|THE MAN OF GOD - 1|
|1 Timothy 6: 11; 2 Timothy 3: 16; 1 Kings 17: 24; 2 Kings 4: 40
An Address at Westfield, New Jersey, September 18, 1937
Ministry by J. Taylor, 73: 389-99
This is the first of 2 addresses on the 'Man of God';
both have substantial different material and needful exhortations.
See: Ministry: F. S. Marsh 2: The Development of a Man of God
These scriptures speak of the man of God, and in the New Testament this title is applied to one man only, and he a young man – Timothy. So that it is not beyond the range of the young that are here tonight.
- Had it been applied to Paul or John, many of us could understand it more easily, perhaps, but it is significant that it is only applied to a young man in the New Testament.
- What I have to say, however, will bear upon all who are present. We will speak of Timothy first, then Elijah, and then Elisha.
- The term is applied to Elisha more than to any other man in the Scriptures; perhaps half of the references to the man of God in Scripture refer to Elisha. Evidently his ministry is, in general, the divine ideal as to the man of God.
Now what may be remarked at first is, that the man of God, in the first mention of him in the New Testament, is asked to flee certain things.
- When we are asked to flee things, we are in imminent danger of them. No time is to be lost, or they will overtake us. And if they overtake us, disaster will ensue. So Timotheus is addressed as in peril. The word is,
- "O man of God, flee these things".
- They are things that are particularly used by the enemy against young men and women.
In the next epistle the exhortation is to flee youthful lusts. It is not stated what they are. But here the preceding verses indicate to us the things from which to flee.
- Indeed, the apostle's allusion to the subject of master and servant leads him to speak of certain things which seemingly accumulated force in his mind as he wrote. It is characteristic of him, that as a great thought came to him it gathered force in his mind, running on, sometimes, to the expression of feeling. And it is so here. It was a question of service.
- "And they that have believing masters, let them not despise them because they are brethren; but let them the rather serve them with subjection, because they are faithful and beloved, who profit by the good and ready service rendered.
"These things teach and exhort. If any one teach differently, and do not accede to sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the teaching which is according to piety, he is puffed up, knowing nothing, but sick about questions and disputes of words, out of which arise envy, strife, injurious words, evil suspicions, constant quarrellings of men corrupted in mind and destitute of the truth, holding gain to be the end of piety.
"But piety with contentment is great gain. For we have brought nothing into the world: it is manifest that neither can we carry anything out. But having sustenance and covering, we will be content with these.
"But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and many unwise and hurtful lusts, which plunge men into destruction and ruin. For the love of money is the root of every evil; which some having aspired after, have wandered from the faith, and pierced themselves with many sorrows. But thou, O man of God, flee these things", 1 Timothy 6: 2-11.
The apostle is addressing this young man, "O man of God". What an honour!
- And yet he is in the midst of danger – surrounded by dangers which, undoubtedly, are accentuated because he was a young man.
- One may question one's employer and even get into arguments and disputations, but the secret of it all may be that I would like to be in his position. He is getting along well in the world and we would like to be in his place. That may be the secret of it.
- And so the apostle pursues the subject to the love of money. Who is there that does not love money? Let each question himself. It is a root of all evil! I doubt if there is one of us but would have to testify that at some time we have loved money. And it may be that it has become crystallized in us.
- The very thought of it coming into the apostle's mind and developing out of this matter of criticism of one's employer leads him to think of this distinguished young brother to whom he was writing. He says,
- "O man of God, flee these things".
- The very title is calculated to stir in him the desire to flee them. No doubt it did. There is not a slightest evidence that he really harboured these things. But the danger was there. And if it were so with a man like that with such a spiritual history, can any of us say that we are exempt?
- Think of his distinction – to be called, "man of God"! And yet there was need of being warned against these things. Why should the apostle have to say to a man like Timothy.
- "For we have brought nothing into the world, it is manifest that neither can we carry anything out. But having sustenance and covering, we will be content with these … For the love of money is the root of every evil"?
- Evidently the Spirit of God gave force to the word as the apostle proceeded. He is now speaking to this one brother about himself. He had been speaking about others generally, but in this particular verse he is speaking to Timothy about himself.
- We may think that there was no danger with him about these matters. He was a gifted young man, able to teach and preach. Yet there was a danger that he should have love for money. And the apostle is so urgent. He says he is to flee!
- It is the attitude of one's mind. It is not a physical matter, exactly, though we should get out of circumstances that induce wrong thoughts, but you must turn away your mind with an impetus that will never allow you to go back. Flee! Flee from these things!
In the next epistle he enlarges on the thought, saying,
- "But youthful lusts flee".
- He had said, earlier, "The things thou hast heard of me in the presence of many witnesses, these entrust to faithful men, such as shall be competent to instruct others also".
- The apostle was making Timothy the custodian of the truth, and yet this same man was exposed to youthful lusts, the love of money and the pride of having money, for pride goes with it.
All this, and more, was possible in one of the most spiritual young men of that age. But is any of us immune? I think not.
- There are those here, perhaps, before whom a path of distinction opens up with wealth and power; but the apostle speaks solemnly to
- "flee these things, and pursue righteousness, piety, faith, love, endurance, meekness of spirit".
- It is a longer list than occurs in the second epistle. There it is, "pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace". Here we have righteousness, piety, faith, love, endurance, meekness of spirit – six things.
- The second epistle relates to a believer delivering himself from evil communications, and finding a company with whom he can walk.
- But here it is a question of the servant being maintained in the service of God,
- and, as holding to the truth, to flee these things which would damage him. And the apostle says, "O man of God"! What feeling there is in it! "O man of God"! Your dangers are great! Your privileges are great! Go in for the privileges! Cleave to them!
Well now, the second epistle has in mind the furnishing of the man of God for his service,
- "Every scripture is divinely inspired, and profitable for teaching, for conviction, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; that the man of God may be complete, fully fitted to every good work".
- I would just touch on the importance of the Scriptures and every aid furnished of God for a right use of them; and first of all, for one's own soul benefit.
- I know that most young men who are able to serve, read Scripture in order to get texts for preaching. This is good in its place.
- But the first thing is to get something for oneself, to get light in one's own soul. Let me say, Every scripture is divinely inspired, and profitable, for teaching me, for convicting me, for correcting me, for instructing me in righteousness.
- And so, the word to us is, How do we read the Scriptures? "How readest thou?" The eunuch was reading Scripture, and Philip, guided by the Holy Spirit, asked him,
- "Dost thou then know what thou art reading of?".
- He did not say, I am glad you are reading the Bible. Of course, he was glad of it. It is a testimony when a man reads his Bible. It is a thousand times better than reading a newspaper. A man reading a newspaper in the train is no testimony. But a man reading a Bible is a testimony.
- Well, here is a man reading the Scriptures and Philip asked him if he understood what he was reading. He said,
- "How should I then be able unless some one guide me?"
- He was an honest man. There are thousands who read the Bible, it may be, out of duty, and you are glad they do. But then, is there someone to help? The Holy Spirit is here for that purpose, and the Lord will give the understanding.
- And so the Lord would put it upon us to read the Scripture, and to read aright. The Lord said to one man, "How readest thou?" One has read Scriptures hundreds of times without having seen anything in them, but presently light dawns, and then they are read differently,
- It is not to be done in a perfunctory sort of way, but as asking the Lord to help, and being free to tell Him when we do not understand a scripture.
Someone has said, 'Never cut a knot in Scripture'. Never take a short cut to understand. You will always find a key nearby, if you are dependent on the Lord to show you something. He is ready to give you wisdom every morning as you read the Scriptures.
- "Every scripture is divinely inspired, and profitable".
- Even the genealogies of Chronicles and the curses on the mount are profitable. Every scripture is profitable. If one is an honest man he will say, That curse applies to me. That is the idea.
- It is very testing, but the number of persons is very small who are prepared to say, I deserve to be cursed. But you do deserve to be cursed. Those curses are against us as men. It is important that we should know from what we have been saved.
- It says here that every scripture is inspired of God and is profitable for teaching, for conviction, for correction, instruction in righteousness. It is for me, that I may be perfect.
- Let none think that he has done well, that he can preach well, or that he is getting on. Such a one has hardly begun to understand Levitical principles at all. The less confidence I have the more power I will have. The excellency of the power is of God and not of us.
Well, I will now go on to speak of Elijah and Elisha. The young men need to see the dangers that beset them, so that they should not dishonour the great name by which they are called. It is intended to be a sort of leverage in their souls.
- I should be ashamed, after I take this in, to run after the filthy lucre of this world. Gehazi is a warning in 2 Kings 5.
Now the Old Testament times would be like nursery times.
- Take a man like Elijah. Great as he was, he could not speak of things such as we are saying tonight. Not that one would draw attention to oneself, but Elijah could not preach the gospel as the youngest preacher here could do it, for he was in an imperfect condition.
- He was in the nursery, kept as a minor until the time appointed by the Father. I make that remark that our minds might be rightly balanced. He belongs to another dispensation.
- And in our passage he is spoken of as a man of God. He is called this by a person that has been benefited by the prophet. God may have great thoughts about a servant, but the brethren may not have them. What he is may not have become evident in him yet. None of the disciples would have said of Peter what the Lord said of him in Matthew 16. Yet how true he was to his confession.
Here it is a question of a man being called a man of God by a person that he has benefited, by the woman of Zarephath who had entertained him for a long time.
- In truth, he had entertained her, for she and her son were going to die and he kept them alive for a year. That was a great matter. The meal in the barrel did not waste and the oil in the cruse did not fail. It was God who did it. It was not Elijah, though it was at Elijah's word.
- The farmer might say of the grain that grows in the field, I raised a good crop. It was God who did it! A man sows his seed and rises up day and night. The crop comes. He does not know how, with all his rising up. It is God. What a great thing that is!
- If you were to ask Elijah about the raising up of this woman's son to life, he would say, God did it. Look at the way he entreated God. It was God that did it. The woman was greatly benefited, and she says,
- "By this I know that thou art a man of God".
- That is how we come into the knowledge of a brother's worth. What he really is becomes evident in the proof that comes to me. If I receive positive help from a brother, I will not listen to anything detrimental to him. Yet there are those who receive help from a man of God and turn a ready ear to ridicule.
- This woman had a complaint against Elijah. He could not keep her boy alive. He kept the meal and the oil from diminishing, but he could not keep her son alive. That was the kind of feeling she had about him.
- And it was a serious exercise for Elijah. For after all, the excellency of the power is of God and not of us.
- But "he cried to Jehovah and said, Jehovah, my God, hast thou also brought evil upon the widow with whom I sojourn, by slaying her son? And he stretched himself upon the child three times, and cried to Jehovah and said, Jehovah, my God, I pray thee, let this child's soul come into him again! And Jehovah heard the voice of Elijah".
- Elijah prayed, and stretched himself upon the child, but God did the work. It was God who did that. One might say, Elijah, that was a great feat of yours. He would say, No; do not say that, I was at extremity about the thing, I could not have done it; but I did it under God.
- "Jehovah heard the voice of Elijah, and the soul of the child came into him again, and he lived".
- Elijah had prayed; he stretched himself upon the child; he begged God about it; but God brought the soul back into the child. God did the work! Elijah brought the child down to his mother, but it was God who brought the child's soul back.
But there are great things happening today. A brother may get away from God, and is recovered. That is a great work! In principle, the soul has been brought back. It is a spiritual matter. But who would say that he had done it? If God did not do it, it would not be done.
- But let us look at Elijah. What a peace offering he has! The woman had not been pleased with him. She had discredited the man of God. But now he says,
- But it was God who had done it. God is still doing things. He does them in answer to the prayer. Think of Elijah stretching himself on the dead child! How he prayed to God!
- He is the one man who is held out as an example of prayer in the New Testament. It is because of prayer, but the work is God's.
- Now look at the woman. She says to Elijah,
- "Now by this I know that thou art a man of God, and that the word of Jehovah in thy mouth is truth".
- You may say, Of course the word of Jehovah is truth. But this was not written for nothing.
- "The word of God is living and operative, and sharper than any two-edged sword, and penetrating to the division of soul and spirit, both of joints and marrow, and a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart", Hebrews 4: 12.
- But it is truth. And the important thing is that it is in this man's mouth. The idea of truth is not stressed alone but that
- "the word of Jehovah in thy mouth is truth".
- The woman was adjusted and she was able to name him.
- "I know that thou art a man of God".
- So that what was done was a confirmation.
- "Now by this I know that … the word of Jehovah in thy mouth is truth".
- Bringing the child back to life was the great point with the woman. But God is aiming at bringing all the saints into life; not only into fellowship to partake of the emblems, but to be brought into life. Elijah says,
- "Thy son lives". He is alive!
Well now, we go on to Elisha. He represents grace. It is the great grace side in the New Testament and opens up the dispensation of grace by this passage amplifying it.
- He is a man of God. The title is applied to him more than to any other in all Scripture. It is as if God would say, I want to attach My name to the great grace system.
- And so Elisha is met by a woman in debt. The creditor was at the door. And Elisha helps her. He solves her difficulties. It is a matter of grace. She is not only to pay her debts; she is to live on the rest. And he is owned as a man of God.
- And then we have the woman of Shunem who says, "This is a holy man of God". She is a greater woman than the woman of Zarephath. She says,
- "This is a holy man of God",
- even though he has done nothing for her as yet. But he was passing by her door. She had an eye for what was of God.
- How many in Capernaum thought that of the Lord Jesus? More than a holy man of God was there, but few in Capernaum recognized it!
- Well now, we are told that Elisha passed by and the woman constrained him to eat. And she said,
- "This is a holy man of God, who passes by us continually".
- Well now, if her husband had been an alert believer he would have said to his wife, You have more discernment that I have. But they make a small chamber for the prophet with a bed, a table, a seat, and a lampstand. And the woman is rewarded with a child who died. But Elisha restored the child to life. He met every difficulty.
- And so the present dispensation is the time when things are finished; every difficulty is to be met. But the solution of every difficulty is in relation to the man of God.
- Think of having such a reputation! Think of the power of it! The little maid that waited on Naaman's wife said,
- "Oh, would that my lord were before the prophet that is in Samaria! then he would cure him of his leprosy".
- The solution of the difficulty lay in the man of God.
But I want to speak about "the great pot". What does it represent?
- It is like a Bible reading, when the brethren come together, and we may speak one by one. But presently someone brings in what is not right – a wild gourd. The brother may have been thinking of something but has not been subject to the Lord, and says to himself, Now this will give me a little distinction if I bring it in.
- But when you look into it, it is poison. It is not the truth, and the pot is poisoned by it. They cried out and said,
- "Man of God, there is death in the pot!"
- Who can meet this? Only a man of God. It is a question of persons who are characteristically men of God; characteristically of God. "We are of God", the apostle John could say. All the apostles were men of God. The antichrists would not hear them:
- "We are of God; he that knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us", 1 John 4: 6.
- And so here, the real difficulty must be met by this man of God. Elisha does not complain. He does not rebuke the person that brought in this evil. He said, "Then bring meal". Who has the meal? He assumes that there is meal, somewhere, even with the dearth around.
- It is not easy to provide meal in famine times; nearly everything edible is scarce then. But he assumed that someone had meal, and, thank God, someone did have it. The requisites are always available in times of difficulty. When God is working, all the requisites are available. And so he says,
- "Then bring meal. And he cast it into the pot, and said, Pour out for the people, that they may eat. And there was no harm in the pot".
- What a change! You may say, There are not many men of God. Quite so. But the point I am making now is in the idea of being of God. Christianity is of God.
- "Of him are ye in Christ Jesus".
- The saints are of God, characteristically. And that shuts out all else. So that relief comes in. The solution is found. And there is no harm in the pot.
Well, I might say more, for the title is applied to Moses, David, and to several unnamed persons in Scripture. It really alludes to christianity, in the principle of it; christianity is of God. It is characteristically of God. Christ came out from God
- And "of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who has been made to us wisdom from God, and righteousness, and holiness, and redemption", 1 Corinthians 1: 30.
And so we are to be characteristically of God and relief will come; the adjustment of every difficulty will be found.
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|THE MAN OF GOD - 2|
|2 Timothy 3: 17; Deuteronomy 33: 1;|
1 Kings 17: 24; 2 Kings 4: 8-9; Nehemiah 12: 24
An Address at Hull, July 12, 1939
Ministry by J. Taylor, 47: 469-79
This is the second of 2 addresses on the 'Man of God';
both have substantial different material and needful exhortations.
I have in mind to present the idea of a man of God in its application to the present time.
- If there are not those who may be so designated, there should be; it should be the aspiration of all, especially those who serve amongst the saints in a prominent way, and in view of our own times it is significant that Timotheus, as far as I know, is the only one so designated in the New Testament.
- His being a young man brings the matter within the range of all of us, even the youngest; it is something to be attained, and this is not by mere ability.
- Divinely given ability is necessary for the service of God, but it does not alone suffice for the filling out of the thought of the man of God,
- one who, as I hope to show from the examples in the scriptures read in the Old Testament, represents God and stands for all that is of God.
- That Timotheus is the only one mentioned in this way does not imply that he is the only one that could be so designated in the New Testament. It is needless to say that the writer of the epistle was one, and many others.
In 2 Timothy the title is not formally applied to Timotheus, as it is in the first epistle, but appears in this second epistle evidently in view of the last times when men of God are so needed;
- and in this respect it is remarkable that the preceding verse calls attention to the inspiration of Scripture:
- "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works", 2 Timothy 3: 16-17.
- It is by no means implied that the Scriptures are not for other purposes than for use by the man of God. The Scriptures are in themselves a great testimony to God; evidently carefully thought of beforehand, although many centuries elapsed in the history of humanity and of God's testimony before any Scriptures were written,
- but being written by the power of the Spirit, they embrace all that is necessary for the man of God to know, and for all saints to know.
- The book of Genesis is remarkably concise and yet comprehensive. Satan knows that, and that it lays the foundation for all that should follow, hence his great effort to discredit that book, as indeed all the books of the Pentateuch.
- One of the chief features of modern opposition to the truth is seen in the attack on the book of Genesis. There is negative guidance in that, for Satan selects what is worthy of attack, what is needful to get out of the way to defeat the purpose of God;
- and so the Spirit of God has graciously furnished remarkable expositions of the book of Genesis, as well as the other books of the Pentateuch, which all christians should read as entering into this verse, if they are to be
- "perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works", 2 Timothy 3: 17.
The Lord Himself stresses the books of Moses, placing them alongside His own words, indeed He says:
- "if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?", John 5: 47
- – remarkable grace and wisdom to stress thus the value of the Pentateuch. He began there in speaking on another occasion, not to a large congregation, but to two persons, and they erring christians.
- Christendom is full, alas! of erring christians, persons who have turned aside. Not that I am accusing any in particular, but it is a fact, and hence the example set by the Lord is to be observed:
- "beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself", Luke 24: 27,
- showing that erring christians need to have the Scriptures not only read, but expounded.
- Exegetical works of great value on these books are current, and should be attended to if we are to be throughly furnished unto every good work. Expositions are of great importance, not that christians should depend wholly on them, they should read the Scriptures in dependence on the Holy Spirit.
- The Lord said, "How readest thou?", Luke 10: 26
- to one man, and that is a good question for us all. If you read them aright you will be supported in them, they even preach the gospel. An unconverted man would do well to read them, for the Scriptures preached the gospel to Abraham, we are told, and here it is said to Timotheus:
- "from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus". 2 Timothy 3: 15.
- They are able to do that.
The apostle says elsewhere, "the Lord will give thee understanding", 2 Timothy 2: 7;
- He is available to us. The Spirit too, guides us into all the truth. We are wonderfully furnished and no one who is ignorant is excusable. In fact, where people are ignorant and have no exercise the word might apply;
- "let him be ignorant", 1 Corinthians 14: 38.
- Very solemn! So we are to read the Scriptures. The Lord Himself says,
- "Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me", John 5: 39.
- They are full of holy matter, the most engrossing matter for the renewed heart, able to make us wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. The eunuch is a good example; he says to Philip,
- "How can I" [understand] "except some man should guide me?", Acts 8: 31.
- It is well to have the sense that you need to be shown. The eunuch was reading, but he admitted he was not getting help, and if not getting help in reading Scripture it is wise to ask; I would advise each to do so, to ask the person most likely to answer helpfully.
- We read of the Lord Himself in the temple hearing and asking questions. I am not going to say He needed to ask questions, as we do, but that is what He did, and then His understanding and answers!
- It is wise, as I said, to ask questions, but be sure of the person of whom you ask.
- Philip was a good person of whom to ask questions about the Scriptures; he was a man amenable to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, a safe man, not a man who trusted his own mind. An angel directs Philip to go down to the desert, and the Spirit says,
- "Go near, and join thyself to this chariot", Acts 8: 29,
- and he did. He was a man under the guidance of the Spirit, and Philip preached Jesus to the eunuch; so it is not only the understanding of the Scriptures that is needed, but the knowledge of Jesus, for He is the subject and substance of all Scripture.
Moses is, I think, the first man called a man of God. I begin with him. What is in mind is to point out the features of the man of God.
- They are not all in one man – they are all in Jesus, every one of them, and Nicodemus is a good example for us as to discernment of these features. He says,
- "we know that thou art a teacher come from God", John 3: 2.
- That is the idea – we know. There is guidance in that statement; he not only says that, but gives his reasons,
- "for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him", John 3: 2.
- You may be sure if there are these marks in any one, you can designate him a man of God.
- Nicodemus would regard Jesus as pre-eminently what is indicated in the thought of a man of God, but he did not go very far, and there are many like him today. He was a questioner; he knew that Jesus was come from God, basing it on signs, but seemed to fail in not allowing light to flood his soul, although clearly he was a subject of the work of God.
- The true light is shining there before him, and yet he kept on questioning, and it would appear there was nothing definite reached in his soul at first. There are many like that, they come to meetings, and hear something and speak well of it, but the soul lacks light, the soul fails to take in the light that is shining, so that the person remains where he was – a member of the Jewish council.
- If John did not mention him we should have known nothing of him. John, representing love, mentions the least evidence of God's work; he mentions Nicodemus three times, and finally as identified with Christ as dead, which is important.
- It is a pity he remained so long unidentified with a living Christ while He was yet available to him. Still Nicodemus recognised that Jesus was from God, and the Lord unfolded to him the truth as to new birth.
Jesus, the Word become flesh, represents every trait of the man of God; He is infinitely more than any of us.
- Moses beforehand exhibited some of these traits; he was near enough to Jesus in character to be His companion in glory. What a great end is before us!
- "When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory", Colossians 3: 4.
- We cannot afford to be marked by discrepancies from what Jesus is if we are to appear with Him in glory. Moses, too, appeared in glory, he and Elijah; we can see how he is honoured; he speaks well of the people of God; that is a point in this chapter.
- It is remarkable that he is called a man of God here; he is called also a man of God as praying, the prayer of Moses, the man of God. Psalm 90. He is also called a man of God elsewhere, but he appears here for the first time as a man of God.
- The idea is cumulative; he did not just become one because he wrote this book of Deuteronomy, or this one chapter, but it is stated at the outset as if the Spirit of God would say, This is one of the most beautiful traits of the man of God that he can speak so well of the Lord's people – he blesses them.
- He is not a characteristic critic of the people of God, not that they did not deserve to be criticised to themselves; but he is king in Jeshurun, that is, among people who are "upright", in this chapter.
Every upright person in that day would regard Moses as a man of God.
- He speaks well of the people of God; he could speak ill of them, too, and we are to be warned by that, such a great man calling the people of God rebels, but it was not characteristic of him.
- This chapter is characteristic of him, he loved the people as Jehovah did. Of Jehovah he said,
- "Yea, he loved the people", Deuteronomy 33: 3.
- Moses loved the people too; the people he had known in their contrariety for forty years. Israel sinned from the time Moses knew them.
- The book of Ezekiel says they sinned in Egypt, sinned in the wilderness, sinned in the land, sinned in captivity; it is one history of sin. There were good features, but the general thought is continuous sin.
- There is not much in such conditions to draw out affection, yet it is after forty years with them that Moses speaks so well of the people. Deuteronomy 33.
Elijah is the next example. He accepted responsibility, took to heart personally the calamity in others. The son of the mistress of the house died, and Elijah made it his matter.
- God has great respect for men and women who identify themselves with the calamity in others. Notice what Elijah did.
- "And he said unto her, Give me thy son. And he took him out of her bosom, and carried him up into a loft, where he abode, and laid him upon his own bed", 1 Kings 17: 19.
- Elijah appeared in glory on the mount of transfiguration talking with Jesus, and what I am speaking of now entered into that, it is indicative of how God honours faithfulness in His servants; and He honours what is of Himself.
Elijah takes the child out of the mother's bosom; spiritually that was the real difficulty – the natural being usually the source of all troubles amongst the saints.
- He laid the child on his own bed, he took on the calamity as before God, as the passage goes on to say,
- "And he cried unto the Lord, and said, O Lord my God, hast thou also brought evil upon the widow with whom I sojourn, by slaying her son?
"And he stretched himself upon the child three times, and cried unto the Lord, and said, O Lord my God, I pray thee, let this child's soul come into him again", 1 Kings 17: 20-21.
- What a beautiful complete identification with the child, with the calamity! And then the prayer, acknowledging he has no strength in himself to do anything. Power is in God, the God who raises the dead, as Paul said.
- That is a man of God; for he is acting for God, for the widow, for the boy. Let us look at this feature in a man of God, and learn to accept as our own the calamities of the people of God, and bring God into the matter. I may share in a calamity and not help much in it, but if I bring. God into the matter it is a great deal. A man of God does that.
- "And the Lord heard the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came into him again, and he revived. And Elijah took the child, and brought him down out of the chamber into the house, and delivered him unto his mother: and Elijah said, See, thy son liveth.
"And the woman said to Elijah, Now by this I know that thou art a man of God, and that the word of the Lord in thy mouth is truth", 1 Kings 17: 22-24.
- He is discerned to be a man of God. It is not put just that way as to Moses. The Spirit of God calls him a man of God, but here the beneficiary of the man of God calls him that; that is, the saints come to know by what a man does and is, that he is a man of God.
- What greater renown can one have? Not that you are aiming at that. It is what God is in His work, in His purpose, that such a man has before him. Still, the incidental result is great, and here the woman who got the benefit says, He is a man of God. The representation of God becomes fixed in people's minds in this way.
The third example is Elisha. What is to be observed here is not a widow, but a great woman, not great as in mere human parlance, but great in a true sense.
- Spiritually speaking she is the continuation of the widow who paid her debts from the proceeds of the oil and lived on the rest. The widow represents a believer living on the Spirit, the Spirit is life rightly understood, and makes us great in a moral sense, so that we are capable of seeing what is of God.
- It is a very great comfort that there are people in this world who can discern what is of God, and persons that are of God. The widow of Zarephath discerned by a signal miracle, not only that Elijah was a man of God, but that the word in his mouth was truth.
- Here we have a great woman, and such a person is attested as having spiritual discernment. Many are regarded as great, but have they spiritual discernment? This woman's estimate of Elisha was not based on his miracles. Elisha had been passing by her house:
- "And so it was, that as oft as he passed by, he turned in thither to eat bread. And she said unto her husband, Behold now, I perceive that this is an holy man of God, which passeth by us continually", 2 Kings 4: 8-9.
- "An holy man of God", a new term in our subject, one that ought to affect us all, because holiness is very scarce. Righteousness is scarce, but holiness is more so.
- Elisha is designated by her "an holy man of God". One would covet to be known in that character. Moses is not said to be that, nor Elijah. Elisha is called it by this woman. Is her judgment right? That is to be considered.
- Is she affected merely by the presence of the man, such a great man, a man of great repute? That would be a poor thing. Men of repute are in demand. Is this woman just making much of a distinguished man? Evidently he is not affecting her naturally, she calls him holy, and
- "she constrained him to eat bread", 2 Kings 4: 8.
- That is, she is hospitable. To eat bread, not simply to spend an evening with them. The social side amongst us is to be watched; she had not that in mind. A man of reputation of this kind is sought after, and even for evening occasions.
- All no doubt may be well if under control, but all she constrained him to do was to eat bread. He needed support and she ministered support, a very great matter in the service of God.
I speak of this, because of the importance of limiting ourselves in the service of God; not allowing the social side of things to influence us; it would surely tend to damage. He turned in to eat bread; he did not go further than that, he is a man of God.
- And then she called her husband into the matter, very important in these cases. She was evidently greater morally than her husband, which is humbling. She brought him into the matter and says to him,
- "Behold now, I perceive that this is an holy man of God", 2 Kings 4: 9.
- She evidently perceived it by his deportment as passing by her house. He came in according to her constraint to eat bread, and did not go beyond that.
- Elisha was a working man, as every professed servant ought to be. Not that the Lord does not make allowance for the need of rest; He does. He said to His disciples,
- "Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while", Mark 6: 31.
- He knows exactly what the strain of service is, and those served ought to take notice of this in regard of those who serve. It does not say that Elisha rested in this house, he just went in to eat bread.
Now she has a further thought – hospitality in a fuller way. He is a safe man, one to be desired and trusted in the house, so she proposes that a little chamber should be made; it would be no social matter.
- You understand I am speaking in the spirit of things, not in the letter, for we have affections, and these affections in a spiritual way ought to have play, but here the thought was isolation, not exactly to bring him into the family.
- "Let us make a little chamber, I pray thee, on the wall; and let us set for him there a bed, and a table, and a stool, and a candlestick: and it shall be, when he cometh to us, that he shall turn in thither", 2 Kings 4: 10.
- Servants are very glad often to get that little chamber, and not to have any part in the social side of the household. She had right thoughts, she was a great woman, a remarkable woman.
- How touching it is that he passed by continually! Where was he going? The Lord regards His servants as those who have to go out and journey; it is a great privilege to do it; but He says of each,
- "he shall go no more at all out", Revelation 3: 12.
- That is indeed to the overcomer in Philadelphia, in our own time; rest for ever is in view; so that, as Paul said, no servant should be lazily a charge to anybody. The time of rest is coming, "he shall go no more at all out".
- This kind of hospitality brings about a living condition, results in better conditions in the locality wherever it is found. How much one sister can contribute to the living conditions in a locality!
- So that the outcome of this is life – a son, a great increase in the truth. I mention that as an inducement for this kind of greatness to be developed in regard to the service of God.
Finally, coming to David in Nehemiah, the point as regards him is an entirely different phase of the matter. It is a question now of the service of God in song.
- This has come up lately, and the Spirit of God seems to stress it, how a man who is marked by care and consideration for God in these things is a man of God. So we have in the verse read:
- "And the chief of the Levites: Hashabiah, Sherebiah, and Jeshua the son of Kadmiel, with their brethren over against them, to praise and to give thanks, according to the commandment of David the man of God, ward over against ward", Nehemiah 12: 24.
- "The commandment", it is no optional matter, no question with him of learning to sing a few hymns, very often for personal enjoyment, the Lord with us doubtless, for we are to sing and make melody in our hearts to the Lord, but David commands it here, it is an imperative matter, and that is a word for the present time.
- The service of God is imperative. God would call us all into it, and so we have here
- "according to the commandment of David the man of God", Nehemiah 12: 24.
- It is in connection with this that he is called a man of God, not as a military man or as a ruler; he is not called a man of God in these connections, but as promoting the service of God.
- How important this is, and God would lay it upon us, and so we find a further word in verse 36 in connection with the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem. It says:
- "with the musical instruments of David the man God", Nehemiah 12: 36.
- We are told about the musical instruments earlier, but David is not said to be a man of God there, the Spirit of God here crediting him with this remarkable thought, he is a man of God in relation to musical instruments and in relation to the service of God. He commanded the service and prepared the musical instruments.
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|THE LORD KNOWETH|
THEM THAT ARE HIS
|2 Timothy 2: 19; Revelation 3: 20; Acts 9: 11; Genesis 18: 19; Exodus 4: 14|
An Address at Worthing, July 20, 1932
Ministry by J. Taylor, 37: 103-12
Scrpiture quotations are from the AV and JND's translation.
2 Timothy 2: 19
I have before me to speak about the Lord's knowledge of His people. The apostle in 2 Timothy 2: 19 brings the subject, in a general way, before us:
- "The Lord knoweth them that are his".
- This is indeed one side of the seal, and the other side is,
- "Let everyone that nameth the name of Christ" [the Lord] "depart from iniquity", for the foundation of God stands.
- This is a very important fact for us as we think of our brethren who are not available to us, and as seeking to maintain the fellowship of God's Son to which we have been called.
- Whilst there is the precious word that blessing attaches to all Israel that are present at any time when the saints come together in assembly, yet we cannot but recognize that only a few are present; there are many others, and if we are near the Lord, we miss them.
- They are our relatives, spiritually, and have a place on the shoulder-pieces of the High Priest, and on the breastplate, a place in the divine counsels. So we miss them, and this should not be a mere theoretical thing but something felt, that there are many who are not available.
This two-sided seal that I have spoken of is a sort of mandate that the Lord has given to His people in our time, so that our position is not one devised by ourselves.
- It has authority in it; in a sense, it has as much authority as existed on the day of Pentecost. On the day of Pentecost, as a great many were converted and added, it is said of them, that
- they continued "in the teaching and fellowship of the apostles".
- That means that they recognized the authority; it was not simply a teaching that they had acquired themselves, it was the apostles' teaching which they persisted in, and the apostles' fellowship.
- The teaching and fellowship had authority behind them, so that they were not merely a sect with their own peculiar thoughts.
Now our position today is equal to theirs in principle and detail as having this mandate behind it, and that involves the whole teaching of the apostles.
- That mandate applies to the present time as having recognized the confusion in the profession around us. There was no need of it at the outset, but it is needed now, because the position is questioned. Hence the mandate becomes of exceeding importance –
- "the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, the Lord knows those that are his; and, Let every one who names the name of the Lord withdraw from iniquity".
- We can stand in the presence of all our brethren – if we can only get them to listen to us – and tell them it is here we stand, we cannot do otherwise, the matter is imperative.
- If some do not listen, thank God for those who do! But as the prophetic word says,
- "Yet will I gather others to him, with those … that are gathered",
- but it will be a small percentage, a minority, and the feeling of sorrow must continue, if we are with God, as to their delinquency in obeying the mandate. Nevertheless the feeling of sorrow is allayed by the thought that
- "The Lord knoweth them that are his".
- They may not be aware of it, but we are; it is that which we have in the seal.
Revelation 3: 20
I want to touch on the letters to the seven assemblies in that relation, for they synchronize with 2 Timothy.
- The addresses to the assemblies show that the Lord not only knows them that are His, but He knows where they are.
- He knows all about them; He is conversant with all the circumstances attaching to them, whether viewed ecclesiastically or otherwise; hence in the passage I have read. He says,
- "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock".
- The Lord is not content with simply knowing them that are His, but He is seeking them out, not silently, but loudly, as persistently "knocking".
- It is a continuous thing, "Behold, I stand at the door and am knocking".
It is a comfort to those who know Him, and are sympathetic with Him, but it is also a challenge as to whether we have part in the knocking
- Though the Lord Jesus speaks to the assemblies in this symbolical way, as walking in the midst of them, He is not corporeally there, He is in heaven, but He serves them mediately through others.
- As walking in the midst of the assemblies in a spiritual sense, it is through others that He is exercising this service. That brings exercise as to whether we are in His hands as regards this knocking.
The Lord says in chapters 2 and 3, "I know". It comes like balm to one's soul. Others do not know what our circumstances may be, and thus we are deprived of their sympathy.
- It may be soul trouble, or business trouble, or family sorrow, but the word, "I know" from the Lord is like heavenly balm. Seven times over it occurs in these chapters, covering all the saints from that time until the rapture.
- The first things He speaks of as knowing are commendable things, and this would encourage us, for, whatever trouble souls are in, the Lord says, "I know", and He commends us in things which, perhaps, we may have forgotten.
- But then His faithfulness requires that He should call attention to other things; it may be the things that have brought on the sorrow. We should know what has brought on the sorrow, but He does not fail to tell us what has brought it on. Others may conjecture the cause, but it is often hidden and known only to God.
In Job's case, the real cause of his sorrow, as calamity came upon him, was not known to Job himself at first, though he held fast his integrity.
- It was a long process of the chiding of his friends, and the faithful presentation of the truth through Elihu, until finally, the Lord Himself, in unfailing faithfulness, brought home to him what the real root was,
- so that he said, "now mine eye seeth thee".
- What a wonderful experience to be brought, through discipline, face to face with God, so as to say, "now mine eye seeth thee"!
What I particularly had in mind in regard to this knocking on the part of the Lord, is His unfailing faithfulness in the present moment.
- Whoever they may be, or wherever the Lord's people are, He knows them, and He knows their circumstances, and He continues knocking. The knocking requires that He knows the towns and the villages and streets and the numbers on the doors of the saints; and the object is,
- "if any one hear my voice and open the door"
- – think of the Lord of glory, the Upholder of all things, the Creator, knocking at the door! It is most touching, and it ought to challenge us, as to whether we have part in this service. If any man open unto me,
- "I will come in unto him and sup with him, and he with me".
In the gospels we see how He goes after the sheep; the Shepherd will go to any length after the sheep.
- You will remember the journey to Emmaus – it was a distance of sixty furlongs, and He would have gone further for He will go to any length in order to secure the return of a wanderer.
- "He made as though he would go farther",
- it is to remind us of His patience in following up those who have wandered from Him.
- With the Lord Jesus this kind of service will go on, and the present time calls particularly for this service of knocking, knocking at the doors of His people; and then there is the offer to the one who hears His voice,
- "I will come in unto him and sup with him".
- He has His own way of knocking. It is not a corporeal action but a spiritual movement which would convey to that one that He has a place to which He would invite him. He would say as it were, I will come in to you, and sup with you, but I have a better place in which you may sup with Me.
- Think of supping with Him in His place! He would invite you to it as He did the disciples who left John the Baptist in John 1.
- When they asked, "Where abidest thou?"
- He said to them, "Come and see".
- We may be assured they were pleased to stay there, it was not irksome. The Spirit of God tells us,
- "They abode with him that day".
Acts 9: 11
From Acts 9 I want to show how the Lord acts in detail: Saul representing one whom the Lord would serve, but through another. We are shown the way of His doing it now.
- Saul has to come to it, that he is to learn from other believers, and we also have to learn that way. There are those who assume that it is not necessary; but let it be understood by everyone here, that you have to learn from other believers.
- The Lord will not allow anyone to pass by His people, those who love Him; for in principle, they are the assembly.
- Everyone who, like Saul, has come under the direct ministry of the Lord, will be sent by Him into the city, and there it will be told him what he is to do. This is a very important point to any one who seeks to learn.
- There is the teaching, but there must also be the learning, and I must understand through whom the teaching is to come. It may be humbling to find that I have to learn from persons I regard less than myself.
- Thus Jesus tells Saul that he should go into the city to be told what to do, involving that he must learn from persons who were of much less account in this world than he. It is a salutary lesson.
- Saul said, "What shall I do?"
- which was right, and the Lord could have Himself told Saul what to do, but He said,
- "Go into the city, and it shall be told thee".
- One would say to anyone in christendom that he has to learn, not from the hierarchy, but from persons of no religious reputation in this world.
The Lord not only knew the city but the name of the street, and the house in which he was. The Lord had His eye on that man, and He has His eye on every one of His own, but especially on one who like Saul is in the throes of concern about his soul.
- He said to Ananias, "Behold he prayeth".
- The Lord knows anyone who is praying genuinely, and will not fail to help him; it may be by sending someone to him. We are very slow to move at His bidding; but if there is one praying, the Lord has someone whom He can send to him.
- So the Lord sees to it that Ananias goes, for chapter 9 stresses the idea of His authority. It is very comforting that the Lord not only knows them that are His, but He has authority to obtain service from them.
- So Ananias goes and lays his hand on the praying man and says to him,
- He serves in the spirit that he has gathered up in the presence of the Lord. The Lord knew what was going on in Saul's soul, and that he was praying, and so He sends His servant, having fitted him for a service to be rendered.
- It does not appear that Ananias was a distinguished servant of the Lord, for he is never spoken of afterwards except by Paul, and then it is in relation to this incident.
- So the apostle has to begin to learn from one who is of much less account than himself, from one that he would despise naturally perhaps.
Genesis 18: 19
The history of Abraham in the Old Testament amplifies this. He is properly Abraham, the believer. He stands out as the father of all believers; but what is said by Jehovah in Genesis 18: 19 is,
- Not only in the sense of Timothy, as merely one of the elect, but He knows him as one who will command his house after him,
- to "keep the way of Jehovah, to do righteousness and justice".
It is a very important matter as to how the Lord knows us; in relation to our houses, is the point here.
- He visited Abram according to chapter 17, and had carried on a holy conversation with him, telling him that He was the Almighty God, and showing His power. Then, having changed his name to Abraham, He gives him the covenant of circumcision, and we are told
- "God went up from Abraham".
- This is most interesting, Jehovah having to do with a man who has a house, giving him the covenant of circumcision and then leaving off talking with him. What will Abraham do as left alone?
- You remember in the gospels how it is said the Lord laid His hands on the children and departed. What happened afterwards? The children were left with those responsible for them.
So here He went up from Abraham, and Abraham, we are told, circumcised "all the men of his house" that selfsame day: that is to say, he is proved to be the keeper of God's commandments.
- Presently, Jehovah comes back with two others. How great a favour! It is a household matter.
- One of the most humbling things is to see believers seeking to go on with the Lord's people, while the children are allowed to go on in the world. Not so with Abraham.
- Jehovah says, "I know him that he will command his children and his household after him".
- He came back to Abraham, and came back in company, and moves on;
- "and Abraham stood yet before the Lord".
- Abraham is not one who wishes the meeting to be shortened. Think of the grace shown in this second visitation – the honour that Jehovah should wait with the other two until Abraham brought the refreshment!
- God dignifies a man's household on the basis of faithfulness – and then He tarries with the patriarch as he intercedes for Sodom.
- Jehovah had said, "Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do? … for I know him";
- He knew him as a father, as a husband, and that he would command his children, and his household after him. Thus he is the friend of God.
- In this chapter we learn that God conveys to us what He is about to do, because of faithfulness in our houses.
Exodus 4: 14
I pass on to Exodus 4 in speaking of how the Lord knows us.
- Moses was complaining that he was not ready for his mission, for the great honour of being sent to Israel. He said,
- "I am not eloquent … but I am slow of speech".
- It may be that there are those whom the Lord would call into His service, and who are slow to move – but the need is great. One has often gone over the incident of the loosing of the colt in the gospels.
- Matthew tells us that the Lord had need of them; that is He needed the ass and the colt, which would be an allusion to the formation of a meeting.
- The Lord has great need of new material, but such material as Matthew suggests – "two of you" – two of the assembly.
- Mark says, "the Lord hath need of him".
- He needs a servant. The need is great. Some of us who move about in service know how great it is. The Lord has need of those who can serve His people, but He never sends us at our own expense. He will furnish us with all that we need. He is not an austere Master.
Luke says the same: "The Lord hath need of him".
- In John, He does not send the message at all. He finds a colt Himself and sat on it. What does He do? I would say to young brothers, be sure you are found. He is finding those who are spiritually available and He will continue to find such.
- How great an honour to that colt, that he should carry the King into the royal city!
- Thus the Lord is seeking those available in view of the continuance of the service, that is what is going on now. It is a question as to whether the Lord knows any of us to be as He requires.
He has appointed Moses to His service, but Moses said, I cannot speak.
- Then Jehovah says, "Is not Aaron the Levite thy brother? I know that he can speak well".
- One prays continually for such an one as this, Aaron, the Levite, thy brother; one not hitherto mentioned, though he is now eighty-two years of age. We may be assured there are many such, and the Lord gives us to understand that He knows just what we are capable of.
- The first thing is that Aaron is a Levite. We have never heard his name before but he was there, and the Lord knew what was in his heart. He is a Levite, and we shall understand what that means if we read Exodus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua and Chronicles. It is a question of what Jehovah knew was in that man.
How blessed the thought for anyone desiring to serve the Lord, though he may be hidden away, his name not known amongst us, yet the Lord knows.
- He says of Aaron, "I know that he can speak well".
- How He watches over us in secret! He knows the Gideons, the Aarons, the Davids – He knows they are suitable for an emergency.
- It is very beautiful in Aaron's case, because he was ready: the Lord says,
- "Behold, he goeth out to meet thee; and when he seeth thee he will be glad in his heart".
- I think that is what should be before us. If we are before the Lord in secret in regard to His service, He will bring out His Aarons, His Levites – and they will become polished shafts for His service.
- Let us not appoint them, for the Lord says, "I know". The Lord has to do that Himself. He moves before us in the appointing of His servants. It is a matter of secret history. We know one another very little, but the Lord knows us from the outset.
- He says, "I know that he can speak well. And also behold, he goeth out to meet thee".
- Moses had the light direct from God. Aaron could never have Moses' place, but he was to be his spokesman. Alas, he envied Moses later, but he did not at first.
In closing I want to point out how a man like Moses, himself one of the most distinguished of speakers, can appeal for confirmation to Jehovah on the ground that He had said,
- How he valued the fact of Jehovah's knowledge of him, not as in the sense of 2 Timothy, but according to his faithfulness. How God honours a man like that!
- He said of him, "he is faithful in all my house. Mouth to mouth do I speak to him openly".
- He spoke to Moses face to face as a man speaks with a friend. Think of Jehovah coming down to the door of the tent, and speaking with him as a man speaks with his friend! How wonderful to be known thus! I link it with the word in 1 Corinthians 8: 3 –
- "If any man love God, the same is known of him".
- God honours those who love Him. How great the inducement to be a lover of God! Like Moses and many other devoted servants, so the lover of God today is "known of him".
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J.T. This chapter, which records the inauguration of the assembly, furnishes many principles that go through to the end of the dispensation.
- Indeed, all divine principles go through, and one especially is that of authority – authority in teaching or doctrine, and authority in fellowship.
- It seems as if the Lord, whilst ministering to His people freely, would stress from time to time, that the teaching He furnishes has authority in it, and that the fellowship bound up with it also involves authority.
- The section shows that the apostles were not simply appointed as persons selected by the Lord, but that they had a moral history behind, entering into the authority that should mark their teaching and fellowship.
- Peter's remarks as to the apostle to be appointed to take the place of Judas, suggest that a moral history necessarily precedes public ministry, so that he says,
- "It is necessary therefore that of the men who have assembled with us all the time in which the Lord Jesus came in and went out among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day in which he was taken up from us, one of these should be a witness with us of His resurrection", Acts 1: 21-22.
- What that remark conveys enters into the ministry; it shows the need for experience with the Lord, and not only with the Lord but with His people, as assembling with them "all the time", as it says, "in which the Lord Jesus came in and went out among us".
- The history of the apostle Paul, too, bears this out. He, as converted, was directed by the Lord to go into the city to be told what to do, and as told what to do he obeys, and remains with the disciples certain days, and then preached;
- then he went to Arabia, and later to Jerusalem to make acquaintance with Peter; and then went to his own place Tarsus, and was finally sought out by Barnabas for the ministry and was a year at Antioch, before he was formally called by the Spirit.
- These facts remind us of the need of experience with the Lord in relation to His people so that ministry or teaching should be authoritative.
H.M.S. Is it also expressed in the apostle's word to Timothy:
- "knowing of whom thou hast learned them", 2 Timothy 3: 14?
J.T. Yes. We shall see that the personal feature is suggested in Paul. As he says to Timothy,
- "Have an outline of sound words, which words thou hast heard of me", 2 Timothy 1: 13
- and so here, "thou hast been thoroughly acquainted with my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith", and so on;
- but the personal side, that is to say, what is particularly heavenly and personal, attaches to Paul as an apostle: "my teaching", he says.
Ques. Would you say that the word of the apostles would have authority as taking character from the Apostle?
- "Consider the Apostle", Hebrews 3: 1.
J.T. I think that is right:
- "the Apostle and High Priest of our confession",
- alluding of course to Moses and Aaron as jointly a type of Christ.
- Moses received communications directly from Jehovah at the bush, and he was to act as God to Aaron. Aaron was to be his prophet; that is, Aaron represented the brotherly side, the manner of speech, the grace in which the thing should be ministered,
- but Moses represented the authority; in this sense no less a thought attached to him than that of God Himself.
- So that the word of God is God Himself:
- "the word of God is living and operative, and sharper than any two-edged sword, and
penetrating to the division of soul and spirit, both of joints and marrow, and a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is not a creature unapparent before him; but all things are naked and laid bare to his eyes, with whom we have to do", Hebrews 4: 12-13.
- Through whomsoever it may be ministered, it comes to us as God's word.
A.S. In what way do you connect authority with fellowship?
J.T. It enters into the fellowship. We shall see later that fellowship is presented elsewhere in another way, but it is called the apostles' fellowship here.
Ques. Have you in mind that this authority is liable to be called in question, that other kinds of teaching may be put on the same level?
J.T. Yes. The most effective way to set aside the truth is to bring in something else that tends to undermine the truth and to make it collateral as though it were the truth.
- There is nothing more undermining than something brought in collaterally with the truth, and yet not the truth, aiming to undermine it, as in Galatia. It was something different, but not directly or formally opposed.
Ques. Would tradition do that in contrast to the commandments of God?
J.T. That is exactly what the Lord said:
- "ye have made void the commandment of God on account of your traditional teaching", Matthew 15: 6.
- That has been very effective in the history of the assembly, culminating in current public Christianity; it is simply something else, different from that which the apostles taught, and it has subverted it.
J.R.S. Do you consider that the scriptures might be used to that purpose?
J.T. Well, they are perverted sometimes. The leading Christian denomination maintains the Bible, as we know, in its creed, but effectively sets it aside in almost every point. It is the introduction of something else without openly assuming to be opposed.
Eu.R. Is this element of authority suggested in Luke 12 : 42 ?
- "Who then is the faithful and prudent steward, whom his lord will set over his household?"
- It may be said that the household is greater than the bondman, but it is said that the Lord has set the bondman over the household to give food in season, and that has to be maintained.
J.T. He is a bondman, but also a steward, having, as it were, charge of the food supply. He is set over the household in this sense, and of course has authority.
- I think we might pay special attention to the antecedent history here, so that the word goes out,
- "knowing of whom thou hast learned them".
- Those through whom truth comes are to be accredited.
- In connection with our subject, the first thing to understand is, what constituted the apostles, because personality has so much to do with Christianity, whether it be persons who are spiritually attractive so as to be lovable, or persons with moral history involving weight.
- The Spirit of God makes a great deal of persons; and the Lord, of course, is the great model of all the personnel of the assembly; whether we be viewed as attractive or as having experience.
- The Lord's thirty years of private life were not merely accidental, nor simply that He should wait until He was thirty before He preaches; there was moral history in them which the voice from heaven recognised.
H.E.S. Is the perfect pattern set forth in the Lord Himself when He said He was
- "Altogether that which I also say to you", John 8: 25?
J.T. Exactly; that is the ground of ministry – that one is all that one says. And so in Acts 1 it is
- "all things which Jesus began both to do and to teach", verse 1.
- The doing comes first.
F.I. So that before we receive doctrine without reserve, we should be sure of the antecedents of those who give it?
J.T. Yes; and so the history of the apostles enters into their service.
- Peter shows in his first remarks among the brethren in chapter 1 how he had learned even before the Holy Spirit came. He knew what to say, and he linked on what he had to say with what existed. That is one feature of the testimony of God; it links on, it is one whole.
- So that he is able to cite the Psalms, and then to bring forward what was needed in an apostle, namely, that he must be one who had assembled with the others during all the time the Lord had gone in and out among them, from the baptism of John until He was received up. What was needed for apostleship is stressed.
- There was no discrepancy between them as seen at the end of the Lord's life before the cross, and at His resurrection; they are all there – Judas' treachery being fully owned – as the list given to us in Acts 1 shows.
- Mark specially stresses that they were to be with the Lord:
- He "appointed twelve that they might be with him, and that he might send them to preach", chapter 3: 14;
- and so in chapter 16, when the light of the resurrection is brought, it is brought to "those that had been with Him"; and Acts 1 shows that they are the very same persons, and they are in the upper room.
- They are seen as fully answering to the bearing of the Lord's instruction. They are in the upper room, that is to say, they are withdrawn from ordinary religious currents; they are not to be affected by worldly religious influence.
- We are very easily affected by what is current, not only in the normal worship of God, but in our service.
- They are mentioned, not as in the temple in chapter 1, but in the upper room, and there is room there with them for all that might have been gathered up in the Lord's life before He was owned from heaven, that is, Mary His mother is there.
- All that might have been gathered up from the Lord before and after His anointing is there.
Eu.R. So would the "crowd of names" there imply personality?
J.T. Yes, 'name' implies personal distinctness. Here it would indicate that the one hundred and twenty had been formed by the Lord's ministry and influence.
- He had gone up; they saw Him go up, and they went to the upper room. They are not there just temporarily, they are staying there; it marks them; and Mary is there and other women, and the brethren of the Lord.
- Then, when Peter stands up to preach, instead of saying. Listen to the word of God, he says,
- that is, personal authority is asserted.
- Then, when the converts want to know further what they are to do, it says,
- "they … said to Peter and the other apostles …" Acts 2: 37,
- showing that the idea of apostleship even entered into the minds of the converts – that it was not a one-man affair.
- Christianity is not that in its administration here; it is authority vested, not in one person, but in persons. Hence the Lord has it everywhere.
- Where His people are in subjection, the principle of authority is available to us; whether in China or India or anywhere in the western hemisphere, the authority is available.
P.L. It says. He gave them "the authority", Mark 13: 34.
J.T. That confirms what we are saying; it involves the whole idea of it.
H.E.S. Is your thought that authority from God can only be connected with suitable moral conditions?
J.T. That is what comes out, so that we have to consider the antecedents of any who minister.
- "Knowing of whom thou hast learned them", the apostle says.
Rem. That is why the word is,
- "Remember your leaders who have spoken to you the word of God; and considering the issue of their conversation, imitate their faith", Hebrews 13: 7.
M.W.B. Would you say a word as to how we can now discern this authority, because there is great pretension to authority in Christendom, and many young ones are deceived by the feigned authority in so many?
J.T. We cannot conceive that the Lord would leave His people here without the means of discerning what is of Himself.
- So there are the letters to the assemblies – seven in number, which would mean that the whole assembly is addressed, not only at that time, but throughout its whole history on earth,
- and it implies that there is a word from the Lord governing every stage of the assembly's history.
- Then the next thing is that the Spirit speaks, and he that has an ear to hear will say that that speaking, through whomsoever it may be, is authoritative:
- "He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the assemblies", Revelation 2: 7.
- Any such ear will discern that it is the Spirit, and hence has authority; it has double authority, because what the Spirit says is just the unfolding of what the Lord says.
- The Lord says very little to the assemblies; the seven addresses are in two comparatively short chapters in Revelation, but the ministry of the Spirit unfolding them extends over centuries.
- We can read the actual words of the Lord in the addresses, and they have authority; they can be appealed to at any time. They are ground for action, and so also is 2 Timothy in our times;
- but the ministry of the Spirit, which amplifies the Lord's direct words, is discerned by those who have ears to hear.
- Later on, God will speak in thunder, Revelation 10; but now the Spirit speaks in intelligible ministry, but it is authoritative.
- The work of God is implied in those who have ears to hear. If there be no ears to hear, the testimony God presents must be ineffective; but from the outset God worked in men in relation to what He set before them;
- and therefore the Scripture is a record of what God has said, but also that there were those that were hearing.
W.R.P. What about that word,
- "ye have the unction from the holy one, and ye know all things", 1 John 2: 20?
J.T. That fits in. It refers to the Spirit
- "the same unction teaches you as to all things, and is true", so that "ye have not need that any one should teach you", verse 27.
- In fact, what we are saying raises the whole question as to whether the Spirit of truth is ministering to the people of God, and whether His voice is heard; whether there is a possibility of knowing the truth, or whether we are always in the stage of enquiry.
- The Lord's remarks, as well as those of His apostles, show that we may know the truth
- He says, "ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free", John 8: 32.
- Well, if we are to know the truth, something must come to us in the way of authority. The Scriptures are formal authority, but the Spirit of God ministering impresses the ear that can hear, so that it discerns that it is the voice of the Spirit.
Ques. Is it not remarkable that in the address to Thyatira the Lord says,
- "But to you I say, the rest who are in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine …", Revelation 2: 24,
- as if the Lord could count on the remnant discerning and refusing the evil doctrine then current, and maintaining the pure doctrine of the apostles?
J.T. Exactly. Up to Thyatira the Lord contemplates that there is an ear to hear without an overcomer,
- but from Thyatira on, the ear to hear is dependent upon an overcomer.
- Where there is an overcomer there is an ear to hear, and where there is an ear to hear there is the recognition of authority; and the voice of the Spirit has authority, as we have said.
- But what the Spirit says is always in agreement with the Scripture; and that is why I thought we might read the verses in 2 Timothy, because they run on to the Scriptures.
Ques. Do you suggest there is a moral reason where this authority cannot be discerned by persons?
J.T. Yes. If I do not hear the voice of the Spirit, there is a moral reason – I am not overcoming.
W.C.G. Does the hearing ear develop from, "If any man will do his will"? There is the purpose of heart to do His will and the hearing ear is the fruit of that, and so it is, "he shall know".
J.T. "If any one desire to practise his will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is of God", John 7: 17.
W.C.G. A person morally right is doing the will of God.
Ques. Is there a great deal in recognising where the authority is? The note to verse 10 says, "thou hast followed up", that is, persevered in Paul's doctrine.
J.T. What ought to be clearly before us is "the apostles", who they were, and what they were.
- The high priesthood at Jerusalem, or the Pharisees, would not discern them, but then those in whom God works owned them.
- We must keep in mind that there is the subjective work of God going on, and we are exposed as to whether we are the subjects of it or not, by the presentation of what is of God objectively.
- The leading apostles were fishermen from Galilee, and their speech indicated that they were not learned men; they were not men of Jerusalem; they were regarded as unlettered. Who will recognise them?
- Well, there were three thousand people converted by the preaching of one of them; and notice that he stood up with the eleven, because that is the point – not with the hundred and twenty, but with the eleven. Authority is thus stressed.
- he eleven are in evidence alongside Peter, and Peter is preaching. Now, if it be merely that three thousand people are swayed by oratory or human influence of any kind, the man who influences them will be their leader, they will look to him for everything.
- But it is not so here. The converts recognised all those in whom the authority was.
- They "said to Peter and the other apostles. What shall we do, brethren?"
- – showing that the subjects of a work of God discern those in whom His authority is.
- That ought to be specially observed, because the subjective work of God in men and women
and children will show itself in the recognition of what is of God presented objectively in whomsoever it may be, whether it be in Galilean fishermen or in educated men like Paul.
- The work of God will show itself in the recognition of divine authority.
- I think the brethren will bear with me in pressing that point, because it brings into proper relation the presentation of the testimony in chosen vessels, and the subjective operations of God. Those two things must run together.
M.W.B. Then would you say there are really the three things necessary –
- the ear to hear;
- and then the discernment that the persons speaking possess certain qualities that give them the right to speak;
- and then, thirdly, what they say is in keeping with God's revealed mind?
J.T. That is the way the truth stands, so when Paul went to Thessalonica it says that he went in among them, and opened up and laid down the truth concerning Christ that He must suffer and rise from the dead, and certain believed; Acts 17: 2-4.
- There was a mixed result, and then in Berea he ministered, and they searched the Scriptures.
- "These were more noble than those in Thessalonica", Acts 17: 11, it says.
- It was the same minister, but those at Berea searched the Scriptures to see "if these things were so". That sets out how the matter stands.
- The greatest of ministers is ministering, and those who are the subjects of the work of God pay attention, but they search the Scriptures. They are more noble than the Thessalonians, in that sense.
- So we do not want to be behind. There is a thought that runs through in relation to Paul's ministry of what is "more excellent", and the Bereans were more noble in the sense that they appealed to the Scriptures: we have the Scriptures, and it is for us to prove what is ministered by them.
H.M.S. Do we have the same process in the mind of Timothy? There is first of all the unfeigned faith in his grandmother Lois, and then in his mother Eunice, and then this child knows the Holy Scriptures, and has faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
J.T. Exactly; and Paul says to him,
- "thou hast been thoroughly acquainted with my teaching".
- The three thousand converted at Pentecost discerned that the ability to help was not only in Peter but in the others, and then they persevered, we are told, in the teaching, not of Peter alone, but of the apostles;
- this is evidently mentioned to bring out that the whole idea of divine authority is recognised in whomsoever it may be, by those who are the subjects of the work of God.
H.E.S. That principle is set forth in 1 Corinthians 2 – the spiritual discerns all things.
C.C.E. Do you think that the enormous defection that has come in, is really due to the fact that the subjective work of God has been deficient?
J.T. That is the thing to notice. We should move in relation to what God is doing in a subjective way, that is, by the power of the Holy Spirit here on earth. We have the suggestion in the very first verses of the Bible:
- "the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters". Genesis 1: 2.
- That is an idea that must run through; and the next reference we get is that He is striving with men, chapter 6: 3.
- What is presented of God objectively will be recognised by the effect of the Spirit here, and where there is disregard of what is manifestly of God, the work of God is either stopped or is not there at all.
Eu.R. What relation is there between this thought of authority connected with doctrine, and authority as connected with eldership?
J.T. Eldership came out later. The apostles Barnabas and Paul appointed elders in each assembly. Acts 14, and then Titus is directed to appoint elders in every city.
- In either case – Titus being an apostolic delegate – they have the character of apostolic authority, but then the appointment of elders is always founded on moral qualities.
- You never get one elder in a city or assembly; it is always elders; there is no idea of a bishop of a city. It is a question of the distribution of authority in vessels suited for it and that authority is recognised wherever God is working.
Eu.R. It should be a concern that there might be those conditions in each locality so that there might be something the Lord could add to.
J.T. For instance, in Acts 14, in Lystra, where you have the man lame from infancy, it is said that
- he "heard Paul speaking".
- Now it is not simply what Paul said, but Paul speaking. That is, he had an ear for that kind of speaking, and Paul discerned in him
- "that he had faith to be healed", Acts 14: 9.
- That is how the facts are stated. There was the recognition of that kind of speaking. The speaking was from heaven, and this man heard it. Others doubtless heard it with their natural ears, but the Holy Spirit pays no attention to that.
- Paul discerned in the man that he had faith. There was no act of faith outwardly in him, but that he heard Paul speaking, and Paul discerned that he had faith to be healed. God was working in the man.
- Then Paul spake with a loud voice, as if to aid his hearing,
- "Rise up straight upon thy feet; and he sprang up and walked", Acts 14: 10.
Ques. Would that be the Lord encouraging the spirit of subjection in the man? There is the objective and the subjective together.
J.T. I think so. The loud voice of Paul would make the testimony enter more clearly into his ears, and he responds at once; he springs up.
- In that man you have the idea of intelligence, a man that discerns that kind of speaking; and then there is power to stand on his feet. He is material for the assembly; and what is seen in him must run through the dispensation.
- So in that chapter the apostles appointed elders in each assembly, which would mean that there would be intelligent authority there, and withal that the assemblies would be furnished; they would stand, each one on its own feet.
F.F. So Paul encourages Timothy not to be "ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner" – does that come into what you are saying?
J.T. Yes, the testimony of our Lord would convey His authority, and Paul being a prisoner would convey the reproach attached to it; and Timothy was to be in full accord with those two things.
F.S.M. Would the thought of authority be connected with a four-fold basis?
- First of all, the authority of the Lord recognised;
- secondly, the power of the Holy Spirit present;
- thirdly, the inspiration of the Holy Scriptures bowed to;
- and fourthly, the work of God in the soul – if those four bases were recognised there would be unquestionable authority.
J.T. Yes. There is, in 2 Timothy 3: 10, a remarkable grouping of what we are speaking about,
- "thou hast been thoroughly acquainted with my teaching".
- The Lord would direct our thoughts to Paul's teaching, that we should be conversant with it; and 2 Timothy is clearly for the last days.
- Indeed, it speaks of them in this chapter, and that ought to appeal to every one of us, especially young men in the ministry, that there should be a full acquaintance with it, and one may say too with all that helps as to it.
- In the Old Testament you have the idea of books that are not now extant, but were then, and any increased interest that one might have in any subject, in a king's life, etc., might be further gratified by appealing to a certain book, the name of which would be given. Whether it be the narrative of Gad, or the narrative of Nathan, you are directed to that book.
- If one is in the spirit of 1 and 2 Chronicles, for instance, one would look up everything that referred to David and his life. His own life was so important, was so full, that anyone concerned about the life of David, if God was working in his soul, would say: I must get that book, that book is worth reading.
- And so, today, God has graciously provided for us, especially in the Collected Writings [of J. N. Darby] and other writings of the great servants that were used to recover the truth, particularly Paul's doctrine; and we cannot do without them.
- If we want to follow up Paul's doctrine, we must not lose sight of any aid that God has given as to it.
H.M.S. With regard to your reference to "thou hast been thoroughly acquainted with my teaching",
- supposing I find difficulty in receiving certain ministry, it may possibly be because I am not sufficiently acquainted with Paul's teaching, and I need to learn that before I can understand what troubles me.
J.T. Just so. I am afraid many of us have neglected the curriculum. We have in connection with Paul's doctrine the school of Tyrannus, and that name is mentioned for a specific reason.
- He is a school-master, not in the sense that the law is, but in the sense of one who knew how to teach with authority, a most important thing; he would require the young disciple to look into Romans, to see to that, to get grounded so that he can take root downwards.
- Brethren who do not go through Romans carefully do not take root downwards. We are said there to be planted in the likeness of Christ's death, chapter 6: 5, which implies taking root downwards;
- we have there the principle of analysis, which is a most important lesson in our spiritual education, to analyse what is inside of us spiritually,
- so that we get a clear knowledge of it, and that God has dealt with the flesh to His own glory:
- "having sent his own Son, in likeness of flesh of sin, and for sin, has condemned sin in the flesh", chapter 8: 3.
- I believe the difficulty with us is, either that we have not been grounded in Romans, or if we have been, we have allowed something to darken our vision.
Eu.R. Is there not a spiritual link between what the Lord gave in the last century – what we have preserved in the Collected Writings and so on – and the ministry He is giving today?
J.T. There is, and we cannot afford to miss it. "Thou hast been thoroughly acquainted with [or followed up] my teaching", etc.
- If the Holy Spirit is speaking, it is to be followed up, and we are to test everything; "Prove all things".
- There may be imperfection in the vessels the Lord is using, but is there that which the Spirit is saying? If there be that, we cannot afford to be without it, and if we neglect it we shall be in error; God has furnished it for us.
Ques. Is your thought that if we were more watchful for God's ways with us, we should see that He wants the truth built into our souls?
J.T. Yes. Timothy is a good example for all of us. It says,
- "thou hast been thoroughly acquainted with my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, long-suffering, love, endurance, persecutions, sufferings".
- That challenges those who are in any way seeking to serve, not only as to what they are putting out in the way of doctrine, but as to their conduct, their manner of life. If we are to know those from whom we have learned the things of God we must consider their manner of life.
C.C.E. I notice how very frequently in Timothy we get the expression "doctrine" or "teaching". It is used a very large number of times, and does that not show the importance of it?
J.T. It does. One has been looking into it a little in regard of Paul's ministry, how the Spirit of God stresses it.
- Paul and Barnabas go through the whole length of the island of Cyprus, and they find Bar-jesus who was with the deputy of the island, who is said to be an intelligent man, which is a very notable thing. He was a man in whom God was working, but on the line of intelligence.
- So when Paul had looked on Bar-jesus and he had become blind, it says that the deputy was
- "amazed at the teaching of the Lord", Acts 13: 12,
- which means he had ability to discern that kind of teaching; he had never met the like before. And so right through you have that thought.
- When you come to Ephesus you have Paul teaching in the school of Tyrannus for two whole years; it is that kind of authoritative teaching; it so affected Timothy that he followed it up fully, and, at the same time, he knew the character and ways of the devoted man whom God was using to unfold it.
J.R.S. Do you think we might covet the sensibilities of Timothy, his weeping, and so on, which made him so sensitive to what Paul had to say?
J.T. The apostle notes that here. And he goes on,
- "But thou abide in those things which thou hast learned, and of which thou hast been fully persuaded, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; and that from a child thou hast known the sacred letters, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation, through faith which is in Christ Jesus".
- Paul refers to the scriptures, which Timothy had known.
M.W.B. As to following up the teaching, sometimes when the Lord may be distinctly emphasising a line of truth, as at the present time, something in relation to Himself personally,
- there is difficulty in the acceptance of what He may be saying because previous ministry relative to other lines has not been followed up.
- Is it not incumbent on all of us to take specific interest in what the Lord is saying at any time, and to be concerned as to it?
J.T. That is most important. It is quite obvious the testimony is cumulative. It is in links as of a chain, and I think the writer of 1 and 2 Chronicles suggests a man of that kind, a man like Timothy or Luke, who had thoroughly followed up the golden thread of the testimony.
- The writer of Chronicles begins with Adam. He says, as it were, we must not miss anything, even what there may be in Adam, and he traces the history right down.
- Luke takes it up in the priesthood and carries it to Paul's position in Rome – the testimony definitely among the Gentiles. The suggestion is that all the features of the truth are linked together as one whole.
- And if that be applied further, since apostolic times the Holy Spirit has been ministering; He never gives up. He may be driven in by the conditions of Christendom, but He is here and always ready to minister. Can we afford to miss anything that He ministers? We cannot.
- If we skip one feature of His all-wise presentation of Christ in ministry, we shall be defective, and that is why I believe this is written: "thoroughly acquainted with my teaching, conduct", etc.
- But the apostle shows that Timothy was also conversant with the Scriptures, grounded in them, and that he had faith; it was hereditary, it came down to him.
F.S.M. Do you think emphasis is laid on the value of spiritual impressions in childhood? 2 Timothy 1: 5 and 3: 15.
J.T. That is true, and what the history of Timothy would denote is the interest God has in a cumulative and constructive history in a believer, so that there is nothing left out.
- From a child, Timothy had gone right on and taken on the best there was, that is, Paul's ministry. He was thoroughly acquainted with it, and knew all about the life of the great servant through whom the ministry had come.
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J.T. For those who may not have been present yesterday it may be remarked that our subject is the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, extending to and inclusive of Paul's doctrine and the fellowship that he speaks of.
- The proposal was not so much to consider the doctrine of the twelve, and the doctrine of Paul in themselves, but rather to show that it was their doctrine.
- There had been doctrine – or teaching – earlier, teaching carried down from the Old Testament, which of course is not abrogated, which stands, but is not included in the apostles' doctrine.
- What the apostles taught was the test for faith – and their fellowship also – so that the believers are said to have persevered in them, showing that there was opposition. Whatever they taught would be cherished by the converts; it would have authority with them.
- It is not intended to suggest that we have any such authority vested in any man now, but to show that there is authority. The presence of the Holy Spirit, a divine Person, continuing on with the assembly, and in it, and speaking, necessarily carries the thought of authority.
- So that where God works in the soul of a man or woman or child, there is the recognition of that.
- "He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the assemblies", Revelation 2: 7.
- An ear to hear implies a work of God. The thought is illustrated in the three thousand converts at Pentecost
- who "said to Peter and the other apostles. What shall we do, brethren?" Acts 2: 37.
- They recognised, not only Peter, through whom the light immediately came to them, but the other apostles; that is, the authority of God distributed in those twelve, was recognised in them, by those in whom God was working. That illustrates how those in whom God works at all times recognise the authority of God as it is expressed.
- It was not as if at that particular moment a voice from heaven had called attention to those twelve men, that they were the representatives of Christ's authority; they were manifestly that, and the converts discerned it, and so in this verse we have the expression
- "they persevered in the teaching and fellowship of the apostles", verse 42.
P.L. "They recognised them that they were with Jesus", Acts 4: 13; would that be the moral side?
J.T. It would. Peter, we are told, stood up with the eleven, not with the hundred and twenty, and his opening words are in verse 14.
- "Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice and spoke forth to them. Men of Judaea, and all ye inhabitants of Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give heed to my words", Acts 2: 14.
- There is the assertion of authority in the person who speaks, but then the eleven standing there evidently conveyed the same thing to the converts.
- In making these remarks, it is in no way to suggest that there is any person, or persons, in whom the authority of God is formally vested now, but
- to call attention to the Spirit speaking, and that He speaks through persons selected of Himself, who have moral qualifications, and
- where that is so, those in whom God is working will recognise it, and where it is not recognised there will be the assertion of independency.
H.E.S. Is that especially called attention to in 2 Corinthians, where the apostle is so concerned that what he says should be borne out in all that he is?
J.T. That is so. As we had it yesterday, the Lord said He was altogether that which He said. John 8: 25.
- As was remarked, there is no intention of unfolding the doctrine of the apostles; it would be too much to undertake in two readings. It means the doctrine of Christianity; but Paul is introduced as distinctive.
- The ministry of the twelve was set out in its own distinctiveness and quality in Peter and John, according to chapter 3,
- but Paul's teaching is distinctive to himself, and it represents personality, which is a matter of consequence in the ministry, because it is called attention to in the Lord.
- His Personality is announced before He enters upon His service:
- "This is my beloved Son, in whom I have found my delight", Matthew 3: 17,
- and then He is anointed. Correspondence to this is seen with David, as anointed his personality is stressed:
- "he was ruddy, and besides of a lovely countenance", 1 Samuel 16: 12;
- and moreover one of Saul's attendants said,
- "Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, who is skilled in playing, and he is a valiant man and a man of war, and skilled in speech, and of good presence, and Jehovah is with him", verse 18.
- So that personality enters into the ministry, and it would appear that the Lord emphasised that special trait with Paul, so that his personality entered into his ministry more than any of the others;
- it is to bring out what personality implies, and in personality the idea of what is more excellent.
- So that we have the full thought of God set out in the mystery, in Paul's teaching.
- He not only speaks of his teaching, but his gospel – "my gospel" and "my teaching" – and that is a matter I believe the Lord would have us to note, because, after all, aside from personality, ministry is not of much value: ministry and personality should go together.
M.W.B. Then, would you say that two things are requisite? On the part of those who hear there is to be the ear to hear, and then on the part of those who speak, there is to be the personality or moral antecedents and qualities.
J.T. That is it; the minister is attractive personally. His gift, of course, will enhance him, but he should enhance his gift and his ministry.
M.W.B. Would you say a word as to the place the epistles of John have in the question of teaching or doctrine?
J.T. Well, his epistles show that he has a very great place, mainly in regard of life.
- I suggested the passage in his first epistle because it brings in the question of fellowship in relation to life, and I thought it would amplify this verse in Acts 2, where we have the apostles' fellowship.
- John formally calls it "our fellowship". He speaks of the same thing, saying,
- "our fellowship is indeed with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ".
- That is not what we properly speak of as Paul's fellowship, or sometimes what we speak of as a Christian fellowship: it is what is exclusive to the apostles. Is that clear?
M.W.B. I was wondering if you would say a little more about the distinction between "our fellowship" in John, and the distinctiveness of Christian fellowship in 1 Corinthians 10.
J.T. We have what we rightly call Christian fellowship in Paul's ministry. John touches on it in verse 7:
- "if we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another":
- that touches Paul's side. Paul never says 'my fellowship'; the twelve do; they say "our fellowship". Paul says "my doctrine – my gospel", but with him it is just fellowship; so that he says that God has called us
- "into the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord", 1 Corinthians 1: 9,
- and then, in the verses read in 1 Corinthians 10 the cup is fellowship and the bread is fellowship; and in the last verse of the second letter there is the fellowship of the Spirit.
M.W.B. The "our fellowship" of John is more connected with the inauguration of Christianity.
J.T. That is what I understand.
M.W.B. Then, what is implied in, "that ye also may have fellowship with us"?
J.T. That bears out what we are saying. The generality of saints come into the fellowship subordinately; they come into what the apostles had with the Father and with His Son;
- but the apostles had a distinct platform of their own in the promulgation of the testimony.
Eu.R. In speaking of the apostles' fellowship, are you stressing the thought of authority connected with the fellowship as well as with the teaching, and that that remains connected with the fellowship?
J.T. Yes, the idea of authority that shuts out all independency in fellowship.
Eu.R. One great evidence of it would be that sin is dealt with authoritatively.
J.T. Quite so. It is a partnership, as we have often remarked. The word signifies that I participate in something jointly;
- and the doctrine of the apostles would enter into the fellowship of the apostles, for the fellowship must be governed by principles, exclusive and inclusive; and no doubt that is why their names are in the foundation of the wall of the heavenly city.
J.D. How far does personality weigh with the Lord in selecting a vessel – or does it weigh with the Lord at all?
J.T. It does weigh with the Lord; it is stressed as in Himself, as we have seen. He selects sovereignly, but He selects on moral grounds too.
H.E.S. Is it particularly seen in David, who was a man after God's own heart, although sovereignly chosen?
J.T. That is what I was remarking. The question of choice is greatly stressed in 1 Samuel 16. The prophet is sent to Bethlehem to the house of Jesse the Bethlehemite, a man in the recognition of the testimony already.
- Bethlehem had a great place, and Jehovah said to Samuel that he was to anoint whom He would name. Samuel did not wait for the name; he would anoint Eliab, but he had to wait.
- There was no one in the house that Jehovah could name. That means that God is not going to accept any one; He is not prepared to accept what I may present to Him in myself; He is not obliged to;
- and He resents any such thing as the ordination of a minister by a so-called bishop; and the assumption that, because of university and divinity qualifications, he must be accepted. God resents it;
- He says "whom I name".
- And so the seven sons of Jesse pass before the prophet, and he says,
- "Jehovah has not chosen these", 1 Samuel 16: 10.
- That was a very solemn thing. They were all put to shame, although no doubt they were at their best.
- So that, we have not only the rejection by the Lord, of Saul, and of Amalek in Agag, in the previous chapter, but the rejection of all the sons present of this house of Jesse the Bethlehemite; there was no one there whom God could name.
- The next thing is that Samuel says,
- "Are these all the young men?"
- There is the challenge. Now Jesse had a place in the testimony; he is acknowledged; he and his sons are called to the sacrifice; he and his house are sanctified so that we may be outwardly recognised in the testimony – have a place in it – and yet not be called into the service.
- Therefore, he has to wait; they have all to wait until David comes in. I refer to that in answer to our brother's question as showing how particular God is as to personality. As soon as David arrives, personality is immediately stressed.
- He was of "beautiful appearance"; and Jehovah says, "Arise, anoint him; for this is he", 1 Samuel 16: 12.
- The same chapter shows that an observer among the ordinary people discerned other distinguishing qualities in David:
- "I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite", 1 Samuel 16: 18,
- and he describes his qualities. Later he has such power to play, that he relieves even a man like Saul!
W.C.G. Was the personality you speak of in David to be seen in his appreciation of the ark?
J.T. No doubt. "We heard of it at Ephratah", Psalm 132: 6, he says;
- there was also the energy of life in him. He was ruddy, which implies the energy of life.
- It is not mere ability or gift, but the man himself is living and in spiritual power; and he had a beautiful countenance, he is personally attractive.
- All that appeared in Christ perfectly, infinitely, but it also appeared in Paul; there were all those features that enhanced the testimony in him, so that his personality entered into it.
W.C.G. In Christ it was God Himself:
- "God has been manifested in flesh", 1 Timothy 3: 16.
J.T. Just so; but manhood was there:
- "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased", Matthew 3: 17, refers to this.
Ques. Do you mean that God in calling us to the fellowship of His Son has in mind that His features are to be seen in us as in the fellowship?
J.T. Certainly, otherwise the fellowship would be discredited. That it is the fellowship of His Son is the dignity of it.
- There is to be some reflection of the Son in those in the fellowship, and if there is to be that, there must be the fellowship of His death, that is chapter 10, and then the fellowship of the Spirit.
- Those three features must go together; they are characteristic. It is not so much the authority entering into the fellowship, but the characteristic features of it. It is the fellowship of God's Son.
J.D. Would you distinguish between the fellowship of "his Son" and "Jesus Christ our Lord"?
J.T. Sonship is the attractiveness and dignity of it, but "Jesus Christ our Lord" would be the authority of the Lord entering into it.
Eu.R. When it says, "by whom ye have been called into the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord", 1 Corinthians 1: 9, is that general to Christians now?
J.T. Yes, fellowship as Paul presents it. What he introduces is properly our fellowship, not exclusive of the others, but inclusive as to the principle of authority.
- The apostles' fellowship involves authority, and at the same time gives them a distinction that no others have.
Eu.R. But the faithfulness of God is behind this general fellowship right through.
J.T. Exactly; "God is faithful".
A.S. In Mark 13: 34 it says that He gave authority to His servants – who would they be?
J.T. They are just "bondmen". What is seen there runs right through. It is not a question of the apostles there, but bondmen; in whomsoever true bondmanship to God is found, authority is with them.
- That scripture enters specially into what we are speaking of. It is the authority there, you notice; it is not simply authority, but the authority, the whole idea, and that runs right through.
M.W.B. Would you say a word about the link between the doctrine and the fellowship? Is it possible for us to have the fellowship in a practical sense if the doctrine is wanting?
J.T. I think not. They are linked together in the passage, as you will observe:
- "they persevered in the teaching and fellowship of the apostles, in breaking of bread and prayers".
- Now, "in breaking of bread and prayers": this is not a question of the apostles. It is not the apostles' breaking of bread nor the apostles' prayers; it is just the "teaching and fellowship of the apostles"; the others flow out of the divine nature and the intelligence of the saints.
- The breaking of bread and prayer with all that follows shows what they were as the subjects of the work of God.
- But these two things – the teaching and fellowship of the apostles – are linked together. Aside from the teaching there could be no claim to the fellowship.
M.W.B. Does that go so far as the exhortation in the second epistle of John, that if one came and brought not the doctrine, there was to be the refusal of admission to the house?
J.T. Exactly. That was the point raised at Plymouth. It was a question of the doctrine, and not only the doctrine, but of clericalism primarily, which effectively nullified the fellowship.
M.W.B. What do you mean by clericalism in that sense?
J.T. Well, they had a set of ministers there who held the ministry in their hands, which in principle shut out the Spirit. Thus fellowship was involved.
- Subsequently the worst kind of doctrine developed. Bethesda in receiving from the meeting thus affected, committed itself to the evil.
- The passage you referred to bears on that; if one has not the doctrine, he is not to be received nor even to be bid God speed, because in doing so you are a partaker in his evil deeds – that is the idea of fellowship.
M.W.B. It should make us very careful as to how we link ourselves in any way with that which is so corrupt in Christianity professedly today.
J.T. The fellowship is the great bulwark we have, and it implies our loyalty to Christ, to the truth, and consistency with the death of Christ, and also our loyalty to one another. That is the way Paul develops the truth of fellowship.
- John says, "if we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another",
- not that we should have. John deals with things abstractly: "if we walk …", but Paul in 1 Corinthians brings out the thought of loyalty as to one another – I mean as committing ourselves –
- "we, being many, are one loaf"
- – and whether we are true to that when we are not assembled, whether we are consistent with it when we are not under each other's eyes.
E.P. If the man who does not bring the doctrine of Christ could not be received into our houses, could he be received into our gatherings?
J.T. Certainly not; the assembly is more holy than our houses. Other scriptures besides 2 John treat of the assembly's judgment of such a person.
F.S.M. Would Lydia furnish an illustration of what you are saying? She attended to the things spoken by Paul, and then she besought him, saying,
- "If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house and abide there", Acts 16: 15.
- Is there not the positive side that fellowship would give an open door to Paul and all connected with him?
J.T. Quite, it is the converse of John's second letter. One man is excluded because he does not bring the doctrine; another man is received, we may say, because be brings it. Lydia's heart was opened
- "to attend to the things spoken by Paul", Acts 16: 14.
H.M.S. Is it of value that those two principles are established in sisters – the elect lady in the epistle of John and Lydia in the book of Acts?
J.T. It is remarkable, showing the important place that sisters have in the fellowship.
- The elect lady is called upon to exercise discipline in her own locality. A lone sister may exercise discipline in that way. It is a question of fellowship.
- Whether l am in a large or small meeting, or even isolated, the fellowship must be maintained; the obligation is always present.
- So there is what we may call local fellowship, and general, but the general necessarily includes the local. There is really only one fellowship, but it takes a general bearing and a local bearing.
- The apostle Paul deals with it locally at Corinth, but when he says, "we, being many, are one loaf, one body", he is speaking of the general fellowship – not "ye", but "we".
J.A.P. What relation has eternal life to fellowship?
J.T. John's side of the truth is to give body to it; he speaks of what is substantial; here he uses the neuter pronouns "that" and "that which".
- In the first three verses "that which" appears four times; meaning that what he was presenting was substantial. Life is substantial; whether in Christ or in the saints. Here the apostle is referring to Christ, saying,
- "That which was from the beginning, that which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes; that which we contemplated, and our hands handled, concerning the word of life".
- It is no mere phantom or myth or theory; it is a substantial thing, so to speak, a thing handled and seen and contemplated.
- Later he speaks of the life as in the saints:
- "Which thing is true in him and in you", chapter 2: 8.
- That gives body to our fellowship. We have got something really enjoyable and attractive, which should be so to every Christian. All is that "your joy may be full". Why should we not have joy in our fellowship?
Ques. Do we have fellowship with the Father and the Son?
J.T. We ought to leave any particular scripture in its own setting. I should not deny for a moment that we have fellowship with the Father and His Son in a way, but why should we say that?
- The scripture, speaking through one of the apostles, says, "our fellowship", and ye "have fellowship with us"; it does not say 'ye' have fellowship with the Father and His Son.
- I am only remarking as to the importance of letting scripture have its full place with us. I know that many disregard the distinction – as other such distinctions – but we lose if we do. Let scripture speak for itself.
Eu.R. And in 1 Corinthians when the apostle says "ye", the bearing of that is on the saints in a locality, but when he says "our Lord", that involves what is universal, seeing he puts himself in.
- It would greatly strengthen things in localities, where things are small, to feel Paul bringing them within the embrace of the "our".
J.T. Just so. It is wonderful to dwell upon the dignity of what we are called into.
- There may be a Freemasons' lodge and other such things in the same town; that is, certain other fellowships, but we see the fellowship we have!
- A member of the Royal Family may be Grand Master of the Freemasons; but look at the fellowship we are in – the fellowship of God's Son!
- We ought to take that in; but then, the converse of that is the fellowship of His death, and therefore, the dignity we have spoken of as in the fellowship of God's Son, is not to make anything of us in the town.
- We have to be on our guard about these large meetings, because they do tend to make us something in the town. I am not deprecating them at all. May God grant there may be greater enlargement among the Lord's people; but the fellowship of God's Son is not to make us anything in the town, as of the town, but is rather like Bethany,
- "where was the dead man Lazarus whom Jesus raised from among the dead", John 12: 1:
- that is the position. He sat at the table with Him. That is all inward and spiritual.
- There is no thought of making anything of us in our localities as religious bodies; but the moral dignity is there, and this is maintained by the fellowship of Christ's death:
- "The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of the Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of the Christ?"
- That involves the general fellowship, but expressed locally. The Lord's death is thus shown, and this incurs reproach.
H.E.S. The same thought is seen in Ittai the Gittite who said,
- "As Jehovah liveth, and as my lord the king liveth, surely in what place my lord the king shall be, whether in death or life, even there also will thy servant be", 2 Samuel 15: 21.
J.T. Exactly. He had only come "yesterday", but he was in the fellowship, and he valued it. Wherever the king might be he would be, and that is the position; wherever the King is we should be. Christ is rejected as David was then, but nevertheless He is God's Son.
Ques. What have you in mind in referring to John 12 in regard to the "dead man Lazarus" being there?
J.T. In the way the facts are stated there is a moral bearing on Lazarus, that he did not belong any more to the town; he was not "a man about town"; as to the world he was a dead man.
- He was risen and brought back to normal life, but the way the Holy Spirit mentions it shows that the man had ceased to be a living man in relation to this world; he belonged to another world.
Eu.R. He would be dead to the religious and social circles in that town.
J.T. Yes. So that a company of Christians in any town or city, is not made anything more of by the fact that they are of the fellowship of God's Son; it does not enhance their position in the town.
- Chapter 10 puts them out of view, because partaking of the Lord's Supper means the communion or fellowship of the blood of Christ. He poured out His precious blood, and the body of Christ lay in death.
- That is what we have part in; that indeed is what we are feeding on; eating the bread and drinking the cup of the Lord's supper implies this; the eating and drinking is also a testimony to the Lord's death:
- "For as often as ye shall eat this bread, and drink the cup, ye announce the death of the Lord, until he come", 1 Corinthians 11: 26.
Eu.R. There is thus a stigma upon those in the fellowship.
J.T. It is a very searching matter; and I think we ought also to add the thought of the fellowship of His sufferings. The sufferings of Christ perhaps have not the place with us that the Lord would give them.
- We are to know the fellowship of His sufferings. That is a connection in which the word 'fellowship' is used that should never be out of our minds.
P.L. Assembly sorrows would enter into the fellowship of His sufferings.
H.O.S. When the apostle Paul said that he filled up
- "that which is behind of the tribulations of Christ in my flesh, for his body", Colossians 1: 24,
- was that his special distinction in regard of suffering?
J.T. It shows how he calculated what should mark the assembly in the way of suffering, that it was one of the features, and evidently the saints were behind in this.
- There was a need of filling up, and he did it in himself; so that I am sure the Lord would bring us into the participation or fellowship of His holy sufferings.
- As He entered Gethsemane, there was remarkable care and precision in what He was doing with His own. He wished them to be in full view of all that happened to Him. He said,
- "Sit here until I go away and pray yonder", Matthew 26: 36;
- a very touching thing, that some are just caused to sit down, while He goes some distance and prays. Then He took three with Him, and
- "began to be sorrowful and deeply depressed", Matthew 26: 37,
- and He sought that they should watch with Him. Then He withdrew from them a stone's throw, showing that there should be a full view.
- A stone's throw is not very far, not like the two thousand cubits that separated the ark from Israel: He was near enough to be in full view, so they could observe His agonies. Peter says of himself,
- "witness of the sufferings of the Christ", 1 Peter 5: 1.
- Now, these things were not written only for them, but that we might have a full view spiritually, and be able to see all that happened, in order that we might have fellowship in the sufferings.
M.W.B. You have drawn a distinction previously between the way Luke presents that scene, and Matthew and Mark, referring to the mount of Olives in Luke. Would you say a little more about that? Does it necessarily imply spiritual power?
J.T. I think so, and the word 'custom' is added: "according to his custom". That is not brought in in connection with Gethsemane.
- Gethsemane is more the pressure side. You only get Gethsemane in Matthew and Mark, and correspondingly the forsaking is only found in those two evangelists.
- Luke's way of mentioning it is to bring it within our range, to make it, as it were, easier for us. The pressure side is not stressed, but rather that it was a custom of the Lord's to go to the mount of Olives.
- He went to a place where He had been accustomed to go, and His disciples followed Him. If we get into His customs, we shall find they are not mere customs, but there is power in them.
- Then Luke tells us that He was helped by angelic ministry, which is another touch we can count upon. Luke's side is to make it possible for us, if Matthew and Mark stress severity of suffering.
H.E.S. In John's gospel the Lord's greatness and glory are seen, while in Luke it is how near He has come to us in suffering.
J.T. Yes. John gives us the ark going through Jordan, and the distance is maintained, but I think Luke would bring us near to it, and present it so that we might accept it more. You say, I can accept that much. The Lord will own you as having part in His sufferings if you do.
Ques. Have we on the one hand the privilege of entering into the Lord's sufferings, and then, are we also privileged to enter into the joy of the Lord as exalted among His brethren, like David?
J.T. Exactly. John gives us the joy side: "that your joy may be full".
Ques. If we enjoy that, is it something like the land of Goshen, where we have no dog-flies?
J.T. Just so. In fact, in the fellowship we are immune from all the plagues of Egypt.
M.W.B. You have referred to the fellowship in connection with the truth, and the sufferings of the Lord; would you say a word as to the way we involve our brethren in the question of fellowship?
J.T. I thought we should see that in 1 Corinthians 10, because that chapter has in view our every-day relations. It is the Lord's supper, and our participation in it is made to bear upon our public relations and conduct.
- The word 'communion' used here in the New Translation is perhaps a little misleading as to what is taught in the passage; because it has acquired a somewhat different meaning from its original as used by the apostle.
- The word 'communion' today is a common expression, used by persons in the denomination for
taking the sacrament: the holy communion, as they say. But, in truth, in that they are not thinking of their relations to others – their joint participation with them, they are only thinking of their communion with the Lord, in an individual way, which is not the idea at all.
- The idea is that the Lord's supper is a joint matter, that we as brethren in any given locality have partnership, or are joint participators in something, and that something involves the death of Christ, that is, the blood of Christ and the body of Christ; then further, that, inasmuch as that fact is so solemn, it is to enter into all our public relations and conduct.
- I am not only under obligation to the Lord in that, for He is not regarded as in the fellowship; the fellowship is among the saints. We are in the fellowship, and it is the fellowship of His blood and of His body. That is characteristic, but the fellowship is that in which we partake.
- It is a question therefore of my conduct, and whether I feel under obligation to the brethren, both locally and generally.
H.O.S. Would that have been seen with Ruth when she sat down and dipped the bread in the vinegar?
J.T. Quite so; she had part in what the reapers had. She was not to go into any other field; but that is what young Christians do sometimes: they go into another field and become damaged.
J.D. Speaking of the obligations of the fellowship, do they exist whether we break bread or not?
J.T. It is well to go by the scriptures. The obligation is placed on what we are doing, upon the cup which we bless, and the bread which we break; and then again, it says,
- "as often as ye shall eat this bread, and drink the cup".
- The obligation is attached to what we are doing. That is, am I in the fellowship? If I am in the fellowship, then I express it as in the breaking of bread; I am not in it otherwise. The obligation attaches to that.
M.W.B. It is not always seen that any action in any sphere of our life involves our brethren. Is that not the meaning of the fellowship?
J.T. That is just the idea. We are joint partakers, and so, if someone has some particular view of the truth and carries it on apart from the brethren, it is a denial of the fellowship.
- It is not that we always see eye to eye in everything, but we are
- "using diligence to keep the unity of the Spirit in the uniting bond of peace", Ephesians 4: 3.
- There is no lower standard than that. Then there is the "unity of the faith"; but if I take up a line of teaching which is regarded as unscriptural, and I persist in it, and refuse entreaties and exhortations and admonitions, well, I simply deny the fellowship, and, not only that, but I am not hearing the assembly.
- One may say. Where is the assembly? But then, the light intended to govern it governs us. There are those who are walking in the light of the assembly, and the Lord is with them, and disregard of their entreaties and admonitions is simply that I am not hearing the assembly.
- That is the way the truth stands; to refuse it is an absolute denial of the principles of the fellowship.
Ques. And would such a one be amenable to discipline?
J.T. Certainly. Not hearing the assembly renders him a subject of discipline.
- "An heretical man after a first and second admonition have done with", Titus 3: 10.
- It is the refusal of admonition that immediately occasions the discipline.
M.W.B. Is it not equally applicable to the question of associations, such as unequal yokes? Do we involve our brethren in matters of that kind – marriage, for instance?
J.T. We do. It is remarkable that we have such a long chapter on it in this very epistle, which is the "law of the house". The Corinthians had apparently written to the apostle about the subject of marriage, and he had entered into it at length, stressing that it must be "in the Lord".
F.G.W. What about Christians who have never broken bread? How do they stand in regard of this scripture?
J.T. Well, they have to deal with the Lord as to that. They are neglecting His request, and they are outside the circle of those who do; we pray for them.
- We cannot impose obligations on them until they actually break bread, for that is the way the truth is stated.
- "The Lord knows those that are his", 2 Timothy 2: 19, and
- "I rebuke and discipline as many as I love", Revelation 3: 19,
- indicating that we may claim them for the fellowship, but they are not in it. They do not partake of the Lord's table, for we cannot do this save as consistent with it.
- These "cannots" in the passage are to be noted. It says,
- "Ye cannot drink the Lord's cup, and the cup of demons: ye cannot partake of the Lord's table, and of the table of demons. Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than he?"
- People enquire sometimes whether that means nominal Christians who partake of the so-called sacrament. We would not infer that they are partaking of the table of demons. They are not, unless indeed we refer to the Mass in the Romish system;
- but what we can say about every independent company is, that it is not the Lord's table, and that is enough.
Eu.R. What does the Lord's table convey to you here in this chapter?
J.T. The stress is on the Lord; He dominates it; it is a question of food, but partaken of in this dignified, exclusive setting.
Eu.R. Is it administration?
J.T. It is the centre of the Christian system in this sense, as over against Judaism and
heathenism. The allusion is evidently to the bread. It is His table, what He furnishes as food.
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|KEY TO INITIALS|
|AUTHORITY in DOCTRINE and FELLOWSHIP – 1 and 2|
Readings with J. Taylor Sr. at Birmingham, 1933
Names and localities are from personal knowledge and Andrew Robertson,
and believed to be accurate, except that a leading ? = uncertain or unknown.
Initials for which names are unknown are not listed. GAR
Malcolm W. Biggs, Enfield
Dr. C. C. Elliott, South Africa
W. C. Grimsdick, Hayward's Heath
Fred Ide, Teddington
Percy Lyon, London
Fred S. Marsh, Northampton
Dr. Joseph A. Parkes, Bristol
William R. Phave, Cirencester
Eustace Roberts, Worcester
H. E. Sargent, Wolverhampton
Herbert M. Shedden, Birmingham
J. R. Swift, London-Clapton
James Taylor, New York
F. G. Ward, Stowmarket
Page Top Key to Initials Top