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Ministry by F. E. Raven
– Part One

Responsibility as to the
Maintenance of the Truth
A Reading: 1 Corinthians 1
*** The Testimony as Determining
our Position here
• Ministry by F. E Raven – Part Two


F. E. Raven, 1837-1903

Those who are not familiar with Mr. F. E. Raven may wish to view Biography: F. E. Raven, where all the known published ministry of Mr. Raven is noted.

"It is felt that the service of our beloved brother was not only for his own generation, but that his presentaion of the truth has a permanent place in the testimony of our Lord and a very definite bearing on our own day.
"Since the departure of Mr. Raven to be with Christ, in 1903, many have profited from the volumes already issued; and it is hoped that many more may avail themselves of a ministry so calculated to strengthen and edify our souls in the knowledge of God and of our Lord Jesus Christ".
– the Preface to the Ministry by F. E. Raven – New Series, originally published by Stow Hill Bible and Tract Depot.

Mr. Raven appears to be the least known of those used in an outstanding way in the recovery of the truth –


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F. E. Raven
The following address first appeared in the booklet A Review of Certain Contentions for the Faith, by Mr. George W. Ware.

    • See Ministry by F. E. Raven, 2: 268.

  • It is just as applicable, if not more so, in the present broken state as it was over 100 years ago when given at the 1896 Quemerford meeting.

Mr. Ware's comments following – written in 1928 – are still appropriate and provide an insightful introduction:

Comments of G. W. Ware

G. W. Ware, 1931

Immediately upon the reading of A Review of Truth: Mr. Stoney's message, Mr. Raven rose and, with much feeling, delivered the following address.

One would desire to emphasize the importance of that to which he so repeatedly refers as being of special moment for us at the present time, viz.,

  • the reproach of Christ and the power of the Spirit. They are indissolubly connected together and we cannot have the one without the other.

We must, too, be on our guard lest the enemy should succeed in inducing a condition with us in which feeding on Christ as 'the old corn of the land' would be impossible,

  • as this must infallibly result, as Mr. Raven points out, in failure in our corporate responsibilities as members of Christ's assembly, and hence in any united testimony to the world, such as that for which the Lord Jesus prayed. John 17.

  • We should not delegate the answer to that prayer entirely to the time when the New Jerusalem shall come down from God out of heaven – Revelation 21 – though that will indeed be an answer to it –

  • but should bear in mind that in the epistle to Philadelphia we have the answer produced to it by the Spirit in the souls of the saints at the present time –

  • a moral condition which can only be reached by us as we have affection for Christ, and pay attention to the voice of the Spirit in 2 Timothy.

  • Do not let us allow any place in our souls to the suggestion that the corporate idea has now wholly lapsed, because of the failure of the assembly as a whole to maintain corporate unity and testimony and that, therefore, everything is now on individual lines.


The failure is no longer only in Christendom generally but – as must be shamefully owned – among those who have received the greatest light from the Scriptures –

The importance of being true to what has been delivered to us – and the responsibility for the maintenance of the truth – is now even greater and more urgent than in the days of Mr. Stoney and Mr. Raven, or when Mr. Ware wrote.

Compare Our Responsibility in the Present State of the Church.


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I would not venture to say anything at all, after what has been before us, did I not in some sense feel conscious of having a word from the Lord.

I think we often lack in piety. Faith is, that we have the light of God's things; piety is, that we bring God into our own things.

We have heard of what the Lord has been pleased to give back to us in these last days – the truth that Christ, the glorified Man, is the Head in heaven, and that His body is here.

There is another cognate truth, and that is, that the body is derived from Christ. Eve was taken from Adam, that she might be united to Adam. No other was fit to be a helpmeet for him.

I want to say another word in regard to our responsibility to maintain the truth. There are two things here to which we have to return; two things which marked saints at the beginning.

I want to show the working of these principles at the beginning and now. You must remember that at the time Christ came the people of God were under the power of Babylon.

The point is this: the Babylonish power was not set aside. Christ was crucified at the hand of that power. The Gentile was guilty in this.

Now I would ask, how were the saints – the remnant of that day – who did not surrender the truth, for the mass had turned apostate, how were they to escape from the Babylonish power? For Rome was not publicly judged at that time; on the contrary, it got more complete power.

Some may perhaps say: Did not the apostles set up an ecclesiastical form and order?

Now I want to come to the present time, which is much more difficult. Things are in such confusion. Babylon is now within; not the Romish power, but the popish power, and I want to tell you the character of that power. It is a worldly power.

And how have we got free? On just the same principles as at the beginning, namely, by being apart from ecclesiastical form and organization and order in the acceptance of the reproach of Christ, and by the power of the Spirit.

I do not believe that the Lord intended that the prominent thing with us should be ecclesiastical form and order.

We have professedly accepted both, and they are our safeguards. The moment you surrender either, you will get back into bondage to the great world-power.

What we find in this chapter – Joshua 5 – connects itself very intimately with what I have sought to put before you, and I may remark first, that

But here in Joshua 5 we come in type to church associations, to that which is collective and corporate.

The first point to which I want to call your attention is in verse 1. When all the kings on the other side of the Jordan "heard that the Lord had dried up the waters of Jordan … their heart melted, neither was there any spirit in them any more, because of the children of Israel".

When I look around at a company of saints it is not unity of doctrine I look for, I should not care for our bond to be unity of doctrine, but I look for unity of affection.

That is the first great principle, and so far we have only come to human weakness.

You may ask, What do you understand by the "old corn of the land?" I will tell you –

One word more; I understand the eating of the old corn of the land to be not individual but collective privilege.

The old corn of the land connects itself as we have seen with unleavened bread; and so in Hebrews 10 it says: "Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith". "They did eat of the fruit of the land of Canaan that year", verse 12. The fruit of the land of Canaan is what is proper to heaven.

One point more. All that we have seen is paving the way for conflict. See verses 13-15. And in speaking of conflict I may refer to a mistake into which I think we have fallen.

The mistake Joshua made was in thinking that the Lord was to be with them, as if the captain of the Lord's host was to fight their battles.

One word more in connection with verse 15. "Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy". The ground is holy.

I only took up this chapter just to indicate these things; and what we have come back to are the two principles that we spoke of the reproach of Christ and the power of the Spirit.

You have come to spiritual circumcision that every difficulty between one and another may be removed, that we may be able to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace;

Do not make the fatal mistake of supposing that this refers only to those who minister – that no one is responsible for maintaining and guarding the truth but those who minister it.

F. E. Raven

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F. E. Raven
This item is not in Ministry By. F. E. Raven – New Series.
It is taken from the old Notes of Lectures Vol. 20: 199-208
published by G. Morrish, 20 Paternoster Square, London.

F.E.R.  The first two chapters are introductory. In them we have the great principles of Christianity – Christ crucified, and the bestowal and actings of the Holy Ghost.

In the third chapter we have the "temple of God", with the privilege of saints as forming that temple;

In chapter 12 the truth of "the body" is brought in, but this can never be rightly understood unless the truth of the assembly as "the temple" has been apprehended.

The fifteenth chapter presents the truth of the resurrection, and it closes by shewing that we must undergo a change to inherit the kingdom of God.

As to the statement in verse 2: "All that call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord" – it clearly intimates that they are brought within the scope of his salutation, though the epistle itself is more immediately addressed to the assembly at Corinth;

It is sometimes useful to notice the absence of certain truths in the different parts of scripture.

In saying that we have not "union" in Corinthians, the fact of it is recognised but not the import of it,

In Romans the Spirit of God is presented in connection with our individuality; but in Corinthians with what is collective and corporate.

If we had power we might take in at once all that is unfolded to us in scripture;

The epistle speaks of the ordering of our ways collectively, and we have to recognise that the assembly is set up locally in a way suited to earth.

In chapter 12 we have the organism of the assembly, baptised by one Spirit into one body.

To return to chapter 1 – it is exceedingly important that we should understand how these two great truths of Christ crucified, and the gift of the Spirit, are brought in, for evidently the first man had been allowed a place at Corinth.

In John 6 Christ speaks of Himself as the sign. A sign is the evidence of divine intervention, and the greatest miracle of all was that He was here – the living bread come down from heaven.

An assembly can never be right if those who compose it are not right individually.

We should also bear in mind that we are all at "the table" on the same ground – the Lord's death.

We have seen that in the cross is brought in both the wisdom and the power of God.

The scapegoat sets forth the forgiveness of sins in connection with this earth. If we had it in that way we should not die, but death has to do with us here.

Besides the two great points that Christ is the wisdom and the power of God, we have further that He is made to us wisdom from God, and righteouness and sanctification and redemption.

In verse 30 wisdom is marked off from righteousness, sanctification and redemption: it is brought in first because the Corinthians were allowing human philosophy, and that has to go.

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1 Timothy 2, and 2 Timothy 1
The following address is from Ministry by F. E. Raven 2: 3-11, Greenwich, 1902. It is the first address of the first of two series of addresses on "The Testimony of 'The Christ' ". FER said of them,
"The subject of the second series is the testimony of 'the Christ', as pervading all the word of God.
"The first seeks to set forth that which in Christians is appropriate to their part in the testimony, for it must be remembered that the testimony is living, and bound up with the power of the Spirit of God in believers.
"In view of the coming of the Lord, may God be pleased to awaken in all a deeper interest in the testimony, as being the witness of that which He will shortly display".

Everybody should be prepared to admit that it is extremely important that we should understand where we are, and why we are there. These are two serious considerations.

I want to touch a little on these two points. and to give you an idea of the position which I individually occupy, and a great many more also, and to make it plain to you why I am there.

Everything in such matters depends on what is according to God; and the question is whether Christendom all round is, or is not, according to the mind of God.

All that we see around us, the great religious bodies, maintain, as I have said, more or less, that the institutions which exist are according to God's mind.

Now, when we subject things to the test of scripture, we find that the inspired writers, without exception, contemplate what we may call the ruin of the professing church.

All this is striking, but it is not accepted in Christendom. If it were, and the real condition of things were acknowledged,

Now that is the reason why I am where I am. I stand as an individual, and

We will come now closer home, and speak of that which is the special bond in the present state of things. I draw your attention to a passage in 1 Timothy 3: 14-15,

It is extremely important to get an idea of the house of God in order that you may be able to measure the general departure from the truth of it.

If you refer to the second chapter of the first epistle – verses 1-11 – you will find some details of the order of the house.

I believe it to be of great importance to have some definite understanding of the true character of the house of God, in order that we may judge of all that is around us at the present time.

Now supposing some of us through grace have separated from these things, are we to form another system?

Supposing a few are agreed in that way, it is a wonderful thing to stand in obedience to the Lord.

Now is there between such any special bond? I have not a doubt that there is, and

The "testimony" is an expression which we very commonly use, but I doubt if many have a very definite idea of it. I will tell you the idea which it conveys to my mind.

I refer to two passages. Look at 1 Timothy 2: 6 and 6: 14-15.

The Lord Jesus Christ is going to put down every evil power, that is, to subdue all things that are contrary to God, and to bring to light His grace and His righteousness.

Now before Christ is displayed God gives testimony, so that we may be now in the light of that which is to be displayed.

Now there is another point in connection with this: we get the annulling of death and the bringing to light of life and incorruptibility.

Now I want to carry you back for a moment to what came to light in Christ when the Lord came into the presence of death on earth; death lost its hold.

It is a great thing to be here in the testimony; and for this you must have an understanding by the Spirit of God of that which God is going to display in Christ, His purpose and grace in Christ Jesus.

It is a mercy to have been delivered from the entanglements around, to have had grace to stand apart from them. May God preserve us from other entanglements.

Looking at the world at the present time in its lawlessness and in the corruption which is the effect of lust,

The great witness and expression of Christ will be found in the church, as she will be seen in perfection by-and-by; and

Well, it is a great thing to be in the light of Christ, and what we want is to be faithful to Christ.

May God give us intelligence as to the testimony, that we may see its reference to what is going to be displayed.

Now the question is, How far are we at this moment in fidelity to the testimony?

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