in that way. It is not the time for exhortation; it is what the Lord would give -- a word that brings Him in.

P.L. So that after David danced before the ark he distributed the food.

Rem. With regard to what Mr. H -- raised, if we move in that direction, is it your thought that it is our privilege to disperse with a sense of that upon our spirits?

J.T. That is right, and I apprehend that all public things belong to the assembly in the character presented in 1 Corinthians.

Now chapter 24 is what the Lord is in resurrection, as chapter 22 is what He is in death -- what His death means for us. What is to be specially noticed in chapter 24 is the way He brings in the Scriptures; He shows how the Scriptures fit in with Him -- how

[Page 99]

they centre in Him as risen from the dead; thus we have in the first instance an exposition of the Scriptures to those who were going in a wrong direction. I think that the passage suggests to us that expositions of Scripture are specially helpful to those on the wrong road; people who have not got an understanding are not in a position to get light themselves; they need expositions. "Did not our heart burn within us ... while he opened to us the Scriptures?" What I think might well be noted is the great value of the Scriptures today in regard of those who are in the wrong way. Most are, alas! on the wrong road, and spiritual expositions connected with Christ affect such. The exposition itself did not bring them back to the company, but the Lord followed it up; it interested them in Him; their hearts burned within them so they invited Him in. The Lord has acquired a place through the exposition, and being constrained He went in to stay with them. The disposition of His heart was that He would get them -- He would recover them; then in the breaking of bread He is made known to them and they rise up the same hour and come back to Jerusalem, and as together with the eleven and those with them they talk about Him. The exposition and the manifestation had constituted them wonderful assets to the company, because they are now conveying to those gathered together what they have learned of Christ. That is what we should look for, otherwise we are dependent on our children to replenish the numbers. Of course it is happy to have our children brought in, but we want those who are out of the way brought in; as recovered they are contributions to the company.

Then the Lord Himself comes in and stood in their midst; and as amongst them He says, "It is I myself". Then He opens up their understanding, and says, "These are the words which I spake unto

[Page 100]

you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me". He does not expound there, but He opens their understanding to understand the Scriptures. The Lord would not only expound, but He would give the understanding, that is, the understanding of what is written concerning Himself; but if I am to find out what is written I have to read.

Rem. Apparently in speaking to the two He says nothing about the psalms: "beginning at Moses and all the prophets".

J.T. Psalms hardly fit when people are on the wrong way. I think the division that He makes here is the spiritual division of the Old Testament; it fits in with the understanding.

Rem. The Psalms are not mentioned because the two lacked the understanding, being out of the way and unbelieving.

J.T. In giving an understanding the Lord implied that they were to be students, hence He gives the correct division of the Old Testament.

E.J.McB. The expositions should awaken a personal interest in Christ.

J.T. They do. Then in the company you want to get at the structure of Scripture. Scripture is written with a perfect design, it is put together with a designing hand, so that the Lord gives the structure of it in order to facilitate the reading and understanding of it.

J.J. Why do the Psalms come last?

J.T. The experimental side must come last.

E.J.McB. There is something down here that is clothed with power from on high.

J.T. They have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16), so that the whole thread of the testimony can be traced and all seen in Christ. This is a feature of the priestly company.

[Page 101]

E.J.McB. Does not that come back very much to the original thought presented in Christ, when the Spirit came down on Him bodily? Now there is a company of people clothed with power from on high.

J.T. And they have an understanding from Christ, so that now they can read the Scriptures intelligently; God committed Himself to them, so to speak, in giving them the Spirit; the Lord had fitted them for this.

E.N.H. We see in the opening chapters of the Acts how intelligent they were in the Scriptures.

Ques. Is this headship?

J.T. Well, it may be headship in a way, but I think it is rather service. The Lord is still serving them so as to qualify them for priesthood.

Rem. With regard to the psalms, do we not have the thought suggested that the two would hardly be capable of understanding what was in His heart; but as brought together normally there are all the elements there to understand and receive all that is connected with Christ.

J.T. Yes. There are the law, the prophets, and the psalms. The law refers to the rights of God over man, the prophets to the patience of God waiting on man, and the Psalms refer to the result of the testimony in man. The Scriptures thus understood become an immense mine of wealth for us -- that is, for the priestly family.

The Old Testament has to be understood in the light of the New. From our side Romans comes first, then the other epistles. The gospels present perfection in Christ and are learnt last. They build us up as men in Christ. You want perfection, not only in doctrine, but in practical walk, spirit and manner, and that is what the gospels present to the soul. It is in the light of all that that I understand the Old Testament. The Lord expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.

[Page 102]

A.E.C. In all that you have been saying of this company, endued with power from on high, does it bring them into view as the priestly company like the twenty-four courses waiting on their service?

J.T. I think so. They are to wait for their clothing from on high, then they are to carry on their service, but they are already constituted for it by His own handiwork, because it says they returned to Jerusalem with great joy. Luke loves to bring in the plenitude of the supply -- not merely joy, but great joy. They were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God; and according to Luke the priestly company is left in the temple; their presence there was really a contribution to the Jews, so that they might be saved. The Lord might say to the Jews, There is My contribution. In Acts we see how it was received. Luke is dealing with grace; it is what God is in grace, so they were to remain at Jerusalem until they were clothed with power from on high. Their testimony was to begin at Jerusalem. In Acts they went to the upper room first, because it is leading up to the truth of the church, but in the gospel of Luke it is to present the magnitude of grace -- "beginning at Jerusalem".

[Page 103]


Nehemiah 8:1 - 3, 13 - 18

I have before me to speak a word about the feast of tabernacles, and in doing so to call attention to the importance of the Scriptures. The Scriptures in recent times have acquired a place in the minds of many of God's people, and there have been expositions of them. It is a great service to have the Scriptures expounded, but it is a greater thing to have our understandings opened by the Lord so as to understand them. They have, as some of us have had before us today, a peculiar place in the gospel of Luke. That gospel was written by one who was Paul's companion in his labours, and we know from that apostle that his ministry completed the word of God; Colossians 1:25. Not, indeed, that he was the last inspired writer, for he was not, but the ministry with which he was entrusted of the Lord completed the word of God. It is an immense thing to have the word of God in its completeness, and Paul's ministry affords this.

Now Luke in writing his gospel understood that doubtless, and so in his narrative he links all up with what had preceded him. He brings in a priest at the outset, who served in the temple according to his course; who was of the course of Abia, the reference being to the first book of Chronicles, in which book we are told that David ordained twenty-four courses of priests; and if we examine that book we shall note that it begins with Adam. So we have linked up in that way by the evangelist Luke the thread of the testimony, and at the end he records for us that the Lord on the morning of His resurrection joined company with two persons who were on

[Page 104]

the way to a certain village called Emmaus, sixty furlongs from Jerusalem: "Jesus himself drew near", it says, as they spoke together and went with them, and in going with them "he expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself". He had said ere doing this, "O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken". What a word that is for us, dear brethren! We are fools and slow of heart in not reading all the Scriptures and believing them. Then He expounded unto them those things -- the things concerning Himself -- out of all the Scriptures; so that those two, after He had manifested Himself to them in the breaking of bread, returned to Jerusalem. They returned with the light of that wonderful exposition in their souls, and they told the company to which they came that the Lord had made Himself known to them in the breaking of bread. The One who had made the exposition to them was Himself the Centre of it.

But then not only do we find that in this remarkable chapter, but so as to establish the full value and authority of the scripture in the company, after He had assured them that it was Himself ("It is I myself", He says), we read, "He opened their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures". As I remarked, the understanding is of more importance than the exposition, although the latter, of course, has its own place; if we have the understanding, then it is a question of finding what is written. So the Lord says, "Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead" -- things that were written in Moses, the prophets and the Psalms. So, having the understanding which every Christian may have from the Lord, what a mine of wealth we have here! I appeal to every one here as to the treasured store that we have in the precious volume of the Scriptures; possessed of the understanding which the Lord gives

[Page 105]

to us now by the Spirit, we have in our hands, in the Scriptures, a treasure unspeakable. It is now a question of what is written, if I have the understanding. In that way one would by the Lord's help turn to this chapter so that we might see how the Scriptures yield to us, what they may yield to those who look into them.

What you observe is that as the seventh month arrived, a state of inquiry had come about in the people of God in regard to the Scriptures. It is a sure evidence that God is working with us if there be inquiry of this sort. When the seventh month was come, it says, the people were in their cities. That is to say, each had found his place; a most important point for us, as to whether each of us is in his city, so to speak, that is, in the position assigned to him in relation to the testimony of God, and being there to make inquiry in regard to the Scriptures. So that they came "together as one man", it says, to Ezra. I mention this for the comfort of every one here, because you will observe that the company thus exercised included "men and women, and all that could hear with understanding". It was a general movement brought about by God Himself in His people, and I mention it so that it may be laid upon us that this desire should become prevalent among the people of God now.

It says, as you will observe, that "Ezra the priest brought the law before the congregation both of men and women, and all that could hear with understanding, on the first day of the seventh month". Now this seventh month is spiritually an era of great importance. For Israel it indicated the end that God had in view for them in His purpose.

On the first day there was the feast of the blowing of trumpets, of which I am hoping to make a present application. We have arrived in the ways of God in our own dispensation at the corresponding period.

[Page 106]

There has been a blowing of trumpets, and an awakening. Then on the tenth day was the day of atonement, in which they afflicted their souls; that is to say, a day of self-judgment. These are the sure accompaniments of a revival. God is constantly working on the principle of revival. Habakkuk prays for a revival. "O Lord, revive thy work", he says, "in wrath remember mercy". So the blowing of trumpets, asserting, as they do, God's right over our souls, brings about a state of self-judgment. There is no hope apart from self-judgment in the light of such a testimony. But self-judgment in us enables the Holy Spirit to operate; He never recognises the flesh. He operates where self-judgment is; indeed, He produces it in us. He pulls us down that He might build us up; for Christ, according to Simeon (Luke 2:34) was "set for the fall and rising up of many in Israel". The fall must precede the rising up. So the blowing of trumpets brought about self-judgment on the tenth day of the seventh month and then on the fifteenth day was the feast of tabernacles for seven days. (See Leviticus 23:23 - 44.)

The seventh month spoke loudly to the ear of faith in Israel. We can understand how Ezra, who had set his heart to understand the law of God, would value this seventh month. We may be assured that the Scriptures afford us all the history we need in regard of the church in relation to the things of God, so that understanding the Scriptures, we know where we are. Every believer ought to have "understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do", 1 Chronicles 12:32. I understand by that, that as discerning the times, we understand church customs -- what Israel ought to do; so that in reading for the people Ezra was sympathetic with God, for the reading of the law had been enjoined. So they are assembled before the water gate. What a suggestion! Some of us understand what it is to

[Page 107]

be brought before the gate where water is brought in. The man who brought the "pitcher of water" (Luke 22:10) would doubtless come by that way. "All the people gathered together as one man to the open place that was before the water-gate". This corresponds to the liberty and refreshment that mark the ministry of the word in the power of the Spirit, and hence it is said that Ezra read therein "from the morning unto midday" (verse 3). From the morning unto midday his accents were heard in that "open place". One can understand godly Israelites rejoicing, although they were humbled at the same time, as the precious words of scripture were read out distinctly by Ezra the priest, and as they were interpreted also by him and his associates, the Levites, on that memorable day.

Well now, I want to come to the feast of tabernacles. What you find in verse 13 and onwards is, that instead of the whole multitude coming to Ezra, the chief fathers came. It is on the second day that the chief fathers of all the people, the priests and the Levites came. One would not discriminate against any set of believers. The apostle John addresses himself first of all to all the saints under the heading of children; and then he addresses himself to fathers, to young men, and to little children, so that we have, I apprehend, a warrant for class teaching in Scripture. You can readily understand that the little children would not get as much out of the apostle's letter as the fathers. I would not hold back a thought from the youngest here, but I know well that you have not the capacity of a father; and, on the other hand, I know that a father has his own capacity and yours as well. He can understand all that is said to you or about you.

A father in Christ knows Him that is from the beginning; so that "the chief fathers" here represent a class amongst the people of God, a class that

[Page 108]

we do well to take note of. Not, indeed, that years in themselves constitute a father, years are of no value at all except they are found in the way of righteousness. The Thessalonians grew more in three weeks than the Corinthians did in eighteen months, so that mere years in themselves count for nothing in the things of God. It is a question of years spent with God, months spent with God, days spent with God -- these are what count. So that whilst we value the fathers we may be assured that they are fathers according to God. Such know Him that is from the beginning. They dismiss all that attaches to them in the flesh. He who prizes himself in any way after the flesh denies the truth as seen in Him that is from the beginning; if he has been with God from the outset he will not retain any of these fleshly claims. They are "household stuff" which Nehemiah turned out of the house of God; Nehemiah 13:8. Family distinctions and the influence of family relationships have no place in the house of God, whatever place they have in the government of God. A father disregards them wholly; he is occupied with Him that is from the beginning -- the Babe of Bethlehem, the Boy of Nazareth, the Man of the Jordan, the Man in Simon's house, the Man of Sychar -- the true spiritual father will engage you with Him.

These chief fathers came together to Ezra, the chief fathers of all the people; they were not affected by any party feeling or metropolitan feeling, they were the chief fathers of ALL the people, and with them came the priests and the Levites. I need not say that with ourselves a father is a priest, and a father is necessarily a Levite, but the father and the priest and the Levite each refers to a certain spiritual capacity which young ones need to consider. You are to know what capacity you have got, or whether you are entitled to attend the meeting on the second day. You are all entitled to attend the first day, but

[Page 109]

the second day's meeting takes on a very different character from the first day. It was a meeting of chief fathers, of priests, and of Levites. What had they come together for? Not only to hear the Scriptures read, but to "gain wisdom" as to them. They wanted more than the public reading of the word, they wanted to look into it more carefully. I would appeal to every one here as to this, the searching for things, like the Bereans, who "searched the scriptures daily". So, on this second day of this remarkable Bible reading, as we might call it, that they had with Ezra, they found the record of the feast of tabernacles.

I have heard it said that when the truth was revived through brethren who have now gone to be with the Lord, that Ephesians was the best part of Scripture, and I believe it; for next to the gospels, which stand first in my estimate of the Scriptures, Ephesians should command the attention of the believer. It is what we may call "our light". Israel have their light -- "Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee". Now Ephesians is that light for us, and we should look into our light, for "heavenly light", as the line in the hymn puts it so beautifully, "makes all things bright" (Hymn 12). Every part of the inspired word is illuminated from that altitude. Here they found what corresponds with Ephesians, they found the feast of tabernacles. It was a "good reading", as we speak. I can understand those chief fathers, and those priests and those Levites with Ezra enjoying the time they had together. They were helped that day, that second day of "the conference", as we may call it, and they found that it was written that Israel should dwell in booths in the feast of the seventh month. As love works in our hearts we seek to dwell together. God would have us dwell in companies. It is not here in one booth, but in booths; and if we

[Page 110]

do seek each other and dwell together let us do so according to what is written.

There are many who ignore what is written to their hurt. Christendom itself is the great example. It abounds with examples of those who disregard what is written, whereas those who love the Lord and love each other, have respect for the commandments. So they found that they should dwell in booths, and they set to work to prepare the booths.

Let us look into this for a moment. In verse 15 it says, "they should publish and proclaim in all their cities, and in Jerusalem, saying, Go forth unto the mount, and fetch olive branches, and pine branches [or"wild olives"], and myrtle branches, and palm branches, and branches of thick trees, to make booths". One is impressed to see that they were to "publish and proclaim" what had been found. Any measure of light that God has been pleased to give to any of us is for all; the things of God should not be in a corner. One of the greatest lessons that each of us can learn is that he is under obligation to every Christian in the world in regard of the light he may have. So that what was discovered here was to be published and proclaimed in the cities, as it says, and in Jerusalem. No one who loves the Lord or loves the brethren wishes to have any part in a sect; he accepts his obligation to all the saints. All the cities, including Jerusalem, were to be apprised of this wonderful find in that day when the fathers and the priests and the Levites came to Ezra. It was for Israel -- in other words, it is "church property". Whatever you have got and whatever I have got is church property; and the church includes all the saints. "God", it says, "has set certain in the assembly" (1 Corinthians 12:28), and therefore every one who is fitted of God to minister should realise his obligation to the church, as indeed we all should mutually to each other.

[Page 111]

I want now to show you how they made the booths, and if there is one here who is in a booth made otherwise I would urge you to consider your position, for it is a false one. It says, "Go forth unto the mount". One does not have to go up to the mount for stained-glass windows, or for cloth, or for a choir. You can find all of these things on the plain. If you had lived in Corinth when Paul went there, you could have found all the material for a cathedral there; whereas Paul laboured as a tentmaker, he had nothing to do with architecture of a human kind. So they have to go up to the mount, that is to say, to be exercised; it requires energy, it requires a strong heart to go up. It is a question of attitude of heart. They went up to the mount.

Now look at what they collected: "Olive branches, wild olive branches, and myrtle branches, and palm branches, and branches of thick trees". Let us inquire for a moment into these branches, and let us see whether we understand what God has restored to us in these days, what kind of booths we are to dwell in.

I can only mention the leading thoughts. We have the olive, as it says, the olive branches, and the pine, or "wild olive", as it should be. Do we take account of each other as having the Holy Spirit? One cannot associate with any who have not the Holy Spirit. Our exercise lies there, and the olive oil refers to the dignity put upon us by the Spirit. What society, beloved, is suggested! Then the wild olive. It may be some are a bit wild -- if you will allow me to speak in a simple way -- and there are many, alas! who have to be so regarded -- some in lawless associations. Nevertheless, one would bring them. They belong to Christ, and He knows those that are His; 2 Timothy 2:19.

Then it says, "myrtle branches". You know that one of the features needed (and God would bring it about at the present time) is life. There is nothing more marked than the spirit of decline and decay

[Page 112]

among the people of God, whereas the myrtle is the evergreen, what the Lord Jesus was here. "He shall grow up before him as a tender plant", it says; He was ever green; that is to say, when the eye of God rested on Christ there was the refreshing green, the evidence of life in its vigour and freshness. When He was about to die He said, "If these things are done in the green tree, what shall take place in the dry?" Luke 23:31. So God would preserve the constant evidence of life in His people. Vigour and freshness -- God looks for it, and how delightful it is as it is seen in the people of God!

Then there is the palm in these booths, the well-known sign of victory. If we have faith we are never defeated; "Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?" The appreciation of the Son of God means constant victory. "Thanks to God", as it says, "who gives us the victory", 1 Corinthians 15:57. He gives it to us. He who believes that Jesus is the Son of God has it; he is an overcomer.

Then it says the branches of thick trees. If we have got all these things, beloved, and how precious they are, they need to be preserved. The thick trees are exclusive trees, they shut out that which would mar the blessedness involved in all these suggestions, and indeed in the primary instruction given in regard to this feast (Leviticus 23:40) they were to have the fruit of beautiful trees. The gospel of Luke presents that side; there it is the public order and beauty that mark the vessel in which the things of God are preserved. God would preserve the light of what was at the beginning in this way. There was order and moral beauty seen then. We need to conserve the things we know, and I apprehend that a thick hedge is a good means to that end. So the branches of thick trees afford exclusion of what they were to fear, and we need to watch. One could

[Page 113]

dwell on this further; the feast of tabernacles affords such food in other ways.

Now we find that having all these they made themselves booths, "every one upon the roof of his house, and in their courts, and in the courts of the house of God, and in the street of the water gate, and in the street of the gate of Ephraim". I just point out that what is indicated is to be in public, on the roof, and how that reminds one of the danger that one's house may afford for young believers. You remember how that the Israelites were to have parapets on their houses so as to protect those who might be there. Do we watch our houses? As the saints come in to them are there lurking dangers in them, or are they marked by the evidence of these trees? The booths were put on the roofs of the houses, and in their courts, and in the courts of the house of God, and in the street of the water gate, where the word was read, and the gate of Ephraim, which may be connected specially with responsibility. Ephraim had the leading place. These little booths or dwelling-places, which were associated with the feast of tabernacles, afforded occasions of sweet communion for the godly. We know what that is, dear brethren. I speak of it so that we might understand how these things are to be continued and preserved, and, as we learn elsewhere, this feast was to accord joy to God, it was a feast to Jehovah, a feast in which offerings were offered. If you look into it, it affords wonderful instruction; the feast of tabernacles is found in Leviticus, and in Numbers, and in Deuteronomy.

I only dwell upon it now as suggestive of what we have got at the end. These holy convocations, or comings together of God's people, in love for one another, should be all regulated by the light of the holy Scriptures as understood by us by the Spirit of God. May God bless the word!

[Page 114]


Revelation 21:9 - 11

I intend to refer to other scriptures, but I read this at the outset so as to introduce what I have in mind, namely, that the church proves a trustworthy vessel; having that in view, I wish to speak about trustworthiness. In employing the word I have in mind that the apostle John was employed by the Lord to ensure this trustworthiness in the assembly. It is he who tells us that the Lord, being at Jerusalem at the time of the Passover, was believed on by many on account of His miracles, but that He did not commit Himself to them, for "He knew all men, and needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man". This is a singular fact to be brought to our attention by him, who presents to us the church as coming down from God out of heaven, "having the glory of God". It is a searching fact, too, because it reminds us of the utter untrustworthiness of man, and if of man, of all of us as in the flesh.

We have now to inquire how it is that this wonderful vessel, composed as it is of men, is possessed of the glory of God. She has it, and so I wish to bring forward at the outset one who is spoken of in Scripture as the friend of God, having in view that trustworthiness must primarily include confidence; it must depend on friendship.

So we find, according to Stephen, that "the God of glory appeared to our father Abraham" -- the first one, as far as I know, to whom He is said to have appeared. He had spoken to others; He had spoken to Adam and to Eve, and to Cain, and to Noah; but in appearing to Abraham God intended to establish a peculiar personal link with him. I urge this at the beginning because a personal link is essential to

[Page 115]

confidence, and as God has confidence in us He trusts us; we are His "friends".

Now Adam had proved untrustworthy; Eve had proved untrustworthy, Cain had proved untrustworthy; indeed Cain formally avows that he was not his brother's keeper. If he could not be entrusted with his brother, with whom then could he be entrusted? When we come to Enoch, the mind is detained because in him we have a distinct indication of trustworthiness. We are told that he begat a son, and in begetting a son he walked with God. If God entrusts us with a son, it is essential that we should walk with Him or we shall not bring him up for God. Enoch walked with God, we are told, after he begat a son, three hundred years. Trustworthiness could be developed in a walk with God. In that walk he pleased God and God took him.

Now in Noah we have a remarkable testimony, as if God would set him up in trustworthiness in this world. He gave him the specification for an ark. He loved his family (he was a family man), and God directed him how to save his family. One can understand that such instruction would fit with Enoch, but it was given to Noah, and in the specification of the ark God made sure that it should be "thoroughly", as we say, "sea-going". There is not the least hint that one drop of water ever leaked through, and in that way God at the outset indicated what Christ should be, and it was for Noah to take note of it. He was to learn from the ark. But what came to pass was that that with which he was entrusted, namely, the government of the world, utterly failed in his hands, for he could not rule himself; Genesis 9:20, 21. You may depend upon it that unless we learn how to control ourselves, how to rule our spirits, we shall never be entrusted with spiritual things.

So I come to Abraham. It is said that the God of glory "appeared" to him. I desire by the Lord's

[Page 116]

help to dwell on that, because it is in an appearance that a personal link is formed. Abraham was entrusted with a son. God makes us wait for things in order that we should value them; He caused Abraham to wait for a son. I doubt not that in the appearance at the outset there was a forecast as to what God would do. If He is the God of glory, there must be a testimony to this. He called Abraham "alone", but having in view that families should spring from him and that these should be blessed according to His own nature, that, indeed, all families should be blessed in Abraham. So in appearing to Abraham and in the words spoken to him, there was a clear indication of all this. Indeed God indicated to Abraham what was in His heart as regards Himself. In Ephesians we read, "the Father ... of whom every family in the heavens and on earth is named". In an appearance there would be conveyed, in some measure, what He had in mind for the outshining of His glory. One loves to think of a universe formed of families, and one loves to think of the assembly as being formed of only firstborn ones. (See Hebrews 12:23.) Think of that! Every one in it is a firstborn. No one is inferior to another in dignity. It is "the assembly of the firstborn"; the reference is to the Levites; Numbers 3. Think of the dignity that belongs to the assembly! Of the twenty-two thousand Levites, every one of them represented a firstborn, therefore they were necessarily the first family spiritually. So in the book of Joshua they have no inheritance on earth: they represent the heavenly family; that family that is to give the lead and shed its lustre on all the others, as necessarily it does, for every one in it is a firstborn.

But then there are other families, and they are all named of the Father; He had them all in mind when He appeared to Abraham, for he was to be the father of families; and in him should all the families of the

[Page 117]

earth be blessed. So God made him wait for his son, but ultimately he receives him. He is, as I might say, entrusted with a son; what a priceless treasure Isaac was! And now God puts him to the test. Abraham, can I trust you? He puts him to the test and demands Isaac from him. In other words, Abraham was to be allowed to show his trustworthiness, that he would yield up his son -- "thine only son Isaac", God says, "whom thou lovest". Hence James tells us that as doing that he was called "the Friend of God". He established a link with God, to which the Spirit of God gives a name; he is called the Friend of God.

So Stephen in beginning his address to the Sanhedrim at Jerusalem says, "The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia", and at the end of his wonderful speech it is said that he saw "the glory of God, and Jesus". The glory had pertained to Israel (Romans 9:4), but that nation had forfeited it, and now it was in heaven with Jesus; but the church was to have it -- first, in testimony on earth and then permanently in heaven. This is one of the most interesting suggestions that could be made: that it pleases God to deposit His glory in that of which we form a part!

So I now come again to the principle of appearing. The Lord appears to Saul of Tarsus. I dwell on that because it involves that a link of confidence is established, and the entrusting of "the good deposit", 2 Timothy 1:14. So that Jesus appeared to him, the Jesus whom Stephen saw in heaven. We must not assume from the remark by the Spirit in regard to Stephen that the glory was somewhere else than in Jesus. It says, "He saw the glory of God, AND Jesus standing". We must not assume that the glory was in some other one or in some other position, it was not, it was in Jesus. The glory of God is in

[Page 118]

His face. It is the shining forth of God's nature in the accomplishment of His purposes. The Holy Spirit tells us it was seen in heaven. So the Lord appeared to Saul. And why did He appear? He was taking up a vessel whom He could trust; He was to form him so that he should be trustworthy, hence He appeared to him. He says, "I appeared to thee, to appoint thee to be a servant and a witness both of what thou hast seen, and of what I shall appear to thee in", Acts 26:16. So that all that which was entrusted to him to be ministered to others was presented to him in the appearances of Christ. I dwell on this because of the emphasis which Paul in his own account accords to the Lord's appearances to him. He appeared to him, and He should later appear to him. The full truth of the assembly -- the glory in it -- would be conveyed in these appearings. The Lord's first word to Saul intimated that the saints were His body: "Why persecutest thou me?" In His body is cherished and reflected the glory of God, which Christ is; and this glory was conveyed to Paul's heart and mind, to be deposited there in the assembly (for he was the minister of the assembly) through his ministry.

It is very wonderful that we should have part in that which is in this way the vessel of the divine glory. What an incentive to be faithful or trustworthy! You may depend upon it that the flesh in us is no more trustworthy than it was in Adam, or in Eve, or in Cain. In fact the nearer the flesh is to Christ the more treacherous it is. Take Judas, what does he represent? He represents the flesh in the place of supreme privilege. He was the Lord's friend outwardly, but not really. One may be breaking bread, as we speak, and yet have no personal link with Christ, and as having no personal link with Him, no friendship with Him, and the Lord not having confidence in such an one can entrust him

[Page 119]

with nothing. I want to be very practical, because we are drawing near to the end, and the Lord would impress us with the importance of faithfulness. The ministry of John has this in view -- it ensures the reliability of the church. I would also refer to the ministry of the new covenant.

In 2 Corinthians 3 the apostle refers to himself and others, and says, "God, who has also made us competent, as ministers of the new covenant; not of letter, but of spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit quickens ... Now the Lord is the Spirit, but where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, looking on the glory of the Lord with unveiled face, are transformed according to the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Lord the Spirit". I want to raise a question with every one here as to whether you know the service that the Lord would render you in bringing the love of God into your hearts? His service on the cross can never be told out in words, but there is one service He is carrying on which is in a way the greatest service He can render to you now, and that is to make the love of God effective in your heart. He can do that. He will do that. It is by "the Lord the Spirit"; this conveys an administrative idea. He is shedding the love of God abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit given unto us, and thus He brings about a state in our hearts of confidence in God. If I have got the love of God in my heart it makes me love God, and in loving God, God in turn has confidence in me. That is what I want to come to. "The flesh", beloved friends, "profits nothing". Let us take that home.

As I said, John records for us that the Lord did not entrust Himself to certain ones, in spite of the fact that they were believers. But then the evangelist goes on to show how a trustworthy vessel is brought about; and hence he quotes the Lord's words as to

[Page 120]

the necessity of man being born anew. One has to be completely set aside that the new family may be brought in. There is to be a wholly new humanity, and it is seen at the end of John's gospel. I understand that John 20 brings in the trustworthy persons who form the trustworthy vessel. The Lord says to them, "As my Father hath sent me, even so send I you". Let us consider these words. His Father had sent Him; He had sent Him in infinite confidence. That is what the presence of Christ here meant, and now He says to His disciples, "Even so send I you". What a position they were to have! And having said that, He breathed into them, and says to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit: whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted to them; whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained".

Now that is what I understand to be the secret of the church's trustworthiness. It is that the persons who form it are possessed of the breath of Christ; these He trusts. The Lord, as it were, signs a cheque and hands it over to them and says, You fill it in to any amount. Is not that trustworthiness? "Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted to them". There is no limit. Is not that confidence? John alone records this precious action of the Lord.

Let us look into this as to what it is. The Lord, as I said, hands over to them to use a figure, a signed cheque, that can be filled in to any amount. That applies, you may say, to the twelve. No, that is a mistake, there were only ten of the apostles there. Indeed, you will find in John that wherever the twelve are brought forward there is usually something to indicate defection. Throughout his gospel he brings forward certain things that prove that the twelve, viewed as such, had failed. In chapter 4 the Lord is alone in weariness. His disciples had gone into the town to buy bread. They did not all need to go; they were disregardful of the Lord or they

[Page 121]

would not have left Him alone. In chapter 6 He says to the twelve, "Will ye also go away?" and Peter says, "Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast words of life eternal; and we have believed and known that thou art the holy one of God". But the Lord says, "Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?" You see thus how the official number is regarded in John. And so in chapter 20 there were only ten of the apostles there; Thomas was away, so that it is no question of officialdom, but of disciples having the Spirit of Christ; it is not a question of the number but of their nature. It is that that can be trusted, and so the trustworthiness of the vessel is secured in the individuals who form it possessing the Spirit of Christ. "He breathed into them", and so He can have confidence in them.

Now I think that is what the Lord would bring about at the present time; He would bring about a state in us in which He can have confidence; and it is a question for each one of us to decide for himself as to whether, first of all, one has a personal link with Christ; and then, secondly, whether one has the Spirit of Christ. I am not speaking now of the Holy Spirit as coming on the day of Pentecost (although that great event included what I am speaking of), but of something from the Lord conveyed in the most intimate way; think of Him breathing into them! Dear brethren, what about knowing the Lord in that intimate way, and then being entrusted with something? Before this wonderful transaction the Lord had revealed the Father's name to the disciples, having at the same time announced to them that they were His brethren. In breathing into them the Lord imparted His Spirit to the disciples; this fact underlies what comes out in the assembly in Revelation: she has the glory of God. Let us understand it. Further, what God is, not only in His attributes, but in His nature, is

[Page 122]

perfectly set forth in Christ, and is also seen in the assembly; and John shows us the assembly as coming down from God out of heaven. She is at liberty. She comes down; others fall down. Satan falls as lightning from heaven; the star falls; Babylon falls; but the church comes down. She is in the liberty of sonship. Every one in her is a firstborn, as I said, but not only that, but each one is made a companion of Christ.

We are all sons of God, as it says, by faith in Christ Jesus, and because we are sons He has sent out the Spirit of His Son into our hearts crying, "Abba, Father". The ministry of Paul placed the assembly before God in heaven in Christ; as composed of sons, she is there in liberty. John sees her coming down from God out of heaven, having the glory of God.

What a fine offset we have here to what is said in John 2 that the Lord could not trust Himself to man; here we have this vessel, formed of men, coming down from God out of heaven, having the glory of God; and then she is identified with the very ones who had accompanied the Lord in His service here, for the names of the twelve are on her foundations.

May God bless the word and exercise us as to holding fast what we have got. We have nothing less than all the ministry of Christ; we have no less than the ministry passed on to us through the apostles and through those who followed; it is a wonderful heritage. The Lord says, "Hold that fast which thou hast". It is not that it shall not be held fast, for in result all is preserved in the assembly; every testimony is secured in her, but at the same time the exhortation is, "Hold fast"; this is responsibility -- "that no one take thy crown". But confidence underlies all this, as the Lord said, "Henceforth I call you not servants ... but I have called you friends: for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you". But

[Page 123]

it is in adhering to His commandments that we prove our friendship and that we are thus entrusted with the glory. The Holy Spirit dwells in the assembly; the Lord said the Spirit would abide with us for ever, and He is constantly bringing in testimony to the glory of Christ.

[Page 124]

Pages 124 to 188 -- "Reconciliation and New Creation", London and elsewhere, 1922 (Volume 58).


2 Corinthians 12

J.T-y. Is "a man in Christ" the product of the two ministries -- the new covenant and reconciliation?

J.T. The two ministries lead up to the man in Christ. The "man in Christ" is a complete idea, and includes new creation; he represents the purpose of God for us.

Ques. Does not reconciliation lead on to purpose?

J.T. It does, but it refers to what we have been -- enemies.

Ques. What is your thought as to reconciliation?

J.T. I think it is that we are constituted suitable to God through the death of Christ, so that we are free for His purpose.

Ques. Is reconciliation more the climax of the recovery fine?

J.T. In Romans it is presented as being received. Therefore in that epistle it is an objective thought included in the gospel.

Ques. Would it answer to the kiss of the prodigal?

J.T. The kiss expresses what is in God's heart. The father "covered him with kisses". I mean to say that the kisses express love.

D.L.H. Does not purpose in some way form part of the gospel? I do not mean Paul's line exactly, but John's -- "God so loved the world", etc. Is there not a thought of purpose in that view of the gospel?

J.T. Oh, yes. I should not shut out purpose from the gospel, only there is that in the gospel which meets our need, and there is that which God devises which is infinitely beyond our need. But reconciliation is spoken of after you have new creation introduced in chapter 5 of this epistle. It is "God who has

[Page 125]

reconciled us". "If any one be in Christ, there is a new creation", but "All things are of the God who has reconciled us".

D.L.H. There it would seem that new creation stands linked very closely with the thought of reconciliation.

J.T. Well, it is. Reconciliation enables the believer to pass out of old links; he is quite free in the presence of God in regard of them; then it is added that "God was in Christ, reconciling the world".

Ques. Is reconciliation in contrast to enmity?

J.T. Yes, quite. It says, "How that God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, not reckoning to them their offences; and putting in us the word of that reconciliation. We are ambassadors therefore for Christ, God as it were beseeching by us, we entreat for Christ, Be reconciled to God"; so that it obviously has reference to what we were.

Ques. Does reconciliation imply more than the removal?

J.T. The apostle goes on to say, "Him who knew not sin he has made sin for us" -- that must be the ground of it, else why does he introduce it? So in Colossians 1:21, 22, you have, "You, who once were alienated and enemies in mind by wicked works, yet now has it reconciled in the body of his flesh through death; to present you holy and unblamable and irreproachable before it". Evidently there reconciliation enables God to present us to Himself.

A.M.H. Would you consider the latter to be the work of new creation which can be carried on in view of reconciliation having taken place?

J.T. Well, it is God's work to present us holy and unblamable and irreproachable before Him.

D.L.H. I thought reconciliation was more than what is negative -- the removal of all that is contrary, "alienated and enemies" and all that line of things --

[Page 126]

that it brings in the thought of complacency which is more positive.

J.T. Well, it does, but then it is through the sacrifice of Christ, and is presented in the gospel; it is an objective thought. The believer is reconciled as having faith; God accounts of him in no other way. It is something to be received as an objective thing presented.

D.L.H. It must be that if it is presented in the gospel.

J.T. What follows is necessarily formative, but the thing itself must be presented and accepted as absolute on the ground of sacrifice.

A.M.H. We rather thought, when speaking of it some time back, that Romans, perhaps, presented it on the divine side, and that we come into it by faith and being linked with Christ by the Spirit, but do you think that in 2 Corinthians 5 the apostle is showing what is necessary on our side in order to come into the good of it?

J.T. That is true, but I think we have to see that it had been effected. God had effected it through the death of Christ.

A.M.H. The thing is done, at any rate, but is not new creation necessary now so that we might be in the liberty of all that reconciliation means?

J.T. They run together to a point, but reconciliation has to be regarded as subservient to new creation. Through reconciliation I am enabled to enter freely into what is wholly new and eternal.

Ques. Is your thought that there is a difference between reconciliation and "in Christ ... a new creation"?

J.T. That is how it stands. "If any one be in Christ", it reads, "there is a new creation"; that is what there is. But then we have, "who has reconciled us". God has done that, and Colossians tells us how He has done it. It is presented in the gospel to

[Page 127]

be received on the principle of faith, but I would not say that new creation is to be received on the principle of faith, because it refers to the work of God in the believer.

A.M.H. I thought that helped, that there is the faith side to it, and then there is the coming into it on the ground of new creation.

J.T. Of course you enjoy everything, whatever blessing it is, in the measure in which you are formed, but I think it is well to see that the thing is effected through death, just as forgiveness and righteousness are, and every one of these things is enjoyed in the measure in which I am formed; I apprehend it is attributable to every believer in that sense.

Ques. Do you mind saying exactly what you mean when you say it is absolute?

J.T. It is so because it is effected through the death of Christ. Colossians shows us how it is effected -- "in the body of his flesh through death".

Rem. You are linking the thought of reconciliation now with faith.

J.T. It is to be accepted on that principle. In Ephesians, "that he might reconcile both unto God in one body", but the means of reconciliation is through death -- "by the cross".

Ques. Would it be right to say that it is attributed to a work outside of you?

J.T. It is. "Who has reconciled" you, that is to say, as apprehended in my soul, it clears me; I am free. It is brought in as an adjunct really where the question of new creation comes in, so that the believer is free; he is at peace now; he is reconciled to God.

M.W.B. It would scarcely be correct to say that a believer is reconciled by means of the work of the Spirit in the soul?

J.T. No, it would not be correct, because it is effected by the death of Christ. Of course, what God

[Page 128]

brings us to practically is another matter; for that you need a formative work; and thus I am enabled to enjoy the thing that is effected.

D.L.H. I was going to ask about 2 Corinthians 5:21: "He hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him". Would you look at the whole of that verse as expressive of reconciliation?

J.T. Yes, I would. It is brought in there to enforce the whole point. It is the groundwork of the whole position.

D.L.H. Then you get what is positive there as well as the removal?

J.T. It is a question of what I am made through the death of Christ. The Holy Spirit, I believe, would help us to apprehend the greatness of the death of Christ in that respect.

W.C. God's "good pleasure in men". How far does that go? Beyond reconciliation?

J.T. I think it does.

W.C. Would you say a little more on that? We have sometimes connected the two thoughts.

J.T. Reconciliation, of course, underlies "good pleasure in men", but the thought of "men" involves formation, and so is more positive. Wisdom delighted in the sons of men; family relationship is brought in. It is more than reconciliation. Reconciliation refers to what I am brought into through the death of Christ.

Ques. Is it your thought that in connection with new creation there is no need of any thought of removal?

J.T. There is nothing to remove. The thought of reconciliation will not be necessary. All things have become new.

J.B.C-l. Going back to your reference to the epistle to the Romans, the apostle goes back to the time when reconciliation was accomplished, "when

[Page 129]

we were enemies". Would reconciliation in that way be a fresh aspect of the whole situation?

J.T. Exactly. "Being enemies, we have been reconciled to God through the death of his Son". God has reached it in Christ, and we come into it by faith, "through whom now we have received the reconciliation", Romans 5:10, 11.

Ques. You would not limit reconciliation to the negative state, removal only? You would bring in a positive idea somewhere, would you not?

J.T. Yes, there has to be faith; it is what is effected by Christ's death. Faith brings me into accord with Christ before God.

Rem. "As he is, so are we in this world".

J.T. Yes, quite.

D.L.H. How does "in Christ" come in in chapter 5: 21, "the righteousness of God in him"?

J.T. It refers to the believer's status. All must be "in Christ".

Ques. Do you not connect that with the work of God in us?

J.T. It is presented as the effect of Christ having been made sin for us. I think it is the value of the death of Christ that is before us rather than the work of God in us.

Ques. Does not "that we might become" suggest something in addition?

J.T. Well, I think it is what I am as having faith. I think it refers to the value of the work of Christ.

A.M.H. Would you go so far as to say that any one now is the righteousness of God in Him?

J.T. I think it has the future in view -- what God will set out by-and-by as the full product of the work of Christ; all that one would emphasise is, how God has called attention to the full value of the death of Christ. "Him who knew not sin he has made sin for

[Page 130]

us, that we might become God's righteousness in him".

A.M.H. The beginning of His work, and then the final issue.

J.T. Yes, but the work of God in us also has to be taken account of. It is taken account of in the heavenly city; all will be the handiwork of God, but here the one thing that the Holy Spirit would emphasise is, He was made sin for us, that we might become God's righteousness in Him.

I do not think the righteousness of God there is what He forms in me, but rather the bearing of the death of Christ; I think that should stand out.

Ques. What would you say as to Christ having been made to us "wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption"?

J.T. He is made unto you all that you need. The reconciliation is effected in Christ. It is there for men to come into.

H.F.N. In regard to the passage in 2 Corinthians 5, would it be wrong to shut out the thought of apprehension? I thought the apostle was describing there how he came into things. Under the effect of the love of Christ he formed certain judgments; he speaks of how he came to them. Is all this objective only?

J.T. As to reconciliation, I think it is brought in to emphasise what he has been leading up to; the highest point presented there is new creation, where all things are of the God who has reconciled us. It is augmentative.

Ques. Would you exclude then the thought of apprehension?

J.T. No; the knowledge of reconciliation sustains you so that you are free to enjoy new creation, where all things are of God.

H.F.N. Would not that be something more than what is objective? That is the difficulty in my mind, whether there is not a subjective thought as well, and the apostle describes it.

[Page 131]

J.T. Well, the subjective is there in the sense that faith exists. But reconciliation is as perfect as it can be; it is true of you as you receive it. Thus God has reconciled you.

Rem. "Hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation" would imply that the thing is done.

J.T. Surely. The reconciliation was perfectly accomplished in Christ, and then the word of that was committed to the apostles.

J.B.C-l. In 2 Corinthians 5, while the apostle leads up to new creation, and he indicates the way into it, the subject is really reconciliation. He has got more to say about reconciliation in that chapter than he has to say about new creation.

J.T. I think the leading thought is new creation. The fact that he says so much about reconciliation indicates that the Corinthians were not in accord with it. They were going on contrary to it. Indeed, there are hints throughout this letter of what is beyond, and that is of great importance in the letter. The apostle touches on advanced features of the truth that he would enlarge on were the Corinthians able to receive it. There is something that he must enlarge on, namely, reconciliation.

J.B.C-l. Well, that is what was in my mind. I was thinking of what was said on the question of apprehension. It was a little difficulty to me that apprehension was shut out. I think I can see your point that in speaking of new creation other conditions had to be introduced.

J.T. He brings in reconciliation as already effected, "who has reconciled". When he says, "There is new creation", that is abstract, but he does not say, There is reconciliation. He does not speak of it abstractly; "who has reconciled us".

Ques. Would you agree that we might say that it is new creation in the believer's apprehension of it?

J.T. He presents it in an abstract way: "If any

[Page 132]

one be in Christ, there is a new creation". The point is not he is that, but there is such a thing as that. But as regards reconciliation he says, "who has reconciled us".

M.W.B. Could you say a little as to the difference between being justified and being reconciled?

J.T. A justified person is one against whom there is no charge, but in reconciliation I am retained before God for His pleasure. Justification exonerates you, but reconciliation detains you for God. He keeps you for His pleasure. The believer is thus available to God; he is suitable for any place that it may please God that he should fill, or any function he should exercise.

Rem. It rather verges on the thought of acceptance.

J.T. Pretty much. One is, I am free of all charge against me, but then I am kept before God, and He delights in me. This is objectively true of me as a believer.

A.M.H. Is that why it is presented in Romans as, "Reconciled to God through the death of his Son"; His Son brings in the thought of His pleasure?

J.T. I think that is right. Whatever my apprehension as a believer, God is taking account of me in relation to what is effected, and the more my mind apprehends that the more restful I shall be and the more at home I shall be with God, and so the more suitable for His purpose.

Ques. You would say that every believer is reconciled in God's sight, but new creation needs to be known for the enjoyment of it?

J.T. But then another thing arises, and that is, there is new creation. New creation is not said to be through the death of Christ; it refers to what is effected in us. "We are his workmanship, having been created in Christ Jesus". Here the full truth is stated; Ephesians 2:10.

[Page 133]

Ques. You look at reconciliation entirely from God's side?

J.T. It must be. It is a question of His mind as regards the believer, now that Christ has died. The distance was on account of my state; this being dealt with in the body of Christ's flesh, through death, I am before God to His entire satisfaction.

Ques. On our side would you say we respond?

J.T. Yes. The measure in which I am formed is the measure in which I take it in; reconciliation is the basis on which God works in me. He is now working with material wholly suitable to His purpose.

D.L.H. Would reconciliation be connected somewhat with the burnt offering, and justification more with the sin offering? I mean, you have in the burnt offering acceptance and pleasure, while in relation to the other there is complete clearance.

J.T. I suppose that is so in a sense; but "made him sin for us" (2 Corinthians 5:21) is, I understand, the sin offering. However, the fact stands that reconciliation is effected through death, but it must necessarily go on to what Christ is now as representative for us.

Ques. What had you in mind as to the conditions at Corinth indicated in this letter that necessitated the apostle saying so much about reconciliation?

J.T. Well, they were not pleasing to God in their ways.

Rem. The solution would lie in being conformed to the image of God's Son.

J.T. But there you come to purpose, which goes further.

Ques. In what relation does the thought of new covenant stand to reconciliation?

J.T. That is what God is towards us. Reconciliation is on the line of what we are towards Him.

Ques. I meant rather in the way of our reaching it in soul history.

J.T. I have no doubt that we enjoy reconciliation

[Page 134]

in the measure in which we apprehend God's love to us, but you see reconciliation applies to every one and everything. It is in that way God is dealing with what is pleasing to Him, and therefore He is free in His material, in what He is using; so He is building us up in one thing, and He will work in Israel in connection with another thing -- all in keeping, of course. And then, not only persons are reconciled, but things are to be reconciled; hence it must be what is effected through death. Everything is taken up on that ground. Thus God is free to work out His purpose. Christians are reconciled in one body; Israel in twelve tribes.

Rem. There could be no moral work in things.

J.T. No. They are taken up in Christ on the ground of His death. Things as well as persons will be brought practically into accord with God, reconciliation being the basis. Everything has come under Christ for God's pleasure. "For thy pleasure they are and were created".

J.B.C-l. How are we to view the gift of the Holy Spirit in connection with what you are saying? Is it on the ground of reconciliation that the Holy Spirit comes?

J.T. Well, quite. God gives men the Holy Spirit, and of course the Holy Spirit operates on this line; but you must have the thing as light in your soul first.

Ques. When you have the light of that in your soul, should there not be the moral correspondence?

J.T. Surely. That is what there was not in the Corinthians. That is why the apostle says so much about it.

Ques. Would you say that reconciliation was a work done for us, and new creation a work done in us?

J.T. Truly. So that a new creation is brought in in chapter 5 as a thing existing -- there is a new creation -- but chapter 12 brings in the man.

[Page 135]

Rem. That is the new creation line.

J.T. Yes, but you see it is a man now. It is new creation in its highest form, as you might say, because Adam was the top stone at the outset, and so now a "man in Christ".

Ques. Am I right in saying that reconciliation would set me free so that the work of God might go on unhinderedly?

J.T. That is right. Then in chapter 12 you have the man. And mark! the apostle does not develop this great truth of the "man in Christ", but it is brought before us so that we might have our minds upon it. What was urgently needed at Corinth was evidently the new covenant and reconciliation, but then God would have us to be occupied with what is beyond. Hence in Numbers 15 you have in the midst of abounding failure, "When ye be come into the land ... which I give unto you", without any reference to what had happened; God would have His great purpose before His people; so any one in Corinth who loved God would appreciate this remark about new creation, and they would pay attention to what the apostle said about the "man in Christ".

Ques. Is there a practical side to reconciliation?

J.T. There is -- that you might be moving about here for God's pleasure.

Rem. I was thinking of the word, "Be reconciled to God". Does not that necessitate some sort of change?

J.T. It is a general statement -- "Be reconciled" without saying who are the persons addressed. The reconciliation exists and it is for men to come into it -- to receive it -- thus they are reconciled to God.

A.S.L. You could proclaim it in the gospel as the pleasure of God that men should be reconciled.

Rem. From the order of the scripture it seems that the apostle leads up to the terminus of the line

[Page 136]

of responsibility before he takes up the side of new creation. I refer to the judgment seat of Christ.

J.T. But then he refers back, "Who has reconciled us", so he really goes back to the responsible side.

Rem. And a person in the present gain of the judgment seat of Christ would be in conscious reconciliation.

J.T. The apostle laboured that whether present or absent he should be agreeable to the Lord.

Ques. Would Enoch be a practical illustration of reconciliation?

J.T. Yes. We have now to see what a "man in Christ" is. It is not only that there is new creation, but a "man in Christ", known to be such.

Ques. Do you make a distinction between new creation in chapter 5 and a "man in Christ" in chapter 12?

J.T. New creation is the divine thought. All things have become new; that is, the whole environment is new. But then, think of a man in that!

Ques. Would it be right to say that reconciliation is a question of standing, not of state?

J.T. It is presented objectively. It is to be received.

D.L.H. I thought it was just the other way about, and that reconciliation did connect itself somewhat with state -- "that we might become". It stands in contrast with a very evil state -- "alienated and enemies in mind". Both these thoughts refer to state and not to what I have done.

J.T. That is so; believers become the righteousness of God in Christ; but in itself this is effected in Christ's death.

D.L.H. Surely, but the whole of that condition of things is brought to an end in the death of Christ; I mean, the man who was an enemy is removed in that way in judgment, but in view of a new and totally different state -- "that we might become God's

[Page 137]

righteousness" -- the very opposite of the man who is alienated and an enemy.

J.T. Yes, quite; but it is the effect of the death of Christ. What underlies it so as to bring you into it is another matter. The point is what is effected in the death of Christ. If you do not distinguish you may put everything under one head; there is the effect of the death of Christ and there is new creation. The Holy Spirit says, "If any one be in Christ, there is a new creation". He refers to an order of things that is wholly new and of God. But in chapter 12 he brings in a man; you do not get that in chapter 5. It is "any one" -- "If any one be in Christ".

D.L.H. You get a concrete person in chapter 12.

J.T. Yes. Adam had his place in the general thought of creation, as in Genesis 1, but in chapter 2 he stands out in his personal dignity.

A.M.H. I want to be clearer as to the element of pleasure in reconciliation. Is it in another Head? I was thinking as to whether it is not a divine thought set forth in Christ to be effected by a state being produced in me.

J.T. "Reconciled in the body of his flesh through death": I think it is well to keep to that.

A.M.H. I think I see that, but there is something I cannot quite grasp as to there being no subjective side; for instance, the whole world is provisionally reconciled, yet you could not say unconverted men are, but as soon as there is faith there is something subjective, is there not, as linking us with the work of Christ? Then, as you say, reconciliation is a means to an end.

J.T. It is a means to an end. God brings in everything on that basis. He does something in me and something in you. He is working out one thing in the assembly. He has pleasing material. In Israel He will work out something else.

J.T. The reconciliation of the world is provisional.

[Page 138]

J.B.C-l. Reconciliation is therefore brought in in order that we might not appear except for the pleasure of God.

J.T. I think that is right -- that I might be free in my mind and conscience and affections for the new thing; there is nothing to disturb me in it.

J.B.C-l. When you come to chapter 12 and speak of a "man in Christ" you get God's full thought. Reconciliation prepares you for that.

J.T. You are available to Him. He is operating with material, so to speak, that is pleasing to Him. As a believer I am regarded from the outset as reconciled; there was much that had to be displaced, but reconciliation was there.

Rem. So that primarily you say reconciliation is an objective thought presented in the gospel. Then what brings me into the good of reconciliation?

J.T. You come into it by faith, but, like everything else, you only enjoy it by the Spirit. Even forgiveness you do not enjoy rightly except by the Spirit. What an immense thing God has effected! Not only has He removed the sin of the world, but He has brought in all things for His pleasure. The material is all pleasing to Him. In a general way it has to be said of us abstractly, because of our practical state, but it is the basis of God's operations.

Ques. Does the natural creation in Genesis 1 and 2 help us?

J.T. I think we may take it as a pattern, as we have been remarking. The man stands out in it under the general thought in chapter 1, but in chapter 2 he stands out in his own dignity.

Ques. What do you understand by the ministry of reconciliation that was given to the apostle? What was the object of that?

J.T. I think you have it here -- that men might be brought to what God had effected in Christ. I

[Page 139]

think he presented Christ as having effected righteousness, and now before God.

Ques. You have spoken several times about reconciliation being effected by the death of Christ. I should like to ask whether it is right to take account of Christ out of death as having effected reconciliation, because it says in Colossians, "By him to reconcile all things unto himself". The Lord Himself stands out of death before God.

J.T. "You ... hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblamable and unreproveable in his sight". He has reconciled us so that He might present us.

Ques. Does it in any way involve our link one with the other?

J.T. You get that in Ephesians. In Romans we receive it; God effected it through the death of His Son when we were enemies. In Colossians it is, "In the body of his flesh through death". In Ephesians it is, "Reconcile both ... in one body". That is where He has reconciled Jews and Gentiles; but it is "by the cross". Reconciled in one body will not be said of Israel in the future, although they too will be reconciled. We are reconciled in one body, but they, as a nation; but whether they or we, it is through the death of Christ.

Ques. Does "a man in Christ" imply the thought of formation?

J.T. It does, only it is the result that is before us here, not the work that produced it.

Ques. Do you connect it with the thought of full growth?

J.T. You do not bring in development now. That is all past. In the first epistle he occupies us with growth, because he is dealing there with their practical state; but here he is occupied with the result that God had in mind. There is one man -- he tells us he knew such a man as that -- a "man in Christ".

[Page 140]

Ques. Is this the only kind of man who could go into the third heaven?

J.T. God would indicate here what is His thought for men, that is, for us. "Caught up to the third heaven" -- think of the elevation of it!

Ques. Would you say reconciliation is administered through our Lord Jesus Christ, while new creation is formative work?

J.T. Yes, quite.

Ques. Is the ministry of reconciliation that we may understand how God could act according to His pleasure?

J.T. I think it is. He is dealing with me on that ground.

Ques. Would you say that justification would vindicate God in relation to His wilderness ways, and reconciliation has in view the vindication of God in regard to the purposes of His love?

J.T. Well, I suppose that is right. The fact that it is connected with new creation would bear that out.

Ques. What is meant by "putting in us the word of that reconciliation"?

J.T. I think that is apostolic.

Ques. How would that work out?

J.T. The word is the expression of it. There is the "ministry" of it and the "word" of it.

Ques. What Paul speaks of here was an ecstasy, was it not?

J.T. Well, it would be, but it was more -- Paul was "caught up". In chapter 5 he speaks of being beside himself to God, but this is more.

Ques. I suppose the apostle was not conscious of anything else, was he?

J.T. Not then. He did not know even if he was in the body.

Ques. You suggested just now that the apostle did not enlarge upon the truth of the "man in Christ" here. Where would you go for that?

[Page 141]

J.T. I would go to Ephesians.

J.B.C-l. You spoke of the new creation, and then of the "man in Christ". You said that there was more in "the man in Christ" than in new creation. A remark was made in connection with the work of God -- what God does in our souls. Would it be right to speak of new creation as the work of God in our souls?

J.T. I think you have to think of new creation in its completeness; that is what Genesis 1 and 2 present. In 2 Corinthians 5 it is, "There is a new creation". I think, not only of what is literally incomplete now, but of what God has had before Him -- the complete thing. That is how I apprehend it, because in Genesis 1 what strikes you is that God made one thing one day and another thing another day, but He completed the thing; "God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good".

Ques. Was the man the complement to it?

J.T. He was the top stone of it, and that is what God would present; that is what He has before Him. There are "things", but they are all the environment of the "man in Christ".

Ques. Would you say that reconciliation touches our body, but that new creation is more a spiritual thought?

J.T. The body is included in both -- we shall have new bodies. "You hath he reconciled". It is a great thing to see that God has secured all in that way, so that He should work out His thoughts; hence, "to present you holy", etc. What He effects is based on reconciliation.

Ques. But you say that the work of God in our souls is "new creation" work.

J.T. It is, but I think we ought to take account of new creation as a new creation -- complete. "The

[Page 142]

old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new".

Ques. The work in our souls is a part of God's work in new creation?

Rem. I once heard it said that new birth is a part of new creation.

J.T. Oh, but generation is not new creation. There you come to another line, which is parallel.

Ques. Would you give us a word or two on Ephesians?

J.T. If you read the first half of chapter 1 you will see what God had in His mind before the world was. That gives you the clue. Think of that! No finite person can take in eternity; we cannot compass that, but our minds can rest on "the foundation of the world". God had something in His mind before that event.

H.H. Why does the thought of paradise come in here?

J.T. I think it refers to the blessedness of the place.

H.H. Is that a development of what you get in Luke 23 and further in Revelation 2?

J.T. Quite.

Ques. Would you speak of the third heaven as the elevation?

J.T. It shows the position you are brought to, the exaltation involved in the purpose of God for us.

[Page 143]


Acts 17:1 - 4; Acts 18:1 - 11; Acts 20:17 - 38

J.T. I would suggest that it may be helpful to consider the assembly as seen at Thessalonica, at Corinth, and at Ephesus. From these scriptures, taken rightly in connection with the epistles that refer to them -- Thessalonians, Corinthians and Ephesians -- we may see what the assembly is as set up under Paul's ministry.

The epistle to the Thessalonians teaches us what the assembly was in its beginnings as marked by youthful freshness and vigour; the assembly at Corinth serves to indicate what it is in connection with the testimony here in this world, and the assembly seen at Ephesus indicates what it is in connection with the future; "to him be glory in the assembly in Christ Jesus unto all generations of the age of ages". It was in my mind to consider the assembly in these connections, so that we might have an increased apprehension of what we are called to. I observe in moving about among the Lord's people many who are possessed of the idea of a congregation only, and with little conception of what it is to assemble. The Lord, in speaking of the assembly, said that the gates of hell should not prevail against it, and that is another feature of it.

A.E.F. Is the thought of the building one aspect of the assembly?

J.T. The Lord said, "On this rock I will build my assembly".

A.E.F. You were saying that a great many of the Lord's people had the thought of a congregation and not of the assembly; does that result from not

[Page 144]

realising that the Lord is building up His people in what is spiritual?

J.T. Yes, and that those who form it are not only living, but intelligent. Paul says, "I speak as to intelligent persons", 1 Corinthians 10:15.

A.E.F. The Thessalonians were a wonderful company. They "turned to God from idols, to serve the living and true God".

J.T. Yes. The apostle in his short visit among them had not only opened up what we have in Acts 17, but he must have opened up the full revelation of God and His Son. The Thessalonians were awaiting His Son -- God's Son -- from the heavens, showing that they were set up in relation to divine Persons. It is with that in view that one suggested these scriptures. Most of the Lord's people, in regard of what is collective, have very little thought beyond a congregation, so that we are but little removed in this respect from what is around us. A congregation is not what the Acts presents to us; it presents an assembly.

J.McM. What is the difference between being assembled and gathered together?

J.T. Being gathered together is very near to the thought of the assembly; it is a mutual thought; still the word 'assemble' implies that we are together intelligently as in relation to each other. In Acts 1 you have the statement made of the Lord, "being assembled with them" (verse 4); in verse 6, "they therefore, being come together", He spoke to them about the coming of the Spirit. When they were gathered together they asked Him about certain things; this might correspond to a meeting for prayer. One's thought was that we might see briefly what the assembly was as seen in these three localities, so that we might learn in what is presented how to assemble, and hence how to be in the assembly and of the assembly, and what we are as of it.

[Page 145]

First you have in Thessalonica the work of God developing in a few weeks. The apostle, it says, "went in among them". In going in among them he acted somewhat in accord with the Lord during the forty days; He assembled with them. He moved about among them, and in doing so He would convey to them what it was to assemble. That is a point of great importance to note in regard of this subject, and it is well for young Christians especially to take account of how experienced ones act, because in the epistle to the Thessalonians the apostle says, "Ye became followers of us", and in their turn they themselves became models, "ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia". Then further it says, "Ye, brethren, have become imitators of the assemblies of God which are in Judaea in Christ Jesus". In that way the principle of example in spiritual things is set up in the Acts, and the principle, too, of following an example. Christianity is based more on that than on precept. The Lord brought in divine thoughts from heaven and exemplified them in the midst of His people, and the disciples thus became children of wisdom. In those who followed after the Lord -- the apostles -- the same thing was carried on, so that in a place like Thessalonica the disciples took note of what Paul did as well as of what he said.

E.B.G. There is not much record of what the Lord did during the forty days?

J.T. There is considerable if you take the four gospels. Take Matthew; in that gospel He maintains a certain distance; He takes the attitude of royalty; He sends a message to His disciples to tell them that He would see them in a certain mountain in Galilee. He does not go into the midst of them, but "coming up spoke to them, saying, All power has been given me in heaven and upon earth". He is setting before them the principle of administration, and so maintains

[Page 146]

what you might call a certain dignified reserve. In Luke He comes among them -- "he himself stood in their midst" -- and impresses upon them that He is a real Man: "a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have", and so He shows them His hands and His feet, and eats before them. And then, having already expounded the Scriptures to two of them, He opened their understanding, that they might understand the Scriptures. All these things happened after He rose, and were for spiritual education.

E.B.G. I was thinking rather of what you said, that it was more by example than by precept that we are taught. Did you speak of that in connection with the Lord during the forty days?

J.T. Yes, I did. They were in the habit of assembling, according to the Acts. Peter says, in regard to the apostle who was to be appointed in the place of Judas, that he should be one of those who "have assembled with us all the time in which the Lord Jesus came in and went out among us", so that the principle of assembling had already been brought forward; but in the forty days, I apprehend, the greatest impressions were given, because He was forming them inwardly for the assembly. We have not any definite word as to His assembling with them during the period of His public ministry, but we do have it in Acts 1. He, "being assembled with them, commanded them", etc.

J.McM. In what way were the Thessalonians imitators?

J.T. I think it suggests how young believers are led on by example -- following those through whom the light has come to them. It is quite of God that we should take note of those through whom the light comes to us, and see what they do. But then the apostle goes on to say "and of the Lord", "Ye became our imitators and of the Lord". If we followed the Lord first and then another, it would be

[Page 147]

to tend to apostasy; but to follow another and then to follow the Lord is another thing.

Ques. Would it be diverting if you were to give us the education in Mark's account of the forty days and of John's account?

J.T. Mark has in view that we should know how to be Levites. He tells them to preach the gospel to all the creation, and it says that He gave them power to cast out demons in His name; then He sat at the right hand of God, and it says that the apostles went forth preaching everywhere, the Lord working with them. This is to fit us for levitical work. John's account would establish us here as worthy of His confidence. We are not much, even if we have the instructions of Matthew, Mark and Luke, if we are not trustworthy -- if He cannot confide in us. The Lord says to them in John, "As the Father sent me forth, I also send you. And having said this, he breathed into them", and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit"; then is added, "Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted to them", that is, He gives them, as it were, a signed cheque to be drawn to any amount. One of the greatest and most important features of our position is that we are to be trustworthy -- that the Lord confides in us.

W.J. Is that why you get "friends" in John?

J.T. I think so. You get the expression in Luke too, but particularly in John.

S.B. At the commencement of the same gospel we read that the Lord did not commit Himself to man.

J.T. That is it; He did not trust Himself to man, but in chapter 20 you have those to whom He can commit things.

E. Is that what you find in Thessalonians?

J.T. I think that what was developing amongst them was the "work of faith and labour of love, and enduring constancy of hope of our Lord Jesus Christ, before our God and Father". Wonderful result of a

[Page 148]

few weeks' growth! Thessalonians sets before us a company of young Christians laying hold of divine ideas at the outset. They are addressed as the "assembly of Thessalonians in God the Father". No other assembly is addressed in that way, for the reason, I think, that God would signalise them on account of the rapidity of their growth. He saw that the working of the divine nature in them had developed rapidly.

W.J. Is that applicable to every assembly -- "in God the Father"?

J.T. I think it means that they were peculiarly lovable -- "beloved of God". I connect it with the statement in Hosea, "When Israel was a child, then I loved him". It was what the young assembly was to God as developed normally in love and intelligence.

Ques. Would they be conscious of their position?

J.T. You will remember what is said about the company in Cornelius's house: "the Holy Spirit fell on all them which heard the word". It was an energetic action of the Spirit corresponding with the action of the father on the prodigal; it says he "fell on his neck and kissed him". God has His own way of making His love known to you -- falling on your neck and letting you know that you are a special object of His affections.

Ques. You were saying that this assembly followed Paul and followed the Lord. Would you say that the Lord commits Himself to those who became models for young believers to imitate?

J.T. I think He does. It is important for young believers to take account of those through whom the light comes. We have to take account not only of what a brother says, but of what he is; the apostle says, "Knowing of whom thou hast learned". In this letter (1 Thessalonians) Paul draws attention to the type of man that he was among them. He wanted to set a right example before them, and the sequel shows

[Page 149]

that they took note of that, because he says, "Ye became our imitators, and of the Lord". These verses in Acts 17 tell us that he went in among them. The Lord had set that example: "The Word became flesh and dwelt among us".

R.G.H. And He went about doing good.

A.E.F. These young Christians got the divine thought of the assembly from the very outset. They did not drop into congregationalism. They were preserved from that by the example of one who took character from the Lord.

J.T. Quite so. If the apostle had assumed a clerical attitude he would have formed them into a congregation.

A.E.F. The thought of the assembly in that way is that there should be reciprocity one toward another -- mutual responsibility and response.

J.T. So that in chapter 20 (to carry forward the thought) we are told that quite a few visiting brothers were present at Troas: Sopater, Aristarchus, Timotheus, etc., and the localities to which they belonged are given. Besides these brothers of note, the great apostle himself was there, and then it says, "And the first day of the week, we being assembled to break bread"; not Paul and these visiting brethren and we, but we; that is, every one who was there. Every one cost the Lord Jesus exactly the same (see Exodus 30); they were all alike in that sense. The "we" that Luke uses shakes the whole foundation upon which the fabric of congregational Christendom is built. What lies at the foundation of the assembly is the "we" of mutuality. Now I think that Paul, in entering in among the Thessalonians, would convey that to them; although he was an apostle, yet, as a Christian, he was one of them.

A.E.F. And then they became followers of the churches of God in Judaea.

J.T. Yes; and they themselves became models

[Page 150]

to all those that were in Macedonia and in Achaia; that is district influence. There is not only the local influence, but we get here a local company exercising district influence; then in the next chapter he enlarges on what he was as having gone in among them: "For ye know yourselves, brethren, our entering in which we had to you, that it has not been in vain ... but even as we have been approved of God to have the glad tidings entrusted to us, so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, who proves our hearts ... have been gentle in the midst of you, as a nurse would cherish her own children". That is the kind of man that the apostle was as having gone in among them. It is of great importance to notice this, because the young are coming on, and the older ones -- as the Lord continues the testimony -- necessarily pass away. Now, what example is being set to the young? As life develops, it has to be guided and moulded, and hence the great importance of models.

O.G. You would say that the apostle is anxious to develop in the assembly features seen in himself; he is calling attention to spiritual features.

J.T. Quite. And then you will notice how the apostle would call attention not only to what he was as a nurse, but as a father also. "Ye know how, as a father his own children, we used to exhort each one of you". He goes on to remark then on the fact that they had received the word, not as the word of men, but as it is in truth the word of God, and works up to the thought of God, and then he says, "Ye, brethren, have become imitators of the assemblies of God which are in Judaea in Christ Jesus". They took note of what God was doing far beyond the limits of their own country. We have to disallow sectional and national feelings. The assemblies in Judaea were far away from Greece; there were no natural links at all between them. Paul says to the Thessalonians, "For ye also have suffered the same things of your

[Page 151]

own countrymen, as also they of the Jews, who have both slain the Lord Jesus and the prophets", etc. The Greeks and Jews were alike opposed to the testimony, and hence the futility of recognising national sentiment, because however favoured a nation may be, when the testimony of the Lord is brought to the front it will always be opposed.

Rem. It is only in the assembly that that is taught.

J.T. It is not taught in the world. One would be looked upon as a traitor in certain circumstances to disregard national feelings, but when it comes to the things of God, this epistle shows how valueless national feeling is. We see here that which would have prevented the division between the Eastern and Western branches of the church, that is, mutual regard. The assembly of the Thessalonians had become imitators of the assemblies of God in Judaea.

E.T.S. The need which sprang up in Jerusalem was used to cement the brotherly feeling.

J.T. Yes, but that came in earlier. At any rate, it was there.

J.McM. Would the apprehension of the truth of "My assembly" deliver us from national feeling?

J.T. It ought to. It is very striking that these young Christians got hold of the idea of the assembly so quickly.

W.J. Is it because it does not belong to the world?

J.T. Yes. There are "the Jews, the Gentiles, and the assembly of God".

A.A.T. Is it in the assembly that gift has a place?

J.T. Yes, that is what we get in Corinth. God has set certain in the assembly; in Ephesians they are not said to be in the assembly. In Corinthians the assembly is taken up to set before us the order becoming the house of God, so that the gifts are said to be set in it.

[Page 152]

A.A.T. You are emphasising the gain of assembling together, and oftentimes gift has such a prominent place that perhaps we lose the gain of being assembled.

J.T. Gifts have their place, and in 1 Corinthians the subject is that of gift from the beginning of chapter 12 to the end of chapter 14; but what underlies the exercise of gift is that the saints come together in assembly. All that enters into the position at Corinth. What is emphasised in connection with the apostle going to Corinth is that he lodged with a man and his wife who were tentmakers, because they were of the same craft, so that we are obviously in the presence of something different from what we get at Thessalonica.

I.R. Before passing to the Corinthian side, should not the freshness and vigour of the Thessalonians be characteristic of the assembly today?

J.T. What you get in the book of Joshua, among many other things, is the idea of springs. Achsah says, "Give me springs of water". "And Caleb gave her the upper springs and the nether springs". The Spirit of God records that fact again in the book of Judges, and one has often wondered why it is so, why there is a second record of that simple occurrence. I think I see now the thought of it -- that the spirit of the assembly is set forth in Achsah; she had in view that there should be continual freshness, that, in spite of the decline, there should be the vigour of the spring. If you have that, you will have freshness and vigour among the saints. I have no doubt that John's ministry is intended to bring that about today. God reverted to that in Hosea when He said, "When Israel was a child, then I loved him"; at the time He spoke Ephraim had grown old; "Gray hairs are here and there upon him, yet he knoweth not", Hosea 7:9.

[Page 153]

A.A.T. The congregational idea would contribute to that.

J.T. It would indeed. "We know that we have passed from death to life because we love the brethren". Where there is love there is freshness.

Ques. Does Judges present the parallel to these days?

J.T. Yes. At the beginning you find a mutual state of things. Judah says to Simeon, "Come up with me ... and I likewise will go with thee ... So Simeon went with him". There you have a brotherly state of things; they are acting together. The Lord had indicated who should lead, and the one who leads says to his brother, "Come up with me". That is what you begin with, but it does not continue very long, because Ephraim asserted his pre-eminence among his brethren. Judges records sorrowful decline, but the spirit that should govern the saints is seen in Achsah; she provided for freshness.

Rem. So that the vigour and freshness should be continued to the end.

J.T. Exactly. We get the same thought in the end of the book of Revelation: "Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely".

A.A.T. The freshness at Thessalonica should have continued throughout their history.

J.T. Quite. Springs retain constant freshness, so that the assembly as "in God the Father" would suggest that they loved God and so were beloved by Him. God loves us, but He looks for our love for Him.

E.T.S. Would you say something more about Paul dwelling with the tentmakers?

J.T. It is interesting to note the difference in the divine narrative; when Paul went to Thessalonica it is said, as we have already remarked, "he went in among them", but at Corinth it is "finding ... Aquila ... and Priscilla ... came to them, and because

[Page 154]

they were of the same trade abode with them, and wrought". He lodges with them because they were tentmakers. We have, in that way, a suggestion that there should be the absence of all that ministers to man and man's pride; he would bring down high thoughts, and to bring down high thoughts Paul lodges in a house at Corinth as a tentmaker. What room is there for human greatness in any of us in the light of that? We know the city of Corinth was famed for its architecture; it has come down to our own time. Paul, although the great architect of the assembly, is dwelling in a lodging-house as a tentmaker. Thus we learn, as we approach Corinthians, that we must not value that which ministers to the pride of man, and anything that gives him a status in the eyes of man must be rigidly refused, otherwise we do not know how to assemble.

A.E.F. If they were in line with the architecture of their city they would not appreciate the tentmaker.

J.T. That is what the apostle had in mind. The Lord had much people in that city, and probably some of them were engaged in architectural occupations; some of them were nobles, we know. At Thessalonica "of the chief women not a few believed", and they were enjoined to work with their own hands; that is remarkable; they perhaps had servants to wait upon them, but now they are to work with their hands. At Corinth he says, "not many noble", but there were some noble, and they were presently to know that the one through whom the light came to them was a tentmaker, and they had to come down to that; hence it says, "Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ". That refers to the order of man presented by Paul.

Ques. Had he got beyond the "citizen of no mean city"?

[Page 155]

J.T. I think he had, and we have to get beyond anything of that kind that attaches to us, whatever it is. If we come together in assembly, as he says here, we have to disallow all these things; they were eating in groups, maintaining social distinctions; so he says, "It is not to eat the Lord's supper".

G.F. They were not in the good of his preaching; he preached Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

A.G. Would the idea of the tentmaker emphasise the pilgrim character of the assembly?

J.T. I think it does; it emphasises the unimposing character of the structure outwardly. We are a poor and afflicted people, only we have the knowledge of divine wisdom. One has to accept being in the world in a very ignominious way. Paul says, "God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death; for we are made a spectacle unto the world ... we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things", 1 Corinthians 4:9, 13. He tells the Corinthians that they had reigned as kings without them. It is not the time for anything imposing; the present condition of things around us is a direct denial of what the apostle brought in. I have no doubt that the Holy Spirit in what is written here had the whole history of Christendom in view. Architecture finds its greatest place in religious buildings.

E.B.G. I suppose that the more we see the dignity of the assembly on its spiritual side, the more we shall be prepared to take up its pilgrim character.

J.T. Quite so. Let us now look for a moment at Ephesus. It shows what the assembly is to be for God for all ages. The assembly is not mentioned in the Acts after chapter 20, showing that that chapter presents the assembly in its highest aspect. It is the "top stone", as you might say; so that the chapter begins with an embrace and it ends with the saints

[Page 156]

falling on Paul's neck and kissing him ardently. Therefore it is a love-chapter.

Ques. Had you in mind that Christ loved the assembly?

J.T. There is a very remarkable expression in verse 28: "Shepherd the assembly of God, which he has purchased with the blood of his own"; the assembly is brought forward there in its true intrinsic value to God, "purchased with the blood of his own"; hence it is not only what it is to Christ, but what it is for God in this chapter, and it is what it is for God for eternity. If we take up the epistle and compare it with this, we find that "in the assembly in Christ Jesus" there is to be glory to God "unto all generations of the age of ages". That is, it is the vessel of the glory of God for ever.

Ques. Do you connect the glory of God with His love?

J.T. Yes, I do. You see what He gave for it; He has purchased it "with the blood of his own" expressing in the strongest way what it has cost Him.

A.E.F. I suppose the counsel spoken of in chapter 20 is the outcome of His love?

J.T. Counsel discloses what a place the saints have -- that they should be "holy and without blame before him in love"; the assembly is composed of such. The epistle to the Thessalonians teaches us what they were before our God and Father here in this world; Ephesians teaches us what we are in the counsels of God, that we shall be "holy and without blame before him in love".

A.E.F. What is the point of the prayer in Ephesians? Is it that there should be a present apprehension?

J.T. Yes; the point in chapter 3 is that you might be strengthened with power by His Spirit in the inner man, that you might be fully able to apprehend (it is not comprehend, no one could comprehend;

[Page 157]

it is apprehend) "what is the breadth and length and depth and height; and to know the love of the Christ which surpasses knowledge; that ye may be filled even to all the fulness of God". It is all a question of the competency of the work of the Spirit in us.

J.McM. Is there any other way in which the glory of God could be displayed except through the assembly?

J.T. I think not; not fully.

J.McM. In what way is it seen now?

J.T. I think it is effected down here by the ministry of the new covenant. The love of God in our hearts is reflected in our walk and ways and works. God is thus glorified in us.

J.R.G. As formed in love, does the assembly present a trustworthy vessel? "I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God".

J.T. Yes. The vessel was great enough to receive it. Note, it is "all the counsel of God".

T.T. Is the thought here that the assembly should be characterised by giving? "Remember the words of the Lord Jesus that he himself said, It is more blessed to give than to receive".

J.T. Quite. So the messengers of the assemblies who carried the bounty of the saints were said to be Christ's glory. That is a remarkable expression.

Rem. "Whom he has justified, these also he has glorified".

J.T. Yes; so that already we are possessed of the glory. In the future the assembly is seen coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God, and then she is glory to Him.

R.G.H. I suppose that is where John's ministry and Paul's meet?

J.T. Just so. John brings God down here; Paul presents man to Him there.

W.J. Do you learn sonship in the assembly?

[Page 158]

J.T. Yes. The assembly is formed of sons; that is the secret of the fact that she comes down. The assembly is formed in sonship -- what is for Him, so she comes down; that means that she has liberty; she comes down out of heaven. I think it is well to note that the saints are His inheritance; "the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints". Think of what we are! What I would say to every Christian is, Learn how to assemble; do not come in and sit down merely as an irresponsible person, but come in as one of the company acting responsibly and intelligently. "I speak as to intelligent persons do ye judge what I say".

[Page 159]


Numbers 31:1 - 7, 48 - 54

It is well known to us that the book of Numbers is distinctively a wilderness book. Being written like the other scriptures for our admonition, it particularly affords instruction as to exercise and conflict. The fact that the tabernacle was set up and the mind and heart of God disclosed, and that the people had moved on in the light of what the mountain of Jehovah represented, necessarily brought out the opposition of the enemy. You will recall how that, having remained in camp before the mountain of Jehovah for a long period, they set forward from that mount and the ark went before them to search out a resting place; and as the ark moved, Moses said, "Rise up, Jehovah, and let thine enemies be scattered". Thus the ark went before to scatter the enemies; the enemies being known to be there, they had to be scattered, in order that the people should pass on. We may reckon on this scattering of enemies, beloved brethren; indeed we could not be in the wilderness for God apart from it. It is the knowledge that the Lord goes before -- indeed, has gone before -- and that no enemy can stand before Him, which gives us resource.

But whilst this is so, we have to learn to heed the enemy; we have to learn war. You may remember that, at the outset, the Lord would not lead them by the way of enemies that they should not see war; He did not lead them the way of the land of the Philistines lest they should be discouraged. God graciously takes account of our capabilities, and He does not allow us to be tempted above that we are able. Nevertheless we have to learn war, otherwise our names will not appear in the book of the wars of

[Page 160]

the Lord. The book of Numbers speaks of this book. We have all to face the solemn fact that identification with the testimony in this world involves warfare.

In the first great conflict, after the children of Israel came out of Egypt -- the conflict with Amalek -- God said that He would make war with Amalek from generation to generation. The believer has to learn what that means, that there is to be continual warfare with Amalek. Now this conflict with the Midianites affords perhaps the best illustration we could get of the nature of wilderness conflict. The conflict has its individual form and its collective form. The war with Amalek was an individual matter; it was a hidden thing. Some of us young people are engaged in it, and at the same time may maintain an outwardly placid exterior. We are engaged in continuous conflict within, with the flesh. It began, you will remember, after they had drunk of the water from the smitten rock. They drink of the rock, and immediately Amalek attacks, that is to say, as the young believer understands that he has the Spirit, and drinks of the Spirit, the enemy would attack him through the flesh. The conflict goes on, and there are certain features indicated in the chapter in which it is recounted which are most important to understand; I name two -- intercession and purity. Moses hands are uplifted, supported by Aaron and Hur; that is to say, you have the element of purity introduced, as well as that of priesthood and intercession. Hur means purity. It is therefore a question of your motives. You may not be intelligent as to the flesh that is working in you; you are painfully aware of it, but you do not understand its character and working. The apostle says, "I myself with the mind serve God's law; but with the flesh sin's law". He carefully distinguishes his mind from the flesh in him, for he says, "I delight in the law of God after the inward man".

[Page 161]

Now the battle with Amalek is a continuous one, for the Lord announced that He will carry on that conflict from generation to generation. I say particularly to young people -- see to it that in your minds you are pure, and be the conflict what it may, that your conscience is good. There is a beautiful word in John's epistle: "The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin"; it does not say sins there; it refers to the evil present in us, of sin in us, and yet the conscience can be perfectly at rest through the precious blood of Christ. It cleanses from all sin, so that the enemy is defeated. If he can succeed in creating in you a bad conscience because of the existence of sin in you, he deceives you, but the answer to all his promptings is that wonderful statement, "The blood ... cleanseth us from all sin", and thus we are preserved in fellowship; "we have fellowship one with another".

Now this conflict with Midian may be taken, as I have said, to fully represent wilderness warfare -- warfare which comes in not only after the drinking of the smitten rock (Exodus 17), but after the drinking of the well at Beer (Numbers 21); that is to say, it comes in after the believer has formally recognised the Holy Spirit here. "Spring up, O well; sing ye unto it". It contemplates the saints as collectively possessing the Holy Spirit, and accordingly the enemy attacks first in a spiritual way, and then through the flesh. Now Balaam represents the enemy's strategy from the spiritual side. You will all remember how Balak employed this man of religious reputation to curse the people, that is to say, to move God against them. Now think of the boldness of our adversary; we must not under-estimate satanic power and boldness; we may be assured of it that he stops at nothing. Contemplate the boldness of the enemy in attempting to turn the mind of God against His people; it is a blind, futile effort, nevertheless it is a

[Page 162]

bold effort, an effort that reminds us of the nature of the adversary that we have to deal with. Israel had had opportunity to know God for forty years. And what a God! He said, "Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto myself"; and at the close it could be said that their raiment waxed not old upon them, neither did their foot swell these forty years; that was the God whom the enemy now endeavoured to turn against His people.

Let us be assured that that can never succeed. I know of nothing, in a way, that gives such stability to our souls as the knowledge of the unchangeableness of God. What He was for me in the cross He is today, beloved. It is the God whom we know in Jesus that Satan endeavours to turn against us, but it is impossible, and so in Romans 8 we read, Nothing shall separate us from the love of God. "I am persuaded", says the apostle (mentioning all the things that might be employed to turn God against us or separate us from Him), that nothing "shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord".

Now are we all assured of this? I know of nothing that gives such stability to one's soul as the knowledge of God; and the knowledge of God means that you know Him, not only in His righteousness and in His power, but in His love; "The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given to us".

When the truth of the elect of God enters my soul, it makes a mark that never can be erased. Think of belonging to the elect! "Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect?" God's elect! It is a challenge; it refers to Balaam's effort. Whilst the challenge is unanswered and unanswerable, at the same time we have to face the conflict and the boldness of the enemy. Hence in Numbers 25, after

[Page 163]

Balaam's prophecies are recorded, in which God's mind in regard of the people is set forth, you have the renewed effort of the wicked one. He says, If I cannot do anything against them before God, I can work through their flesh, so he taught Balak to cast a stumbling-block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols and to commit fornication. That, beloved friends, is where we are exposed. That is where, alas! we are vulnerable, and so there is the warfare of which I have read.

Some of us here have been recently occupied with the thought of the family. We have noted how the believer's household could contribute to the house of God -- a most interesting consideration. You recall how the principle of the household runs through the book of Genesis; how, when Methuselah was born to Enoch, Enoch began to walk with God, "And Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years", we read; that is, if a child is given, the thought comes into the soul of the man of faith -- I must walk with God now if that child is to be for God; and if he is not to be for God, it were better that I never had him at all. But the possibility is that the child is to be for God, and if so, I must walk with God. So Enoch walked with God for three hundred years. What a long walk it was! But what an opportunity for Methuselah to see his father walk with God all these years. He lived six hundred and odd years after that, but in those three hundred years when he saw his father walk with God, what an opportunity he had to be a man of God! He did not see his father die; Enoch was not, for God took him. What light for Methuselah, and what light for all the children of believers if their parents walk with God.

Now the principle of the household is carried through to Noah. He found favour with God, and God told him to prepare an ark for the saving of his

[Page 164]

house, and on the principle of faith he did so, being moved with fear. But Noah in the end did not control himself, and we cannot hope that our households will contribute to the house of God unless we know how to rule ourselves. Noah failed; he could not govern himself, but God had the thought before Him, and He never gives up a thought of His, hence He appears to Abraham. The first divine appearance that we get recorded in Scripture is the appearance of God to Abraham. He appeared to him, and the appearance implies that an impression was conveyed. So we find that Abraham commanded his household and his children after him to keep the way of Jehovah; that in which Noah failed found its answer in Abraham, so he became the friend of God. Then it says he dwelt in tents with Isaac and Jacob. Now what we find in regard to the Midianites is that they had goodly houses, dwelling places which were ornamented. Abraham dwelt in tents; that is to say, he maintained the pilgrim attitude and life -- he dwelt in tents with Isaac and Jacob. Thus what we find with Jacob is that he learned from Abraham, and that he dwelt in tents; he was "a plain man". The man who is a plain man, dwelling in tents, is the man to whom the house of God is disclosed. Jacob lighted upon a certain place, and lay down in the place to sleep; he dreamed, as he lay on the earth, with a stone for his pillow -- suited attitude to the circumstances -- that a ladder was set up, and the angels of God ascended and descended on it. He awaked, and said, "Surely the Lord is in this place ... How dreadful is this place!" But it was the house of God.

Now he is the progenitor of the twelve tribes, of the family in connection with which the house of God should be found, and so, as he dies, he crossed his hands wittingly in relation to his children. He has the house of God before him, he has light in his soul;

[Page 165]

he knows what God has in His mind. God has a house before Him, and Jacob says virtually, If they are to be in the house of God, they must be there on the principle of divine sovereignty, and not on the principle of nature. One of the things that has wrought more havoc in the house of God than anything else is the entrance of the influence of natural family relationships. We have to learn to cross our hands if our children are to be in the house of God; they must be there according to God, and not according to nature. I cannot bring them there. I may place them in the presence of the house, but I cannot bring them in; the assembly is God's sphere, and the Lord Jesus is Son over it. If my children are to be in it, they must be in it according to His appointment, and not according to mine. I remember a brother saying that as a father he would like his children to be in fellowship, but as a brother in the Lord he could not recommend it. He "crossed his hands". In Jacob we have the principle passed on to us as to how we may contribute, through our households, to the house of God.

Then we find that same spirit in Joseph. He brought up children, his two sons Ephraim and Manasseh; he "saw Ephraim's children of the third generation: the children also of Machir the son of Manasseh were brought up upon Joseph's knees", Genesis 50:23. Then the next great principle that is brought out comes in in connection with the midwives; Exodus 1. They were faithful; they feared God and God took account of it, and dealt well with them and made them houses; not that they were intelligent as to God's thoughts, but at that time Moses was born. It was what God had before Him. His parents saw that he was exceedingly fair, so by faith they hid him three months. In chapter 6 the Spirit of God gives us the genealogy of Jacob's sons: Reuben, Simeon, Levi -- and then we get no more; we arrive

[Page 166]

at Moses and Aaron, the sons of Levi, that is to say, we now arrive at the great product of family exercises in the two men that were to be employed of God for the deliverance of His people. Further, we get in the same chapter, in addition to these two men, that Eleazar took a wife, and Phinehas was born -- the javelin man, the spiritual leader in this conflict of which I have read; so that Phinehas also is in that way a family product, a product of unspeakable value in the house of God.

He appears in connection with this war of which I have spoken. It was he who took a javelin in his hand, when a sin was perpetrated before Moses and in the sight of all the congregation (Numbers 25); the very presence of God was flouted by the open character of the evil, and Phinehas takes a javelin in his hand, and by his zeal for God the plague was stayed.

I speak of all this so that we might see the possibilities of the family line. But the solemn thing is that whilst there are all these possibilities, yet where sin is sanctioned and where the principles that govern the house of God are not maintained, the guilt of Balaam finds a ready response in the recognition of family status and social intercourse. I speak in a simple and practical way, but unless we learn that our households are to be on the principle of death and resurrection, we shall allow in them what the teaching of Balaam can effect, namely, intercourse on social ground and not on spiritual ground.

I want to show you now in a brief way how the war was carried on. Notice the recurrence of the word 'war' in the passage I have read (chapter 31). I want to point out first of all that the officers -- captains of thousands -- who had led in the war come to Moses and say, "Thy servants have taken the sum of the men of war which are under our charge, and there lacketh not one man of us". It is a very great result if a man is not lost -- wounded he may be,

[Page 167]

perhaps, but yet preserved. I desire specially to call attention to that, because in conflict the desire to get rid of certain ones is sometimes present. But the leaders say, We have not lost a man. I would like to have that before me; there must not be a man lost. We get a perfect answer to this in 1 Corinthians; the greatest offender is preserved; indeed, the apostle had to urge them in the second letter to restore him. He is not lost. The thought that Paul had at the outset was that the flesh might be destroyed but that the spirit might be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. We do not want to lose anyone, but if we are to have them, we must have them in self-judgment, in unsparing self-judgment, for that is how we are to be together. So the officers say, We have made a count, and we have not lost a man. To my mind that is a very great point. It should be before us, dear brethren. The exercises will go on while we are down here -- exercise and conflict, but we should have this great principle before us, that in the war no one must be lost. As it was said to Paul, "And lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee", Acts 27:24.

One other thought: the conflict results in contribution to the house of God. Read verses 50 - 53. We see there the aggregate of the spoil, but the aggregate is made up by each one taking spoil for himself. What have you got for yourself? What have you got out of it? Every exercise that comes up is intended to issue in spoil, and it is for each one to get something for himself; then we can count and see what the aggregate is. So we read that Moses and Eleazar the priest took the gold of the captains of thousands and of hundreds, and brought it into the tabernacle of the congregation. The company is all the richer for it; the exercises result in the enrichment of the company. If not, the conflict, so far as you are concerned, is in vain; but if I have

[Page 168]

gained, and each one in the company has gained, there will be an aggregate which will be an enrichment, and a memorial for the children of Israel before the Lord. This applies to the present time; there is a memorial for us before the Lord. It humbles us to think of the conflict, but we may rejoice in the grace that has enabled us to gather spoil, so that the company is enriched.

Through the war we gain spiritually, but this is as we recognise that the weapons of our warfare are not carnal; we must learn to disregard all carnal weapons. As I learn war, I become one of the warriors of the Lord in the wilderness conflict; at the same time I gather spoil, I become spiritually enriched, and as each of us is spiritually enriched, the company is enriched, and there is a memorial in the company before the Lord.

[Page 169]


Mark 8:22 - 26

There are two features which mark the gospel that I wish to refer to this evening amongst others, namely, that on the one hand, God in announcing His glad tidings draws near to men in Christ, so as to encourage confidence in Himself; and on the other hand, that He works in men.

First, He would draw near to men in such wise as to disarm prejudice and induce confidence and self-judgment. Luke has this line particularly in view in his gospel, so that he presents the Lord as coming in in the simplest possible way, as the angel announced to the shepherds, "For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord". The shepherds were abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night, "and lo, an angel of the Lord was there by them". He was there to announce to them this wonderful news.

And so throughout Luke's narrative we have the Lord coming near to man. He would go into the house of any one who invited Him; even if a proud Pharisee, such as Simon (chapter 7), invited Him. He would go in, in order to bring the wonderful grace that He had brought to earth to that man. Simon invited Him in a patronising kind of way. The Lord of glory was there. Simon did not know it, but He was there, and He brought to that board all the grace of heaven. He brought it there, and Simon could have it; He had brought it into his house, to his table. It was there for him, but Simon did not know it; he did not avail himself of what was there. Michael and Gabriel knew what was going on -- they knew who the Person present there was; Gabriel had announced His coming to Mary; they would, as

[Page 170]

we may well assume, wonder at the Pharisee. The Lord of glory was there at Simon's table, but Simon did not know Him; he was utterly heedless, neither realising his own need, nor the grace that had come near to him.

"Simon", the Lord says, "I have somewhat to say unto thee". Hearer, place yourself now in Simon's position. The Lord says, "There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both". Note the word 'frankly'. The grace of heaven had come nigh; it was by him. Sinner, the Lord would speak to you now. In Luke things are made present. The angel says, "Unto you is born this day". I say to you tonight, on the authority of Scripture, that not only is the Saviour born to you, but He has died and risen and gone to heaven. There could not possibly be a greater offer to you than this, for Christ, in whom is redemption and who gives the Spirit to men, is presented to you today. Are you prepared to receive Him? Simon was not.

The Lord, when He spoke at Nazareth, said, "This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears". But it is one thing to have it fulfilled in your ears, and another to have it fulfilled in your heart. Is the scripture that announces forgiveness fulfilled in your heart? Forgiveness is preached to you; "through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins". "Simon", says the Lord, "I have somewhat to say unto thee". And so He would speak to sinners here now. You owe five hundred pence, although perhaps on your own reckoning you owe but fifty. The woman owed five hundred; forgiveness is for her; her five hundred pence is wiped out, and your fifty pence debt is wiped out; you are both in the same position; both debtors were forgiven, for that

[Page 171]

is God's attitude today in grace. Not that Simon's debt was just a small debt. Another Pharisee, in a later day, who had come to reckon up his debt, said he was the "chief of sinners", 1 Timothy 1:15. Think of the depth of self-judgment that marked that man, who had called himself a Pharisee and the son of a Pharisee! Simon's estimate of himself could not be God's estimate; but whatever it was, the Lord said, "When they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both". So that remission was announced to Simon at his table. What an opportunity for him God remitted His claim against Simon. Think of the claims God has upon every one of us -- all guilty before Him; He remits those claims. He can do this righteously, for Christ gave Himself a ransom for all. The Lord directed "that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem". Consider it! God remits His claim against you through the death of Christ, that He might give you the Holy Spirit and that you might be free to serve Him.

That is how the matter stands. Luke pursues that line. And when afterwards the house is brought in, he says, "Come, for all things are now ready". But alas! they all began to make excuse; then the master of the house says to his servant, "Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring here the poor and crippled and lame and blind", Luke 14:21. Now think of the forbearing grace of God, as Luke presents it. The city was Jerusalem, where Jesus had been put to death. The leaders had already been addressed by God's messengers -- the prophets -- and they had killed one after another. Now God says, "Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind". He pursues men into the lanes. The preaching was to begin at Jerusalem; whether it was the high priest,

[Page 172]

or Pilate, or Herod, or the scribes or Pharisees -- they were all bidden. But then the grace pursued the men in the streets and lanes of the city -- "the dregs of society", as they would be regarded.

Now the other side, the second feature I have already indicated, is that the gospel involves God's work in men's souls. John presents the gospel from that side, and so the Lord, according to John, says, "No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him". You may say, I do not realise the drawing; but if you have a thirst after righteousness, any craving after God, then I would encourage you by letting you know that that is the effect of God's work in your soul. God is working with you; the very fact that you are here tonight may be taken as an evidence of the work of God in you. If you have come to spend an hour religiously there is no moral value in that; but if you have come with any kind of desire to hear the word of God, then I say, God is working with you. The flesh would not have brought it about; it is the work of God.

Now there is a third feature mentioned, and that is what you get in Mark; that not only has God drawn near to man, but that the evangelical spirit is in the world today. What you see here in chapter 8 is that others brought the blind man to the Lord. It does not say the Lord found him, nor does it say that he sought or found the Lord. "They" -- whoever they were -- brought him to Jesus. God's work in His people leads them into sympathy with you; I believe that God would effect in us all that evangelical spirit. The need around us is appalling; there is blindness, deafness, dumbness and lameness; there is leprosy and palsy and what not. All these spiritual maladies prevail; have we got a heart? Here they bring him to the Lord. Those who brought the blind man to the Lord had an evangelical spirit.

[Page 173]

Having said that I shall dwell now on how the Lord treats this blind man. Those who brought him besought Jesus to touch him. There is not one Christian here who may not be engaged in this blessed work. There is no gift necessary for it; not but that the Lord furnishes every one with a certain gift, for every one of us has received grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ (Ephesians 4:7), but for such work as this you do not need a special gift. What you need for it is a love for souls. As we Christians know, there are such things as love to God, love to Christ, love to one another; but then there is also the love that God has manifested to the world. It is a love that rises above the sin of the world and takes account of the need of men; it is, in other words, what we may call an evangelical love. The apostle, writing to Titus, speaks about "the kindness and love to man of our Saviour God", Titus 3:4. That is the love that takes account of need as it is in men, whoever they may be. God is no respecter of persons, and therefore there is not a believer in this company or in the world who may not be engaged in the service indicated in verse 22. "They bring a blind man unto him, and besought him to touch him". We can all do that service; it may be wife, or husband, or child, son or daughter, neighbour, employer or employee -- we can bring them to the Lord, we can pray for them. Every one of us may be engaged in this service of which Mark speaks.

So they brought him to the Lord, and besought Him to touch him, "and he took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of the town". Towns have in modern days assumed great proportions; there are far more people living in cities and towns than years ago. We have huge cities, with millions of people, and these cities we know have become centres of sin. God calls our attention in Revelation 11 to His "two witnesses". They witnessed every day for

[Page 174]

one thousand two hundred and sixty days -- witnessed for God. The "beast" arises and slays them, and for three days their bodies lie in the street of the great world-city. We are told what that city is "which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified". Does not that touch your heart -- "where also our Lord was crucified"? It is very important for us to understand things spiritually; then we shall see the true moral character of things in the cities, and the danger that they afford to the young, indeed, to all of us.

The Lord took the man by the hand, and led him out of the town. One would love to see this in many. Everyone knows how many have been destroyed spiritually in the towns. The Lord takes this man out of the town. Young men, young women, beware of the towns! Satan is working in these places; you do not know "that the dead are there". The "strange woman" resides there, with all her allurements -- in the theatre and in all other shameless places, but "her guests are in the depths of hell". So you have in Luke 8 the man who came out of the city, who had devils a long time, and wore no clothes. The enemy himself has designed some of the shameless costumes that people wear. The shamelessness of modern times issues from that city in France which, like Corinth of old, is famed for its wickedness.

The Lord took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the town. How very different from sitting in the theatre, to be sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed, and in one's right mind, like the man who had the demons! One would warn young people. Come to the Lord; turn your back on the city. He has got all you need; He will satisfy your heart and mind. Some young people say, I must read something for my mind. There is more in Christ than can satisfy your mind. Then, as regards clothing, the

[Page 175]

very first clothes that were ever made were made by God -- the Lord God made coats for Adam and Eve and clothed them. Modern fashions are not made in that style. God made what they needed to cover them. What do you get today? "Bring forth the best robe" What is the best robe? Get that word 'best' into your heart -- God's best. I could not define God's best; what I can do is to bow down and admire the magnitude of the grace that brings out the best robe for me.

How magnificent the gospel is! The man who was shameless, who did not live in any house -- how many there are like that -- is now sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed; he is ready to come and sit down with the Lord's people and read the holy scriptures. He is in his right mind. That is the effect of the gospel, and that is what the man came into who was led out of the town. It is well worth while coming out of the city. Think of the city that Abraham looked for! "He hath prepared for them a city". There shall be nothing lacking in that city; it will satisfy every desire of our minds and hearts.

Then further we read that the Lord spat on the blind man's eyes. The service is rendered outside the town. Then the Lord asked him if he beheld anything; "and the man looked up". It is well when people begin to look up, because they are looking in the right direction; "Lift up your eyes", the Lord said to His disciples. Naturally we are looking down, like the woman that was bent with an infirmity; Luke 13. This man looked up, and said, "I see men as trees, walking". His view was distorted. This is the case with many a young Christian -- and many an old one, too. We may thank the Lord for having some sight, but the Lord is not satisfied with that. He would not be satisfied with our vision being distorted, our seeing things out of proportion. Many of us need the second touch of the

[Page 176]

Lord. In the first touch the Lord did spit on his eyes; the spittle refers to the Lord's perfect humanity, and we may introduce into it the sacrifice He made, the work He accomplished, otherwise no blessing could come to us. Then He puts His hands again upon his eyes. The first touch is the Lord's identification with us in His humanity and death. How wonderful that the holy, spotless Son of God identified Himself with us in death! But He put His hand on him again (verse 25). It is the second touch many of us need. I put it to you as to whether you see everything clearly; whether you apprehend Christ in heaven, whether you apprehend the meaning of His death, and whether you see all men and all things in relation to Christ. If not, you need the Lord's hands placed on your eyes the second time.

So the Lord put His hands again upon the man's eyes, and made him look up, and he was restored, and saw every man clearly. He saw everything in its right proportions. That is what is so essential for the people of God. The gospel is not only for those who do not believe, but for those who do believe. The gospel of John was written for believers, because they did not believe enough. Why is it that so many people sit "behind"? I go and speak to them; I find that most of them are believers. Why do they not take the Lord's supper? They do not see things clearly, otherwise they would. They can give an account of their conversion, and one rejoices in that; but what about the second touch? He put His hands again on his eyes, and then he saw all things clearly. And so in regard of many other things one might mention, there are believers who do not see clearly. When a believer sees everything clearly, then he is spiritual, for the spiritual discerns all things; 1 Corinthians 2:15, 16. The second touch involves that we have received the Holy Spirit. It is a very good inquiry for every one to make, as to whether he has received

[Page 177]

the Holy Spirit. If you have, make room for Him, so that your vision may be clear. As already remarked, it is said in Corinthians "the spiritual discerns all things".

One word more: the Lord sent this man away to his house, saying, "Neither go into the town, nor tell it to any in the town". He saw clearly, but this is not town news; it is not for the newspapers; it is spiritual news, it belongs to the house. If you have got eyesight, show it to your family. You will show it in having respect for your parents. You cannot be right outside if you are wrong in your house; but if right inside then everybody will notice a great change. You will no longer be found giving out news in the town. "Nor tell it to any in the town". You may wonder why it should not be told in the town. The woman of Samaria told the men in the town; she became an evangelist, but the Lord had a definite object in view when He warned this man about the town. To young people who have got blessing I would say, note the Lord's word and take heed, neither go into the town nor tell it to any in the town; you want to keep to the house. A believer's household is a clean place, where you can eat of the meat offering (Leviticus 6:9); the manhood of Christ is seen and appropriated there.

The end of the chapter (Mark 8) shows where we are led to. The Lord inquired of His disciples as to who He was. Peter answers, "Thou art the Christ". It is no longer men as trees, walking, but a Man in heaven. That is what the Lord would bring us to; the gospel presents that Man to us, and we are led on by the Holy Spirit, as believers, to apprehend Him as He is where He is.

[Page 178]


John 1:4; John 12:35, 36

I have it before me to speak about light. The subject is one of the most extensive that Scripture affords, and so I have no thought at all of compassing it. My desire is to call attention to it as it appeared in Christ in His path and service in this world, so that it became, as it says in chapter 1, "the light of men". You will observe that it is said the life was the light of men, and in the passage I read in chapter 12 the Lord refers to the light as amongst them. I want to call special attention to that. John says later in chapter 1, "The Word became flesh, and dwelt among us". One refers to such a scripture with a measure of feeling, because it speaks of our Lord in His everyday life. One would dwell on the fact that He of whom it is said, "All things were made by him", should be found here, dwelling amongst men; He "dwelt among us", the evangelist says. John has no thought of a visit; he presents the Lord as having come and as dwelling among men; He "dwelt among us", and he adds, "We have contemplated his glory".

I would invite attention to that word -- "The Word became flesh, and dwelt among us"; it is written for us. This gospel deals with a Person, the Son of God, and He is not to be known or understood by a passing or accidental look; He is to be understood by contemplation, for that is the word employed. "We have contemplated his glory", it says, and it was "a glory as of an only-begotten with a father". It is such an one as this, one who contemplated the glory of Christ as here among men, who writes this gospel. It is the one who knew what it was to be in His bosom; Mary sat at His feet, but John leaned on His breast.

[Page 179]

We have been dwelling this afternoon on the Thessalonian saints; they were said to be "in God the Father". The apostle further says that they were "beloved by God". The secret of that is that they were lovers of God. Let us not rest in the thought of the supremacy of love as it is in God; let us be concerned about being lovers of God. Paul speaks of "those who love God". And so John is said to be, and speaks of himself as "the disciple whom Jesus loved". Can we doubt that Jesus loved Peter, or James, or Matthew? No; He loved them all. Why then is John singled out as one loved? Because he was lovable. He was in the bosom of Jesus; he had access to His heart, and the Lord loved him; he had contemplated the glory of the One on whose breast he leaned. John would be detained as he observed the movements of this One -- movements such as no other could exhibit. He was cast upon God from the beginning. John does not say, "The Word became man", he says, "The Word became flesh". He refers to the incarnation. The infancy, boyhood, and manhood of Christ -- all these are included in the thought of "flesh", and in all these relations He was to be contemplated.

So John takes note of things; he would observe what occurred before his eyes, and in observing, he discovered that the relations of this One, an outcast here, were as of an only one with a father. He was the object of the supreme love of heaven; the Father cared for Him as an only One. He had a glory that belonged to Him as Son, but a glory that could be and was contemplated, so that John, in a special way, became a son of light. The light was available; it appeared in darkness, and the darkness comprehended it not, but he apprehended it, and contemplated the glory of the Person, and says of Him. He was "full of grace and truth".

That is what this gospel presents to us. One would

[Page 180]

love to convey to you by the Spirit what that life was here that is said to have been the "light of men". But I will confine myself to the effect of it on those who came under its beams, and so my thought is to trace out as briefly as possible how we become sons of light in the varied relationships in which we are found in this world; for it is obvious that if God has caused light to shine it must affect us in every relationship in which we are placed legitimately as down here.

If you look at chapter 1, you will see that what God has in His mind to reach is stated almost at the outset, namely, that there should be a family of children here in this world: "As many as received him, to them gave he the right to be children of God", as if to intimate the honour conferred on such; they should be given a title to take the place of children of God. Then again, "who have been born, not of blood nor of flesh's will nor of man's will, but of God". That is the object of the gospel, one may say, set out from the very beginning, that there should be in this world a people who received Christ; it is not here who believe the gospel; the point with John is the Person, the reception of the Person, "as many as received him".

Now I want to show you how the light affected those who came under its influence in every relationship in which they were set in this world. First of all I would refer to chapter 4, where I think we see how we become sons of light in regard to our bodies.

The Lord says in the passage I read in chapter 12, "While ye have the light, believe in the light, that ye may become sons of light". His thought was that His people should be in this world, not exactly sons of God, but "sons of light" -- that is, formed intelligently by the light, for that is what I apprehend by a son of light. So the first relation in which I am set is in respect of my body; I am in a body here; I have

[Page 181]

got that from God. I take the woman in chapter 4 to illustrate a son of light in regard to his body. I am touching on a matter that is intensely practical, because if I am not right in regard to my body, I shall not be right in any other relation.

The epistle to the Corinthians teaches us that the body is the Lord's. Think of having a vessel here in which a divine treasure is set, as the apostle says, "We have this treasure in earthen vessels". How important, therefore, that I should be right in regard to this. In Romans 8 we are told that "If Christ be in you, the body is dead on account of sin"; that is, it is wholly indifferent, unaffected by what is of time; my body is dead; "but the Spirit life on account of righteousness", and in the power of that Spirit I present my body a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God.

I refer to the woman of Samaria, who came out of the city to draw water with her water-pot. Jesus sat just as He was on the well, and He was weary. The Lord knew weariness, but He was not too weary to cause the light to shine. He spoke to the woman about the living water; the water which "I shall give him shall become in him [He refers to the body] a fountain of water, springing up into eternal life". What a body! Think of the transformation of that sin-worn body, now to become a body marked by living water. So it says she left her water-pot; she caught the Lord's thought. Have we? She might have filled her water-pot, but the Spirit of God says she left it. There is a spiritual thought in that; her body was now to be the vessel, so she went into the town and said to the men, "Come, see a man which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?" The Christ is the One who can use our bodies, for it is not only that He tells us all things, but He does all things for God, and He is pleased to use our bodies for God, and that woman enters at

[Page 182]

once on the service of God in her body. With her mouth she told the men about the Christ.

The next thought that one may refer to in regard to the light has reference to a man in his house. If I have learnt to offer my body to God as a living sacrifice, then that should be immediately manifest in my house. Those in my house will take notice of it first; so in the same chapter you have the case of the nobleman. You will remember how that his son was at the point of death, so he goes to Jesus and says to Him, "Come down ere my child die"; the Lord immediately says, "Go, thy son lives". The Lord uses the word 'son', He would have that man and his house in a new way; he would be henceforth a believer, and thus he would belong to the true nobility of God. Therefore the Lord uses another word from that of 'child'; He says, "thy son". The man went down to Capernaum to be met by his servants with the good news that his child lived. The nobleman was occupied with his own generation, but it is not to be his; it is to be God's generation, and God's generation is truly noble. So the word 'son' is used -- a son made to live by Christ. The Lord made no mistake in calling him son. Those of us who are parents, who have children truly affected by Christ, know that they are no longer merely our children; they have taken on a new nobility; no longer a child, but a brother truly. And so it says the man "inquired therefore from them the hour at which he got better. And they said to him, Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him. The father therefore knew that it was in that hour in which Jesus said to him, Thy son lives; and he believed, himself and his whole house".

The nobleman himself is a true son now -- a son of light in regard of his house; not only is he a believer of the word that Jesus said, but he is a characteristic believer and as such he would bring all the light of

[Page 183]

God into his house. The Scriptures should have a great place in our houses. The law indeed enjoined that; it enjoined that the Scriptures should have a most prominent place with the head of a household and in his house. In Luke 24 the Lord said to the two who were going to Emmaus -- going the wrong way -- "O senseless and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken!" What is all? Let us never assume that anything in Scripture is non-essential. The more you read it and understand it, the more you value not only every book, chapter, and verse, but every word in it. This man had become a believer; he had already believed the word that concerned himself, but now he is a believer. (See verses 50, 53.) John aims at making us believers. Hence this man would bring in all the light for his house; they would share it with him. Next to the assembly, I do not know anything more delightful in this world than a believer's household, where parents and children are united as believers -- sons of light in regard to our houses.

Now in chapter 6 you have the thought of light developed in regard to the testimony. If I am a son of the light in my house, then I am qualified for the testimony, and so the Lord says to the twelve, "Will ye also go away?" It was a critical time. I know of no time since I have been a believer that has not been critical; indeed, one may say that the whole period of Christianity is a crisis, and the more you face it, the more you will be conscious that every moment is critical. There is no time to go to sleep. "Watch therefore", the Lord says, "But what I say to you, I say to all, Watch". Jesus had spoken words which were spirit and were life, and it says from that time many of His disciples went away back and walked no more with Him.

There is a tremendous drift of apostasy in the world, a regular current, flowing fast, and there is no

[Page 184]

hope of recovery. They walked no more with Him. The thing was definite, and the Lord says to the twelve, "Will ye also go away?" The twelve include those who were specially for the testimony; He speaks to every one of us, but He spoke to them as especially in it; and if any one say that he is not exercised about the testimony of God, I doubt his Christianity.

So the Lord says to the twelve, "Will ye also go away?" and Peter answered Him, "Lord, to whom shall we go?"Not to what, it is the question of a Person. Then he says, "Thou hast words of life eternal; and we have believed and known that thou art the holy one of God". It was not an instantaneous light shining in his soul, as the Father's revelation to him in Matthew 16 was, it was a past and continued experience he referred to; he says, "We have believed and known". I believe it has reference to the building up of a constitution, taking note of everything so that it fits in with the soul's growth, and when a supreme crisis comes what you have learned stands by you. Paul says, "I have learned in those circumstances in which I am, to be satisfied in myself". If you have learnt a thing, however sudden the crisis, the thing you have learned stands by you. I would ask you to look into your history and see how much you have believed and how much you have known. John will have people who know.

Now the Lord does not let the twelve pass without bringing them under review. He says, "Have not I chosen you the twelve? and of you one is a devil". Solemn word! Judas was numbered with the other eleven, but possessed of a devil! The Lord knew that and He would not let him pass under Peter's confession. You may be sure that the Lord knows our hearts, and He will not let us pass if we seek to shelter ourselves behind others who are true; He will expose us. But the true sons of light are made

[Page 185]

manifest in Peter's confession to Christ; they are sons of the light in relation to the testimony of God, and no man can undertake to serve who has not "believed and known". It is a question of a constitution being built up by what you see and hear, so that when the crisis comes and you are tested, it becomes manifest that you have believed and known.

The next case is the man in chapter 9. You will remember that he was one in whom the works of God were to be manifested. Think of yourself -- let me think of myself -- as one in whom the works of God are to be manifested. Think of the universe: it is not said to be that in which the works of God are manifested, although it is wonderful beyond our comprehension. Think of the Spirit of God taking a poor blind man and saying that he was not blind because he or his parents had sinned, but because the works of God were to be manifested in him. So in the end of the chapter he comes out as a son of light in regard of a new order of things, for the works of God cannot be connected with this present world system; even the very heavens and the earth themselves are reserved to be burned up; but in regard of the spiritual world -- the new order which God will bring in -- it shall be said of Jacob and of Israel in that day, "What hath God wrought"! The works of God in me have reference to another world altogether, where all things are of Him.

Now without going into details we find in the end that the man is cast out. He was like a stone that the builders could not use, in correspondence with the Lord Himself, "cast away indeed as worthless by men"; so when the Lord heard that they had cast him out, it says He found him. The man had the experience of being cast out as unusable in this world. We have to come to that, "the stone which the builders rejected". When the Lord finds him He says to him, "Dost thou believe on the Son of

[Page 186]

God?"A new order of things is in view, and the man answered and said, "And who is he. Lord, that I may believe on him?" He is ready for it. Wonderful moment for him! John presents us with one just cast out, and the other already out; the Son of God was outside; He is rejected from the beginning in John. And now He finds an outcast, and the Lord says, "Dost thou believe on the Son of God?" What a question! May we all answer it as he did: "And who is he, Lord, that I may believe on him? And Jesus said to him, Thou hast both seen him, and he that speaks with thee is he". Think of that; He was by him! Now one can understand, I am sure, the delight it would afford to the Lord to find him, as indeed it affords delight to Him today to find any one who is outside -- rejected -- an outcast, unfit for society, for man's world. Then the man said, "I believe, Lord: and he did him homage". What a moment in his soul's history! It says in the Psalms, "God setteth the solitary in families"; that is what God does. In this instance he is set in a new system, as part of the flock -- put into the great system that the Son of God is forming at the present time. He is fit material for it, and so, as I remarked, he is a son of the light in relation to a new order of things. He is intelligent as to that.

Now we get the final thought in chapter 12, where all this culminates, for John builds up a structure from the very outset, and thus if we are sons of light in these varied relations, we get them all put together in chapter 12 in the family. You will recall how the family at Bethany had no head. It was a family of two sisters and one brother -- a headless family -- and the Lord comes in. The Lord knows what the end is to be. At the beginning of chapter 11 it says Bethany was the town of Mary and her sister Martha, and it was that Mary which anointed the Lord's feet whose brother Lazarus was sick. All that happened was in

[Page 187]

view of the company that is to be seen in chapter 12; they are all to be sons of the light; there is to be a group of them. This makes for the assembly, dear brethren; the Lord would have us as sons of light in assembly: I would plead for this, that we might realise what it is to assemble. If I have the light of the assembly, then I know how to assemble with my brethren, I know how to be with them in the assembly and how to move about outwardly as of the assembly. Directly you are a son of light in regard to it, you are the object of satanic opposition; we see this verified in the Acts. The assembly became the object of Satan's bitterest hatred. Paul persecuted it, and in Acts 12 Herod laid hold of certain of the assembly, we read, and slew James with the sword. If we belong to the assembly as sons of light, we are sure to come into conflict.

Well, the Lord walked with Mary to the grave. "Did I not say to thee", He says to Martha, "that if thou shouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?" And they did see it, and Lazarus was raised.

In chapter 12 we read the Lord came to Bethany, where was the dead man Lazarus, whom He raised from among the dead, and there they made Him a supper. Mary took a pound of ointment of great price and anointed His feet. Martha served and Lazarus sat at the table with Him. Now look at that group of "sons of light". The Lord does not give any directions. The passage brings to our attention the sons of light acting in their intelligence. God would bring us into assembly functions in intelligence. The incident is not a type of the assembly exactly, it is principally Jewish, but it serves to bring out how the sons of light act; they know what to do. The Lord says, "If two of you shall agree on the earth concerning any matter whatsoever it may be that they shall ask, it shall come to them from my Father".

[Page 188]

Do you think the Lord would do anything less for the sons of light? He has confidence in them. He knows that what they do is right; it shall be done for them. The Lord would lead us on to know what it is to be in the assembly intelligently as sons of light. There is not a word said at Bethany as to what they should do; "there therefore they made him a supper". There is a moral state of things now among them in which Christ is supreme. What an end reached! -- a group of sons of light, acting in the intelligence of sons of light.

I would only add one word as to walking. "Walk while ye have the light, that darkness may not overtake you". John would have movement. There are many Christians in a stagnant state of things; there is no movement, or idea of walking, whereas the light has in view that there should be movement. "Looking upon Jesus as he walked". That was the light. It was light to the two who heard John speak of Him, and they followed Jesus. "I am the light of the world; he that followeth me". In chapter 1 it says He is the light of every man, but that does not mean that every man follows. The one who has the light is the one who follows, so it says, "While ye have the light, believe in the light, that ye may become sons of light". If there are any here who are in a stagnant state of things, the word to you is, Walk in the light. It is not moving aimlessly, but moving in the way a man walks who knows where he is going. If you walk in the light, you will find fellowship, and "the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin".

[Page 189]

Pages 189 to 272 -- "Life in an Individual and in a Company", London and elsewhere. May, 1923 (Volume 59).


John 8:12, 31 - 36; John 9:35 - 37; John 12:1 - 3

I have in mind to speak about the subject of life -- as a believer enters into it, and as it is seen in a company of believers. We have first to learn life individually, and then we gravitate towards others who have it; so that we see it in a company, and as in a company we see it in the present provisional state of things in a locality; there is the idea of life in a locality.

In this way John supports the local economy of the assembly as presented in 1 Corinthians, for outward order, as seen in the meetings, can afford but little for God unless there be life. God looks for that; He looks for correspondence in us here with the life of Christ -- the green. God looks for life; the world will abound with it soon; not only spiritually, but as righteousness prevails life in every form will abound in the world. This earth is in for a wonderful time, for God has it in mind to exhibit life. The millennial day is really in the form of an exhibition -- it is not a final state of things; it is an order of things in which God will exhibit what He can do. In removing death, and in the establishing of righteousness on the earth, God will show what He can do even on the present earth before it is changed. And God can effect more in us, by reason of our great calling, than He will effect in the future; by reason of the fact that we have a heavenly calling, and are left down here, life takes on a more dignified, and extensive, and varied form, than it will in the millennium; so that you can understand that the saints of God as left here are to know how to move about in the power of life. They are to add to it,

[Page 190]

they enhance it by reason of their calling. It is God's thought that the present time should be a time of witness, that God should witness beforehand of the life which is held in His people by faith. We hold it by faith, and we hold it in the name of Christ, as John says in chapter 20, "Many other signs therefore also Jesus did before his disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that ye may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing ye might have life in his name". The life is held in His name, but it is held on the principle of faith; enjoyed by the Spirit truly, but nevertheless held in His name on the principle of faith -- held by faith -- so that there is in us the witness before the display comes. "This is the witness, that God has given to us eternal life; and this life is in his Son".

The intention was that life should be in individuals, and also that it should be in companies, and as in companies, in localities, so that the truth of the assembly, or the structure as set up by the apostle Paul, is supported to the end by the presence of life in the saints. You see, if one go to sleep (and many of the Lord's people have gone to sleep) like Eutychus, through not being able to enjoy the ministry, if they are recovered they are presented alive. It says of Eutychus that he was presented "alive". The assembly at Troas would be wonderfully augmented by the presence of a youth like that. The boy had fallen down through negligence, but he is restored by Paul, and presented alive.

The writings of John are of such importance because they work out the great principles of life in individuals, and if I have got life individually, I stand; but if I am among those who live, I can stand much more effectively and firmly, and in a much more dignified way. Now chapter 8 is remarkable in this way, that it comes in after the Lord had

[Page 191]

opened out the great principles that underlie life. There are new birth, the uplifting of the Son of man, living water, the quickening power of the Son, the food that sustains the life, and the Holy Spirit come down from heaven, the power for public testimony. After these principles are enunciated by the Lord, we have this statement: "I am the light of the world; he that follows me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life"; that is to say, He is moving, and those who follow have the light of life, hence any follower of Jesus as the light of the world cannot remain in associations which are devoid of life. He has got light as to them and he compares the light with the conditions where he is, and he discerns that the light is not in these. You may take the most antiquated society in this land, or in any other land, and examine it, and you will find it has not the conditions of life. None of the religious societies have the conditions of life, though there may be that which appears to have some virtue in them. There are the great religious bodies, but one of them at least is apostate, and in the Revelation it says, "and her children will I kill with death", chapter 2: 23. Apostasy prevails in that system, and hence no one can live there. You will die there for want of breath, for want of good air, and light and food, and the same thing in measure applies in all the organisations of men, whatever their names. It is as well we should be plain, because, if we have got the light of life, we cannot stay where the conditions of life are not found. You will pardon the exhortation, but you cannot remain in associations where the conditions of life are not found, so the Lord says, "He that follows me shall not walk in darkness". It is not only that the conditions of life are absent, but there is in these human organisations the authority of darkness. That word in Colossians 1 is to be noted; it says, "Giving thanks to the Father ... who has delivered us from

[Page 192]

the authority of darkness". That word refers to that which has a hold upon men through age, tradition, or what not, through the place it has in the history of the world, and therefore has authority in men's minds. It is not only that there is no life in these things, but they hold people through their conscience, so that it is spoken of as the "authority of darkness" -- a terrible thing. Idolatry was the great means by which Satan held men, and induced men to believe that the idols had some virtue in them, and that God owned them, and therefore men were persuaded there was authority in them. But now, Satan is not able to do that, but he has succeeded by putting upon it the name of the One we love; but we are not deceived by that. The enemy is turned into an angel of light, and what is partially true, as designed to deceive, is the greatest darkness; it is of the devil; hence the light of life is so important to believers. It is not only that the things themselves are evil, but there is no life there.

The Lord says to His disciples, "If ye abide in my word, ye are truly my disciples; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free". Now the knowledge of the truth is the next great feature, beloved brethren, in order that we may come into life and liberty. The knowledge of the truth involves adjustment. The whole physical system is constructed on the principle of truth; were it not for truth things would go to destruction. Every builder knows that he must build on the principle of truth, but there is also discrimination in the truth, and knowing it the believer is set free in detail. One may be free in a kind of general way, but I have got to be set free in detail. There are many things we carry with us which hamper freedom, and these things the enemy makes use of to hinder the peace of the saints. So the Lord says, "If ye abide in my word ... the truth shall set you free".

[Page 193]

Now the Lord has greatly helped us in the Scriptures. He has raised up men to open them up to us; the books that have been written have helped greatly, but it will not do if you merely have them in the bookcase. You may have all the books and yet not be free. The thing is to know the truth -- to know it; and so the apostle John, in writing to the little children, says, "It is the last hour". An hour is a crisis. Things are culminating to a crisis, and he says, "There have come many antichrists, whence we know that it is the last hour". What a terrible thing to contemplate, and we know its varied aspects in a peculiar way at the present time in the antichristian things that have arisen in our own lifetime, things that are not openly throwing off the Lord's name, but which, in the nature of them, are against Christ. The little children are in danger of them, because they are usually brought in through men who commend themselves in their natural parts, and so take in the unwary. John says in that fact you will know that it is the last hour. But then he says, too, there is the antichrist; he denies the Father and the Son, that is to say; he boldly throws over Christianity in every detail as a worn out thing. Everything is thrown over, he denies the Father and the Son. That state of things has not come out yet, but the antichrists have come, and these are the ones we have to be on our guard against. John adds, "The unction which ye have received from him abides in you, and ye have not need that any one should teach you". "Any one" does not mean any Christian or gift, but the natural man; we are wholly independent of him for the understanding of the truth. You are not dependent on the universities; the universities turn out men, "doctors of divinity", so-called -- but you do not need them. We want to see the force of the word, "Ye have not need that any one should teach you", because it is the recognition of man that

[Page 194]

makes room for the antichrists, and these are all around us. John says, "Ye have the unction from the holy one, and ye know all things", so that if a few believers come to a meeting simply, humbly and quietly, in the recognition of the "unction", and the Holy Spirit, they know more than those who rely on the education of this world; not that we can clothe ourselves, or any others, with anything distinctive, because what marks the people of God in this respect is most painful, not only as to weakness, but also as to intelligence in the things of God. We can, however, reckon on God being with us to help us to an increased understanding of His things. John says, "The same unction teaches you as to all things, and is true". And then, "If ye abide in my word" the "word" is the expression of the mind of Christ, and we get that in dependence upon the Lord, and dependence upon the Spirit, and in recognising the authority of the Scriptures. I think there is great neglect (you will bear the word of exhortation) of the word in regard to private reading.

Meetings are of all-importance in their place, but if we live on meetings we shall never be men of God. The meetings augment our growth and aid us to come into the light of the temple in relation to the saints, but you can never make up for intercourse with God, private reading, private meditation, private prayers. The scripture says, "When thou prayest, enter into thy chamber, and having shut thy door, pray to thy Father who is in secret". Then as regards the word, if you look into it assiduously, and continually, it increases in beauty and interest, and you get nourishment, as Peter says, "The pure mental milk of the word, that by it ye may grow up". Referring again to the verse, "If ye abide in my word, ye are truly my disciples; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free", note we are preserved in that way by the recognition of the word. "The

[Page 195]

servant", the Lord says, "abideth not in the house for ever", but the Pharisees claimed they were free, not being in bondage to any one -- what pure folly! The Lord says to them, "Every one that practises sin is the bondman of sin. Now the bondman abides not in the house for ever: the son abides for ever. If therefore the Son shall set you free, ye shall be really free". The Lord is speaking of the way to liberty. If we follow these things, we come into the knowledge of the Son, and that brings in another thing, and that is the "HOUSE" -- not the provisional thought of the house as in Luke, but an abiding house. He says, "Come and see". It is spiritual, not a question here of the saints (not that we can exclude them), but it is presented from the spiritual side. If we do not know the Son, we do not know the house; and we must know where the Son lives. He invites to the house. The disciples said, "Where abidest thou?" and He says, "Come and see", and they came and saw where He dwelt, and abode with Him that day. I apprehend they remained with Him two hours. I suppose the ten previous hours refer to responsibility, but the Lord said, as it were, I will give you these two hours -- what a marvellous privilege! What a delightful two hours they were! They came and abode with Him that day. They were not content with looking in, but they abode with Him that day. That underlies the knowledge of the house as John presents it. If we do not understand where the Son abides, we shall never understand the house. As Moses said, "Thou hast been our dwelling in all generations"; he did not refer there to the tabernacle, but to God Himself, "Thou hast been our dwelling in all generations", and that was the truth that came out in Christ coming here as Man. "He that abides in love abides in God, and God in him", and the Lord said, "The servant abideth not in the house for ever: the son abides for ever".

[Page 196]

The house in John is a family thought; it is an eternal thought, as the Lord says, "In my Father's house there are many abodes ... I go to prepare you a place; and if I go and shall prepare you a place, I am coming again and shall receive you to myself, that where I am ye also may be". The Son abides there for ever.

When we come to the man in chapter 9, the teaching goes on and accumulates, adding to what preceded it, so that the man presents to us the great end in regard to the teaching of the individual. After chapter 9 it is collective; the beginning of chapter 12 is in connection with life in the company. The point is to show how life is worked out first in an individual, and then in a company, so that the man in chapter 9 represents the individual side -- he is cast out. I do not believe any of us can be rightly in the company until we are cast out. In this chapter we get the experience of one being cast out because of faithfulness to Christ and the truth. It is the working out of the truth in chapter 9 -- the man is cast out. It is a terrible thing for the flesh to be cast out, but it is a great privilege to be cast out as a faithful witness to Christ and the truth. John presents things in their sequence, so we read that when the Lord heard that the man had been cast out He found him. How great an interest the Lord takes in one who is under reproach! It says, "Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him, he said to him, Thou, dost thou believe on the Son of God?" Do you believe on the Son of God? I do not think He will be appreciated as Son of God unless we have in some sense been cast out. The Lord says, "Dost thou believe on the Son of God?" Many have subscribed to all the thirty-nine articles, and yet do not believe this. But the man says, "And who is he, Lord, that I may believe on him?" He was prepared for the question, and he answers it;

[Page 197]

and the Lord says, "Thou hast both seen him, and he that speaks with thee is he". That word 'with' is of great meaning. He talks with an outcast man He had already talked with an outcast woman, and on that occasion it is said the disciples "wondered that he spoke with a woman". Here He talks with a man; He says, "He that speaks with thee is he", and the man says, "I believe, Lord", but he did more than that, he not only believed, he worshipped the Son of God. This man represents all the effect of the previous teaching, and his whole soul was moved in the presence of the Son of God; so that we have in him one who is living, for what can be a greater expression of life than the movement to worship -- "He worshipped him". Nothing else can suit a living God than that which is living in us; it is not something that was written hundreds of years ago; it is what is in the soul now.

The Psalmist says, "My heart is inditing a good matter". Let us suppose that this man composed something about the Son of God: how he would put into the lines what the Lord had done for him, and the fulness as the result of the Son of God speaking with him. He would compose something of a living kind "touching the King", so that it is such as he, dear brethren, who compose the "one flock". From chapter 10 to chapter 12 we have a company in view that is in life, and as leading on to it the Lord says in chapter 11, "This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God", and then He says again, "Did I not say to thee, that if thou shouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?" that is to say, God's glory shines forth in the bringing out of death a loved one, and the setting up of a family in life. The Lord was moved to weeping as a loved one was held in death, but He moved in order to overthrow death, and to bring Lazarus out of it. The Lord "cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth", and

[Page 198]

the dead came forth, bound feet and hands with graveclothes, that is, he was brought back into his ordinary circumstances, because it is not yet the new order of things. The Lord Himself came out of death without the graveclothes. Lazarus is brought back to be a witness to the power of life; he is bound, but the Lord says, "Loose him and let him go". What a dignity Lazarus would have as he moved out of that wonderful scene! There are many things that bind us, but the Lord would have us free to be witnesses of the power of life. Well, we read He came to Bethany where Lazarus was, and there they made Him a supper. Mark you, it is not said to be in any particular house here, as elsewhere; the point is that Bethany stood in relation to the centre for its distance from Jerusalem is given. The Lord came there, He comes to companies. He comes to His "gardens". In Song of Songs 6 it says, "My beloved is gone down into his garden, to the beds of spices", and then, "to feed in the gardens, and to gather lilies". His "garden" is a general thought -- the assembly, but the "gardens" are the companies of the saints today who love the Lord Jesus. He comes to each of His gardens to feed, and to gather lilies -- that is the expression of life in the saints now. The Lord speaks of the lilies, "Consider the lilies, how they grow". He says, "not even Solomon in all his glory was clothed as one of these". It is a question of life, that I exhibit life, so that Lazarus was there an expression of it. There were others there sitting at the table with the Lord, for it says, "Lazarus was one of those at table"; Martha served, and Mary opened the box which had been kept for the day "against the day of my burying", the Lord says. Around the precious box was the group in Bethany, who were alive as to what was suitable to Christ. He did not tell them to do anything; "they made him a supper", they acted of themselves. It is the

[Page 199]

working out of life in a locality. It is not a question of merely coming together; the point is, what is God getting out of our coming together? The outward form in itself is of little account, what we want is the power of life; this is what God takes account of, so that the group in Bethany represents life in a locality, and any company of saints can determine by this as to whether there is a green spot for the eye of God in them. It says, "Let my beloved come into his garden", "Awake, north wind, and come, thou south; blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow forth. Let my beloved come into his garden, and eat his pleasant fruits". He says, "I am come into my garden and I have eaten"; and He invites others to eat. "Eat, O friends". In the book of Revelation we have the invitation, "Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely".

[Page 200]


John 4:28 - 38; John 6:67 - 71; John 21:20 - 23

J.T. It seemed to me that some consideration of the subject of levitical service would be helpful at the present time, and the question was whether it should be taken up from the official side or from the moral aspect, and I thought John presents things in the latter way as in a day of brokenness. We have to arrive at the truth now through him, so that, in referring to those who serve, he avoids official designations and brings forward vessels who are moved at the outset more from instinct and affection. He begins with one -- John the baptist -- who had a very great official place, but in recording the facts relative to his ministry, he emphasises John's own estimate of himself, which showed that he had a true estimate of himself and avoided the snares that were laid for him. He records of him: "He confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ". So as to the Lord's conversation with this woman of Samaria; the result in her, I thought, suggested how in a broken day the Levitical service begins. We see the need and we are impelled, according to our measure, to meet it, without assuming anything beyond that. This woman was serving; the official ones were out of communion. They wondered that He talked with a woman. They had been occupied in an expedition to buy meat while He was carrying on alone the work of God; so the incident leads to His calling their attention to the fact that they were entering on other men's labours; they were not the starters of the movement. Do you catch what is in my mind?

D.L.H. I think I follow the beginning of it.

Ques. Might I ask what you mean by levitical service?

J.T. Well, service which recognises the rights of

[Page 201]

the Lord Jesus, that is, His rights in redemption, and His rights to direct and lead, excluding man altogether. The selection of the tribe of Levi at the outset suggested the rights of God in a very special way. The firstborn belonged to Him, and He takes over the tribe of Levi instead of the firstborn in Israel, and then He gives them over to Aaron and his sons for the service of the sanctuary. That is what levitical service is. We reach it through John in a most interesting way, but even so I think we should be governed by the light which governed levitical service at the outset. John the baptist being brought forward in such a prominent way, according to his own estimate of himself, is a sort of ideal in John's gospel; he is one who refuses to take any place personally, and eventually goes down rejoicing in the light of the heavenly One. He directed souls from himself to Christ.

Ques. Is there any force in the fact that those who ask him, "Who art thou", came from Jerusalem?

J.T. It was a great opportunity for John to assert himself. The religious leaders of the day took notice of him, which was a very ensnaring thing, but he was not caught by that snare.

Ques. Would you say that the "true light" of the gospel of John is spiritual? I speak in connection with what you have been saying in regard to levitical service being governed by what is spiritual.

J.T. John's gospel is peculiarly spiritual. The Lord at the outset began by looking on Simon. John records that He looked on him and gave him a name. There was something noticeable to the Lord's eye. The nearer we are to God the more we shall be able to designate things that are of God. I think we may say that in the woman of Samaria, levitical instincts develop at once.

Ques. Do you mean that it needs spiritual understanding to take up John 4?

[Page 202]

J.T. Yes. The Levites were all firstborn ones, so that they had great dignity at the outset. I think the Spirit of God indicates that the woman was governed by Levitical instinct in going to the men of the city. At the same time the disciples were questioning why He spoke with her.

T.R. Would those instincts be promoted by the exposure of her state which the Lord made to her? Would it be the unveiling of her history to her that put her in a position where she could have those instincts?

J.T. A Man had come distinctly before her. She had been occupied with men. She did not go beyond her measure. She just said: "Come, see a man which told me all things that ever I did; is not this the Christ?" She began by suggesting something, presenting it in the form of an inquiry.

Ques. What do you see in the fact of her presenting it in the form of an inquiry?

J.T. An inquiry which induces an affirmative is often the best way of enforcing the truth.

Rem. A prophet had spoken and she speaks of a prophet.

J.T. She did not get beyond that, and she expresses the inquiry: "Is not this the Christ?" But I understand the Lord would raise the whole question of service. First, He says to the disciples that He had meat to eat that they knew not of. That was a very humbling thing to draw their attention to. His meat was to do the will of Him that sent Him and to finish His work.

Ques. Is there value in the thought that He talked with the woman?

J.T. There was value in it for her. The disciples wondered that He talked with a woman; they were out of communion. He had meat that they knew not of. They had gone away into the city to buy meat. There is no indication that they all needed to go, but

[Page 203]

apparently they all did go; so that the work of God for the moment, as far as they were concerned was left. The Lord was left to do it and to finish it.

Ques. Why do you emphasise to finish it?

J.T. The Lord does not care for anything that is not finished.

H.F.N. How do you view the thought of the work being finished in the light of John's ministry?

J.T. Well, He pursues things to a finish. Take the first chapters; you have the complete idea of the work of God ending in millennial joy. The third day is the final day. Then in chapter 12 the great testimony of life is seen in result in that group at Bethany; and so chapter 13 has its result in chapter 20. Likewise in regard to Peter, who, according to this gospel, is the only one who received a definite commission, the work is completed in him. The Lord bottoms everything with him before He gives him his work. Then in John's own service the end is in view. "If I will that he tarry till I come". John is held in reserve, I apprehend, for the finishing touches in a mysterious way at the end, which I have no doubt we are experiencing now. The final touches are seen in his ministry. Things are finished by the Lord through him, so that the assembly is seen in its completeness in his writings; Revelation 21.

H.F.N. In linking that up you were speaking of the thought of food -- meat to eat. Are you suggesting the peculiar kind of food to promote this levitical service, or what was the thought in your mind?

J.T. Levitical food is in doing the will of God in service. He had that to eat that they did not know about. There was meat that they knew not of. "In the volume of the book it is written of me". "Lo, I come to do thy will". That is really the foundation of all books. That was the secret with the Lord, the secret into which we are to be brought, because the work of God is one whole. The Lord places the

[Page 204]

disciples in a humbling position when He says: "Other men laboured and ye are entered into their labours". It was a very humbling thing that they had to be reminded that other men had laboured and they had entered on their labours. It is not the inauguration of things here at all. Even as to His own work, the Lord says: "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work".

J.B.C-l. In connecting this with John's gospel, do you have in mind that especially in it you get the character of spiritual affections, and support of those affections, that are engaged with the service of God in a Levitical way?

J.T. That is suggestive. This woman is evidently touched, and the Lord bases His commission to Peter on: "Lovest thou me?" "Peter turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following". That was the man that was held in reserve. "What shall this man do?" Jesus said unto him: "If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? Follow thou me".

J.B.C-l. Do you think that "Follow thou me" involves the essence of John's ministry?

J.T. Yes, love follows; following is a feature of John's ministry. At the beginning of the gospel the Lord turned and saw the two following, and when He saw them following, He said, "What seek ye?" as if He indicated His appreciation of the idea of following.

J.B.C-l. Do you suggest that that line of levitical service is necessary in the filling of the vessel? Your taking up chapter 4 is interesting in that connection. You spoke of the woman as having a beginning. Does she not find that the Lord is filling her vessel?

J.T. Yes. She is set right as to her body. Obviously we cannot be Levites without bodies and bodies purified; so the woman left her water-pot.

[Page 205]

She might conveniently have taken it back with her filled for ordinary uses, but she observed the Lord's remarks that her body was to be a vessel and one with living water in it, "the water that I shall give shall be in him", hence it says, "She left her water-pot".

P.L. Would the levitical company in the last chapter of Romans suggest those who had been set right in regard to their bodies?

J.T. Yes; the subject begins in chapter 6 and is taken up in chapter 12, where the body is to be a living sacrifice, and hence in this chapter (John 4) the servant must have a true estimate of himself. Whatever one does is done in intelligence according to the measure which God has apportioned; so that the question in this chapter is the vessel. The apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians enlarges on it. He speaks of the treasure that he had in it. The woman is not yet assuming to be anything, but the thing was there and Paul works it out in his own case in saying "We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us". But he begins by saying, "Seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not": so that the vessel is most important to begin with; not only that it is pure, but that it is in life, for this is the feature of the chapter; John 4.

W.H.B. I suppose that this woman, in her former state, was devoted to herself, and now she is devoted to God.

J.T. She is a vessel now, a vessel energised by life, for the Lord had spoken of that to her. I was remarking on the importance of the vessel. Unless our vessels are right, we cannot serve. This chapter settles the question of the vessel.

M.W.B. Is that one of the ideas in the "firstborn", the claiming of the vessel?

J.T. Yes. The Lord had in view the service of the tabernacle. It is a very important question as

[Page 206]

to our vessels, for the Lord is not going to take us up as we were. In chapter 6 Peter is the spokesman and recognises "the holy one of God". "To whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life". That is the One who is carrying on the work of God so that the Lord there addresses the twelve. It is the nearest approach to an official recognition.

M.W.B. Then have you brought this case before us to suggest the initial features of levitical service, the vessel being for God?

J.T. Yes. We cannot be in it unless our vessels are right. The Levites were put into the work at twenty-five years; but they were not recognised fully until they were thirty. One has to take up things and see how others serve. Now the apostle Paul began his service in Damascus. There is no indication that the Lord told him to preach there. He did not really receive his commission until he had laboured a whole year at Antioch, but he began to preach that Jesus was the Son of God in the synagogues of Damascus; that is, wherever there was an open door, he took advantage of it.

M.W.B. Is that what you meant by instinctive service?

J.T. Yes. I think it indicates John's idea -- John the evangelist's idea being presented in John the baptist. At Damascus Paul preached from a full heart. His heart was gained; he had come into the light of the Son of God -- One who loved him and gave Himself for him.

R.W. Would the little maid in Naaman's house be a vessel secured?

J.T. Exactly; that is good.

H.F.N. I wondered if it was right to connect Chronicles -- the way David views the Levites -- with the way levitical service is presented in John, and Numbers more with Mark.

J.T. I think that is helpful. You find the Spirit

[Page 207]

of God reaches David very early in the book of Chronicles. He reaches him in chapter 3. David thought about the Lord. "We heard of it at Ephratah; we found it in the fields of the wood". There is the man and he gives the Levites their work.

H.F.N. Would the reduction of the age of the Levites in David's day have a special reference to the present moment in view of John's ministry?

J.T. I think the work was less strenuous in David's day. He says specifically that they did not need to carry things. I think the suggestion is right, because the Lord says, "I will put upon you none other burden". They were set in the service at twenty in David's day and there were twenty-four courses. Some of them had to look after the treasures and take care of what men who had afterwards gone wrong had dedicated. They had to look after what David had dedicated, what Samuel had dedicated, what Saul had dedicated, what Joab had dedicated, and what Abner had dedicated. Three of those men had fallen out of the ranks, yet what they had dedicated was not to be lost, and that was part of the Levites' work. You cannot ignore what a brother was before he fell; what he dedicated then must be preserved; that is to say, David would have nothing lost; everything is gathered up and preserved under him; 1 Chronicles 26:26 - 28.

P.L. Do you see that spirit in the Lord Himself gathering out of Israel every living thought that God had put there and transferring it in that way to the assembly?

J.T. Other men had laboured. The result of the work of God as seen in the Old Testament is gathered up and recognised. All is treasured in the assembly, and the Levites are to know this.

Rem. It has been said that the writings of Mr. K---- when he was right were good, but when he fell out of the ranks, he might lead you astray.

[Page 208]

J.T. That is right, and it may be said of others too. We cannot afford to lose anything that is of God.

I think the suggestion is most helpful, that Chronicles fits in with John. It is a deeply interesting book; it fits into a time of recovery. The use of the numeral "twenty-four" I believe indicates a leading feature of David's testimony. There was a new order of things, but it included all that God had previously introduced. All that came out under Moses is there, and the last chapter of 1 Chronicles is most expressive in that way as showing how David recognised that all that had been dedicated was from God Himself. (See verse 16.) God has done everything; the more you advance spiritually the more you recognise that everything emanates from God, and that the work is His; the little bit that I do, what is it? God really does all although He graciously credits each with the part he may have in it.

H.F.N. I would very much like to get a little help on your second point; having secured the vessel, as to how the "holy one of God" would bear on levitical service.

J.T. Peter says: "We have believed and known that thou art the holy one of God". We see in Peter the woman's spiritual history continued, although many things have intervened. The Lord says "Will ye also go away?" And Peter says: "To whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life". Thou hast them. Peter had recognised the Lord had things; the things are connected with the Person; that is, Peter's reference is to his knowledge of the Lord personally. But then he says: "We have believed and known". That is past. It refers to the past but it is carried on: "We have believed and known that thou art the holy one of God". That is to say, Peter is, so to speak, a Levite. It refers to past but continued experience.

D.L.H. What is the present force of the "holy

[Page 209]

one of God"? I think that even the demons recognise that that was what the Lord was.

J.T. Yes, in Mark. The man possessed of the demon and all the vile sentiments that the demon would produce in a man was in the synagogue; Mark 1:23 - 27. The Lord commanded him to come out and he came out with a loud cry, as if he resented having to do it; but he had to submit, and coming out he acknowledged that the Lord was the "holy one of God"; the man was in the synagogue in an unholy way, but not to be so henceforth. If the Lord took him up he would be holy. So here it is not the "the Christ, the Son of the living God", but "the holy one of God", which I suppose would refer back to the Old Testament. That is what Messiah was to be; Psalm 89:18, 19.

J.J. Would it suggest Aaron, do you think?

J.T. I think so. That is what Aaron was, but it has reference to the Lord Himself, as in the Psalms.

Rem. "Aaron, the saint of the Lord", it says.

J.T. It refers to the Lord Himself. It says "Thou wilt not suffer thine holy one to see corruption", Psalm 16:10.

J.J. I thought you referred to the Levites being handed over to the priests.

J.T. Well, they were, and this implies the need of holiness. I think Peter in this way represents true levitical understanding apart altogether from what happened later when he received his commission. When he said, "We have believed and known that thou art the holy one of God", he had come to that conclusion. In the other evangelists, Peter is challenged more formally and he answers the Lord directly, but this is in keeping with John, because the work of God is to be carried on in a holy way.

M.W.B. Is that only obtained by experience with and knowledge of the Lord?

J.T. I think so. One feels for oneself, how unholy

[Page 210]

one is; how unholily we handle the things of God.

W.H.B. Would Peter's words suggest the teaching of chapter 6?

J.T. No doubt. I suppose the teaching in John is progressive and cumulative; that is, Peter's confession here follows on from chapter 4. It is a great advance on the woman's testimony.

M.W.B. Then is the first case the instinctive movements or beginnings of levitical service and this rather full development?

J.T. Yes, I think so. It suggests the position held by Eleazar. He represents the spirituality of the priesthood. Peter had come to that; the Lord is really the "Prince of the princes of the Levites". So that the question is how one is handling the things of God, whether we allow our minds to work. Look about on Christendom and see how the things of God are handled. How many unholy men are engaged in levitical work! And so I think Peter shows that he had come to apprehend what the Lord was in carrying on the work of God.

D.L.H. Would Moses when called to the peculiar service of delivering the people -- when he had to learn that he must take his shoes from off his feet (Exodus 3:5), be on somewhat similar lines?

J.T. Just so, and so with Joshua; Joshua 5:15.

Rem. Peter writing says: "As he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation".

J.T. Yes. The Levites had to be particularly holy; they were all called to holiness. It is remarkable that in Romans the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, and in the beginning of the epistle Christ is declared to be the Son of God according to the spirit of holiness by resurrection.

Ques. Does Judas come in as a warning?

J.T. The Lord referred to Judas. That there should be such among the people of God is a most

[Page 211]

solemn consideration. "One of you is a devil".

Ques. This holiness that Peter appreciated would be the development of what the woman felt?

J.T. That is what I thought. The truth is presented in a progressive way. The teaching really begins in chapter 3, because "born of water" involves holiness.

P.L. Is it the treasure in the earthen vessel? You have spoken of the vessel being at the disposal of the Lord. Does Peter's expression suggest the treasure there?

J.T. He had come to apprehend that Jesus was the holy One of God. That would be before him and I have no doubt he was brought to that when the Lord probed him and gave him his work; John 21. "When thou wart young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest". That hardly suggests holiness, but rather will, "But when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not"; this suggests entire resignation.

W.H.B. When the men that followed David went out with David, they carried holy vessels; although that holiness was of a different character to the external holiness set forth in the shewbread.

J.T. "The vessels of the young men are holy", he says, so that they could eat the shewbread.

J.B.C-l. Have you in your mind that levitical service, as we get illustrations in the Old Testament, was all connected with and governed by holy words?

J.T. Quite so.

J.B.C-l. So that the words to which Peter refers here were words which he understood and connected with "the holy one of God".

J.T. It is in connection with the Kohathites that Eleazar was prince of the princes of the Levites (Numbers 3:32), because they had to handle the most sacred things. They were situated south of the

[Page 212]

tabernacle and so had a good aspect. I apprehend that this refers to the influence of holy affections, so that the Kohathites would take up the holy things of the sanctuary in a holy way.

P.L. Would John himself have the southern aspect on the bosom of Jesus?

J.T. Yes. It is very remarkable that the Spirit of God does not wait to finish the directions as to the Levites, but directly Kohath's service is mentioned, He says, "The prince of princes of the Levites was Eleazar the son of Aaron the priest: he had the oversight of them that kept the charge of the sanctuary", because their work was so important; they had to do with the ark and all the holy things. So that you feel you have to be under the direct touch of the Lord in handling what relates to Himself immediately.

J.B.C-l. There was a constant danger lest a Kohathite should see the holy things uncovered, in connection with the movements of the tabernacle.

J.T. Yes; you mean the priests covered them?

J.B.C-l. Yes.

Ques. How do you understand the blessing of Levi? "Let thy Thummim and thy Urim be with thy holy one".

J.T. That was in reference to him as taking up the service of the sanctuary. He "said to his father and to his mother, I see him not", Deuteronomy 33. That is what comes out in John. If we are engaged in holy things, we must disregard natural claims for the time; the Lord is very jealous in regard to how one is handling His things. They are to be handled in a spiritual way. "Communicating spiritual things by spiritual means". The apostle Paul shows in 2 Corinthians how concerned he was in regard of his vessel -- that the vessel might be right. He valued the treasure and he wished that the vessel might be right.

Rem. Levi had been a lawless man.

J.T. Quite; he slew a man.

[Page 213]

Rem. With him there had been great soul-history.

W.H.B. What was the treasure in Paul's vessel?

J.T. The ministry, I apprehend, of the new covenant.

W.H.B. What is that?

J.T. The love of God. The Lord brought it in administratively; He is the Mediator of it. "Who has also made us competent as ministers of the new covenant". That is what Paul referred to, he rejoiced in it.

Ques. Do you think, in that way, in connection with the last four churches, Philadelphia is the only one the Lord approves, because there He was recognised as the holy and true One?

J.T. Quite. And He states that there were those "which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee". That is a very comforting thought.

The passage read in the last chapter (John 21) shows how we have to leave each other to the Lord. John's work was to be left. Peter had received his commission and here was a man who apparently had no commission, at any rate as far as Peter knew. Peter saw him following, and said: "What shall this man do?" There is no need to inquire if one is following the Lord. This scripture teaches us how to leave each other with the Lord. If a man is not following, then you are responsible for his conversion; but if he be a follower of Christ, you can leave him and go on with your own work. You have plenty to do yourself.

H.F.N. Would you mind saying a word in regard to the fact that Peter and John are constantly seen together? I think you have spoken of the early chapters in Acts as being "Peter-and-John chapters". How does that mutual spirit between those two, brothers bear on distinct levitical service?

J.T. I think they represent two features of the

[Page 214]

dispensation -- the administrative side and the family side; but they must have been most congenial companions to each other.

H.F.N. Would your thought be that each must stand out in his own levitical capacity?

J.T. Quite. There are men you can trust. If a man is following you can trust him. I think one great point in John is to establish confidence, and he works it out so that the breath of Christ ensures that you can rely on a brother; the Lord can rely on him. As breathing into the disciples He entrusted them with the prerogative of forgiving or retaining sins. I think the breath of Christ established confidence, and Peter could well afford to let John alone. He was the one that leaned on Jesus at supper time; Jesus loved him.

Ques. Does John's line always follow Peter's?

J.T. I think John would set you up at the top. In reference to the Levites, they are all firstborn ones, that is, every Levite was a firstborn -- a most extraordinary thing -- because he represented a firstborn. Hence, the more I apprehend my calling, the more lowly I shall be in my service, because my calling is greater than my service. My family relation is greater than my service.

P.L. Do you see that in John; the Lord gives the lustre of His Person to all that He does?

J.T. Quite. Every Levite is a firstborn. "The assembly of the firstborn who are enregistered in heaven" refers to that, so that I am here in the secret knowledge of my place with God. That is the secret of power in levitical work, otherwise I shall regard my service as adding to me personally, and then I become clerical.

J.J. How does the family spirit enter into levitical service?

J.T. You take it up in the light of the dignity you have as a firstborn. But then the others are all firstborn ones. I do not know whether in natural

[Page 215]

things there is anything that inspires respect more than the mutual recognition of dignity; the knowledge that we are all firstborn ones is an immense spiritual lever to the soul. You are dealing with persons who are dignified.

Ques. Is that what the Lord meant when He said "Rejoice, because your names are written in heaven"?

J.T. Quite. They came back flushed with victory, but He said that they should not rejoice in that, great as it was, but in the fact that their names were written in heaven; Luke 10.

Ques. Does the last verse of John's gospel suggest the vastness of the service?

J.T. There is plenty for the Levite to minister.

Rem. In the Old Testament some of the Levites were made singers.

J.T. I think it would fit in with what we have been saying about John. It says that David and the captains (that is, the military men) "separated to the service of the sons of Asaph, and of Heman, and of Jeduthun, who should prophesy with harps, with psalteries, and with cymbals", 1 Chronicles 25. Why should military men be exercised about the service of song? I have no doubt it refers to the way our households are matured and develop into the assembly. Those who were separated were under the hand of those three singers, and one of them is said to have had fourteen sons, and three daughters, who were under his hand for the service of song. They were all under the hand of their father for song in the house of the Lord. God gave them to him, it says. The Lord says in this gospel: "Those whom thou hast given me".

[Page 216]


Mark 3:13 - 19; Mark 6:7 - 13, 30 - 32; Mark 9:14 - 29

J.T. For those who were not present at the last meeting, I would say we are considering the subject of the Levites and their service. It was thought that, as with all other subjects, we have, in order to understand it rightly, to approach it through John's writings, because of the brokenness of the present state of things; so that John names certain ones as coming forward and serving without any direct commission, but as the result of the light that came to them. As an example, Andrew went out and found Peter, Philip found Nathanael, and the woman of Sychar returned to the city and addressed herself to the men, telling them about the Lord. The object of John in recording this subject, as in all others, is to show that it is progressive; so that the woman in chapter 4, being set right as to her vessel, left her water-pot and went her way into the city; then chapter 6 shows that the vessel being secured, the Levite apprehends Christ as the "holy one of God", recognising that the work of God is carried on in holiness. The levitical activity is shown, too, to be the outcome and result of love, that is, the Lord probes Peter as to loving Him and then commits the sheep and the lambs to him. Then John is seen as one that is following the Lord.

My thought now is to look at Mark and see how the Levites are recognised officially; how they come into evidence in an official way, and for that they come under the Lord's direct influence and training. That is why I suggested chapter 3; it refers to the Lord's sovereign selection: "That he might send them forth to preach". I thought the occasion arises from being with Him on the mount.

[Page 217]

M.W.B. I think you drew a contrast between Paul preaching immediately at Damascus and the way he was commissioned -- I think that was the word used -- when he had been at Antioch a year. Do you link it with this line of things?

J.T. Quite. The Holy Spirit records that he remained certain days with the disciples and then preached in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God. In the ordinary version it says that Saul inquired of the Lord what he should do, but verse 6 of Acts 9 does not appear in the original: not that Saul did not ask, but the Holy Spirit appears to have left it out at the outset, therefore showing in greater relief the fact that he acted of himself in preaching in the synagogues. And then we are told that he went up to Jerusalem to make acquaintance with Peter, showing how wise he was in recognising the particular vessel already in active service. It appears, too, that Peter took notice of the progress the testimony was making, for in raising up Aeneas he says, "Jesus Christ maketh thee whole: arise, and make thy bed", as if to say the order now is to learn to do things for oneself. Then he restores Tabitha from the dead and presents her alive. All that I think serves to enhance Paul's visit to Jerusalem to make acquaintance with Peter. The testimony would move on in that way in happy fellowship. But still he has to wait, and Barnabas finds him at Tarsus and brings him to Antioch, and he remains there for a year serving the saints with Barnabas. Then the Holy Spirit says when they were ministering to the Lord: "Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them"; that is, the servants are now ready; the saints have had full opportunity to be acquainted with them and the Holy Spirit gives this charge. It was the sovereign act of the Spirit to call them out and send them forth. And so I think the apostle Paul may be taken as a

[Page 218]

representative Levite. I rather think that Mark speaks of the subject from the standpoint of Paul's ministry. It is "The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God". That was the burden of Paul's ministry of the gospel.

M.W.B. Does the expression at the beginning of the gospel suggest the atmosphere in which the service would be carried out?

J.T. Quite, and it was not an emergency movement. That is important, so that the prophet is immediately quoted in regard of John's ministry. There is no such thing with God as an emergency movement; He foresees everything and arranges for things beforehand. We never need to think that God is taken unawares, because the service of John shows that He takes up persons and uses them. Then the Lord, according to Mark, waits till John is cast into prison before He begins to serve, and attention is called to the kind of persons whom He selects. They are engaged in legitimate occupations. Two are casting a net into the sea; the other two are mending the nets with their father. And then He goes into the synagogue and there He finds that Satan is in power; so He deals with evil in its religious setting first. Evidently Satan in hindering the service of God has his greatest stronghold in the religious systems, so the Lord casts out the demon and He is recognised as the "holy one of God". Then He goes into the synagogue again (Mark 3:1) and there is a man there with a withered hand. He has no power for work, but his hand is restored; and this incident precedes the action of the Lord in calling "whom he would". He acts sovereignly on the mountain in calling whom He Himself would.

R.B. Would the instances referred to in John's gospel answer to levitical service beginning at twenty-five, and this in Mark to thirty?

J.T. I think that is correct. The Lord literally

[Page 219]

entered on service at thirty. He appears here in full manhood.

A.M.H. Would that be the present bearing of the official side of service?

J.T. I think you take it up in the light of what is established primarily; you retain, so to speak, your John character. One always hesitates to use the word 'servant' because it has become an official name. John, when pressed to give an account of himself, refused to take any other place than that of "a voice", and that there was Another coming, the latchet of whose shoes he was not worthy to stoop down and unloose. All this indicates that John the baptist represents the divine thought as to service as presented in John's gospel. But then you move in the light of levitical service as seen in Mark; you do not, however, assume any official place.

P.L. Do you connect the two thoughts suggested in the prophet Isaiah: "Behold my servant, whom I uphold", and "Mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth"? Would the former be Mark's line, the power of God with him, and would the latter answer to John, serving in the power of liberty and love?

J.T. Quite.

A.M.H. Would John's line be more your dealings with God, and Mark's the way in which your activities would be expressed?

J.T. I think that according to Mark things would be not only done, but done well; and in John, as you say, there was a man sent from God. One has to be known as sent. All saints are Levites, but we are speaking for the moment of those actually engaged in service, and one has to be consciously sent. As we were seeing in John, doing things voluntarily you find the Lord endorsing what is done by Andrew and Philip and the woman of Samaria; but there was a man sent from God. What do you think about that?

A.M.H. I do not know that I quite follow.

[Page 220]

J.T. I am speaking of John. John speaks of Andrew and Philip. They go out; Andrew finds Simon and Philip finds Nathanael without being sent, as far as we know. The Lord acts in relation to that, but then the gospel is really based on the fact that there was a man sent from God, his name John. He is known by name, but he came from God, and I think that John's writings would lead you to that; they lead a soul into acquaintance with God.

H.F.N. Does our levitical service as seen in John flow from our family relationship, while in Mark the service flows from our links with the tabernacle and the anointed system?

J.T. I think that is good. Those taken up in Mark were already working; those who serve in the beginning of John (Andrew and Philip) were in the abiding-place: the secret of family affections. I have no doubt that is important. John says: "We beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth". So that the service in John is governed by the enjoyment of family relationship, but those taken up in Mark are already working; Andrew and Simon are not in the abiding-place, they are casting a net into the sea, so that work is in view, and good workmanship.

Rem. The work must be carried on in the spirit of the family. Your point is that John must underlie Mark?

J.T. That is it.

Rem. Mark would value things being done well, after his failure and recovery.

J.T. Well, he went back from the work; then he was restored; and Paul says: "He is profitable to me for the ministry". He is profitable now in that in which he had failed.

Ques. Would he not learn a good deal through his failure?

[Page 221]

J.T. No doubt. I have no doubt he saw levitical service in Paul and valued it after he was restored.

W.H.B. Did Mark essay to come out before his novitiate as a Levite was finished?

J.T. He does not seem to have been of full manhood. Now he delights to go over the things relative to true levitical service. He presents perfection in service from the outset. The work is not to be undertaken in one's natural strength. The man whose right hand was withered was restored, but there has to be the sovereign call of Christ. We have to recognise that He calls.

M.W.B. Do you suggest that we should have the sense of that call today?

J.T. I think so. There is no definiteness about you if you do not know that; and you would be getting in the way of other people; but if you have a definite call from the Lord, anybody getting in your way will suffer.

M.W.B. I was thinking that there seems a great contrast; in the line of John they seem to move by impulse, but here there is education necessary that they might be with Him.

J.T. You have to be with Him, and He gives the names indicating what your service is to be. He will see you through in whatever work He gives you to do.

M.W.B. And if we venture on a line for which the Lord has not adapted us, we cannot count on His support.

J.T. No, you cannot. The apostle Paul is a great example. We have little idea of the incessant opposition there was to Paul, but he says: "The Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known" -- not simply that the preaching should be fully known, but "by me" -- it was to be known through him, because the Lord had given it to him. The Lord went up into a mountain and called unto Him whom

[Page 222]

He would. It is a great comfort to know that the Lord Himself will stand by you. There is no use in anybody interfering; you know the Lord will have His way. I think that is the point in 2 Timothy "The Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known". The Lord intended that, and had given him the gospel.

J.J. Is there any thought of co-operation with one's brethren in service? The Lord calls the twelve in that way.

J.T. That is opening up another thing. You notice that in Matthew they are called by twos, but singly in Mark.

A.M.H. How do you apply that?

J.T. "Now the names of the twelve apostles are these: The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip, and Bartholomew", etc. Matthew 10:2. You see they are in twos in Matthew, but they are singly in Mark. In Mark 6 they are sent out by twos, but they are called severally. I think that in Matthew you find twos more than in any other gospel. Matthew has in view the breaking up of the world system; there are two demoniacs in Matthew. In Mark they were sent out by twos, which I think would mean that whilst they were called severally and each had his own history with the Lord. God would have an adequate testimony sent out into the world. I think that is what is in view in Mark.

J.J. I thought perhaps we could not serve without considering our brethren. We would not like to go off on our own account without sympathetic support and mutuality.

J.T. I think that is important, and Acts 13 would support it. Barnabas and Paul were sent out in the full sympathy of the saints. Then the question arises as to whether the principle of going in twos

[Page 223]

applies now. I think it was necessary in the calling of the apostles in view of meeting the world system. "Two are better than one", and "a threefold cord is not quickly, broken". But in Mark, I think, it is that God would give men an adequate testimony. Where the gospel was to be preached there was to be an adequate testimony, and what you find is that they anoint people in their service (Mark 6:13); that is, they leave behind them witnesses. Mark would have an adequate testimony in the world.

A.M.H. Do you think more than one is necessary for this anointing? One can understand the need for individual service, but supposing any position is difficult, do you not think we need more than one to bring in an atmosphere so that there might be help?

J.T. Quite. Two is adequate testimony according to the principle of Scripture, and then they would support each other. There would be increased power; the kingdom would be present, but then I do not think that it would be necessary from John's point of view -- that is, in a broken state of things. Peter is commissioned alone in John, and he is not to interfere in another's service.

H.F.N. Is that supported in connection with the tabernacle? You have two men, Bezaleel and Aholiab, working together; but in Chronicles there is only one man specially skilled in connection with the construction of the temple. I wondered whether that would answer more to John's line.

J.T. That is very good, I think. In a broken state of things as that with which Nehemiah had to do, he said, "Neither told I any man what my God had put in my heart". God had spoken to him and he kept it to himself. And he came to Jerusalem and viewed the city by night. Then he spoke to the elders and told them, and they all moved in the work saying, "Let us rise up and build", Nehemiah 2:11 - 18.

[Page 224]

There was a general movement so that the wall was completed in a very short time -- fifty-two days. And then when questions arose, he said, "I consulted with myself", Nehemiah 5:7. That might seem independency, but I think it is a principle in a day of brokenness. You see you are not inaugurating anything; you are not presenting the testimony where it has not been presented before. The ministry today is in connection with those who already know the Lord.

P.L. Do you not get this thought in John himself in Patmos: "His bondman John"?

J.T. Quite.

H.F.N. Would Timothy stand out very distinctly in regard of service? One man is specially addressed and made responsible. He stands out alone in his levitical service. Provision is thus made for the "man of God".

J.T. One of the most precious parts of our heritage is that of brotherly confidence. "In the multitude of counsellors there is safety". Let us take counsel wherever we can get it; very often what one overlooks another sees. You find that as Paul proceeded on his way to Jerusalem, he was actuated in some respects by the brethren's advice, which is an important thing; but on the other hand, I think John would set us up as men knowing how to act of ourselves, knowing what to do in a crisis. In the addresses to the churches overcomers are regarded individually.

A.M.H. While individual service and exercise are essential, would you entirely set aside the thought of co-operation? For instance, in Nehemiah's day you have those who worked in groups.

J.T. These would correspond with localities today. They were all under his direction. The great point, I am sure, is confidence for without that things must be broken, and there will be no coordination. I think the spirit breathed into the disciples in John 20

[Page 225]

was to establish confidence. The Lord would confide in them and they were to confide in one another; so with Peter and Paul. Paul went up to make his acquaintance, but later there was a disagreement and Paul had to withstand him to his face. But Peter writes afterwards in his epistle: "our beloved brother Paul", showing how confidence had been maintained and that whilst they were labouring far apart geographically. What often interferes with confidence is distance, whereas the spirit which we have received should not be affected by geographical distance. You see how distance affected the Corinthians when Paul was away from them. His second letter was to correct their want of confidence. He says: "Receive us, we have injured no one", etc.

P.L. Would you see that in John again, "I John, your brother"? He will not allow that distance in Patmos affected his relations with his brethren.

J.T. Quite.

J.J. Do you think that as the house is often referred to in Mark, it suggests that the spirit of service should be carried on in family character?

J.T. Yes, I agree with that; hence the fever conditions were removed out of Simon's house at the outset.

A.M.H. Speaking in a practical way, sometimes one may have an exercise in regard of a certain meeting where there is practically no fellowship; does it not help in such a case for two or three to go together and show fellowship?

J.T. Much may be done in that way. Suspicion is so easily aroused; two or three are more likely than one to establish good mutual feeling. Paul associates brethren with him in writing most of his epistles.

But in regard to the next passage, "They went out, and preached that men should repent. And they cast out many devils, and anointed with oil many that

[Page 226]

were sick, and healed them", it seems to me that the testimony is greatly augmented by the anointing. In the person anointed there is something set in a locality in dignity for God. Where there was weakness or sickness one is set up anointed. The idea in anointing is public testimony.

A.M.H. So that you would be exercised to see whether this was left behind?

J.T. Just so. I think it was exemplified in the apostle Paul: as he moved about the assemblies were established. That was the thing. The anointing goes with this; 2 Corinthians 1:21. I have no doubt the thought really began in Genesis 28, where the pillar is set up and anointed with oil. That would be for God in testimony.

Ques. As to order, have you any thought in regard to repentance? Does the anointing follow the preaching of repentance?

J.T. Yes. Repentance makes room for the Spirit. The Lord says in chapter 6 further down, when the apostles are gathered together to Him: "Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest awhile ... And they departed into a desert place by ship". It seems as if the Lord there meets a certain condition that arises in those who serve. The desert is not fruitful. We have to learn what we are there; in active service we may be full of matter, but when we get into the desert it is different; we are not so full of matter as we are on the platform, and we are tested as to how much we have really got ourselves. It is a very wholesome exercise.

M.W.B. I think sometimes the Lord gives remarkable support sovereignly and then there is the test when you get alone.

J.T. How much you have got yourself.

Ques. Is that why they are called apostles here, and here alone, in this gospel?

[Page 227]

J.T. That may be. They had, however, proved their apostleship in the service just rendered.

M.W.B. It would meet great exercise to enlarge a little on this wilderness experience.

J.T. I think you are tested as to how much you have definitely yourself. It is a wholesome thing to get with the Lord in the desert to discover just what you have got. It may be you thought you had a good deal more, because you are able to preach a good sermon, or that you get on very well in the reading and are able to bring out a lot of things. The disciples spoke about what they had done and what they had taught. Now they are with the Lord and everything is in the light as it is. There is no way in the desert with the Lord by which you can exaggerate or magnify what you have got beyond what it is.

A.M.H. Would you make that a practice, after each portion of service to get to the Lord in this way?

J.T. I would, and the Lord would order your circumstances to that end. What does one get oneself? Undoubtedly if saints come together from a distance and make considerable sacrifice, the Lord may use any of us, because He takes account of those that have come, and He would meet the situation. But then, what have I got myself? Here the apostles were not conscious of having anything with which to feed the crowds; Mark 6:34 - 44.

P.L. So that while helped by the sympathy that may be found in the saints when you are serving officially, you now retire from that with the Lord. Does that bring you back to John's line, that is, to what you have spiritually?

J.T. Quite so. You will then feel how small you are.

J.J. So it would be a very dangerous thing to rely on your gift, if your state is not equal to it.

[Page 228]

J.T. Yes. The principle of measure is so important. The whole physical system is based on the principle of weight and measure; Isaiah 40:12. There has to be balance, and I think they really get into the sanctuary here where the Lord holds everything and they are made to feel just how things are in His presence. They needed a rest, and He invited them into it, saying, "Come"; they are not sent. We may be sure they had a remarkable time.

Ques. Would Elijah under the juniper tree illustrate it? He was fed, was he not?

J.T. God took account of the journey he had to undertake.

We might go on now to chapter 9. All that I want to point out is that the Lord's reproof (verse 19) includes the disciples. I want to call attention to this incident (verse 14 - 19). The Lord found, as having been absent for a while, a disputation being held with the scribes, a man having brought his little boy to be healed, which they could not do. The man says: "Teacher, I brought to thee my son, who has a dumb spirit ... And I spoke to thy disciples, that they might cast him out, and they could not". I only want to call attention as to what is being effected by those who are in the position of disciples now, and whether the boy, so to speak, is getting any help, and what the Lord said to the disciples then: "He answering them says, O unbelieving generation! how long shall I be with you? how long shall I bear with you?"

A.M.H. I suppose you mean that we need to consider whether our activities further what is of God here, or whether those seeking help or having need are not hindered.

J.T. Where are the saints since the great revival? How much disputation has there been? How are those in need being regarded? The Lord is perfectly just in His discrimination, but according to this

[Page 229]

passage He rebukes them, and the disciples are included.

D.L.H. Were not the disciples in this case among the unbelieving generation?

J.T. That is what I thought, and does not disputation of this kind bring us down to the level of the unbelieving?

Rem. The man says: "I brought to thee my son".

J.T. But he said: "I spoke to thy disciples, that they might cast him out, and they could not".

W.H.B. These disciples were not on the mount with the Lord.

J.T. Hence the result. It is a very wholesome thing to see that the Lord rebuked them all. "How long shall I be with you? how long shall I bear with you? bring him to me". There is no cessation of the work, but here the Lord had to do it Himself.

J.T-y. What form does disputation take?

J.T. I think the greater part that were affected by the great revival have gone back by disputation. They have gone back to the level of the unbelieving generation, but the question is as to where we are now. What level are we on? The disciples asked the Lord about the matter. That is what is commendable about them. "When he was entered into the house, his disciples asked him privately, Where-for could not we cast him out? And he said to them, This kind can go out by nothing but by prayer and fasting".

D.L.H. Does that refer to the kind of demon or the kind of faith?

J.T. I think the kind of power. That is, it goes out. Fasting involves the vessel in which the power is to be exercised. The Lord is pleased to use us as vessels, but the question is whether I am available for this kind of service -- an extraordinary condition where Satan is entrenched. How is it to be met?

[Page 230]

A.M.H. Do you think that prayer and fasting would bring us back to the condition at the beginning of the chapter: the kingdom of God come in power?

J.T. Quite.

J.B.C-l. Referring to how the boy was cared for, I thought Mark learned that in his own experience. When he was recovered, he was found in company with Timothy, who seemed to have taken character from Paul as a Levite, caring only for the welfare of the saints.

[Page 231]


John 12:1, 2; Luke 7:11 - 15

In seeking to minister one always has in mind that we know in part. In the epistles the truth is presented in this way -- in part -- the Spirit of God taking account of our limitations so that we minister according to our capacity, having in view that in due time "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", Ephesians 4:13. As arriving at this, we are in a position to read the gospels rightly. We may read them as we read the epistles, in order to obtain help in our souls, but to read them rightly we have to take up the divine point of view and to see that in becoming Man the Son of God had in view the carrying out of the entire will of God. He refers, in spirit, in the Psalms to a book in which it had been written of Him that a body should be prepared for Him in which He would do the will of God, in which, indeed, He would delight to do it, so that there should be no item of that will neglected or unaccomplished; Psalm 40:7, 8. We are therefore on a much wider platform in the gospels than we are in the epistles.

The gospels present the incarnation of Christ and the death of Christ in connection with the whole will of God, and consequently with the whole work of God; they, therefore, become the solid food by which full-grown men are sustained, and as thus sustained are instructed in all His mind. Hence the Lord says in the gospel of John (chapter 4), "My meat is to do the will of him that sent me". We have to understand what His meat was. What did He live on? The disciples had gone away into the city to buy meat, and having returned they propose to the Lord that

[Page 232]

He should eat, and so He makes this remarkable statement which is full of spiritual import as to what a man who is here for God is to be sustained by "My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work". It was to be finished; every thought of God will find its completion in Christ. He is on the way to that; things are not all done yet, but He speaks in this gospel of having finished the work which is given Him to do; He speaks thus in anticipation, referring to the cross and all that preceded it. In detail there is much to be done, and so He is not found sitting; He stood in the midst, and indeed He is on the way yet to the completion of the work, and He would have us with Him in what He is doing.

What I wanted to point out from the passage I read was that He would have us to understand the dignity that attaches to us whilst still in this world. Our dignity in the future will be indisputable, we shall come out in wonderful dignity; it is said of the holy city that it descends from God out of heaven, having the glory of God, and her light like unto a stone most precious. (See Revelation 21:10, 11.) There will be no question at all as to her dignity then, but the Lord would have us to understand that there is a dignity now, even whilst in the same circumstances in which we were converted, for it is not the thought of God to change these circumstances. His thought is to change us as in them; and so Lazarus came out of the tomb into his old circumstances, he came out with his graveclothes on. The Son of God in coming out of the grave Himself, came out without them, and He remains without them. He entered into new conditions, new circumstances, and He remains in these. But in His ministry here He was in very lowly guise. John presents Him to us at the well of Sychar; he says, "Jesus ... being wearied ... sat thus on the well". He sat on it as He was; He was weary.

[Page 233]

Nothing touches the heart more than that, especially of any one who serves. The Lord knows what weariness in service is; but then in these lowly circumstances He says to the woman, "If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that says to thee, Give me to drink". There you get the clue, as I apprehend, to levitical service in John. The Servant is in the consciousness of His dignity; He knows it.

In chapter 13, in preparing to minister to His own, it says of Him, "Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God" -- knowing it -- "he riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded", verse 3 - 5. Who is doing it? -- the One who knows that He came out from God. He is in conscious dignity, and it is that that lends lustre to what is done. And so with the woman at the well, He said, "If thou knewest". It requires divine light in the soul for one to have that knowledge, for how is one to see a divine Person in a weary Man who asks for a drink of water out of a well? Hence He says, "If thou knewest". It was a thing to be known, and doubtless she knew it afterwards. John says, "We know that the Son of God is come", 1 John 5:20. That is wonderful knowledge to be in a man's soul. How many of us know it as a matter of light, as one says, "Who hath ascended up into heaven, or descended? who hath gathered the wind in his fists? who hath bound the waters in a garment? who hath established all the ends of the earth? what is his name, and what is his son's name, if thou canst tell?" (Proverbs 30:4). What a question that is! The speaker may reflect the exercises of Solomon himself. When one thinks of the glory of his service, and the glory of his knowledge, the glory of his

[Page 234]

wisdom, divinely given, one is profoundly impressed with the inquiry and with the humble attitude of his mind -- the secret, I apprehend, of true knowledge. One is reminded of Job as God Himself speaks to him and calls his attention to a testimony already present -- the testimony of creation; Job 38:4, 5. "Declare, if thou hast understanding". We have to understand by the testimony presented. It is a question for every Christian to face, for the Spirit of God is aiming at our all arriving at a knowledge of the Son of God, and of our confessing Him, for "Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God", 1 John 4:15.

And so the Lord sets this inquiry, as one might say, in the soul of the Samaritan woman, "If thou knewest ... who it is". It is true she did not refer to it in preaching to the men, as far as the record goes, but would she be indifferent to it in after history? Would she not recall with intense interest later the Lord's word, "If thou knewest"? One is humbled constantly at the consciousness of one's ignorance of God and of Christ. One feels that "if thou knewest" has a present application, for there is but little knowledge of the Son of God. "Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God", 1 John 5:5. The measure in which the world holds influence over me is, in a sense, the measure of my ignorance, as a believer, of the Son of God.

He is "declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead" (Romans 1:4), as we have in these two cases. His fame is known in the utmost regions of the domain of death; His very accents suffice in that wide domain to call one out of it. Is not that victory? He says, "Lazarus" (calling him by name), "come forth. And he that was dead came forth", John 11:43, 44. What then can the Son

[Page 235]

not do for you? The utmost that the enemy can do is to place you in death. The two witnesses in Revelation are seen dead, slain by the beast, and their bodies lay three days in the street of the city; they did not get a burial, but they stood up in the power of life; Revelation 11:11. John, in the isle of Patmos, hears behind him a voice, and he turned to see the voice, and having turned he sees a wonderful sight. I need not go over it, it is well known to us. John says, "I fell at his feet as dead", and the Lord says to him, "Fear not; I am the first and the last: I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore", Revelation 1:17, 18. We have nothing to fear as to what is against us. What a word that is! The Son of God "became dead"; He lay in the grave three days; He lay there vicariously for us -- a fact for heaven to note and to appreciate, as it did; but a fact that we too are to note. John was to note it. The Lord says, "I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death". What facts these are for our entering into this knowledge that I am referring to -- the knowledge of the Son of God, by whose faith, as the One who loved us and gave Himself for us, we are to walk in this world.

"If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water". The woman would have that word in her heart. One is brought in that way into the region of gift, the unspeakable free -- giving of God, but I speak for the moment of the One who is in such lowly circumstances, and as I said, I think that gives the clue to the levitical position in John. Lazarus being the subject of His power, represents, I think, the dignity of the saints as apprehending that power and the One who wields it, and so it says, "Then Jesus six days before the passover came to

[Page 236]

Bethany, where Lazarus was which had been dead", John 12:1. The Lord knew what would take place there; He knew they would make Him a supper, for He knew well the great result of His ministry in the company at Bethany. Hence He had waited two days where He was, so that exercise might be produced, and that all this might come about. "There they made him a supper" and "Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with him". Lazarus represents the dignity of the saints, who are the subjects of the power of God. The point in John is not what Lazarus said, that is more Luke; Lazarus was loved by Christ, and the point in John is the dignity of those who are the subjects of the power of the Son of God, and who know it, and who know the love of the Son of God. You cannot add to them; no earthly dignity can add to them, and so John begins his narrative with the statement that "As many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons [children] of God" -- no worldly family can compare with that -- "which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God", chapter 1: 12, 13. Where is the parentage to compare with that, where is the family dignity to compare with it? Lazarus, I believe, represents that dignity; he is the subject of the power of the Son of God, he is loved of Him, and so he is one of those who sat at table with Him. We may contemplate that company as they sit around, with the Lord there. Think of being the subject of the power of the Son of God, as having actually been in death! So that the company of the saints in that way is marked off by a dignity known to them, and it is only in the sense of such dignity that we can overcome the world.

Now in Luke we may observe that the young man who was raised from the dead is not addressed by name. The Lord says, "Young man, I say unto thee,

[Page 237]

Arise", Luke 7:14. "And he that was dead sat up, and began to speak". Now in dwelling on the dignity of the saints I had before me that we are to speak. Luke, I think, brings forward that side, because he would have priestly compassions. We hear a good deal about "priestly state" (and I suppose of the Lord); the word has become very prevalently used, and oft-times when a word becomes frequently used and used by those who are not in the realisation of its meaning, it loses its power; but there is a side to priesthood that I wish to call attention to, that is, sympathy and compassion. It is quite true that in the first mention of priesthood in regard of Aaron and his sons, it is said, "to minister unto me in the priest's office" (Exodus 29:1); but then it also says that the "priest's lips should keep knowledge" (Malachi 2:7), and that he should have "compassion on the ignorant" and on the "erring", Hebrews 5:1, 2. I apprehend, therefore, that this young man may be taken to suggest, or perhaps to illustrate, the point of view in Luke, because it says that in sitting up he began to speak. I think the Lord would impress upon us at the present time that there is a good deal to be said. We say a good deal to one another; thank God for that! And one hopes that what is said will become more spiritual. The Lord would lead us on to spiritual lines, I am sure, but then there is the wide domain of need, and Luke has that in view. Luke was a physician. Doctors are not always sympathetic, but Luke was sympathetic. There is a personal touch about his gospel that you do not find in the others. He writes to one person, as if to suggest that God would convey to everybody that He has a personal interest in him; every person is, as it were, in the mind of God, and God takes account of you sympathetically. That, I believe, is what the gospel of Luke would impress upon us. There is much to be said.

[Page 238]

Think of what has come in in the incarnation! Luke gives us the full detail from the infancy to the manhood of Christ. He gives us many details, and they are given to be spoken about, and so here is a young man, the only son of his mother, and she a widow, and he is being carried out of the city a dead man; and the Lord had compassion on the widow. This is a scene marked by divine compassion, the widow denoting what is all about us. We have no record of the name, because it is not a question of the son of a believer as at Bethany, it is just a widow and a widow's son; it is what is around us on every hand. If God allow an awful catastrophe (such as the late war) to come on the human race, it is to bring to our attention the terrible physical sufferings that we are liable to at any time in order to accentuate to our minds the awful spiritual sufferings, the spiritual dearth that there is abroad in the religious world. One is impressed with this, that that which they seemed to have has been taken away, but then it says, "To him that hath shall more be given", and if we have got things that we can speak about so much to one another. God would impress upon us that we are to speak to the widows and the widows' sons, and to care for them. The Lord had compassion on the widow -- that was a true priestly mark -- one who could take account of human need, and meet it. The Lord would impress upon us that what we have got is not for ourselves alone. He says, "Give ye them to eat", "I have compassion on the multitude". He had feelings for them, and, dear brethren, this young man is raised up, and he began to speak, and there was "much people" there. He could speak about having been down into death, and he could speak of the power of Christ in raising him up. I am not saying that he did. Luke does not tell us what he said, but the Scriptures are to set our minds, under the Spirit of God, in motion; the Holy Spirit

[Page 239]

would bring to our notice what is, as it were, written "between the lines". John says, that if all that Jesus did were written, the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Hence by the Spirit of God we can take in the situation of this young man speaking; he sat up, and began to speak; no doubt he would continue. At any rate, the speaking is now to go on; it is a time of speaking; God would speak to us.

In Mark 7 we get a man made to speak, and it says he spoke right; that is, we are to present things according to God. "If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God", 1 Peter 4:11. Let us remember that it is a time of speaking. There are wonderful things to be said, and if I have experienced the compassion of God in Christ, I am not to be quiescent, because the need exists, and I am to speak. I have much to say, because I have experienced the compassion of God in Christ. "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the compassion of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God", Romans 12:1. God claims our bodies; it is an intelligent service to yield our bodies to God. The tongue and the mouth are to be for God.

Luke tells us of the mouth of Christ; they marvelled at the "words of grace that were coming out of his mouth". We are to be in correspondence with this in our service. Peter "opened his mouth" in the house of Cornelius. I perceive, he says, that God is no respecter of persons; he began with that. He was brought into accord with the divine attitude towards the whole race; a sheet had come down, knit at the four corners, indicating the universal attitude of the mind of God. Peter is brought into accord with that. But the Lord is the great pattern in the synagogue of Nazareth; one would never tire of dwelling on that scene. "Having rolled up the book, when he had delivered it up to the attendant,

[Page 240]

he sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed upon him. And he began to say to them, Today this scripture is fulfilled in your ears", Luke 4:20. The Lord would lead us into the knowledge of our dignity and of the power that is involved in it, so that we should be far above the wretched pride of the flesh in accrediting itself with the service; our dignity does not admit of that, I am greater than my service; in the consciousness of that dignity I can go down, like John the baptist, who rejoiced to hear the voice of the Bridegroom. John was "the voice", but he preferred to hear the Bridegroom's voice; he did not rejoice to hear his own voice. He says, "This my joy ... is fulfilled"; he goes down joyfully, as one may say, in the light of the ascending glory of Christ. The Bridegroom was filling the scene; He was coming up in His majesty, so John is content to disappear in the light of that.

Then, on the other hand, in that dignity God would bring about a mouth, or mouths, speaking out divine compassion. The body is yielded up for God, as I understand service. It is really a priestly act to deliver up your body to God. I often think that one has always got something to yield to God while one is in the body; it is an intelligent service. And then it adds, "holy, acceptable to God", and "that ye may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God". The body is for God, and God will take it up according to the principles set out in that chapter (Romans 12) and use it for the expression of the compassion of God. That is what the epistle to the Romans leads on to. I believe God would enlist us in that way in view of what is on hand, the finishing of things, so that we may be with Him in what He is doing. It is a wonderful thing to see what God is doing and to have part in it -- to say a word in regard of the compassion of God and of Christ.

[Page 241]


Hebrews 12:5 - 11; Job 42:10 - 17

I have in mind to speak, as you will readily perceive from the scriptures read, of the discipline of God and its results. God always works with results in view and He never gives up until these results are attained. This is particularly so in regard to His discipline, and inasmuch as we are all partakers of it, the subject, although familiar, should be of great interest, especially if we are in the light of the family of God, for discipline has in view that we should know how to take our place in that family. God would have each of us to know not only the relationship in which he is set, but how to correspond with it in the way of holiness and affection.

I read these two passages because they are clearly linked together in the most intimate way as dealing with the same subject, and I would remark as regards the book of Job that it stands out as an independent witness. We have been speaking this afternoon of the Lord moving out into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon; He had previously sent out His apostles, and had listened to the reports of their labours, and then invited them into the desert to rest awhile, but He by Himself and of Himself -- as far as the record goes -- rose up and went away thence into the borders of Tyre and Sidon, that is, He reserved the right of His sovereignty in His labours. He was not limited to those whom He had chosen and whom He had ordained, and whom indeed He had found effective in their service. He would place Himself within the range of the Gentiles. And so, too, in taking up Abraham of old, God shows in other and independent witnesses that He was then acting in sovereignty. Abraham had been called out and the God of glory

[Page 242]

had appeared to him, and God would not withdraw His hand until that glory should find its full answer and full expression in the seed of Abraham; nevertheless God was not limited to Abraham. He had in those days not only a righteous man in Abraham but a king of righteousness. God is never at a loss, beloved, in regard of a testimony to His operations. He had a king of righteousness and a king of peace in Melchisedec. In that man He had the elements for the establishment of a world suited to Himself, not in weakness but in power, for a king suggests power. And so correspondingly God had His Job. We do not know who Melchisedec was, but we know whom he represented, thank God! and what a witness, too; what a conservation of the rights of God As men in lawlessness pulled away from God, and eliminated Him from their knowledge, a king of righteousness would maintain the rights of God, as the Possessor of heaven and earth. God is about to give a bit of the earth to Abraham, and indeed promised it to him, but here was a man who being a king of righteousness was king of peace, the priest of the most high God, the Possessor of heaven and earth. He would conserve the rights of God in regard of the heaven and the earth, and, dear brethren, we must never forget that God not only asserts His rights as Owner, but also as Possessor; there are those who own things and they do not possess them. In Melchisedec's day God owned the heavens and the earth, but He also possessed them, whatever men might do, and He will not limit the sphere of His operations. If He is pleased to select Canaan, and Abraham and the promised seed, He reserves His rights as the Possessor of heaven and earth. He has got in the heavens His throne and the earth is His footstool, and He is not going to give up either. No one nation can be His footstool, the earth is His footstool, and if He is operating now in the light of

[Page 243]

Christ in heaven -- the Son of man who is in heaven -- He is operating in all the earth, and in the light of heaven, so we must not for a moment limit God, for He is sovereign. In Abraham's day He had Melchisedec and His Job, and we must ever remember and make room for such witnesses.

Now if Melchisedec represents God's rights, Job represents the patience of God in His love, working in discipline, so that Job should be blessed in his latter end; and that is a principle of God's dealings with every one of us, and what is so remarkable is that while Melchisedec is in an official position, Job is seen in connection with the family of God. The family is a primary thought with God, and we see how it comes into evidence in this remarkable book -- Job -- just as it does in the passage in Hebrews. We read that there was a day in which the sons of God came to appear before Him. We may speculate as to their identity, but let us just leave the word in its own dignity as it stands. God had His sons, God has His sons, and God will have His sons for ever. He reminds Job of them in speaking to him; almost the first word that is addressed to Job is in regard of the foundations of the earth, when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy -- mark, all of them. Thus God intimates at once to His child with whom He was dealing and whom He is about to bring into this great dignity in principle, that all His sons were sympathetic with Him at the beginning. It was as if He said to Job, You are not in sympathy. It may be there are many like that here, they are not in sympathy. God is a Father and a father yearns for sons and for sons' affections. We read of Him naming every family in the heavens and in the earth. What a domain, what circles of affection there will be! all in their measure answering to God. He has accorded that place to us and addresses us in the light of sonship. "Ye are all

[Page 244]

God's sons by faith in Christ Jesus". "Ye have quite forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons". God addresses us right at the top, so to speak. Sonship is a matter of light, it is the mind of God for us, but the enjoyment of it, beloved, can only be by the Spirit in holiness, intelligence and affection.

Hence, while addressing us in the full height of our dignity, He would have us to accept that the realisation of that depends on chastisement. "If ye endure for chastening, God conducts himself towards you as towards sons; for who is the son that the father chastens not? But if ye are without chastening, of which all have been made partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons". And so God reminds Job that at the beginning of His operations, all the sons were in sympathy. Not only were they in sympathy secretly, but they shouted, they "shouted for joy", He says. What a remarkable witness that is to the wonderful sympathy of the sons of God in what He was about to do, and so He would bring us now into sympathy as sons with the great work He is carrying on in this world.

Now, I need not go into details, but I want to show you the results as briefly as possible, how that God turned the captivity of Job when he prayed for his friends. It is an important thing to have friends, but we are in danger if we have only three. Job had three according to their own profession. They came each from his own place by appointment, to condole with Job and to comfort him, but they had no power to condole and no power to comfort. Ability to criticise and to impute motives, to say right things in a wrong way and with a wrong application, they had in abundance. Such may our professed friends be: but we see how God Himself took up the work which the friends were incapable of accomplishing; and the Spirit of God tells us that God turned the

[Page 245]

captivity of Job when he prayed for his friends. One thanks God for the fact that Christians are friends; we should regard each other, beloved, in that light; it is a poor thing if we cannot befriend each other, but then there are those in that position who, alas! are unable to do the part of friends; as I said, they can criticise and speak eloquently and at length, and say right things with a wrong application, but this is sure to induce resentment, and it tests us as to how we can regard them when they prove otherwise than we expected. No one can comfort us, no one can mourn rightly with us save one who knows the compassions of God. The compassions of God found expression in Christ in His death, and as one who desired to comfort the saints tells us, he had been brought down to death itself, despairing even of life (2 Corinthians 1), but he trusted in God, who raises the dead, and the comfort accruing from God Himself in "so great a death", as he calls it, enabled him to comfort others. He was truly a friend of the Corinthians, although he said, "The more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved". They had a friend in him who was closer than a brother; and so, as I said, Job's misplaced confidence in his friends arouses resentment, and we see the results of it. But later Job prays for them, and that is a great moral victory, that is worth knowing. All of us are in the school of God, the school of His discipline, and we cannot get on together unless we learn to overcome evil with good. It is the knowledge of God and of His compassions, as seen in Christ, that enables us to overcome evil with good. Job is true to this, for it says he prayed for his three friends, and God took note of that. There may be those who have betrayed my confidence and who instead of yielding love have yielded hatred and criticism. How do I regard them? Job prayed for his three friends. What a word that is! I do not know of any greater service that any

[Page 246]

of us can render to the saints than to pray for them, especially if there has been criticism or imputation of motives which arouse resentment. If you pray for a brother, you may rest assured that you will gain power with him. God will give you power with him if you pray for him; if you have power with God you will have power with your brother. So God turned the captivity of Job when he prayed for his three friends.

Now leading on from that I want to show how Job being restored was brought into fellowship, as we speak. It says that the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before; he is not coming back in poverty; as his captivity is turned he is enriched, he has got substance. In Proverbs wisdom says, "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". A truly restored person is enriched divinely and he shows it. He is not demanding of others now, he is not complaining, he has got enough and to spare, he has twice as much as he had before. Thus we read, "And the Lord turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends: also the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before. Then came there unto him all his brethren, and all his sisters, and all they that had been of his acquaintance before, and did eat bread with him in his house ... every one also gave him a piece of money, and every one an earring of gold", or as it is more properly rendered, "a golden ring", Job 42:10, 11. Think of that, dear brethren. There can be nothing lost; the way of love ensures that, and if there be any one here who is in this case, in any special way, I would urge you to be patient and look out for your brethren; they are going to come; you will be tested, for they have been with God about you, but they are going to come to you. Job had already shown that he was learning the great lesson

[Page 247]

of overcoming evil with good in that he was able to pray for his three friends, but now his brethren, his sisters, and his acquaintances are coming, how is he to receive them? What a test that is, a test as to our dignity -- for the reception of our brethren to our houses is a test as to what we have gained and where we shall be found as the result of this wonderful service of love -- the discipline of God.

And then each one of them gave him a piece of money and a gold ring. The word 'earring' is more correctly read a gold ring. He has now to learn how to receive. God had already enriched him with double what he had lost. I have now to receive a little from each of my brothers and sisters and my acquaintances, for they are all rich. The family of God are all rich and each one would extend a token of his regard for the other -- a piece of money; it is not a question of the great value of it literally, but if my brother, or sister, or my acquaintance, has given it to me, I look at it in the light of the giver. God, beloved, would have us in the region of gift; if we live in the region of gift we become givers, and giving induces affection and respect. It is not giving to meet need here, but an expression of respect and regard, and affection. Every one of them gave something; they were working with God for the reinstatement of this man, that he should be without a jar in all his new surroundings, perfectly free and perfectly happy; he thus would know what every one of them felt in regard of him. Each of them gave him something; and then it says, every one gave him a golden ring. Beloved, I want you to note that. I never thought of it until today -- a gold ring given to me as a restored man, by every brother and every sister and every acquaintance -- what a token! It is as if each said, "I love you" -- it is an eternal bond. We read in the epistle to Hebrews of the everlasting covenant. As I understand what that

[Page 248]

means it is the everlasting possession of the love of God; it is an everlasting love. Jesus the great Shepherd of the sheep has come out of death in the power of the blood of the everlasting covenant. What a bond that is for our souls! Every one who is in the knowledge of that bond can give a gold ring, and I would inquire of those of us who, in a special way, may be in this case, as to whether that is true of us? whether the brethren have given us the rings? If we get the rings from the brethren, we are linked up with them for ever. I think of Job looking at those rings as he had them, how he would treasure them. We are not told how many he got, but he got one from each of them. We know how the father in Luke 15 directed that the ring should be put on the prodigal, but here the rings are given by those who now would truly condole with and comfort Job, for they give him the token and evidence of the love that lay behind it. Where do we learn that love? In the death of Christ. Only there could we learn it. "Hereby we have known love, because he has laid down his life for us; and we ought for the brethren to lay down our lives". If I show that I can lay down my life for the brethren I have given a ring to every one of them. It is an everlasting love. Love is stronger than death, it survives death. The bond that we know as in the school of God's discipline is an eternal bond, and a personal bond. We would not have it otherwise -- so that Colossians speaks of being quickened together -- quickened together with Christ, and Ephesians speaks of being raised up together and made to sit down together in the heavenlies in Christ. Love would have that.

Well, dear brethren, that is all I would say. One could have said much more about Job, of the family that he got, his seven sons and three daughters, and the fairness of these daughters and the names given to them. Job was a true patriarch, he was a man

[Page 249]

whose affections went down to the fourth generation. As I apprehend it, the discipline of God brings us into our family position; whatever that may be, God enables us to occupy it rightly, and that through discipline. May God bless the word

[Page 250]


Mark 8:31, 32; Mark 10:32 - 34; Mark 11:1 - 10

In reading these scriptures I have in view to speak to you of "the way". It is an expression that has a good deal of prominence in this gospel, especially after the Lord was transfigured on the mount. From that point onward to the cross, and through the cross into resurrection, there was a definite way known perfectly to Him, and one in the features of which He would instruct His followers. It was a way on His side of love involving how He died, and the mention of it should appeal to us as long foretold, for the Spirit of Christ acting in the prophets, who spoke with feeling and definiteness of this wonderful theme in ages previously, had testified of it, "Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow", 1 Peter 1:11. Isaiah, we are told in John, saw His glory, and no one among the prophets, perhaps, speaks more touchingly of the sufferings of Christ than he. The eunuch, returning from Jerusalem and reading from the prophet Esaias, says, "Of whom speaketh the prophet this? Of himself, or of some other man?" The Lord was portrayed in the chapter and the eunuch was interested; and so the Holy Spirit would detain our hearts now before the Person who suffered. "Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus", Acts 8:35. How we can go over this way of love! Abraham had, according to the Lord's own words, seen His day. And what a vision he had, beloved! He "rejoiced", the Lord says, "to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad", John 8:56. "The testimony

[Page 251]

of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy" -- Jesus in suffering love is the spirit of it. The tabernacle was anointed, and one of the ingredients of that wonderful compound -- myrrh -- denoted the suffering love of Jesus; that is to say -- God would have us, as it were, anointed with the spirit of suffering love. That is what I have in view, that we might catch the idea from this gospel of the suffering love of Christ.

Mark, perhaps, more than any of the evangelists, emphasises the sufferings of Christ. He gives us six hours of the cross; he speaks of Gethsemane in his own way; the Lord is "amazed and oppressed in spirit" (Mark 14:33) as the awfulness of what was coming in was brought to bear upon Him -- as His spirit touched it. Who can fathom these things? He, the very Creator of the universe, and yet there it is in the language of the Spirit of God; He was amazed and deeply oppressed as He put out His hand to take the cup from the hand of His Father. He takes it unflinchingly, but feelingly, knowing what was in it perfectly as no one else save the Father could know; He takes it in all that it meant to Him; He goes through as the Victim in this gospel; He disappears, goes down without public justification, not even referring to His Father. "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?" He says, and, having uttered a loud cry, He expired. What a wonderful spectacle for heaven! What a wonderful contemplation for after generations! As that loud cry was heard the centurion said, "Truly this man was Son of God".

That was the end of the way, and the Lord would instruct the disciples at the beginning of it. You find here the word 'teach'; "And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things", chapter 8: 31. One is encouraged to call attention to the sufferings of Christ as recorded by Mark. They are but little understood. God would have us to stand out in the dignity of that holy oil

[Page 252]

by which the tabernacle was anointed -- the spirit of suffering love -- and to that end we have got to be taught as to the sufferings of Christ. If I remember rightly, Mark is the only one who uses the word 'teach' in this connection. John says little or nothing about the Lord's sufferings, that is to say, he does not use the word. John presents a divine Person going through, to do the will of God, but Mark presents a Victim, a Sufferer. Hence, as I said, the importance of the teaching of the sufferings of Christ. This applies, surely, to every Christian, but particularly to those who serve the saints in a special way.

The great servant whom the Lord selected to unfold to us the truth of the assembly was to be shown by the Lord Himself how great things "he must suffer for my name's sake", Acts 9:16. As the name of Christ becomes known to us, the next thing is to suffer for it; not exactly in this instance for Him, but for the name; so that Paul in Damascus preached in the synagogue that Jesus was the Son of God. That specially involves His name. That designation involves the fame that He has acquired as having descended into death; He is "declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from [or, of] the dead", Romans 1:4. So that Paul announces the name and then he suffers. The Jews sought to kill him. We are notified thus on our entrance into service that the way is a way of suffering love; so that if it be the saints (alas! they too may cause suffering), suffering love says, "though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved", 2 Corinthians 12:15. But be it so, there can be no denial of the holy oil -- that holy compound -- Paul would preserve that. He would maintain it in himself; he was a true follower of his Master, and whatever the Corinthians said, or what ever they did in regard of him, his love remained

[Page 253]

unchanged. Hence the importance of the teaching of the sufferings of Christ. "He began to teach them". Let us become disciples, dear brethren, of this teaching. The Lord has opened up wonderful things to us, but I believe that He would open up this field for us -- the teaching of His sufferings.

This was the beginning, and I want to show that on entering on the way definitely He goes into the subject more fully. We read in chapter 10: 32, "And they were in the way ... and Jesus went before them: and they were amazed; and as they followed, they were afraid. And he took again the twelve, and began to tell them what things should happen unto him". And then He gives a list of the things. He is now, beloved, definitely in the way, and He takes the twelve specially and informs them of the things that should happen to Him. We do well to face these things; they are not to be trifled with. Earlier in this chapter we are told that when He was gone forth into the way a certain man came running to Him in the way. Think of the folly of running into such a way as that! Many take it up lightly; but those who understood it best were amazed and they were afraid; that is wholesome. There is a definite way, and in that way there are definite sufferings, and the Lord would have us to face them. The disciples were amazed and they were afraid, but they followed. There is safety in the amazement and in the fear; they were not taking things up lightly.

Many things, alas! different from this, and which should not appear, enter on the way. We read of a disputation on the way as to which should be greatest. Think of that! How utterly inconsistent with the way is that! It is as if two men on the way to the scaffold were to vie with each other as to who should be the greatest, and yet there it was. And then two of them with their mother come to him on this same way and they request that one should be on His

[Page 254]

right hand and the other on His left in His kingdom. Think of such a request on a way marked out so specifically by the Lord as one of suffering? But then I wanted to show you how each may contribute to that way. We are in a wonderful position as called into the fellowship of God's Son, for that is what it means. A way has definite boundaries and there are sides to it; it is a dignified way, and I would just seek to point out that each may contribute to the glory of that way. This young man running up, light-heartedly, to Christ on that way and greeting Him as "Good Teacher" added nothing to Christ, added nothing to the way. The Lord is accorded the place of a "teacher" abroad today -- alongside other men -- perhaps the greatest of teachers, but just a teacher. The fellowship is a very real thing: it is on the one hand the fellowship of God's Son, that is the dignity of it, but, on the other hand, it is the fellowship of His death. There is no room there for light-heartedness. Death was a very real thing when the Israelites met it in the wilderness; the waters were bitter; and they are bitter. That has to be accepted, so that I would warn souls as to the folly of taking things up light-heartedly. This man left it quickly, he "went away grieved", as many have done, not having counted the cost.

But there was another one on the wayside who did not run into the way, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus; he sat by the highway side begging. He sat there, but he spoke; he said, "Jesus, thou son of David". I believe it is one of the marks of genuine conversion when the soul has acquired an understanding of the dignity of Christ, and no one will remain in the way or add to it who does not begin thus. The gospel is the announcement to us of the Son of God, "Beginning of the glad tidings of Jesus Christ, Son of God". His dignity is presented to us at the outset, and if I do not lay hold of that,

[Page 255]

if I have no light in my soul as to the dignity of Christ, I am not genuinely converted. The Thessalonians "turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; and to wait for his Son from heaven" (see 1 Thessalonians 1:9, 10), intimating that the gospel presented to them involved the dignity of Christ. Paul said, "But when it pleased God ... to reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen", Galatians 1:16. Paul would announce Him, the Person; and this blind man had light in his soul; he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, but he did not say "Jesus of Nazareth", he said, "Jesus, thou son of David". Mark, that note was to be taken up later. If there is anything one loves among the saints, it is the note of a young Christian in the assembly, the outcome of a genuine apprehension of Christ. There is something peculiarly fresh and sweet in a note struck by one who has just come into the apprehension of Christ as the Son of God. And so this man strikes a note which in the next chapter swells and reverberates on the way, "Hosanna; Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord: Blessed be the kingdom of our father David, that cometh in the name of the Lord: Hosanna in the highest".

Now I would put it to all as to whether we are contributing to the way. Everyone should contribute something and it is important to begin early. This man began at once. If you have not begun to contribute, it is time to begin; in fact, if you have not begun, my fear is that your soul is not in the light of the Person. The apostle says, "The life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me", Galatians 2:20. I do not, in a way, know of anything that tests the Christian practically more than the Monday -- if you will allow me to be simple. We enjoy things together when the Spirit of God is free,

[Page 256]

and we are happy, but we start out on the Monday and have to face the cold north wind of the world, business, and what not, and where are we then? That is what tests us. "The life which I now live in the flesh"; that is Monday, and Tuesday. On the Lord's day, under the government of God, we are free and may yield ourselves to Christ, for that is what the assembly should do normally. It is our privilege to live of the Spirit, to go over Jordan, according to the measure we have got. It is a wonderful experience to join the Son of God in His own domain. He loves to speak with us. He said to the man in John 9:37, "Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee". The Son of God loves to take us and to converse with us in His own domain. Habakkuk says, "He will make me to walk upon mine high places. To the chief singer on my stringed instruments", chapter 3: 19. He is on the ground of resurrection, and his affections are tightened up by the power of it; he is with God in company with Christ, and that is our privilege. It is a wonderful thing to know what it is to live of the Spirit, to be with the Son of God over Jordan, as Paul said, "Whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth", 2 Corinthians 12:2. But then there is the life of the flesh, and so he says, "The life that I now live", etc. That is the Monday of victory, beloved, and a Tuesday of victory. It is the faith of the Son of God, and that is what tests us. It is what is normal, as the result of the gospel rightly received: "Beginning of the glad tidings of Jesus Christ, Son of God". Paul preached that gospel before he was definitely commissioned; it was in his heart, and "out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh", Matthew 12:34.

So that the truth of the Son of God is presented to us at the very outset. "Who hath ascended up into

[Page 257]

heaven, or descended? who hath gathered the wind in his fists? who hath bound the waters in a garment? who hath established all the ends of the earth? what is his name, and what is his son's name, if thou canst tell?" (Proverbs 30:4). If you can tell it, you refer to Him in the assembly, and so this blind man struck a note that reverberated on the way after they touched Olivet and Bethany. Olivet is surrounded with spiritual thoughts; it was the place the Lord resorted to when others went to their own homes; the note taken up there swelled and reverberated, and will do so in a coming day. It is delightful, as the way winds round Olivet to Bethany. It is not all sufferings; there is sympathy and there is love in the path. There is reciprocated love in it, there are links with heaven in it; for at Olivet, spiritually, we are in touch with heaven. After they partook of the supper and after they sang a hymn, they went to the mount of Olives. What a company ascended those slopes after that memorable occasion! They sang a hymn, it says; it does not say the Lord led, showing how completely He is with them. It was of the nature of a song of "degrees", I believe. It may be we are not much accustomed to songs of degrees, but they belong to us; those included in the Psalms were evidently songs of ascent; the Spirit of God has furnished us with such as are suited to ourselves. We do not sing Psalm 132 or Psalm 133 when we should be singing Psalm 120, "I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also", 1 Corinthians 14:15. The understanding implies that I know what song fits the altitude that I am in. Very likely Psalm 120 fits most of us, alas! Psalm 132 speaks about the ark and a place of rest for it, and so we may say it would correspond with the thoughts of affection and sympathy that encircle Olivet and Bethany. The note struck by the blind man on the way found an answer later as they reached the slopes

[Page 258]

of Olivet and the sanctified village of Bethany.

Then it says there was a colt there which was tied. We must not for a moment assume that it was tied there with any cruelty; it was detained there in love. Many of the young are detained, and preserved from wandering in cross-roads, for we do meet the crossways, but we may be sure that if there is one there with the sympathy and affections peculiar to Bethany, he will detain you so that you do not go on the wrong road, until the Lord claims you as His own. Loving parents may serve their children thus. No child of man had sat on this colt; it is unsophisticated by man. The Lord takes account of you as a wholly new creation. Creation is in view in Mark's gospel, and the creation is secured in Christ, who is "the beginning of the creation of God". "Say ye that the Lord hath need of him; and straightway he will send him hither"; he is available; they say nothing, but let them go. The Lord has rights there. Thank God there are spots where the Lord has rights and where these rights are owned, and the Lord claims the young in a peculiar way at the present time, and love holds them for His claims; they belong to Him. Now He takes the colt and He rides upon him into the city, and we have this wonderful note taken up: "Hosanna; Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord ... Hosanna in the highest". What a marvellous result! What a wonderful contribution, as I may say, beginning with the note struck by one on the wayside who definitely took his place behind the Lord on the way, and now the multitude take up the strain. I mention all this so that we may see what any one may contribute, and how it reverberates, how as we reach Olivet and Bethany (that is, a spiritual area, so to speak) -- as spiritual thoughts are reached -- the note is taken up and enlarged so that it is the coming kingdom of our father David. He who comes in the name of Jehovah,

[Page 259]

Hosanna in the highest. What a note that is, beloved brethren, and what a way to enter upon -- a path marked by suffering! You may expect the suffering, but there is all this for us besides. The very youngest may join in this. The Lord loves that accent of yours, dear young believer, it may be the very first sound, the very first expression of your appreciation of Him, but it is delightful to His ear, and the spiritual among the saints catch it up and enlarge upon it so that it is "Hosanna in the highest".

May God interest us in the teaching of the sufferings and of all that rightly enters into the path. I commit the word to Him.

[Page 260]


Colossians 1:12; Ephesians 1:13, 14; Deuteronomy 33:4

There is that which we have in the way of inheritance provisionally and that also which we have eternally. It may help if we look at the subject in these two connections.

Would you give us an idea of what the inheritance means first?

The idea of the inheritance came in with Abraham, and it is connected with the gospel. The Lord said that those who believed should receive an inheritance, and it is that which renders us independent of what we may have, or what may be in prospect, as after the flesh, setting us up in spiritual independence. Ephesians speaks of our inheritance, meaning that we who form the church have something altogether to ourselves -- a special portion that belongs to us; and besides that we have what others will have, and we have that in the meanwhile in a provisional way.

Is the inheritance a gift?

Well, in a way it is, but it comes in rather through relationship. "If children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ". That is how we come into it; but then there is an inheritance which we come into through redemption; the Lord said to Paul when He told him for what purpose He had appeared unto him, "That they may receive remission of sins, and inheritance", without specifying what it is.

Would the idea be that of the great woman of the Old Testament who said, "I dwell with my own people"?

Well, she dwelt among her own people; that was sufficient for her. We are wonderfully well off if we only knew it. One thing to be noted is that we know

[Page 261]

more about God giving than we do about receiving. It is what I receive that benefits me directly.

I was going to ask if you were referring, when you spoke of receiving an inheritance, to Acts 26, when the Lord said to the apostle Paul, "That they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me"?

That is what I was referring to. That is connected with the gospel. I may have large estates, but unless I take possession, and work them, they do not yield.

You said just now that we receive the inheritance provisionally now, and, I judge, you mean that in the future we shall receive it in all its fulness?

Yes, that is it, and what we shall have in the future we have only the earnest of now -- "the earnest of our inheritance", Ephesians 1:14. But the earnest is the Holy Spirit. Then there are things that we have not in the way of earnest merely, but in their totality -- such as the covenant, the commandments, etc. The Holy Spirit sheds the love of God abroad in our hearts.

Was the birthright that Esau despised the inheritance really in figure?

Yes, it was. He despised it.

Is there such a thing as right to the inheritance? I was thinking of Jeremiah -- "Thine is the right of redemption, to buy it", Jeremiah 32:5 - 15.

Well, I think the Lord has taken that up and has secured the inheritance for Israel through redemption. We come into it now in a spiritual way, for we are heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ.

So in that way it would be a birthright?

It is a birthright, and there are evidences of the purchase. In Jeremiah there were the evidences of the purchase; there was that which was "sealed" and that which was "open". Both writings of the purchase were to be placed in an earthen vessel. Everything is rightly secured, and what is open is

[Page 262]

for us and what is sealed is for Israel in the future, but both writings are in the "earthen vessel", that is, we are in possession of the evidences of the purchase. We could not have purchased the inheritance; Christ has done that, but we have the testimony of the purchase, so that we have everything in possession in the earthen vessel. Now, what use are we making of that? We certainly can take up the open evidence that is not sealed, but really there is nothing sealed to us. We see that everything in the way of inheritance that there is for every family is already secured and we may make use of the things now, and yet we have a portion of our own of which we have only the earnest. Ephesians opens up the latter.

Would you say what is meant by the expression, "Holy Spirit of promise"?

I think it refers to what God had intimated in the Old Testament.

But that is not exactly the Holy Spirit personally, is it?

It refers to Him, of course. The apostle said to those Christians, "Have ye received the Holy Spirit since ye believed?" He refers to that. They said they had not even heard about it, and the apostle baptised them and laid his hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is a divine Person, and, of course, is much more than the earnest of our inheritance; but among the other great things made good in Him down here is the earnest of our inheritance.

He is presented as the Holy Spirit of promise in that connection. I was wondering whether the promise had to do with the inheritance?

Yes, I think it has. The Holy Spirit had been promised, and the Gentiles now had received Him. We do not know how wealthy we are, even in what belongs to others, to say nothing of what belongs to

[Page 263]

ourselves. The covenant belonged to Israel primarily and the apostle says, "Whose is the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants ... and of whom, as according to flesh, is the Christ", Romans 9:4, 5. Now we have part in these things.

Is it as children of God that we have the inheritance?

I think so. "If children", it says, "then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ", so that whatever comes to Him comes to us.

You mean that being children the inheritance is ours, but we may have but a small apprehension of the greatness of it?

Yes. Generally we have a very poor apprehension of the wonderful wealth we have come into as children of God. Everything that Christ has in the way of inheritance we share in it -- "joint-heirs with Christ".

John speaks of those who have the right to become the children of God; does he in that way distinguish between what we have title to and what we have really?

John introduces that at the outset. "He came to his own, and his own received him not". Had they received Him they would have come into all this. He says further, "as many as received him, to them gave he the right to be children of God" that is, the right to take that place. Then in the epistle he says, "Now are we the children of God; it doth not yet appear what we shall be". I take it that our inheritance is connected with what we shall be, but the provisional inheritance comes in now in connection with our position as children in this world, so that we are wonderfully endowed. Everything that came to Christ (whatever family it belongs to) is now ours in a provisional way.

Will they revert to those to whom they belong?

Yes, surely; the types show that Israel comes into his inheritance in the year of jubilee. Everything

[Page 264]

reverts to its original owner, but in the meanwhile Israel has forfeited all title, and the inheritance is available to us. Of course, the Jews will come into a material inheritance -- what we have is spiritual.

And that in a way is sealed, but is open for us?

It is sealed to them, but known to those who have the Spirit now. (Compare 2 Corinthians 3, 4.)

Is the thought included in the cup?

Yes, I think so. The Lord said as to the passover cup, "Take this and divide it among yourselves". The principle remains, what we have is to be divided amongst ourselves. It is our heritage now. In Numbers 26 it is said: "Unto these shall the land be divided". Then in chapter 33 Moses said, "When ye pass over Jordan into the land of Canaan ... ye shall take for yourselves the land as an inheritance by lot". The cup suggests what we have as a common portion down here.

Do you mean to say that we have to get at what is sealed before we come into what is really open?

Well, I think for us they go together. We have the secret of everything by the Spirit. We know what Israel's part is. We have part in it now, only in a higher way. We have the love of God shed abroad in our hearts. Wonderful portion! But then we have the "law". That is the reason why I referred to the book of Deuteronomy, because there the law commanded by Moses is called "the inheritance of the congregation of Jacob". You do not get the idea of the congregation in Colossians or Ephesians, because our heavenly portion is in view. The idea of a congregation is what we are down here; and as a congregation we prize the law -- I refer to the law typically.

Deuteronomy is more the spirit of the law. Moses began to unfold this law -- it is an unfolded law in Deuteronomy, meaning that behind it is the love of God. He says, "What great nation is there that

[Page 265]

hath righteous statutes and ordinances, as all this law which I set before you this day?" (Deuteronomy 4:8.) It is not a question of the legal requirement leading to bondage, but of the love that is behind it.

You are connecting the law with the inheritance?

Well, you see, the scripture says it is an inheritance. If we take account of the nations of the world it is a wonderful thing to have a set of principles such as we have got. We ought not to be afraid of the word 'law'. "Oh, how love I thy law", one said. Psalm 119 confirms fully what we are saying, "Thy testimonies have I taken as a heritage for ever".

The inheritance of the congregation of Jacob is presented in Deuteronomy. This book furnishes motives to induce the people to love Jehovah and to go into the land of promise in a fitting way. The law was not against them; it was an inheritance. He through whom it was given was king in Jeshurun, when the heads of the people and the tribes of Israel were gathered together.

Do you connect it with the covenant?

Well, it is that, but it is also that which regulates us. The more you take up church matters and see what the congregation of Jacob really means, the more you will value this heritage. Let us take this country for instance -- the law has been handed down; it is one of the greatest heritages. Society could not last a day without the law of the land, nor could the universe continue to exist without law; the principle of law governs. And so the congregation of Jacob was given a law. In regard of the multitude that came out of Egypt, what they needed was just what was given -- the law.

What is the thought in "the congregation of Jacob"?

I think the saints viewed in their responsibility. What do you think of that?

[Page 266]

Yes. I was wondering if the epistle to the Romans would bring in the individual.

I think so. I think that Romans is Jacob and Corinthians is Jacob. Romans is the believer in his individual responsibility up to chapter 12; Corinthians is collective responsibility. It is the congregation, but viewed as in localities and refers to our position here in our present condition. I think "the congregation of Jacob" refers to the saints in that light.

At the end of this chapter in Deuteronomy we have, "Thou shalt tread upon their high places"; would that be the assembly connected with the land? Is this the result of Moses getting his place as head among them? "The congregation of Jacob" recognises the need of headship and then you get the reference to our full spiritual portion.

Yes, exactly. Hence, in the passage in Deuteronomy, Moses was king in Jeshurun when the heads of the people and the tribes were gathered together. Jeshurun means the "upright people", I understand. Every upright person rejoices in law and rule. If you meet a policeman, to use a figure, he is not your enemy if you are an upright person. It is a great thing to have a law and a law given by no less a Person than Christ, whom you love. He is King in Jeshurun. He is King in our affections.

Would you carry the thought of the law as far as Timothy?

I would. 1 Timothy is included in the law -- "the law of the house".

It is, as it were, the law of his mouth, which is better than thousands of gold and silver; Psalm 119:72. Nowadays there are legislators, but primarily the king made the laws. Moses became king. By the direction of the lawgiver the well was digged; Numbers 21:18. As indwelt by the Holy Spirit you value the expression of the will of God. The righteous

[Page 267]

requirement of the law is fulfilled in those who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit.

The law brings about subjection, so that room is made for the Spirit. The well was dug by the direction of the lawgiver. You come into the gain of the Spirit practically in the acknowledgment of the will of God in that way.

What is the difference between "the congregation of Jacob" and "the tribes of Israel"?

The tribes represent the family side. Though in the division of the inheritance each was to receive a portion according to his requirement, according to the size of his family, yet that was to be balanced by the land being divided by lot, according to the names of the tribes. Each tribe was to get his portion so that the tribes were to be maintained intact. In that way even if a tribe were small he must be recognised. See Numbers 26:52 - 56.

Would John 14 come in in regard to this: "He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me"?

Yes, that is right. It runs with the first epistle to the Corinthians.

I think all you have been saying with regard to the moral meaning of the law is of the utmost importance. Believers are not lawless. The righteous requirement of the law is fulfilled in those who walk after the Spirit; they delight to do it. It is no hardship, for the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts. Those who love God seek to do His will; "His commandments are not grievous", 1 John 5:3.

You said something just now that I do not quite understand -- that Jacob was the responsible man and that it was with Jacob and not with Israel that the inheritance of the law was connected. I wish you would make that a little clearer.

Romans takes you up as you are -- just as you are in the world in your ordinary circumstances -- and

[Page 268]

justifies you, but then as justified, and as having received the Spirit, your responsibility remains. As seen in Romans, you are set up in relation to God and to others like yourself; it is as thus set up, as I apprehend, that saints are referred to as the "congregation of Jacob". We are responsible in our locality, we are responsible in regard to all the saints in the locality, and we can go to any of them and say, "We are given a wonderful heritage". In 1 and 2 Corinthians we have principles given of God by which we are to be governed and held together, so as to become independent of the social and political elements of this world. The first great thing is to look into these and see how we can be regulated by these principles. Josiah found the book of the law. Jeremiah, referring to this, says, "Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy words were unto me the joy and rejoicing of my heart: for I am called by thy name, O Jehovah, God of hosts". He was being regulated by the word, as he further says, "I sat not in the assembly of the mockers, nor exulted; I sat alone because of thy hand", Jeremiah 15:16, 17.

Would you say that if saints take up their portion as individuals, as unfolded in Romans, it would lead them on to Corinthians?

Yes. In Romans 12 we are said to be "one body in Christ", meaning that we are not bound together in the flesh nor are we so many units independent of each other. Romans thus prepares us for the principles taught in the epistles to the Corinthians; these are intended for the assembly during the absence of the Lord.

What an inheritance these epistles are!

It is a great thing to see the working out of them -- how if a few of God's people are together, the principles of the house of God may govern.

Is there any connection between what you were

[Page 269]

saying and the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus?

Every relation in which we are set is governed by a law. The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus sets us free from the law of sin and death.

"The assembly of God which is in Corinth ... with all that in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both theirs and ours", 1 Corinthians 1:2. That would bring in the King in Jeshurun; every truly upright person in the world will set his seal to the first epistle to Corinthians, but there are, alas, many of God's people who disregard it. They are not governed by the law that is to govern the saints that the King in Jeshurun has formulated; and there is no use in professing to love Christ unless His commandments are kept. "He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me".

Would what you have been saying be governed by the lordship of Christ?

Yes; when the heads of the people and the tribes were gathered together. I think this is seen in 2 Corinthians. The first letter brought about repentance and a return to the recognition of the authority of Christ as represented by the apostle. Paul was greatly encouraged over it. (See chapter 7.)

To us there is one Lord. The full acknowledgment of this does away for ever with religious independency; we cannot partake of the Lord's table and the table of demons, we cannot drink of the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. The principle that governs us is that we are not to do anything that is inconsistent; inconsistency carries its own reprobation; and we provoke the Lord to jealousy. Are we stronger than He? The Lord can enforce His will and He will enforce it. Paul says, "If any one love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema". A terrible word!

[Page 270]

I gather that you make a very strong point of the lordship of Christ in connection with law, as you are speaking of it?

Certainly. He is the One who formulated the law. He was typically King in Jeshurun, and that is what 2 Corinthians effects. 1 Corinthians asserts His rights, and in the second letter we see that the saints came to recognise them.

We may see in the first letter to the Corinthians that they had not valued the inheritance brought to them in the apostle's ministry. "I have received of the Lord", he says, "that which also I delivered unto you". They had been disregarding the instructions he had given, and so he was forced to repeat them, adding admonitions and warnings. The first letter made room for the Spirit. It is at the direction of the lawgiver that the well was digged; Numbers 21. The Holy Spirit came down, but the springing up is the result of the Holy Spirit working in us. Apart from subjection to the Lord there can be no possibility of entering into the inheritance.

Psalm 119 should be studied if we really love to do the will of God. The Lord came out of heaven with that: "I delight to do thy will, O my God", Psalm 40:8. The true cry of the believer is, "I delight in the law of God after the inward man", Romans 7:22. It says in Psalm 119, "Great peace have they which love thy law and nothing shall offend them". What was in the heart of God for man in giving the law is there still. What was behind it was the love of God.

Psalm 119 brings us to the Songs of Degrees. I do not think any one begins to ascend until he is adjusted on the earth. The Songs of Degrees lead up. "The tribes go up".

You really do not reach the thought in the tribes unless the Lord is known as Head. The tribes are in family relation. The inheritance is divided by

[Page 271]

Eleazar the priest and Joshua the son of Nun. But part of it was given by Moses. The latter would answer to Romans, but that given under Eleazar and Joshua corresponds with Ephesians. What comes under the authority of the Lord is that part of the inheritance that Moses gave. What Eleazar and Joshua gave is wholly spiritual. Ephesians speaks of the earnest of our inheritance. That is, to my mind, not to be defined -- it is to be enjoyed. We have been speaking about things that are our own -- eternal things. The scriptures do not define them strictly -- they are to be entered into. You cannot define love, so far as I can see. What I see is that the Holy Spirit is the earnest and He opens the heavenly door and brings you to it.

Is there any difference between "our inheritance" and "the inheritance of the saints in light"?

I was going to make a remark about that. Colossians is entering, Ephesians you are in. The word 'inheritance' I think in Colossians is "portion", but the difference is very little, because it refers to the same thing, only the point is, what is in the light. You are made fit for the portion of the saints in light, which is an important thing in view of entering -- that is, everything has come under the light. God will not admit anything that is inconsistent with the light.

So in that way we have our inheritance allotted to us?

That is it. The Lord Himself spoke about Jehovah being the lot of His inheritance. He says, "The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places" -- "lines" meaning the measures by which the land was divided. The Lord said further, "I have a goodly heritage". He does not define what it is, but we know it must be delightful.

So we have an inheritance while we are here and waiting? Our rich portion here is to have the light

[Page 272]

of God to direct and control us, also the love of God?

That is it.

So you speak of the love of God as being the provisional portion?

Well, it is an eternal portion, but you are not said to have the earnest of the love of God -- you are not said to have the earnest of the Father's love. We have these things actually, so that the inheritance of which we have the earnest must be one that is ahead of us. It is wholly spiritual because we are constituted spiritual. Material things cannot form our inheritance. If spiritual we must enter a spiritual portion.

Is the inheritance in Colossians a present portion? I think Colossians contemplates that you enter on it now and the Father makes you meet for that; it is the portion of the saints in light. It is connected with the translation of the saints from the authority of darkness into the kingdom of the Son of the Father's love.

There is an undoubted connection there with the King in Jeshurun. This refers to the place He has with us; the Son of the Father's love speaks of the place He has in the Father's heart. One point in Colossians is thanksgiving; there is a power of appreciation, and so there is thanksgiving. It is a very important matter that thanks should be given to the Father. There is no true thanksgiving apart from appreciation.

[Page 273]

Pages 273 to 387 -- "The Work of God". Belfast. April, 1923 (Volume 60).


John 1:1 - 18

J.T. I thought we might be helped in looking into John's reference to the work of God as underlying all dispensations, and as unaffected by conditions occasioned by failure on man's part. The Lord said, according to John, "My Father worketh hitherto and I work". The Father had been working, and in contemplating it, we have to begin with Genesis; although this reference goes further back.

E.H. You mean that from the very time work began, the Father and Son were working together?

J.T. Yes. We have to take account of Genesis, especially because there it is that God began to operate in the heavens and the earth which we know. And the idea of seed is introduced and continued, each after its kind. Then we have the idea of "a wholly right seed" in Israel; Jeremiah 2:21. Abraham was this seed; Jeremiah refers to the nation as planted in the land. But what was sown in Genesis bears fruit in Exodus, in which book we see God as He was revealed to Moses, i.e., "I AM"; and then what He had been: the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; and then how He should be known, His name would be His memorial unto all generations. So that in entering into relationship with His people He was to be known as the present living God -- "I AM". They were to understand what He was, and what He should be, from the knowledge that He imparted to them as to His present being: "I AM". So it works out, that the way in which we know God now (any one of us), is the measure in which we know what He was, and what He shall be.

[Page 274]

Then Moses in his prayer in the Psalms (the Psalms present the experimental side, the Pentateuch being more the revelation of God) says, "From everlasting to everlasting thou art God", Psalm 90:2. God would, I think, lead His people to such a knowledge of Himself that there should be "men of God"; Psalm 90 is "a prayer of Moses, the man of God", and in that prayer he expresses what God was to His people: "Thou hast been our dwelling-place in all generations ... from everlasting to everlasting thou art God". It is the knowledge of God in that way that enables the believer when things have broken down, to be restful; because he sees things as from the beginning. As John says here, "In the beginning". From the beginning God operated even in the material system; if chaos ensued He did not desist, because Genesis opens with the fact of the Spirit of God hovering over the face of the waters. There may be patience on God's part in His work, but His work proceeds.

W.H.M. Is your thought that His purposes of grace and love in a past eternity were to be shown amongst the sons of men?

J.T. Yes, man was in view. Proverbs helps in respect of that, and so in our chapter, "In him was life, and the life was the light of men", verse 4. Man was in view; so that if we have the statement that without Him not one thing received being which has received being, it says, "In him was life and the life was the light of men". That being set down at the outset, we may be sure that the thought of God is to bring about a response to that light in men. Hence the first requirement in the operations, as we know them historically is -- "God said, Let there be light"; He commanded that light should shine out of darkness.

E.M. You remarked that John goes further back

[Page 275]

than Genesis, would you kindly say a little more about it?

J.T. He refers to the beginning of the divine operations, however far back.

Rem. God's operation was by a Man even from the very commencement.

J.T. Through One that was to become Man.

Ques. Are you speaking of physical darkness or moral darkness?

J.T. Well, it is the moral darkness that is referred to; that God should shine out of darkness. It is the Spirit of God commenting on Genesis 1. The apostle Paul says, "God, who spoke that out of darkness light should shine ... has shone in our hearts for the shining forth of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ", 2 Corinthians 4:6.

E.H. You mean that both in the material and moral systems, whatever God was bringing about He had men in view; even when He said, "Let there be light", man was to come in afterwards when everything was prepared.

J.T. That is why, I think, we have the introduction of life so early; but it is life as light; not here for enjoyment but for light. It is as we lay hold of what God is, that we see how things extend backwards, as well as forwards.

J.M. Is that what the Lord had before Him when He said, "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work"? John 5:17.

J.T. Yes. All His work had man in view.

Ques. Was light the first revelation God gave of Himself?

J.T. Well, God is light; darkness has to be expelled. So that when He commanded light, He commanded what He was Himself. It is the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, really. That is to say, we have to come to the New Testament for the fulness of its meaning; because the Scripture is

[Page 276]

one whole; hence Genesis 1 has in view what comes in later in the way of amplification. But in beginning His work, God commands light; He works in the light.

W.H. It is the light of the knowledge of the glory of God that is in view from the beginning.

J.T. That is right. It is the knowledge of the glory of God. Now you have it shining out, but it is in the face of Jesus Christ; showing how completely God has reached His end. In the first chapter of Genesis we have the sun, and the moon, and the stars, as well as the abstract idea of life. These were figures. Now all is in Jesus. So that we can understand the fourth verse of this chapter.

All the operations from the first of Genesis have now to be taken into account in the light of the full revelation of God; it is only thus you understand them. Although dead, Abel is yet speaking; the speaking is better understood now than it could have been understood by men in Old Testament times.

W.H. The principle of it is in Moses: "From eternity to eternity thou art God".

J.T. That is the principle, exactly. John is the expansion of Moses; Moses says, What shall I say unto the people who sent me? He says, "I AM", go tell them that. You see, it is not what I was, or what I shall be, it is what I am. That is what God would bring us to; it is what He is. And now in the knowledge or measure in which you know Him you understand what is past. So in sending the message to Israel He said, tell them "I AM" hath sent you; and then He says, Tell them, moreover, that the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob hath sent you; and tell them another thing, that this is My name for ever, and this is My memorial unto all generations; Exodus 3:14, 15. That is the position in Exodus. But that position is now much

[Page 277]

more for us than it was for Moses, because we read it in the light of the full revelation of God, as spoken of in our chapter.

W.H. Everything is effectuated in Christ.

Rem. With reference to the Word -- He is known here, but John could say that Person was in the beginning.

J.T. Yes; so that John's gospel you might say, is the most profound of all Scripture, and yet the most simple in its language. It is the most difficult to grasp because it supposes the knowledge of God. So that starting out from that basis, he takes you back to the beginning, and he takes you on to the end; that is to say, you are engaged with God whose operations underlie all dispensations.

P.S.P. Have we got in John's gospel in a spiritual way what corresponds to the work of God in Genesis?

J.T. We have.

P.S.P. So that we have a spiritual world, as it were, coming into view.

J.T. Quite so; that is how the believer should read Genesis 1. "We have known and have believed the love that God hath to us". And then he says, "God is love", 1 John 4:16. Well, you read Genesis 1 differently now in that light; and that is the only way to read it rightly. That is to say, what is in the Old Testament is not merely provisional, to meet the needs of God's people by the way; God is speaking there in view of Christ from His own standpoint; if He does not speak fully, well, that is His own sovereign right; but He is going to speak out fully. So that every word that He has uttered is according to His own nature.

Ques. Why do you say John's gospel is most difficult?

J.T. Well, because you are in the presence of God in His infinitude; you see how it opens, "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with

[Page 278]

God, and the Word was God". If you were at the last Supper with the Lord, according to chapter 13, and knew that was predicted of Him, you would follow it; your soul would be moved that it was about Him that this was said.

It is as knowing Him there in His nearness to you that you would follow this. Early in the 13th chapter we read, "Jesus, knowing that the Father had given him all things into his hands, and that he came out from God and was going to God, rises from supper and lays aside his garments". This gospel enables us to stand and see that the work of God proceeds; there is no cessation in it really, and its results are in life.

W.H. So that all that came out previously, led up to this, and now this looks right on to the end.

J.T. That is it. It is not that these things were written merely in a provisional way to meet the needs of the saints then; God was speaking from His own standpoint. It is all out now. But what was spoken then was part and parcel of what is now, and what was done then is what is done now.

Ques. The Lord says He came to do the Father's will and to finish His work?

J.T. Now it is being finished. Nothing was finished in the Old Testament; things were begun from there, there was a beginning; but the Lord says, "My meat is to do the will of him that sent me and to finish his work", and to bring out the position more clearly. He goes on to say, "I have sent you to reap that on which ye have not laboured; others have laboured, and ye have entered into their labours", John 4:34, 38. You see, John ever avoids what was official in the disciples; not that what was official was not right in itself, but it had broken down when he wrote. The tendency is always to make much of what is official. If any had a claim to official distinction, the twelve had; it might be

[Page 279]

said they inaugurated Christianity; which, in a sense, is true; but John quotes the Lord as saying, "I have sent you to reap that on which ye have now laboured". Why is that? He wanted to bring out that the Old Testament was sowing time; that from the standpoint of the work of God they are only items in it; they are only workmen in it; the work had been going on all the time, seed had been sown, and He said, "Lift up your eyes and behold the fields, for they are already white to harvest", John 4:35.

Now, in Matthew's gospel He sows to get the harvest Himself, and so in the other synoptic gospels; but in John's the sowing had been done before, so He says, "lift up your eyes". They were simply reaping the results of the labours of other men. In the end the sower and the reaper rejoice together. It is all one work, and this is a lesson that we do well to take note of, because it applies in a peculiar way to ourselves; we have entered on other men's labours. The Lord would ever belittle any claim to distinction in having originated anything, or brought out anything, because after all we have entered on the labours of other people; it is God's work, and you are only an agent in it just as Abel was, or Noah, or Abraham; all are agents or instrumentalists in the work. It is God's work, and if there is no harvest, it is not God's work. Moreover, the harvest must be of its kind, whose seed is in itself: trees yielding fruit, the seed of which is in them; Genesis 1:12. The harvest must be of its own kind or it is not God's harvest.

Ques. The Lord made the remark, "Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest", after the conversation with the woman of Samaria; now what is the connection between His conversation with the woman, and that remark?

[Page 280]

J.T. She was part of the harvest. The disciples had never spoken to her; indeed it was to their discredit that they had left the Lord alone; you cannot go on with the work and leave the Lord out, and He never gives up that thought. They did not all need to go and buy bread. They marvelled that He talked with the woman, and they desired that He should eat; well, He says, "I have meat to eat that ye know not of". It was a reproach on them that the Lord had meat that they did not know about; that meat was to do the work of God and to finish it. So that He says, Lift up your eyes, the fields are white; she was of the harvest. The context shows that the work of God had been going on. God had been working.

Ques. You mean previously to His conversation with the woman?

J.T. Undoubtedly; it was God's doing; being wearied with the way He had come. He sat just as He was at the fountain, and God brought her to Him. He says, "No one can come to me except the Father who has sent me draw him", John 6:44.

E.H. How do you explain that verse in chapter 6 "This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent"?

J.T. Really, the culmination of that work in the woman was to believe; and that is the seed that goes on all through, it is of one kind or character; it is all in believing on Him whom the Father has sent.

P.S.P. You laid emphasis on the fact that in the beginning "in him was life; and the life was the light of men". Is it that God was saying in Christ, "Let there be light, and there was light"?

J.T. In all that came out in the Old Testament the light that was to shine in Christ was in view; there is no other light, it was anticipative. Peter speaks about the prophetic word as light shining in a dark place; it was a light, and we can see now that

[Page 281]

it was what was to shine perfectly in Christ; it waited thousands of years, but it is the same light.

P.S.P. Would you say that in John's gospel we get the main feature of the light of God, and all that preceded it was preliminary and leading up to it?

J.T. Yes; hence in Abel the principle was there; there was light there, and it went on, it was cumulative; Enoch walked in that light, and then he had fresh light, and every ray of it had reference to Christ. Noah preached, but how? It was the spirit of Christ; "in which also going he preached to the spirits which are in prison", 1 Peter 3:19. Christ preached, not yet incarnate surely, but nevertheless it was in a man. He preached to the spirits in prison, "heretofore disobedient, when the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah while the ark was preparing". It was Christ. Then He says, "Abraham rejoiced to see my day; and he saw it and was glad"; he saw it; it had not come yet, but nevertheless he saw it. Abraham could not have stood up and given an address on the day of Christ; he would not have done it; but the Lord says Abraham saw it; and then He says, moreover, "Before Abraham was I AM". He underlay all the testimony. As Moses again says, "Underneath are the everlasting arms".

P.S.P. What the Lord said is light for us.

J.T. This is so. You look at Isaac in the light of the Lord's remark, and understand better what is set forth in him.

Ques. When does it become enjoyment to us?

J.T. Oh! things have to take form; John, in the epistle, treats of that; "That which was from the beginning, that which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes; that which we have contemplated, and our hands handled, concerning the word of life (and the life has been manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and report to you the eternal life, which was with the Father, and has been manifested

[Page 282]

to us); that which we have seen and heard we report to you, that ye also may have fellowship with us; and our fellowship is indeed with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things write we to you that your joy may be full", 1 John 1:1 - 4. It is there that enjoyment lies; that is to say, in the One that had come within their range, that they could hear, see, and handle.

Ques. Would you say enjoyment lies in apprehending Christ in incarnation?

J.T. Exactly. The Old Testament saints could not have had life because it had not taken form in a man; it had to take form, so we get here: "The Word became flesh, and dwelt among us (he was among them) and we have contemplated his glory, a glory as of an only-begotten with a father, full of grace and truth", John 1:14. There it is that the thing came within their range.

Rem. So that when it takes form it becomes available, and in entering into or participating in that, lies the enjoyment.

P.S.P. When it says, "The life was the light of men", is it that the light manifest in Him indicated the character of the light that men might know and enjoy it?

J.T. Yes. It is in the abstract here because it had not taken form; but it was seen in Abel, and Enoch, and Noah, and in every one who had faith. There could not be the enjoyment as we speak of it, but there was the work of God there, in anticipation, so that there was light -- the life was the light.

Ques. So you would carry forward the light at any given time, in connection with the present light?

J.T. It is a cumulative idea, and the careful student of the Scriptures will see that the nearer you come to Christ in the history, the greater the light.

W.H.M. You referred to a verse in Peter's epistle "Until the day dawn and the morning star arise in

[Page 283]

your hearts". What is the difference between the day dawn and the morning star?

J.T. The morning star is known to those who are up early; they do not sleep; but the dawn of the day is further on, you are then nearer the day.

W.H.M. Abraham saw that day by faith, and we also see it by faith.

J.T. Yes, we do; only he could not have the Day Star.

E.H. I suppose we have more than the faith that Abraham had, in having the Spirit.

J.T. Quite so; moreover the life has taken form; the Word became flesh; it is to that John refers in his epistle. The Day Star is Christ as Man in heaven.

Ques. Would you say a little about the light shining in the darkness; and also about the true Light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world?

J.T. Well, that is what the Lord was here. We are told He went and dwelt at Capernaum; what a thing it was for that town that the Lord Jesus, the Word, was actually dwelling there. So that to those that sat in darkness a great Light had sprung up. But then what effect had it if the darkness did not comprehend it? But moreover the character of the light was, that it shed its light on every man that came into the world; showing how God met the situation of the human race in Christ; a Light for the revelation of the Gentiles. He sheds His light on everyone coming into the world. But then that is one thing, and the work of God is another. We read, "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"; and then it says, "who have been born, not of blood nor of flesh's will, nor of man's will, but of God", John 1:11 - 13.

[Page 284]

Ques. Does being born of God precede what is stated as to the light?

J.T. Well, John is here giving an epitome of the result of the testimony of the incarnation; that is, if Israel did not receive Him, there were those who did; without saying how many, or who they were; there were those who received Him, and on the ground of their reception of Him they got title from God to take the place of His children. But then, what underlay all that? He says, "who have been born, not of blood nor of flesh's will nor of man's will, but of God". Born of God; that is the side that John emphasises, the constant work of God that never fails.

E.M. Is that on the same line as seed after its own kind?

J.T. Yes; and you can test all that pretends to be a work of God by it. John's writings are the test of all which goes on in the way of work. What kind of a crop is it? because the crop you get is in keeping with the seed you sow. Hence if you sow an adulterated gospel, you will get the adulterated generation in accord with it.

Ques. You are not making the seed the Scriptures?

J.T. No, the seed is the Word of God.

Rem. The Word of God existed before the Scriptures.

J.T. The work of God goes on. You go out as a farmer and you sow your seed; but there will be no crop without God.

J.S. Yes, only the work of God in a soul precedes the service of the servant.

J.T. It is co-relative; the farmer sows his seed, but there will be no crop without God.

E.H. There is the preparation of the ground.

J.T. That is right, but I am speaking now of what is in the ground. Who has put it there? God has put it there. You sow your seed, and, the apostle says, God gives it a body as it pleases Him; the

[Page 285]

farmer does not know how. "The earth bears fruit of itself, first the blade, then an ear, then full corn in the ear", Mark 4:28. Isaiah says God instructs even the farmer in putting his seed into the ground; Isaiah 28:26. And that is what is indicated; God gives increase.

W.H. We have to take care as to what we sow.

J.T. That is your responsibility, to see that you have "wholly right seed". If you have not got a wholly right seed then there will not be a wholly right crop.

Ques. What is meant by an adulterous generation?

J.T. Well, Christendom. In it you get an out and out apostate element.

J.M. Speaking of the work of God, as you are at the moment, would you view it as being finished as regards redemption? The Lord said in John 17, "I have glorified thee on the earth, I have completed the work which thou gavest me that I should do it".

J.T. Yes, it is finished, He says on the cross. But then in the first paragraph of that chapter He said, "Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son may glorify thee; 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". That goes on, you see; He is still working.

J.M. Yes; but would you not say that in John's epistle we reach a point where souls are brought into light, and would you not regard the work as finished in respect of such?

J.T. I do not think everything is finished whilst we are in this present state of things.

E.H. Things will not be finished until Christ comes and sets up the kingdom, and God is all in all.

J.T. "We know that the Son of God has come, and has given us an understanding that we should know him that is true; and we are in him that is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God

[Page 286]

and eternal life", 1 John 5:20. This contemplates that God has reached His purpose in Christ; what remains is in a way detail, but it has to be effected -- our bodies have to be changed.

P.S.P. If the crop is the fruit of God, can we, or those who teach or preach, be said to be sowers? Christ is spoken of as the Sower, but are we?

J.T. In a dispensational way He does the sowing; this includes the service of the apostles, and indeed of all that followed.

J.S. Would it be right to say that where God has been at work, whatever light is presented, would be received?

J.T. Quite; and the point would be that the seed should be wholly right; that it should be an impression of what Christ is. Because, if the impression is not received in the soul, the crop will not be according to God.

Rem. "Born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the living and abiding word of God", 1 Peter 1:23.

[Page 287]


John 1:14 - 39

J.M. Would you kindly say a word or two as to what we have had before us in regard to the continuity of the work of God?

J.T. The thought that I had arose from Exodus 3. Exodus 3 and Psalm 90 put together enable us to gather what light Moses had; the Psalm indicating that he had come to the knowledge of God in so far as was possible. There is in that way a correspondence between the Pentateuch and John's gospel, and the Psalms and John's epistle. Moses in the Pentateuch gives an account of things as they were; he writes by the Spirit, from the knowledge he had of God, and he brings God in: "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. And the earth was waste, and empty, and darkness was on the face of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light, and there was light", Genesis 1:1 - 3. He brings God in; but he brings Him in as One known, not only as the One who dwelt in the bush, but as One who was known to him in the tabernacle. That is, God had come within his range.

He led his flock to the back side of the desert, to Horeb the mount of God, and the bush burned, the "thorn-bush"; God had come into that; into very humble circumstances; and Moses says, "Let me now turn aside and see this great sight, why the thorn-bush is not burnt". That is to say, he was thoughtful; he indicates at once spiritual thoughtfulness. And then when God saw that he turned aside He spoke to Him out of the bush, and said, "Moses, Moses!" Now that was God introducing Himself.

But then subsequently He called Moses up to the

[Page 288]

mount; and Moses there on two occasions of forty days each, with God. And in the unfolding of the tabernacle, Moses had the opportunity of apprehending that God was coming into circumstances that were within his range, not only in the burning bush, which was unconsumed, but in that which was embellished, that which was made artistically; God would be there. So that God had come to dwell in circumstances suited, but nevertheless such as were measurable. Moses, therefore, had an opportunity of apprehending God as no one else, for the way into the holiest was never barred to him; he always had access; and God spoke to him as a man would speak to his friend, face to face. So that he came to apprehend God in that way.

But in referring to God in the Psalms, which would be the outcome of all this, he goes far back; he says, "From everlasting to everlasting thou art God". "Before the mountains were brought forth, and thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from eternity to eternity thou art God". Now to my mind this gospel is the extension or opening up of that; and I think it is arrived at through the epistle of John, for in the epistle he begins by referring to what the apostles had seen, what they had heard, and what they had touched, or handled, what had come within their range. And then he says at the end, "We know that the Son of God has come". He had come in flesh and blood. Earlier in the chapter he had said, "This is he that came by water and blood". But then he says, "We know that the Son of God has come". That is experience; that is not simply by report, it is by experience; just as Moses could say it by experience; the Psalm is experimental. And so John says, He "has given us an understanding that we should know him that is true; and we are in him that is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life", 1 John 5:20.

[Page 289]

Well, that in the language of Psalm 90 goes back to before the mountains were brought forth; but then He is that -- it is what He is, the true God -- that is what He is to us, and eternal life. In other words, God has come within our range in a Man; He has come within the range of our intelligence, and our affections. He was seen, and heard, and handled. And that is what makes it so intensely interesting, that it is the One who has thus been known in a familiar way by those who loved Him, that is the true God. He is known not simply by report, but by experience, as Thomas says, "My Lord and my God". That was the result of a touch of the finger and the hand. If He is my Lord and my God, He is Eternal Life, and that extends backwards and forwards; God said to Moses, Tell them "I AM" hath sent you.

Now, the epistle of John is really based on the statement we get here in the first chapter of John: "The Word became flesh and dwelt among us". That is what I had in mind; and that we may see that in relation to all that, the work of God proceeds. So that what is immediately before us is this, that the Word became flesh. Mark, it does not say became man; the point is, flesh -- which would include the Lord's birth and boyhood -- the whole truth of the incarnation.

J.M. Was this the fulness of the way in which God appeared to Moses?

J.T. This is the fulness of it. You see, Moses saw a bush, which was a very insignificant thing in itself; a thorn-bush burning, which would refer to what God is in discipline; but then he afterwards apprehended God in the tabernacle (i.e., that which was made). The Word, here (John 1), does not mean made from anything; the word in this passage is become; it was His own action.

Ques. You referred a few times to a thorn-bush; what is to be understood in regard to it?

[Page 290]

J.T. The outward insignificance of the people among whom God dwelt; a thorn-bush or "bramble" is very insignificant.

Ques. What does the thorn-bush represent now?

J.T. Our outward position. We are in the wilderness period yet, and it is not God's thought that any outward dignity or glory should be attached to His people; so that what is around us is altogether contrary to the mind of God. The mustard tree becomes a great tree, and fills the whole earth. The tabernacle itself in its outward appearance was insignificant.

Ques. Would it refer to us in an individual way?

J.T. It refers to the saints as they are; "an afflicted and poor people who trust in the Lord".

W.H. Does not the spirit of that smallness appear in Psalm 90?

J.T. Well, it does. Psalm 90 gives an outline of what man is in the flesh; but then he says toward the end of the Psalm, "Return, Jehovah", which would indicate God coming in, in resurrection; and that would bring in another thing, the work; so he says, "Let it repent thee concerning thy servants. Satisfy us early with thy loving kindness; that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days. Make us glad according to the days wherein thou hast afflicted us", etc. "Let thy work appear unto thy servants". There we get another side; that is what is put on us, "the beauty of the Lord".

But one would like particularly that we might see the bearing of the Word becoming flesh and dwelling among men. He came within their range. The gospels show what He was here; but the principle throughout this gospel is that you go to Him. The principle in Luke is that He comes to us; but one feature throughout John is that souls move to Him; they come within His range as drawn of the Father; and having come, they apprehend Him; so that the

[Page 291]

thought of contemplation is immediately introduced. "We have contemplated his glory, a glory as of an only-begotten with a father", John 1:14.

Ques. What is the significance of Christ as the Word?

J.T. It is that He has revealed the mind of God; He has spoken. That is what you find out if you come. He dwelt among them; and we shall see later how those who came within His range were affected. Peter says, "Thou hast words of life eternal", John 6:68.

Ques. So the "I AM" who sent Moses is the Word now become flesh?

J.T. Yes; instead of a bush it was a Man, in the Word become flesh. The Lord uses the very words He used to Moses: "Before Abraham was, I AM", John 8:58. But we have to come to Him; so, throughout the gospel we have, "Come and see"; this He said to the first persons who wished to know about Him. Hence no part of Scripture requires more spiritual intelligence than this. You do not get definitions, the things have to be found out.

Ques. Was He ever the Word, or did He ever become the Word until He took flesh?

J.T. Well, the appellation is one by which He was know here; and it is employed to designate the Person at any time. "In the beginning was the Word"; that does not convey that He was then expressing God, but that the Person was there; it goes on to say that the Word was God. We have to be careful not to go beyond Scripture, and predicate things of Him as "in the form of God" that strictly refer to Him as Man.

F.H.B. He could not be the expression of God until He became flesh.

J.M. So you would say it was the way the disciples had learned Him; in coming to Him, they came within the blessed range of His influence.

[Page 292]

J.T. Yes. Peter said, "thou hast the words of eternal life". "The Word" covered all that was said.

Ques. God was never without the power of giving expression to Himself?

J.T. Yes, but then it is the Lord Jesus that is in view; it is when He had taken the form of Man that the designation literally applies. We must be careful not to go beyond what is written.

Ques. "The Word" would be true of Him in incarnation?

J.T. That is how He became known; and it does not appear at His birth: "Thou shalt call his name Jesus", that was the name given. The thought in the "Word" came out later, because it was what He was to those who heard Him. Luke uses it, as well as John. But then what a thought that the Word became flesh!

E.M. Would you say a little more as to contemplating His glory. In the glad tidings the heart of man is appealed to, but here it is contemplating His glory.

J.T. That is what I have been referring to. The Lord having come near, as I was saying, like Moses, you turn aside to see. When God saw that Moses turned aside then He spoke to him, as if to convey that God values those who contemplate Him as God, and then Moses is able to say something about Him. Now, suppose any one of us were asked, What is it like? Could I describe it? ... It is not here "the Father".

F.H.B. No, nor "the Son". It is as "an only-begotten with a father".

J.T. It is a figure really; that is, it refers to what any person may have observed, what an only-begotten is to a father. That is the way the apostle conveys the glory that he saw when he contemplated the Word become flesh. So that the mind now is immediately directed to a familiar family relationship.

[Page 293]

That is how the matter stands. We have introduced at once the great testimony set out in Abraham, because he above all men represents a father, and Isaac an only one: "Take now thy son, thine only son, Isaac, whom thou lovest". You see Moses regarded what came before him; and it helps greatly to introduce Moses here, because this is the fulness of Moses. Christianity, therefore, is revelation connected with family relationship. We are prepared not only for the words of God in the Word becoming flesh, but a family relationship is set out in the "only-begotten".

W.H.M. That is very beautiful; because it was the God of glory that called Abraham, and it was the glory that Moses longed to see. I suppose when he saw the bush burning and not consumed, it was like this One that came by grace and truth.

S.L. Did not you say yesterday evening that God's revelation and ways came out and were made available to us largely on the ground of relationship?

J.T. Well, family relationships are primary with God; and a family being primarily God's thought it is an eternal thought, not provisional; it is the relationship in which men are to be with Him.

F.H.B. Though it was primarily God's thought it had never been brought to light before; man had never been seen in such a glory as this, as of "an only-begotten with a father, full of grace and truth".

J.T. It is now brought to light. There had been inklings of it; Adam was not an only-begotten, he was made in full manhood, but Isaac was begotten, he was one that had been waited for, and asked for, and it is with him that the word 'love' first appears; the next is in connection with Rebekah. So that the greatest thought is apparently a son, and an only-begotten son. "Take now thy son, thine only son, Isaac, whom thou lovest"; God had His Son in view when He thus spake.

[Page 294]

J.M. And the apostle would have us, not only to observe the grace that was in Him, but also His glory.

J.T. Deuteronomy, which is the end of the exercise which began in Exodus 3, contemplates that the people were to be sons of Jehovah (Deuteronomy 14:1); that is the relation in which they were to come into the land. John introduces the family thought at once here: "A glory as an only-begotten with a father"; and then he says, "Full of grace and truth"; full of it.

P.S.P. And is the fact of His having come within our range the result only of His becoming flesh, or is it also of the Father's work in John?

J.T. Well, that is the very start; the Word became flesh, that is, He came within our range; but then the other side is you are drawn to Him, and you contemplate His glory. Movement in you is the result of the work of God.

P.S.P. You were speaking of the Lord coming to us in Luke, but that would not be the thought of the Lord coming within our range?

J.T. Luke says, the Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where the man was; but that is not John's point of view; John's point is that He has come so far that the work of God in man might come to light; so that souls having come and enquired after Him when they hear John speak (Jesus having turned and seeing them following), He says to them, "What seek ye? And they said to him, Rabbi, where abidest thou? He says to them, Come and see". That is what you look for in John; hence the practical word to us is, Am I moving? After this the chapter shows one and another moving.

P.S.P. Would you say He has only come within the range of those who are the subjects of the work of God?

[Page 295]

J.T. Well, I think He comes within man's range, but then who will take notice of it?

Rem. He came as light; light shines on every man.

J.T. Yes; the next thing is, is God working? And the work of God will show itself.

Ques. Would you say the work of God shows itself by the fact of one coming to the Person who comes within our range?

J.T. Yes, that is right. So it says, "he that doeth truth cometh to the light" (John 3:21); it is not that he should come, but he cometh.

Rem. There is no doubt John's line is a line of movement; and we come rather into the Lord's sphere than He into ours, as in Luke.

J.T. Yes, and as a result you have a circle: "We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren", 1 John 3:14. You look into yourself for the evidence; that is to say, the work is of God, it is all of its own kind.

Rem. So the movement would be towards Christ; to find our place in His sphere of things.

J.T. Yes. So "they went therefore and saw where he abode; and they abode with him that day".

Ques. Is it all with a view to the knowledge of God?

J.T. Yes.

E.M. Is that why He is termed Rabbi?

J.T. John, interpreting the word for us, conveys that He is a Teacher. You need not only light in a general way, but you need instruction, and He is now apprehended in this way.

Ques. Is it possible to know the Person apart from coming to Him?

J.T. I think not.

Ques. Is it the result of the work of God that Peter can confess Him as "the Christ the Son of the living God"?

[Page 296]

J.T. Well, that is in Matthew. Here in our chapter the Lord says, "Thou shalt be called Cephas"; and then we get the meaning of that, "a stone"; showing that the Lord gives you your name, in John's way of putting things.

P.S.P. So that there is a correspondence between the work of God as seen in connection with Moses, and the work of God at the present moment; and it is such as we get intelligence to perceive.

J.T. Yes, he saw the eternal side; that indicated a previous history.

Ques. Was it not John's ministry that set the disciples in movement; he said, "Behold the Lamb of God"?

J.T. Well, it was; they followed Jesus; that shows what ministry can do. But note, it is when Jesus saw them following that He enquired of them; that is specially to be noted here; Jesus having turned and seeing them following, says to them, What seek ye?

Ques. Would that not be like a challenge?

J.T. I think it comes to us today as to whether we are following; because if we are not following we miss present enjoyment of the divine dwelling.

Rem. In Luke we find a number of people proposing to follow, and the Lord puts a check on them; Luke 14:25 - 35.

J.T. That is a picture of modern Christendom, but you do not get that here; following the Lord here indicates the work of God. The point is that it is the following ones who get the light and the privileges, and the question for me is, Am I following? Jesus turned and saw them following; He takes note of that. Now, if I am not following I could not enquire from Him like these, nor do I come into the abode. John does not define the house of God. Hebrews identifies the house of God. It is a provisional thing in the saints -- "whose house are we".

[Page 297]

But what underlies that is this -- "Come and see". That is the spiritual thing, and I apprehend Moses arrived at it when he said, "Thou hast been our dwelling-place", because that is where Jesus dwelt. He did not invite His followers to the temple; that was not where He dwelt. We get no inklings as to where it is in a material sense. So we have to arrive at this spiritually. No one is in the house of God in a practical way -- though he may break bread -- unless he is dwelling in God.

F.H.B. It never struck me so much before how frequently we get coming to Him referred to in John's gospel. He encourages it, and the result is that they were dwelling where He dwelt, in the Father's love.

Ques. Would you connect the dwelling with verse 18 in that way: "The only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father"?

J.T. Yes; they "contemplated his glory, a glory as of an only-begotten with a father, full of grace and truth". Verse 18 is a definite statement that He is in the bosom of the Father; it is no longer the figure as in verse 14: "The only-begotten Son which is in the bosom of the Father". Before, it was; the verb is in the past tense, but here it is the present time; the declaration is in the One who is in the bosom of the Father; He is there.

Ques. Are these movements that you speak of, characteristic features that link up the work of God all down the ages?

J.T. Yes. John is sometimes astronomical in his references; you have the thought of influence and attraction; the sun is in the heaven and it illuminates all, it heats all; but then other things are in relation to it, and in being in relation to it, to disregard it physically would be lawless. So that the earth feels the heat of the sun, it is held there; and so are all the other items of the system. So I think the sun sets things going; without it there would be nothing

[Page 298]

alive. So here they go and see where He dwells, and they abide with Him that day. And then immediately they become active; they are governed by the impulse in Christ.

J.M'G. How do we come into the good of dwelling in God; are there not certain conditions necessary on our side -- i.e., walking in the Spirit, etc.?

J.T. Well, ministry helps. The Lord has ordained ministry as a means by which things are touched. You say, Well, I never thought of that before; it is not that you are negligent, but you never thought of it before, and the Lord intends that you should think of it; having ascended on high He has provided for that, so that there should be ministry. And John, "looking upon Jesus as he walked" -- it is movement -- says, "Behold the Lamb of God", etc. That is, we may say, ministry; it was the outcome of a heart affected by Christ. And they heard John speak, and they followed Jesus. Now, they might have seen the beauty of Christ, but they did not; another brother may see what you have not seen; it is not that you have been remiss or neglectful, you may have been perhaps; but anyway the ministry is to call attention to the beauties of Christ, to what is there. And then, am I going to follow? When they heard John speaking, they followed Jesus. It seems to me to be set down here as a principle that is followed throughout the gospel. It would lead you to pray, and get to the Lord; and you acquire the knowledge of God, and the place that He has with God.

The queen of Sheba went to Solomon. Solomon is a type of the Lord as Son. "I was a son unto my father, tender and an only one in the sight of my mother", Proverbs 4:3. He had that place; God took him; he was David's son, of course, but God says, I will take him, he will be my son -- a figure of Christ. The two disciples went to see where the Lord dwelt;

[Page 299]

the queen of Sheba went up to see Solomon; if he had come down to where she was she would have seen a wonderful man, who would have said wonderful things to her; but she would not have seen him where he dwelt; she would not have seen his magnificence and glory, or his ascent by which he went up to the house of Jehovah. Now, that was the dwelling-place; Solomon had built it, it was built by the son, "They went ... and saw where he abode, and they abode with him that day".

Rem. They address Him here as Teacher.

J.T. Teaching comes out in Christ. If there is anything that the saints need more than another it is teaching.

Ques. Would He take that place to lead them into what was expressed in Him as the Word?

J.T. Quite; and then, moreover, to the features of the dwelling-place. Solomon is peculiarly a teacher in the Old Testament; he taught the people knowledge; Ecclesiastes 12:9. The book of Proverbs is of special value in regard to the house of God.

Ques. Was the Lord's invitation to "Come and see" in order that He might declare the Father to them?

J.T. Well, I think in those two hours they would see something of what He was with the Father.

Ques. Would it be right to say, speaking of the dwelling-place, that we see in John 14 where He would bring us? "In that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you".

J.T. Yes; and in that chapter also He says, "In my Father's house there are many abodes; were it not so, I had told you". That is, He holds nothing back.

Ques. Is that not where He would bring us now?

J.T. It is future. I would prefer to confine our attention for the moment to the present spiritual side. He does not say anything about a house here; it is

[Page 300]

where He dwells. What seek ye? He says; not whom, but what. And they said to Him, "Rabbi, where abidest thou"? He says to them, "Come and see". I think it is a question of spiritual apprehension, not a definition.

Rem. Anyone with ordinary intelligence can take in the thought of the saints here, men and women; but this is not that.

J.T. This underlies that; and if we have not got this, we do not understand that rightly. First you have to know what Christ was with God where He abode, because that is not affected by any conditions down here.

Ques. I suppose that is why the interrogation is not, Whom seek ye? but, What seek ye? They already had Himself.

J.T. In chapter 14 He speaks about those who keep His words, "If any one love me he will keep my word", and He says, "My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our abode with him". That is immense privilege; but that is not His dwelling with the Father; that is His coming and dwelling with you. But this is His dwelling-place, and I connect it with Psalm 90"Lord, thou hast been our dwelling-place in all generations"; Moses might have connected the thought of dwelling with the tabernacle, but instead of that he says, "Thou hast been our dwelling-place". He dwells in light unapproachable, but yet He is the dwelling-place of the saints; and they come to know it.

Ques. You think these spiritual results flow from spiritual ministry?

J.T. They do. John the baptist is the ideal. John the evangelist records nothing of John's failure; he seems to have in mind that John is the ideal; he says virtually John the baptist had the most wonderful opportunity a man ever had of exalting himself; some were ready to recognise him as the Messias;

[Page 301]

but he says, No. His heart is taken up with the Greater; he says, "I knew him not, but he who sent me to baptise with water, he said to him, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending and abiding on him, he it is who baptises with the Holy Spirit, and (he says) I have seen and borne witness that this is the Son of God".

The Baptist seems to be John's ideal; and so he goes on to say, "Again on the morrow". During the night he had opportunity to reflect. Have you missed an opportunity? The next day John is equal to it. "There stood John and two of his disciples. And, looking at Jesus as he walked, he says, Behold the Lamb of God". His heart is engaged with the Person, and that is the thing that produces movement in the other two; his heart is taken up with Christ, and as you remarked, that is the secret of effective ministry; you are affected yourself. Then, before he goes home, John said of the Lord, "He must increase, but I must decrease". He is prepared to lose reputation, he had to disappear altogether in the light of Christ the heavenly One. That is how John the evangelist presents John the baptist; and I think he sets before us a true minister.

[Page 302]


John 1:40 - 51

J.T. It may be remarked that the thought in introducing this great subject that we have been engaged with, is not to go through this gospel in any way. The thought primarily was that we might see the connection between the opening of this gospel and the books of Moses; and in a secondary way to see also a connection between the Psalms -- especially Psalm 90, which is said to be a prayer of Moses, the man of God -- and the epistle of John.

So we were led this morning to refer to the opening of Genesis, in which Moses, having already acquired a knowledge of God, refers to Him as creating all things at the beginning. That is, as God is known to us now we are instructed as to Him as He was and shall be known. So that as God is known, as we have it in John's epistle, known in Jesus (He is said to be the true God and Eternal Life), this gospel becomes intelligible as giving an account of the Word, who being with God as God in the beginning. He is presented as such to those who have acquired a knowledge of Him as having become flesh. So that it is said the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. He thus came within the range of men, dwelling amongst them in every-day life.

And then He was contemplated by those who were drawn to Him; and the contemplation led to the beholding of His glory; which is described as a glory as of an only-begotten with a father. Then it is further stated that "no one has seen God at any time; the only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared him".

Then we noted how in the ministry of John the baptist, attention was called to Him as He walked;

[Page 303]

and how two of John's disciples heard John speak, and they followed Jesus. The Holy Spirit sets down there at the outset the idea that souls are directed to Him, and He turned and saw them following, and said to them, What seek ye? We noted that that indicated the other side of the gospel -- namely, that the Father draws to Christ. There is movement, and as He takes account of the movement He enquires what they sought; and they said, "Rabbi, where abidest thou?" And He said, "Come and see". So that, as we noted, there is great importance in the coming, and the seeing, in a spiritual way, where He abides. It is that which underlies the truth of the house of God -- the knowledge of where Christ abides -- where the Son abides; and to abide there.

F.H.B. I thought what you drew attention to as to the distinction between this and Luke's gospel was extremely important and helpful. In Luke's gospel He comes down to us, where we were; whereas in this gospel He puts Himself within the range of our apprehension, that we may come to Him. And coming to Him we come to a great spiritual system of things established in relation to God.

J.T. And it fits in at the present time peculiarly with that which was set up afterwards by the apostles, and which has gone to ruin. This is not subject to ruin; it is outside of it. So that what God would do, I think, is to draw us to Christ. So one looks for movement.

The "days" here, taken as they stand, represent the work of God resulting from the revelation of the Word become flesh. Great results! This day, referred to in verse 35, ending with verse 42, brings in the assembly. I thought we might, perhaps, dwell on that; we touched on it this morning, and I think it would be well to enlarge upon it; because it brings in, as we may gather from subsequent references, the assembly. John's ministry led up to that. Not that

[Page 304]

he understood that it would, but he did refer to the bride.

Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, was one of the two who heard John speak, and followed Jesus; then he found his brother Simon, and says to him, "We have found the Messias, and he led him to Jesus".

E.H. Do you take Simon Peter as the great pattern man of the assembly; and then Nathanael comes in in another day, for the Jews?

J.T. I think we may bring the assembly in because of the prominence given to Peter. We know the connection elsewhere, only here it is, "Thou shalt be called Cephas"; Jesus, looking at him, said that; it is that by which he is distinguished, Cephas or Peter, a stone. The movement that brought him in, arose from the dwelling with the Lord.

Ques. Is there a principle in that?

J.T. Well, I think there is. I think those who go out after others, and lead them to Jesus, are in a measure formed themselves. Leading is a very fine work; it is a work seen in the Lord Himself; He is the Leader.

G.R.G. After being with the Lord himself, he led him to Jesus.

J.T. Yes; he had been for two hours where the Lord abode. One can understand that the influence there would be very great.

Ques. Would these two hours cover the Christian period?

J.T. Well, I rather thought it was the end of a previous day; it was the tenth hour, in which responsibility had been fully tested. I thought it referred to what the disciples had with the Lord before the church day was inaugurated; so that what they enjoyed impelled them to seek others. In bringing in another -- there is no word about the Lord telling Andrew to do this -- in leading him in

[Page 305]

the Lord looks on him, and you have a definite suggestion of the assembly -- not the word, but the suggestion. A stone involved that there would be a structure, which, I think, would belong, not to a day almost spent, but a day of its own, the assembly day. The assembly is not the end of something, it is not the remaining two hours of a day; it arises from that period, however.

J.M. So that this period would link on with what the disciples had in coming to the Lord.

J.T. Yes, in a sense, the source is the same for the two streams, the assembly and Israel. Andrew and Peter and Philip were of the same town, that is the town of Bethsaida. Philip is found definitely by the Lord Himself, not by Andrew; and He finds him as He goes into Galilee, whereas Andrew finds Simon. Philip, I think, would represent that which refers to the establishment of the thoughts of God in Israel. Philip finds Nathanael, and says to him, "We have found him of whom Moses wrote in the law and the prophets, Jesus, the son of Joseph, who is from Nazareth". Andrew finds Simon; Andrew's movement led to the assembly. You see later in the gospel that Philip and Andrew are again united in a certain intimation that they bring to the Lord about the Greeks who came up to the feast; chapter 12: 22. The two lines converge there in the testimony to the Lord that the Greeks had come up and desired to see Him; and this leads the Lord to speak about the Son of man and His death.

E.H. So you would say the same spirit characterises them in John 12 that we find here, an evangelical spirit.

J.T. Yes; the one leads to the assembly, and the other to Israel. Andrew finds Simon, and Philip finds Nathanael, and the Lord speaks to both; He conveys the mind of God. These brothers could not

[Page 306]

have told the import of what they were doing, but the Lord tells us; He indicates what was involved.

P.S.P. You drew attention to the fact that Peter was called Cephas, is not that what he was in the mind of God?

J.T. Well, it is what he should be. It is prophetic; I think here it is not based on anything Peter said; whereas in Matthew 16 what the Lord says of him is based on what he said, i.e., "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God". Jesus immediately says "I say unto thee that thou art Peter, and on this rock I will build my assembly"; it was not, Thou shalt be called Peter, but, thou art Peter. I judge that was subsequent to this.

P.S.P. Is it that there should be a formative work in Peter to answer to the name?

J.T. This is prophetic. I take it that the Lord saw the thing from the beginning. He gives us our names, and then we are brought up to these names.

P.S.P. Was it an indication of the character of the work of God that had taken place in Peter?

J.T. It was; the Lord knew well what that work would culminate in -- a stone.

W.S.L. What led Andrew to go out after his brother?

J.T. Being with the Lord, he was set in motion.

Ques. Does not that underlie the truth of the house according to Timothy; seeing where the Lord dwelt, and then going out in the way you have been speaking of?

J.T. Well, 1 Timothy begins with the fact of the dispensation of God, which is in faith. Many of us confine our thoughts of the house to the description of it in Hebrews 3"Whose house are we" (verse 6); that is the saints, viewed down here. But what underlies that is what we have here; the abiding place of the Lord, which has to be apprehended spiritually.

[Page 307]

W.S.L. I thought the going out corresponds with the house as seen in Timothy; it is evangelical.

J.T. Quite so; the dispensation of God. It is God dispensing house-wise; and it is in faith. So in order to understand the house we must know what it is to have faith, and to be spiritual.

W.S.L. That gives the spring of it.

J.T. It does; for after all, what is the house unless God be there?

Ques. Had they any previous light from the Scriptures; or is this a wholly new beginning?

J.T. Well, you see it is, "Where abidest thou?" It is not a question of the house of God, but of a Person; where the Lord dwelt; that is the thing, you know; it is where He dwells.

J.M. One's actions in moving out would be regulated by being with Him. So it would not be so much the desire to get souls into the outward thing, as to bring them to Christ.

J.T. That is it. He led him to Jesus. It does not say he led him to where He dwelt, but he led him to Jesus; that is the point.

Ques. Does it pre-suppose a work of God in Peter?

J.T. It does. The house as known down here would be formed of such as he.

The first thing is, where He dwells; then He will have a formal house, and Peter suggests a stone. The house is to be exceeding magnifical, when you come to the specifications of it; but then, where does He dwell now? It matters not to the one who loves Him what the outward surroundings are.

E.H. We get here, in what we have been talking about as regards Peter individually, and the assembly, and the Jews, the result of the work of God; and also a picture of what will come out in the end, of the grand result of gathering round Christ as the centre, whether of the assembly or of Israel.

[Page 308]

Ques. Did you say just now that Peter and Nathanael were representative men?

J.T. I think they are; and I take it that Peter represents the material of the assembly in its appearance. In Matthew that side is not in view; it is here when He looks on him; in Matthew it was when He heard his confession. In other words, the question arises when you look on a brother as to what you see there; what is he going to be?

Ques. In view of the assembly?

J.T. Yes.

Ques. And do you suggest they both came out of the last two hours -- Peter and Nathanael?

J.T. They were the result of that. The Lord found Philip Himself. Philip was not in the last two hours with the Lord. I do not think the establishing of Israel will come out of such surroundings. The assembly comes out of that. The Lord found Philip Himself, going to Galilee; but Peter is the result of the two hours in the abiding place. I think it is on a higher plane.

F.H.B. I quite go with what you say.

J.T. It suggests, to my mind, that the assembly emanates from the place of greatest privilege. The material of it is the outcome of the place of greatest privilege, where He dwells; and it becomes the dwelling-place of God. One can, therefore, understand the origin of it.

W.H. It emanates from the dwelling-place in that way.

J.T. In other words it is formed of those who know severally what it is to be with Christ where He dwells. It is a wholly spiritual matter.

F.H.B. What you get here as to the two disciples would illustrate what is the special privilege of those who form the assembly; to dwell with Christ, and see where He dwells in relation to the Father.

J.T. The assembly is formed of such as these,

[Page 309]

and so I think we have the material for the house. This is the material; it is what the Lord looked on. Peter had to pass through much before he came to this; just as of old the timber or material which they used in the house of the Lord came down by sea; much had to be done before it became available, but all was there.

Rem. Peter knew that; and I suppose that is why he said, "Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I am attached to thee", John 21:17.

J.T. So that in taking each of us up, the Lord prophetically names us, knowing the end from the beginning. If one receives the impression as to what the Lord's mind is, then you know what He would produce in you.

Ques. What is the name in view of here in John?

J.T. It is in view of the assembly, as we have been saying; John is careful to give us the interpretation of Cephas.

Ques. The Lord speaks of making Peter a fisher of men in Matthew 4, but is what we have here in view of administration, or eternity?

J.T. This is in view, I think, of the building. A stone is for the building. The Lord has a service for each of us; then each is to occupy a place in the building; and how can I be qualified for the building unless as knowing the place where He dwells?

W.H. Then it is for each saint to go that way.

J.T. "That I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus", Philippians 3:12. Do I know that for which I am apprehended? Then I press toward the mark as the apostle says.

I think the Lord takes up each of us in a distinct way, and gives us a name. You see it must be so if He be the last Adam. Adam could not name the creatures prophetically; he named them according to what he saw in them, according to the wisdom that God had given him; and there was no alteration in

[Page 310]

the name. And now in a much higher way the saints come to the Lord; Simon is led to Jesus, and the Lord looked on him, and named him. You can readily understand that Simon was not yet formed by the tools (1 Kings 5:17, 18); but the Lord saw what he would be, and named him accordingly. I apprehend that is the force of the Book of Life; the name is descriptive of the person.

F.H.B. If He gives us a name it indicates what He intends to produce in us, as in the case of Peter.

Ques. Would there be a similarity in each, as the work in each would be of the same character?

J.T. Well, there is a similarity among men, but you cannot find two of them alike in all the millions of people that there are in the world; and yet in another sense men are all like each other, as of the same order of being.

Rem. I was thinking of the kind referred to yesterday.

J.T. We are all to be conformed to the image of God's Son. He is the great pattern; but then there is variety, there are not two the same, no duplicates; there is infinite variety that will appear in the result of Christ's work, the work of God. It is delightful to think of the names, each suggesting its own character.

E.H. Would it be a secret between the Giver and the receiver? I was thinking of the stone given in Revelation 2:17, on which a new name was written which no one knows but he that receives it.

J.T. That is special; but there is no doubt that the Lord would convey His thought as to you. Now, that would save us from imitation and rivalry. The Lord has taken you up for a purpose, and He is not going to be diverted from that, and He has got the means to bring that about. So the great thing is to be subject to Christ. He takes the stone, and He knows what it is worth; it may be rough, and have a

[Page 311]

lot of extraneous matter attached to it, but He knows what is there, and He is not going to be diverted from His object in taking it up; He is going to bring out what He knows is there, and it is to occupy a certain place, and according to His infinite wisdom that is going to happen. Peter is given to know at once what that is, He looked upon him, and said, "Thou shalt be called Cephas".

F.H.B. Is it in coming to Christ each one gets his own impression, which he is to be conformed by?

J.T. Yes, that is what I was thinking. I do not know how you found it yourself!

F.H.B. I thought so; so that no two are exactly alike, and yet there is similarity; we are of the same nature.

J.T. And all in a general way bearing a resemblance to our great Head; and yet there is variety.

F.H.B. Now, when you speak of the building, do you refer to what is connected with time, or what is eternal?

J.T. The building, from John's point of view, goes on; it is a city; and he sees it as a tabernacle.

F.H.B. So it really goes on to what is eternal.

J.T. He is dealing with what God had in His mind. I do think this is an immense point -- where He dwells -- and the two hours, and what issues from that, the finding of Simon, and leading him to Jesus, and the Lord indicating what that man would be. The same is true of every one of us; and I would therefore urge the importance of enquiring from the Lord what He had apprehended one for, what is going to be worked out in one.

P.S.P. Would it indicate the greatness of the Person who has undertaken to carry on the work of God?

J.T. Every bit of material which has been prepared of the Father, and brought to Him, has its allotted place in connection with what He is doing.

[Page 312]

Ques. And in view of what He is going to do, would you say that everyone brought to Him in John's gospel is just as material brought to Him by the Father, with which he can carry on the work of God?

J.T. I think so; hence in chapter 17 he says, "Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son may glorify thee; 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". I think that the giving of eternal life to those given to Him of the Father enters largely into this very subject we are on. The formation of Peter into a stone in a very practical way, would very largely depend on the gift of eternal life.

Ques. Is that why Peter speaks of living stones -- that kind of life?

J.T. Exactly.

W.H. You spoke of those whose names are in the Book of Life; had you any further thought on that?

J.T. Well, only in regard to the giving: "Thou hast given him authority over all flesh, that as to all that thou hast given to him, he should give them life eternal".

"To whom coming, a living stone, cast away indeed as worthless by men, but with God chosen precious, yourselves also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house", 1 Peter 2:4, 5. It is the living character of the thing. So that the dwelling is a spiritual house. It may seem that we are crowding things in here, but it is really quite legitimate, because they belong to the time of the formation of the house, the spiritual house; I refer to the word 'spiritual', because we are so material in our thoughts in referring to the house of God, the spiritual element is very largely overlooked. Although formed of the saints, it is a spiritual structure.

E.H. I think the New Translation makes it clear

[Page 313]

that from verse 29 to the end of verse 42 is all one day.

J.T. Then it would be all within the sphere of John's ministry, but as culminating in the assembly.

E.H. Then verse 43 opens another morrow.

J.T. That is the morrow of the Lord's service to the Jews. It is His own distinctive movement, which we may expect now soon; He would go forth into Galilee, and He finds Philip.

W.M. Is it by some impression that we get from the Lord Himself, that we discover His thought as to us?

J.T. It is; and therefore it is a most important matter. What has the Lord taken me up for? I have often thought of that word of the Lord in Matthew 6, it is so potent in that respect: "When thou prayest, enter into thy chamber, and having shut thy door, pray to thy Father, who is in secret". You get the mind of God as to yourself; and no one can help others unless he arrives in the presence of God at what the mind of God is in respect to himself. At the present time the Lord is moving house-wise, that is to say, in relation to all the saints; and unless we apprehend what each is called to, we shall be in each other's way. If each apprehends what he is called to, he will not be in anybody's way; he has his own place, given in divine wisdom.

J.S. It is said of the stars, that one star differs from another in glory; would that be an exercise?

J.T. Yes; there is not much room for envy if the difference is only in glory; it is that your glory is different from mine, and mine from yours; there is enough glory attached to each one of us. That God "might make known the riches of his glory upon vessels of mercy, which he had before prepared for glory", Romans 9:23. All the stars are glorious.

Rem. I would like to hear a little more as to what we are apprehended for.

[Page 314]

J.T. Well, Peter was not left in doubt for long, he was told at once: "Jesus looking at him said, Thou art Simon, the son of Jonas; thou shalt be called Cephas (which interpreted is stone)". That was special for Peter, it was not for Andrew; it was for Simon to have this in his mind.

Ques. Would you say the chamber would be the way in which we come into the mind of the Lord?

J.T. "He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High", Psalm 91:1. It is there you get the impression, I think, as to what God's mind is for you.

P.S.P. Is that impression received by each one at their very first actual contact with and experience of the Lord? they get an impression, and what follows is soul history, with a view to bringing them up to what is His mind for them.

J.T. Yes; and if any saint has not got that impression, he should get it; otherwise he is indefinite, he does not know what he is called to, or what niche he is to fill.

Ques. Did Peter get his in Matthew 16?

J.T. Well, the material came out here, he confesses -- that is another matter; the Father reveals to him who Christ is.

S.L. Does not the assembly bring in more than what is individual?

J.T. Well, it does, surely. So Peter saw living stones: "To whom coming ... yourselves also as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house", 1 Peter 2:4, 5. That is a corporate thing.

The happenings of this day (from verse 35 - 42) are most important for us, because we come in there; it is the beginning of the church.

J.M. You have been emphasising a good deal the spiritual side of things, and the entering into where Christ dwells; this should help us in respect to the thought of Christ regarding the whole assembly, and the continuance of things according to God here.

[Page 315]

J.T. I think the spiritual side remains. The outward structure is ruined, but the spiritual side remains.

J.M. And there would be no thought of a surrender, you would still hold the truth in your affections; all that the saints are to Christ in this way.

J.T. Yes; hence it enables you, if you are spiritual, to be in touch with the saints available to you in a spiritual way.

Ques. Referring to our apprehending that for which we have been apprehended, is it in connection with service in the assembly; or is it the place one is to fill in the Lord's thought for us in the future?

J.T. Well, there are two thoughts in Peter; we are being built up a spiritual house, there you have a place in the house which is, as it were, fixed; one would love to apprehend that one has a place in the house which is definitely given, and one would value it in a living way; as a living stone, you have your place, and you are able to bear things. Then, on the other hand, there is the holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. So I think the two sides are there: one occupies a place in the house, and one functions in the house as a holy priest.

Ques. What do you say about functioning as a priest?

J.T. Well, you have a place in the house as a stone; which means you are formed, and you stand and hold things for God in a living way; but then you also function as a priest in offering up spiritual sacrifices. One has noticed that in the continuance of the priesthood the line is provided for to the end. Phinehas received an everlasting priesthood. Some of us will remember, though, that in Judges there is the record of one officiating as an apostate priest; that is the outward professional side; whereas in the genealogy of Levi, in Exodus 6, we have from Reuben

[Page 316]

down to Levi, and then the genealogy of Levi ending with Phinehas.

Because of that early date the Spirit of God would bring in the continuance of the priesthood; whatever the outward thing may come to, the continuance of the priesthood is secure. In Judges 20 we find that Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, stood before the ark in those days; that is to say, in the days of apostasy the true line of Aaron is found standing before the ark. Phinehas had secured that place through devotedness, and obtained the priesthood permanently; Numbers 25:13. And I take from that that the spiritual side of the priesthood is secure. Wherever there is a true priest, Christ will have His place.

Ques. Would that be continued in Timothy, and the faithful men?

J.T. Quite so.

[Page 317]


John 1:43 - 51; John 2:1 - 11

J.T. Six days were required for the formation of the physical system in which man is placed, but the spiritual order of things is established in three days.

Rem. You refer to the three days mentioned in the second chapter of John's gospel.

F.H.B. Does that carry on as far as the eternal state?

J.T. I think it carries on to the millennial state of things. From one point of view it is the end. He says, "Behold I make all things new", Revelation 20:1 - 5.

E.M. Is the third day linked with the thought of eternal life?

J.T. Yes. "After two days will he revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live before his face", Hosea 6:2.

E.H. Does the third day bring in resurrection too, as the foundation of it all?

J.T. Yes, it does, and we have it carried on, afterwards the Jews asked for a sign, and He said, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up".

Ques. Would you make a distinction between these two days?

J.T. They are linked together peculiarly, in that they refer to God's work in Israel. The Lord is prophetically announced as the One who raises up the house of Israel. Ezekiel enlarges on the subject, and Isaiah speaks of it. The dry bones, being the whole house of Israel, are made to live; and as made to live they are become as one stick in the hand of Christ; Ezekiel 37. And, following that, we have in chapter 40 the frame of a city as seen by the prophet in the land of Israel; and being there, the house is

[Page 318]

described to him. We get the same connection here; the Lord cleanses the house in chapter 2; and then announces that if they destroy this temple He would raise it up in three days.

Ques. What is the difference between the third day when the marriage was celebrated, and the third day when the temple was raised up?

J.T. Well, I think they synchronise; the wine of joy which the Lord shall bring in, will be dependent on His death, and the establishment of the temple of God. These two chapters are a sort of introduction, and the division of days is, I think, of symbolical significance, showing how God divides up His work. Things are carefully arranged, each day having its own work.

Ques. Is it the first day when John speaks of Him as the Lamb of God?

J.T. Yes; John's day is apparently divided into two. From the second part of John's service springs the truth of the assembly. We read in verse 43, "Jesus would go forth into Galilee, and findeth Philip, and saith unto him, Follow me. Now Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter"; not of Andrew and Simon, you will notice, meaning that Peter had already acquired notoriety, that is to say, his name had become known, he was representative; Andrew had found him, and brought him to Jesus, and Jesus gave him his name, and he is connected with Bethsaida. Well, Philip was of that town, but Andrew did not find him; the Lord found him. It is another movement originating with the Lord Himself. As the day arrives in which the Lord's own work begins. He takes the initiative, and He finds him who represents the service that should be employed which would raise up Israel; so Philip finds Nathanael -- being called upon to follow the Lord, he finds Nathanael. Philip is versed in the Scriptures.

[Page 319]

It is important in regard to the ministry to the Jews that the minister should be well versed in the Scriptures; this is indeed important for any ministry, but especially in that connection. In the epistle to the Hebrews the first chapter is based on quotations from the Old Testament scriptures. Hence Philip says, "We have found him of whom Moses in the law and the prophets did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph". The writer of the epistle to the Hebrews shows an extraordinary acquaintance with the Old Testament scriptures; so does Stephen, who also addresses the Jews.

Andrew says nothing to Peter about the Old Testament scriptures. The testimony as regards the assembly emanates from the dwelling-place. Andrew had been with the Lord for about two hours in His dwelling-place; and it is evidently the influence arising from that abode that induces Andrew to seek Simon. It is like Paul, coming out of heaven, you might say. The light that governs the assembly is out of heaven, not out of Jerusalem. The light from heaven shone into Paul's soul, and with that light the announcement that the saints whom he persecuted were "ME". The conception of the assembly is from heaven. So in Romans Paul cites the Old Testament; the gospel is witnessed, he says, by the law and the prophets; but not the assembly, he comes to the assembly in the last paragraph.

E.H. Do you mean that Andrew comes out, as it were, from heaven to seek and find Simon Peter?

J.T. That is it. In the end of Romans it says, "Now to him that is able to establish you, according to my glad tidings and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, as to which silence has been kept in the times of the ages, but which has now been made manifest, and by prophetic scriptures, according to commandment of the eternal God, made known for obedience of faith

[Page 320]

to all the nations -- the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever. Amen", Romans 16:25 - 27. "Prophetic scriptures" are New Testament writings.

Ques. Is that why the Gentiles are introduced in the sheet coming down out of heaven?

J.T. Exactly; the sheet is most significant; it contains "what God has cleansed".

Ques. Is it because the assembly is entirely heavenly that we are slow to take in the thought of it?

J.T. Yes, I think so. It is a conception born and developed in the dwelling-place where He dwells.

Ques. So that the reference to the assembly in John would be according to the purpose of His love; not exactly according to His ways?

J.T. Yes. The Lord was there alone, but He would have a companion. It is seen in John's gospel: "Every one went to his home, but Jesus went to the mount of Olives" (John 8:1); because I think He had a link with heaven there.

Rem. The assembly is a necessity to Christ even in heaven.

J.T. Yes; as we learn from the type (Genesis 24) there was need in the home of Isaac. And Andrew went out and found Simon, and led him to Jesus; and Jesus looked on him. That look suggests what the eye would delight in -- not merely that he would be material, but that there was something the eye could take account of with pleasure.

S.L. Is not the assembly the top-stone of God's revelation?

J.T. Well, it is; and so the city is said to be the bride, the Lamb's wife. It is composed of what the Lord looked on in Simon, and what He named. It comes down from God out of heaven; it belongs to heaven.

W.H.M. "In thy book all my members were written; during many days were they fashioned

[Page 321]

when as yet there was none of them", Psalm 139:16. Is that the thought of the assembly?

J.T. Yes, I think so. But the dwelling-place suggests that there was affection; and Andrew's movement and service would meet that in principle. I think that his movement in leading Simon to the Lord would foreshadow the great movement of Paul as taken up from heaven. The Lord had been in heaven for a considerable time, having ascended; but the full thought of the bride had not yet come out.

F.H.B. You spoke of a need in the home; there was the need in Abraham's house of someone to satisfy the affections of the son.

E.H. We read in Mark 10 of one who ran up and knelt before the Lord, and asked him, "Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?" and we are told that Jesus, looking upon him, loved him. That would probably be more on the natural side; whereas in Peter it was more what was spiritual.

J.T. Quite so; the full development of what Peter represented here would answer to the need of the home. I think what the name suggests is really the assembly.

P.S.P. And you would suggest that we should clothe the saints with assembly thoughts when we see them?

J.T. We shall, if we get the Lord's point of view, i.e., the vision of the Almighty. We are certainly taken up for one thing, and that is for the assembly. The apostle developed the truth of the gospel as fitting into the ways of God. It is said to be the gospel of God "concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh" -- he brings that in -- "and declared to be the Son of God with power, by the resurrection from the dead", Romans 1:1 - 4. That is, it was what came in in the ways of God. That is the ground on

[Page 322]

which the gospel stands in Romans; and having developed all that, the apostle comes to the truth of the assembly.

Simon was to be kept in regard to that day, awaiting the Lord's ascension to heaven, and full opportunity given to Israel in regard to faith through repentance. Then afterwards you see Him in heaven waiting on the Jews. Certain ones had a part in that heavenly relationship not yet fully known; and from that springs the movement that brings in the assembly. That is to say, the apostle Paul; he it was who received the ministry of the assembly. That ministry issued from those two days.

E.M. When the Spirit came on the day of Pentecost -- was not the assembly started then?

J.T. Well, you see the ground of the testimony at Pentecost is Israel's responsibility. It was still, I think, their day. The bearing of John the baptist's ministry entered into that too; and so in Acts 3 they are still regarded as the "sons of the prophets"; and Christ is in heaven just temporarily as it were; God would send Him back if they repented.

J.M. Would not that arise out of the first day?

J.T. Yes, the two hours of it.

J.M. And that would go on to Stephen's death, or the apostle Paul's conversion?

J.T. Yes; then we have our own day, which has to be introduced there where Peter appears. The second day assumes that that is finished, and the Lord goes to Galilee. That, I think, is on the principle of sovereignty. He does not go to Jerusalem; the movement is in Galilee. Israel has got to surrender its natural rights.

E.H. We read of Galilee of the nations (Matthew 4:15), would that bring in the thought that in the millennium the nations would be brought into blessing as well as Israel?

J.T. Yes. Here it is Israel; they are to be

[Page 323]

recovered as in a remnant. Galilee is in this connection, I think.

Ques. The revival of Israel will be on the line of the sovereignty of God's will?

J.T. Certainly, and in circumstances that will in no way gratify their pride, or recognise natural claims.

F.H.B. I thought that the Lord finding Philip would be the Lord finding the remnant in another day; and then the remnant will find the ten tribes, like Philip finding Nathanael.

J.M. You said the persons found brought out the effectiveness of the service?

J.T. It is a question of the result of one's service. What a find Simon was! Andrew brought him to the Lord. And then, what a find Nathanael was!

J.M. The necessity of being where He dwells is important if we would be engaged in this blessed work.

J.T. The Lord has got His own motives in calling you into service; and you may not know the end, but He does; He knows what you can do. The Lord would have intelligent response and enquiry in our hearts as to what His desire is.

The Lord did not tell Philip to find Nathanael. The Lord knew. He says, "Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee". The Lord sees all; but who is to be employed in finding these great treasures?

Rem. Saul's name was mentioned at the stoning of Stephen; then afterwards the Lord finds him Himself.

J.T. Yes; the Lord saw him at the stoning of Stephen, and He had taken account of him and the exercises, the "pricks". "It is hard for thee", He says, "to kick against the pricks!" Doubtless the light that shone there affected Saul's conscience, but he was kicking against it.

Ques. Do you mean that he was convicted there?

J.T. I think it affected his conscience; he held

[Page 324]

the clothes of the men who stoned Stephen, he saw what happened, and would be affected by it.

Ques. You were previously speaking of the continuance of the work of God -- is the assembly a revelation?

J.T. Well, it is a revelation; but then, it is a masterpiece of God, it comes out in that way; what God builds, what Christ builds, and what is being built by those whom He employs now.

The Lord, in taking up Paul, allowed others to help him, and bring him into the fellowship, as we speak. He called him Himself, however, and it is a remarkable distinction that He did so. And as the Lord, when speaking to Moses, mentioned his name twice, so Saul is addressed, "Saul, Saul"; showing what a place he had in the Lord's mind. The Lord knew what should come out in that man, and how he would know the longings of His heart in connection with the assembly.

In Acts 13 the Holy Spirit said, "Separate me now Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them". The time had come for the wonderful service that would result in the bringing in of the assembly for the heart of Christ; it was to be no longer delayed. Barnabas and Saul had been in Antioch for a considerable time, working among them. Saul undoubtedly was more particularly in the mind of the Spirit, although Barnabas is mentioned first, which is a peculiar touch of grace and consideration.

Rem. It was the Lord Himself that called the apostle.

J.T. Yes. He says, "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?"

Ques. Have you any thought as to why the name is repeated?

J.T. It is that the person has a particular place in the mind of God; the repetition of the name, I

[Page 325]

think, involves that. You find it also in the case of Moses, and of Samuel, and others.

Ques. Would it be that he had a distinguished place in connection with the work of God?

J.T. Well, it shows what a great place he had in the Lord's mind. The Lord said he was an elect vessel unto Him. The Lord had great pleasure in a vessel like that. We all know, if we have obligations and matters to attend to, what a great thing it is to have one that can be relied upon, one that can be trusted. Ananias, replying to the Lord's intimation regarding Saul, said, "Lord, I have heard from many concerning this man how much evil he has done to thy saints at Jerusalem"; as if he knew better than the Lord. If the Lord takes a man up you may be sure He knows better than we do what his capabilities are. So the Lord said to Ananias, "Go, for this man is an elect vessel to me, to bear my name before both nations and kings and the sons of Israel", Acts 9:13, 15.

Ques. Would you say Barnabas had discernment as to that, when he went to Tarsus to seek out Saul?

J.T. I think he had. Barnabas had an unjealous sympathy with the Lord. "Separate me now, Barnabas and Saul, for the work to which I have called them" -- I was remarking that the Lord would have a peculiar pleasure and restfulness in having a vessel like Saul; He has got a man now that He can trust.

No Israelite can raise a voice as regards the fairness of God in taking up the assembly first historically, because the suggestion arose from Israel's own day; it was the day of Israel's opportunity. He could say, It was all there for you. And so the testimony of Pentecost, and what follows, was on that line. It was all there for them. Now the testimony that Rachel represents is on the same line. She was the first loved; Jacob loved her first, but got her last.

F.H.B. Is it not remarkable, seeing this gospel

[Page 326]

has in view that which is spiritual and eternal, that it should be introduced with what is dispensational, and it ends with what is dispensational? Before He winds up the present heaven and earth. He will establish His will and purpose in it.

J.T. Yes; He can do that in three days. It all shows the importance of being spiritual in reading John. These things are spiritually apprehended.

Ques. Would you say the spiritual order of things of which you have spoken touches both the millennium and the eternal state?

J.T. The suggestion in the home is eternal, because that is where He lives. He is the Son of man which is in heaven. So, as has been remarked, the light comes down; and the sheet comes down three times, but goes up again, and it remains up there. That is the thought of the assembly. I think it is conceived in eternity, and it belongs to eternity. So that Ephesians is on the ground of eternity. There is no word in human language to convey or express the full meaning of what we call eternity, it has to be realised; not comprehended, but apprehended; it has to be spiritually realised.

And see, the Spirit's power
Has ope'd the heavenly door,
Has brought me to that favoured hour
When toil shall all be o'er.

Now, that is about all I can say. What can I say about it? It is beyond the finite mind, but I am brought into it, now!

Ques. There are a great many quotations from the Old Testament in the epistle to the Romans.

J.T. Yes; and the same applies to the epistles generally that treat of what belongs to the ways of God. But the assembly is out of heaven. God gave inklings of the assembly in type, but still silence had been kept as to it in the "times of the ages", Romans 16:25.

[Page 327]

Rem. No one could have invented the idea of the church.

S.L. You mentioned previously that things were developed on the ground of relationship.

J.T. Yes, they are. God's primary thought is the family, and it ends there: "I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom every family in the heavens and on earth is named", Ephesians 3:14, 15. The family is God's thought; it originates with Him. So in the assembly the final thought is that we are sons.

S.L. And as has been remarked already, we view the saints in the light of that when we meet them.

J.T. Yes; and typically the family of Levi represents that very thing. One might assume that there must, in a family, be the first-born, and the second-born, and so on; but in God's family there is not that thought. There is the first-born, i.e., Christ, but all the others are first-born ones. The Lord has His own distinctive place, an Only-begotten with the Father. Whereas every Levite would represent a first-born in another family; the twenty-two thousand of them represented twenty-two thousand first-born ones in Israel. So that all had the same relative place.

In Hebrews 12 we read of the assembly of the first-born who are enregistered in heaven. So, clothing each other with that dignity helps greatly as to loving one another. There is much that is merely social, and when that enters into the calculations of the saints there is a withering effect. Those who know what it is to be where He dwells dismiss all such things; and they clothe the saints with His dignity, they are first-born sons.

Ques. You are speaking of the assembly now as of the first-born ones?

J.T. It is the assembly of the first-born who are enregistered in heaven.

[Page 328]

Ques. But there are others that are seen, though not first-born ones.

J.T. But the principle of sonship pervades all the families.

P.S.P. You were speaking of Christ as being the Only-begotten, and then you referred to the Levites as being first-born ones; do you mean that the assembly of the first-born is distinctive? they are not only-begotten ones. Does the first-born in Hebrews 12 refer to Christ, or to those who are first-born ones?

J.T. I think it is an allusion to the Levites, the twenty-two thousand had that place; that is their family distinction. In Joshua you have their inheritance, and it is in keeping with their distinction -- the elite of God.

F.H.B. He is the First-born One; they are firstborn ones. So He is the Son of God. He must have the pre-eminence.

E.H. The Only-begotten of the Father is the One who has died.

J.T. "Take now thy son, thine only son, Isaac, whom thou lovest" -- it is that thought. But it is important to recognise that in the family the saints have equal glory; they are all equal in nobility, they are all first-born ones, as in Numbers. And then in Joshua they are supported with the inheritance equal to that, forty-eight cities are given to them; and then the offerings of the God of Israel, and the God of Israel Himself -- God Himself is their portion. Well, I think all that enters into the thought of the dwelling, the abiding place. And we can well afford to look at the second and third days in that light, because we are, as it were, looking down on the operations. So that the first day of the week in John 20 is the assembly's place.

Then the disciples were again within, and Thomas with them. That refers to this day, the day in which the movement begins with the Lord; and Philip is

[Page 329]

employed, and goes out and finds Nathanael. That is, the true Israelite is found, he is found sitting under the fig tree. So that the principle of movement is the same. The Israelite in that day shall have to move out of the moorings that he has got into in his natural pursuits. Jesus said to Nathanael, "Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee" (John 1:48), showing that the Lord had His eye on them, and He knows where they are.

The Lord did not say of Nathanael, "Behold one truly an Israelite, in whom there is no guile", until he began to move; Jesus saw Nathanael coming to Him, and then He said this to him ... . They are not truly Israelites as sitting under the fig tree. It is the movement John emphasises.

F.H.B. And He regards him as the fruit of the work of God -- One in whose spirit there is no guile.

J.M. I suppose the exercise is seen in Isaiah 53, when they begin to move towards the Lord.

J.T. Yes. Philip says, "we have found him". It is a beautiful witness. And then he quotes Moses and the prophets; they wrote about Him. Jesus, the son of Joseph, who is from Nazareth. Philip knew the Scriptures; and although Nathanael questioned, Can anything good come out of Nazareth? yet he came to Jesus. Philip says, Come and see! That is the thing.

W.H. He used the same words as the Lord did to the two of John's disciples who followed Him.

J.T. Nathanael moves to the Lord here on Philip's testimony. It is a great thing to testify so that people move to Christ. The "popular" evangelist says, "Let them go back to their own churches"; well, that is not the true movement at all. When the Lord sees Peter coming to Him, He gives him a name.

Rem. The kind of people that shall inhabit the

[Page 330]

earth in a later day are represented in Nathanael: "An Israelite ... in whom is no guile".

P.S.P. The work of God does not end with the assembly.

J.T. No, it goes on to the bringing in of a guileless people on the earth -- like the Lord Himself, in whom was no guile.

Ques. What is the characteristic feature of the third day in connection with the work of God?

J.T. Well, you will observe that in these two earlier days the record gives us more what the Lord said than what He did, i.e., He is naming what is brought before Him. Now, it was God's work that Adam was called upon to name. So that these earlier days refer to what God had been doing.

On the third day, the marriage day, there was deficiency, and now it is not what He says -- it is what He does. There were six water-pots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, but they were empty, and the Lord says, "Fill the water-pots with water", and they filled them up to the brim. The water of purification comes in on the third day. That is, the millennial world shall be set up on the ground of purification, a purified world; and the water of purification becomes the wine of joy; it is turned into wine.

Ques. Why is His mother not recognised in connection with these three days?

J.T. She is recognised in that she submits. When the mother of the Lord undertakes to tell Him things, He says, "Woman, what have I to do with thee"; but then you will observe in verse 12, He descends after this to Capernaum, "He, and his mother, and his brethren, and his disciples, and they continued there not many days".

The millennial day is a thousand years, but then that is not much in God's reckoning; it is only a matter of testimony. I mean, it is nothing compared

[Page 331]

with what we have in the way of duration. The Lord recognised His mother and His brethren; we know from Revelation she has a great place with God; she is clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars; Revelation 12:1. But it is that she is taken up sovereignly. I think it is a great thing to see how the work of God culminated. Think of man and his world! When God begins He selects three days and finishes his work.

Rem. Man has had a long time, and has made a sad mess of things.

Ques. Why were six days required in Genesis for creation, and only three days here?

J.T. The point is, God is showing what He can do. That is what testimony largely involves, how quickly God can do things. See how quickly He will change your body, for instance -- in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye.

W.H.M. You referred to the thought of sonship, and families -- in Isaiah 56 we read of a name better than of sons and of daughters.

J.T. Well, sons and daughters would refer to what we are here in our ordinary life: "Ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty", 2 Corinthians 6:18. It is not the full height of our calling, but, I think, sonship is.

[Page 332]


John 1:32, 33; John 4:10 - 14; John 7:37 - 39; John 14:15 - 17; John 20:22

J.T. I thought we should look at some scriptures in John's gospel which refer to the Holy Spirit, to see in a brief way the part He has in the work of God, which we have been considering.

This morning we dwelt on the second and third days, referred to in John 1 and 2, and we noted that the work of God was there compressed into three days, involving the assembly emanating from the two hours of John the baptist's day. The two disciples followed the Lord and abode with Him, after which one of these disciples, Andrew, found his brother Simon, and led him to Jesus; and when Jesus saw him He named him: "Thou shalt be called Cephas", He said, which signified a stone. This thought we had before us a good deal, leading to the truth of the assembly as emanating from the divine abode, and being fully developed in the ministry of Paul, who was called out of heaven, and who brought out the great truth of the mystery, which was not spoken of in the earlier ages of God's ways.

So the assembly belongs to heaven, it comes down from God out of heaven -- not strictly forming part of the work of God in the day next mentioned. The next day introduced the Lord's direct ministry, being occupied with the call of Philip, who found Nathanael. We noted that Philip was acquainted with the Scriptures, and referred to them in his ministry; this is in keeping with all ministry to the Jews. The Scriptures are invariably commented on in ministry to the Jews.

So Nathanael comes to Jesus, and the Lord says of him, "Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile". He represents the tribes of Israel raised up

[Page 333]

by Christ; he recognised the Lord as the Son of God, the King of Israel. He is to be recognised in that way presently by the ancient people of Israel. Now that comes in in the first day of the Lord's direct ministry. Then the third day is the second day of the Lord's ministry, but it is called the third day; and in that day He brings in the wine. That is, He establishes the millennial day of enjoyment.

That was briefly what we had this morning, and the suggestion now is that we should look at the truth of the Spirit, as necessarily entering into the great subject of the work of God. The Holy Spirit is carrying on that work. We cannot really understand the work of God unless we understand that it is by the Spirit. The passages read are to call attention to the Spirit as the Agent employed in the work of God, in the individual believer first, and then as the divine Person here, dwelling with the saints, acting sovereignly, but ever remaining in the unity of the Godhead. God is one; the work is one.

The Holy Spirit came in sympathetically as the Father expressed His appreciation of the Son. The Godhead is seen there. The Holy Spirit comes in in relation to the Son, as expressive of the Father's appreciation of Him. So that the position is clearly defined. "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work", the Lord says; John 5:17. The Father sealed Him; John 6:27. And the work of God in a man is that he believes on Him whom the Father hath sent.

The position is very clearly set there -- the Father, the Son, and the Spirit. John bare record, saying, "I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him"; but then it goes on to say that the One on whom the Spirit descended baptises with the Holy Spirit; John 1:32, 33.

Ques. Why do you speak of the Spirit remaining in the unity of the Godhead?

[Page 334]

J.T. God is one, and the operations are carried on in infinite unity; but the Holy Spirit being here now, the Son is marked off, according to John's record, as the One who baptises with the Holy Spirit.

Rem. "He shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak", John 16:13.

J.T. Yes, quite so, but the baptism of the Spirit means, I think, that the results of the work of God are merged into one whole. He takes away the sin of the world, and He baptises with the Spirit. The baptism of the Spirit takes the place of the sin of the world; instead of man's will being active and a hopelessly disjointed state of things in the earth, we have one whole; in the baptism of the Spirit, the Spirit pervades all; so that instead of disunion it is spiritual affection.

J.M. So that all that follows is in accord with what is set forth in this first scripture.

J.T. I think the position is clearly defined there.

Ques. Would you kindly say what bearing that has at the present moment?

J.T. Well, it all holds good. There is a merging by the power of the Spirit into a general unity, for God being One the result of His work must be one; that is the divine thought; and I think it is brought about by the merging involved in baptism.

J.M. So that the work of God seen in a soul would be in the coming into a unity that already exists.

J.T. That is what I think baptism by the Spirit means. It really involves that one loses one's independency. It is worked out in 4 Corinthians 12; there is drinking into one Spirit, which is my own action; but then there is that which Christ does. He baptises with the Spirit; He has in view the merging of the saints into a unity where independency is abandoned. The truth of the baptism of the Spirit in this gospel belongs to the first and second chapters. The first and second chapters are introductory, so that it is

[Page 335]

just the general thought of the Spirit you get there; His work in detail begins with the third chapter.

Ques. The Spirit is the One by whom the work is carried on; is the Spirit speaking part of that work?

J.T. Quite so; that comes in under the head of the Comforter. From chapter 13 the Holy Spirit is thus seen. He speaks as a divine Person here; He comes in in connection with the house, and that is where He speaks.

Ques. Would the first chapter of Genesis suggest that He is always connected with the subjective work?

J.T. Well, I think so, He was hovering over the face of the deep; but before the work begins God says, "Let there be light". And so I think it is important, speaking of new birth, that that takes place in the light. God is not going to operate in the dark, He operates in the light.

Ques. Do you mean one is not born again unless he has accepted the gospel?

J.T. No, I do not mean that; they are collateral. The Holy Spirit was hovering over the face of the deep in Genesis 1; it does not say He was doing nothing else, but God did not bring order out of chaos until light came in.

Rem. It is significant that the first mention of one particular Person in the Godhead is the Spirit of God.

J.T. It is. Moses mentioned that as having come to know God.

Ques. What about Nicodemus? Was he born again?

J.T. I think so.

Ques. Had he heard the gospel?

J.T. He said, "We know thou art a teacher come from God". There was light there, do you not think? He knew something. There were those who were affected by the Lord's miracles, but He did not trust

[Page 336]

them. He did not commit Himself to them because He knew all men -- a great fact for us to remember. He knows all men. "But there was a man from among the Pharisees, his name Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews; he came to him by night, and said to him, Rabbi, we know that thou art come a teacher from God, for none can do these signs that thou doest unless God be with him", John 3:1, 2. You see that is the moral element; he recognised that God was there. Nicodemus had already light, but he needed something more, he needed the truth.

W.H.M. Where does quickening come in?

J.T. Quickening, I think, involves a new place, it is found in connection with Christ risen; if I am quickened I am made to live, but I am not made to live in connection with this world, I am made to live in connection with another. It goes further.

Ques. Is not the thought of quickening in chapters 5 and 6?

J.T. It is simply the statement that the Father quickens, and the Son; the truth of quickening as to us is in Colossians. Divine operations are in the light; if one is born anew, he is born anew in the light. That was the first thing God commanded -- light.

P.S.P. It says, "Except a man be born again he cannot see". Would it involve ability to see, and is that the condition necessary to the reception of light?

J.T. Quite so, but the kingdom of God is there; that is, the light is there so that a man may see it.

Ques. Then you attach no significance to the fact that Nicodemus came by night?

J.T. That would refer to his fear of consequences; the point is that he came.

Ques. Would you infer that there could be light, and no further result?

J.T. Quite so. That is an important remark. You see we have light now. "The true light already

[Page 337]

shines", John says; 1 John 2:8. He was careful to say that John the baptist was not that light. The true light is that which, coming into the world, sheds its light on every man; it is universal; and with it grace is active, grace is on the throne, grace reigns through righteousness. And that is the throne that stands today, there is no other; and men often rejoice in the light, as the Jews did in John's light, but they have it only for a season, unless there is a work of God in them.

P.S.P. Would you suggest that one might be born again, and yet not progress from that point?

J.T. Yes, there are many like that; they do not accept the truth. But the Lord brought the truth to Nicodemus. He says, "Ye shall know the truth"; not only were they to have the light, they were also to have the truth.

P.S.P. Then that is a distinct work of God, the fact of one being born again. And does it not suppose that there shall be a superstructure?

J.T. It does. I was going to say that in John 8 the Lord said, "Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free". The truth brings in reproach where it is accepted. One may appreciate grace and the light of grace, and remain in a human system without reproach; in fact men do not object to that. The gospel is something that men in the world can appreciate to some extent; it enhances human circumstances.

E.H. Does the reception of the truth always imply a work of God in the soul?

J.T. It does. Those who believe and know the truth are born of God. They have liberty; they know how to use the creatures of God; 1 Timothy 4.

But what I wanted to remark was that the truth accepted as a principle involves reproach in this world, and suffering. Those who believe and receive and know it, and value it, are in reproach.

[Page 338]

J.M. So that the reception of the truth would lead to movement out of this present scene, and that would involve reproach. The grace side has relieved men where they are.

J.T. The truth takes you out of the world.

Ques. Is the reproach the hindrance?

J.T. Well, very often souls are hindered because they are afraid of the consequences; the consequences are too serious in their estimation, hence they remain in religious positions to which no reproach is attached. Religious positions do not entail reproach.

E.P. God desires that all men should be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth.

Ques. I suppose what should mark us here is the reproach of Christ, and the Spirit?

J.T. Yes. It is a remarkable thing that the strong delusion comes on all those who receive not the love of the truth.

Ques. Does not the Spirit work on the line of the truth?

J.T. Oh. He does; and if the truth is not bowed to He is hindered at once.

Ques. Is not the Spirit's work connected with the truth?

J.T. He is the Spirit of truth; so it must be.

Ques. You distinguish between the letter of the truth, and the love of it; and do you think Christendom has embraced the letter of it?

J.T. Well, yes, in the measure in which they have fitted it in with worldly religion.

All limitations of the position that God has called us to are marked by the letter; but it is the letter brought within the range of man's intelligence; you will find the more you look into it, that things are made acceptable to man as he is. Paul said to the Romans, "Ye have obeyed from the heart the form of teaching which was delivered to you".

[Page 339]

P.S.P. As to the subjective work, would you not say that new birth is the commencement of it?

J.T. Yes, it is, only my exercise was that you might note that God is operating in the light; He brings the light in first, and then operates.

P.S.P. It is not intended that a soul should remain in darkness.

J.T. No, he is in the light; the light is there for him, you see. Then the next thing is the truth; and so the Son of man must be lifted up, as you get it here, in order to set aside the state of man -- "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up". That is the truth. While one may have divine instinct, he is apt to credit the flesh and adorn the flesh with the very instincts that the Spirit produces -- whereas the flesh is to be set aside.

P.S.P. The Psalmist says, "O send out thy light and thy truth", Psalm 43:3. How would you distinguish between the two thoughts?

J.T. Well, I was referring to that the other day. They go together. However much truth you receive, the light remains. The light is a general thought; the truth adjusts us. It is by truth the universe stands. There must be an absolute balance, or things would go to pieces. And so, the truth of Romans, for example, which is the great word of righteousness, adjusts you in regard to God, and in regard to your neighbour, indeed in regard to everything; you are thus prepared to be in the building. The Lord says: "I am the way, the truth and the life".

Ques. Apart from that adjustment that you refer to, is there any freedom?

J.T. There is no freedom without it. There are several things in John 8; one is that the Lord is the Light of life. He is also the truth and the Son; the truth sets free; but then the Son sets free. The

[Page 340]

truth of the house comes to light in that connection. The servant abides not in the house for ever, but the Son abides for ever. "If the Son, therefore, shall set you free ye shall be free indeed".

J.M. You said the light and the truth go together; in the first chapter of the first epistle of John we are exhorted to walk in the light -- you were saying that the truth adjusts us.

J.T. Yes, and so "the blood of Jesus Christ. God's Son, cleanseth us from all sin". Well, that is the truth about the blood. And "if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" -- that is the truth about sins. "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us", 1 John 1:7 - 9. These are essential features of the truth to maintain you in fellowship in the light.

Rem. "He that practises the truth comes to the light".

J.T. Well, that confirms what we were saying. The two things go together; the light brings out that his works were wrought in God. You are not afraid of the light, as a subject of the work of God.

Ques. Does it suggest that in practising the truth you come into accord with the light?

J.T. Well, I think so; and you are not afraid of it -- "For everyone that does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light that his works may not be shown as they are; but he that practises the truth comes to the light, that his works may be manifested that they have been wrought in God", John 3:20, 21. John speaks of a thing or person according to what it or he is abstractly; the one who does truth comes to the light.

E.H. Would it not be right to say that Christ is the truth? But then you are bringing it into "the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all

[Page 341]

sin". That is the truth. It is part of the total of the full truth.

J.T. The revelation of God is the light, the truth works out rather in what man is, as seen in Christ -- "Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent". That is, He became a standard; everything is measured by Him or tested by Him. So that the truth, I apprehend, works out rather in what man is in Christ; the light is what God is in Christ.

P.S.P. Would you say the truth is the application of the light to the soul in that way?

J.T. It is the application of Christ as man here. That is a side perhaps that is not recognised. But it must be so. The Son became man. You have thus a perfect standard of things -- a test for everything.

O.J.M. I suppose if the light of Christ has shone into my soul, I am not then afraid to come to the light.

J.T. Just so; the nearer you come to it, the more you see how God has provided for you.

Ques. Was the woman in John 4 adjusted by the light?

J.T. Well, when the Lord referred to her husbands He was applying the truth. What He said previously involved the light. The presence of a Man here, who in every way answered to God, involves the truth here, by which everything is to be measured. Hence, "all have sinned and come short of the glory of God". The glory of God is Christ. You set up a plumb-line; that is the idea of truth; things must be on that principle; Christ is the standard. In John 4 God is presented as giving the living water to believers. But the woman had to be adjusted by the truth. The water in chapter 3 refers to cleansing. The water in the next chapter refers to the inward parts "it shall be in him".

Ques. "If thou knewest the gift of God", is that the Son or the Spirit?

[Page 342]

J.T. The Spirit; there is no asking for the Son, the Son has come: "God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son". That He did of Himself; and it involves the light. But the Spirit is presented in John 4 as a gift to be asked for from Him.

Ques. Does it refer to Pentecost?

J.T. Yes, only the bearing of it is continuous. If one desires it, it is available. Chapter 4 is the light of the gift; it is not what He has given, but what He is giving. "If thou knewest the gift of God and who it is that says to thee, Give me to drink, thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water", John 4:10. "God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son" that is past; John 4 is the present thing! God is giving the living water.

Ques. No one but a converted person would ask for the Spirit?

J.T. Well, no; really it is based on light. "If thou knewest the gift of God and who it is that says to thee, Give me to drink, thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water".

E.H. "Thou wouldest have asked of him". Is that of Christ?

J.T. It is.

Ques. Is it possible that many may have the Spirit, but not as living water?

J.T. Well, I think that is so.

Ques. Does "shall become in him" suggest the work of the Spirit within?

J.T. I think so. It involves satisfaction. You will never thirst for ever. The fountain of water springing up refers, I think, to the movement of the inner man -- organs that act of themselves, and that are not exactly controlled by a man's will, or head. The Holy Spirit becomes in a believer the fountain springing up. One said: "My reins also instruct me

[Page 343]

in the night seasons", Psalm 16:7. It is almost like a dual personality in him; the reins instruct him.

J.M. This would suggest the movement of a soul who had got a measure of light.

J.T. It does -- "If thou knewest". John is true to the principle that things were all done in the light. And in asking, you ask for what you know is available. If she had known the One who stooped so low as to ask a drink of her, she would have asked of Him and He would have given her living water.

Rem. It is important to notice the word 'If'.

J.T. Yes, it is a question of light. The Lord's attitude and words when speaking to the woman convey wonderful light. Jesus sat as He was, on the well. There was no alteration; He was weary, and He needed a drink of water, and He asked for it. What a position that was! God is brought to her attention. So that if she knew Him in that position, she would have asked of Him; because if He came so low -- He was God Himself -- what would He not give!

Rem. That is how God gets His delight. He is delighted with truth in the inward parts. The Spirit is there; He sheds abroad the love of God in our hearts, and there is a response in the water springing up.

J.T. It is not, so to speak, the upper intelligence; it is more amplified in chapter 7; it is the lower affections. Those by which she had been governed in her wrongdoing are now to become the organs of life God-ward. That is what the Holy Spirit does.

E.H. They would be springing up into everlasting life.

P.S.P. Would you encourage people to come to the Lord on this line, i.e., to obtain something from Him?

J.T. That is the thought. It is a time of giving, and hence it is a time of asking.

[Page 344]

Rem. If we knew the position of the One who stoops so low we could hardly refrain from asking.

E.H. If the woman had had the light in her soul that the Person who stooped so low was so wondrously great; that He who sat on the well in weariness, and thirst, was the One into whose hands all things were given of the Father, and that all power, too, rested with Him, she would have asked of Him.

P.S.P. Would you say that the Spirit is given in response to desire?

J.T. Well, this passage would so teach us, as we have been saying.

Rem. The reception of the Spirit entails adjustment.

J.T. The woman asked for water, but the truth must come in; so He says, "Go, call thy husband". Well, that brought forth the truth. And it was to that very fact that she alluded later, when she said "He told me all things that ever I did". There was adjustment.

Rem. So that the conscience comes in before the heart.

E.H. The two things that came by Jesus Christ, grace and truth, are really bound together here; we have them in connection with this woman.

Ques. Would you say that after the adjustment has been effected, God gets response?

J.T. Yes, I think it is remarkable that the truth of worship and the disregard of privileged places comes out here. After the believer has got the gift of God, the thought of privileged places disappears -- "Neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem worship the Father. Ye worship ye know not what; we worship what we know, for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour is coming and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth; for also the Father seeks such as his worshippers", John 4:21 - 23.

[Page 345]

E.H. The activities of the Spirit in this chapter come out both God-ward and man-ward. First you have worship, and then she goes out to others and brings them to Christ. So in that way it touches on chapter 7.

J.T. It seems to me that she got the thought from the Lord that her body was to be a vessel of living water. What she left (her water-pot) indicated that she had apprehended that. So she goes away into the city, and says to the men, "Come, see a man who told me all things I had ever done; is not he the Christ?" She became a vessel in that way. But then chapter 7 enlarges on this, because if this service is to be carried on, it is to be carried on in relation to a glorified One; and all that intervenes is to qualify the vessel for the flowing out of the rivers of living water.

Rem. So that in principle you go back to the garden of Eden.

J.T. Yes, you do. And it is a glorified Christ that characterises the position in chapter 7.

Ques. Why the four rivers?

J.T. Oh! I think that it is to show the fulness and generality of the supply. As has been remarked, Scripture begins with a river, and it ends with a river. In Genesis 2 the river becomes parted in Eden -- in the privileged spot -- into four heads; it becomes universal in its bearing.

Ques. We see the truth here brought out in connection with a woman; was it because failure had been brought in by a woman?

J.T. I think so. Sin had been seen in its lowest depths in her.

Ques. Had you something further to say with reference to the river in Eden?

J.T. It was divided into four. In Revelation it is one, a pure river of the water of life, bright as crystal. I think it is the influence of pure government.

[Page 346]

But John 7 is really greater than either, because it is what flows out through human sympathy; the lower parts are those through which the river flows.

P.S.P. It is a man that is referred to in chapter 7, in chapter 4 it is in connection with a woman.

J.T. It is really the believer. "This he said concerning the Spirit, which they that believed on him were about to receive", John 7:39. Mark you, it is not those to whom the Spirit is given. In chapter 7 it is those who receive Him.

Ques. What does that involve?

J.T. I think it involves the appreciation of the gift.

Rem. All this that we have been looking into is in connection with the individual, is it not? But when we come to chapter 14 we find there what is collective.

J.T. Yes, chapters 14, 15 and 16 tell of the Spirit as here personally. "Another Comforter", the Lord says; not in His relation to the individual, as working in him, but as with the company. "He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you". And, as was mentioned here last evening, He is here personally, to take charge of the truth and announce it, and, indeed, as one might say, to take charge of the company, and of the servants of God. So that He journeys on with the saints right to the end, and at the end He is there with them. It seems as if the present time is marked by the gracious activity of the Spirit in leading the saints into unity, so that they may be suitable to Christ and to desire His coming.

Ques. Would you say that under the Lord's hand, in connection with His disciples, there had been formed a vessel that the Spirit could take possession of?

J.T. Oh yes! The Spirit is here in a sovereign way, as the Lord had been, amongst them. He took the Lord's place. How great that place! He said, "Separate to me now Barnabas and Saul". It is the

[Page 347]

Holy Spirit acting sovereignly in connection with the service of God.

R.W.G. The word 'Comforter' certainly gives an enhanced thought of the Holy Spirit.

J.T. The word, I suppose, involves one who takes complete charge. What a great fact it is that there is One here who has taken complete charge of all the interests of Christ. If the word 'vicar' is applicable to any, it is to the Holy Spirit. He is here on behalf of Christ, taking care of the church; and He brings the church to Christ. We are not, however, taken to heaven by the Spirit, as translated, but we are brought to Christ now by the Spirit. So that the Spirit and the bride say, Come. As you draw near to the Lord, and become acquainted with His way, and fulness, how resentful you are as to the insult offered to the Spirit. According to these passages He is here on the behalf of Christ, to take full charge of the saints.

E.H. So, as has been indicated, there is a peculiar aspect in which we have the Spirit in John 14, 15 and 16.

J.T. As presented in those chapters, He is a divine Person here, capable of taking complete charge of the assembly; and men have come in and arrogated to themselves His office, and set Him aside completely. What does heaven think of that? It is well to see what the complete bearing of the sin against Him is, so that we may not be found in it, in any way.

E.H. "Another Comforter", that is what the Lord was -- a Comforter.

J.T. Just so; and it is well to have before us what the nature of the sin against the Spirit is, and how it is continued, and how it stands.

Ques. Would you say a word about chapter 20?

J.T. Well, it was just to call attention to the spirit in which the saints forming the assembly are sent out to the world. They are sent out in the

[Page 348]

Spirit of Christ: "As the Father sent me forth, I also send you. And having said this, he breathed into them, and says to them, Receive the Holy Spirit: whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted to them; whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained". The Lord breathes into them, and then says, as it were, I have the fullest confidence in you. I can trust you with the remission of sins and the retention of sins, and whether you remit or retain, I will endorse it. Remarkable results of the work of God!

Ques. Is that collective or individual?

J.T. Well, it is said to the disciples; they are not presented here as the apostles, but as disciples.

Ques. What is the difference between what we have in John 20, where He breathed into them, and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit", and the Spirit descending on the day of Pentecost?

J.T. The day of Pentecost presents what is external.

Ques. Is it more in the character of anointing?

J.T. Yes, in Acts -- He sat upon them -- it is the baptising there. Here He breathed into them, and note, it is not the belly but the upper parts, the lungs; meaning that it is the higher intelligence and affections of the saints that are in view, because it is important it should be these, if they have to do with the forgiveness of sins and representing the Lord here as He represented the Father.

[Page 349]


Genesis 48:5, 8 - 15, 21, 22; Genesis 50:22; Numbers 27:1 - 11

J.T. I should like that we might see how the great parental instinct of the patriarchs, as shown in the book of Genesis, culminated in Jacob and Joseph, and how the fruit of the seed sown by them is seen, in the book of Numbers, in these women who were directly descended from Joseph, through Machir. The parental feature of the truth is specially set out in Abraham, who passed it on when dwelling with Isaac and Jacob. The family of Jacob, however, although born of one father, had different mothers; consequently conditions arose that required adjustment, and Joseph was used of God to adjust those relations. So the sovereignty of God is seen coming in in connection with Jacob's blessing, but in Joseph there is adjustment -- a thing that is greatly needed today, because it is very evident that relationships are greatly deranged.

Ques. When you speak of family relationships are you referring to the home circle, or to the assembly?

J.T. To the spiritual family; the saints being the family of God. John's writings enlarge on the family side; showing that from the very outset of the gospel that was what was in view. Those who received Christ got the place of children; and what is said in connection with the prophecy of Caiaphas in chapter 11 brought to light the fact that the Lord died to "gather together into one the children of God who were scattered abroad". So there must be this gathering together into one, in order that the true thought of the family may be seen.

E.H. Do you connect children more with the family, than sons?

[Page 350]

J.T. I think both suggest the family, only that children bring in the thought of parentage more; the word refers to what we are down here. Sonship is connected with heaven and eternity. John scarcely speaks of it; it refers to our place with God outside of this world; it is developed in Paul's ministry.

E.H. Position, I suppose, and dignity.

J.T. Yes. As receiving Christ we are given the right to take the place of children. It is an immense dignity that we have the title to take that place here.

Ques. Do we see the sovereignty of God in Joseph's sons being blessed here?

J.T. Yes; Jacob placed them in the family. They might have been regarded as in a lower position relatively, but Jacob says: "As Reuben and Simeon, they shall be mine", Genesis 48:5. All the patriarchs have to be viewed, not only as representing a believer in his exercises, but also as representing God -- the fatherhood of God.

F.H.B. Yes; and I think the fact that God has revealed Himself in the name of Father indicates His intention to have a family.

J.T. All that was set out in the patriarchs found a full answer in Christ -- parental feeling, affection for the disciples, and so forth. The Father names all. Jacob places Joseph's son on the same footing as Reuben and Simeon.

Rem. "Of whom every family in heaven and earth is named".

J.T. Yes, and then Joseph himself gets a special place, but in the next chapter he falls in with the other eleven, and Ephraim and Manasseh are not mentioned.

W.H. In chapter 48: 14, although he laid his hands upon the heads of Ephraim and Manasseh, yet in verse 15 he blessed Joseph. I suppose Joseph was blessed in them.

[Page 351]

J.T. Yes. Joseph had one portion above his brethren.

Ques. Is there a difference set forth in Reuben and Simeon in contrast to Ephraim and Manasseh? Why does he mention Reuben and Simeon?

J.T. Reuben and Simeon represent the family in its most privileged position; and these two sons of Joseph were given the same place. Jacob gave them a place according to his own thoughts. The Lord in His prayer to the Father recognises that all His were the Father's. "All that is mine is thine, and all that is thine mine", John 17:10.

Ques. Was not the wisdom of Jacob seen in naming Ephraim before Manasseh? As we see in Numbers 27, Zelophehad died and had no sons; so it would seem to be prophetic on Jacob's part.

F.H.B. I was wondering if bringing in Reuben and Simeon would illustrate that, according to the flesh, they would have had the first place -- the firstborn ones; but Manasseh and Ephraim, according to the sovereignty of God, got that place: "as Reuben and Simeon, they shall be mine".

J.T. I think in saying "Ephraim and Manasseh shall be mine, as Reuben and Simeon", Jacob meant that he would give them the same place as his first-born and second-born sons. It is a help to see that each one in the family gets his place from the Father. The adjustment of the sons of Jacob comes in earlier. In order to come into the good of the family, according to what it is in the mind of God, adjustment is necessary. The saints need to be in the light of their place in the family of God, and all that interferes, even with the affections suited to the relationship, should be judged and removed. There are many in a state of alienation who have an unjudged murderous spirit. In that family an unjudged spirit of murder existed.

W.J.N. You mean in Simeon and Levi?

[Page 352]

J.T. I refer also to the attitude of the ten brothers toward Joseph.

Ques. Had Joseph to go through special discipline on that account?

J.T. They would have put him to death were it not that they found it more convenient to sell him.

Rem. It is noticeable occasionally, when a difficulty arises amongst the people of God, how judgment is swayed by natural relationships.

J.T. Well, that has to be dealt with. These ten men were cognisant of what their hearts had devised and determined upon; they took the garment of Joseph and sent it back to Jacob and said: Now, is this your son's? They were entirely heartless about it; they knew how their father loved him. "Jacob loved Joseph". Now, these ten sons had no feeling of sympathy with their father, knowing full well what a dreadful thing it would be to him to see the blood-stained garment of the one whom he loved, and for whom he had made this coat of many colours; they were perfectly heartless. But now they had to come back to right family feelings. When Joseph finally reaches the end, in the cup being found in Benjamin's sack, they all come back to his house; Joseph was still there in the house -- and they were prepared to do anything; but Joseph says: No, "the man in whose hand the cup has been found, he shall be my bondman; but as for you, go up in peace to your father", Genesis 44:17.

Then Judah, representing the true filial feeling, came near to him, and said, "Ah! my lord, let thy servant, I pray thee, speak a word in my lord's ears ... My lord asked his servants, saying, Have ye a father, or a brother?" The root was touched; because that was where the error lay. They had sinned in regard to their father and their brother; and they were discovered. It was the grace of God that had done it for them too. Judah faces the

[Page 353]

thing; he judges it; he begins about their father and their brother, and we have a record of God's feelings about Christ. God has been outraged in the death of Christ. I am sure God would bring about a true sense of what has been done in the family.

W.J.N. In chapter 42 they confessed that they were guilty concerning their brother, and in chapter 44 they had to own their sin in regard to their father. The sin was both against their father and their brother.

F.H.B. Primarily, this would set forth what has taken place in Israel, and the way of their recovery. They will be brought back in a future day.

J.T. "And they shall look on me whom they pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for an only son", Zechariah 12:10. The Son has been put to death, and the Father has been outraged. They brought the coat to Jacob, having dipped it in blood, and said to him: Is this now your son's coat, or not? How terrible!

F.H.B. "And at last he sent to them his son, saying, They will have respect for my son. But the husbandmen, seeing the son, said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him and possess his inheritance", Matthew 21:37, 38. That was an outrage to the Father who sent Him.

E.M. "We will not have this man to reign over us".

F.H.B. I think it is rather remarkable that the truth of the family (the "children of God", and "brethren" ) has been brought out later than the truth of the assembly -- the body of Christ, and the house of God.

J.T. Well, I think nothing can be more delightful than the Father's affections, and the service of Joseph in bringing about adjustment is that we might enjoy them. That, I am sure, is what the Lord would do now.

[Page 354]

E.M. And the assertion of His sovereignty is in connection with this.

G.M. I think it is very solemn to see that this adjustment should have to take place with those who are in relationship with the Father.

J.T. The public system of Christianity has really taken the place of the Judaism that sold Christ, and we are all outwardly connected with it. The adjusting ministry of Joseph is to deliver us from that, and bring us to recognise what an outrage has been done to the Father; that we might see what the Son is to the Father; and what our place is in connection with Christ. We can only reach the family on those lines. Saints set out with: "As many as received him, to them gave he the right to be children of God", John 1:12. That was their public position. "See what love the Father has given to us, that we should be called the children of God", 1 John 3:1. You will notice that it is not stated who called them that; the thought is they were recognised as the children of God.

Ques. Do you not think that at the present moment the brother is a big test for us?

J.T. Yes. As loving God we want our brethren; but we want them on God's terms.

Rem. One feels that the present day is characterised by great spiritual weakness. We see how complete recovery came about here, however.

Rem. It was Joseph who brought about the recovery of his brethren; they were greatly exercised through his dealings with them. Who brings about recovery now?

J.T. The Lord does it. It is remarkable how Joseph's cup comes into it.

Ques. Would He work through His people, or would He do it sovereignly?

J.T. Well, He does certain things mediately.

[Page 355]

Ques. Would you connect the cup with the Lord's supper?

J.T. Well, it was Joseph's cup. "The cup of the Lord" is a test.

Ques. Is, it more the fellowship side?

J.T. Yes -- the 10th chapter of 1 Corinthians. The surest way of helping others is to pursue the path indicated in 2 Timothy, because we have to leave many with the Lord. The Lord knows they are there, and the surest way of helping them is by being true to the fellowship. "The Lord knows those that are his; and, Let everyone who names the name of the Lord withdraw from iniquity", 2 Timothy 2:19.

F.H.B. The flesh is just the same as it was in Joseph's brethren, and if it is allowed at all, it will spoil the family relationships.

J.T. In Genesis 49 Jacob blesses each one in the family in his place; but in the last chapter we read, "When Joseph's brethren saw that their father was dead, they said, If now Joseph should be hostile to us, and should indeed requite us all the evil that we did to him! And they sent a messenger to Joseph ... And Joseph said to them ... Fear not ... I will maintain you and your little ones. And he comforted them, and spoke consolingly to them". So that they are now set up in confidence. That is the end reached in Joseph's dealings with them.

F.H.B. It must have been very painful to Joseph, after all, to see their want of confidence in him.

J.T. And then, after that we are told something about his private life, it says, "Joseph dwelt in Egypt, he and his father's house". This brings out what a father he was, not only as regards his own children, but down the line three generations. "The sons also of Machir, the son of Manasseh, were born on Joseph's knees". Abraham dwelt with the first and second generations; Hebrews 11:9.

[Page 356]

Ques. How would this apply to the present time?

J.T. In caring for the young. Genesis is a seed plot in regard to the truth, and particularly in regard to family relationships. The crops that spring from this are seen in the books that follow.

The apostle Paul, in writing to the Thessalonians, says: "We ... have been gentle in the midst of you, as a nurse would cherish her own children -- yearning over you", 1 Thessalonians 2:7, 8. When the skill of the nurse and the affection of the mother go together you may be sure of a good generation. I think the result of Joseph's paternal care is seen in the daughters of Zelophehad (Numbers 27), because they were of the direct line of Machir. Joseph had the inheritance in view. "God will certainly visit you", he says, "and bring you up out of this land unto the land that he swore unto Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob ... ye shall carry up my bones hence".

F.H.B. What is your thought in connection with the daughters of Zelophehad?

J.T. Well. Zelophehad was descended from Machir, the son of Manasseh, and the sons of Machir were born on Joseph's knees. The parental influence would extend down the line.

F.H.B. And the result is shown in their claiming the inheritance.

J.T. Yes; they were in accord with Joseph.

F.H.B. "If children, then heirs".

Rem. This is, I suppose, the way the truth of the inheritance is carried on.

J.T. You will notice that it was in a public way they made their claim. They stood before Moses and Eleazar and the princes and the whole assembly, and they made it clear that their father had nothing to do with the band of Korah. He was not a partisan.

W.J.N. Is it not remarkable that sisters claim it?

J.T. Those who belong to the family claim the inheritance.

[Page 357]

Rem. Making their claim in public before Moses and Eleazar and the princes and the whole assembly, would correspond with, "He that doeth good cometh to the light".

F.H.B. I suppose it would be always termed "good", where there is a spiritual desire to claim the inheritance. The Lord will always acknowledge that, and make it good in souls, for it is pleasurable to Him. So He justified these women, They speak right, He says.

E.H. Then we should manifest to everybody by our life and ways that we have gone in for the inheritance; another scene occupies and engages our hearts.

J.T. The previous chapter shows it was accorded to them: "Unto these shall the land be divided for an inheritance". It was available. They might have conveniently avoided this if they had no heart for it, by saying that their father had died; and indeed, how many excuses we can make; but it required faith and spiritual balance for these women to go forward and claim their inheritance as they did.

Ques. Would this be the result of the enjoyment of right family conditions?

J.T. I think so. They knew what belonged to them as daughters of Zelophehad. How many convenient excuses can be made if we wish to stop short of this? We receive an inheritance among those that are sanctified by faith in Christ; Acts 26:18. That is where the inheritance is for the moment; and any excuse (sometimes a very plausible one is given) may be brought forward for not claiming it. These women would have it.

[Page 358]


Numbers 28

W.H. Would you kindly say a few words regarding what was before us this morning, for the benefit especially of those who were unable to be present then.

J.T. It had reference to the family of God, as seen in the book of Genesis; the parental thought being presented in Abraham, and set before his immediate succeeding generations. Isaac and Jacob; he would express parental feeling and affection in dwelling with them in tents; Jacob's family, however, although of one father, had several mothers, and hence the need for adjustment. The ministry of Joseph brought that about, so that his father's family was brought together under the influence of Joseph. And Jacob himself, blessing Joseph's sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, in the family, indicated the Father, as in Ephesians, of whom every family in the heavens and on the earth is named. We noticed that the daughters of Zelophehad, who are mentioned in Numbers 27, were direct descendants of Joseph. It is said: "The children also of Machir, the son of Manasseh, were brought up upon Joseph's knees", Genesis 1:23. These women were the descendants of Machir, and showed in their appreciation of their inheritance that they were true children of Joseph, Jacob, Isaac, and Abraham.

It is to be noted that in Numbers 26 the people are numbered for the inheritance as a new generation. Those that came out of Egypt falling in the wilderness, it is a new generation that is to inherit; that is, as we may say, a spiritual generation. And the appreciation of what is inherited is seen in these five women. But then Moses said to the Lord: "Let Jehovah, the God of the spirits of all flesh, set a man

[Page 359]

over the assembly, who may go out before them, and who may come in before them, and who may lead them out, and who may bring them in; that the assembly of Jehovah be not as sheep that have no shepherd", chapter 27: 16, 17. This desire on the part of Moses fits in with the progress made. It was the God of the spirits of all flesh he addressed. And then Jehovah says: "Take thee Joshua, the son of Nun, a man in whom is the Spirit, and thou shalt lay thine hand upon him".

So that we are now in the presence of, not what is external, but what the saints are spiritually; and hence Joshua is put forward, not by Moses, but by Jehovah Himself, as the man to lead. The new order of things being brought forward, as we may say, a spiritual order of things -- not now what is external, but what we are before God -- God demands His portion. He says, "Command the children of Israel, and say unto them, My offering, and my bread for my sacrifices made by fire, for a sweet savour unto me, shall ye observe to offer unto me in their due season", Numbers 28:2.

F.H.B. That seems to be the counterpart to the faith of these women; they claimed their portion of God's inheritance, and now God gets His -- the response on their part.

J.T. "God is a spirit, and they who worship him must worship him in spirit and truth", John 4:24. We are in the presence now of spiritual things.

F.H.B. All this follows upon the brazen serpent.

J.T. That is important, and perhaps you would say a little more about it.

F.H.B. I thought that in the brazen serpent we have, typically set forth, God's judgment of man after the flesh; that order of man having utterly broken down, proving himself unable to appreciate God's inheritance. And then we have the springing

[Page 360]

well, the gift of God's Spirit in the believer, the power of life.

Rem. The flesh had been fully exposed.

J.T. "We are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God", Philippians 3:3. What one feels is the great need among us of spirituality; people want things brought down to their level, which often means that they are without exercise. Of course God would meet every measure of intelligence that may exist, but we should all be exercised about understanding spiritual things.

W.H. Emphasis is laid here on His portion "my offerings" -- what He should get.

J.T. Yes. Then to bring that into our own time; as we heard last night, God is a Spirit; we must learn to dismiss from our minds material things in regard to God. The Jewish system was set up in regard to material things, and Christendom has lapsed into similarity to it. "God is a spirit". John emphasises that, and he says: "That which is born of the Spirit is spirit", John 3:6. That lies at the bottom of Christianity.

W.H. We feel we need to be strengthened on the spiritual side, because we are so material.

J.T. Yes; well, I thought this chapter might help us.

R.W.G. Would you not say that in a general way God gets His portion from His people, but the question for each one to ask himself is, does He get it from me?

J.T. Yes. We read in Peter, "To whom coming, a living stone". There has never been such a thing known in natural things as a living stone. So we need to have spiritual understanding to take in the thought. "Yourselves also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God by Jesus Christ", 1 Peter 2:4, 5.

[Page 361]

W.H. One needs to be in the hands of the Holy Spirit to understand it.

P.S.P. Is your thought that Joshua comes in as one who would lead the people into what is typically a spiritual region?

J.T. That is the qualification God Himself mentions. It is remarkable; Moses might have nominated Joshua, but God did it Himself, saying he had the Spirit.

P.S.P. There was a certain spirit that animated Moses to make this request of God -- the spirit of a shepherd. "That the assembly of Jehovah be not as sheep that have no shepherd". Do we not see these characteristics that marked Moses and Joshua, i.e., shepherd and leader, represented in Christ -- Moses, shepherding Jehovah's flock in the wilderness, and Joshua leading them into the land?

J.T. Yes. Moses is introduced in Exodus as having "led the flock to the back side of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb", Exodus 3:1. That was a good place to lead them to -- the mount of God! It was at the mountain of God he encamped with the people later; Exodus 18:5. As there they had opportunity of knowing God.

J.M'G. Why is the continual burnt offering brought in first in order here?

J.T. As representing what Christ is expressly for God. The more spiritual you are, the more you will appreciate what is for God. What also strikes one here is the uniformity of the offerings. In Leviticus you have the burnt offering, the meat offering, the peace and sin offerings, but you get them combined here; that is to say, the offerer has a uniform view of Christ, he is spiritual; in other words, he has a uniform apprehension of Christ. The sin offering is not much in evidence, as the chapter presents what is for God.

[Page 362]

R.W.G. What do you mean by a uniform apprehension?

J.T. Well, in Leviticus you look at Christ from various viewpoints. We know in part. But then as you learn in part you develop into a full-grown man.

R.W.G. And you are then able to view these offerings as a whole.

J.T. Yes; when you are formed by the truth from the various sides in which it is presented, you are not liable to be carried away by the wiles of cunning men. Ephesians 4 contemplates the gifts that Christ has given from on high: "Some apostles, and some prophets, and some evangelists, and some shepherds and teachers, for the perfecting of the saints; with a view to the work of the ministry, with a view to the edifying of the body of Christ; until we all arrive at the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, at the full grown man, at the measure of the stature of the fulness of the Christ". You see Him from every side, and you are not going to listen to anything contrary. A babe is different from that; he is not uniform, he is liable to be one-sided.

F.H.B. A spiritual man would appreciate Christ in that way -- what He is for God; not simply what He is to us. Think of what Christ is to God!

J.T. And, in considering this scripture, you, as a full grown man, see what there was for God in Him, what was for God in "the life of Jesus", when He was here.

J.H. Is that why the burnt offering comes first each time in the list of the offerings?

J.T. I think so. "Lo, I come to do thy will", Hebrews 10:9.

F.H.B. And the meat offering was always offered with the burnt offering, and also the drink offering -- the three went together.

J.T. And all according to the divine requirements;

[Page 363]

the perfect measure in each case. It is not left to your discretion, the divine requirement is all perfectly met in Christ.

W.H. I suppose there is advancement in these offerings?

J.T. Yes; there are weekly or monthly offerings. In fact in the next chapter we see that the whole millennial period is included -- what there should be for God from the time Christ came in until the end.

Ques. What is meant by "My offering and my bread for my sacrifices made by fire"?

J.T. I think it is God urging His claim. In Leviticus it is left to the offerer to bring what he can -- "if his offering be", etc.; as if God would leave it to us to indicate what the fruit of His grace would bring about. Things are not left in that way here; God has His own specific rights, and He lays claim to them. I think Ephesians is on that line; it recognises the full rights of God, and these are secured in those who have arrived at the stature of the full grown man. Compare chapter 5: 1, 2.

P.S.P. Where would this have its answer at the present moment?

J.T. It would be in the assembly, but, I think, in its Ephesian aspect God could not get it at Corinth.

P.S.P. It would not exactly come out in the individual, but rather in the assembly?

J.T. The obligation would rest on each individual, but it is seen fully in the assembly. The apostle has to refer in Corinthians to a man in Christ that he knew; apparently they did not know him. He urges that they should be no longer babes, but grown men.

J.M. The apostle John writes to the fathers who "have known him that is from the beginning"; one would look for God getting His portion from such.

J.T. Yes. We are on the highest level in the four gospels; you look at the Lord from four standpoints,

[Page 364]

or sides. The "fathers" know Him in this way.

W.H. What we have in the chapter before us was set forth in Him perfectly.

J.T. Yes; this is what God saw in Him, but He wants you to grow up, through the knowledge of Him, until you arrive at the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.

R.W.G. So that you may be able to present Christ before God, to God's delight.

J.T. That is it. If you are occupied with the Lord as Saviour, and do not know Him beyond that, God will accept that, of course; but it does not come up to this. He has respect for the tiniest vessel.

R.W.G. I suppose in that way the continual burnt-offering comes in here with each offering; it is prominently before your heart in approaching God.

F.H.B. One striking thing about it is its continuity -- day by day.

W.H. Is there any difference between the burnt offering on the sabbath, on the first day of the month, and the continual burnt offering every day, in the presentation of it to God?

J.T. I think the sabbath and monthly offerings would bring in excess. These were not to replace the daily offering, they were to be additional. Sometimes you see the Lord's people staying at home from the ordinary meetings because there are going to be special ones; well, there is not much in that for God; there might as well not be any special ones so far as they are concerned.

J.S. I was wondering if it was God's intention that, in the complete range of gifts which He has given, there might be a complete presentation of Christ from us.

J.T. I think that is a very good suggestion. The order in Ephesians 4 is the order in which the testimony was established -- apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds, and teachers. The apostle brings in the

[Page 365]

authority of Christ, which is the first great thing; the prophet brings in the mind of God; the evangelist has the love for souls by which there is increase; and the "shepherd and teacher" (one person), cares for the saints, brings them food and teaches them too "for the perfecting of the saints; with a view to the work of the ministry, with a view to the edifying of the body of Christ; until we all arrive at the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, at the full grown man, at the measure of the stature of the fulness of the Christ".

W.H. It is striking how all the gifts have a part in it.

F.H.B. "Until we all arrive" at it; one cannot go beyond that.

J.T. So that you have a living organism, the body, to move in, and in that way you are saved from "every wind of that teaching which is in the sleight of men, in unprincipled cunning with a view to systematised error; but holding the truth in love, we may grow up to him in all things, who is the head, the Christ", Ephesians 4:14, 15.

Rem. There is no effort in all this; it is the outcome of satisfied hearts.

J.T. God, having wonderfully enriched us, asks us to give Him His share; He greatly desires to have it from us. "My bread for my offerings by fire of sweet odour to me, shall ye take heed to present to me at their set time".

Rem. Even the gospel is spoken of as a continual offering, "whom I serve in my spirit in the glad tidings of his Son" (Romans 1:9), says the apostle Paul. Did it not go up as a sweet savour?

J.T. The apostle says, "We are a sweet odour of Christ to God in the saved and in those that perish", 2 Corinthians 2:15.

F.H.B. He carried on his work as a priest. In Romans 15 Paul speaks of "the grace given to me

[Page 366]

by God, for me to be minister of Christ Jesus to the nations, carrying on as a sacrificial service the message of glad tidings of God, in order that the offering up of the nations might be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit".

E.H. Have we not got the same idea in connection with the incident of the Lord's interview with the woman at the well (John 4)? He who created the water, asked her for a drink of it.

J.T. "Of thine own have we given thee!"

P.S.P. The whole nation here is viewed as responding to God.

J.T. Yes, a great spiritual company, led by a spiritual leader; this is the setting in which God's claim for His offerings appears.

J.M. The spring, or movement God-ward, is according to the place the Lord has in our affections when together.

J.T. Joshua would take note of this charge. He is already in view a leader.

J.M. Do you not think we need to intelligently recognise the light that should govern us on an occasion such as is contemplated here, so that the Father might get His portion?

E.P. All these things are the outcome of a spiritual state in the saints. I was thinking of Leviticus 23. The feasts of the Lord would give occasions for these precious results for God.

Rem. One observes that the majority of those who listen to the gospel are impressed by what they are going to get; whereas in John 4 the Lord had worshippers of the Father in view.

Rem. We have great wealth contemplated in this chapter. What have I to give to God? Christ! whose beauties and perfections come before the soul so blessedly. Then again, in the next chapter, we have what speaks of great wealth; thirteen bullocks offered at once!

[Page 367]

J.T. There is no thought of poverty here, no "turtle doves" or "young pigeons". These two chapters present what God looks for in His people as endowed with a rich inheritance -- blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies.

F.H.B. I was going to ask, what does the drink offering set forth?

J.T. I think it is what delights the heart of God in Christ. Drink in Scripture is usually satisfaction, or pleasure.

F.H.B. Would it be the joy of Christ in thus devoting Himself to God's will and pleasure? "I delight to do thy will, O my God", Psalm 40:8.

J.T. These offerings, as seen here together, present Christ in His perfection as Man; the offerer as apprehending Him thus and formed accordingly would be balanced, he would be in accord with what is of God. The more we know of the Lord, the more perfectly balanced we are.

R.W.G. The offerer would be affected by what he offered.

J.S. I suppose Jacob was so affected when he came out of Padan-Aram; he poured out a drink offering. He did not do that on the occasion of his previous visit to Bethel. Compare Genesis 28 and Genesis 35.

J.T. That helps, but go on.

J.S. I thought it helpful to see the variety here. Each occasion seemed to afford a special opportunity of taking up Christ in a distinct way before God. For example, we have the different meetings, and our family altars, meal times, and so forth. We should present Christ in a distinct way in connection with each occasion.

Rem. Christ was the fine flour mingled with oil. The Lord was without prominence, everything for God blended in Him perfectly, and we should be similar.

[Page 368]

J.T. That is an important point; apprehending Christ in the perfect evenness of His holy character here leads to correspondence with Him in us. We are "According to Christ", Colossians 2:8.

J.M. I suppose the different gospels would help us in that.

J.T. God will not have anything else, because He designs that all shall be conformed to the image of His Son. There was a class of workmen in Solomon's day called "Stone squarers"; they would make the stones fit in; 1 Kings 5:18.

F.H.B. Do you think we need some stone squarers now?

J.T. Well, one feels that.

J.M. Would that be the effect of the presentation of the truth?

J.T. Yes, you have a model before you, for Christ is the truth.

E.H. I suppose in the Lord's most prominent servants, even a Paul, a Peter, or a John, there was some quality in excess coming out; but, as you say, in Christ everything was balanced perfectly.

J.T. Observe the wonderful balance of the Lord in the last moments of His life; when all the pressure was brought to bear upon Him. He never swerved one hair's breadth. The majesty of that position bows one's heart.

Rem. That is why the meat offering is always offered with the burnt offering.

J.M. In the burnt offering going up to God, there would be an appreciation in His people of what that blessed One was in His life here. It is not simply the burnt offering, apart from the appreciation in the soul of what He was in the meat offering.

J.T. You will observe that it is not the details as to the action at the altar so much; the mind is more on the offerings themselves.

In Ephesians 5 we have, I think, a direct reference,

[Page 369]

in the word, "Be ye therefore imitators of God, as beloved children, and walk in love, even as the Christ loved us, and delivered himself up for us, an offering and sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savour".

J.M. So in entering into this there would be no sense of need, but rather the great wealth of all that Christ is in different aspects to God.

E.H. In that chapter in Ephesians to which you have referred, God looks for a repetition in His people, as they walk in love, of what was so precious to Him in Christ when on earth.

F.H.B. Is anything greater, in the expression of God's grace to us, than that we should be made capable of participating in His satisfaction in Christ, and that we should have communion with God in it; creatures like ourselves have been taken up and made capable of this?

Ques. What did you mean by your reference to the four gospels?

J.T. Well, they view Christ from four different sides, or aspects; a complete view, as given to us by the Spirit.

This 28th chapter refers to the saints of the present dispensation, and there is no diminution or decline contemplated. In verse 26 we read: "And on the day of the first-fruits, when ye present a new oblation to Jehovah, after your weeks, ye shall have a holy convocation: no manner of servile work shall ye do. And ye shall present a burnt offering for a sweet odour to Jehovah: two young bullocks, one ram, seven yearling lambs; and their oblation of fine flour, mingled with oil, three tenth parts for one bullock, two tenth parts for the ram, one tenth part for each lamb of the seven lambs; and one buck of the goats, to make atonement for you", verse 26 - 30. But then you have in the 13th verse of the next chapter, thirteen young bullocks to commence with,

[Page 370]

and you go down gradually to seven in that chapter, showing that decline is contemplated.

F.H.B. Why?

J.T. I think it is the millennium.

J.M. Is it that the church is first?

J.T. Yes, and decline is not contemplated there. The millennium is a perfect state of things; it is, however, greater at the beginning than at the end. The bullocks do not go below seven -- a perfect number.

Rem. So the assembly would indicate more the eternal order of things; there is no diminution.

Ques. Why does the sin offering come in three times in the chapter?

J.T. The sin offering comes with the full presentation of Christ. While we are here that must be; you could not come to God apart from that, however wealthy you may be.

J.M. It is the recognition of what we are as in accord with Christ; there is no sense of need.

F.H.B. It is the delighting in that side of the offering that has met every need to the glory of God. It is a fine thing if we are up to it.

[Page 371]


Hebrews 3:7; 1 Timothy 4:1 - 8; Acts 13:2 - 4; Revelation 22:16, 17

The subject I have in mind, which no doubt you have observed from the scriptures read, is the Holy Spirit. A great place is accorded to Him in the divine record, as the scriptures show, and rightly, for He was employed as a Person in the Godhead from the outset.

His peculiar readiness in the divine service is marked out in the scriptures. By Him the heavens were garnished (Job 26:13), and disaster having come about in that which God created -- the details of which Scripture does not record -- the Spirit of God is seen hovering over the face of the waters (Genesis 1:2) and He is seen throughout, in the subsequent dealings of the ways of God with man, coming into peculiar view when "the Word became flesh".

He had to do with the Lord Himself, and is seen particularly at His baptism. He descended, we are told, in a bodily form, and abode upon Him: that blessed One appearing in manhood -- not only in flesh, but in manhood -- in whom God found His delight and pleasure, "the Holy Spirit descended in a bodily form on him", we are told. There is nothing to disturb -- He had been in uncongenial circumstances, as carrying out the service of God here, now He finds One in whom He can rest, and on whom He can abide. He "abode" upon Christ, and John bore witness to that: he says, "I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God", John 1:34. The Holy Spirit, in that way, marks off the Son of God. Such was the service of the blessed Spirit, and, in this way, the scriptures present Him to us. But what should touch our hearts in a very peculiar way, dear brethren, is that He has been here in relation to us -- the assembly -- these many centuries.

[Page 372]

The Lord, foreseeing it, makes special reference to those who should sin against the Holy Spirit -- pointing out that sin against Himself should be forgiven; but speaking against the Holy Spirit shall not be forgiven, neither in this age, nor in that to come; Matthew 12:32.

The Lord, in that way, issued a solemn warning to all succeeding generations, as well as to the one to which He was speaking, that there should be no forgiveness to the one who sins against the Holy Spirit.

The Spirit has been here, since Christ went to heaven, in the most wonderful condescension and grace. He is indeed referred to as the "Spirit of grace". There were some who, in the language of Scripture, "insulted the Spirit of grace", Hebrews 10:29. They insulted the Spirit of grace, yet He still remains here -- but the insult remains. The insult to the Spirit of grace stands unforgiven, not only now, but alas to those of the generation immediately referred to, who were guilty of it. But others who have arisen, and stand by the insult now, will never be forgiven.

I speak in that way, dear brethren, so that the subject might be clearly before us -- we are in the Spirit's day, whose service is marked by the most exquisite patience, tenderness, and sensitiveness, so that God will not overlook any disregard of the Spirit, either by individuals, or by corporate bodies.

And now, having said so much, what I want to point out, first of all, is that He speaks today (Hebrews 3:7) and what He would say is in regard to our hearts. Wherefore, as the Spirit says, "Harden not your hearts". The hardening principle is, so to speak, in the heart. There is one who is called "the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience" (Ephesians 2:2) and we come in contact with that; we are not taken out of the world, as the Lord says: "I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou

[Page 373]

shouldest keep them from the evil", John 17:15. We have not been taken out of the world, we have got to go through it -- the will of God requires that we should go through it -- but the Lord prays "that thou shouldest keep them from the evil".

And so, beloved, God's desire is to keep us from the evil, from that hardening -- not to say wicked -- feature of the world. Business commitments and activities all serve, in themselves, to harden. Family relationships, and all that goes with them in nature, in themselves, tend to harden. The word is needed now in the day in which we live -- "Harden not your hearts". There is a word in Proverbs which says, "Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life" (chapter 4: 23); whilst it is impressionable -- whilst it is unhardened -- "keep it with all diligence". So the word is today, "harden not your hearts".

The Lord Jesus would write a letter on them, as by the Spirit of the living God; 2 Corinthians 3. Let us then, beloved, afford Him the material, and keep the material, so that it shall be available to Christ, that He may write on it.

I pass on to Timothy, and I wanted to show that the Holy Spirit speaks today into my heart, and into your heart, so that we may not be hardened. He speaks of the future. There are things, as He looks down into the future which cause Him to speak "expressly". We have an express word from the Spirit -- it is urgent. The time was coming when men should depart from the faith, there would be a drift of apostasy, marked by the forbidding of certain things. You may depend upon it that any prohibition of a creature of God is wrong. These men, as he says, were "giving their mind to deceiving spirits, and teachings of demons", chapter 4: 1.

Let us dwell for a moment on this awful condition which is not any longer future, it is present. "Teachings

[Page 374]

of demons" -- men are actually lending an ear to seducing spirits. John says: "Little children, it is the last hour, and, according, as ye have heard that antichrist comes, even now there have come many antichrists, whence we know that it is the last hour", 1 John 2:18. One has observed at times the uprising of various anti-Christian features, even in one's lifetime. They have arisen, coming under the head of the "many antichrists"; they do not dare to come out and say boldly that they deny the Lord Jesus Christ, but they are antichrists. The antichrist has his own distinctive features, so that no one shall be misled who is exercised: "He is the antichrist who denies the Father and the Son", 1 John 2:22. He absolutely denies the Father and the Son. Christianity is thrown away by the antichrist. Though the "many antichrists" are somewhat modified, they are no less opposed to Christ; we have to deal with those who are opposed to Christ, and they are "many". John says: "Many false prophets are gone out into the world ... every spirit which does not confess Jesus Christ come in flesh is not of God", 1 John 4:1, 3. They do not deny Him wholly, and he says: "This is that power of the antichrist".

Let us be on our guard as to what is going on -- and so it says in Timothy: "Giving their mind to deceiving spirits, and teachings of demons". The Spirit of God is speaking "expressly" about that, the apostle says, and then he tells us that "every creature of God is good", and that which God hath created is to be received "with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth". What we want in this respect is "the truth". I have been impressed with it since I have been here this time -- the importance of "the truth". Persons receive a bit of light, and they are enrolled as converts to Christ. What about the truth, beloved? The Spirit is the truth. He is indeed the "Spirit of truth", and He would

[Page 375]

turn you to nothing less than that. If we are to be in the enjoyment of the communion of the Spirit -- of the love of the Spirit -- there must be regard for the truth. The truth, as I apprehend it, is adjustment with God. God works in the light -- wonderful things are done in the light -- the Holy Spirit works in a man's soul so that he is born anew, he is born in the light, not in the darkness. But then there is, not only the light, but the truth. Many have light who are not regulated by the truth. The Lord Jesus, in the synagogue of Nazareth, stood up and read from Isaiah, and He said: "This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears", and they "wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth", Luke 4:21, 22. But then He says: "Many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias, ... but unto none of them was Elias sent, save unto Sarepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow. And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet, and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian", verse 25 - 27.

That was the truth -- important truth for the moment -- and what was the effect of the truth? The Lord Jesus wished them to know that God had in ancient times gone outside the limits of Israel to bless, and He will do it now. That is the truth. Can we stand the test of the truth? It says: "They were filled with wrath, and rose up, and thrust him out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong", Luke 4:28, 29.

Such are our hearts -- we admire Christ, we enjoy the grace of Christ, but in many cases the truth is refused. So the creatures of God are received "with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth".

I pass on to the next scripture, Acts 13. You see, beloved, if the heart is kept right there is room for

[Page 376]

the truth. If there is adjustment by the truth, there will be room for levitical work amongst us, which is one of the most interesting subjects that one can touch upon, and the scripture in Acts 13 refers to it. The Holy Spirit says: "Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them". You see where there is adjustment there is room for the sovereign action of the Spirit, and one might challenge anyone, however much the name of Christ is connected with it, as to whether room is there for the sovereign action of the Spirit to select whom He will, and to send forth whom He will. If there is not, then the truth is not there. But if everyone is obeying from the heart that form of teaching that has been delivered to us, there is room for the Spirit.

"They ministered to the Lord, and fasted". What a great triumph for the Gentile world. God said, in principle, if the truth of the Holy Spirit is developed, it will relieve your mind and conscience; but God has rights over our hearts, He claims our affections. His claim was recognised at Antioch: "They ministered to the Lord, and fasted". They were in their right setting, and the Holy Spirit signalises it by saying as it were: 'Conditions here are such as to enable Me to act sovereignly in regard to levitical work'. I believe the Holy Spirit would proceed on these lines, in making His own selection. He recognises the state of the saints. One coming into a locality -- if one is spiritual, and seeking to serve the saints and serve the Lord -- soon finds out where the saints are.

You may come to the meetings in a formal way, but what does the Lord get out of it? The Lord said "My offering, and my bread for my sacrifices made by fire, for a sweet savour unto me, shall ye observe to offer unto me in their due season", Numbers 28:2. There was first the daily offering, every day of the week; there were the weekly offerings every Sabbath;

[Page 377]

and at the beginning of each month, the new moon; and there were the set yearly offerings. Not one of those offerings displaced another. The daily offering went on every sabbath, in addition to the particular one for that day. God was not in any way robbed, and so He looks for offerings from us. "My bread for my sacrifices", He says. There would not be anything if bread is not brought to God's house. If there is bread in God's house He will open "the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing", Malachi 3:10.

"They ministered to the Lord, and fasted". That word 'fasted' is to be noted. The Lord said on one occasion, when the disciples could not cast the demon out of a boy -- "this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting", Matthew 17:21. Prayer is your dependence upon God; fasting is in order that one's vessel should be suitable for God. The two things go together; not only the faith that calls on God, but that care of the vessel so that it is holy. It is not hampered by fleshly desires, and there is power to give up what is legitimate, so that the vessel may be formed by prayer and fasting: "They ministered to the Lord, and fasted". The more fasting the more room there is for the Spirit of God.

Fasting makes room, in the vessel, for the Spirit of God, and so the Holy Spirit signalises the state of the saints at Antioch by saying: "Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them". I would have you notice this. The Lord called Saul apart, He called him alone, but in sending him out, the Holy Spirit says as it were: I would not do it without the saints. How beautiful to be in such a state that the Holy Spirit is free to send us wherever He will. He says: "Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them". It is the work. It is for each of us to say: "Here am I", whatever the call.

Do you think the Lord is going to give up His

[Page 378]

way? Do you think the Holy Spirit is going to give up His own way? I believe every brother should hold himself in readiness. A Levite was claimed from a month old; they were numbered for the service. Every brother and every sister ought to be ready for service. You have the dignity of being the firstborn, so that you may never be proud of your service. No one can serve who is not personally greater than his service, and he is personally greater than his service inasmuch as he is a firstborn. Every Levite is a firstborn. We are "the assembly of the firstborn", Hebrews 12:23. It is in the dignity of that holy and heavenly calling that you serve. Otherwise one will be proud of his service, and envious of those who may serve better.

The Holy Spirit would select us on those lines "Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them". They, "having been sent forth by the Holy Spirit", went their way.

We have thus presented the true ground of service. The Spirit selected those men, and it is very beautiful to see how they worked and faithfully carried out their commission. They returned "to Antioch, whence they had been committed to the grace of God for the work which they had fulfilled", Acts 14:26. They had fulfilled it. We should look for complete works. The enlightenment of a soul is not a complete work. The Lord says: "My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work", John 4:34. Of Sardis He says: "I have not found thy works complete before my God", Revelation 3:2. Half done work is repudiated. God looks for a finished work -- "the work which they had fulfilled".

One word more. "I, Jesus, have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star". And the Spirit and the bride say, "Come". The last word, as one might

[Page 379]

say, of the Spirit is "Come". But, He says it in unison with the bride. What a complete work! How completely successful the Spirit is in bringing the bride into accord with Himself. The Spirit and the bride say, "Come". It is joined in by them both. Those who love Christ today are saying, in unison with the Spirit, "Come". And we can hear the Holy Spirit say that word 'Come'.

"Today", He says, "harden not your hearts". He speaks "expressly" about current evil, and He speaks to chosen vessels to serve. He speaks to them blessedly; and He says, "Come" to Christ.

The Holy Spirit performs His activities in grace. He is here on behalf of Christ, as the Lord says "He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you", John 16:14. He is doing this unceasing service to us taking of the things of Christ and showing them to us -- but all with one end in view, that we might be prepared for Christ, so that as He announces Himself, the Spirit says, "Come", and the bride says, "Come". There is one word expressed in unison, by the Spirit and the bride; the bride is secured for Christ. The Spirit is seeking to secure the hearts of all the saints for Christ, so that there might be that unity of expression when the Lord announces Himself.

May God grant that our hearts may be kept by the Spirit, so that we may be ready for Christ, and say, "Come".

[Page 380]


Luke 2:6 - 17; Matthew 2:1 - 11; Mark 1:1; John 1:18

The exercise that led me to read these scriptures is that we may, by the Lord's help, through our consideration of them, be led on in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. One has been impressed, in what has been before us during this week, by the fact of the need of the knowledge of the Lord among the saints. The knowledge of the Lord shall in time be widespread, He is to fill all things; and, if He fills men and women, it is through their intelligence, and through their affections: so that, to this end, we have the law written in both the mind and heart, as we read in the epistle to the Hebrews.

"The earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea", Isaiah 11:9. That is a delightful contemplation for us who love Him, and who love God as revealed to us in Him. Now I apprehend that the knowledge of the Lord begins by His coming within our range. As He becomes in any little way known, the desire to know more of Him increases. The two days of revival in Hosea 6 may be applied as the gracious way in which God has come in for us. There was the binding up of the wounds, and then the revival of the two days. Two days of gracious ministry and sympathy, and then, "In the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight". "Then", it says, "shall we know if we follow on to know the Lord". In the apostle we have the full expression of desire: "That I may know him" (Philippians 3:10) -- we get it indeed throughout the epistles.

I desire, first of all, to show from Luke how the

[Page 381]

Lord, according to the appointment of the wisdom of God, came in in such smallness as to be within the range of the simplest. Who has not got some conception of an infant? Think of it, beloved friends! It was the result of divine calculation that He should come in thus, and that He should be, in the ordinary way, wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. The great majority of men and women know but little of the interior of a palace. Who is there who has not some conception of a manger? Christ was born there: God would have it so, and I connect what I am referring to now with Exodus.

God had, as He says, borne the people on eagles' wings. Think of the flight and power of the eagle, bearing all that company from Egypt to mount Horeb. Eagles' strength was employed in the most touching way on the part of God in the behalf of His people. And so they are before mount Sinai. "Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto myself", Exodus 19:4. Who is this God that so loved the people of Israel? It is He who dwelt in the thorn-bush in the wilderness and appeared to one man.

He dwelt in the bush, but is that all? Is it just that He dwells in the thorn-bush, and that He has the wings of an eagle? Look at the mount. Dwell on Exodus 19, and take note of the terrors of Sinai. Who is there? "Then went up Moses, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, and they saw the God of Israel". There had been smoke, and thunder, and a voice, so that even Moses feared. It is no less than He who dwells "in the light which no man can approach unto, whom no man hath seen, nor can see", 1 Timothy 6:16. He dwells in light. It is no less than He whom Moses and the elders of Israel go up to: "They saw the God of Israel". Wonderful privilege! "And there was under his feet, as it were, paved work of a sapphire

[Page 382]

stone, and, as it were, the body of heaven in his clearness", Exodus 24:9, 10. All of which taken together was intended to impress Moses, to impress the elders and the people with what Moses said later on: "From everlasting to everlasting, thou art God", Psalm 90:2. Then the Lord called Moses up into the mount alone -- Moses took Joshua with him. He ascended the mount, and God opened up to him, and unfolded to him the pattern of the tabernacle.

The pattern specified measurements. Even the ark of the covenant was to be made to a certain measurement -- two and one half by one and one half by one and one half cubits. We know what it speaks of, beloved; it represents no less than the One whose thunders had been heard on the mount, the One upon whose wings they had been carried. As the priests later on took that precious ark -- inside of which were the tables of the covenant, the lid of which was the mercy-seat and the cherubim of glory overshadowing -- they would continually meditate, according to their intelligence, on the precious vessel and its contents. It was no less than the Lord of glory.

And so the whole tabernacle, outwardly insignificant and measurable, representing in every part of it some feature of Christ, was that in which God Himself, according to the exigencies of His nature, dwelt. He dwelt there. You could walk around the tabernacle, one hundred cubits by fifty, but there was the cloud standing over it, reaching up, as it were, into heaven, the cloud of glory; as we may say, "The Son of man which is in heaven". There was the link for faith to understand; but the ordinary Israelite could take account of that structure as it stood.

And so the Spirit of God brings before us the wonderful descent of Christ in grace. This marvellous picture brings before us the lowly circumstances into which He entered in grace.

The Lord came into the most ordinary circumstances. There is nothing said as to hostility to Christ

[Page 383]

at Bethlehem, the hostility was at Jerusalem. It was not an extraordinary thing that the inn should be full at such a time, when the whole country had crowded to the city and towns. The Lord is found at His birth in a manger. It took place according to divine appointment, and so the angel announces to the shepherds: "Fear not". A wonderful thing had come to pass: "Unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord", Luke 2:11. Not, He 'shall be' a Saviour. No, the Saviour is there, but, within what compass? Within the compass of an Infant.

I may well say, "Such knowledge is too wonderful for me", Psalm 139:6. He is brought within the range of all, so that God might touch every heart "Good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people". The shepherds say: "Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass ... and they came with haste, and found ... the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child". The Child is the subject of the glad tidings, and later He is in Simeon's arms. Simeon came into the temple by the Spirit, having in his soul the light of God, that "he should not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ". It is marvellous to contemplate Him who is God, being found as a Babe! That is how Luke presents Him.

I can only touch upon it, but it is one of the most important features for us at the present time. One is impressed with this, that if we are to make headway in the knowledge of Him that might be looked for, we must take account of Him as Luke presents Him.

Then we read of Him as a Boy. There is progress as the narrative proceeds, and it is in keeping with the progress that we should make, as we apprehend Him in the different stages of His holy life, so that our souls are nourished in the knowledge of Him.

[Page 384]

You apprehend Him as a Man, at the age of thirty, and the Holy Spirit comes upon Him. He has arrived at the full age of manhood: "The man Christ Jesus". The soul follows Him until Luke presents Him as the vessel of grace to men, so that His words are gracious: men "wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth", Luke 4:22.

I turn to Matthew. We have also an account of His birth, but there is no manger here. We have a house, and instead of shepherds there are wise men from the east -- men who were accustomed to read the heavens; they saw His star. We cannot say how they knew it was His star. Those who look into the heavens are impressed with the thought of rule.

However much men may assert the democratic idea, God never gives up His thought of rule. These wise men recognised that; it is the height of folly to deny it. It is folly to look elsewhere for rule. These wise men were accustomed to the heavens, and they saw His star. Whose star? The star of the King of the Jews. "Where is he that is born king of the Jews?" The wise among the Gentiles will recognise that instead of asserting their supposed rights, they must submit to God's rights, and His place of government among the Jews. "Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion" (Psalm 2:6) and, as the Lord said: "Salvation is of the Jews", John 4:22. These wise men followed the movement of His star until they arrived at the spot where the little Child was. It is not here a "Babe" in swaddling clothes. He is more mature now. He is with His mother, and He is in the house.

I dwell on this for a moment because it runs alongside of Luke. There are many who enjoy the grace, who are not subject. This is another side of the "Babe" -- the rule and the grace run together; it is the rule of grace, for grace is on the throne. The

[Page 385]

rule is exercised by none other than the Babe presented to us in Luke. We are told in Acts that God gives the Holy Spirit to all those who, "obey him", chapter 5: 32.. There are many who accept the grace, who are not subject; and we do not progress if we are not subject.

Herod's inquiry brings to light what this Child was to be: "And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel", Matthew 2:6. That is the side we get in Matthew, and I would urge on all, the importance of getting around and looking at the other side, and further round, and still further, so that you may see the four sides in which Christ may be known -- the universal or general appearance of the Lord. The rule is in His hand. God has placed it there; it is not the least of the features. The evangelists are perfectly blended, their teaching becomes blended in each believer, as he progresses, until he becomes a "father", to whom it is said: "Ye have known him that is from the beginning", 1 John 2:14. They knew the grace in the Babe, in the Boy, in the Man, and they knew the rule; they knew the service of God as seen in Him, and the only-begotten Son, as revealing God.

These wise men arrived at the spot where He was: "And, when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him". You notice it is the house, not a manger or stable. We are now in the presence of royal dignity; and these wise men, in coming into the house, "fell down and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh". What a wonderful testimony to the work of God among the Gentiles! God brings forward these wise men from the east as a testimony to

[Page 386]

the Royal Child that was born in the city of David -- Bethlehem.

As knowing the grace and rule of Luke and Matthew, we may look at Mark for a moment. You will observe he says nothing about the Babe; he does not even speak of Jesus Christ, come in flesh. He opens his gospel abruptly. One has to be developed in one's senses -- as we read in Hebrews, one's senses have to be exercised -- to have things presented abruptly, and yet to know the meaning of them.

"The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God". Who is prepared in the intelligence of his soul to stand before that? It is a man, one who is developed. Not that I would exclude anyone, but it is "the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God". One has to be ready for any call. Not that the gospel is an emergency measure; it is not, but the Levite has to be ready for any call. The gospel is not an emergency measure, as I said, for immediately the Spirit goes back to the prophecy of hundreds of years before. He is careful that no one should think he could improve on the divine way. Mark refers back to Isaiah at once; it was not a matter of yesterday, it had been thought out. "The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God". The Man that was here for God's will: "Jesus Christ", and "the Son of God".

Mark presents the servant. One has to know the grace and rule, and be subject, to be a Levite.

Many have taken up levitical work before they were subject. Levites must be subject. Eleazar, the son of Aaron, was "Prince of the princes of the Levites", Numbers 3:32. That is what the Levites have to understand; there is no room for the exercise of their own wills. Mark presents that side.

Just a word as to John. John presents the Lord from the standpoint of affection. He is the last writer. I have no doubt his is the last gospel. I would

[Page 387]

advise that all the gospels should be read together. If one is to arrive at a clear knowledge of the Son of God one has to understand the gospels. John had before him the dwelling-place, the family abode. The subject is so big that I can only mention it; it calls for most profound attention. The thought of dwelling comes out in John more than anywhere else: "No man hath seen God at any time; the only-begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him". Not now the 'Babe', but "the only begotten Son". The heart is arrested in the presence of that -- as in any little measure you come to admire the Lord, to know His love -- to think that He is the "only begotten", and that He has "declared" God, and that, as in His bosom.

The Spirit of God uses words with the greatest accuracy and intent, and as He speaks of the bosom of the Father, He would touch our bosoms. He would create in us intelligent affections -- the affections of grown men. "The only-begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father". He dwells there in immeasurable love, and we may taste that today. We come under the influence of it as dwelling in love.

John dwells much on the love of God. Love radiates, so to speak, from the blessed sphere in which the Son lives. How many of us can say: "We have known and have believed the love which God has to us. God is love, and he that abides in love abides in God, and God in him", 1 John 4:16. That is what John brings in, and so in this respect John 1:18, is the key to the gospel. It is the great end in view, that God should bring about the knowledge of Christ as "the only-begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father". You apprehend Him there, and the effect is wonderful. Paul says, "The life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me", Galatians 2:20.

[Page 388]


Luke 22:7 - 13; 1 Chronicles 15:1 - 4, 11 - 16

What is in these passages is the idea of preparation in relation to the things of God, indeed the thought of preparation is very prominent in the Scriptures. We read of the preparation of the heavens (Proverbs 8:27) and the Scriptures speak of things prepared for those who love God, which eye has not seen nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man. This is a very affecting thought, for it shows the divine forethought in regard of those who love God! Those who love God have the first place with Him, and the Scriptures speak of things prepared for them; things, as I said, which eye has not seen nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man. They are disclosed, however, as the apostle further says, "But God has revealed them unto us by his Spirit, for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God", or "the depths of God". The Spirit has access to all there is, not only provisional things connected with Israel, and which are now taken up in the assembly, upon whom the ends of the ages are come, but hidden things also. The Spirit emphasises things connected with the kingdom which come in in a provisional way in the assembly, but He has access to the hidden things. It is the glory of God to conceal a thing, and He had concealed the greatest things, the "better things", as Paul says, but these have now come out, the Spirit who is in us as those who love God searches all things. He searches the depths of God. He would not leave one iota untold; He would bring them forward to those who love God, but I refer to them because they are prepared of God.

The idea of preparation is not simply creation.

[Page 389]

We have the idea of creating and making in the beginning of Genesis, but there are the things which God has prepared for those who love Him; these are not mentioned in Genesis. They were hidden then, but the apostle speaks of "hidden wisdom, which God had predetermined before the ages for our glory". So we see the unique place which we of this dispensation have and how the idea of preparation enters into it. In Hebrews we read of a city which God had prepared for the men of faith we read of in Genesis; that is one of the things which appear in the public ways of God, but there are the "hidden things" which are outside the range of men and men's minds, but divinely prepared for a special class -- those who love God. One might say much in regard of the thought, but I want to confine what I have to say to preparation for the service and testimony of God at the present time.

The Lord Jesus in coming into this world was to be the pattern of everything, and all preparation in regard of the service and testimony must originate and take its pattern from Him; He had the full divine thought in mind. He knew what would be the outcome of His great work which He undertook; He knew there would be expansion and development out of it which would require forethought to prepare for it, and hence the great activity of the Lord not only in public, preaching and teaching, casting out demons and healing the sick, not only that part of service which had to do with the revelation of God's goodness, but also that service which had to do with the preparation of a vessel, or I may say of a system, which is a better word, which should be great enough to accommodate, to protect, and to preserve all the results of His death. He foresaw the results perfectly. He measured them and in no sense would there be anything omitted in the preparation so that there should be in a spiritual way accommodation,

[Page 390]

comfort, food, shelter, housing, clothing -- in a word everything, every requisite for the result He had in mind.

Now I take up Luke because it conveys what I am speaking of. He sends Peter and John to prepare; in Matthew and Mark the suggestion of the preparation arises from the disciples -- very commendable and in place, but in Luke the Lord takes the initiative Himself. When the time had come that the passover must be killed He sends Peter and John to prepare; it was imperative and He knew it, and He knew what would be the outcome of it. He says, "that we may eat". There should be the eating, and, dear brethren, Christianity depends on eating; I mean that if we are to be sustained here according to God, we must eat, and not only that, but there must be suitable surroundings in which to eat. I do not deny that all Christians to some extent eat, that is, they appropriate Christ in some sense. One has great compassion for many, for their food is so meagre, and their surroundings so incongruous. The Lord would not only supply the food, but suitable surroundings also. In feeding the five thousand He makes the people to sit down on the green grass; He would have them to eat with as much comfort as possible. He ordered the arrangements even there in the desert; there was no house, no tables, nor ordinary utensils, but He used what was there. He makes the best possible use of what there was. If there were no tables, there was at least communion in companies of fifties and hundreds. The food was distributed; He gives it to the disciples from His own hand to give to the people. What was available He used to the utmost in divine forethought.

But the passover was not only that their bodily needs should be met; that feast extended back centuries. The Lord would have in His mind all that entered into it; it was a divine institution; it was

[Page 391]

instituted in Egypt before Israel became a nation and so extended back to their beginning. (See Exodus 12:2.) The love of God entered into it. How the Lord would recall the circumstances of its institution, for all was perfectly vivid and fresh in His mind. He was there and had to do with it; He knew the divine love which underlay it, and how oft as Israel came up year after year to celebrate the passover the divine presence would have been realised. He knew all that, and now it was to be celebrated for the last time. The passover must be killed; His heart was full, every divine thought and all the love of Jehovah was there pent up. He had already wept over Jerusalem: "How often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen her brood under her wings, and ye would not". All these divine thoughts were there and would enter into this passover."With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer".

Luke alone gives us two cups, the passover cup, and the cup of the Supper. He took the passover cup no doubt; I do not know where the idea of the cup came from with the passover, for it was not in the original institution, but it was there, and the Lord received it. He would not drink of the fruit of the vine again; they were "the Israel" of God to Him, and He handed it to them; He passed over to them, as I may say, all the thoughts of God for Israel; they were not to be lost, they were to live in the affections of the remnant; as one said later he could wish he were accursed for his brethren -- for Israel. The Lord loved them, and He knew all the divine thoughts about them, and so He passed on the passover cup to them. That cup remains, if we understand it. No one who loves God could fail to cherish these divine thoughts; we look to see the fulfilment of them in that nation, for He died for that nation.

[Page 392]

Well, now you can understand from what I have said how the idea of preparation enters into the divine thoughts. He says to them after their inquiry as to where they should prepare, "As ye enter into the city a man will meet you ... follow him". Note, they had learned not to intrude as to suggestions. If we are to prepare, we must learn from Him as to when and where; there must be no innovations; and so they have to follow the man with the pitcher of water. The Lord left nothing to their imagination and device, nevertheless they are entrusted with the preparation, and so it says they prepared; it was done, that is a great thing as to service, it is not half done or postponed.

But to further enlarge -- there was a large upper room furnished, that was part of the provision; they did not hire it, they did not even make inquiry for it, they carried out the Lord's instructions, and so they were shown the large upper room. You may wonder why I bring this feature in, it is just to remind us that God may work, yea, God is working, and if He is working there will be results from His work, and the question is, Are we prepared? Supposing He were to bring in a hundred souls tomorrow in Dudley -- it would be a small thing for Him to do -- what would you do with them? Oh! you say, we should be glad to receive them; but suppose there is a great gift from God among them, are you prepared for him? If you are thinking of your own importance in the service, you will not be prepared for him; you will not want him. The Lord brought in a Paul. The saints at Damascus were not prepared for such an one; Ananias was not; the Lord prepared him afterwards, but he was not prepared at first. Are we prepared to be small enough and to retain our smallness in order to avoid inflation by any circumstances? You see, beloved brethren, how easily we may be taken unawares if we are not prepared.

[Page 393]

At Pentecost Peter stood up and preached, and there were three thousand souls added that day. Is there the least suggestion that the hundred and twenty had no accommodation for them? No indeed, there was preparation, for the Lord had foreseen it. No doubt Peter knew that the Holy Spirit come down from heaven meant much. The Lord chose Peter and John, He had fitted them for such a service, and He put them forward, and so the three thousand are added. You say, Where did they meet, for there could be no hall in Jerusalem large enough to hold them, but the Holy Spirit says they broke bread in the houses; the Lord had been working in the saints' houses during His ministry and had prepared them. Such a service as the Lord's in Peter's house, as He stood over his wife's mother, is needed in our houses; He touched her, and the fever left her, and she arose and ministered to them. He rebuked the fever, and it left her, and she served them, not only Him. When those three thousand were brought in there was great need of such service, indeed, all would be taxed in service. Doubtless there were many houses where Jesus had worked and they would be ready for the breaking of bread. If they broke bread in their houses, their houses must have been available, and they were all in it, wives and daughters would be ready. The breaking of bread is a family thought, and so they broke bread in the houses. They persevered, it says, in the apostles' doctrine, energy was in keeping, and they were continually in the temple, for it was still regarded as God's house, it was a divine provision, it was not to continue, but the Lord had not yet given it up.

I only mention all that to emphasise what I was saying as to preparation, that the Lord had foreseen all. At Pentecost Peter and John shine, and in spite of the great influx they go up together to the temple at the hour of prayer; they were not diverted; it

[Page 394]

was a spectacle to heaven, those two going up together. The thought of unity is seen in them, and so if you go through the Acts you see how provision is made as numbers increase; elders are ordained, nothing is left unordered, no loose ends; in Christianity things are to be done. So Paul in speaking to the Corinthians puts before them general principles, and so in chapter 10 he says, "the bread which we break", but in chapter 11, "as often as ye shall eat"; it is local; some put chapter 11 before chapter 10, which is a mistake; chapter 10 must precede chapter 11, it must be the bread which we break -- that is all Christians, for you have not got the Lord's supper without all. The preparation involves all, and yet it may be brought down to two.

I want now to show from Chronicles how David is a type of the Lord Jesus in the sense of what I have been speaking, that is, not only as King, but as Head. He is the only Old Testament writer who refers to Jehovah as Head. David had failed in the mode of bringing back the ark, but he had judged himself; and if we truly judge failure, we shall have more light after than before. So David became the sweet Psalmist of Israel after his failure in using the Philistine cart, and so it is after he institutes the service of song that he is called a "man of God", 2 Chronicles 8:14. Much failure has occurred in Christianity. Uzzah dies for touching the ark, but who is to blame for it? David is to blame. Why should there have been a cart? and then David was indignant with God. Think of a man being indignant with God! You see what we are capable of in the things of God. Have we not been caught in this way? How are we comporting ourselves in our service? Unless the flesh is rigorously restrained, we may sin against God Himself, indignation rising up against God -- the rising up of leprosy, I may call it, in divine things. We are wonderfully privileged,

[Page 395]

but how are we comporting ourselves? What underlies our service? How much self-importance? I am not excluding myself; oh! no, for I know something of what the flesh in me is. Think of the mixed conditions in us; Peter one moment, material for the house of God and Satan the next, and yet the grace of God continues which disentangles what is of Himself that it may remain.

God resented the intrusion of the flesh by the death of Uzzah. He knows how to resent it; you may depend upon it where the flesh is indulged He will judge it. How serious it is to allow the flesh! David missed the blessing and Obed-Edom got it. The only way out is to judge ourselves, and so David gathered the sons of Aaron; he understood now what was suitable. Those who have to do with divine things must have the Spirit to discern what is suitable; they must discern that neither a new cart nor an old one is suitable; so David has no thought of a cart now, but calls for the Levites and the sons of Aaron. It means that I must be spiritual if I touch these things, I must not touch them in the flesh. The Pharisees asked a sign, but the Lord left them and departed, and so the disciples were found with Him on the other side; very good, but then the Lord says, "Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees". You see, you might carry this over with you. The new cart was a Philistine thought.

So David calls the sons of Aaron and the Levites; He had prepared a place for the ark, and now he prepares those to carry it and the ark is taken up to Zion. He prepared also for the service of song. In the Psalms he says he will not give sleep to his eyes nor slumber to his eyelids until he finds out a place for Jehovah; but then there are the priests clothed with righteousness -- we must have righteousness. "Let thy priests be clothed with righteousness, and let thy saints shout for joy". Mark the word

[Page 396]

'saints'. Aaron is said to be "the saint of the Lord". In the midst of a sanctified company he sings. The present time is the outcome of judged failure in the assembly, and so we come back to the Psalms. The melody produced in the saints of God is the outcome of their love to God. So David provides for the song in verse 16, the lifting up the voice with joy. Singing is by the human voice from hearts touched by the Spirit of God. The Lord is the pattern for everything, so after the passover in Matthew and Mark we get, "Having sung a hymn, they went out to the mount of Olives". The Lord took part in it with the disciples. We should not have dared to say that; we should have said He sang it or they with Him, but it says "they"; it was mutual. It must have been delightful, and then they went to the mount of Olives.

I do not add more. I close with that thought that the preparation for the service of God involves singing. "Her saints shall shout aloud for joy". May God bless the word.

[Page 397]


Exodus 21:1 - 6; Luke 7:44 - 48

I have in mind to speak about love, in order that we may see how it develops in the believer, so that he becomes a model. In using the word 'model' I necessarily imply that all are not models. The love of many has waxed cold. Much is said in Scripture for those who love, and much is said against those who do not love. It is not only that those who do not love miss spiritual enjoyment and privilege, but are nigh unto a curse, for the apostle says, "If any one love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha", 1 Corinthians 16:22. That is to say, he is exposed to the curse. Not that he is under it now, but he shall be under it when the Lord comes. So that aside from the blessing and joy of love, or the act of love -- possessed love and active love -- one is in a most solemn position. Of him who has not got it, it is said that he is nothing. As to present importance in the testimony of God, he is nothing. If I have not love, I am nothing.

I wanted to show from these passages the presence of love, and how that in each case it is presented as a model in the one contemplated. The first mention is in the form of descending love. We can understand the suitability of that, for love is of God -- indeed God is said to be love, so that in those who have it, or wherever it is, it emanates from God. Hence it is first mentioned in Scripture in the form of descending love -- love in Abraham for Isaac. We can understand that the typical reference is to God. It is to God in the manner in which He loved Christ. That is to say, perfect love expressed to a perfect Object. God loved us in spite of our unloveliness, but not so with Christ. It was perfect love with

[Page 398]

nothing at all to hinder it, or disturb it. And so before you have the expression of it publicly in the gospel you get the Lord down here until He had become thirty years of age. Having become incarnate He had gone through all the stages of growth in humanity.

We get Him as an infant in Luke, and we are told elsewhere that He was cast upon God even then. John Baptist comes nearest to that of any; of whom it is said he was filled with the Spirit from his infancy; but it was not said that he was cast upon God from infancy. So that we see pre-eminence in Christ -- even in infancy. There is much more unwritten than is written in the scripture. In God's way of book-making, largeness is not at all in view, but smallness. No subjects are so great as those treated of in Scripture. That so much should be told in such a small compass is a great wonder. So in the account of the infancy of Christ, how much is unwritten! Think of the history of those twelve years! His parents went up to the feast as their custom was each year; and when He was twelve years they took Him up. What unwritten history was there for God in those twelve years in that holy obscure life! But light shines for us, and a few words are written by the Spirit of God so that we might see a little of what was there.

Mary and Joseph returned after the feast as was customary, and went a day's journey without Jesus. They did not know He was not in the company. That is to say, there was deterioration. Alas! it applies to us as well. There is a continual tendency to deterioration in our appreciation of Christ. Mary could travel a whole day and think He was in the company, whereas He was not. What were God's thoughts? He was occupied with that holy Boy, whatever His parents were occupied with. It might have been this or that notable person they had heard speaking in the

[Page 399]

temple, or the temple itself. There was no doubt much small talk in their journey back, and no attention paid to Christ. A sad picture! A picture which is common in every locality where the people of God are today. What was heaven thinking about Him? He was intensely delightful to God -- the perfect Meat Offering. He was for God. They returned and found Him in the temple, and Mary says, "Thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing". It was something that they sought Him sorrowing. It is well when we do seek Him sorrowing. Mary speaks to Him on the natural side -- "Thy father and I", referring to Joseph. But He says, "Wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?" He is on spiritual lines -- "My Father" referring to God. She speaks to Him on natural lines. He speaks to her on spiritual lines.

That is just a peep, if I may call it, on that wonderful life. As it is said later, "All the words of this life" -- a life so delightful to God. In chapter 3, the Lord being about thirty years of age, we have the announcement, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I have found my delight". There is the public declaration on the part of God of His delight in Him. He has found an object on earth who is perfectly lovable to Him. He loves us in spite of our unloveliness, but not so with Christ. So that it was a descending love in Abraham. "Take now thine only son, Isaac, whom thou lovest"; love descending in type from Him who is the source of it. It was perfect love expressed to a perfect Object as regards Christ. As the Lord Jesus says later, "Thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world". But now it is a Man who has grown up in the contrariety of the world whom the Father loved. It is love descending, and I may add it is the same with ourselves, only with us it is in spite of our unloveliness. "For God", we are told, "commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we

[Page 400]

were yet sinners, Christ died for us", Romans 5:8. That is the love of God. He would have us to know it -- to be acquainted with it -- the kind of love -- the love that shows itself in spite of our unloveliness. "God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us".

But not only is it commended -- it is shed abroad down here. "Shed abroad", as it says, "in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, which is given to us". Such is God's way. Not only is it presented to us objectively, "Hereby we have known love, because he has laid down his life for us", but brought down by the Spirit, and placed in our hearts -- "shed abroad" there, as it says, "by the Holy Spirit". It is the Holy Spirit. It is not to be associated or mixed with natural thoughts or feelings. It is by the Holy Spirit. It is shed abroad in our hearts and the result is you have ascending love in the saints, and the assurance as in Romans that all things work together for good to those who love God. It is a moral triumph that there are those in this world who love God. Loving God is the ascending side. God loving us is the descending side.

I wanted to show from Exodus 24 how God entered into covenant with His people. Chapters 19 and 20 contemplate God having entered into a covenant. Why did God enter into a covenant? Surely because He loved them. He entered into a covenant with His people, and they accepted the terms of it. That is how the matter stands. "All that the Lord hath spoken we will do". Moses came to the people with the covenant, and went back to God with the people's acceptance of it. In chapter 24 sacrifices are offered and the blood of the covenant is shed. It is a confirmed covenant. God sets down alongside that a model as to what is really essential to that covenant; and I desire to call attention to it, because with God it is not only the assertion of things, but the showing

[Page 401]

of them. It is one thing to assert, but it is another thing to show. As you get with the apostle, "Yet show I unto you a way of more surpassing excellence". That is the way of love. It was not only to be spoken of, but to be shown. So God here shows a type of Christ. He shows how the response comes.

What are the terms? "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength". That is the first great commandment. That was ascending love -- love going up to God -- but I have to be shown that. So that the Lord Jesus spoke of love down here -- indeed He cited this commandment as the first -- He not only spoke of love, He showed it. And in what circumstances? In the circumstances of a bondman! It is where we are tested, you see, in the circumstances of a bondman. This was new to the Lord. He had been in the form of God, and loved as God. If He loved any one it would be descending love. But now it is in the form of a bondman -- Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking a bondman's form. A bondman's form. He speaks indeed, in Zechariah 12, of man acquiring Him as that. Such is the holy mind of Christ as becoming man, He was the servant of all. Marvellous fact!

Such a position involves irksomeness, but not in His case. He filled every position perfectly and graced it, so that in a bondman's position He loves. That is what I wanted to come to. No doubt many of us find ourselves in circumstances of irksomeness. We might serve those who are greater than ourselves, but to serve those who are not greater, as He did, is the test.

Martha served. She is a well-known character in this matter. No doubt she could look after a household well. She received the Lord into her house; but receiving the Lord is not all. You might make

[Page 402]

Him uncomfortable after you receive Him. It is the grace with which you entertain Him that counts. "Carest thou not that my sister has left me to serve alone". It was irksome to her. She was not gracing the position. She was not serving in love. Love never grumbles; it ever graces its own act. It dignifies the thing it is doing. That is where Martha failed.

The Lord served as a bondman. Love shone there. First, ascending love, that is, "I love my master". He plainly said it in every movement down here. It was the way of surpassing excellence, shining in perfection in Christ. Then the horizontal love. He loved His wife -- that is to say, the saints, the excellent of the earth, in whom was all His delight. He never regarded them lightly, or trivially; the saints were everything to Him. Think of what a saint is! Look at a planet! Wonderful thing! But there was no workmanship expended on it as on the weakest saint of God.

See the blind man in John 9 -- born blind. The Lord says neither did he sin nor his parents. Why was he blind? That the works of God should be manifested in him. Think of that, beloved brethren! Is he not greater than any of the planets? or even the sun or the moon? True enough they are the works of God. "The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth his handiwork". But here is one man, a despised blind man on the street, and he is to be an exhibition of the works of God. That is the way John presents things. John presents to us the works of God, "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work". The works of God are to be manifested in one man. We must think of the saints in that connection. "We are his workmanship". That is the way the Lord took account of them -- the saints, the excellent of the earth, in whom was all His delight. These are the ones He loved. "I love

[Page 403]

my wife" -- love flowing out to those whom He regarded in this way. He regards His personal dignity, but He regards the saints as His companions. But then there are the children -- the saints viewed in another light. "Behold I and the children whom God hath given me"; those who are loved by Him. It is descending love.

You have the expression "daughter" in the gospels. That is a parental expression. The Lord represented that side too -- the parental side. And it is very blessed to have the sense of parental affection in One come near to us as becoming man. Therefore you see, beloved, love is shown, in the bondman's form, in Christ -- in One in these circumstances. I beg of you to notice that it is love -- the perfect expression of it in these peculiar circumstances.

Now I wanted to show in the woman in Luke 7 how this is reflected in us, so that we may see how it is possible. She is a woman of the city. That was how she was known -- a very disreputable character. But she acquired fame that Gabriel would have desired. She acquired it by loving. She acquired the wonderful faculty of loving. She says not a word about it. But One who knew better than she did said something about it, and this surely is much more desirable. She is showing the thing, and in showing it she afforded the Lord a model. She merges from the position of a woman of the city before heaven and earth to be a model lover. One would emulate that.

The Lord turns to the woman. He did not turn to Simon. He spoke to Simon; but in speaking to Simon He was looking at the woman. With all Simon's means and power to entertain, there was not an atom of loveliness there. What a thing, beloved, to be in a locality in this way -- available to Christ so that He may speak to others about you! How refreshing she was to His heart! He turns to her

[Page 404]

and speaks to Simon. "Seest thou this woman?" Did Simon see her? Yes, he looked upon her with disdain, and in his heart he said, "If he were a prophet, he would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner". Did Jesus not know? Yes, He was looking at her and taking account of what she was doing. Her heart was touched by the grace brought to her -- even to her -- and she was weeping. What did those tears mean? They meant feelings of the appreciation of the grace that brought Him there that she, a poor sinner, might be cleansed from her sins -- forgiven. It is a question of actual transgression. She was weeping and washing His feet with tears, and wiping them with the hairs of her head.

No doubt she had some spiritual intelligence as to the value of her hair. And so it is something to every enlightened woman who knows grace, she knows what the hair means. It was given to her in place of a covering. It was a teacher of nature to her that she might have power on her head because of the angels, that she might be exhibiting grace as Christ came down and exhibited it.

Christ was Simon's head, but Simon did not recognise it. She did. She knew instinctively, but not in the way we know it. Instinct is in a sense greater than knowledge. She recognised who He was, and she wiped His feet with her hair, and kissed His feet. Think of the feelings that looked with disdain on that blessed Man! She was showing love as heaven had shown it. She loved much because she had been forgiven much. She had learned grace. It was love -- not a love of relationship, but love that flows from the knowledge of grace -- the knowledge of Christ coming so low to make forgiveness possible.

She kissed His feet, and anointed them with myrrh, which was an intelligent action. It was befitting that those feet should be anointed thus. Those feet

[Page 405]

carried Him to death, to bear our sins in His own body. Think of the grace! "In his own body"; and "on the tree". Were those feet not worth anointing with myrrh? They were. There was some understanding that He was to suffer. So He calls attention to her. He goes over the ground with Simon. It was delightful to Him to call Simon's attention to the woman, that we might get the idea of love, and might be an exhibition of it; that you might so shine, and become a model greater than a preacher -- greater than any gift; that God can turn to you and say, "Seest thou this woman?" So that it is within the range of all to be a model in love. May the Lord help us! If He has set forth a model as is brought before us here, He can bring others to it in any locality. That is what the work of God leads to.

[Page 406]


Deuteronomy 33:20 - 29

A.N.W. Is there a clear sequence in all these blessings?

J.T. I think so. The tribes here are not taken up according to birth, but according to their spiritual settings. We noticed, the last time, that Joseph represents, in a sense, the end reached in the chapter, which is fulness of blessing; "the myriads of Ephraim" and "the thousands of Manasseh" (verse 17), correspond with Ephesians, and suggest the idea of our full position in Christ. What is said of the remaining tribes is the filling out of this. Zebulun and Issachar represent the exercise of love in hospitality, and they offer the "sacrifices of righteousness". "They shall invite the peoples to the mountain", it says, which would mean that there is hospitality, but above the level of the natural, for they invite "to the mountain". "The abundance of the seas" and "the hidden treasures of the sand", would represent accumulated spiritual wealth. With Gad it is a question of enlargement -- the commandments and lawgiving would be the mind of God governing us authoritatively, so that the care meeting, as we speak of it, gets a setting in connection with this tribe.

A.N.W. Had you evangelising in mind in speaking of enlargement?

J.T. Yes; we have the evangelising spirit in Zebulun, and the wealth that comes in in relation to both Zebulun and Issachar.

A.N.W. Then is the enlargement due to numbers?

J.T. Well, it is due to more than that. If enlargement is attached to Gad, it is safe, because it is a question of the law which will not allow of any extraneous material.

[Page 407]

T.A. Would 2 Corinthians 6:13 fit in here? "Let your heart also expand itself".

J.T. Yes. Enlargement is in good hands, for Gad regards the will of God, and he has courage and energy. "As a lion doth he dwell, and teareth the arm, even the top of the head. And he provided the first part for himself, for there was reserved the portion of the lawgiver", verse 20, 21. That means that he made provision for the lawgiver. There is respect for the law; then it goes on: "And he came with the heads of the people; the justice of Jehovah and his judgments hath he executed with Israel", verse 21.

B.T.F. What is the power of the arm?

J.T. Tearing the arm would rob the opposer of power. The arm and head refer to power and wisdom, I think; tearing these would deprive the opposing elements of their means of offence. How this comes about now, has to be understood; applied spiritually, it is a question of taking counsel with the brethren as to how to meet opposing elements, thus depriving them of their power and wisdom. The first epistle to the Corinthians is the full amplification of this; it shows how the apostle deprived the opposers at Corinth of their strength and wisdom.

A.N.W. Paul writes the first epistle as the lawgiver; in the second epistle enlargement is in view.

T.H. Why is "Sosthenes the brother" introduced with the lawgiver?

J.T. That is the modifying element; "the brother" would cause authority to settle down in our souls acceptably. Of course, Paul was not wanting in brotherly feeling, but the mention of Sosthenes as the brother assures us that it entered into his letter.

C.A.M. Moses was the lawgiver. There are times when law is needed. Lawlessness is a terrible thing, and it comes very close to us, does it not?

J.T. Yes, one feels the danger of that in one's self.

[Page 408]

To answer to what is seen here in Gad, to be qualified for taking counsel and part generally in the government of the house of God, one has to govern one's self. It says, "He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city", Proverbs 16:32.

C.A.M. Yes, it is not just laying down the law; in bringing in the requirements of justice the apostle could entreat the Corinthians "by the meekness and gentleness of the Christ", 2 Corinthians 10:1.

A.N.W. I thought that was largely the suggestion as to Sosthenes. The apostle could lay down the law by himself, but the association of a brother with him would temper what he wrote. The apostle might have written more severely, using his apostolic authority, than he did with the presence of Sosthenes, the brother.

J.T. That is the idea. We speak of a brothers' meeting, but more correctly it should be an elders' meeting. The elders wear crowns (see Revelation 4:4); if I wear a crown, it shows that I have acquired something in myself -- that, amongst other things, I have gained a moral victory over myself; I am free from personal feeling in all the counsel I give, or moral weight I may exert. I think all that enters into Gad, because he reserved a portion for the lawgiver, alluding, no doubt, to Moses' grave which is said to be in the territory of Gad, but the point is, he valued the lawgiver.

C.A.M. Psalm 110:22 speaks of Joseph teaching Pharaoh's elders wisdom. I suppose the idea of elders now is the same thing in principle, but the legislative bodies of the nations would not think much of what we seek to maintain in this way, and yet it is the most powerful thing on earth; so that we should be very dignified in connection with it.

J.T. That is good; we should be dignified in a spiritual sense, as having to do with the things of

[Page 409]

God. The Lord indicated the present moment when He said, "It is as a man gone out of the country, having left his house and given to his bondmen the authority" (Mark 13:34); it is a question, therefore, of how it is used -- whether the bondmen are equal to the exercising of it.

A.N.W. So that the care meeting is not a place where each expresses his personal opinion or feeling about a thing?

J.T. No. He should be totally disinterested, as far as he is concerned, since he is considering for the rights of God, and I think that is what Gad means here. He reserved a portion for the lawgiver, and "he came with the heads of the people"; that is, he is one who came with others, but it is "with the heads of the people". Headship, suggesting wisdom, enters into it; so that one can come with the brethren. Coming with them means that I go as one of them. Paul in speaking to the Corinthians of Timothy, says, "... for I expect him with the brethren" (1 Corinthians 16:11); that is, he is not exercising any distinction among them, he comes with them; so here, Gad comes with the heads of the people; then it says, "The justice of Jehovah and his judgments hath he executed with Israel".

B.T.F. The thought has been advanced that it is good for younger brothers to be at the brothers' meetings, because of the experience they would gain.

J.T. That is right. While it is a question of "the heads of the people" yet the younger brothers should be present; as there in a becoming manner, they learn how things are done, and can say, "Amen", to what is done.

W.S.S. Would there be the thought of Gad moving in the sense of the support of the heads? There would be a waiting to move and go forward with others.

J.T. I think that is right. "With" shows that I have the mutual feeling. We read that "in the

[Page 410]

multitude of counsellors there is safety", Proverbs 11:14. I think Gad would join in with the brethren. However distinguished as to tribe, he would be mutually with the heads of the people.

E.B. Would it link up with Proverbs 31:23: "Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land".

J.T. Yes. Sitting among the elders is a most interesting thought. He is one of them. The same feature is seen in the book of Ruth; we have, "Thou, such an one, turn aside, sit down here", chapter 4: 1. You are not in a hurry. When you have matters of judgment before you, deliberation is necessary, therefore you "sit down", instead of rushing things through.

F.H.L. Such a one as Gad, coming with the heads of the people, is already qualified, and they recognise it.

J.T. It is important to sit down with the brethren, for however distinguished you may be, you recognise the others; God loves variety, and would bring out what everyone has.

W.S.S. Paul came to Corinth, and took a very small place; in principle, he dwelt in a tent. He did not come as a great man, did he? In connection with what has been remarked, it is said in Ezekiel 44:24: "And in controversy they shall stand to judge: they shall judge it according to my judgments; and they shall keep my laws and my statutes in all my solemnities". The sons of Zadok here would represent those who are qualified.

C.A.M. After Joshua the high priest had been clothed with "festival-robes", it was said to him, "If thou wilt walk in my ways, and if thou wilt keep my charge, then thou shalt also judge my house, and shalt also keep my courts; and I will give thee a place to walk among these that stand by. Hear now. Joshua the high priest, thou and thy

[Page 411]

fellows that sit before thee -- for they are men of portent", Zechariah 3:7, 8.

J.T. That is very helpful in relation to that which we are speaking of; how we get a place among those "that stand by" -- those who are standing by what is of God. Then it is further said to Joshua, "... thou and thy fellows that sit before thee -- for they are men of portent". They were men as signs, and signified something distinctive, as in the position indicated. These things are of great importance in relation to the house of God. Then you have the results: God executed "the justice of Jehovah and his judgments ... with Israel". "With" is brought in again -- it is a joint matter.

A.R.S. Things are not on individual lines at all.

J.T. That is a very important thing to have before us in our meetings. The word 'care' is very appropriate; it says, "But if one does not know how to conduct his own house, how shall he take care of the assembly of God?" 1 Timothy 3:5. What a charge it is! In Acts 20 the elders were enjoined as to it. They were overseers of the flock, and were to shepherd the assembly of God. This has to be continued, and dignity in our deliberations is of great importance, also impartiality and moral weight in what we may say.

B.T.F. It is said, "The law was given by Moses grace and truth subsists through Jesus Christ", John 1:17. There would be a measure of grace in connection with the care and government of the assembly.

J.T. Surely. This is the dispensation which is marked by the reign of grace. It is worthy of note that in Numbers 21 the digging is under the direction of the lawgiver, and is typical of the power of the Spirit of God by which the righteous requirement of the law is fulfilled (see Romans 8:3, 4).

T.H. Would you say that I might not be qualified

[Page 412]

to actually take part, but I am there to give my "Amen" to the thing?

J.T. The Amen is important. Not everyone can say, "Yea"; that is, indicate what should be done, but anyone should be able to say "Amen" and so confirm what is done.

A.N.W. Will you distinguish for us between justice and judgment here?

J.T. I suppose justice is a general thought. Judgments are more specific. The point is that there should be justice in all matters of adjudication amongst us; in view of which every item of evidence should be weighed. There is in this country, the Department of Justice; that is a great general thought; but there are thousands of cases that have to be dealt with by it, and the question is how that is done. The Judge of Israel was smitten on the cheek (Micah 5:1), meaning that justice had fallen to the ground. The high priest was in the judge's seat, and Christ was at the bar; they smote Him on the cheek, but from that point you have laid down the great principle of judgment. The Lord says, "If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil; but if well, why smitest thou me?" John 18:23. The Lord's "if" and "why" mean much here. The high priest was unfit to execute judgment.

W.S.S. In Lamentations 3:30, we have typically, the Lord giving His cheek to the smiter. I suppose we need to take up the same attitude.

J.T. I think that if you are at the bar, before false judges, you will show the spirit of judgment in your demeanour. The Judge of Israel was before the high priest. He sets out the great principle of judgment, saying there, "If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil; but if well, why smitest thou me?" Paul in similar circumstances (Acts 23) failed somewhat in his language to the high priest,

[Page 413]

yet in his remarks, maintained the authority of the law.

W.S.S. Hosea 6:5 says, "My judgment goeth forth as the light". That is what should characterise judgment.

J.T. Just so; so that the elders' meeting as illuminated by the light of God, reaches a right judgment, and this characterises the pronouncement, and the execution of it by the assembly.

R.D.G. With regard to being impartial, 1 Timothy 5:24 furnishes a scripture for us: "I testify before God and Christ Jesus and the elect angels, that thou keep these things without prejudice, doing nothing by favour".

J.T. Very good! It is so difficult for us to avoid having respect of persons, in judgment; whereas, the bench must be impartial, being concerned about the law, the evidence, etc. Of course, the persons have to be taken into account, but in adhering to the evidence of the case and the law governing it, one cannot be partial.

B.F.T. Would you introduce, in any way, the principle of the "little child" of Matthew 18:2?

J.T. Well, it was a question there of who is greatest in the kingdom of the heavens. The Lord had been pointing out the great thought of sonship, and the disciples had not grasped it, but were concerned about the greatest place in the kingdom of the heavens, so He brings in a little child, as if to exhibit the spirit of that kingdom. There was one whom the Lord could call; He cannot call some of us, because we are not always characteristic listeners.

A.N.W. It is remarkable how administration follows on in that chapter.

J.T. Yes. After you get the spirit of the kingdom, then it is a question of how it works out. If I am trespassed against, do I carry out the spirit of

[Page 414]

the kingdom toward the one who has trespassed against me? It becomes a test to one -- I am brought into the Judicial Department, so to speak, through being trespassed against. It is a question not of reparation, but of gaining the brother, and is a great contrast to the world's way. If I fail to gain the brother, I am to take one or two besides; and "if he will not listen to them, tell it to the assembly" (Matthew 18:17); so that we reach the final court of appeal.

G.S.O. If that spirit were more in the care meeting, such would be more effectual.

J.T. Yes; and the results, as stated in the assembly for administrative action, would be strengthening and dignifying, although in some instances humbling, rather than irksome or depressing. It is the King's business carried out in His most august assembly.

A.N.W. It is a beautiful expression: "The justice of Jehovah and his judgments".

J.T. The "judgments" are exercised by the assembly. The brothers' care meeting has not authority for this; it can only bring findings; authority belongs to the assembly.

W.S.S. I was thinking of the little child. Solomon had the distinction of sitting on David's throne, but he took the place of a little child; God gave him an understanding heart, and then he exercised right judgment.

J.T. A little child knows to whom he should turn. Solomon is a very beautiful example in that way -- he asked Jehovah for wisdom. He did not know how to go out and to come in, but he asked for wisdom, and obtained it.

W.S.S. What follows (1 Kings 3) about the two women and the living child is very interesting, and Solomon's knowing how to use the sword, which I

[Page 415]

suppose typifies the word of God, sheds light on the situation.

J.T. He brings to light the mother of the child.

W.S.S. Is not that what is needed in all local exercises? We need the light of the assembly, in order that the thing may be solved in a spiritual way.

J.T. The mother yearned over the child; the motherly feeling in the exercise of judgment comes into evidence and it is of immense importance.

W.S.S. Would it not be very helpful to always approach these matters on the line of what we have here about Gad, for every question that arises is an opportunity for enlargement?

J.T. I think that is the point. If there is to be enlargement among us, it is not simply the adding of persons, but God enlarging Gad, meaning that the enlargement is in keeping with the principle of justice and judgment, and that is a safe enlargement.

The next feature here is Dan, then Naphtali, and finally, Asher. We have these three tribes to consider: It says, "Dan is a young lion". It is said of Gad, "As a lion doth he dwell". He is in a set position, with the courage of a lion. Dan is a young lion; it says, "He shall spring forth from Bashan". That is a good word for young brothers. It is a question of what spring they have, and where they spring from; Dan sprang from Bashan.

B.T.F. With an object in view?

J.T. Yes, but he sprang from a certain place. His tribal position was not in Bashan. Why then should he spring from that place?

C.A.M. We know from Psalm 22, that Bashan was a place where the animals were remarkably strong.

J.T. Yes: "Many bulls have encompassed me; Bashan's strong ones have beset me round", Psalm 22:12. Dan has ability to spring from that position,

[Page 416]

as showing that he could get out of any unsuitable position in a spiritual way.

W.S.S. You mean it was a position which would be calculated to overcome him, but he was not overcome by it.

J.T. That is the idea. One can spring out of a given position, which is not one's own (as Bashan apparently was not Dan's position) -- I can spring forth from it in power. It is a question of seeing that I can give up anything, in power. It is a great thing if we can thus leave a position, glorifying God, and not leave it reluctantly, as Lot's wife looked back toward Sodom. I do not know that you can make much of Bashan itself, but Dan had power to spring forth from it. We are not told where he sprang to.

A.N.W. As soon as Og was overcome, there was a remarkable impetus given the people, was there not?

J.T. Just so. The overthrow of Og would mean that one overcomes the big I which is one's natural conception of one's self, and hinders progress; one is free then to go forward.

R.L. Was there not strength shown in the death of Christ? "And Jesus, having again cried with a loud voice, gave up the ghost", Matthew 27:50.

J.T. Yes; what happened as the Lord died led the centurion and others to say, "Truly this man was Son of God". He comes forth in power out of the grave, too.

R.L. He showed His power in giving up His life. We do not give up our lives as He did.

J.T. He cried with a loud voice. John (chapter 19: 30) uses a word not found elsewhere in the same connection, to record the Lord's death; it says, "He delivered up his spirit". It was an act of power, showing that although His was real death. He did not experience the ordinary process of dying.

A.N.W. We are not told the object of the spring,

[Page 417]

but the power of it, by which he springs out of Bashan.

J.T. Nothing more is said. It is enough for the young Christian to realise that he has this power in the Spirit. He can thus get out of anything not according to the will of God.

F.H.L. Would Stephen suggest it? He went out in strength.

J.T. Yes. You can see divinely given strength in Stephen. He cried with a loud voice in asking for mercy for his murderers, and then fell asleep. But falling asleep is not delivering up one's spirit; this is said of the Lord only.

R.D.G. Would Paul be an example of this, in speaking to Ananias? He said, "God will smite thee, whited wall", Acts 23:3.

J.T. After he called the high priest a whited wall, he immediately righted himself. It was a question of power in Paul's soul.

B.T.F. Why is Dan introduced here?

J.T. I suppose, as we were remarking, this chapter is constructive, and one of the features is to have power to spring from certain circumstances.

B.T.F. Is not antichrist associated with Dan?

J.T. Yes, but not here. In Genesis 49:17 it is said, "Dan will be a serpent on the way", etc.; it is indicative of an antichristian attitude. Dan is not mentioned in Revelation 7; but this chapter is God's own setting of the tribes. If Simeon is left out here, that is God's way of acting -- one brother left out here, and another left out somewhere else, but brought in here. We have to leave with God the place each of us is to occupy. As regards Dan's position in Bashan, you might say to a brother, "Get out of that position". Well, he may see that it is right he should, but is he in the Spirit so as to have power to act accordingly?

[Page 418]

W.S.S. The light would show the need to spring out.

C.A.M. But it is the movement that would result in blessing.

J.T. A lion is a stately creature; Proverbs 30:30. A person getting out of an inconsistent position is stately. You are not doing it in a legal way, but with a spring.

W.S.S. It would bring us into being "satisfied with favour", verse 23.

J.T. That is next. You may be in a position that is questionable, but you leave it and come to one where you are "satisfied with favour". What is said of Naphtali is: "Naphtali, satisfied with favour, and full of the blessing of Jehovah, possess thou the west and the south".

W.S.S. That is what we are to spring into. What an encouragement for all young people, to move into such a sphere!

J.T. The word to Asher completes the blessing "Asher shall be blessed with sons" (verse 24); that is, increase of the family, but in the most dignified way. There is remarkable variety in the blessing here: Zebulun sucks the abundance of the seas; Naphtali is satisfied with favour, he gets territory in the west and the south; but Asher has sons. Sons going on into eternity, as applied to us, is the great thought of God.

C.A.M. Mordecai was a remarkable family man. He was accepted of his brethren, and he spoke peace to all his seed; Esther 10:3.

E.B. Samson was of the tribe of Dan.

J.T. Yes. Power came into evidence there. We are told that "the Spirit of Jehovah began to move him at Mahaneh-Dan, between Zoreah and Eshtaol", Judges 13:25.

E.B. He is seen later getting out of a false position, in power; Judges 16:3.

[Page 419]

F.H.L. Perhaps the sons of Asher correspond with the myriads of Ephraim.

J.T. I think so, in the sense of family dignity. Joseph has numbers, and there are the myriads of Ephraim, and the thousands of Manasseh. There will be immensity of numbers, for Christ is first-born among many brethren, and many sons are to be brought to glory. The book of Revelation stresses this thought. One idea of sons is dignity, here the increase of family in Asher is in this sense. The passage goes on to say: "Let him be acceptable to his brethren, and let him dip his foot in oil. Iron and brass shall be thy bolts; and thy rest as thy days. There is none like unto the God of Jeshurun". We reach, in verses 26 - 29, the final thought of blessing, as marked by the presence with us, and care of God Himself.

W.S.S. I thought about dipping the foot in oil, in connection with the hymn we sang:

"Jesus, Thy footsteps ever show
The path for every child". (Hymn 271)

What beautiful footsteps they were! The dipping of the foot in oil would suggest spiritual movements which would be helpful thus to the brethren.

J.T. Feet dipped in oil are brought into correspondence with Christ's feet. In Peter, we are to "follow in his steps" (1 Peter 2:21), and in the Song of Songs we have "the footsteps of the flock", chapter 1: 8.

W.S.S. We find Him by following the footsteps of the flock.

G.V.D. It says, "If we live by the Spirit, let us walk also by the Spirit", Galatians 5:25.

T.A. Anna was of the tribe of Asher, and was very active in speaking of the Lord.

[Page 420]


Matthew 5:1, 2; Matthew 8:23; Matthew 13:36; Matthew 28:16

In suggesting these scriptures I was thinking of discipleship as emphasised in Matthew. Disciples are regulated by the Master and governed by His movements and direction whatever the consequences. Matthew has also the Lord's influence in view, as dominating His own, and involving their formation.

In John, influence is seen more in the sense of attraction; you have the feature of being drawn to the Lord as in John 12:32: "And I, if I be lifted up out of the earth, will draw all to me". Matthew has in mind the Lord's influence in the sense of rule, of which the sun is symbolic, in that all things are dominated by it. We are to be the sons of our Father who is in the heavens, "for he makes his sun rise on evil and good, and sends rain on just and unjust", Matthew 5:45. At the transfiguration in Matthew, the Lord's face "shone as the sun" (chapter 17: 2), showing that He is dominant; and He forms us so that we are brought into accord with Him. Then the disciples, as thus made, are themselves to make disciples; chapter 28: 19. So that Andrew and Peter are made "fishers of men" in this gospel. We are not only to have light and knowledge, but influence according to God, and this should mark every believer.

Influence is a subtle thing, and if used in the exercise of absolute good, as in Christ, is immense in its result. Matthew alludes to the heavens more than any other evangelist, thus bringing out this idea of a dominative influence for good. What is formative is in view, in order that divine influence should extend. Being the sons of our Father who is in the heavens, we are not only to have light, but to be

[Page 421]

influential with respect to others in this world. The Lord indicates, in His teaching, the various kinds of people who are "blessed", then He says, "Blessed are ye", etc., and adds, "Ye are the salt of the earth". "Ye are the light of the world", chapter 5: 11 - 14. We are to take character from our Father who is in the heavens. If we are the light of the world, it is a question of the heavens and their influence ruling upon the earth, through the saints.

The Lord, having gone up into a mountain, sat down and taught the disciples who came to Him in that position. It is a question of testing the effects of His ministry. He is taking up an elevated position -- who will follow Him to it? The crowds are tested, and the work of God will become manifest by it; the test will show the result of His ministry. You cannot be sure as to such result, for light carries us a long way. Moral elevation will test the flesh, which prefers to remain on the level, but true elevation is by the Spirit of God. The question is -- who is ready for moral elevation, which involves spiritual energy? As under the Lord's influence, I desire to go up because He has gone up. In Luke the Lord and the disciples come down with the gospel, compare chapter 6: 17. In Revelation 14:4 there are those who "follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth". In Matthew 5 they "came to him". In each instance it is the effect of influence.

We are told in John 4:1 that "Jesus makes and baptises more disciples than John"; the evidence of discipleship is that such move with Him. The making involves a process, as much as in Genesis 1. There are two words used there -- created and made. When the Lord sits down it indicates permanency in relation to the matter in hand; here it is a course of instruction, having the making in view. In the educational world, a "chair" means a position from which certain instruction is given. The Lord sits

[Page 422]

down, opens His mouth, and then instructs them. The expression, "having opened his mouth" is to call attention to the Person. It is said of Christ, typically, in the Song of Songs 5:16, "His mouth is most sweet", and Luke says, "... words of grace which were coming out of his mouth", chapter 4: 22. Here in Matthew the instruction is that which would give them a clear view of the moral landscape. The Lord would give us a clear view of all things, so that when going down from this position, as instructed, we have on the armour of light, and are not overcome by the adverse things in this scene. The kind of people whom the Lord calls "blessed" thus come into view.

Discipleship has formation in view. If the Lord takes the "chair", so to speak, then it is worth while to listen, for what He will say is of importance. Luke 19:41 says, "As they were listening to these things, he added and spake a parable", showing that He loves a ready ear. The mountain here is one of administration. The first movement of the disciples is going to the Lord on the mountain; the second is following Him on board ship; chapter 8. Going on board ship is a simple matter in itself, but in doing so we are taking a position fraught with danger, and, spiritually, one which involves death. They followed Him on board ship because He went there, but the consequence was: "The water became very agitated on the sea so that the ship was covered by the waves". And now the extraordinary thing is, that He is sleeping! What an experience! The danger was there, but He slept.

The word 'follow' is most important; you follow wherever He goes; you move because He moves. The Lord would test us as to whether we would follow, inasmuch as following Him involves His death. Elisha with Elijah would illustrate this;

[Page 423]

Elisha went all the way and he secured the blessing. The Lord tests us; He would say, "Have you as much confidence in me while I am asleep as when I am awake?" The Lord never loses control of the situation, it is a question of our confidence in Him. The Psalmist says, "They cried unto thee, and were delivered". "But I am a worm, and no man", Psalm 22:5, 6. For Him there was no deliverance; He was laid in the dust of death, and for three days and three nights He was in the heart of the earth. So we, too, as following Him, are brought into this wonderful experience, according to our measure, and are confident it will yield, for He strengthens the heart as we wait upon Him. The Psalms are full of this kind of encouragement; they teach us to wait and never to cease to wait. The disciples here say, "What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him!" chapter 8: 27. You increase in knowledge as you patiently wait for Him; the disciples could not wait, they went and awoke Him. How much more would they have learnt if they had, in faith, waited for Him!

In the next instance (chapter 13: 36), the Lord takes up a position in the house. This is not a position of danger, as on board ship, but a very happy one in which the Lord expounds the parables to His disciples. As in the house, we have an opportunity to hear Him freely expounding the parables He had spoken outside. The Lord could not speak openly to the crowds outside, but inside the house He can speak clearly and freely to His own. He leaves one house -- that of the apostate Jews (verse 1), and goes into this house which answers to Christianity. The crowds in this chapter were interested in the truth, and not opposed, but He having dismissed them, "went into the house; and his disciples came to him". He is quite at liberty in this house, and tells them far more than they asked for. He speaks of the treasure; of the merchant

[Page 424]

seeking beautiful pearls, and finding one pearl of great price; and of the net cast into the sea. Although they are in the form of parables, they understand them (verse 51), so that He says, "For this reason 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. All this instruction is to be found in the house which is a sphere where the Lord is free to open out His mind in relation to the beautiful things which He delights to make known to us.

In the last instance (chapter 28: 16), you get all this which we have considered, carried over into resurrection. The disciples are able, too, to keep an appointment with the Lord, which shows the full effect of the teaching. The Lord had earlier told the disciples that after He was risen, He would go before them into Galilee (chapter 26); in this chapter both the angel and the Lord told the women to tell the disciples to go into Galilee, where they would see Him. The apostles take the message from the sisters, but why did they not get it direct from the Lord, rather than from His messengers? The angel spoke to the women with authority: "Behold, I have told you". In verse 7, the case of Manoah's wife, the angel spoke with the same authority; Judges 13. We find, in both instances, that sisters can convey the truth in a comely way. The women ran to bring His disciples word, and Jesus met them and saluted them. They were moving at the word of His messenger, and as doing so He meets them and greets them. Then He says, "Go, bring word to my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there they shall see me", verse 10. The Lord will use what is available. There were no brothers available, but the sisters were available, and He uses them to carry the message to His brethren. I think this service involves assembly influence; so that both brothers and sisters are

[Page 425]

brought under subjection to the Lord, and the disciples keep the appointment; verse 16.

I believe the appointment at the present time is the Lord's supper. How many meet Him at the Supper? The place of meeting was, and is, under reproach; it was in Galilee, and there were only eleven disciples; verse 16. Their numbers had been broken in upon, but the Lord was not deterred; although the number had been depleted He encourages them to go on, for coming up, He spoke to them, saying, "All power has been given me in heaven and upon earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations", verse 18, 19. Here in Matthew it is a question of going on and of making disciples; and then He says, "Behold I am with you all the days", verse 20. Thus the disciples are now regarded as able to influence others -- they are sent to make disciples of all the nations, the Lord promising to be with them "all the days".

[Page 426]


Genesis 2:18 - 23; Ephesians 1:19 - 23

The words we have just sung -- "No longer now alone" -- must touch our hearts as we reflect upon the solitariness of the Lord as He was down here. It is true that He said He was not alone, for His Father was with Him, but He also said, "Except the grain of wheat falling into the ground die, it abides alone", John 12:24. He has died, and now as in heaven, the assembly's union with Him has already taken place; even as our dear young brother and sister have been united in marriage, of which the Lord said, "What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate", Matthew 19:6. The bond is final; but how much more so as applied to Christ and the assembly! So that He is "no longer now alone". Not only has He companionship in the assembly, but union which is never to be dissolved.

In the Scriptures, we have indicated the spirit that is proper to a marriage scene, as for example in John 2, for that scene at Cana was on a somewhat high level. The Lord was there by invitation; not only as distinguished because of His ministry, but there was a spiritual touch in the fact that He and His disciples were invited. Therefore it seems to me that the level was above the natural and social. And the Spirit would lift us above the natural, otherwise the Lord will have no part with us; but if we take spiritual ground He will grace an occasion like this, as He did the one at Cana, where He became dominant, bringing in "the good wine".

What is conveyed in the scriptures I read is that the condition of being "alone" of our Lord Jesus was not according to divine thought. It says, "And Jehovah Elohim said, It is not good that man should

[Page 427]

be alone", Genesis 2:18. What occurred to me, and what I feel confirmed in is this, that marriage occasions, such as the present, should afford opportunity for the introduction of what enters into the marriage of the Lamb. We read in Revelation 19:7, "The marriage of the Lamb is come". What a wonderful word! In Matthew 22 the Lord speaks of a marriage (made by one who had abundant means of furnishing it -- a king), but there is no mention of a bride! Now, for a marriage there must be a bride; but in Revelation 19 we read, of the Lamb, that "his wife has made herself ready" (verse 7); that is, she had initiative. It is not the marriage being made by "the king", as in Matthew, but the wife is in evidence as having initiative -- "his wife has made herself ready"; and then, as if to confirm this feature in her, we read that "it was given to her that she should be clothed in fine linen, bright and pure; for the fine linen is the righteousnesses of the saints", verse 8. One might have the most distinguished attire, and yet not be entitled to wear it. In royal circles the attire for a special occasion must be regulated by the one who predominates. Thus the Lamb's wife, as making herself ready, is given to be clothed in such attire as is in keeping with her character. The fine linen is the righteousnesses of the saints, whom she represents. And as making herself ready the Lamb's wife is an example for all believing wives. Initiative in making things ready should always mark them.

In Scripture a great deal is said on the subject of marriage. We may think of it as ordinary, but not so with God. There is not a marriage among His children that is not of interest to Him. It is His own institution, in which Christ and the assembly were ever before Him; and on every marriage occasion among His children He is looking for some reflection of spiritual intelligence that is proper to it. Accordingly, what is to be observed is that God said, "It is

[Page 428]

not good that man should be alone". In designating His creatures God uses no more noble word than man, and next to it is woman. There are no more noble words than these as applied to creatures. It is Jehovah Elohim -- the covenant God -- that is in view here. It says, "And out of the ground Jehovah Elohim had formed every animal of the field and all fowl of the heavens, and brought them to man, to see what he would call them", as if to bring out the intelligence that was in the man. It was imperative that it should be in the man, and the institution of marriage should not be taken up apart from intelligence; for, aside from spiritual intelligence, what Christ is in His relation to the assembly cannot be set out; nor can it serve God's immediate thought as to the creation.

And so the animals are brought before Adam; wonderful creatures they are, too. God calls attention to some of them in addressing Job, and inquires of his knowledge of them; although He did not ask Job to name them. But Adam was to do this, and what was expected of him was a challenge as to his knowledge. A man is tested when confronted with the evidence of divine power and skill. Can he name it? What does he know about the work of God? That is the point. What we see is that Adam qualified. He was a wonderful creature; and God would be pleased with the intelligence that shone in him, for it glorified the Creator. He is pleased and honoured as what is of Himself in us is seen. Our brother and sister will be tested in this respect in their new relationship; and the work of God in them will shine in the way of intelligence. There is potentiality and we may be confident that they will be helped of Him in all emergencies. Our brother will need intelligence in an especial way, and it will be manifest as he advances spiritually. It is a question of ability to discern the work of God; one never qualifies spiritually

[Page 429]

but in this way. Anyone can take account of the work of man; but, to take account of the work of God requires spiritual understanding. The question is, Can I go over the field of God's operations and name the varieties of His work? If I can, I shall be a useful man amongst the people of God; and that is the paramount thing seen in our scripture, and it enters into this marriage occasion. Adam was to name every animal of the field, etc. What food for reflection there is in this! Adam qualified in this way as head, for he "gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the heavens, and to every beast of the field", verse 20.

Apparently he made no mistakes, for God accepted every name that Adam gave; the name given evidently conveyed His own thought in each creature. How Adam shone in intelligence! It is that person that needs a helpmate, and she must be suitable. So it says, "But as for Adam, he found no helpmate, his like", verse 20. The thought of suitability in the helpmate is repeated, for we have it previously in verse 18. After all the naming had taken place, there is nothing to indicate that there was anything suitable for Adam. It is a question of nature and of intelligence; and God takes the matter in hand. That is a question that should be asked in relation to these marriage occasions -- Has God taken the matter in hand? He thought of Adam's need and provided for it. I am not questioning this as to the union of our brother and sister, but am seeking to convey principles. We are told that "Whoso hath found a wife hath found a good thing, and hath obtained favour from Jehovah", Proverbs 18:22. We believe our brother has found this good thing. But then before that, God takes the matter in hand, and I would urge those who contemplate marriage to seek help from God. It is very important that you should go to Him about it. Every young brother

[Page 430]

and sister here should be prayerfully exercised in this respect. God is interested in us, and comes in for us as we look to Him and wait for His help. He says, "I will be to you for a Father", 2 Corinthians 6:18. How very comforting this is!

There is suggested in Genesis 2 the idea of sacrifice with regard to the man, even as the Lord gave Himself for the assembly. I do not say that Adam suffered; Scripture does not say so, but in principle he did. An operation was performed on him by God by which he was deprived of a rib; but he got it back a thousand-fold! (What we do in this way as under God's hand, we get back in a manifold way.) Adam did not get back a bare rib, but a woman built by God! So that Adam said, "This time it is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh: this shall be called woman, because this was taken out of a man", verse 23. Mark the intelligence of that! How typically helpful the whole passage is! God had come in, and He brought the woman He had made to Adam. Was there not a good time at that marriage! Think of what joy God had in His creatures being thus united as suitable to each other! This is the first time we get the word 'built' in Scripture. We can well understand that God had the assembly in view; and so He brought the woman to the man. There had hitherto been no such occasion; it was God who brought it about and entered into it fully. As Creator He had pleasure in it; but He has very much more pleasure in Christ and the assembly of whom Adam and Eve are but a figure. Adam's pronouncement of the woman was according to God. In naming her he added to the high level of intelligence which had already marked him. God would impress us with what He has in view in marriage, what it is in relation to man's sphere of life here, and as being of God. The Lord Jesus Himself, in speaking of divorce, says, "But from the beginning it was not

[Page 431]

thus", Matthew 19:8. How beautifully He touched on the subject, as showing that there is to be no dissolution of the marriage bond. Union is constitutional and final; it is not of different substances brought together, nor is it unity exactly, but union. It is two of like nature made one; and so Adam's language was entirely in accord with the mind of God. He said, "This time it is bone of my bones", etc. What intelligence he displayed in this expression.

I wish now to show that Ephesians 1 gives the antitype of Genesis 2. The apostle prayed that God would give the saints "the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the full knowledge of him", that they should know "what the surpassing greatness of his power towards us who believe", etc., verse 17, 19.

Note the word 'gave' (verse 22). God gave to Christ the position of headship, bringing out what I have been saying -- the infinite intelligence that enters into the idea of His relation to the assembly. He is head over all things. God has given Him that place. In Colossians, "He is the head of the body, the assembly", chapter 1: 18. That is in the right of His own Person, but the thought in Ephesians is what is given to Him; as if God would say, I am so delighted with this Man with all the wisdom He has shown, that it is My pleasure to give Him this great place. It is the full divine thought as to Christ and the assembly. What dignity the assembly has! It is not here that He is the Head of it, but Head to it, as being equal to the position which He gets in headship. And then the passage goes on to say, "... which is his body, the fulness of him who fills all in all", verse 23. She is thus seen as great enough to express Him. This enters into the ordering of the believer's house; for whilst the woman is to "guide the house", she guides it as an expression of her husband's mind and affection. As Christ is Head of the assembly, so the believing husband is head of

[Page 432]

his wife, and so she is to reflect what he is in wisdom and intelligence, even as the assembly is "the fulness of him who fills all in all".

You can thus see, dear brethren, how important a matter marriage among the saints is, and that God is most interested in occasions of this kind. They never should be regarded as matters in which God has no part. Loving us as His children, He enters into our joys as He enters into our sorrows. But His interest in marriages amongst His people is enhanced by the fact that they take character, or should do so, from the marriage of His own Son.

[Page 433]


Galatians 4:19; Romans 12:2; Luke 1:46 - 55

I have ventured to read these scriptures which speak of formation, hoping that the Lord would support a word on this subject. The thought of formation runs through Scripture, especially with regard to man, who is said to be both a creation and a formation, and who represents God here. Formation enters into the material and the animal creation without moral significance; but as applied to man, formation has in view something of supreme importance in the mind of God.

Adam was a figure of Him who was to come, who is said to have taken "a bondman's form, taking his place in the likeness of men; and having been found in figure as a man, humbled himself" (Philippians 2:8); that is, He came in relation to what was there. He did not come as an afterthought, but represents what is primary. Whatever form marked Adam, Christ was the Model. God had Christ in mind in that last great act of His in Genesis 1; thus the idea of formation appears in chapter 2, and God breathed into man's nostrils, as formed. It must have been of peculiar interest to God to breathe into him, since Christ was in His mind.

Scripture is full of the idea of manhood as pointing to Christ, not the man made of dust, but the second Man out of heaven, who when on earth was also in heaven. He speaks of Himself to Nicodemus as "the Son of man who is in heaven", John 3:13. He also says, "If then ye see the Son of man ascending up where he was before?" John 6:62. He is in heaven, as to His inscrutable being, and also as having ascended. "The second man out of heaven" means that He is of heavenly origin, and ascends up where He was before. The expression, "Such as the

[Page 434]

heavenly one, such also the heavenly ones" is wonderful; but that is what believers are. "As we have borne the image of the one made of dust, we shall bear also the image of the heavenly one", see 1 Corinthians 15:47 - 49. We shall not be in heaven as strangers, but as at home, and there will be no disparity between Jesus and those that are of Him; He ever remains God, but as Man we have part with Him. How elevating is all this! It is said God has predestinated us "to be conformed to the image of his Son, so that he should be the firstborn among many brethren", Romans 8:29. Not only is He the Leader of a chosen race, but He is the firstborn of many brethren. God is leading many sons to glory; there are just as many sons as there are brethren; there are not too many, nor too few for the counsels of God, but all synchronises with those counsels.

How important it is, then, to take in the idea of formation now, having the future in view, and as connected with our great calling. The apostle says, "I pursue, looking towards the goal, for the prize of the calling on high of God in Christ Jesus", Philippians 3:14. This involves formation. Hence Paul speaks with grave feeling in writing to the assemblies of Galatia, because they were going back to the weak and beggarly principles instead of being formed according to God. The apostle deeply resented the saints going back to the beggarly principles of mere religious legality. This sad feature appears in persons shallow in formation, who, like many of us, are very exuberant as something fresh comes along, but later drop back to the old level. As Paul says, "Plucking out your own eyes ye would have given them to me", Galatians 4:15. This does not speak of a steadiness of spiritual growth, and is not to be trusted. So he breaks into a reproachful spirit; he says, "I should wish to be present with you now, and change my voice, for I am perplexed as to you"; and further,

[Page 435]

"My children, of whom I again travail". Deep concern had marked him for them already, and now he was obliged to travail afresh for them. The Lord thus speaks to those who have retrograded, for the enemy will get them; such will begin to discredit the brethren, and worse things will follow. Now the secret of this is poverty of formation; so the apostle says, "I again travail in birth until Christ shall have been formed in you", Galatians 4:19.

The apostle spoke out of a profoundly exercised heart, because the Galatians were going back to the bondage of religious legality; but the bondmaid and her son were to be cast out. "Mount Sinai ... corresponds to Jerusalem which is now, for she is in bondage with her children" (Galatians 4:25); that is, the whole of Christendom is like mount Sinai, which is in the Arabian desert, where there are no springs of God. "Jerusalem ... is in bondage with her children". Let us not be one of those children. Paul had another formation in mind, according to the true pattern, which is Christ. Moses saw the pattern on the mount, and all things are to be according to that pattern. Let us then make room in our hearts and minds for Christ, God's ideal which is presented in the gospel, in this way self is displaced by Christ.

Formation is not simply that I admire Christ in particular parts, such as His head or His feet, but in all His features. He is thus my ideal. God intends the gospel to so affect us that we prefer Christ to self. Formation is God's work; I cannot form Christ in myself, any more than I can effect new birth, but I am responsible as to both; that is, I own the necessity for them, see John 3:1 - 7. I cannot afford to be without being born again, nor to be without Christ being formed in me; so I have to make room for God to work by a moral process; I must judge and deny myself. It is not only a matter

[Page 436]

of light which brings the Model to me, but I must make room for Him. God works in relation to my intelligence, even as when He showed to Moses the model of the tabernacle. He says, as it were, "I want a place in you for that Person to whom I have given the highest place in heaven". The process produces conformity to the image of God's Son: I am like Christ, not like Ishmael.

Although certain religious systems may have something of God in them, they are man-made, and so are a mixture, which God hates. Hagar represents one system, Sarah the other. Christ formed in us, implies the latter; the legal formation has to go.

In Romans 7 I reach a point where I have authority and find my feet in my own establishment, so to speak: "I myself with the mind serve God's law"; this is our real beginning spiritually. "Who shall deliver me out of this body of death? I thank God, through Jesus Christ our Lord", verse 24, 25. We are left here to do the will of God, and for the reproduction of Christ down here. Paul says, "I am crucified with Christ, and no longer live I, but Christ lives in me; but in that I now live in flesh, I live by faith, the faith of the Son of God, who has loved me and given himself for me", Galatians 2:20. It is all personal, beautifully so, and it is due to the Lord that I should begin the principle of displacement of the old formation by the new, by Christ being formed in me.

In Romans 12:2 God has the idea of formation in mind. The word is, "Be transformed", which means being changed from one thing to another, "by the renewing of your mind"; it is a question of the mind; "that ye may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God".

In Luke 1 we have a beautiful example of formation. Mary appears amid several worshippers in that chapter, which is one of the most remarkable chapters in Scripture, for it introduces the incarnation

[Page 437]

of Christ in a unique way -- it is so peculiarly sacred and holy. The incarnation is surrounded by holy feelings, to the exclusion of all taint that comes from natural curiosity. So must we be, or we shall be tainted with natural feelings. It does not say, Mary was filled with the Spirit, though doubtless she was, and because of this she may appear to be behind the others who, later in the chapter, are said to be filled with Him. This is rather a tribute to Mary, for she represents formation. What she says is not the result of a sudden incoming of the Spirit, though one should look for that in believers, since it may appear in the shallowest of us, as being in the sphere of the Spirit's activities. Mary's salutation to Elizabeth greatly affected her, and even the unborn babe. Afterwards Elizabeth praises, the Holy Spirit having come upon her; she says, "Whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?" What precious light pervades the scene as those holy women conversed in the hill-country of Juda! There is not much in any locality without this permanent formation. A formed believer goes on steadily and can always speak a word in power. How beautifully Mary speaks, her praise being measured in such scriptural and spiritual terms. She can distinguish between her soul and spirit "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Saviour", Luke 1:46, 47.

Divine formation in us stands, and will endure eternally. How important it is, then, that we should make room for it! You will agree that Mary's worship here is the result of it: "He has wrought strength with his arm", etc., verse 51. It is not here that He will do this, or that He can do it; these verses show what He has done. Thus Mary has a fixed, restful apprehension of God, which is only found in those formed of Him. How important, then, divine formation is! God will form me as I allow Him.

[Page 438]


1 Timothy 2:5; Genesis 1:26, 27; Genesis 4:2 - 4, 26; Genesis 5:21 - 24; Genesis 6:9

I had in mind 1 Corinthians 16:13: "Quit yourselves like men". That is a word that enters into what I have to say, especially in regard to Corinthian conditions. When partisan features arise, the growth of the saints is stunted; for, without wishing to be, perhaps, they are usually divided up under certain heads -- leading persons, and, of course, there can be no growth according to God under these circumstances. Some may be especially spiritually energetic and overcome, like Stephanas and his house, and doubtless others in Corinth; but generally, the growth of the saints becomes abnormal under these unholy conditions. And so the injunction, "Quit yourselves like men" applies peculiarly. The apostle had already been saying to them that they were not like men, that is, in the sense of the passage quoted; that they were so far from being men in a spiritual sense, he had to treat them as babes, which was, of course, a very discriminating service; he had to feed them with milk. But they were not ordinary babes; they were "babes in Christ". So the Corinthians were of consequence, notwithstanding that their spiritual growth had been checked; indeed, malformation was taking place. They were babes in Christ. The apostle is careful to add that, in commenting on their walk and condition, for no one knew better than he what was at Corinth. It was a fruitful field, and the Lord had told him beforehand that he would not be labouring for nothing; he would get results. It is a great stimulus when the results are assured; and he laboured, carefully presenting the truth from the outset, so that their faith should

[Page 439]

stand in the power of God and not in the wisdom of men: but still in spite of his stay amongst them for eighteen months, they retrograded rapidly, and undoubtedly it was due largely to the divided state of things. He had said there were divisions among them. That was the first thing that he noticed in his admonition, but still he did not lose sight of the thought of manhood; and doubtless, as I said, there were some there who were men; Stephanas certainly was, and his house was so characterised. So that "Quit yourselves like men" was intelligible; the thought was exemplified among them. Every Corinthian, as taking that word home, if he were with God, and prayed about it, would say, "Is this act or that manly, or is it just the act of a babe, with little or no understanding or affection?" The word would thus be effective; it was the word of God, living and operative as ever.

Well, if I am to inquire what manliness is, I must go to the perfect standard, and that is the Man Christ Jesus. The word 'Man' is not set down there for nothing, dear brethren. The apostle might have said, "the one mediator, Christ Jesus", but he says, "the man Christ Jesus"; the idea being of One great enough as Man to be Mediator between God and men, so that there was perfect balance in the service of mediatorship. He was Man, but He was God, too -- "over all God blessed for ever".

Now, having made the foregoing remarks, I wish to show how the thought of man, as reached, became immediately developed; though it became lost, but it was not lost immediately. Nothing that God sets up fails immediately; there is always testimony to its perfectness; whether it be a day or a week or a year, there is always sufficient time to testify to the perfectness of God's work. Now that is what comes out in these chapters. God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have

[Page 440]

dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the heavens, and over the cattle, and over the whole earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth on the earth. And God created Man in his image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them", Genesis 1:26, 27. So that the word 'man' at the beginning covered men and women. That is important to bear in mind. "Male and female created he them". So that what I have to say will apply to sisters as well as to brothers; so that every sister may rightly inquire as to any action of hers: "Is this manly?" Of course, it might be equally said, "Is it womanly?" for the Scriptures treat of the conduct that is suitable to women, but normally it is the outcome of the hidden man of the heart. The idea of "man" is underneath it. In one sense, the word means the human race; and woman is as much of the race as man is, so that the instruction as to manhood necessarily covers both. The idea of the man and woman will be carried through into eternity; not as between us, but as between Christ and the assembly; the heavenly city comes down as a bride adorned for her husband. That is the final thing. All idea of sex otherwise is dropped; it will be just "men". "The tabernacle of God is with men", that is, the saints of God. So that chapter 1 of Genesis conveys the great thought of God as to the order of being that was to be supreme in His creation; that is to say, the creation of the six days. He was to be God's image, so that he was a very superior creature. God looking on what He had done at the end of the six days, is greatly pleased. This is the first time you get the word 'very' attached to "good"; that is, after man is brought in. "And behold it was very good", verse 31. May I suggest that aside from man according to God, you will not get anything that God will be much pleased with? If things are to be as God would like them to

[Page 441]

be, He must have manhood. There is much that is kept on among us that is not according to manhood; consequently God is not pleased; things are not very good, although there may be certain features of goodness. For instance, we may come together to hear the word of God, but if I cannot judge what is said -- if we cannot discern right and wrong doctrine -- that is not "very good". It denotes a babe condition. It denotes a want of the exercises of the senses for discerning between good and evil; so that, speaking very simply, if things are to be divinely approved, there must be a man -- somebody able to act according to the image of God; one who is without natural prejudice. God looks upon such a condition of things as "very good". That is how things are to be amongst the saints of God. As heaven looks down upon Jesus, it is not just "very good" -- it is very, very, very good -- infinitely good: "This is my beloved Son in whom I have found my delight". That is heaven's estimate of Him. It was a Man here, One taking up things for God and carrying them out to His pleasure.

Well, that is what was in mind in Genesis 1. In chapter 2 you have an enlargement of the thought. God says, "Now I have done with the lower order of things; I have pronounced my judgment as to that in relation to man; it is very good". In chapter 2, we have Jehovah Elohim. There is food for the soul in contemplating this new name of God. God is pleased, and not only pleased, but virtually says, "I will have special relations with man"; and I will give him a wife, his counterpart. There is history in that chapter as to what God is, how He thinks, and how He feels as regards man. Adam does not use the same word for "man" that God does, and that is of importance in relation to what I am presenting: the Spirit would emphasise Adam's intelligence before he fails. There is in that being what justifies God

[Page 442]

in His handiwork whether for a day or a year or ten years or twenty years or a century. Here are the animals coming up. What will Adam do in testing out the handiwork of God? Is God right in making a covenant with him? Certainly. The creatures come up one by one and he names every one, and God as it were says, "I will not change the names given"; that is to say, what Adam called the creatures was right. He was intelligent, and this is especially seen in the name he gave the woman, and it reflected glory to God. That is how the truth stands in chapter 2.

In chapter 3 there is the fall, alas! but then, is God giving up His thought? Is there to be nobody to do things for Him? Eve was not doing anything good; Adam was not doing anything good, according to chapter 3. Is God giving up? It is well for every one of us as having to do with God in a day of brokenness and contrariety, in "difficult times", as they are called in Scripture, to ponder this chapter. God has a word for the serpent. Let us not forget that He deals directly with him; otherwise what could we do when he attacks? But then there is the coming seed of the woman; the serpent had overcome her, but her seed would overcome him: while God acts for us against Satan as he attacks. He would act through us, or through One who is of us. You say, "The difficulties are too great; we may as well give up". No, the failure has to be met, and it is to be met by the seed of the woman; it is to be a man. This is very practical. In meeting difficulties, it is a question of manhood. You cannot call on babes to take up the sword. It must be men. So the military in Numbers are from "twenty years and upward"; they have reached manhood. God was taking up the issue in what He said of the woman's seed; it was a word to Satan, not directly to Eve or to Adam. A Man would in due course appear who could deal with

[Page 443]

him effectively, destroy him in all his powers of wisdom. That is how the truth stands in Genesis 3.

I was saying that the promise was not made exactly to Eve, but she was there and undoubtedly she knew of it. When Cain is born, she says, "I have acquired a man with Jehovah". The preposition is 'with', and I mention that because it is important. Eve is the first person to use the word 'Jehovah'. It may be assumed that it was the name taken for the first time with Moses; but that is not just so. The fulness of the name was made known in Moses' time, but the first person to use it in Scripture is Eve. It is a remarkable thing that the poor fallen woman says, "I have acquired a man with Jehovah" -- meaning by the help of God, obviously. If it were Mary, the virgin, the mother of our Lord, how applicable it would be -- the power of God, no human agency. But the Holy Spirit is behind all this and we can never read Scripture aright unless we bear this in mind; the Holy Spirit is behind all that happened. Eve could not have understood, but can there be a doubt that she had in her mind what was said about her seed? She was thinking about what God would do. She made no reference to Adam. It was Jehovah, and what will Jehovah Elohim not do -- a covenant God, a God that enters into a covenant with His people? What will He not do, whether it be in a year or four millenniums? The latter period ran its course before the fulfilment of the promise.

Poor Cain was not the man, and hence the principle of displacement appears. This was seen in Abel, in whom properly the thought of man according to God (now that sin was there) begins. I do not say it was not in Adam. I think it was, and in Eve, too; but in the government and ordering of God they retain the place of responsibility as sinners, although, like Moses in the wilderness, they were beyond the outward

[Page 444]

place they had. In Hebrews 11 Abel begins the history of faith. It says of Eve, "And she further bore his brother Abel". She had called Cain as born, "a man". I suppose the word 'babe' was not in existence. Words are the outcome of circumstances. Even divine names, as we understand them, arose in that way. But the use of the word 'man' by Eve was not accidental. The Lord says, "For joy that a man is born into the world". The full thought was in the Lord's mind. The disciples were then travailing, but their sorrow would be turned into joy; it would culminate in the full apprehension of manhood in Christ. Eve says "man"; the idea is there, but it did not develop in Cain, but it did develop in Abel -- thank God! Note that it is after a "process of time". That is remarkable; but developments, whether good or evil, take time. The original is, as you will see in the margin, "at the end of days"; that is to say, it is a course of experience, and then Cain brought an offering. There must have been some light there to move him in that way. The "churches" have baptism, the "sacrament", etc.; there is some light there, but it is very poor, and because of mixture with other things is very misleading. How could a heathen today find his way if he looks at Christendom just as it is? Cain had the thought of offering to God, but what he brought did not own that death was on him on account of sin. He "brought of the fruit of the ground"; his offering was bloodless, and without shedding of blood there is no remission, Scripture says. Thus Cain fails of the thought of manhood, of "the truth as in Jesus". The "new man" is created in righteousness and true holiness. Abel corresponds with this: he "brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat"; and God had respect to him. The word is "looked on him" -- not now a look of disapproval, not a rebuking gaze, but a look of acceptance. He looked

[Page 445]

upon Abel and on his offering. The idea of man according to God was in measure there.

Now, dear brethren, this is a word for every one present. What am I doing that God may look favourably on? Am I putting away childish things? As soon as God sees me do that, He looks favourably on me. I am expressing manhood. The apostle says, "When I became a man, I put away childish things". That is Abel, and God looked on him. These early chapters in Genesis are full of instruction on this point.

Chapter 4 is marked by disaster, but in the beginning and at the end you have victory; that is, in Abel and in Seth. There is light at both ends of the tunnel. It is always so; God never gives us occasion for discouragement. If we are discouraged, He always brings in an occasion of encouragement; He is "God of all encouragement". And so Seth is born, and Eve called him "Seth", or "appointed". There is one now that would take the place of Abel, for the true idea of man is to be continued. How did Seth continue the idea? It is an important thing that you carry on what you find. "Others have laboured, and ye have entered into their labours", John 4:38. Let us be sure that we do, and that we do not bring in anything extraneous, that there may be no diminution of quality. What are you going to add to what you found? David said to Solomon, "Thou shalt add to it"; but what was to be added to? David had accumulated enormously in gold, silver, brass, stones, and everything that was necessary for the house, and Solomon must add accordingly, and he did so.

Well, what did Seth do? He had a son born, too. Cain's world is developing, and will Seth's son become part of it? Cain had built a city, and called it after the name of his son. That is the principle of the world, to make much of oneself and one's son,

[Page 446]

as if sin did not exist and God's judgment on man because of it. Shall I take pattern from that sort of thing? I have a young family and I look at them and say, "Well, my children are better; my ducks are all swans". But they are not; they are just ducks. They are not a bit better in themselves than Cain's children, for that which is born of the flesh is flesh. And so Seth says, "Look at this babe; I see he is but a dying creature. He is not a bit better than the rest of them". And so he called his name Enosh, which meant that he was subject to death. You say, 'That is not saying very much'; but it brought in light. That very little thing God uses; Scripture says, "Then began men to call upon the name of the Lord". Was that not something? It was needed light for that time; that is to say, men had testimony that all, whether low-born or high-born, were dying and there was no hope for any of them except in God, hence men began to call on His name. Calling on the name of the Lord implies that, having proved my own impotency, I count on His power for help. Thus the gospel announces that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved. And now at the beginning of chapter 5 God brings out again His great thought about Adam and Eve; that is virtually saying, "I have not lost anything". Seth in principle had laid the foundation for this in naming his child Enosh, owning thereby that he is a poor mortal creature; the judgment of God is owned and hence a moral foundation laid for what follows in chapter 5. "This is the book of Adam's generations". Chapter 5 is the life-line and that runs right through. It is represented in Enoch. Thus in Seth we have clearly the continuation of manhood according to God which began in Abel. Seth is a figure of Christ in resurrection, as taking Abel's place, whom Cain slew. In Christ, God's thought of manhood is established, and God's judgment

[Page 447]

on the man after the flesh maintained. Hence, "This is the book of Adam's generations", in chapter 5. Life is contemplated and attested in Enoch.

What will Enoch do? Will he add to this? It is a question of developing the great principle of manhood, and so we come down the line, one after another he begat so-and-so, and we come to Enoch, and he begets a son, Methushelah. There is not much to say about him. He is the oldest man -- an attenuated life with nothing much in it; but we can say much about Enoch, as we are told that as soon as Methushelah is born, he walked with God; he has developed as man. Let us all note that, especially those of us who are fathers and mothers; we cannot influence our children aright if we do not walk with God ourselves. That is the secret. We need the closet to pray for them, and then go out to them and pray with and read with them. Walking with God means that you frequent your closet and ask the Father for them. The quickening and keeping power of God is needed. If we are to have children according to God, it is through prayer which is included in walking with God. This marks a man. In the sense of the passage before us, God does not walk with babes. You take a babe by the hand, as He took Israel by the hand to lead them out of Egypt. That is a different thing. But walking with God as a companion is a mutual thing; it is not a babe thought. When I called, there was no man, God said; but when Jesus appears, His delight was in Him: and Enoch was a reflection of Jesus; he walked with God, and before he was translated, he had the testimony that he pleased God, and he was not, for God took him. These words are full of meaning. They mean that I am not a politician or society man; I am not in evidence at all in the world's circles. That is the idea, that one is not as to this world; he is out of sight. He had a living existence with God, being a man in the true sense.

[Page 448]

How sweet a thought it is, to be made conscious that God is pleased with me!

Well now, the final thought in this section is in Noah. Enoch is taken away from this scene at God's pleasure; but we have "This is the history of Noah". Here again is a man. God does not write the history of a man or his generations unless he is of spiritual importance. It is said, "Noah was a just man, perfect amongst his generations: Noah walked with God". We have increase in manhood in him in the thought of justness and perfectness. Although neither Methushelah nor Lemech is said to have carried on the thought of manhood seen in Enoch, it appeared in Noah, his great-grandson. He was a just man, perfect in his generations and walked with God. God valued him accordingly. There was in him moral stamina, that we have in Noah a man who faces difficulties. He was building the ark a hundred and twenty years before the flood came. Think of the weight of that upon his mind! May we not suppose that he was jeered at by his neighbours for building such a thing as an ark when there was no apparent need for it? There is not a word about rain in Scripture until the flood. Doubtless there was rain, but the lack of mention of it is no doubt to bring the position of Noah into greater prominence. It would appear a ridiculous thing to the natural mind to build an ark -- a ship, that is what it was, a very big ship; so that it would draw great attention, you may be sure. There was not the like of it before, and here was a man toiling day in and day out on this hitherto unheard-of thing. But he had light in his soul, and what a burden it would be to him -- the prospect of the whole race of mankind save himself and his family wiped out; and here he is, toiling and toiling. It is an example for us in our days of difficult toiling. It was not to be "in vain". Scripture encourages us with this: "ye know that

[Page 449]

your labour is not in vain in the Lord". Some day it will come into evidence that what we are doing is the very thing needed. Though it seems to be useless, God knows; He foresees everything. He has each of us in his place for that very purpose. Think of Noah looking at the ark as it floats abreast of the waters. What a satisfaction -- although a sorrowful one -- it must have been to him to see his own handiwork rise up over the judgment and carrying across the judgment into another world every thought of God, every feature of life needed! In Noah we have thus a man that can face difficulties and overcome them through faith, a man that can do things, and do them well, do them according to God; a man who in obedience can take orders from God and carry them out perfectly; who can build according to divine specifications.

The New Testament says that Noah by faith, "prepared an ark for the saving of his house"; and in this we have a very important feature of manhood there is not only headship, but also the consideration and provision that go with it. Noah is also marked by discernment, a quality noted in Scripture as essential to manhood. He distinguished between clean and unclean animals.

Finally, Noah was a worshipper of God. His is the first altar mentioned in Scripture; he offered thereon to Jehovah burnt-offerings of clean animals and fowls. And in this service we may observe wholehearted devotedness, for it is said that he offered of every clean animal, and of all clean fowl; "and Jehovah smelled the sweet odour". On this ground God makes a covenant with Noah and the creation, and man is invested with general governmental prerogative.

Thus, in the early men of faith, manhood according to the divine thought was steadily developed, until

[Page 450]

it is seen glorifying God in worship and then established in the magisterial government of the world.

All that I have been saying is presented in absolute fulness in Christ -- "the man Christ Jesus". John's gospel calls attention to Him in this sense strikingly. Pilate brought forth the Lord Jesus robed in the robes His enemies put upon Him. How it touches our hearts to see our Saviour so maltreated by His creatures! But there He was in the presence of the gathered throng of Israel, their priests animated with hatred against their Messiah, and Pilate said, "Behold the man!" What a word that was! As thus presented, the chief priests and officers of Israel railed against Him, saying, "Crucify, crucify him". Paul says, triumphantly, "the man Christ Jesus" the anointed One! He is everything to God and has done all things well.

It is for us to follow up this great thought of manhood, which runs through Scripture, and answer to it in being no longer babes, but men; as the scripture already quoted says, "Quit yourselves like men; be strong".

[Page 451]


Luke 10:38 - 42; Acts 18:24 - 28; Acts 19:1 - 7

I have on my mind to speak a little about adjustment in the things of the Lord. The word has application at the present moment, both in regard to each Christian, and each company of Christians, and also in regard to those who minister. I am particularly concerned about the local setting of the saints. Luke has this in view; he presents to us the moral side of the truth. He is concerned as to what is suitable to God morally, which includes our general conduct. Thus he makes much of Peter's conversion, not in the way of confession of guilt so much as his state. Peter is a kind of model from that point of view, as the woman in the seventh chapter is from the point of view of sins. Mary of Bethany in chapter 10 represents adjustment in regard of the word of Christ. She is listening to Him as a choice.

All these things are from the standpoint of moral adjustment, what Luke has in mind to bring about, culminating, as it does, in a company of people who are gathered together in relation to the eleven apostles, and who are saying certain things that indicate that they have learnt morally. You will all remember how the gathered company is presented at the end of this gospel. They are saying, "The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon". That is to say, they are occupied with what has happened to the Lord, and that He has appeared to one who has erred. That is what they are saying. You can understand how they would regard the appearance to the erring one; it was grace. "The Lord is risen indeed". He has come out of death as the righteous Man, for Luke presents Him from that side. Faith recognises that He is righteous; that He has "done nothing

[Page 452]

amiss". The centurion also says, "Certainly this was a righteous man". According to Matthew and Mark he says that He was the Son of God, but in Luke He is a righteous Man. So that a righteous Man is risen -- righteousness is vindicated. The Lord says Himself that the Holy Spirit would bring in the demonstration of righteousness because He was going to the Father. Righteousness is vindicated, which is a great moral triumph. It is seen in Christ as with the Father; John 16.

Then He is righteous in the sense of dealing with erring ones. He prays for the forgiveness even of His murderers; He had looked on Peter, and Peter had wept bitterly, and now the Lord had appeared to him. It is a principle by which we should be governed locally. Luke makes much of what is said; so of the two who came back from Emmaus, "what happened by the way". But it is not only what happens by the way, but what happened at the end of the way, which was that He was known to them in the breaking of bread. They recognised Christ in the breaking of bread. They were qualified for the assembly, and were contributors. In the midst of that company He comes; He stood there.

That is what Luke has in view, and I want to point out that Mary of Bethany in chapter 10 is a kind of example of what the Lord has in His mind in the local company. You will remember that this chapter begins with the Lord sending out the disciples two by two into every city and place where He Himself was about to come. The Lord has in our own times moved on the line of "every city and place", indeed, the epistle to the Corinthians takes up that thought. To put it more exactly, Luke takes up the thought of 1 Corinthians, for he would support the word to that assembly. So that in that epistle we have Corinth as a city, and then "every place". Here we have it in every city and place to which the Lord will come.

[Page 453]

What the Lord particularly deals with in His instructions to the seventy are the houses and the cities. These are the two main features. He speaks specially of the city as the area of testimony. They were to enter into a city, and if they were received, they had certain instructions, and if not received, they had certain instructions, and in either case the wonderful testimony of God had been brought to the city. They were to go out into the streets if the testimony were not received, and they were to shake off the dust of the city and say, "Be ye sure of this, that the kingdom of God is come nigh unto you". It was a time when the testimony of God was brought to cities and places. The cities are particularly held responsible, so that He adds that they were to say to that city that rejected the testimony, that it would be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for it. It may be thought that the matter of cities is of little importance, but it is of great importance in the sight of God, for there is not a city that is not under His eye.

We are here in the presence of an actual case of the Lord's visitation to a village, and we have brought before us in that village -- in a house in it -- two remarkable persons, Martha and Mary. Martha became serviceable later, as John shows us. You say that she was serving here, but she did not know how to serve, however much she was exercised. So far removed was she from the idea that she reproves the Lord. "Carest thou not that my sister has left me to serve alone?" she says. It is well that she was serving alone, for the more service in that spirit, the worse for the locality. If others are added to you in that spirit, He is not adding them. The sequel shows that she was a genuine believer, she received Him into her house, but that is not all.

A striking contrast, and one that you will do well to note, is Lydia; Acts 16. She was a type, as Mary

[Page 454]

was. She was not like Martha, for she attended to the things, spoken by Paul. She was like Mary. She says, "If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house" -- a very different house! Lydia is a type of material for a local assembly, for the believer's house contributes to the character of the company locally; we are told that after Paul was released, he came to her before he left Philippi. I need not speak of that assembly, for it was the joy and crown of the apostle. Can you not picture Paul entering into that house? There were no complaints, you may be sure; and in no sense would she convey to the apostle that she was patronising him -- it was an honour for her to have him. Now you see Martha was not adjusted to Christ, so that she upbraids the Lord. We should all be so adjusted as to be ready to hear what He has to say, through whomsoever it is spoken. Both the Lord and Mary were criticised by Martha, but the Lord was not turned away by this. He stands firmly by Mary. He says, "She has chosen that good part, and it shall not be taken away". One has often thought that one would like to be a model in that sense. In chapter 7 the Lord says, "Seest thou this woman?"

Passing on to Acts, I wish to show how the principle works out in that book, and to observe that in the verses read in chapter 19 it is a question of passing from one ministry to another -- not a bad ministry, not an imperfect one, but one that was right and of God as far as it went. John the baptist's ministry was of God. You will remember how the Lord questioned His enemies as to it: "Is it of heaven or of man?" It was of heaven, it was of God. Now what I want to say is, we may often put what is of God between us and something else that is of God. You will remember how in John it says, "I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment", and then he tells us what the old commandment

[Page 455]

is. It is that which was from the beginning, that which they had heard; and then he says, "A new commandment I write unto you", seemingly inconsistent.. Now you might take the old commandment, and put it between you and the new. You might say that the first is of importance, and particularly because it refers to what is in Christ. The new one refers not only to what is in Christ, but what is in us also, and that is what many are afraid of. They tell you that you are occupied with things in yourself, but the new commandment is that which is true in Him and in you. It is a most important commandment; you must not be without it. Hold to the first one surely, but do not shut yourself off from the one which speaks of what is true in Christ and in you. It is a most precious thought that there is something true in Christ that is true also in me! It is further said, "Because the darkness is passing [not past, but passing] and the true light now shines". Not "has shone", but "shines". It is a new commandment, and refers not only to Christ, but what is in the saints by the work of God. In us it is the work of God, which thing is true in Him and in you. Thus the darkness is actually passing, and the true light is actually shining.

Now am I ready for that? That is the test. What you find in Apollos is that he is ready for it. It is remarkable how John the baptist's ministry prepares for a greater ministry, and it in nowise is made to stand between the saints and the ministry of Christ. You will all remember how that in the first chapter of John it is said that John stood, and two of his disciples. There were three who were standing. He had said, "There standeth among you one whom ye know not". Now John is standing and two of his disciples, and Jesus was walking, and John as he looked on Jesus as He walked said, "Behold the Lamb of God", and the two disciples hearing him

[Page 456]

speak, followed Jesus. That is, they were ready for the new thing -- the greater thing. That is the importance of being ready for anything that the Holy Spirit says; if you are not, you may be shutting yourself off from much. What you find is that those two followed the Lord, and the Lord said, "What seek ye?" John's ministry was spiritual; they had begun to learn what was spiritual, and their answer to the Lord is, "Rabbi, where abidest thou?" That is, they were ready. What was in their minds was that they had been learning from a very wonderful teacher, and now a greater had come. They addressed the Lord as Rabbi -- teacher. So here you get a similar thing in Apollos. He also was a disciple of John. He followed the thing up exactly, we are told, showing that he was a thorough man, and thoroughness is what the service of God requires. But then he only knew the baptism of John. Great man as he is, he is ready to be taught; he can take on a new ministry. That is the point. You can never be serviceable to God until you acquire that habit; taking on what the Lord gives.

Now Aquila and Priscilla knew God, and they knew how to act in this particular circumstance, because Apollos was no ordinary man, and required particular care. He had taught in the synagogue; but they had not questioned him there; it would have been unwise with such a man as that. They "took him to them" we are told. See what a man he was, ready to be taught, great teacher though he was, by two tent-makers, a man and his wife! They acted wisely, they instructed him in the way of God more exactly. Note the word 'exactly', because we are too general sometimes. There are no non-essentials in the things of God. They taught him the way of God more exactly, and now he is qualified to minister, and to be commended. When he wishes to move to another quarter, he is commended by the brethren.

[Page 457]

He is taught the way of God more exactly. It is very important that one should be ready to learn from any one whom the Lord may use. If the ministry is of God, be ready to accept it. The apostle left these two people at Ephesus, and they had the honour of instructing this great man -- a reminder that we should not despise any one if he has anything to give. Why not have it, if it is of God? It may be the way of God more "exactly". In this way adjustment goes on.

In the next chapter we have the thought carried through, only in the presence of the foundation of the assembly in its universal features, not in its local character. So that you come to what is greater, what the apostle presents, a spiritual structure in which God dwells by the Spirit. "Did ye receive the Holy Spirit when ye had believed?" It is saying virtually, "You can have no part in this great spiritual structure apart from it". You may be baptised, and have much teaching, but there must be the recognition of the Holy Spirit, and for that you have to get more instruction.

Then the apostle goes on to show that he was not against John's baptism. There was a need of the baptism of repentance, but John announced One that should come after him, and that is Jesus. So the apostle announces to them the glad tidings of their salvation; compare Ephesians 1:13. Is there any one here who needs that instruction? Without it you cannot have part in the great spiritual structure that Paul speaks of -- the habitation of God by the Spirit. Is it not therefore worth your while to inquire whether you have the Holy Spirit? or whether your teaching is imperfect? They immediately submitted; they do not contend with Paul, and say that John's baptism was good enough for them. They were ready for the new thing, and so having heard that, they were baptised to the name of the Lord Jesus.

[Page 458]

It is so blessed, that they are baptised to that. How the apostle would enlarge to them what Jesus had done for them! And now they submit readily, and he lays his hands upon them, and they receive the Holy Spirit. Then immediately, as if to show that that is the point, it says he laboured three months in the synagogue there. The material was so important, that he labours in relation to that, and then it is intimated later than he laboured two years in the school of Tyrannus. It was a question of this great structure. I wonder if we are all in that. If not, is it not well to ask as to whether you have the Holy Spirit. It is a question of a spiritual structure, the habitation of God. To have part in it you must have the Spirit, and for that you need instruction. The Holy Spirit fell upon them, and they prophesied, and spake with other tongues. It was a real thing in those days. There is such a Person as the Holy Spirit, but what about the reception? "Did ye receive the Holy Spirit when ye had believed?" the apostle asks. Now I must not say more; I was thinking more of the local setting of Christians, but this last is more universal. Of course there was an assembly at Ephesus, but in the epistle to the Ephesians Jew and Gentile are brought in together, and reconciled to God in one body, so as to be His habitation by the Spirit. What an immense thing!

[Page 459]


1 Corinth