Tag Archives: many-membered Man

God’s Whispered Word And Wisdom

Now that with age my eyes are getting a little better, I’ve discovered they’ve been graced to see more often in the old creation the invisible things of God.

The grandeur of a great mountain.  A growing tree.  A branch.  A leaf.  A brook flowing crystal clear.  The speckles on a trout…  These all have a message to speak that, when understood, enables us to know better the One who created all this and left us with a sense of wonder about it all.  And He created it not just a display of His great power, but also of His great wisdom.  Everything He created contains, and reveals, some aspect of the wondrous wisdom of God.

O LORD, how manifold are thy works!  In wisdom Thou hast made them all…  (Ps. 104:24).

Some time ago I was out in a popular recreation area.  It was a beautiful day, and warm, and around me were many people, most of them young people preoccupied with themselves and their play, rapt in the illusion that youth is eternal, enjoying themselves and the beautiful day, and God’s beautiful creation—yet totally oblivious to the God who created it all.  I felt such a darkness there, the darkness of the darkened heart of man, the lostness of man.  It started to close in on me, and I wanted to get away.  As I turned and took a step I happened to glance down at the ground.  The once green grass had been worn to the dirt by the many people walking back and forth, yet there at my feet was a bee seeking nectar in a little flower of clover that had somehow escaped the foot of man.  And a sudden flash of illumination came upon me—I wasn’t even looking for it—of an Order, a Wisdom, that had brought a whole creation into being.  I felt a sudden yet familiar fear.

And in that fear, a longing prayer—that my own life become more and more an expression of that same eternal Wisdom that pervades the natural creation.

A longing, I say, and an expectation.  I am reminded of something Job said:

Lo, these are but the outskirts of his ways: And how small a whisper do we hear  of him! (Job 26:14 ASV).

Job had been reminding his friends about certain wonders of the natural creation that reveal God’s power and wisdom.  Yet marvels though they are, Job said these are just the outskirts, the fringes, of God’s ways.  By His word God had spoken it all into existence—the heavens and the earth, and all that is therein.  But, said Job, that’s only His whispered word.  And he just knew, somehow, that God had more to say.  That led him to ask a further question:

But the thunder of His power who can understand?

To what extent Job discovered the answer to his question I don’t know.  But if the old creation is God’s wisdom and word in a whisper… is not the new creation His thunder?  Thus, my expectation.

Later God asks Job many questions about His whispers, and by them He “convinceth Job of ignorance and imbecility” (as the heading of the page in my old King James Bible reads).  Thus God opened his eyes to see Him like never before, and he repented in dust and ashes.

Oh what wondrous questions He asked him.  When I read them I too am convicted of ignorance and imbecility.  Among them He asked, “Who hath put wisdom in the inward parts?  Or who hath given understanding to the heart?” (Job 38.36).

Again He asked, “Doth the hawk fly by thy wisdom?” (Job 39:26).  You mean the hawk flies by wisdom?  Apparently, yes.  That is God whispering to the open, attentive ear.  The wisdom God gave the hawk is a wisdom and understanding that is not mere blackboard teaching, but has empowering life in it by which the hawk soars in the heavens.  That is wisdom.

And that is the kind of wisdom His new creation Man is to walk in; that’s what is ours in Christ Jesus—that kind of wisdom, wisdom with power in it, wisdom with life in it, something akin to the instinct of life that we see in earthly creatures like the hawk.  We call it instinct.  God calls it wisdom.  The New Creation man is not someone who is trying to live by rules written in the Bible, whether in the Old Testament, or even in the New.  He is living his life out from what he is by nature: a new creation in Christ Jesus, in whom a Law and Wisdom is written in the inward parts—in the heart—the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus.

The new creation Man, we are told, is God’s handiwork, the masterpiece of His creative genius and wisdom (Eph. 2:10).  He is creating us in Christ Jesus, is bringing to maturity a many-membered new creation Man governed by a Law of Life and Wisdom that the old creation is just a whisper of.

It means an order, a harmony among those members, that is utterly breathtaking.

And when the Queen of Sheba had seen the wisdom of Solomon, and the house that he had built, and the meat of his table, and the sitting of his servants, and the attendance [the standing] of his ministers, and of their apparel; his cupbearers also, and their apparel, and his ascent by which he went up into the house of the LORD, there was no more breath in her (2 Chr. 9.4).

What did the Queen of Sheba see?  What took her breath away?  Solomon’s wisdom, yes.  But the transcendent order of it all—of his kingdom and temple, the house he built for God.  The order, the harmony, of his many attendants and servants.  Yet the temple Solomon built was only a type, a shadow, of the new creation temple a Greater than Solomon is even now building in the earth.  With what is He building this new creation temple?  With Wisdom—the same Wisdom and Word by which He made the old creation (Pr. 8.22-31, Ps. 104.24).  And when He is finished, this Temple, this House, will shine forth all the fullness of the wisdom and glory of God such that all nations shall bow before Him—and principalities and powers in heavenly places as well—when they see in the Church “the manifold wisdom of God” (Eph. 3:10).

I tremble to think of this—that this is actually going to happen.  Even unbelievers, even the most godless of men, they love to get out in nature.  It’s the order, the harmony, they touch in the old creation, and though they refuse to know God, they stand in awe of it all.  But when those in the world around us see God’s order fully revealed in the kingdom of His new creation Man, in the Church which is His body, in the House and Temple which is the masterpiece of all His works—when they begin to see the Christians at last walking together in the new creation Life and Wisdom of God, and in the harmony of a new creation Order, it is going to be order out of chaos to them, and the fear of God is going to grip them, and they are going to believe (Jn. 17:20-23).  They are going to see such fearful harmony ordered by the new creation Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus that it is going to utterly take their breath away, and turn their hearts to Him in a way that present-day Christendom, with the cacophony of all its discord and divisions, has not been able to do.

They are going to hear instead a voice of many waters blended together in one majestic Voice—the thunder of His power.

I tremble at the prospect.

 

 

 

 

 

The Footstool Of Thy Feet

The LORD said unto my Lord, sit Thou at My right hand till I make Thine enemies Thy footstool [Heb. the footstool of Thy feet].
The LORD shall send the rod of Thy strength out of Zion: rule Thou in the midst of Thine enemies.

These are the first two verses of Psalm 110, which is quoted or referred to in the New Testament more than any other Old Testament passage. It is a prophecy of the ascension of Christ, who is now seated at the right hand of God where He reigns over all the universe, according as He told His disciples before His ascension: “All power (authority) is given unto Me in Heaven and in earth” (Mt. 28:18).

Why, then, is it taught that Christ is “our soon and coming king”? Why is it taught that He is coming back to reign over all the earth from the throne of David in old Jerusalem? Yes, He is coming back, but it is not to reign. He reigns right now, is king right now at the right hand of God. He is seated on the throne of David in the heavenly Zion right now (Acts 2: 29,30), and has all authority in Heaven and earth. Right now. There is no higher throne in Heaven or earth than the one He has right now.

You ask, then why doesn’t He do something about the evil in the world?

But let’s read Psalm 110 very carefully. Our Lord Jesus Christ has been given a promise. He is to sit enthroned at the right hand of God till all His enemies, every single one of them, are in due time (the Father’s time) made the footstool of His feet. He will one day have complete victory over them all, they will all be put under His feet. I take great comfort in this faithful promise. And, for those with eyes to see…

…There is a powerful revelation in this verse.

Sit Thou at My right hand till I make Thine enemies the footstool of Thy feet.

His feet? This is where you and I enter the picture if we have been baptized in Holy Spirit.

For in one Spirit are we all baptized into one body… (1 Cor. 12:13).

By the Spirit baptism we are baptized into Christ, and as members of the body of Christ we too reign with Him (Eph. 2:6).

But notice this.

The LORD shall send the rod of Thy strength out of Zion: rule Thou in the midst of Thine enemies.

This is profound truth. The LORD sends out of Zion the rod of Christ’s strength—the Gospel of the kingdom in the power of the Holy Spirit—and thereby, even while He anticipates the day when all His enemies are made the footstool of His feet, He rules in the midst of His enemies, whether human or angelic. It is He who is on the throne reigning, not after they have all been vanquished, but right in the midst of enemy activity.

This means that we who are baptized into Him also reign in the midst of His enemies and ours, and in the midst of our evil circumstances, our darkness, our difficulties, our problems, our afflictions, our trials, our distresses, our persecutions—our Cross. We rule in the midst of all our enemies just as Christ rules in the midst of all His enemies. Because of the Spirit baptism, we are seated with Christ in His throne in the heavenlies… not after we die and go to Heaven, but now.

What does this look like?

It looks like victory in the midst of apparent defeat. It looks like composure when one is being reviled. It looks like maintaining one’s cool in the midst of brutal heat—in the face of aggression, whether verbal or physical—because it is Christ’s own cool.

It looks like the kingdom of God in the midst of endurance and trouble. That’s what the apostle John said—that he was our brother and companion “in the tribulation and kingdom and patience (endurance) of Jesus Christ.” Where is the kingdom? Right in the middle of tribulation and endurance. In the very place where we must endure tribulation along with Jesus Christ, His kingdom reigns.

It means that sin has no dominion over us—not our own nor anyone else’s. It means evil does not rule over us, not evil men or angels, nor evil afflictions and circumstances, though we may be in the midst of them. For Jesus Christ is Lord and king at God’s right hand, and as members of His body we are in His reign, which is over all.

God has a great surprise for the inhabitants of the earth. The day is at hand when He is going to reveal openly those who in great and overwhelming trial were reigning in the midst of it all. The day is at hand when their reign shall be openly revealed, unveiled. This is what the second coming is all about. When the inhabitants of the earth thought better of God, and resorted to their own tactics to gain and maintain the upper hand—tactics of fear, force, malice, intimidation, aggression, violence… now He reveals that those who resorted to such things actually had no power at all. For, these things of darkness are not real power, and when people or evil angels were using such tactics and weapons against the Christian, and apparently defeating him, it is the Christian who was all the while reigning. It is he or she who was victorious in the midst of it all because of the victory of their King on the Cross, their King now on Zion’s holy Hill. It is His rule that was over His own, and nothing else.

God has installed His Son in Zion, and those also who are in Him reign in Zion with Him. Those in Christ are not under anything. It may often appear that he or she is. But that’s how it looked the day they crucified Christ, too. It appeared that His enemies had triumphed over Him. It was He who triumphed over them that day—triumphed over them in His Cross. He was reigning in the midst of them all even while they were crucifying Him.

He now reigns on the throne of David at the right hand of God so that those baptized into Him may reign with Him, first in the midst of all enemies and afflictions and circumstances, and ultimately over them all.

This is why God permits evil in His world at this time. It will not always be so: one day there will be not so much as a trace of evil in His universe. But even while with great longsuffering He permits it at this time, even while the enemies of God and His Christ seem to have free rein to work their wicked works (they do not have free reign, they are on a leash) there is a great eternal purpose unfolding. Christ rules in the midst of them. He rules in the midst of His enemies. He is on the throne ruling in the midst of His enemies, anticipating the inevitable hour when they shall yet be made the footstool of His feet.

Behold A Certain Man–Part 3

In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church we find his message about the body of Christ.

 Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular (1 Cor. 12:27).

Just prior to saying this he has emphasized the vital importance of each member.  The foot, the ear, the eye, the hand…   God has set them all in the body “as it hath pleased Him” (1 Cor. 12:18).  His intention is that these, functioning together in harmony, enable the One inhabiting the Body to do what He wants to do, and express Himself as it pleases Him to do so…

…Just as in my own body, the purpose of all the members is that I may do what I want and express myself as it pleases me to do so.  It’s all about me, you might say.  What would I think if someone, hardly conscious of me, marvelled at my hand and how dexterously it ministered to the needs of the other members of my body?  “Oh what a wonderful hand,” they exclaim, wide eyed.  Or my ear with its capacity to hear, or my eye to see, or my foot to step… they marvel at these and are hardly conscious of me—the person in that body.

I long for the day when we are consciously aware of Christ Himself in the body of Christ, and it takes our breath away—we recognize that it is actually Him we are seeing.  At present, although at times we are aware of a measure of His Presence, we are more or less focused on the members themselves.  It is exciting beyond words to anticipate that this will not always be so.  For, our Lord Jesus Christ is going to reveal Himself.

But it is going to take every member of the body of Christ knit together in the Spirit and functioning harmoniously before we see Christ Himself revealed.  Do we really want to see Him revealed?  If we do, let us be prepared for the devastation it will mean in the way we now do church.   For, this will take a kind of church order in which the Head is given His total lordship, and all His members are given liberty to express what the Head has in mind—which is the revelation, the unveiling, of God Himself.

This means a tremendous responsibility for those who are called to “the ministry.”  It is their God-ordained objective to foster and encourage the development and growth of the saints so that they become vital participants in the functioning of this many-membered Man.  You might say that if the ministries do their job well, they minister themselves out of a job, for, it was never God’s  intention that they be ministering week in and week out forever.   God has an objective in mind, and once reached, the job of the minister is done.  Yet sadly this is pretty much the expectation week after week in our present-day churches.  The minister will minister, and the people will sit and listen.

There is another problem.  They, the ministers, are servants of this Man.  But sometimes God’s people get their focus on His servants.

This is what had happened in the Corinthian church.  The saints had become enamoured of their favourite minister—Paul for some, Apollos, or Cephas for others.  It grieved Paul that they were exalting him and the others like this, and he wrote them about it.

 Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed?” (1 Cor. 3.5).

We are just the servants here, he reminded them, it’s not about us, it’s all about you.

 Therefore let no man glory in men.  For all things are yours, whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours;
And ye are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s (1 Cor. 3.22,23).

What a statement!  What did Paul see, that he held forth so high a thing for the saints at Corinth, telling them it was they who were the very centre of God’s interests?  Oh that they might get their eyes off him and Apollos, and see, “ordinary” members of the body of Christ though they were, what they were part of!  Which was?

 Ye are the body of Christ…

Does that little statement mean for you and me what it meant for Paul?  The phrase “body of Christ” has been so overused that it has become very bland to the palate these days.  But there is nothing greater than to be a member of the body of Christ.  Oh that this one statement–“Ye are the body of Christ”– would grip us all—but especially those in what is called “the ministry.’  If those in ministry were burdened with the same burden that was in the heart of the apostle Paul, it would break their hearts the way Paul’s was broken, and would revolutionize the way we “do church.”  Paul—a servant of Christ—spent himself, his whole life, in the hope of the realization of a Certain Man he had seen on the Damascus Road, the same Man the prophets of old saw in vision—the  New Man, the new creation Man, the Man in whom God and man are one—the corporate man—something that each and every child of God is part of.  This is why Paul laboured so intently, so intensely—to see that Man revealed in all His fullness in “the church which is His body, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all” (Eph. 1:23).

As he wrote to the Corinthians:

 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that    one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ (1 Cor. 12:12).

Not, “so also is the body of Christ,” but “so also is Christ.”  Christ is a many-membered Man, and we, if we have been baptized in the Holy Spirit, baptized into Christ, are members of that Man.

The ministries of the church cannot reveal this One in all His fullness—never were intended to do so.  It takes a many-membered body functioning in the liberty and lordship of the Spirit to reveal Him.  And so may we all—those in the ministry and those who are tempted to laud them—apply God’s eye salve to our eyes so we can see God’s intent in His ministries, and in those they minister to.  God’s intent in His churches is not great ministers, but a great Man.

And so, Lord, help us to get our eyes off the servants in Your House… who, if they are true servants, long for the day when the glory of the Lord fills the House of God and they can do nothing but lie on their faces weeping for joy… no longer able to minister… and no longer needing to.  Amen.

 

Behold A Certain Man– Part 2

Who is this Man the prophets of old saw in vision?

Isaiah saw this One upon a throne high and lifted up, and His train filled the temple. (Isa. 6:1).  Seeing Him caused Isaiah to cry out, “Woe is me, for I am undone… for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.”  Who did Isaiah see?  John says Isaiah saw the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ.

 These things said Isaiah when he saw His glory, and spake of Him (Jn. 12.41).

Daniel saw this One (Dan. 10.1-6) whose face was as the appearance of lightning and His eyes as lamps of fire… and His Voice as the voice of a multitude– the voice of many waters, as John described it when He saw this same Man (Rev. 1:15).  Upon seeing this One, Daniel said, “there remained no strength in me: for my comeliness was turned in me into corruption, and I retained no strength.”  Upon hearing His words Daniel was “in a deep sleep on [his] face, with [his] face toward the ground.”

Ezekiel saw Him enthroned on the chariot of the cherubim– whom  Ezekiel struggled to describe, speaking of them in the plural, “the living creatures,” but then at times in the singular.  (What kind of astonishing harmony was that?)  Ezekiel too fell on His face; the Man He had seen he called “the glory of the LORD.” (Ezek. 1.1-28).

And remember– this is so encouraging to remember– these of old saw this One not in times of great spiritual prosperity and ease, but in times of great apostasy and insecurity among the people of God.  Isaiah’s prophecy came upon the death of their great king Uzziah under whose reign they had known a lot of security and prosperity.  Now he was gone; who knows what would be next?  It was a very insecure time.  And Ezekiel and Daniel prophesied in days of great apostasy, the days of the captivity in Babylon.

This is meaningful for us in this day of great insecurity and apostasy; it is appalling, heart rending, what has taken place in our society over the course of one generation.  But that is not the apostasy I am speaking of; what is heart rending is what has happened in Christianity.  Our churches are so weak; church as we know it has failed to stem the tide of iniquity that has come in… to say nothing of the abominations that have come into many churches.  Scarcely a day goes by without an evil report of some kind; and the media, of course, are filled with glee because of it.  If you’re like me you find yourself dwelling on all this, and it can be so discouraging.

But let us not dwell on it.  For, in the midst of it all, we have a great hope.  Christ is still on the throne, and is working faithfully to bring into being the desire of God’s own heart– the fulfillment of what the prophets saw, and recorded in Scripture.

And the Scripture must be fulfilled.  Church as we know it may be failing; her light may be waning.  But a Greater Light is about to shine; there shall yet be manifested in the earth One who is even now growing in the earth– a many-membered Man whom to see is to see the Christ, the glory of the Lord.  They are one with Him as He is one with the Father.  He was not the Father.  But to see Him was to see the Father.  In like manner these are not the Christ.  But to see them is to see the Christ.  For, they are one with Him as a bride is one with her husband.  They are His glory.  They are one Spirit with Him, and one body.

And they shall yet display a unity so perfect and so fearsome that it will cause principalities in heavenly places to tremble… and the world to believe.  For, they shall not speak the discordant babel of a Christianity splintered by countless denominations and divisions, but shall speak as one Man– as the voice of many waters.  This is what is before us.  It is going to take very powerful operations of the Spirit to bring it into being—and great shakings.  And it shall cause even greater shakings.  But this is what is before us.

This is the whole burden of the New Testament– the revelation of this One Man.

Who is this Man?

Saul the persecutor saw this One, whose glory was brighter than the noonday sun.  He was so one with His own that He challenged, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me?”  Saul fell to the ground, struck blind, till a lowly brother named Ananias was sent to restore his sight.  He had been blind, and had not known it!  And the burden of the rest of his days was that all men might see Whom he had seen.  It is this Man who is forever in the back of Paul’s mind as he writes his epistles concerning the ministrations of the Spirit in the body of Christ.  Whatever he writes, it is to this end, it is ever this revelation of the glory of God—this Man—that Paul sees before him.  Paul utterly spent himself upon this Vision, spent his life equipping the saints unto their work of the ministry unto the edifying of the body of Christ till all would come unto the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God unto this perfect, full-grown Man… “unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.”  Note that Paul has not said, “unto perfect men,” but rather of all coming together “unto a perfect Man.”

In another place he said:

 We all with unveiled face mirroring the glory of the Lord are changed into the same image from glory to glory… (2 Cor. 3:18).

We all?  The same image?  The glory of the Lord?  This is an encounter with God for you and me no less than that of Ezekiel or Isaiah or Daniel… or Paul on the Damascus Road.

And how does this take place?  It takes place as an operation of the Spirit of God in the members of the body of Christ as the different ones see aspects of the glory of the Lord and shine forth that glory, that power, that character, that beauty… and Christ Himself is revealed in our gatherings– yes, the same One the prophets of old saw.  Let us anticipate this… yes, in our little gatherings.  Like Ezekiel and Daniel of old, we too shall be on our faces when aspects of the glory of the Lord are revealed in and through the members of the body of Christ in the local churches of God.

 The apostle John, too, saw this One on Patmos.  He had seen Him earlier in a vision on the Mount of Transfiguration.  On Patmos he saw Him again ministering among the seven golden lampstands.  Do we wish we could have the same experience John had, and see the Christ, the Alpha and the Omega– this One who is in such union with the Ancient of Days that to see Him is to see the Ancient of Days?  Hair white like wool, as snow, eyes as a flame of fire, face shining as the sun in its strength…  Upon seeing this One, John fell at His feet as dead.

But John saw Him… where?  In the midst of the seven golden lampstands– the churches.  Do we wish we could have the same experience, and see the same One John on Patmos saw?

Beloved in Christ, we are very part of it–members of this Man, this New Man, this New Creation Man, the Man in whom God and man are one, the same Man the prophets of old saw in vision.

And so we rejoice in the revelation.  But… unless this “great vision” impacts you and me the way it impacted Daniel and Ezekiel and Isaiah and Paul and John…   unless this causes us to fall on our face… unless we too are undone… unless this causes all our comeliness, not only in ourselves but in our churches, to turn to corruption in our eyes… until we can no longer settle for less than this Reality in ourselves and in our churches… we do well to question if we have really seen this.

(Part Three next time.)

 

 

Behold A Certain Man

Posted on

In a time of prayer a while ago I began to think of different ones in Scripture who had an encounter with God.  I was crying out and saying, Lord, I don’t want to hear another message.  I don’t want to read another Bible passage.  I must have an encounter with You!

I thought of Moses.

 And Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father-in-law the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the backside of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb.

Over the years I have loved to read that passage—how he saw the bush that burned with fire yet was not consumed… how he turned aside to see it… and found himself face to face with God.

I thought of Isaiah who in the year that King Uzziah died saw the Lord sitting upon a throne high and lifted up, and His train filled the temple.  Above the throne are the seraphim, the fiery ones, crying one to another, “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts, the whole earth is filled with His glory.  And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke.”  Isaiah cries out, “Woe is me, for I am undone: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.”

I thought of Ezekiel the priest among the captives by the River Chebar; the heavens open and he sees a vision of a storm of wind coming, and out of the storm appear four living beings moving together in fearful harmony and upholding a throne upon which sits One like the Son of man.

 And when I saw it I fell upon my face.

I remembered Daniel, who saw the Ancient of Days upon a throne that appears to have been a chariot of fire similar to the one Ezekiel saw.  Daniel saw many mysterious and intriguing visions.  But there is one he called his “great vision.”  What was so great about it?  He saw a Man.

 … Then I lifted up mine eyes and looked, and behold a Certain Man clothed in linen, whose loins were girded with fine gold of Uphaz: His body also was like the beryl, and His face as the appearance of lightning, and His eyes as lamps of fire, and His arms and His feet like in colour to polished brass, and the voice of His words like the voice of a multitude.

This vision utterly devastated Daniel.

Then my thoughts turned toward the New Testament.

Paul on the Damascus Road saw this same One in brightness above the noon-day sun.

John on Patmos saw Him; his description is similar to Daniel’s.

And so I was crying out to God—oh for an encounter like this!  Is it too much for a garden variety New Covenant Christian to hope for an encounter with You like You granted those of old?

But… as I prayed along this line, another thought dropped into my heart.  I suddenly realized that the only reason God revealed Himself to these of old was for our sake, His intention being nothing less than that we in New Covenant days behold, and become, the reality of what the prophets of old saw in vision–the glory of the Lord.

For, when we come into our New Testament this is the very thing we discover.  Yes Ezekiel and Isaiah and Daniel saw the Lord of glory… as did Paul.  But what seeing this Man did in Paul… he realized that this Man would not just drop sovereignly out of Heaven.  He would grow in the earth, and come into fullness only as the result of the labour and long-patience of God by an operation of the Spirit of God in those who respond to His call.  Paul laboured intently to this end; it was his whole life’s work– and ultimately would take millennia to come to full fruition.  It is the work actually of Him who was to baptize in the Holy Spirit and fire, the work of Him who died on a Cross to bring one man to an end, and rose again to bring another into being– a new Man in whom God and man are one.

And so I need not envy Daniel and Ezekiel and Isaiah, or  Paul and John.  God’s intent in revealing Himself to them was for my sake.  I too shall see Him–shall see Him with many others who together are participants in the revelation.

This vision is holy ground; we must take off our shoes.  But beloved, with our shoes off, let us expect no less than this in the gatherings of the body of Christ.  Let us be filled with this anticipation.  Let us expect no less than this–the outshining of the Lord of glory Himself–in and among the ordinary members of the body of Christ.

Do you catch that?  The body of who?

(Part 2 next time.)

 

 

 

 

 

I Was Sick

Posted on

“Behold, He cometh with clouds,” the last book of the Bible proclaims, “and every eye shall see Him…” (Rev. 1.7).

This is the long-awaited appearing in glory of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ; it is our “blessed hope” (Titus 2.13).

But note.  That passage in The Revelation continues, “and they also which pierced Him.”

Every eye shall see Him, and they also which pierced Him, and all the kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him.   Even so, Amen.

This prophecy first appears in Zechariah, where it reads, “they shall look upon Me whom they have pierced” (Zech. 12.10).  Me?  Who is that?  The words are in the mouth of the LORD, that is, Jehovah.

They appear again in the apostle John’s account of the crucifixion of Christ.

And again another scripture saith, They shall look on Him whom they pierced (Jn. 19.37).

I wonder how many of the onlookers that day on Golgotha realized that when the soldiers drove the nails into the hands of Christ, and pierced His side with a spear, it was actually Jehovah they were piercing.  We make no attempt to dissect the holy unity between the Father and the Son; the prophecy simply states that the hour would come when those who crucified the Son of God would realize that it was Jehovah God the Father they had pierced.

I wonder, too, how many realize that Jesus Christ is still being pierced.  Saul of Tarsus got that astonishing revelation one day.  He had been persecuting the Christians, delivering them up to prison and death.  One day he saw a light brighter than the noon-day sun and heard a Voice calling to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?”

What a stunning revelation it was to him.  “Who are You, Lord?”  “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting.”

You mean, Lord, these Christians… You?

He devoted the rest of his life to sharing the sufferings of the One he had been persecuting, and his writings are filled with the revelation he saw that day.

Now ye are the body of Christ…

Matthew in his account of the Gospel tells of the day when the Son of man shall come in His glory… and reveal to the dismay of all that even before then He was here, though many did not recognize Him.  He said that He was here… hungry.  He was here… thirsty.  He was here… a stranger, here… naked.  He was here… sick.  He was here… in prison.

How so, Lord?  You said “I was hungry, I was thirsty… I was sick.  I was in prison.”  How so?

He reveals that it was when “one of the least of these my brethren” was going through these things, it was He Himself who was suffering…

…And He Himself who was being ministered to by those who reached out to them, even though they were not conscious that this is what they were doing.

We anticipate the appearing of the Son of man in glory, and our cry is, make no tarrying, Lord!

But, beloved, do we see Him even now?  Do we recognize Him… not in robes of glory, but in His humiliation?

Let us not miss out on His appearing even now in His humiliation—His privation, His alienation, His sickness, His distress, His shame, His unjust treatment… His sufferings.

We don’t want to be numbered among those who are wailing in that hour when they finally realize who it is they pierced.

 

 

The Minister Of The Church

Posted on

Continuing with what has been on my heart the last while—this verse in Hebrews again:

Now a summary of the things being spoken of is, we have such a high priest, who sat down on the right hand of the throne of the greatness in the heavens; a minister of the holies, and of the true tabernacle which the Lord pitched and not man (Heb. 8.1).

If we as God’s people were to become more conscious of this reality it would revolutionize the way we do church.  For, the Lord Jesus Christ Himself is the minister of the holy things in the true tabernacle (or temple) of God.  It’s ingrained in us to think of the pastor as the main minister of a church.  But this concept is a falling away from the biblical model.  The true model is one of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself being the primary minister in the church.  He is seated at the right hand of the Majesty in the heavens, but by the Holy Spirit He is present right here in our midst—the great High Priest ministering about the holy things of God.  Pastors (shepherds) indeed have a vital place in the church, but not as the centre of ministry.  They are just one among many ministries the Lord has ordained in a kingdom of priests each one of whom is to be involved in the church—vitally involved.

How then can I, an ordinary Christian, become vital?  As I said last time, by becoming conscious of Jesus Christ Himself, the Minister of the holy things in His tabernacle.  What I see Him doing I do; that becomes my authority and power to function in His church, because it is actually His own ministry.

And–this is a very great challenge–liberty must be given in the assembly for this High Priest to minister through whom He chooses.

How we need to be more conscious of Him, then–this great High Priest ministering about the holy things of God in the true tabernacle.  He is clothed in white linen down to the foot—white linen, symbolic of rest; His is a ministry that is not His own works and strivings; the things He does, His righteous works, are the rest of the Spirit.  And so as we become conscious of Him, the same grace that empowers Him begins to lay hold of us, and we too cease from our own works; we abide in His rest, doing only what we see Him doing.  No matter how trying the situation we are in, or how difficult, our own labours will not resolve it; we must surrender all, and trust that the One clad in the priestly robe of white linen is at the same time seated at the right hand of the Majesty in the Heavens with all power in heaven and earth.   He is able to accomplish, and shall accomplish, what nothing else can accomplish.  He shall accomplish all.

He has upon Him, over the white linen garment, the robe of blue and the ephod; He has upon His shoulders (the place of strength) and upon His breastplate (the place of love and affection) the names of His people; He bears their cause before the Throne of Grace; He has in that breastplate the Urim and Thummim of perfect light as to the Father’s will for them, and has power to carry out that will.

He wears upon His head a turban of the same white linen wrapt round and round—for His thoughts are not the toiling and spinning of a labouring mind, but the mind of the Spirit, which is life and peace.

Crowning it all is the golden plate with the words, Holiness unto the LORD. 

 And the anointing oil upon His head drips down to the skirts of His garments… even to the foot.

And—awaken us, Lord—all this is to be operative not just way up in Heaven, but right here in our midst in the true tabernacle because of the Holy Spirit.  In the Holy Spirit we ourselves become vitally conscious of all this, are joined to this High Priest in the expression of all this, are partakers of this character and light and power.  At least this is God’s intention for us in the New Covenant.

So we must not stop short of this till it is reality in our experience.  We must not settle for less.

Take this wondrous mystery—of Christ our High Priest being right here in our midst by the Holy Spirit in you and me—a step further.  This great High Priest reveals Himself to you in a certain way, and to me in another way.  It is your consciousness of what He is doing that governs your participation in His priestly ministry in His tabernacle; my consciousness of Him governs my participation. Thus we become a kingdom of priests each one with a unique expression of the High Priest Himself.  At times He may reveal Himself to us in the same way, and we find ourselves praying together, or ministering together… as He Himself prays and ministers.  Our consciousness of Christ—what we see Him doing, hear Him saying—governs our participation in His ministry.  And because it is He Himself who is ministering in all we say and do, we discover ourselves in perfect harmony with one another—a body perfectly coordinated by the Head.

I anticipate that this Great King Priest of ours is about to reveal Himself in the Holy Spirit such that you and I will become more and more conscious of Him, and of what He is doing—more aware, actually, that we are one with Him.

At that day ye shall know that I am in the Father, and ye in Me, and I in you (Jn. 14.20).

What day?  The day of the coming of the Comforter, the Holy Spirit.  Oh, the wonder of this!  By the Holy Spirit in us we are one with Him.  For the Holy Spirit is one with Him.  “I will not leave you comfortless,” He said.  “I… will come to you.”  You say, I have the Holy Spirit but I don’t have what you are talking about.  Yes, and neither do I.  But the Day of the coming of the Comforter is not over yet.  Before this Day is over you and I are going to be fully awakened and conscious of this unity—that we are one with the Son of God, this Great High Priest of the true tabernacle.  This consciousness will become the inspiration and empowering of all we say and do.

And what we do will actually be His own doing

…Just as Christ Himself said, “I do only those things which I see My Father do.”  He was one with His Father; in all He did, He was just doing what His Father was doing.  He was conscious of His Father; He knew what His Father was doing.  In fact He said that it was the Father who dwelt in Him that was doing the works (Jn. 14.10).

Can you envision yourself saying the same thing—that the thing you just did… it was actually the Son of God who dwells in you who did that?  This is what the Holy Spirit in you and me is all about.  The Holy Spirit here in the earth does what He sees the Son doing in Heaven; He speaks what He hears the Son speaking, and nothing else.  He reveals the Son of God in you and me; He makes us one with the Son.

He shall not speak of (from) Himself, but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak, and He will shew you things to come. He shall glorify Me, for He shall receive of Mine, and shew it unto you (Jn. 16.13,14).

“He shall glorify Me…”  How we long to see Him glorified in the earth again!  And we shall see it.  In fact shall be part of it.  For the Holy Spirit is committed to this cause.

There is nothing more wondrous, more precious, more holy, more beautiful, more awesome, more meaningful, more filled with purpose, than this—that when Jesus Christ ascended to the Father, He received the Promise of the Father—the Holy Spirit—in a dimension and empowering that enabled Him to send that Spirit into our hearts, thus making us one with Himself.

Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift.