Archives for the month of: November, 2012

The Tabernacle in the Wilderness

Jehovah of old walked in Eden and held communion with Adam. He visited the patriarchs, the fathers of the nation, but He never had a home on earth until the Tabernacle was erected in the midst of His redeemed people.

– The Human Intention, Exodus 15:2 – “I will prepare Him an habitation” said the people.

– The Divine Request, Exodus 25:8 – “Let them make me a sanctuary that I may dwell among them,” said Jehovah.

 

The Tabernacle

Three questions might be asked regarding this Tabernacle: (1) What is a Tabernacle? (2) Why was the Tabernacle built? And (3) How was the Tabernacle constructed?

1. The Tabernacle was the Place of the Divine Presence. When the tabernacle was finished, the glory of Jehovah so filled the sacred enclosure that Moses, the mediator, could not enter (Exodus 40:35).

2. The Tabernacle was to meet a Divine Purpose. Moses didn’t build a tabernacle and then invite God to come into it. Instead, it was God who conceived the plan and instructed Moses on how it was to be built, for He desired to dwell among His redeemed and chosen people.

3. The Tabernacle was constructed according to a Divine Pattern. “Look that thou make them after the pattern which was showed thee on the mount,” (See Exodus 25:40). It was because these things had a spiritual meaning that they were to be made according to a heavenly pattern.

The Tabernacle was “a pattern of things in the Heavens” (Hebrews 9:23), a “figure for the time then present” (Hebrews 9:9), and “a shadow of good things to come” (Hebrews 10:1). It was positioned in the midst with the tribes encamped in perfect order around it. The pattern of the Tabernacle was as follows: The Outer Court, the Holy Place, and the Holy of Holies.

The Purpose of the Tabernacle:

– For God, it was a Tabernacle (that is a dwelling place).

– For Israel, it was a teacher instructing them in the things of God.

– For the Nations, a Testimony. Declaring the glory of God.

 

The Court (Exodus 27:9-19)

A wall of white linen symbolizes divine righteousness. God distinguishes between holy and unholy. There is also a distinction between the outside and the inside. The sinner approaching God’s presence must be convicted of righteousness.  

The Gate

The gate of the court was to be made of fine twined linen, symbolizing the purity of Christ. [Consider the colors: blue represents His heavenly origin, purple – His harmonizing ability, and Scarlet – His humility in life and death] This was the only way into the tabernacle and everyone coming into God’s presence must come by the way of this gate. The gate was large enough and accessible to all who approached regardless of age, ability, or authority. They all had to enter through the same gate. At the gate was the place of personal decision. One could decide to remain on the unholy outside in rejection or step, by faith, into the precinct of the holy inside.

Acceptance and Assurance Inside the Court

– Encircled by a wall of righteousness. What was dreaded on the outside gives peace on the inside.

– Supported by a foundation of divine justice. Brass sockets and pins indicating that sin had been righteously judged.

– Protected by the unbroken line of redemption (silver chapters, fillers, and hooks made from the redemption silver).

– Privileged to assemble with God’s people and to listen to the announcements of God’s word.

 

The Brazen Altar

The Brazen Altar sets forth the Person and Work of the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

In Relation to God: His Grace and His Government

The Place of the Altar

The place of the altar relative to the other pieces of furniture teaches us that God comes out from the mercy-seat by way of the Table of showbread, the Golden Lamp stand, and out to the brazen altar. This is a display of the grace of God when God acts in His Sovereignty and devises the means whereby He can come out and reveal Himself to man.

The Purpose of the Altar

The altar represents the claims of God as a holy and righteous God. He has claims that must be satisfied before He can, in mercy, meet with man and bless him. The sacrifice reduced to ashes, and the blood poured out reminds us that God in government declares, “Without the shedding of blood there is no remission.”

 

In Relation to Christ:

The Suitability of Christ to Meet God’s Claims

The substance of the altar was wood and brass and this twofold composition would set forth the perfect humanity and the deity of the Savior. This unique unity gave Him the suitability to meet God’s claims. Remove His deity and His blood cannot atone. Remove His humanity and no blood remains. But this perfect combination enables Him to bear the judgment and shed His blood and so meet the righteous claims of God.

The Sufficiency of Christ to Meet Man’s Need

The altar, as to its shape, was foursquare, and this would suggest a universal presentation of the cross-work of Christ. The altar, as to its size, was the largest piece of furniture in the tabernacle. The altar was capable of holding within itself every sacrifice that was commanded to be offered. So Christ, in Himself, by His one sacrifice fulfilled all the offerings, and became the answer to the sinner’s need.

 

In Relation to Man:

The Position of the Altar

The altar was positioned just inside the gate and was easily accessible. It was unavoidable and unmistakable to the approaching Israelite. This was the way of approach to God, and the sinner must come to God by way of the cross.

The Provision of the Altar

The provision of the altar teaches us that herein lies its value both to God and man. The sinner does not rest upon the unique character of Christ, nor His wondrous birth, or sinless life, but rather upon His finished work of reconciliation; and so the sinner appropriates the Savior by an act of faith. “By faith I lay my hand on that dear head of Thine; with a broken and contrite heart I stand and there confess my sin.”

 

The Brazen Laver

The brazen laver had to do with the work of the priests and their entering in to engage in the service of the sanctuary. Three lines of truth may be developed relative to the brazen laver. The Laver emphasizes the purity of God, exposes the pollution of man, and explains the provision of Christ.

It Teaches the Purity of God

They who minister before the Lord must be clean. The laver warns that no defilement may approach the Lord. Every time the priest entered into the Holy Place, he must wash. Purity of the heart is a necessity for seeing God. “Without holiness no man shall see The Lord.” Washing at the laver was a matter of necessity and not a matter of opinion.

It Teaches the Pollution of Man

In the inauguration of the priesthood we learn that the priest was CALLED, thenCLEANSED, CLOTHED, and CONSECRATED. The priest on the day of his consecration was brought to the door of the tabernacle and washed all over with water. This washing was performed for the priest by another person. The priest had no hand in it whatsoever, and throughout the entire period of his priesthood this act was never repeated. However, the once cleansed priest could easily defile his hands and his feet. Hands speak of work and feet speak of walk, and we also like the priest in Israel, can become defiled and require cleansing our hands and our feet.

The priest approaching the laver would see himself reflected both in the laver and in the water that was in the laver, thus reminding him of the need for daily cleansing. The standard of holiness as seen in the person of Christ and also revealed in the Word, teaches us the need for being clean before the Lord.

It Teaches the Provision of Christ

He, who demands purity, provides the purifying stream. The laver would be filled with water that gushed from the smitten rock. The laver then was filled with water and not with blood.

The Altar was for the sinner, but the laver was for the priest. It was blood shed and sprinkled at the altar, but water to cleanse at the laver. For priestly sanctuary service the laver was indispensable, and the daily cleansing was needful. Christ revealed that in the Word is the measure of our practical cleansing. “Sanctify them through thy truth; Thy Word is truth” says John 17:17. “That He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of the water by The Word” (Ephesians 5:26). “Now ye are clean through the Word which I have spoken unto you” (John 15:3).

 

The Tabernacle: Its Symbolic Meaning

The Door

The gate to the court was for the common people. It measured 5 cubits high and 20 cubits long and was upheld by four pillars. But the door was ten cubits high and ten cubits wide, and was only for the priests. The priest approaching God for fellowship and worship should have a higher appreciation of Christ than the sinner who approaches the gate for salvation.

The Pillars

The pillars were five in number, and may remind us that Christ in glory is presented in a fivefold manner by the five writers of the epistles: Paul, James, Peter, John and Jude. The pillars were upheld by sockets of brass and crowned with golden chapters. The sufferings of the cross were at the base, and the crown of glory was at the top. The hanging was of pure linen with the variegated colors like the gate.

The Curtains and Coverings

Approaching from the outside, the order was:

– The Badger skins

– Rams’ skins, dyed red

– Goat’s Hair curtains

– Fine twined linen

1. Badger Skins – This is termed a covering, presenting Christ as the separate one. “And shod thee with badger skins” (See Ezekiel 16:10). This reference to badger skins sheds light on the meaning of this covering.

2. Rams’ Skin, Dyed Red – This is also termed a covering, presenting Christ as the substitute. The ram is the animal of substitution, as it takes the place of another. Take the case of Isaac in Genesis 22 and the firstborn in Exodus 12.

3. The Goat’s Hair Curtains – These are termed the tent, presenting Christ as the sin offering. The goat was pre-eminently the sin offering. Compare Leviticus 16:5-10. On the Day of Atonement the sin offering took precedence over the burnt offering. In Matthew 25:32-33 the goats represent sinners.

4. The Fine Twined Linen Curtains – Termed the tabernacle, presenting Christ as the supreme one. Only the priests who functioned in the Holy Place were able to see and admire the beauty of these innermost curtains.

The Fine Twined Linen: the man of holy character – PURITY.

The Blue – the man of heavenly origin – DEITY.

The Purple – The man of harmonizing ability – DIGNITY.

The Scarlet – The man of humble character – HUMILITY.

The Cherubim – The man of highest position – MAJESTY.

Join all the glorious names of wisdom, love, and power, that mortals ever knew, that angels ever bore; All are too mean to speak HIS worth, too mean to set His glories forth.

 

The Boards

The solid structure of the tabernacle was composed of forty-eight boards. Twenty boards formed the North Wall and twenty boards formed the south wall. Six boards formed the west wall, plus two corner boards (or mitered boards).

All these boards were made of shittim wood and overlaid with gold. Here again we have a combination of that which speaks of Christ’s humanity and deity with each board expressing the same fundamental truth. Christ is seen in each board and also in the structure as a whole.

Christ’s Humanity: Expressed in the Incorruptible Shittim Wood

The shittim wood once grew as a tree in the desert, having an earth connection. Christ also grew as a tender plant out of the dry ground.

– His incarnation and His life on earth.

– The tree had to be cut down in its prime in order to be used.

– Christ was cut off in the midst of His years at Calvary.

– These boards were overlaid with gold and were standing up.

– His resurrection was proof of His Deity.

Christ’s Deity: Expressed in the Overlay of Pure Gold

Declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of Holiness by the resurrection out from among the dead. Each board standing up and overlaid with pure gold sets forth Christ, the eternal Son, in the divine glory and dignity of His person.

Redemption: Expressed by the Silver Sockets

See Exodus 30:12-16. This silver was the atonement money, so Christ in His resurrection is proof of atonement made and the work completely finished to God’s satisfaction.

Unity: Expressed by the Bars

These bars would give balance and stability to the whole structure, suggesting that the perfect balance of Christ gives unity to every aspect of His character. The position of the five bars would suggest that Christ had a perfect balance. See below:

Christ fulfilled the law toward God and man.

Two bars on top – There is a balance Godward.

Two bars beneath – There is a balance manward.

Continuity of character in the person of Christ.

    One bar in the midst. This bar extended the whole distance from end to end.

Dignity: Expressed by the Rings

There were three rings in each board, and since the number three is indicative of heaven and the trinity, we are reminded that “IN HIM” dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.

 

The Golden Lamp Stand (Exodus 25:31-36, Exodus 37:17-23, Exodus 39:37, Exodus 40:24-25)

This provided divine light in The Holy Place in the power of The Holy Spirit. The lamp stand with its vessels was beaten out from one talent of pure gold – a talent being approximately 120 pounds in weight. Gold was the first thing mentioned in connection with the gifts to be given by the redeemed people for the building of the tabernacle. The lamp stand was not cast in some man-made mould. It was not made in sections then fabricated into a finished article. It was beaten into shape and beauty from one block of pure gold.

The Ornamentation of the Lamp Stand was as follows:

– One central stalk with a main branch on the perpendicular.

– Three branches springing from each side and corresponding to each other.

– Ornamented with bowls, knops, and flowers.

Compare this with Isaiah 11:1-2: A Rod out of the stem of Jesse and a branch shall grow out of his roots. Note also the Spirit of Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Might, Knowledge, and Fear of the Lord. Compare also with 1 Timothy 3:16 (Great is the mystery of Godliness). Consider the following: God was manifested in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, appeared to angels, preached to the nations, believed on in the world, and received up into glory.

Its Position

– It was in the holy place.

– It stood upon the desert sand.

– It was placed on the south side.

Its Purpose

– To give light in the holy place.

– To shine upon itself and thus exhibit its beauty.

– To provide light for the priest to function first at the table of communion and then at the altar of worship.

Its Perfection

– Seven lamps setting forth light in perfection.

– Pure white light can be broken into seven colors (the rainbow).

 

The Table of Showbread (Exodus 25:23-30 and Exodus 40:22-23, and Leviticus 24:5-9)

This is the first mention of a table in the Scriptures and it teaches the true basis of fellowship or communion between God and His people.

The Glory of the Person of Christ

The Materials: Shittim Wood overlaid with Pure Gold. This sets forth the Humanity and Deity of the Lord Jesus Christ. These truths must be received with scriptural accuracy, and held with spiritual energy, guarded with holy jealousy, and then confessed with heavenly power.

The Glory of the Purity of Christ

Pure Gold – Pure Bread – Pure Frankincense: From eternity to eternity, Christ ever retains his Holy Character. He is the Holy God. He became the Holy Child. He lived as the Holy Man. He was holy in birth, in life, and in death. He is the Holy One.

The Glory of the Position of Christ

1. The Perpetuity of His Position: The Showbread was always before the face of God. So, Christ in glory is accepted before God in Perpetuity.

2. The Power of His Position: The bread accepted by God became the food of the priests. This bread sustained the priests in their ministry in the sanctuary. So Christ is the food of His people and He is able to sustain them.

The Glory of the Provision of Christ

Christ provides a communion between God and His People. Consider 2 Corinthians 6:14-18: What FELLOWSHIP hath Righteousness and Unrighteousness? WhatCOMMUNION hath Light and Darkness? What CONCORD hath CHRIST and Belial? What PART hath Believer with Infidel? What AGREEMENT hath Temple of God with Idols?

 

The Golden Altar (Exodus 30:1-10, 34, 38, and Exodus 37:25-28)

Some contrasts, comparisons, and connections between the two altars:

– They were both constructed with shittim wood. The Brazen Altar was strengthened with brass. The Golden Altar was beautified with gold.

– The Brazen Altar was outside, in view of all the people. The Golden Altar was inside and in view only by the priests.

– The Brazen Altar had no crown – Christ in His humiliation. The Golden Altar had a crown – Christ in His exaltation.

– Both altars were foursquare, a sign of solidity and equality. At the Brazen Altar, Christ is seen dying for the whole world. At the Golden Altar He is interceding for the whole church.

– Both altars had four horns. Horns on the Brazen Altar constituted the strength for and protection of any guilty sinner laying hold upon them. Horns on the Golden Altar provided strength and refuge for the weakest saint in the presence of God.

– On the Day of Atonement blood was shed at the Brazen Altar, but it was put on the horns of the golden altar.

Worship can only be offered on the basis of an accepted sacrifice.

In connection with the service of the priest at the Golden Altar, it is interesting to note the composition of the incense. See Exodus 30:34-38. The time when the priest offered the incense was morning and evening. Every day of the year except one: The Day of Atonement. Also, note the things that prevented a priest from functioning at the altar. See Leviticus 21:16-24.

 

The Veil (Exodus 26:31-32, Matthew 27:51, and Hebrews 10:19-20)

A number of veils are spoken of in the scriptures, but each one conveys the same idea of that which comes between and hides. There may be differences of judgment in the interpretation of certain parts of the tabernacle or things connected with it, but the spiritual significance of the veil is beyond dispute, because Hebrews 10 makes it clear.

The Construction of the Veil

– It was construction according to a Divine Pattern.

– It was cunning work of fine twined linen.

– It had colors of blue, purple, and scarlet.

– It had cherubim, which indicated that God’s presence was guarded.

The Position of the Veil

Between the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies, signifying that the way into the holiest was not yet open. The presence of God could not be entered, and His glory could not be seen so long as there was an unrent veil and an unstained mercy seat. Note that four pillars supported the veil, and the life of Christ is presented and supported by a fourfold testimony.

The Rending of the Veil

Take note – It was the veil of the temple that was rent. While they were different veils they presented the same truth. The Historical Fact: Matthew, Mark and Luke record the rending of the veil. It took place when Christ had finished the work on Calvary. It took place while the priest would be in the temple. The Divine Act:

– It was rent from the top to bottom.

– It was a divine miracle, an act of God.

– It was rent in the midst.

– It gave direct access into the presence of God.

– It was rent throughout.

– It was a finished work, indicating that God’s claims were fully met.

 

Done is the work that saves, once and forever done;

Finished the righteousness that clothes the unrighteous one

Why stand ye then without in fear

The Blood of Christ invites you near.

 

The Ark and the Mercy Seat (Exodus 25:10-22)

The construction of the Ark, in Exodus 25:10-11, was of shittim wood (the wood of the wilderness). This represents His humanity. The gold was used, setting forth the glory of His Deity. The golden crown of the Ark, in Exodus 25:11, foreshadowed the person of Christ, glorified in the presence of God, and crowned with glory and honor.

The carrying of the Ark is found in Exodus 25:12-15. The Ark was to be carried by the rings and the staves; this way its weight would be felt (compare 2 Samuel 6 with 1 Chronicles 15). The contents of the Ark, in Exodus 25:16, are important and symbolize the following:

The Tables of The Law = The Purity of Christ (See Exodus 16 and 21)

The Golden Pot of Manna = The Provision of Christ (See Exodus 16:33)

Aaron’s Rod that Budded = The Priesthood of Christ (See Numbers 17:10)

[Note: compare this with Hebrews 9:4] The Covering of the Ark is in Exodus 25:17.

The cherubim over the Ark, in Exodus 25:18-21, set forth the attributes of God as necessarily characterizing the action of His throne (justice and judgment). Compare Genesis 3:24 with Psalm 39:14. At the mercy seat, justice and judgment have been fully measured out.

Consider the cloud overshadowing the Ark, in Exodus 40:36-38:

1. The Cloud was their gathering center – When the cloud stood still, the people encamped around in orderly fashion.

2. The Cloud was their guide – When the cloud moved, the people followed (from Egypt to Canaan)

3. The Cloud was their guard – In time of trouble, it stood between them and the foe.

4. The Cloud was their guarantee – As long as the cloud was there, they knew that God was in their midst.

The communication at the Ark is seen in Exodus 25:22. It was here at the mercy seat that God communicated with the people through the person of the anointed priest.

The mercy seat was sustained and measured by the Ark of the testimony. It could only be a mercy seat when sprinkled with the blood of sacrifice. The blood was on the gold. Death was a necessity before God, in His righteousness, could show mercy. (Romans 3:24-26 says, “…The redemption which is in Christ Jesus.”)

By: Daniel Snaddon

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The Significance of the Altar

The Altar Typifies Prayer – It was small, but large enough to serve its purpose. Note that it is not the long prayer that avails much, but the prayer of faith. We are not heard for our vain repetitions, but “the fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”

The Altar is a Type of Christ – Christ is the one through whom our prayers and praises ascend to God. Note His high priestly office (see Hebrews 8:1 and Hebrews 7:25). We have a high priest seated at the right hand of God. He is able to save to the uttermost –saying He ever liveth to make intercession for them.

 

The Components of the Altar

The altar was made of wood overlaid with gold. It was 1½ ft. by 1½ ft. by 3 ft. high. As previously stated the material speaks of the Lord’s humanity and deity.

There were horns situated at each of the four corners – similar to the brazen altar. The horns on the brazen altar spoke of the “power in the blood,” while these horns speak of the “power of prayer” and Christ Himself. They were sprinkled with blood from the brazen altar once a year on the Day of Atonement. God never forgets the suffering His Son endured for us. “One thousand years as one day […].” We must never forget the efficacy of the blood of Christ. To verify that the horns speak of Christ, see Luke 1:69. Zechariah, John the Baptist’s father, said, “God hath raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David.”

The crown speaks of exaltation. A golden crown was placed around the top of the altar. This gives us a picture of Christ exalted. It is only because Christ was resurrected and exalted to the right hand of God that we can expect to realize the power of answered prayer. See Hebrews 9:24.

 

The Location of the Altar (Exodus 40:5)

The golden altar was placed before the throne – before the ark of testimony (see Revelation 8:3). In other words, it was placed in God’s presence. This typifies our Great High Priest in the presence of God making intercession on our behalf (see Hebrews 7:25).

The golden altar was placed according to a divine plan. So also our Lord Jesus resides in the presence of God according to this divine plan. There is one notable difference between what we have in the tabernacle and what is in heaven today. In the tabernacle, we have the veil. This separated the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place. At the crucifixion this veil was rent. We now have access into God’s presence. Under the Law, the high priest could only enter the Holy of Holies once a year and only on the merits of shed blood. How we should praise God for His unspeakable gift – for Him who opened up the way to the throne of grace.

 

The Incense of the Altar

The altar fire was taken from off of the brazen altar and the incense was sprinkled on it morning and evening. Incense is a symbol of prayer. Psalm 141:2 says, “Let my prayer be set before Thee as incense.” In Revelation 5:8, odors are equivalent to incense, which are “the prayers of the saints.” Aaron, the high priest, offered the incense. Aaron is a figure of the Lord Jesus Christ in heaven, offering up prayer on behalf of those who are His.

There is a danger in thinking that Christ only came to die for our sins. In one sense His work is done, but in another His work still continues today. As our Great High Priest, He intercedes for us before God. “To all our prayers and praises, Christ adds His sweet perfume; and love the censer raises, their odors to consume.”

Introduction

There were two pieces of furniture in the outer court: the brazen altar and the brazen laver. The brazen altar was twice the height of the ark. When we think of an altar, we think of worship and sacrifice. An altar is a place of humiliation and submission for the Israelite. The altar provides the ministry of reconciliation.

This is what happened when we came to the Cross for salvation. We were humbled as sinners and we submitted to the Lamb of God, then we received salvation. We threw ourselves on the mercy of God. The atonement not only saves us, but also glorifies God. Immediately after our conversion, we hungered for spiritual food – God’s holy Word, which would equate with the laver. When the priests had sacrificed to God, their next appointment was the brazen laver. They could not serve apart from using the laver. The laver suggests separation and sanctification.

 

The Brazen Altar

The altar reminds us of Hebrews 9:22, “without the shedding of blood.” There was no entrance to God’s presence except by blood. In this age, there is no entrance into the presence of God except through the sacrifice and blood of Christ. With this truth in view, it is significant that the altar was built foursquare. This suggests its sufficiency for Israel as they encamped on its four sides. In an even greater degree, it depicts the sacrifice of Christ, on the altar of the Cross, as sufficient to meet the need of the world. In virtue of this glorious truth, the risen triumphant Lord could say to His disciples, “Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature.”

There were two materials used in the building of the altar: acacia wood and brass. Note at this point that all the vessels in the Holy and Most Holy place were covered with pure gold.

 

The Acacia Wood

The acacia wood speaks of our Lord’s incorruptible humanity.

1. This wood was indestructible. Man and demon tried to mar His character and destroy Him. [Describe] The Lord withstood the wiles of the devil and the hatred of man. He also triumphed in and over the judgment and wrath of God against sin. Parts of this tree were also made into medicine to meet the needs of the sick.

2. The acacia tree grew in the desert. It possessed a long top root through which it maintained life from hidden resources. Consider Luke’s account of our Lord as the perfect man engaging in prayer on seven major occasions. Isaiah 53:2 speaks prophetically of our Lord, that He would “grow up as a root out of dry ground.” This is the man-ward aspect. The God-ward aspect was entirely different. “He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant.”

3. The acacia wood was covered with brass (copper). The ancients evidently had a process of hardening copper that made it the most fire-resistant of all metals. This metal speaks to us of Christ who alone could endure the fierceness of the wrath of God. Hebrews 12:1-3 says, “He endured the Cross, despising the shame.”

 

The Brass

God’s judgment would have consumed mere man instantly. The fact that the brass (or copper) speaks of the fierceness of the wrath of God against sin is further evidenced by the incident in Numbers 16. The earth swallowed up Korah, with his fellow rebels Dathan and Abiram. Then fire came down from the Lord and consumed the 250 men who had offered incense in this brass censer.

Moses commanded Eleazar to take the censers out of the fire; the reason given for this is “that they are hallowed.” Then their censers were taken and made into broad plates, which completely covered the altar on all four sides. This was to be a sign to the Jews of the judgment of God upon any who would approach Him in their own way and not in the God-appointed way.

 

The Altar as a Type

The altar is a type of the Cross – the grating midway (meaning “lifted up”).

The altar was the only place where the Israelite could obtain a postponement of divine judgment. His sins were covered. The Cross of Christ is the only place where a sinner can receive forgiveness of sins, be justified, and reconciled.

The horns pointed in all directions telling us that the power of the blood is available to all mankind, inclusive of Jews and Gentiles, whites and blacks, learned and unlearned, and rich and poor alike. The horns also speak of power. It is interesting that horns were found on the altar of incense, which represents prayer. The power of the blood and the power of prayer are suggested thoughts here.

Animal sacrifices are a type of Christ (The Lamb and the Fire). Animals were subjected to the intense heat of the fire, which represents Christ’s sufferings. There was no substitute for Him as in Isaac’s case. Stoves represent the pilgrim character as well as the gospel, the death and resurrection.

 

The Brazen Laver

(Exodus 30:17-21, Exodus 38:8, Exodus 40:7)

The brazen laver was one of the two vessels that stood in the outer court of the tabernacle. It stood between the brazen altar and the door of the tabernacle. The laver was to be made out of the mirrors of the women who assembled at the door of the congregation (see Exodus 38:8). The Egyptians had developed the technique of polishing brass so that one could see their reflections. For some, what they saw was gratifying. For others, it meant that what they saw needed some improvement; so the mirrors were instruments of self-gratification.

The Jewish women were no different from the Egyptians in this respect and evidently had brought large quantities of these looking glasses with them. These they surrendered to the Lord and His service to be used to make that that typified the need for personal holiness. This is an important factor in a believer’s life – surrender and sanctification. Hebrews 12:14 says, “Follow…Holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.”

There was no measurement given for the laver. This was mainly because there is not limit to the holiness that God would wish for His people to show. 1 Peter 1:16 says, “Be ye holy: for I am holy.” In the context of the mirror, James reminds us that the Word is a mirror. Read James 1:22-25. If we want a good look at ourselves we should read the Word.

In Psalm 119, the Word is called the judgment of God fifteen times. What the Law was to the Israelite, the Word should be to the believer. We no sooner begin to read the Word than we find we are being judged by it. As sinners, we were judged for our sin – condemned. We saw ourselves without Christ – eternally lost. As believers we read of the holiness of God, then we read of our own sinfulness of heart and it drives us “to our knees” in confession. Like Peter we say, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man.”

The laver was a small vessel, yet it met the need of every priest. Though the Word of God is small, it can meet the need for the cleansing of every believer. It is interesting to note that there are no measurements given as to the size of the laver. Being a picture of the Word, it reminds us that the Word cannot be measured. The Bible is a wonderful book, but it cannot be measured or be contained in any one vessel. It never needs to be repaired.

 

The Water of the Laver 

The laver was filled with water. The water was for the cleansing of the priests. [Describe the defilement] At his consecration, the priest was bathed all over by Moses at the laver. This bathing had to be done but once (see Leviticus 8:6) and done by another. But, in his service for God, the priest had to wash his hands and feet every time he entered into the Holy Place (see Exodus 30:19-21). The penalty for not doing so was death (see Exodus 30:20-21). The original washing typifies regeneration in our day, an experience that is never repeated. It also explains the Lord’s word to Peter, “He that is washed (completely) needeth not save to wash (partially) his feet, but is clean every whit.” (John 13:10)

The water in the laver is the Word of God. [Give the guide here as to how to discern between the Word and the Spirit when water is mentioned] If the water is still, it is the Word. If the water is moving, it is the Spirit. So then, the water in the laver speaks to us of the Word of God being applied by the Spirit of God. They that are in the flesh cannot please God (see Romans 8:8).

Psalm 49:9 says, “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way.” John 15:3 says, “Now ye are clean through the Word which I have spoken unto you.” The church is constantly being “cleansed and sanctified with the washing of water by the Word” (see Ephesians 5:26). How important it is that we should often apply the Word of God, by the power of the Spirit to our lives.

 

Conclusion

Let me sum up the contents of our talk: It was mandatory for the priest to wash at the laver before entering God’s presence in service. If he should fail to wash, he would die (see Exodus 30:20-21). The application for us today is:

1. If we fail to come regularly for cleansing from the Word, we will die spiritually.

2. If we fail to apply the Word to our lives before serving God, His judgment will rest upon us.

Brethren, we should apply the Word often to our lives. We should confess our sins in the light of the Word. Then, and only then, will we be in a spiritual condition to serve and worship God acceptably.

 

By: Daniel  Snaddon

The Lord Jesus uttered seven phrases from the cross. The middle phrase was the shuddering cry of desolation and devastation, spoken in a loud voice: “My God, my God why hath thou forsaken me?” (See Matthew 22:46 and Mark 15:34) It is significant what precedes and follows this cry. The first phrase Jesus uttered was, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34) Jesus’ final statement, spoken again in a loud voice was, “Father, into Thy hands I commend My Spirit.” (Luke 23:46) Between these two cries there is Emmanuel crying out, once again loudly, to his Father: “My God, my God.” The apostle John is actually the only author of the Gospels who mentions Jesus adding here, “It is finished.” (John 19:30)

We should also note the two instances where the Lord was offered a drink while on the cross. “The Lord said, ‘I thirst.’ Now a vessel full of sour wine was sitting there; and they filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on hyssop, and put it to His mouth.” (John 19:28-29) Then Jesus is offered “vinegar to drink mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it.” (Matthew 27:34) It has been suggested that this combination of vinegar and gall could have been somewhat of a pain reliever, a stupefying potion, or an opiate that would ease the physical suffering of Jesus. Yet Jesus refused to drink the mixture.

In this scene on Calvary we should also note Jesus’ evident loneliness on the cross, because Jesus appeared quite alone during this experience. For example, Matthew 27:27-40 tells of how “the soldiers mocked Him” and “the people ridiculed Him.” In Matthew 27:41-44, “the scribes taunted Him,” and “the thieves despised Him.” Previously, Jesus had pointed out His critics, saying, “The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners.” (Matthew 11:19) He was declared a blasphemer and an imposter, and yet He was a friend to all. The people, the ones He came to save, had betrayed Him and crucified Him.

Psalm 69 presents the Lord’s broken heart in His death: “Reproach hath broken my heart; and I am full of heaviness: and I looked for some to take pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none…they hated Me without a cause.” Let us also note what others said of the Messiah’s innocence. In Luke 8:25, Jesus’ audience marveled at Him and asked one another, “What manner of man is this?” Judas said, “I have betrayed innocent blood.” (Matthew 27:4) Even Pontius Pilate’s wife exhorted her husband, “Have nothing to do with that just man” and then Pilate later claimed, “I find no fault in Him” and washed his hands of the matter to declare his own innocence. (See Matthew 27:19 and John 18:38) On the cross, the dying thief proclaimed, “He has done nothing amiss” and the centurion witnessing Jesus’ death declared, “Truly, this was the Son of God.” (Luke 23:41 and Matthew 27:54) So when Jesus cried out, “Why hath thou forsaken me?” this was the first and only time this question was ever asked. At this point an eternal unbroken communion was broken. This communion between the Son and the Father is unfathomable and unexplainable to us!

We should also ask ourselves when the cry was made. Was it during the hours of darkness? Matthew 27:46 identifies the time as the ninth hour (at nighttime) when Jesus cried out. For this reason, some scholars believe that the word “hast” could be replaced with the word “didst” thou forsake me?” signifying that Jesus had already been forsaken as a past event. Indeed, it was no new experience for the Lord to be forsaken. Several times the religious leaders had tried to kill Him. His brothers, His nation, and many followers did not walk along with Him. Judas betrayed Him, Peter denied Him, and the disciples forsook Him. Up until this time, although men had continually forsaken Him, He had always been able to turn to His Father for help. However, this refuge was denied on the cross. His Father had forsaken Him, for God is a holy and uncompromising God, demanding the full price for the redemption of mankind. The Lord Jesus was left alone, abandoned, and ultimately forsaken, all for our sakes.

By: Daniel Snaddon

It is far more happy to be occupied in considering the riches of the grace of God and of the love of Christ than to be discussing questions of offices and of institutions. It is however at times necessary to speak about these also, when they are put forward with a view of troubling the peace of Christians and of exciting their minds, as if their Christianity were defective, as if they were walking disorderly, and as if, before God, something were lacking to them. It is, then, in order to clear up these contested points, and to tranquillize the minds of Christians, that I would say a few words upon offices and gifts. I do so, however, with the most fervent desire that each one, after being really enlightened upon the subject, may turn from these questions and leave them entirely alone, so as to be occupied with Christ, and His exhaustless love and immeasurable grace. For it is that which nourishes and edifies, while questions tend to dryness and barrenness of soul.

There is a great difference between gifts and charges. Gifts flow down from the Head, which is Christ, among the members, so as to assemble, by their means, the Church outside of the world, and to build it up so far as thus gathered together.

Those to whom charges were entrusted, were as such “overseers,” or “servants,” established in each locality by the apostles, and who received from them their position and their authority. They might have gifts, and it was desirable that they should; but very often they had none. In either case, when they were faithful and devoted to their service, they were blessed of God. We will now examine the instruction of holy scripture concerning gifts.

Everything which is good is a gift, and comes from God. But here we speak of gifts in a rather more restricted and more limited sense; namely, the gifts bestowed by God for the gathering together of His Church and for its edification, according as it is written: “Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men,” Eph. 4:8. That is, the gifts of which we speak are those which, according to scripture, Christ received from the Father, after having ascended up on high to be Head over all things to the Church.

Man, through sin, has brought many a thing to a close in ruin. Without law he was lost in dissoluteness, in independence, in towering violence and corruption. Under the law he became a transgressor and despiser of the authority of God. God visited man in mercy there where he was lying in misery, vile and disobedient; and man has rejected God. He was a sinner, driven out of the earthly paradise. God came down into this miserable world of man’s; but, so far as it lay in man’s power to do it, he drove God out of the world. There remains thus for man—as altogether the servant of the prince and god of this world—nothing but judgment. God will not however, in any, even the least respect, fail to accomplish His own designs. Every hope for the first man, as such, is lost. But God has glorified the second Man, Adam, even Him who was obedient (the Lord from heaven), and has taken Him up into the heavenly place predestined for Him. Yet He still acts in grace upon the hearts of the children of men to give them a new life, and to gather the objects of His grace outside of the world, uniting them to Christ glorified, so that they may enjoy, together with Him, all blessings, and, which is more precious than all else, that they may rejoice together with Him in the Father’s love. Thus those that are born again are also members of Christ, of Him who is the Head of the body. But there is still another truth which connects itself with the object we have in view; namely, that Christ has won that position by the accomplishment of the work of redemption. We were captives of the devil and of sin: now we are set free. Christ has led captivity captive, and He fills those whom He sets free with the power of the Holy Spirit that they may serve Him. Having overcome Satan and finished the work of redemption, He is ascended up on high, and, as Head of the Church, He has received of the Father the Holy Spirit of promise for the members of His body.

The Christian being redeemed receives the Holy Spirit in two manners. He is sealed with the Spirit, the earnest of our inheritance, and thus is one with the Lord, and united to Him; then he has received the Holy Spirit as power for service to Christ. Such is the way the gifts connect themselves with these truths. The work of redemption is accomplished; and believers are perfectly purified from their sins, so that, by virtue of the blood of Christ wherewith they are sprinkled, the Holy Spirit can dwell in them. Christ, having glorified God, His Father, upon earth, has sat down, as man, at the right hand of God, as Head of the Church, whose everlasting righteousness He is. As such, He has received the Holy Spirit for His members, that is to say, for those that believe in Him; Acts 2:33Eph. 4:8. We are the righteousness of God in Him; 2 Cor. 5:21. Already the Holy Spirit—sent by the Father in the name of the Son—and come down from the Son, dwells in believers as the witness of His glory and the Spirit of power, as the Spirit of liberty and adoption, on behalf of the Father, and as coming from the Father, in order to communicate to them the certainty of salvation, and also to accomplish on the earth, as power and wisdom, the work of the Lord, in the members of the body.

All important and precious as is the first-named point, we will for the present leave it in order to say a few words on gifts. The Holy Spirit is upon earth, in virtue of the finished work of redemption, and of the session of Christ at the right hand of God. There He acts, by means of the gospel, so as to proclaim the love of God, to gather together the elect, and to form of them one body, the body of Christ. Every converted soul, which has received the life of Christ and been sealed with the Holy Spirit, is a member of Christ, of the heavenly Head. We can consider then the gifts as either the gifts of Christ, or as the operation of the Holy Ghost now upon the earth. The holy scripture gives us both of these aspects. InEphesians 4 it speaks of the gifts of Christ. In 1 Corinthians 12 and 14 it speaks of the unity of the body, and of the gifts as produced by the Spirit in the different members. In each case, the gifts are in connection with the unity of the body, as may be easily seen by reading Ephesians 4.

Before going farther, let it be remarked, that the gifts are of two kinds: first, such as serve to awaken souls, and to gather the Church; and, secondly, such as are signs to the world, signs of the presence of God in the Person of the Spirit in the Church. The Epistle to the Ephesians speaks to us only of the former; the Epistle to the Corinthians speaks of both. The word of God itself makes the above distinction, when it says that tongues are for a sign to unbelievers, and prophesyings are for believers (1 Cor. 14:22). This distinction is important, because it is impossible that anything should fail which is necessary for the conversion of souls, and for the building up of saints; whereas it is easy enough to conceive that God should withdraw that which was an ornament to the Church, and a token of its acceptability, when the Church is unfaithful, and when, instead of honouring God, she has grieved the Spirit. Nevertheless this external testimony remained, according to the wisdom of God in the Church, so long as it was needed, in order to confirm the preaching of the truths of the gospel.

All gifts proceed immediately from Christ the Head, and have their existence in believers by the energy of the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 4 and 1 Corinthians 12 present to us these two important truths very clearly and very explicitly, while at the same time they give us their principle and their development. Ephesians 4 treats exclusively of the gifts which serve for the gathering and edification of the Church. Christ is ascended up on high, and has received gifts for men, who, in the enjoyment by faith of the work of Christ in redemption, by the which they are completely delivered from the power of Satan, to which they were previously subject—having also been made vessels of the grace and power, which flows down from on high, of Christ, who is the Head—become instruments of the Christ who is absent, by means of the gifts which are communicated to them. The Lord laid the foundation by the apostles and prophets, who are (says the apostle Paul, Eph. 2) the foundation, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone. There yet abide evangelists, pastors, and teachers; and, so long as Christ loves the Church, and is the alone source of grace—so long as He desires to nourish the members of His own body—these same gifts will remain for the edification of the Church. But whereas—while the healthful action of these gifts is by means of the presence and power of the Holy Spirit—Christians are unhappily often unfaithful, and neglect His rebukes, it comes to pass that the development of the gifts, and their public efficacy, are little apparent, and their activity is diminished. This is true in general; and that both as to individual Christian life, and as to the practical state of the Church. But it is not the less true, that Christ always faithfully cares for His own body. On that care we can always count, though as to details we may be humbled on account of our own unfaithfulness. Also the Lord has said, The harvest is plenteous, but the labourers are few; and that we should pray the Lord of the harvest to send forth more labourers.

Every one who has received a gift has thereby become servant of Him who communicated it to him. In every case we are the servants of Christ, who alone is Lord of our souls; but every Christian, in particular, is His servant, as to any gift He may have conferred upon him; and, because He has conferred it on him, each one is responsible both to use it and to trade with it—I mean to trade with it, with the view for which Christ communicated it. Without doubt, each Christian is subject to the general discipline of the Church, or of the assembly, both as to his whole life and as to his service. But he serves Christ, and not men. He brings forth fruit for the assembly, because he serves Christ; he renders service to Christians, because he is the servant of Christ the Lord. Also, he must needs serve, because he is the servant of Christ, and has received, for that end, a part of his Lord’s goods. Such is the doctrine of the parable of the three servants, whose lord went into a far country, and gave unto them of his goods; to the one more, to the other less. With what view? that they might be idle and listless? No; he committed to them the talents in order that they might trade with them. We do not commit materials and tools to men, in order that they may do nothing. Not only is such a thought senseless, but, if the love of Christ and His love to souls energize in our hearts, idleness and inaction are altogether impossible.

The presence and the activity of Christ’s love in our hearts is thus, in truth, tested. If the love of Christ be active in my heart, would it be possible for me to remain inactive in any case in which I could be of use to one soul beloved of Him? Certainly not. The power to act thus, the wisdom needful to do it, in a way which would be agreeable to Him, comes always and directly from Himself, while the love of Christ in the heart is that which keeps the heart lively. In order to have courage for action, I must have confidence in Christ: otherwise the heart will say, “Perhaps He will not accept what I do”; “it may be He will not be content with me”; “would not this be too rash, too hasty?” “it might be proud to attempt that.” The sluggard says, “There is a lion in the way”; whereas love is not inactive but intelligent, because it confides in Christ. Love apprehends what love wishes; it yields itself to the will of Christ, and follows the example of Christ, its guide. Such is the action of that very love which is in Christ, and which acts with humble and true wisdom. It is obedient and intelligent, understanding from grace its duty, and drawing out of the love of Christ courage to fulfil it. And whose conduct did Christ approve of and accept? Was it his who, out of a heart’s confidence, laboured without any other commandment, or his who was afraid to do so? We all know the answer. The approbation of Christ suffices for the heart of the Christian, and suffices for his justification in his deed.

Brethren, when we have His acceptance manifest and declared, we may leave all the rest alone. This is just what to be faithful to Christ means. Let us have patience. He will judge everything ere long. Till then let us walk by faith: His word is enough for us. At the time appointed He will justify us before the world, and will put full honour upon His own word and our faith.

The Lord Jesus has, then, received these gifts as Himself a man, and has given them to men, for the effectuating the work of the gospel and of the Church; those therefore who have received these gifts must needs turn them to their full profit, according to God, to win souls, to edify Christians, and to glorify their Lord and heavenly Master. In Ephesians 4 we have seen the gifts of edification represented as being trusts made here below by Christ Himself ascended up on high, while the members of His body upon the earth are being gathered, and while, by means of an activity which acts the one upon the other, the body grows, and is at the same time kept from every wind of doctrine, until it come unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.

The gifts are looked at in 1 Corinthians 12 rather according to the energy of the Holy Spirit upon earth, who distributes them to each as He will. Therefore we find here, not only gifts of edification, but all those which are the result of the power of the Spirit and signs of His presence. This chapter examines everything which can be considered as a spiritual manifestation; and while it distinctly speaks of the action of the power of demons, it shews us the means of distinguishing these from divine gifts. It sets forth, in the very clearest manner, the doctrine of the body and members of Christ, drawing our attention to this: that there is but one only Lord, by whose authority those who have gifts labour—whether in the world, or in the assembly of saints—to accomplish the work of God by the efficacy of the Holy Spirit. Each member is dependent upon the action of the others, because all have been baptized by one and the same Spirit.

In Romans 12 and 1 Peter 4:10 the gifts are briefly enumerated. In Romans, again, as the members of the body of Christ, and, in general, with the object of exhorting those who possess gifts not to go beyond that which has been given to them, but to keep within the limits of their gift. In 1 Peter 4 the Holy Spirit exhorts Christians to use the gifts which have been bestowed upon them, as the immediate and faithful stewards of God Himself; to speak as the oracles of God; to serve as by the ability received of God. In all this teaching, we find nothing about office; the subject is simply the members of the body of Christ who all take their part in the edifying of the body, and who are held responsible to do so. All do not speak—all do not preach the gospel—all do not teach, because all have not these gifts; but all are obliged, according to scripture, to do (according to the scriptural order of the house of God) that which God has given them to do. When once it is understood that all Christians are members of Christ, and that each member has his own proper work—his own service in the body, all becomes simple and clear. We have all a duty to fulfil, and that in the strength of God; and the less seen is perhaps the most precious, while exercising itself before God and not before man. But all have something to do. To say that all have office is to deny that there are special offices. Nothing can be clearer, if we examine history and the instruction of scripture upon this point. We see in it that, in that which concerns either the preaching of the gospel in the world, or the edification of Christians in gathering, the question is never about office, but that all depends upon gifts.

Let us turn to a few passages in proof of this assertion.

We have already called attention to Matthew 25. In the parable of the talents committed to the three servants, the Lord lays down this principle, that two of them are worthy of praise because they had traded, without being otherwise authorized than by the fact itself that their lord had committed to them his money; while the third is blamed and punished for having expected a warrant, because he had not confidence in his lord, and had not dared to trade without some further obligation. This means, that the gifts themselves are, for the workman, a warrant or authorization fully sufficient to trade with the gift which he has, if the love of Christ constrain his heart; but, if this love is not there, he is under responsibility; and the proof that the love of Christ is not in action in him is, that he has not served by means of his gift—he is a bad and a lazy servant. Christ gives not gifts with the object that we should not turn them to profit; He gives them, rather, that we may use them with energy. We find also, that, in point of fact, so it was among the early Christians. When the persecution which ensued upon the death of Stephen had dispersed the Christians, they went everywhere preaching the gospel (Acts 8:4). And we read (chap. 11:21) that the hand of the Lord was with them. But is it possible that if I know the means by which a soul may be saved, I ought not to announce that way, though God may have rendered me able to do so? In private anyone can do such a thing; but the ability to preach in public is precisely the gift of God in this respect.

Paul finding himself in prison at Rome, many of the brethren in the Lord waxed bold on seeing his bonds, and fearlessly dared to preach the word; Phil. 1:13, 14.

When false teachers go forth to seduce the Lord’s people, the receiving them or the not receiving them in no wise depends upon any office they have, or upon the absence of an official character. Even a woman is directed to judge for herself by doctrine (2 John). It did not for an instant come into the thought of the apostle to use such a means as the possession of office, in order to guard a woman on the occurrence of a time of difficulty; he simply writes to her to judge each according to his doctrine. It does not even come into his head to counsel this woman to ask of him who presents himself as preacher whether he has office, or is consecrated or ordained. On the contrary he praises the beloved Gaius, because he had received the brethren who were gone forth in the name of Christ; and he exhorts him to bring them on their way in a manner worthy of God. In so doing Gaius would become a co-labourer with the truth (3 John 8).

So far as the preaching of the gospel is concerned, the word of God then confirms this doctrine, that each, according to his capacity, and the opportunities which God in His grace affords him, is obliged to announce the good news.

The scripture is quite clear also as to the edification of believers. Not only does it present us with this general truth, that Christ has given gifts, and that the Holy Spirit acts thereby, in order that we may fulfil the work of God in every way (Eph. 4 and 1 Cor. 12); but, moreover, it speaks with exactness and clearness of the duty of those who possess gifts. The Holy Spirit says by the mouth of Peter (1 Pet. 4:10), “As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” Then in 1 Corinthians 14 we find the order according to which the exercise of gifts should take place, “Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge. If anything be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace. For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted.” James shews us distinctly the true limits of this service, without reference to office, when he says that believers should not be many teachers, because that the responsibility thereof would be all the greater, and that (since we all in various ways offend) they would suffer a so much the greater judgment. It is, then, perfectly certain that gifts, and the service which believers render by gifts, are completely independent of the possession of office; and that those to whom God has communicated these gifts are obliged to use them for the edification of the saints. The scripture gives the rules according to which the exercises of the gifts ought to take place; it requires that the spirits of the prophets be subject to the prophets, and that all be done unto edification, in such wise that there be no disorder in the assembly. As to office, the scripture says not one single word upon this subject in this respect.2

Now, on this subject, we beg that it may be remarked, that between gift and office there exists a great difference, and that this difference depends upon the nature of the two things. The gift has its course, it is available everywhere. If I am an evangelist, I shall preach the gospel wheresoever God may call me. Am I a teacher? I shall teach believers according to my ability, wheresoever I may chance to find myself. Apollos teaches at Ephesus; he is also of use to believers at Corinth. But if any one has received an office, he fulfils the service which is connected with it in the determinate place where he has been nominated thereunto. Is he an elder, or a deacon at Ephesus? he ought to fulfil his office at Ephesus; his official authority is valid at Ephesus. At Corinth he would have none. The possessors of office are not, as such, members of the body of Christ; though those who are installed therein are themselves individually such. The gifts, as gifts, are the various members .of the body (see Eph. 41 Cor. 14, and Rom. 12), who ought to render their service according to the will of God, wheresoever they may find themselves. The scripture never says that an evangelist is the evangelist of an assembly or of a flock; neither does it recognize a teacher or a pastor of a flock; but God has put such gifts in the Church, in the body of Christ. “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: that we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they he in wait to deceive; but speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: from whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love,” Eph. 4:11-16. There were, without any question, at the commencement, offices in the assemblies; we find two kinds of them in the holy scriptures; overseers and servants, and if any one is pleased to make the distinction, sisters in service. The first-named were ordinarily (presbuteroi) what are now called elders. The others were deacons or deaconesses. We do not find, however, that elders were established in any determinate manner among the Christian Jews. Among the Christians who had been called by grace, from among the heathen, we see very clearly, that they were chosen and installed in their charge by the apostles or their delegates. We read in Acts 14:23 that Paul and Barnabas choose, in each town, elders for the assemblies; and in Crete the apostle left Titus, in order that he might establish elders in every town. As to Timothy, although that was not his service, having been left by the apostle at Ephesus, to watch as to doctrine, yet he received from Paul instruction as to the qualities suitable for an overseer. Nevertheless, the apostle did not enter into conference upon this point with the assemblies; but he did everything himself personally, or else he entrusted this service exclusively to his delegate; even there where assemblies were already formed.

We find but little in scripture about the servants (or deacons). In Acts 6 we read that the apostles, not wishing to have any more to serve tables, require the Christians to choose seven from among themselves, who should fulfil the duties of deacons, though they are not called by the name; and, to say the least, they had in many respects the suited qualifications which are enumerated by the apostle Paul to Timothy and to Titus.

It may be asked, Now that there are no apostles, what ought we to do as to elders? Our God, who has in all times foreknown the wants of His beloved Church, has given us the answer in the word, and has taken sufficient heed of these wants. We read, “And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; and to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. And be at peace among yourselves,” 1 Thess. 5:12, 13. At the same time, the apostle distinctly sets forth the common responsibility of all the saints. “Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men. See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men,” 1 Thess. 5:14, 15.

In Hebrews 13 he speaks of the real leaders of the assembly. “Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation,” Heb. 13:7. The word is the same as that used in Acts 15:22 of “Judas and Silas, chief men among the brethren.”

Such ought to be esteemed among them. We see in the same chapter, verse 7, that some of them were dead, and we learn here what had been their disposition; but the rest still lived.

The duty of elders is that of oversight. In Acts 20 the apostle gives them this name (in our language, bishop; in Greek, episkopos). We find this title again in the Epistle to the Philippians. In Acts 20:28, 31, we see in what their duty consisted—to nourish with sound doctrine, to be watchful against false teachers, and attentive to everything. The passage in1 Peter 5:1-3 speaks the same thing.

The duty of deacons is also, as for the elders, expressed in their name. The Greek worddiakonos signifies servant. They served the assembly as its servants; there were also sisters (as Phoebe) with the same title. If we examine Acts 6, the seven who cared for the poor widows as deacons had this service specially allotted to them for their portion.

These were the offices then in the various assemblies, which the apostles, and Paul in particular, established when all was yet in order. There were in each assembly several elders.

Nevertheless all the elders had not gifts. “Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine,” 1 Tim. 5:17. The deacons, like all other Christians, had to exercise them when they possessed them. The deacons, where they fulfilled their charge faithfully and carefully, found also their own spiritual profit therein. “For they that have used the office of a deacon well, purchase to themselves a good degree and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 3:13); as we may see most fully made good in the cases of Stephen and Philip; Acts 6, 7 and 8.

We see too elsewhere how Christians, without losing their proper responsibility according to grace, had to be subject to those that were at the work. “I beseech you, brethren (ye know the house of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints), that ye submit yourselves unto such, and to everyone that helpeth with us, and laboureth,” 1 Cor. 16:15, 16. The Christian can never lay aside his individual responsibility. The discipline of the assembly recalls to a walk according to that responsibility, when the Christian has forgotten so to walk. Brethren, then, who by the Lord’s grace are called to the work, labour to maintain the Christian walk, to strengthen the feeble, to instruct the ignorant, to exhort and to encourage all, to nourish by the word and to render all able, by that divine nourishment, to honour God and the doctrine of the Saviour— in short, to be in every way a help, the common responsibility being in view.

The Christian can say: All things are mine—the activity of the workman of God, as much as his efforts to. remove every kind of evil. “Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours; and ye are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s,” 1 Cor. 3:22, 23. The apostle says, “For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake,” 2 Cor. 4:5.

These two public offices then are now entirely wanting to us; no one can restore them officially according to holy scripture, after a divine sort, because no one has received, in order to do so, authority or commission on the part of God to do so. But the scripture provides morally for subjection to those whom God raises up to service: and inasmuch as Christ is infallibly faithful toward His body, and inasmuch as the Holy Spirit is always in the Church upon earth, the gifts necessary to the edification of the assembly are always there. The feeble state of the Church of God shews itself, it is true, in this respect as in every other; but Christ ever remains faithful, and cannot cease to nourish His members.

The doctrine of scripture as to gifts has been almost forgotten; or else it is altogether set aside by assigning the right to edify men to those who have been placed by men in their positions—positions which men have for the most part invented for themselves. And when even it is conceded that God furnishes the gifts, it is not any the more permitted to those who possess them to exercise them without a sanction from man.

The confusion arising from the mixture of gifts and offices, which men have invented, has resulted in what is ordinarily called “clergy,” and even worship; and it is carried so far as to maintain, that, if this confusion is not recognized, the service due to God is denied. But the true service to God is there, where each member of Christ serves God also (be it in the word, or be it for the edification of the brethren, and thus of the whole body of Christ) with the gift which Christ has communicated to him by the power of the Holy Spirit.

If in the existing state of the Church the public re-establishment of the offices which scripture recognizes is not possible, God has nevertheless previously ordained all that is necessary, all that is good for such a state, sad as it may be; as also He will infallibly give all that is useful to those who ask it of Him.

As to the imposition of hands to authorize the exercise of gifts, the scripture owns no such necessity. When hands were laid on the apostles Paul and Barnabas, they were simply recommended to the grace of God for the work which they then fulfilled. But both of these had now for a long time exercised their gifts; it wras not then, on the part of the prophets at Antioch, anything else than a commendation to the grace of the Lord for a special work. The twelve apostles laid their hands on the seven who are ordinarily called deacons; and (though that is nowhere said) it is likely enough, from analogy, that the apostle Paul, or delegates, laid hands on the elders. But as to the exercise of gifts, it is spoken of everywhere as exercised without that ceremony, even in such a manner that (if it were necessary) all Christians ought to have the imposition of hands. It is as clear as the light of the sun, that, as all might “prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted” (1 Cor. 14:31), all, in effect, might preach; and that, many having spoken with divers tongues, the imposition of hands for the exercise of gifts was completely impossible.

The scripture is ignorant of any official ceremony for the administration of the Lord’s supper, as men speak; and God nowhere therein declares, that it is the privilege of a person consecrated, or set apart, to administer it. “The disciples came together to break bread,” Acts 20:7. Probably those who were esteemed among them began the breaking of bread with prayer before distributing it, because it is evidently comely as a general principle that such should have this place and not a service, and charity does not behave itself unseemly: nevertheless scripture has said nothing upon the subject. The blessing used in worship is but a giving of thanks, as we see in 1 Corinthians 14:16, “Else when thou shalt bless with the spirit, how shall he that occupieth the room of the unlearned say Amen at thy giving of thanks, seeing he understandeth not what thou sayest? “Even the Lord gave thanks before breaking the bread. “And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me,” 1 Cor. 11:24.

1 Originally written in German.

2 It is remarkable that in the epistle to the Corinthians elders are never once mentioned; and there, where there existed so much trouble and evil, the apostle nevertheless does not propose to the assembly to nominate or establish elders; but he acts upon the conscience of Christians by the word, in order that they may be roused to remove the evil.

By J N Darby

Jeremiah 2

There are two distinct points in the ways and testimony of God as regards us: first, faith is the condition of soul in us which, as it is in exercise or otherwise, may either hinder or favour the enjoyment, which habitually the testimony of the word is to give to us. Then in presenting the object of faith to our souls—the Father’s love, the Son’s work—the word of God applies itself to the conscience and heart; for where the conscience is not in exercise the heart will not be, and all will be hollow. When the affections are dull then self comes in, and I attach these holy affections to myself; for when I am thinking about my affections I am thinking about myself. But when the conscience is in exercise we are thinking of the object presented: otherwise the heart is turned in upon self, the Lord is forgotten, and weakness ensues; consequently we sink into a feeble state; but then the word of God presenting the object of faith applies itself to the conscience, bringing that into exercise, and thus the heart is brought back to God.

There can be no true love to Christ while there is the sense of wrong done; for I cannot love a person I have wronged. What is needed then is the consciousness of the wrong done. “I have sinned, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.” When the conscience is aroused, and the heart is brought into play, we rest in the presence of God. The Spirit of God may humble us on account of what we have done, but when conscience is in play it brings out our whole condition before God. It is not the law coming in again, but God presenting Himself’, thus there will be right affections, and the conscience will be in exercise. Self-confidence and self-exaltation in every form are always the effects of an unexercised conscience. Only put a man in the Lord’s presence, and that will keep him lowly, and in a spiritual state of discernment; but there is nothing out of which we so easily get as the consciousness of the presence of God. So also in our prayers. You may often be sensible that you go on praying after you have lost the consciousness that you are speaking to God, still the soul goes on expressing itself; even when led by the Spirit the consequence will be that the manner will be all wrong, though the words may be right. Well, though all this be true, whenever the Lord recalls a soul He recalls it to His own presence. He will act on the conscienceHe will speak plainly to us. Why? Because He is conscious of the relationship which ought to have produced the conduct befitting the relationship which we have forgotten. “Is Ephraim my dear son? is he a pleasant child? for since I spake against him, I do earnestly remember him still: therefore my bowels are troubled for him.” When the Lord recalls a soul to Himself He may reproach it with having forgotten the relationship in which it stood to God, and God to it; but He cannot reproach it as not having known that relationship. The power of every rebuke is founded on the relationship, and God remembering the relationship acts on the ground of it with all the affections belonging thereto. Thus every rebuke comes to us as the expression of the most wonderful tenderness; and the more deeply we learn that there is no failure in God’s affection, the more deeply we lament our short-coming and failure in that relationship which never fails.

God said to Jeremiah, “Go, say in the ears of Jerusalem”; but, alas! Israel would not hear. Now this was most disastrous; but God remembers His relationship to them, and says, inHosea 2:16, “In that day thou shalt call me Ishi”; that is, my husband, “and shalt no more call me Baali”; that is, my Lord. Evil as their state was, He recalls with all its force and energy the remembrance of their relationship— “Go, cry in the ears of Jerusalem.” It is not, “He that hath an ear let him hear,” but God goes and speaks in their ears. Oh that He may speak in our ears! When God. spake comfortably to Jerusalem then He spake to the heart,and that was after chastening; but here He is at another work, speaking in the ears of Jerusalem that they might hear what God had to say to them. He could say—the true Servant— “The Lord God hath opened mine ear” to hear what God had to say to Him, and He was not rebellious, neither turned away backbut Israel “had forsaken him days without number”; they had done a terrible thing, such as no other nation had done. “Hath a nation changed its gods, which are yet no gods? but my people have changed their glory for that which doth not profit.” And again, “Be astonished, O ye heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid, be ye very desolate, saith the Lord. For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.” And now that God is sending a message after them, does He say, ‘Go and cry in the ears of Jerusalem, I remember thy sins”? No, but “I remember thee, the kindness of thy youth, the love of thy espousals, when thou wentest after me in the wilderness, in a land that was not sown.” He is recalling what Israel was to God Himself: I remember the outgoings of thy heart towards Me; “I remember the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals.”

Now what a thing it was for God to say to Israel, ‘I have not forgotten what you were to Me in the days of thy youth, when the heart first turned to Me.’ In all this we have the same principle as “Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations,” when they were quarrelling which should be the greatest. And so Israel were always murmuring, thinking their leeks and cucumbers better than God; but God remembers the principles on which Israel acted— “When thou wentest after me in the wilderness.” They got much of this world’s goods in Canaan by following God; they got cities that they had not built, wells that they had not digged, palm-trees that they had not planted, and the like. All these things were the consequences of following God; but He does not mention these. But “thou wentest after me in the wilderness, which was a land of deserts and pits, a land of drought, and the shadow of death, a land that no man passed through, and where no man dwelt”; ‘thou wentest after Me in the wilderness, where there was nothing to set your affections on but Myself; I Myself was the whole and sole object of your affections’; and this it was that God remembered. He overlooks all failure, and the condition which God notices is that He Himself was everything to them; and this is what characterises a heart when first converted to God—the Lord is everything to it. What is the world to that heart? Dross and dung. Everything, cares and pleasures are alike forgotten, everything counted as nothing, except what is found in God Himself. The praises of Israel were freely given— “I will prepare him an habitation”; “my father’s God, I will exalt him,” because they had found Him who was everything to them, and the world and all it had to give a mere nothing.

Now let us look at the other side of the picture, and see the desperately bad state which the heart of Israel had got into, remembering they are but types of us. They were dissatisfied, and cried, “Would to God we had died in Egypt, when we sat by the flesh pots, and ate bread to the full.” And again, “Wherefore have you made us to come up out of Egypt, to bring us into this evil place? it is no place of seed, or of figs, or of vines, or of pomegranates; neither is there any water to drink.” In the wilderness there is nothing to see, nothing to look at; and this is what Israel wanted. God says, “I brought you into a plentiful country to eat the fruit thereof, and the goodness thereof; but when ye entered ye defiled my land, and made my heritage an abomination.” They felt their own importance, and forgot the Lord; they had the blessing, and did not want the Lord of the blessing (v. 6-8). And is not this true of the church of God? We bring in self, which is but a broken cistern, and depart from Him, who is the living fountain and power of blessing, forgetting that “a Syrian ready to perish was my father.” Consequently there is moral weakness, and Satan gets power. A believer cannot get back into the world: a mere professor may, and enjoy it; but a Christian cannot. An Israelite could not get back through the Red Sea again. You cannot think of yourselves and the Lord together with satisfaction to your own souls. The Lord’s presence in the soul will bring self into utter ruin and nothingness. We have only to let the Lord have His place in our souls, and that will put us into our place. If I am walking through the world, shall I find it a wilderness? To be sure I shall; but then I shall not be thinking about the wilderness if the Lord is my joy and my strength. Are your hearts saying, This is a land we cannot see? If so, what does that prove? Why, that you are looking for something to see; and this is the thought you will find in your hearts, “It is a land not sown,” although you may be ashamed to own it. But God remembered Israel when they thought it worth while to follow God for His own sake. We feel bound to say it is a happy thing to be a Christian; but when we are alone do not our hearts say, “It is a land not sown”? If it be so with you, do not rest until the Lord Himself alone satisfies your soul; for you should delight yourself in Him. Lot saw a well-watered plain and a city, and then dwelt in it on the earth, and consequently was in the midst of judgmentwhile Abraham sought a city out of sight,and he enjoyed the blessing and comfort of God being with him, go where he might. When the soul is down, like a ship when the tide is low, it is in danger of shoals and sandbanks; but when the tide is up there are no sandbanks, because the ship is lifted up above them all. Thus when the soul is happy in Christ it will go on peacefully, independently of all the trials we may be called to meet with in our fellow-saints. We are called to walk together through the world, and a mere natural fitness will not do for that. No, we can only go on so far as Christ fills the soul; and thus going on in the tide of divine goodness, forgetting everything else, we can walk together happily, being occupied with Christ, and not with each other.

But notwithstanding what Israel was, still God does not forget Israel. And why? Because He remembers her affection in the day of her espousals, “when thou wentest after me in the wilderness.” The soul, when occupied with God alone, is holiness to the Lord. God says to Israel, “If thou wilt return, return unto me.” It is of no use to attempt to set the soul right except it be set right with God. Israel was “holiness to the Lord.” Now holiness is not innocence. God is not what we call innocent, but holy. He perfectly separates between evil and good. So Christ Himself when on earth was separated unto God; and when about to depart out of it, He says, “For their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also may be sanctified through the truth”; for the meaning of the word “sanctify” in this place is separation to God. So it is with the church of God. She is separated from the world unto God, taken out of creation for Himself, the first-fruits of His increase. There will be a harvest of blessing when Israel and the nations are brought into blessing, but the church is the first-fruits of God’s increase. God remembers this, though the church may have forgotten it; but if we know what it is to get back into the affections of God, we must enjoy the love that fails not; for God says, “I remember.” The soul then apprehends what the church of God is in the affection of God, and not what it is down here. Christ was the corn broken and bruised, and afterwards the wavesheaf before God. So the church is to be in a low and oppressed state, and afterward to be exalted to where Christ is. God will have the whole harvest, but the first-fruits of His increase is that which occupies His affections.

“What iniquity have your fathers found in me?” Have I failed towards you in goodness? What is the matter now? Is the Lord changed? Is He worth less now than when thou wentest after Him in the wilderness? No; but we have got far from Him, and have walked after vanity, and have become vain. We have enjoyed His blessing, and have got fat and kicked, and consequently have fallen down into the weakness and wretchedness of our own hearts. When did the Lord bring up His people? When the very circumstances through which, and into which, He brought them was the proof that the Lord was bringing them there; for He brought them into a land of deserts and pits, where they had no need to lean on “a broken reed, whereon if a man lean it will go into his hand and pierce it,” because they leaned on God Himself. “Neither did thy raiment wax old upon thee, nor thy foot swell, these forty years.” And why? Because “the Lord alone did lead them, and there was no strange god with him.” So was it with Gideon; Jud. 6. He remembered what God had been to Israel in the day of their espousals, saying, “Did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt?” And the Lord looked upon him, and said, “Go in this thy might.” Thus we see that Gideon’s remembrance of what God was to Israel in the day of their espousals was the secret of his strength. In Gideon was a soul near enough to God to say, “Where is the Lord?” and then what a burden is taken off the heart. Only let us place ourselves before the Lord, and see if He does not come in remembering the day of espousals.

If I am thinking of the cucumbers of Egypt, the wilderness will not suit me; but if I am thinking of the Lord, I shall have no thought at all whether I am in the wilderness or not. The affections of my soul will be going on with God’s affection for me; for He ever remembers “the love of thine espousals” when He first revealed Himself to our souls. It is true we may see chastening, but God never forgets the work of grace in our souls. He never forgets “the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals when thou wentest after Him in the wilderness, in a land not sown.” And now thou art “holiness to the Lord”; and though God will have His joy in the harvest of the earth, yet thou art the first-fruits of His increase.

 

By: J N Darby

We may consider the Church in two points of view. First, it is the formation of the children of God into one body united to Christ Jesus ascended to heaven, the glorified man; and that by the power of the Holy Ghost. In the second place, it is the house or habitation of God by the Spirit. The Saviour gave Himself, not only to save perfectly all those who believe in Him, but also to gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad. Christ has perfectly accomplished the work of redemption; having offered one sacrifice for sins, He is seated at the right hand of God. For by one offering He has for ever and perfectly purified those who are sanctified: whereof also the Holy Ghost witnesses to us, “Their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.” The love of God has given us Jesus; the righteousness of God is fully satisfied by His sacrifice; and He is seated at God’s right hand as a continual testimony to the accomplishment of the work of redemption, to our acceptance in Him, and to the possession of the glory unto which we are called. From heaven, according to His promise, Jesus has sent the Holy Ghost, the Comforter, who dwells in us who believe in Jesus, and who has sealed us for the day of redemption, that is to say, of the glorification of our bodies. The same Spirit is, besides, the earnest of our inheritance.

But all this would be always true, even if there were not a Church upon earth. That is, it is one thing that there are individuals saved, children of God, heirs of glory in heaven; quite another is their union with Christ, so as to be members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones; and yet another it is to be the habitation of God through the Spirit. We will speak of these latter points.

There is nothing clearer in the holy scripture of truth than that the Church is the body of Christ. Not only have we salvation by Christ, but we are in Christ and Christ in us. The true Christian who enjoys His privileges knows that, by means of the Holy Ghost, he is in Christ and Christ in him. “In that day,” says the Lord, “ye shall know that I am in the Father, and ye in me, and I in you.” In that day, that is to say, in the day when we should have received the Holy Spirit sent down from heaven. He who is joined to the Lord is one spirit. Accordingly we are in Christ and members of His body. This doctrine is largely unfolded inEphesians 1-3. What is there clearer than this word, “He gave him to be head over all things to the church, which is his body”? Observe, that this marvellous fact began, or was found existing, at soonest when Christ was glorified in the heavens, even though all that is found contained in these verses is not yet accomplished. God, says the apostle, has raised us up with Him, and has seated us together in Him in the heavenly places—not yetwith Him, but “in him.” And in chapter 3, “Which [mystery] was not in other ages made known to the sons of men, as it is now revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; that the Gentiles should be fellow-heirs and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel … that now unto the principalities and powers in the heavenly places might be known, by the church, the manifold wisdom of God.”

Here, then, is the Church formed on earth by the Holy Ghost descended from heaven, after the glorification of Christ. It is united to Christ, its heavenly Head; and all true believers are His members by means of the same Spirit. This precious truth is confirmed in other passages; for example, in Romans 12, “As in one body we have many members, and all the members have not the same office; so we who are many are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.”

It will not be necessary to cite other passages: we will only call the attention of the reader to 1 Corinthians 12. It is clear as daylight, that here the apostle speaks of the Church on the earth, not of a future Church which shall be made good in heaven, and not even of churches scattered over the world, but of the Church as a whole, represented however by the Church at Corinth. Therefore it is said, at the beginning of the epistle, “To the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours.” The totality of the Church is clearly seen in the words, “And God hath set in the church: first, apostles; secondarily, prophets; thirdly, teachers; after that, miracles; then gifts of healing,” etc. It is evident that apostles were not in a particular church, and that the gifts of healing could not be exercised in heaven. It is the Church universal on earth. This Church is the body of Christ, and the true believers are its members. It is one by the baptism of the Holy Ghost. “For as the body is one and hath many members, and all the members of this one body, though many, are one body; so also is Christ,” v. 12. Then, after having said that all these many members work, each in its own function, in the body, he adds (v. 27), “Now ye are the body of Christ, and members each in particular.” Bear in mind that this is come to pass by the baptism of the Holy Ghost come down from heaven. Consequently this body exists on earth, and embraces all Christians wherever they may be; they have received the Holy Spirit whereby they are members of Christ and members one of another. Oh, how beautiful is the unity! If one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; and if one member is honoured, all the members rejoice with it together.

Here the word teaches us besides that the gifts are members of all the body, and that they belong to the body as a whole. The apostles, the prophets, the teachers “are in the Church, and not in a particular church. Consequently these gifts, given by the Holy Ghost, are exercised in all the Church where the member is found, because he is a member of the body. If Apollos taught at Ephesus, he teaches also when he is at Corinth, and in whatever locality he may be.

The Church is, then, the body of Christ, united to Him, its Head, in heaven, and one is a member by the Spirit who dwells in us, and all Christians are members one of another. This Church, which will be by and by made good in heaven, is at present formed on earth by the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven, who abides with us, and by whom all true believers are baptized into one body. The gifts, in the next place, are exercised as members of this one body in the entire Church.

There is, as we have said, another character of the Church on earth; that is to say, it is the habitation of God on earth. It is interesting to see, by examination, that this had no place before redemption. God did not dwell with Adam even while innocent; nor with Abraham, though He visited with much condescension both the first man in paradise and the father of the faithful. Nevertheless He never dwelt with them. But no sooner was Israel redeemed out of Egypt than God comes to dwell in the midst of His people. As soon as the building of the tabernacle was revealed and regulated, God says, “I will dwell in the midst of Israel and I will be their God; and they shall know that I am Jehovah their God, who hath taken them out of the land of Egypt to dwell in their midst,” Exod. 29:45, 46. Thus the dwelling of God in the midst of the people was the end of the deliverance: the presence of God in the midst of the people is their greatest privilege.

The presence of the Holy Ghost is what characterizes true believers in Christ. “Your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost,” 1 Cor. 6:19. “If any man hath not the spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” Christians taken together are also the temple of God; and the Spirit of God dwells in them; 1 Cor. 3:16.

Not to speak more of the individual Christian, I will say then that the Church is God’s habitation on earth by the Spirit. Most precious privilege! The presence of God Himself, the source of joy, strength, and wisdom for His people! But at the same time there is very great responsibility as to the way in which we treat such a guest. I will cite some passages to prove this truth. In Ephesians 2, “Now therefore ye are no more strangers and pilgrims, but fellow-citizens with the saints and of the household of God; and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner-stone; in whom all the building, fitly framed together, groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord; in whom ye also are built together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.” Here we see that, though this building is already begun on the earth, the intention of God is to have a temple formed, made up of all that believe after that God had broken down the partition-wall that shut out the Gentiles; and that this building grows till all Christians are united in glory. But meanwhile the believers on earth form a tabernacle of God, His habitation through the Spirit who abides in the midst of the Church.

In 1 Timothy 3 the apostle says, “These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly; but if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.” By these words we see that the Church on earth is the house of the living God; that this epistle teaches Timothy how to behave himself in this house. We see also that the Christian is responsible to maintain the truth in the world. The Church does not teach, but the apostles taught. Teachers instruct, but the Christian maintains the truth by being faithful to it. It is the witness of the truth in the world. Those who seek the truth do not seek it among Pagans or Jews or Mahometans, but in the Christian Church. It is not authority for the truth, but the word is its authority. The Church is the vessel that contains the truth; and where the truth is not, there is no Church. Such is the Church, the body of Christ, who is its heavenly Head.17 Such is the house of God by the Spirit on earth. When the Church is complete, it will join Christ in heaven, clothed with the same glory as its Bridegroom.

Now it is necessary, before speaking of the state of the Church as it was at the beginning, to notice a difference which is found in the word of God as to the house. The Lord said, “Upon this rock I will build my church.” It is Christ Himself who builds His Church; and consequently the gates of hades shall not prevail against it.18 Here it is not marr who builds, but Christ. Wherefore the apostle Peter, speaking of the spiritual house, says nothing of the workmen, “To whom coming as unto a living stone … ye also as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood,” I Peter 2. This is the work of grace in the heart of the individual by which man approaches Christ. Accordingly, once more, in the Acts it is said that “the Lord added to the Church daily such as should be saved.” This work could not fail, being the work of God, efficacious for eternity, and manifested in its time. We read, moreover, in Ephesians 2, “Built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner-stone; in whom all the building, fitly framed together, groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord.” This building which grows may be manifested before the eyes of men; but if the effect of this work of efficacious grace is not manifested in its exterior unity before men, God will not for that fail to do His work, gathering His children for eternal life. Souls come to Christ and are built upon Him.

The apostles John and Paul, and more particularly the latter, speak of a unity manifested before men in testimony to men of the power of the Holy Ghost. In John 17 we read, “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word, that they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.” Here the unity of the children of God is a testimony borne to the world, that God has sent Jesus in order that the world may believe. Now this truth is, consequently, the evident duty of God’s children. All know how the state opposed to this truth is a weapon in the hands of the enemies of this truth.

The character of the house and the doctrine of the responsibility of men are still more clearly taught in the word of God. Paul says, “Ye are God’s building. According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise master-builder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every one take heed how he buildeth thereupon.” Here it is men who build. The house of God is manifested on earth. The Church is the building of God; but we find there not only God’s work (that is, those who come to God moved by the Holy Ghost), but also the effect of the work of men, who have often built with wood, hay, and stubble. Men have confused together the exterior house built by men and the work of Christ, which may indeed be identical with the work of men, but it may also differ widely. False teachers attributed all the privileges of the body of Christ to the great house composed of every sort of iniquity and of corrupt men. But this fatal error does not destroy the responsibility of men as regards the house of God, His habitation through the Spirit; any more than it is destroyed in respect of the manifestation of the unity of the Spirit in one body on earth.

I considered it important to notice this difference, because it throws much light on questions of the day. Let us now pursue our subject. What was the state of the Church at the commencement when it began at Jerusalem? We find that the power of the Spirit of God was wonderfully manifested. “And all that believed were together, and had all things common; and sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread at home, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved,” Acts 2. And in chapter 4, “And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart, and of one soul: neither said any of them that aught of the things which he possessed was his own, but they had all things common. And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. Neither was there any among them that lacked, for as many as were possessors of lands, or houses, sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, and laid them down at the apostles’ feetand distribution was made unto every man according as he had need,” Acts 4:32-35. What a beautiful picture of the effect of the power of the Spirit in their hearts! an effect which was too soon to disappear for ever; but Christians ought to seek to realize it as much as possible.

The evil of the heart of man soon appeared; and Ananias and Sapphira, as also the murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration, manifested that the sin of man’s heart joined to the devil’s work was still working in the bosom of the Church. But at the same time the Holy Spirit was in the Church and acted there, and was sufficient for putting out evil and changing it into good. The Church however was one, known by the world; and one could say that the apostles, having been let go, went to their own company. One only Church, filled with the Holy Ghost, bore testimony to the salvation of God and to His presence on earth; and to this Church God added all those who were to be saved. This Church was all scattered abroad because of the persecution, save the apostles who abode at Jerusalem. Then God raised up Paul to be His messenger unto the Gentiles. He begins to build the Church among the Gentiles, and teaches that in it there is neither Gentile nor Jew, but that all are one and the same body in Christ. Not only the existence of the Church among the Jews, but still more the doctrine of the Church, of its unity, of the union of Jews with Gentiles in one body, is proclaimed and put in execution. It was the object of the counsels of God already before the foundation of the world, but hidden in God; a mystery which had been bid from the ages in God, to the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the Church the manifold wisdom of God: which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men as it is now revealed unto His holy apostles and prophets19 by the Spirit. So also in Colossians 1:26, “Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints.”

All Christians were known, all admitted publicly into the Church, Gentiles as well as Jews. The unity was manifested. All the saints were members of one body, of Christ’s body; the unity of the body was owned; and it was a fundamental truth of Christianity. In each locality there was the manifestation of this unity of the Church of God on the earth; so that an epistle of Paul addressed to the Church of God at Corinth arrived at a single assembly; and the apostle could farther add to it “with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours.” Nevertheless, if we speak specially of those at Corinth, he says, “Ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.” If a Christian member of Christ’s body went from Ephesus to Corinth, he would have been equally and necessarily also member of Christ’s body in this latter assembly. Christians are not members of a church, but of Christ. The eye, the ear, the foot, or any other member which was at Corinth, was equally such at Ephesus. In the word we do not find the idea of members of church, but of Christ.

Ministry, as it is presented in the word, is likewise a proof of this same truth. The gifts, source of ministry, given by the Holy Spirit, were in the Church (1 Cor. 12:8-12, 28). Those who possessed them were members of the body. If Apollos was a teacher at Corinth, he was also a teacher at Ephesus. If he was the eye, ear, or any other member whatever of Christ’s body at Ephesus, he was also such at Corinth. For this subject there is nothing clearer than 1 Corinthians 12: one body, many members; the Church one, in which were found the gifts that the Holy Spirit had given—gifts which were exercised in any locality whatsoever where he might be who possessed them. In Ephesians 4 the same truth is set forth. When Christ ascended on high, He “gave gifts unto men … and he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: that we henceforth be no more children tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive: but speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things which is the head, even Christ: from whom the whole body fitly joined together, and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body, unto the edifying of itself in love.”

This unity and the free activity of the members are found realized in the time of the apostles. Each gift was fully owned as efficacious to accomplish the work of the Lord, and was freely exercised. The apostles laboured as apostles, and likewise those who had been scattered on the occasion of the first persecution laboured in the work according to the measure of their gifts. It is thus that the apostles taught (1 Peter 4:10,111 Cor. 14:26-29). And it is thus that the Christians did. The devil sought to destroy this unity; but he was not able to succeed as long as the apostles lived. He employed Judaism for this work; but the Holy Spirit preserved the unity, as we read in Acts 15. He sought to create sects in it by means of philosophy (1 Cor. 2), and of both together (Col. 2). But all these efforts were vain. The Holy Spirit acted in the midst of the Church, and the wisdom given to the apostles to maintain the unity and the truth of the Church against the power of the enemy. The more one reads the Acts of the Apostles, the more one reads the Epistles, the more one sees this unity and this truth. The union of these two things can only take effect by the action of the Holy Ghost. Individual liberty is not union; and the union of men does not leave the individual his full liberty. But the Holy Spirit, when He governs, necessarily unites brethren together and acts in each according to the aim which He has proposed to Himself in uniting them, that is to say, according to His own aim. Thus the presence of the Holy Ghost gathers together all the saints in one body, and works in each according to His will, guiding them in the Lord’s service for the glory of God and the edification of the body.

Such was the Church: how is it now and where does it exist? It will be perfected in heaven. Granted: but where is it found now on earth? The members of Christ’s body are now dispersed; many hidden in the world, others in the midst of religious corruption; some in one sect, some in another, in rivalry one with another to gain over the saved. Many, thanks be to God, do seek unity; but who is it that has found it? It suffices not to say that by the same Spirit we love each other; for by one Spirit we have been baptized into one body. “That they all may be one …” says the Lord, “that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.” But we are not one; the unity of the body is not manifested. At the beginning it was clearly manifested, and in every city this unity was evident to all the world. All Christians walked everywhere as one Church. He who was a member of Christ in one locality was so also in another, and he who had a letter of recommendation was received everywhere, because there existed but one society. The Supper was the outward sign of this unity. “We being many are one bread and one body; for we are all partakers of that one bread,” 1 Cor. 10:17. The testimony the Church gives now is rather that of proclaiming that the Holy Ghost with His power and grace is unable to surmount the causes of the divisions. The greatest part of what is called the Church is the seat of the grossest corruption, and the majority of those who boast of its light are unbelievers. Greeks, Romanists, Lutherans, Reformers cannot take the Supper together; they condemn each other. The light of God’s children who are found in the sects is hid under a bushel; and those who are separated from such bodies, because they cannot endure the corruption, are divided into hundreds of parties who will not take the Supper together. Neither the one nor the other pretends to be the Church of God, and they say that it is become invisible; but what is the value of an invisible light? Nevertheless there is no humiliation or confession in seeing the light become invisible. Unity with respect to its manifestation is destroyed. The Church—once beautiful, united, heavenly—has lost its character, is hidden in the world; and the Christians themselves—worldly, covetous, eager for riches, honour, power—like the children of the age. It is an epistle in which one cannot read a single word of Christ.20 The greatest part of what bears the name of Christian is the seat of the enemy or infidel; and the true Christians are lost in the midst of the multitude. Where can we find one loaf, the sign of one body? Where is the power of the Spirit who unites Christians in a single body? Who can deny that the Christians were thus? and are they not guilty for being no longer what they were? or shall we call it well to be in a state totally different from that in which the Church was at the beginning and from that which the word demands from us? We ought to be profoundly grieved at such a state of the Church in the world, because it no way answers to the heart and love of Christ. Men rest satisfied in being assured of their eternal salvation.

Do we seek what the word says on this point? Here is what we read there, in a general way, for what concerns every economy or dispensation, and the ways of God with the Jews and towards the branches from among the Gentiles who were substituted for the Jews (Rom. u). “On them which fell, severity; but towards thee goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.” Is it not a serious thing, when the people of God on the earth are cut off? Certainly the faithful are and will be kept; for God has no thought of failing in His faithfulness; but all the systems in which God glorifies Himself on the earth may be judged and cut off. The glory of God, His real visible presence, was once at Jerusalem, His throne was over the cherubim; but ever since the Babylonish captivity His presence abandoned Jerusalem, and His glory as well as His presence were no more in the temple in the midst of the people. And though His great patience endured long, until Christ was rejected, yet God cut them off as regards that covenant. The remnant became Christians, but all the system was terminated by judgment. Such will be the issue of the Christian system, if it continue not in the goodness of God. But it has not continued in God’s goodness.

Therefore, though I believe firmly that all true Christians will be preserved and caught up to heaven, yet for what concerns the testimony of the Church on earth, the house of God through the Spirit, it will exist no more. Peter had said already, the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God. And in Paul’s time the mystery of iniquity was already working and was to be continued till the man of sin appeared; already in the apostle’s time all sought their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s. The apostle tells us farther that after his departure there should enter among the Christians in the Church grievous wolves, not sparing the flock; and that in the last days perilous times should come, men having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof; that evil men and seducers should wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived; and that finally the apostasy should come. Now is all this continuing in God’s goodness?

And this unfaithfulness, is it a thing unknown in the history of man? God has always begun by putting His creature in a good position; but the creature invariably abandons the position in which God set it, becoming unfaithful therein. And God, after long forbearance, never re-establishes it in the position it fell from. It is not according to His ways to patch up a thing which has been spoilt; but He cuts it off, to introduce afterwards something entirely new and far better than what went before. Adam fell; and God will have the last Adam, the Lord from heaven. God gave the law to Israel, who made the calf of gold before Moses came down from the mountain; and God will write the law in the hearts of His people. God ordained the priesthood of Aaron, but his sons from the very first offered strange fire; and from that moment Aaron could no more enter the holiest with his garments of glory and beauty. God made the son of David to sit on the throne of Jehovah; but, idolatry having been introduced by him, the kingdom was divided, and the throne of the world was given of God to Nebuchadnezzar, who made a great image of gold and cast the faithful into a burning fiery furnace. In every case man was faithless; and God, having long borne with him, interposes in judgment and substitutes a better system.

It is interesting to observe how all the things in which man has broken down are established in a more excellent way in the second Man. Man shall be exalted in Christ, the law written in the heart of the Jews, priesthood be exercised by Jesus Christ. He is the Son of David who is to reign over the house of Israel; He is to govern the nations. Likewise as regards the Church, it has been unfaithful; it has not maintained the glory of God which had been confided to it. Therefore shall it be cut off as a system on the earth, the order of things established of God shall be closed by judgment, the faithful shall go up to heaven into a state much better to be conformed to the image of the Son of God, and the kingdom of the Saviour shall be established on the earth. All this will be an admirable testimony to the faithfulness of God, who will accomplish all His counsels spite of the unfaithfulness of man. But does this take away the responsibility of man? How then, as the apostle says, could God judge the world? Ought not our hearts to feel that we have cast the glory of the Lord into the dust? The mischief began in the times of the apostles: each added to it his own; and the iniquity of ages is heaped upon us; and soon the house of God will be judged. The blood of all the righteous has been required of the Jewish nation by Jesus, as also Babylon will be found guilty of the blood of all the righteous.

It is true that we shall be caught up to heaven; but, along with that, ought we not to mourn over the ruin of the house of God? Yes: formerly one, a beautiful testimony to the glory of its Head by the power of the Holy Ghost; united, heavenly, so that the world could recognize the effect of the power of the Holy Spirit who put men above all human motives, and, causing distinctions and diversities among them to disappear, made believers in all countries and of all classes to be one family, one body, one Church, a mighty testimony to the presence of God on earth in the midst of men.

But it is objected that we are not responsible for the sins of those who have gone before us. Are we not responsible for the state in which we are found? Did the Nehemiahs, the Daniels, excuse themselves for the sins of the people? Or rather, did they not mourn over the misery of the people of God as belonging to them? If we were not responsible, why then should God put them aside, why judge and destroy all the system? Why should He say, “I will come unto thee quickly and will remove thy candlestick out of its place, except thou repent”? Why does He judge Thyatira, replacing it by the kingdom? Why does He say, “I will spue thee out of my mouth”? I believe that the seven churches furnish us with the history of the Church from the beginning to the end; in all cases we have there the responsibility of Christians as to the state of the Church. It will be said perhaps that there are none but local churches which are responsible, and not the Church universal. What is certain is that God will cut off the Church as a system established on earth.

Still more to demonstrate responsibility continually from the beginning to the end, let us read in Jude, “There are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation.” They had already slipt in. “And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold the Lord cometh with ten thousand of his saints to execute judgment upon all.” Thus those who in the time of Jude had already crept in would bring the judgments on the profane professors of Christianity. In this epistle we have the three classes of iniquity and their progress. In Cain there is purely human iniquity; in Balaam ecclesiastical iniquity; and in Korah rebellion, and then they perish. In the field where the Lord had sown the good seed, while men slept the enemy sowed tares. It is very true that the good seed is gathered into the garner, but the negligence of the servants has left the enemy the opportunity of spoiling the Master’s work. Shall we be indifferent to the state of the Church, beloved of the Lord, indifferent to the divisions that the Lord has forbidden? No;21 let us humble ourselves, dear brethren, let us own our fault and have done with it. Let us walk faithfully, each for his part, and endeavour to find once more the unity of the Church and the testimony of God. Let us cleanse ourselves from all evil and all iniquity. If it is possible for us to gather together in the name of the Lord, it is a great blessing; but it is essential that this be done in the unity of the Church of God and in the true liberty of the Spirit.

If the house of God is still on the earth and the Holy Spirit abides in it, is He not grieved at the state of the Church? And if He abides in us, should not our hearts be afflicted and humbled at the dishonour done to Christ and the destruction of the testimony that the Holy Ghost is come down from heaven to bear in the unity of the Church of God? He who will confront the state of the Church, as it is described to us in the New Testament with its present state, will feel his heart profoundly saddened by seeing the Church’s glory dragged into the dust and the enemy triumphing in the confusion of the people of God.

Finally, Christ has confided His glory on earth to the Church. It was the depositary of that glory. There the world ought to have seen it displayed by the power of the Holy Ghost, a testimony to the victory of Christ over Satan, death, and all the enemies that He has led captive, triumphing over them in the cross. Has the Church preserved this deposit and maintained the glory of Christ on the earth? If this has not been done, tell me, Christian, is the Church responsible for it? Was the servant, to whom the Lord entrusted the care of His house (Matt. 24), responsible or not for the state of his Master’s house? It will be said, perhaps, that the wicked servant is the outward church, which is corrupted and is not really the Church: as for me, I am not a member of it at all. But I reply that, in the parable, the servant is alone; and the question is whether this sole servant is faithful or unfaithful? It may be true that you are separate from the iniquity which fills the house of God, and you have done well; but is not your heart bowed down because of the state of that house? The Lord shed tears of grief over Jerusalem; and shall we shed none over that which is still dearer to His heart? Here the glory of the Lord has been trampled under foot: shall we say that we are not responsible for it? His only servant is held accountable. Even though, individually guided by the word, I may be apart from all the iniquity which corrupts the house of God, nevertheless, as Christ’s servant, I ought to identify myself with the glory of Christ, and with its manifestations to the world. It is in this that faith is shewn: not merely in believing that God and Christ possess the glory, but in identifying this glory with His people (Exod. 32:11, 12Num. 14:13-192 Cor. 1:20). First, God entrusts His glory to man, who is responsible to maintain himself in his position, and to be faithful in it, without leaving his first estate; by and by God will establish His own glory according to His counsels. But, first of all, man is responsible where God has set him. We have been set in the Church of God, in His house, in the habitation of His glory on the earth: where is it?

17 This is an incontestable proof that the pope cannot be the head of the Church, because if Christ is the Head, one body cannot have two heads.

18 Be it observed that there are no keys for the Church. One does not build with keys. The keys are for the kingdom.

19 Be it observed that the apostle speaks only of the prophets of the New Testament.

20 It is not said that we ought to be the epistle of Christ, but “ye are the epistle of Christ.”

21 In 1 Timothy we have the order of the Church, the house of God; in 2 Timothy we have the rule to follow when the Church is in disorder. For our God has provided for all difficulties, that we should be faithful and depart from all iniquity.

By: John Darby

The Burnt-offering—Leviticus 1

There is a very definite distinction between the first two sacrifices we have here, to which the third is an appendix, and the others. The burnt-offering and the meat-offering stand alone; dependent on these you get the peace-offering, and then those of another character, the sin and trespass offerings.

Wherever we meet the actual use and presentation of the offerings, it is in the opposite order to the revelation of them here. In the revelation we get them as God presents them, as He sees Christ: but in the use of them, my need comes first. Here, it is God’s side, a sacrifice by fire of a sweet savour to the Lord: that expression is never used of the sin-offering, except in one single verse.

It gives a very definite character to these two first, that it is their aspect towards God, Hischaracter and nature. When we come as sinners, we come in respect of what our sins are, but our apprehension of what the meaning and value of Christ’s death is, is greatly enhanced by seeing God’s part in it. I must confess my sins—it is the only true way of coming; and I find there is propitiation through faith in His blood, and then I find all that is essential in these sacrifices as regards God.

There is no particular sin here: it was for sin of course, but it was not an individual confessing some particular sin. It is striking enough, that until you come to the institution of the law, you never get sin-offerings, except in the case of Cain, of which I do not doubt myself (though I know it is a question of interpretation), that it is, “a sin-offering lieth at the door.” Sin and sin-offering is the same word; that word is never used again in that way, till the law—we get burnt-offerings and peace-offerings often.

The burnt-offering is the great basis, because it is God’s glory in what has been done for sin. We must come, as I said, by the sin-offering. “He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins”; but it is another thing, beloved friends, when I look at Christ’s offering and sacrifice, as glorifying God perfectly in all that He is, and that in respect of sin. He said, “Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life,” a very remarkable word, for none could give a “therefore” to God for His love; Christ could. The difference between divine love and human love is, that God commendeth His love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. If man gets sufficient motive, he will sacrifice his life; but without any motive, Christ gave Himself, God gave His Son: it characterises the love. InJohn 10:11, He lays down His life “for the sheep”; but in verse 17, He does not say it is for the sheep. He has glorified God in death, in the place of sin, and He is glorified as man at the right hand of God. He goes up into that place where we get morally what the sacrifice was in God’s sight.

There is nothing about sins in this chapter, though sin was there, blood-shedding, death, shewing sin was the thing in question; and yet the sacrifice was absolutely a sweet savour, that blessed character of the sacrifice of Christ, which settles every question of good and evil in God’s sight. There was this terrible thing, that sin had come in, in the creature of God’s predilection. People say that Adam learned to know evil, whereas he had only known good before; but that is not at all the point. “The man is become as one of us,knowing good and evil.” It is knowing the difference between right and wrong.

Man was the one in whom God was going to be perfectly glorified; His delights were with the sons of men, and He did not take up angels, but the seed of Abraham; we are to be eternally conformed to the image of God’s Son. In the meantime, Satan had prevailed over the first man; after lust came transgression, and all was over as regards his responsibility. His state was made to depend on one single thing that required obedience. He might have eaten of all the trees in the garden, if God had not told him not; it was not a question of any positive sin, but the claim of obedience. It was a thing to put angels to confusion, God’s beautiful thing ruined! Lust and violence came in, till God had to destroy it all. Everybody knows what the evil is; you cannot go into a great city like this, without knowing that the evil is such, none but God Himself could have patience with it; it has been truly said, if trusted to one of us, we should destroy it in an hour. Man, in the hand of Satan, degraded himself and turned everything to confusion.

Another thing, beloved friends; God tried man in every way. The question was raised, was there any remedy for this? In the first place He destroyed them with judgment— then He called Abraham—then came the test of the law; all the things required by the law were duties already—the law did not make them duties, but it was God’s statement of the obligation of those duties and God’s claim upon man to fulfil them. The sacrifices were introduced consequent upon that. As to the state of man’s heart, nothing could have been more decided, than when he cast God off, for the one thing he was told not to do. Then came a totally distinct thing. Man being not only a sinner but a transgressor, God comes in goodness reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing trespasses. He came in perfect goodness close to man, touched man, so to speak—holiness in all His walk, but divine love in everything He did—made flesh and dwelt among us; not visiting merely as with Abraham; but He was down here as a man, manifesting what He was towards men. That was the last trial to which God put man, to see whether there was anything He could awaken in man towards God. Come in goodness from His Father, walking amongst men in grace, so that there was no sorrow He did not meet—and we know how it ended for the time; He was totally rejected, and that closed man’s history, his moral history. Not only had he sinned so that he had to be turned out of an innocent paradise, because he was not innocent, but he had rejected God’s Son, come in love.

But now came the accomplishment of the divine work of redemption; there was a sacrifice*. I get the blessed Son of God giving Himself, made sin in God’s sight, totally alone, and, as to the suffering of His soul, forsaken of God. I get the sin dealt with. I must come by my guilt, but this presents it from God’s end. I get absolute evil in man, and He met man with the perfect revelation of good. But it drew out hatred—that was the effect; the carnal mind, enmity against God—hatred against God manifested in goodness. I get Satan’s power complete over man; Christ’s own disciples forsaking Him, the rest wagging their heads at Him, glad to get rid of God and good. He had gone so low for our guilt and God’s glory, that even the thief hung with Him could insult Him!

With the blessed Lord Himself I find just the opposite: Man in perfect goodness, love to the Father and obedience at all cost: “that the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do”: perfect in the place of sin, where this question had been brought to an issue, made sin in God’s sight in perfect love to His Father and perfect obedience. But further, in the cross, I see God in absolute righteousness against sin, in perfect love to the sinner; man in absolute badness; Satan’s complete power; man in absolute obedience.

That laid the basis of it all; it brought angels desiring to look into it, to see the Just suffering for the unjust! It was not weak mercy giving up holiness and righteousness, but the absolute expression of majesty and righteousness. “It became him,” that if God’s Son were made sin, He must be dealt with as such, there was no escape! He gave Himself for it, “a body hast thou prepared me.” Totally alone there, none to comfort Him, strong bulls of Bashan around; He says, “Be not thou far from me, O Lord,” and He had to be forsaken of God.

The condition man was in was that it was his delight to get rid of God, and God, too, not come to judge him, but to reconcile him to Himself! But God’s eternal counsels were in it, and Christ gave Himself. All that God is, was brought out and made good there, when man under Satan’s power had succeeded in getting rid of Christ, He giving up Himself. God was glorified in Him. There was the secret work of God, God using the very thing by which Satan sought to frustrate it, to accomplish it. Satan’s power seemed to have its way when he got rid of Christ from the world, but all was then brought to an issue before God; and that gives the immutability of the blessing. All was finished on which everlasting righteousness is founded. It was not a state of innocence whose preservation hung on yet unsatisfied responsibility: the unchanging blessing of the new heavens and the new earth, depends on that—the worth of which cannot change.

Morally speaking, the cross maintains it all. The question of good and evil, raised in the garden of Eden, was settled in the cross. I get the blessed Son of God, never using His divine power to screen Himself from suffering, not using it to hinder the suffering, but to sustain Him in it, to enable Him to bear what none could have gone through without it. When I come to God in this way, I apprehend what sin is, not merely my actual sins, but that in me dwelleth no good thing. I get One, hanging upon the cross, made sin before God at the very moment when the full character of sin was manifested in the rejection of Christ. And there, where man was wholly a sinner, and Christ stood in that place for him, all that God is, was brought out. Where could you find full righteousness against sin? In no place but the cross, which gives perfect righteousness against sin and love to the sinner in that same blessed work, and that in a man, and when sin was brought out in its worst character.

Look at Him at the grave of Lazarus; a wonderful scene! The Lord was there in perfect obedience, for when they sent the tenderest message to Him: “Lord, he whom thou lovest is sick”; He abode still two days where He was. Death was weighing upon their spirits: what made Him weep? He was not weeping for Lazarus. Death was there, and it seemed all overbut no, “I am the resurrection and the life.” I am come into this scene where death is lying on your hearts. I am the resurrection and the life in the midst of it; and when that was shewn, which even Thomas saw was on His path, He goes out Himself to die! There did not remain a slur or stain upon what God is. Not only was His righteous judgment against sin shewn, as it could be nowhere else, but His love, in that He spared not His own Son. That work and act of Christ, went up as a sweet savour to God; He gives Himself in perfect devoted love to His Father; perfect love was manifested, and all that God is. “Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in him”: outward dishonour, but moral glory; what was in the nature of God, and what was in man as hatred against God, all brought out, Christ giving Himself up wholly and totally, that God should be perfectly glorified; so that in that sense of the word, God was a debtor to man for the infinite glory brought to Him, and that where sin had come in, where death had come in! He hung there as made sin, and God is more glorified, than if sin had never come in. It is a wonderful thing—nothing like it! He does bear our sins, blessed be His name, but when we see the blessed Son of God made sin, there is nothing like that! None of us can speak of it properly, but I trust your hearts will look at it and feed upon it.

But what I have not yet referred to is, that the offerer was to do it, for his acceptance. I leave the offering now, for the man who comes by it. “By faith, Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts.” Coming by that sacrifice—it is important our hearts should get hold of it— I am accepted in the Beloved, in all its sweet savour. I go to God in the sweet savour of all that Christ is; not simply that my sins are put away—there I can stand in righteousness as to my sins before God—but coming by that in which God delights, He delights in me as in it, loved as Christ is loved; it brings into fellowship and communion with God, as to the value of Christ’s place. I know He takes perfect delight in me—a worthless creature in myself—and the more I know it, the better; but there is no condemnation for them that are in Christ Jesus. I go to God in Him, in the perfect sweet savour of Christ. It is not a question of any particular sin, but I go to God with the consciousness of being received and delighted in; I go, as the fruit of the travail of His soul. God sees in me, the perfection of Christ’s work, and it is for ever and ever; but it rests upon our hearts now.

We must come by the sin-offering, but we get in this a great deal more; no actual sin spoken of, but the sense of what His glory requires, accomplished in Christ where sin was, so that there is nothing also in the character of God not perfectly glorified, and that in love to us. Not merely my sins are put away, but I go offering Christ, so to speak. I present Christ, and God testifies of the gift. I say, what is the measure of my righteousness? Christ; and therefore we are received to the glory of God. And now, in weakness and infirmity here, speaking of our standing before God, it is in all the delight He had, not merely in Christ as a living Man, but in all the perfection of His work in the place of sin, where all that He is was glorified—obedient unto death.

I do not like saying, Where are your hearts about it? but— what I do desire for us all—Does my soul go to God, owning that righteousness of God, that love of God, the gift of God in it, and that He testifies of the gifts?

May He give us to see, what we never can fathom, what it was to that Holy One to be made sin, He who was the delight of the Father’s bosom; that our souls may feed on Him, eat His flesh and drink His blood—not only know that we are washed from our sins.

The Meat-offering—Leviticus 2

In the burnt-offering, beloved friends, we had the way in which Christ, sin being in the world, offered Himself without spot to God. Here, we have more His perfectness in detail, brought down to us. The priests ate part of the meat-offering, they ate nothing of the burnt-offering. We get what Christ was in His perfectness down here, all the characters and traits of that perfectness, but brought to us; the burnt-offering was not brought to us, but was burned entirely before God. Sin was there, atonement made—not sins, but sin—and it was a perfect sweet savour to God. Here, it is more the detail of what He was as a man, but burned with fire—the test of His perfectness.

Verse 1. Here, I get the general character of the Lord: fine flour, perfect humanity, “this man hath done nothing amiss,” as the poor thief said on the cross. Then the oil (the Spirit) and frankincense put upon it: perfect in Himself, without sin, in every sense, and then the Holy Ghost sent in bodily shape like a dove, and abiding on Him. He could not join Himself with Israel, fof they were sinners and unbelieving, but there was a remnant called out of God by the ministry of John the Baptist, and He goes with them in their first right step. When He thus came out publicly, the Holy Ghost came upon Him. He takes His place, in a public way, among this remnant who were going right, under the testimony of John the Baptist, and so, blessed be His Name, He does with us in our first right step. We need redemption to bring us into the place where He stood by reason of His own perfectness. He was sealed with the Holy Ghost; we get it because of the blood; the leper was first washed, then sprinkled with blood and then anointed with oil. He made the place into which we are brought by redemption. Heaven opened, a Man upon earth, upon whom the Holy Ghost descends and abides; and the Father’s voice came, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” But He must die, to bring us into it. The gift of the Holy Ghost was confined to Him until redemption was accomplished, He had to finish the work and take His place on high.

We get the fine flour, and the oil, and the frankincense upon it, the perfect sweet savour of His life to God; not the sweet savour of the sacrifice, but all His life His words and works, a sinless Man, passing through this world; all He said and did was by the Holy Ghost. He was the Anointed Man, which is what the name Messiah or Christ means. “He whom God hath sent, speaketh the words of God, for God giveth not the Spirit by measure.”

Verse 2. Here we get what was very sweet, as to the path of Christ, in which we have to seek to follow Him. The handful was all burned to God. Christ, looked at as Man, was burned to God; “the flour thereof, the oil thereof, and all the frankincense thereof.” Here I get the perfectness of Christ in His path—that He never did anything to be seen of men; it all went entirely up to God. The savour of it was sweet to the priests, but it all was addressed to God. Serving man, the Holy Ghost was in all His ways, but all the effect of the grace that was in Him, was in His own mind always toward God; even if for man, it was to God. And so with us; nothing should come in, no motive, except what is to God. We see inEphesians 4:32; ch. 5:1, 2, the grace towards man, and the perfectness of man towards God as the Object. “Be ye imitators of God as dear children.” In all our service as following Christ here, we get these two principles; our affections towards God and our Father, and the operation of His love in our hearts towards those in need: the more wretched the object of service in the latter case, the truer the love and the more simply the motive is to God. We may love down and love up; and the more wretched and unworthy the persons are, for whom I lay myself out for blessing, the more grace there is in it. “God commendeth his love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” But while that is true, yet as to the state of my heart, the higher the object, the more elevated the affection. With Christ it was perfect. How can a poor creature like me be an imitator of God? Was not Christ an example, God, seen in a man? And we are to “walk in love, as Christ also loved us, and gave himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God.” He gave Himself for us, butto God; it was God’s grace towards poor wretched sinners.

If we look at ourselves, we shall soon see how motives get mixed up, and things come in, even where there is right true-hearted purpose; and that is where we have to watch. In Christ, all was perfect; all, every bit of it, as to spring and motive, was for God’s glory in this world. No thought of men, as to pleasing them, but that singleness of eye which looked to God alone, though full of kindness to man—loving down, in that sense, but ever looking up, with His God and Father before His eye, which made Him perfect in everything. He was perfect, of course, could not be anything else.

Now, it is not that the priests could not smell the sweet savour of the sacrifice, but it was not offered to them, it was all burned to God: as regards His own path, not a feeling that was not entirely to God—for us, but to God. It was that which was perfectly acceptable to God.

Verse 3. Here is where we are brought, looked at as priests, our eye opened. It was the food of the offering of Jehovah, but it is our food too; we must be priests to have it, it is most holy to the Lord. I may see external beauties in Christ, I might write a book on the beautiful traits in His character— but that is not Christ’s life. It is an entirely different thing when the priest gets it as God’s food. (I am bold to use the word, for scripture does so.) The priests ate it, while as to the frankincense everything was burned wholly to God. In the burnt-offering the priest did not eat anything; it was the absolute offering of Himself to God. There was a sustaining power, a perfectly holy power, and all perfectly acceptable to God; but then at the same time, it is what we feed upon as priests. We get our souls formed into delighting in Christ, by realising in our spirits, what God Himself, the Father, takes such delight in. It is a blessed place; we need, and have to seek spiritual apprehension, to find what it is that makes Christ the delight of the Father—what was the expression of that grace, always well pleasing to Him.

We follow His path in the Gospels, and we see always perfect love to us poor things, but everything perfectly and absolutely done to the Father. Turn to Matthew 17 where we get a bright example of the condescending grace with which He associates us with Himself, while shewing Himself to be the Son of the Father, in divine knowledge and power. It was just after the transfiguration, where the heavenly glory of the kingdom was revealed; His ministry as come into the midst of Israel, according to promise, closed, so that He strictly forbade them to say that He was the Christ. But what does He give them instead, if not yet in the glory revealed on the mount? This tribute was not to the heathen emperors, but what had been ordained in Ezra’s time for the expenses of the temple services. They come and ask Peter, Does not his Master pay it? in fact, was He a good Jew? Peter says, Yes; he does not look further. But when he comes into the house, the Lord anticipates him; He shews who He is, He knows all divinely, the Son of the great King, Jehovah, and He joins Peter with Himself; children of the great King of the temple. Then He shews His divine power over creation, and makes the fish bring Him the money and the exact sum,19 and again puts Peter with Himself; “that take and give them for thee and me.” We find the place He took in lowliness down here, but while taking the low place, bringing us into the high place with Himself. We are changed from glory to glory as we gaze upon Him, but it is the humiliation side, as in Philippians 2, which wins our affections.

Satan sought to get Him out of that absolute singleness of eye, in which He was perfect: “command that these stones be made bread”; but He had no orders to do it, no word out of the mouth of God: that was His manna, and He came as a servant. In Philippians 3 you get the other side—Christ glorified, and Paul running after to win Christ; the energy which hinders other things getting possession of the heart. But it is the humiliation side we get here—Christ humbling Himself, making Himself of no reputation, that I may run in the same path and spirit, for the glory of the Father. Was He ever impatient? Did He ever do a single thing for Himself? It was always God, His Father, in one sense, His disciples and the poor world, in another. And where the affections are drawn out, it is always on this humbled side. It is touching to go through the gospels, and to get sufficiently intimate with Christ, to see His motives in everything; but this is much to say, and requires to live much with Him; but this is blessing. When I get “thee and me,” what a strange putting together that is! And He does it with us too: knowing who He is, the Son of the Father down here, He says, “thee and me.” If you get to trace Him through all the path, you never get anything but perfectness.

When I think of the death of Christ, His love to the Father, taking the cup the Father gave Him to drink, I find my delight, my soul bowed down at the thought of all the love and obedience that was in it. And He says, “Therefore doth my Father love me.” It is God’s food too! We shall soon see how far He is beyond our thoughts.

Now (verse 4) we get some details, to bring out Christ more perfectly. “Unleavened cakes.” The general truth was there before, but here we get no trace or form of sin in Him: nor indeed employment of mere amiability of nature, or what refreshes nature; neither can be in a sacrifice. Unleavened cakes with no honey in them. Leaven is not found in an offering except on the day of Pentecost, when we come in; there, consequently there is. The cakes were offered to God, but not burnt on the altar for a sweet savour, and a sin-offering was offered with them. There are two characters here: Christ, looked at as man, was born of the Holy Ghost, no sin in Him; we are born in sin, and get a new nature, but He was personally perfect, no leaven in Him at all. Instead of leaven, it was fine flour mingled with oil—as to His flesh, He was born of the Spirit. Then it is added, “unleavened wafers anointed with oil”: Christ received the Spirit as man, down here, to walk as man, in the power of the Holy Ghost, in obedience; and then, having gone up on high to the Father, He sends the Spirit down upon us. The Father (John 14) sends Him, that we may cry, Abba;and on the other hand, Christ sends Him from the Father, as the testimony to what He is at the right hand of God. We cannot get the anointing and the sealing, that is the Holy Ghost, till we are washed with water and have faith in the efficacy of Christ’s blood.

Verse 6. “Thou shalt part it in pieces”; every bit of Christ (in figure), every word He said, everything He did, all was perfect, the expression of what was divine in a man down here: not only that His general life expressed the fruits of the Spirit, but every word, every work, all absolutely perfect. Now, we may in a general way walk in the Spirit, but we often fail. But I can follow Him any day, and every day, and find “nothing amiss.” It is a wonderful thing to look round this world of sin and wretchedness, and be able to trace one Person everywhere and every when, and find nothing but what was perfect. No matter what it was—obedience, love, grace, firmness—all that came out was the expression of what was perfect, in and for the place where He was. Beloved friends, I am sure I trust you do, but I would exhort you, in that way, to feed on Christ; “he that eateth Me, even he shall live by Me.” In studying Him down here, the soul gets intimate with Him; we feed on that on which God our Father feeds.

Verses 7-9. Here I get another element. When the fire of God’s judgment tested Christ, there was only a sweet savour. Now, if we get tested, alas! often the flesh comes out—I do not say always. He got tested by the evil of man, the terrible-ness of death, the power of Satan, and finally by the judgment of God (the proper meaning of fire as a figure), and nothing came out but what was absolutely a sweet savour. God says He is the elect and precious stone, and to the believer He is precious too!

Verse 11. “Brought to the Lord,” that is the point; I must have a Christ, wholly and entirely giving Himself up to God. “Nor any honey”: mere sweetness of nature cannot come in. There are sweet things which God Himself has established, but Christ was entirely outside all these things: not as condemning them—when His work was over, He could commit His mother to John. There are things which God graciously gives us here, but you cannot put them as a sacrifice. They are of God in themselves: only sin has come in and spoiled the whole thing. The honey itself was not wrong. The coming of Titus comforted Paul; he got in the conflict, like Jonathan, a little honey on the top of his rod, so to speak. And the comfort was of God, who comforts them that are cast down. The poor woman at the well, the thief on the cross, were Christ’s comforters. Honey cannot come into the sacrifice: neither the sin of nature, nor mere natural joy, can come into the sacrifice of Christ. The condemning it is all a mistake; Christ carefully maintained what God had originally established: but now, we get a drunken husband beating his wife, children who are a torture to their parents; for sin has come in, though the relationships are of God. But when you come to what is for. God, there can be no more honey than leaven.

Verse 13. Another principle here. I get “salt,” that is not sweetness. It is complete separation of heart to God—the salt of the covenant of our God. God in sovereign grace has taken me up, and separated me to Himself; it is the positive side, which preserves me for God and with God; and that, beloved friends, is what we are to desire: it is not merely no leaven and no honey; that is the negative side. There is no separation by ourselves inus; we cannot make holiness: it is holiness to the Lord, the heart separated to God in everything; a separation of heart and spirit with no pretension in it, for we are bought with a price, therefore glorify God in your body. Through the work of the Lord Jesus Christ, the everlasting covenant, we are brought to God. Do I go and leave God to go to some vanity?—I do not say sin: I do not care what it is—the savour of Christ, of God, is gone. But in Christ, and walking with Him in the heart, I see a Man always separated in heart to Godit stamped everything.

It is not that we are to be heroes every day. I may see a person energetic in his service, but it may not come directly from God; it is a totally different thing, as regards our service, when it does. Look at 1 Thessalonians 1:3Revelation 2:1, etc. You get here the three things spoken of in 1 Corinthians 13; faith, hope, love. In 1 Thessalonians 1 I get the principle of direct association with God in each operation of grace, which gives it its power and character. It is work, labour, and patience, but “work of faith, labour of love, patience of hope of our Lord Jesus Christ before our God and Father.” I may go and serve the poor—very right and sweet—but is God’s love in it? Patience is a very good thing, but am I waiting for Christ to come? In Revelation 2 there was work and labour and patience; but they had left their first love; the freshness and spring was not as it had been, not coming forth from and in immediate intercourse with God, so as to carry it in the power of God to the person’s soul. There should be the salt of the covenant of our God j it is obligatory to have our service right, though sovereign grace; always serving in immediate intercourse with God. It is not merely that there is no sin, leaven, or honey, but positive spiritual energy, that associates my heart with God in all that I do. Only remember, that with us, there is no holiness without an object, “changed into the same image from glory to glory.” We cannot have holiness in ourselves; that is God’s prerogrative; we cannot do without that which is perfectly blessed before us—only God has so bound us up with Christ, that while He is the power of the life in which we walk in it, He is the expression of that divine life in a man down here, and beholding Him in glory, we are delivered from the motives which would have hindered our walking thus, and furnished with those which form us into His likeness.

Verse 14. Here, I get Christ as the first-fruits to God. And another thing: He has been in the fire. All this blessed grace in His life has been fully and perfectly tried, even to death and judgment—not looking at Christ’s death as atonement, but looking at Him in His trials to see whether nothing but a sweet savour would come out. The only time when He asked that the cup might pass from Him, it was piety. When it was the terrible cup of God’s wrath, He could not go through it without feeling what it was: it was piety, which shrank from the forsaking of God, it was the thing that tested His obedience absolutely. He had been tried by man’s hatred, by Satan’s power in death and the terror of judgment; but it was a very different thing, when He had to drink that cup, the Holy One of God to be made sin and He before God as such— the One eternally in the bosom of the Father, having to say, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” But here was His perfectness; “The cup that my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?” He was tested and was always perfect. Supposing it had been possible He had not gone on, it would have shewn all His obedience to be imperfect, that when perfectly tested, it would not stand. But there was not a single thing but His own absolute divine perfectness that stood! His disciples forsook him. All else were against Him, and when He turned to God, it was, “Why hast thou forsaken me?” There was absolute testing, and He went through the fire as a sweet savour. “Therefore doth my Father love me.” Sin, death had come in, Satan’s power; and He goes through it all, in the power of absolute obedience and love to His Father— the testing to the end. There is the perfection of the thing which we have seen; perfect in its origin, perfect as sealed by the Holy Ghost, and now perfect when tested to the utmost, obedient unto death. Therefore God also hath highly exalted Him and given Him a Name which is above every name. He has gone back there as Man, in virtue of what He was down here. And here, beloved brethren, is what we have got to think of; all Christ’s perfectness in His life, and on the other side, perfectness according to the covenant of salt in His death: not then saying, “I know that thou hearest me always,” but, though doing that which perfectly pleased the Father, of which He could say, “Therefore doth my Father love me,” yet, as to relief and comfort at the time, none from man (there could be none from Satan), none from God. The basis of eternal blessing was laid then according to the glory of God.

I have got Him in all His life through, as the meat-offering, to feed upon, study, get acquainted with—to feed upon thai which was perfectly offered to God.

The Lord only give us to do it, and then, when we meet Him, it will be joy.

The Peace-offering—Leviticus 3

This portion is different in character from what we had before, and closes this particular class of offerings.

The burnt-offering was not for particular sins, but it was atonement: Christ made sin for us (the difference may be clearly seen in Hebrews 9: compare John 1) but offering Himself entirely to God, so that in the fact of being made sin, the highest perfection of love and obedience was found: all the perfectness of Christ Himself towards God, and surely of love to us; but more—all that God is, perfectly glorified.

Chapter 2 takes up Christ as a man upon the earth, the character of Christ as thus come: burned in the fire, that is, tested by the perfectness of divine judgment, and nothing but a sweet savour: all the frankincense went up to God. It is a wonderful description in detail of what Christ was in all His path—no leaven, no honey, no earthly affection, or comfort in His sacrifice (He was a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief), but salt and a sweet savour to the Lord. In one case the cake was broken into pieces, and every piece was anointed, to shew that everything He did or word He spoke was by the power of the Spirit.

Chapter 3 gives us not only the offering, but the fellowship of the saints in the offering. While in the previous ones Christ Himself was presented, He is here presented along with our partaking of it: they ate it: the blood and the fat offered to the Lord, and then the offerer partaking in what was offered. Other elements were connected with it; but in all this there was nothing to say to sin—an immensely important principle as to what is properly worship.

In the burnt-offering, there was nothing of positive acts of sin, but we get the notion of sin being in the world, and approach to God referring to its presence there, and Christ glorifying God, as a victim for it, doing such a service that He could say, “therefore doth my Father love me”; but the work in itself was a perfect glorifying of God, as He could not have been glorified otherwise. “That the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father hath given me commandment even so I do.” There was perfect love to the Father, besides the question of our sins, and perfect obedience: perfect love when He was forsaken, and the obedience was perfected when it cost Him that forsaking. His motives too were perfect: love to us surely, but love to His Father, obedient when God was forsaking Him. The more terrible the suffering, the more dreadful the cup, the greater the sacrifice. It is such a comfort for us that that question of sin before God has been perfectly gone into and settled. That solemn question, Christ takes up and puts Himself forward in grace to glorify God in it and by it: where man was against Him, the devil against Him, all the world against Him, the disciples ran away, comfort He had none, and in death, God Himself forsook Him. When everything outward, human and devilish was against Him, and He cried to God, then He was forsaken of God: it was the righteous judgment of God against Him, because He was made sin for us: then He goes as man to sit down on the right hand of God. That is all settled; and I can look at Christ as the sweet savour, in the absolute perfectness in which He offered Himself to God and was tested in His obedience. Then in chapter 2 all the blessed perfectness of Christ in His life, tested, tried, broken to pieces, comes out.

In chapter 3 we get worship: they fed upon what God fed on. In our association with God, our intercourse with God, in worship, there is nothing about sin: it is that which is all gone, through Christ’s offering Himself for us, and then I come to God with Christ in my hand, so to speak, I present Him to God and I feed upon Him. I come with that which is perfectly acceptable to God. It is not that there are not faults and failings in us—but here I dwell on the offering itself; it was a perfect burnt-offering made by fire unto the Lord. All that was in the inwards, everything that is in Christ was absolutely offered to God. I get the blood, which was the life; the fat, the sign of the energy of nature, all given to God—no thought with Christ, no act, no object, but His Father. It was for us, thank God! but still absolutely to God: no infirmity, no listlessness of heart, but all given to God entirely, all the inward fat burned to God. Mark, not bearing our sins—that is never called a sweet savour except in one particular case. He was made sin, and that was not a sweet savour, though He was never so holy and perfect as then.

When we come worshipping, it is not even about Christ as the One who put away our sins; I can approach to worship because of that, my conscience being purged; but worship is in the sense that the thing I am feeding upon is a sweet savour to God, what my soul feeds on, nourishes itself by. The worshipper is connected with the sacrifice, and the question of sin is not touched in it, though blood always supposes it to have been there: it is the food of God become my food. It is a blessed thing to see Christ’s perfectness; that every thought, feeling, motive, everything He was, every movement of His heart was absolutely to God. “In that he liveth, he liveth unto God.” (I take the principle merely.) In everything in which there was energy, there was no energy of self-will; it was a perfect giving of Himself to God—the only One in whom it ever was in that perfectness. “Hereby know we love, because he laid down his life for us,” 1 John 3:16. We ought to walk like Him, love the brethren, lay down our lives for them, but then it should be to God.

I bless God, that in His sovereign grace, His blessed Son took my sins and bore them upon the cross; but when I go to God to worship, it is as occupied with that One who is perfectly acceptable to God. Abel came with the fat of his lambs and God gave testimoney to his gifts. Here, the worshipper comes and feeds upon it, and the Lord had His food of the offering; it was what characterised it. And see how close it brings us to God; why, so to speak, I am sitting at the same table with God, feeding on the same thing He is feeding on (only all was offered to Him and so I eat it)!—the Lord’s food of the offering. I sit down and eat, there is no question of my sins, but of the sweetness of Christ—I talking to God about itour true intercourse with God is that. “He that eateth me,” etc. Here I get that the very thing my soul is feeding on, delighting in, is the food and the delight of God; we get this nearness to God, the soul enjoying what God Himself is delighting inthe offerer comes to God by it, has intercourse with God about it. It is not prayer, the peace-offering was never prayer; when I pray, I go to God about my wants, and prayer will occur even in the highest place—for when I think of the blessedness of Christ, I say, Would to God I were like Him! and it turns to prayer; but still that is a different thing from worship, though it may and will accompany it. I pray as regards my need; I worship in the sense of what I have got. God delights in what Christ is—inexpressibly of course; my soul draws near with Him in my hand, and I find I am going on with God. It was put upon the burnt-offering, identified with it. But all this worship of God supposes no more conscience of sins. “Their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.” It is no question whether I can be accepted or not, but coming with Christ in my hand I come by Him, as having offered Himself, in the consciousness that my soul is occupied with that which is God’s highest delight. A wonderful thought! it shews what we ought to be and what our worship ought to be; and what we eat turns to be part of ourselves.

The character of the peace-offering was, it was presented to the Lord, not as bearing our sins; all true worship of God supposes the question of sin to be totally settled for ever. Chastening, we may get in passing through the wilderness, but the question of imputation, of having sins on us before God, is done with for ever. Sin is a dreadful thing, but it was all settled between God and Christ, when He was made sin for us. But the heart is apt to stay there in thinking of that. Well, without that, we could not get into heaven; but the proper worship of heaven consists in delighting in what God is, what Christ is, when He offered Himself a sweet savour to God. We cannot come at all except by that sacrifice: we turn to God and we find Christ bore our sins; but what I press now is, that as regards that, the whole thing is settled. “Where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.” “When he had by himself purged our sins he sat down.” We are not like the poor Jews—I enter into the holiest, but more than that: have I nothing to bring, my heart no offering to bring to God? Yes, in Christ there is that in which God delights, and I come to God presenting Him.

Chapter 7:13. Besides the unleavened cakes leavened bread was offered; here we have got ourselves. I come with the offering that has been slain, with Christ in my hand, and I find too all the blessed perfectness of the meat-offering, His perfection as Man, the fine flour, no leaven at all: God delighted in Him as a living Man. I get it anointed with oil, mingled with oil, the perfectness of His manhood and besides that, now leavened bread; there am I, the worshipper. If I come to God, I own the sin, the leaven in me, but that cannot be burned as a sweet savour. I come with the leaven. I cannot say I am sinless, as Christ; I cannot be “that Holy thing,” but I come with Christ in my hand. I come with the knowledge of my imperfection, but with that in which I am most perfectly accepted. God takes knowledge of that by which I come; all sins blotted out and forgiven, but I cannot say I have no sin, that is all a mistake; it is leavened bread, the leaven within, and we cannot help its being there, though not allowing it to act. The point is, I go with the sense in my soul that I have leaven: if I say I have no sin, as a present thing, I deceive myself, and the truth is not in me. There is no forgiveness for sin; for sins there is; but “what the law could not do,” etc., “God condemned sin in the flesh.” I get deliverance from any thought of this leaven hindering me, for I find God condemned it when Christ died. I do not talk of His forgiving it,it was all gone when Christ died. I cannot say I have none in me, but I can say I died with Christ, and I am hot in it. “I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name’s sake,” i John 2:12.

There is no such thing as an unforgiven Christian. It is very interesting to see the work of God in a soul on the road towards peace; all that has its place; but that is before I have got the knowledge of the blood which cleanses it all, of the blessed truth that the blow which rent the veil and opened the holiness of God upon me, presented me there without a veil, but fit to stand in it. A Christian is a forgiven person; but I cannot say sin is not there. When I see the sin, I say, why God must condemn me for it! and in one sense it is quite true, He must; but why condemn you when He has condemned it in Christ already? I do not come denying that I am leavened; I own it; but what I present to God is not myself, it could not be burnt for a sweet savour, and I have a title, in that sense, to forget it, because God has dealt with it in Christ, and then I come with unleavened bread to keep the feast.

When the offering was a vow, they could eat it for two days; when a thanksgiving, for one day only. If my heart is full of Christ in the power of the Spirit of God, it connects all my worship with the value of Christ’s offering to God, it is associated with that before God, I have fellowship with God as to it. But supposing I go on, and sing, say a hymn, and instead of thinking of the blessedness of Christ and of the Father’s love, I get enjoying the singing; I disconnect the worship from Christ. Take our common worship; is it connected with Christ’s acceptableness to God? if not, it has lost its savour; apart from that sacrifice, what is it worth? There may be enjoyment of the ideas, it may go as far as that, but it has lost its savour, and that is a thing that creeps in very easily. I cannot be with God to know the blessedness of what I have, unless it is connected with the sacrifice to God. And what a thought, beloved friends! that when I do go, it is with the acceptableness of Christ, with what God finds His delight in! If I go to pray—all perfectly right—I am a poor needy creature, who wants everything from God: but worship is another thing; I go with that in my hand which I know to be of God’s delight. I go, Christ having died for me, my soul having the consciousness of God’s positive delight in the sacrifice of Christ, and if my worship in any part gets separated from that, it has lost its sweet savour.

One other thing. The priest who offered it, ate part of it. It was a joy to all, but Christ takes His part, His joy in it too. God has His food in it, I have my food; but the priest has his part too. It is the fullest association of God with Christ and the worshipper. It was for all who were invited too—love to all saints, the heart takes all in to love. It shews what true worship is, when I get there: it is not merely my sins are borne, but I get my delight in what I know is God’s delight, and must be. It is what the whole community of the saints must delight in, and He says, “In the midst of the church will I sing praises unto thee.” It connects all with the glory in blessedness: being such in ourselves, we anticipate in the weakness we are in now, the worship of the saints in eternal ages.

I desire that the two great principles and substance of the thing may rest upon our hearts—that I am there with God, the heart giving itself up to God in thanksgiving. I go to God with this offering of Christ, and I know He does not impute anything to me; when I look up to God, I know He cannot. Here, God has found in Christ what His soul feeds on—what He delights in—we may say it reverently. I delight in it, a poor weak creature, and I know God delights in it. He receives me in worship according to His judgment of Christ.

How far do our souls so enter into God’s thoughts, that when we come to God in worship (all our lives ought to be in the spirit of worship) it is in the spirit of our minds, as connected with God’s value for the offering of Christ, in our every-day walk, never to lose sight of what the sweet savour of that offering was to God? The Lord only give us that it may be thus associated in our hearts with what Christ was towards His Father!

 

By: J N Darby

It may be well to state directly from Scripture what the new lump is, as it is now so much spoken of. Such a thing as leaving an assembly to be a new lump is not thought of in Scripture. I may have to leave an assembly on other grounds; but it is not what is spoken of here. The assembly of God is looked at in its true nature as an unleavened body; thus we are called upon to keep the feast with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. And as leaven had got in, they were called on to purge out the old leaven, that they might be a new lump as they were unleavened. The discipline applied to all, the putting out all leaven, that the assembly, as a whole, might be a new lump. Thus, there is no such thing as leaving to be a new lump. The only new lump contemplated, is the whole assembly purified by putting out leaven—the passage is as clear as possible. The great body of the saints is everywhere to be a new lump.

But, as I have referred to the currency of these questions, it is well to notice another element in operation, more moral, and wider in realisation. The discussions at London Bridge had given rise to the most widespread distrust of various brethren; the feeling being—I am in communion with B., as I am of them, and thus in communion with positive evil; and getting away from evil governed the heart, and wide distress existed. Now, here, I fully recognise, was real trial; he who names the name of Christ was to depart from iniquity; yet these brethren were corporately connected with unfaithfulness. I do not identify a person bearing the name of Christ, and individually walking badly, and ecclesiastical connections with those who do. Actual right is right, and wrong wrong; still, it is very unsatisfactory to the heart and conscience to be in full confessed communion with evil; and as the evil thing judged was allowed to exist by those immediately concerned, their consciences were not at their ease. Many thought of leaving brethren. I had been in the deepest degree exercised by the very question; I agreed with them as to their judgment of the evil. But I did not think desertion was the remedy; it did not remedy the evil—satisfied, perhaps, the individual conscience, but left the saints to their fate. I not only felt the evil was not remedied, but could not be, humanly speaking. But there was another difficulty: the door was closed against the interference of those who might have sought to apply one. Still, I felt the Lord had not given up His people, and it was not my place to flee as an hireling. I was accounted an unfaithful person by those disposed to leave; but, while I sympathise with those disposed to leave, as having personally done with evil, I do not think it was the path of faith. I trusted God for His testimony; I do not find it has been in vain.

There was a third principle of extra excellence which prevailed, under the popular name of Cluffism, which professed this superiority, and does, where it still holds its ground. It took a very high ground, carrying up to the third heaven, and making the Christ who is there, as communicated in all He is there to us, to be divine righteousness, though I always found it filled people with themselves. But the truth is, its origin was a filthy, carnal mysticism, not unfolded to all, but was such, that one of its adepts admitted it could not be propounded in a mixed company, where females were present. I know this was professed to be given up, but I doubt, from what I have heard, that it is thoroughly. But it is certain that from out of this resulted a pretension of a special remnant, brethren (so called) being Laodicean. This was based, too, on theories, and all sorts of theories, as to Philadelphia. The theories I believe to be all delusion. First, the four last churches all go on to the end, and what is found is a general estimate of the church by Christ, and of its result, with a promise to him who overcame, in the circumstances in which the church was. It is a mistake to think that the churches passed, by a kind of natural sequence, from one into the other.

But having taken up the proposed remedies for a low state of things—my reader may have noticed three—the first, some “silly women” plan of a new lump, clean contrary to the whole sense of the passage; secondly, conscience justly at work, but faith failing as to trusting Christ’s faithfulness in taking care of His, and His testimony; and, thirdly, Cluffism, full of pretension and want of self-knowledge (though I fully admit several dear people got among them, misled by its promises of more spirituality, which suited itself more to their cravings). Still, two of the principal adepts of the system at Edinburgh, and a third at Cork, were put out for immoral conduct. Of that I think worse than I did, for, though wild, I thought it honest, which I do not now, as a system. But having briefly reviewed these, I add the new lump, as given in Scripture, as the great point for believers—that is, the application of the divine principles of truth and holiness, and devoted-ness in testimony to the whole body of testimony-bearers; for that is the very force of the new lump. It might seem premature to speak of the company of testimony-bearers, but I do not believe it. I believe there are details to be carried out of God, but He does very much of it by the faithful testimony-bearing; but what He looks for now, is, not occupation with evil, but the springing up of testimony in grace—plants of the Lord’s planting by clear shining after rain.

By: J N Darby

Being An Answer To The Inquiries Of An Unitarian Student Of Divinity

In the first place, there are the direct passages—John 1:1: “The Word was with God, and was God.” This is in every way a striking passage: when every thing began, He was— that is, had no beginning, was God, as indeed it must be, yet was a distinct personality; He was with God, and always such, was so in the beginning, that He created everything. Subsequently we find the Word made flesh. The effort to weaken the force of the word of God here by the absence of the article is perfectly futile; unless in reciprocal propositions the predicate never has the article.

We find in Hebrews i the same truths. He the Messiah, for of Him he speaks, the Son, is God, is worshipped by angels, in the beginning laid the foundations of the earth, and is “the same” —in Hebrew (Psalm 102), atta Hu, Thou art the existing One, the Being, where the testimony is so much the stronger by comparison with verse 12 of the Psalm, where Christ in humiliation addresses Jehovah.

In John 8 we find, “before Abraham was I AM,” in contrast with His age as man; which the Jews perfectly understood, and would have killed Him for blasphemy.

Colossians 1:16: “All things were created by him and for him,” where it is unquestionable Christ is spoken of, the true force of verse 19 being “all the fulness (pleeroma) was pleased to dwell in Him,” and spoken of Him as man living upon earth, and accomplished in fact in chapter 2:9,” in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.”

John 10: “I and my Father are one.”

His name is called Jesus—Jehoshua, that is, Jehovah the Saviour, for He shall save His people—who, and whose people, in connection with the explanation of such a name? Christ is the Jehovah of the Old Testament. Thus John 12, Isaiah saw His glory, and spoke of Him, quoting Isaiah 6. Whose glory was seen there? Jehovah of hosts.

Hebrews 12:24-26: whose voice spoke from heaven (compare chap, 1:1, 2)—whose at Sinai on earth? Hence His name was also Emmanuel, God with us.

So John the Baptist’s ministry was preparing the way of Jehovah, Matthew 3:3, quoting Isaiah 40: Malachi 3:1, “I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me, and Jehovah, whom ye seek, shall come.” (Compare Mark 1:41.) If the judgment to come on the earth is referred to, difference of interpretation as to this, or the passing on from Christ’s first coming to His second, does not affect the question of the Person who comes; He who first came will come again.

The more we compare passages as to this, the more we shall see this identification, and that it is not forcing one or two texts, but the doctrine of Scripture woven into its whole texture. Jehovah is Israel’s righteousness, but Christ is made our righteousness. “The Lord (Jehovah) my God shall come, and all his saints with thee” (Zech. 14:5); “and Jehovah said… a goodly price that I was prized at of them, and I took the thirty pieces of silver,” etc. “Then shall Jehovah go forth… and his feet shall stand in that day on the Mount of Olives,” chaps. 11, 14. So, as to Redeemer, Jehovah alone is their Redeemer. In Isaiah 63 this Redeemer is clearly Christ. So in Isaiah 50: “Thus saith Jehovah… Wherefore when I came was there no man? “And then He goes on, and asserts His unenfeebled divine power, yet He continues, “Jehovah-Elohim hath given me the tongue of the learned,” and the sufferings of Christ are then spoken of.

In Psalm 2 the kings of the earth are called to trust in the Son—the Christ—yet a curse is pronounced on trusting in man, or in any one but Jehovah. See Revelation 22, He who comes quickly is Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, the first and the last. (I do not quote chapter 1:11, as it is probably not genuine, nor verse 8, because its application to Christ may be questioned, although I have no doubt of it.)

In many of the passages in which God and the Lord Jesus are mentioned, with one article in Greek, it may possibly unite them, only in the subject matter of the sentence. Hence, although I think they prove a great deal as to the identification of God and the Lord Jesus, I do not quote them as simply proving, in an absolute way, the divinity of Christ. But the force of the passage in Titus is apparent, “Waiting for the appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ.” It is unquestionably Christ who appears; as it is now in the face of Jesus Christ that we see the glory of the Lord.

This unity of God and Christ is manifest throughout John’s writings, “I and my Father are one.” “We are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.” Take, again, such an example—for it is only an example—” And now, little children, abide in him, that when he shall appear we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming. If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of Him. Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God; therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God; and it does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” Now, who will say to whom this applies—Christ, or God? It is impossible to distinguish them. What characterises all the writings of John, in the language of Christ, is One who has the place and title of perfect equality, yet now being a Man, takes nothing, never glorifies Himself, but receives all from His Father, as in John 17. In them we have God over all, blessed for ever (Rom. 9:5), which, I doubt not, for my part, is the only true sense; and other passages I do not quote, as they are matters of criticism. Indeed, I have only cited such as suggest themselves to my memory. So Thomas— “My Lord and my God.”

But there is another class of texts, which to the mind, sensible of what is due to God, evidently shew who He is. Grace coming from Him, as is found everywhere— “Out of his fulness have we all received, and grace for grace.” Christ is all. His love passes knowledge. Christ is to dwell in my heart by faith. If Christ be to me what the scripture says He is to be to me, and be not God, He must exclude God altogether. The very fact that Christ made Himself of no reputation when in the form of God, is again a moral proof of His divine nature. Every creature was bound to keep its first estate; He who was high and sovereign could, in grace, come down and take another nature.

Everything confirms this. He does not merely work miracles and cast out devils, but sends others out, and gives them authority over all devils. When He says, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up,” who was dwelling in the temple? This kind of proof shines forth in every page of the gospels, and to the mind whose eye is open to see, affords a proof more powerful even than individual texts stating it in the letter, as I speak of the letter.

Let me add the remark, that when it is said the fulness of the Godhead dwells in Him bodily, it is not a vague word, as we speak of what is divine. The Greek has a distinct word for these two things; for the vague thought it is theiotees, used in Romans i; and theotees, used in Colossians 2.

Where the leper says, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst, and He says, I will, be thou clean—who can so speak? The proofs that He is a man must not be cited against it. We hold to this as anxiously as any one. His being God is only of special value to us because He is man—a true very man, though a sinless one—God with us, and then we in Him before God— One who took flesh and blood, that He might die, and partook of flesh and blood because the children were partakers of it—a dependent, obedient man, who, though He had life in Himself, lived by every word that proceeded out of the mouth of God.

When I am called to believe in Jesus Christ come in flesh, which Christians are, they hold He is a man; but why insist on this? If He was simply a man, how else could man come? Not an angel, for an angel must not leave its estate, and He did not take up angels—words which have no sense if He had been one, and was taking up the cause of others as such. When He says, “the only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father,” and that He is in the Father, and the Father in Him, the last might be said of a man, perhaps; the former impossible as a mere man, or of any but a divine Person. So, when He says, “None hath ascended up to heaven,” that is, to state what is there— “save he that came down from heaven, the Son of man, who is in heaven.” And, if all men are to honour the Son even as they honour the Father, it cannot be that He is a mere man, or not have the nature which is to be honoured.

Jehovah has sworn that every knee shall bow to Him, and every tongue give an account of himself to God, but it is at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow. Hence, though the Son quickens whom He will, as the Father, yet the Father judges no man, but hath committed all judgment to the Son, that all may honour the Son as they honour Him. There is no God but Jehovah—I know not any, as says the prophet; but we have seen, by multiplied examples that Christ is Jehovah.

That as Son He has taken a place subject to the Father as man, every Christian believes—receives the glory He once had with the Father before the world was—every one who bows to Scripture joyfully accepts; for He is a man for ever, in that sense a servant, but He who is the servant can say, I and my Father are one, and I am in the Father, and he who has seen Him has seen the Father also.

Compare the description of the Ancient of Days in Daniel 7 and Revelation 1, and see if the Ancient of Days, who receives the Son of man in Daniel 7, be not the Son of man in Revelation 1, and in Daniel 7 too; from verse 22 of the chapter the Ancient of Days comes. Hence we have, “the blessed and only Potentate, King of kings, and Lord of lords” —then, the appearing of Christ; but in Revelation He who comes on the white horse has on His vesture and on His thigh, King of kings, and Lord of lords. You see, the more Scripture is gone through, the more comes to light that He is the true God and Eternal Life.

I know not that I need multiply passages, after these I have quoted. What you will remark, is, that it is not a question of expressions as to which criticism may be exercised, but the doctrine and system of Scripture. It is Christianity, as it is given to us in Scripture. I take up Christianity as the truth, and that is Christianity. A religion is what it professes itself to be, and that is what Christianity professes itself to be—the revelation of God, and eternal life in the Person of Christ.

It professes another truth, that is, atonement, or expiation of sin. It does not teach a goodness of God which can bear with any sin, but maintains the perfect holiness of God, and the putting away of sin, but it does it in a way which equally maintains infinite and perfect love. Man instinctively felt the need of expiation. This is publicly known in heathenism; but there it was very much the dread of a god who had passions like ourselves, and men might justly say, tantæne animis cælestibus iræ (can such anger dwell in heavenly minds)? Judaism, as revealed of God, maintained this thought, but it began by a deliverance of the people, and witnessed a God not revealed, but who gave commandments, ordained sacrifices, which kept up the thought that sin would in nowise be allowed; but it was the “forbearance of God” in view of a work to be accomplished, the way into the holiest not yet having been made manifest, nor peace given to man’s conscience, though it was relieved through sacrifice when occasion called for it; Christ appears in the end of the world to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself; was once offered to bear the sins of many, and give a perfect conscience, without diminishing—nay, in maintaining in the highest way—holiness, in the judgment of sin in the conscience, according to the majesty of God; and withal giving the perfect sense of unbounded love, in that God did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us—the love that gave Christ. Christ gave Himself in a love that is divine, and passes knowledge.

The foolish question has been asked, What righteousness is there in an innocent being suffering for the guilty? It is a foolish question. There is no righteousness in my paying my friend’s debts. It is kindness, love; but it meets the righteous claim of his creditor. The claims of a holy God are maintained—intolerance of evil; and that is of the last importance for the conscience and heart of man; it gives him the knowledge of what God is in holiness. There is no true love without it. Indifference to good and evil, so that the evil-doer is let pass with his evil, is not love, and the dissociation of right and wrong, by God’s authority—the highest possible evil. Now, good and evil are elevated to the standard of it in God’s nature. We walk in the light, as God is in the light, and the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanses from all sin. The glory of God is maintained, and the heart of man placed in association with the perfectness of that nature, and in peace with “the perfect knowledge of His love, and that is the highest blessing, the highest good. Diminish the holiness, diminish the love—I have not God, I have not my soul formed into communion with Him. Take away the character of judgment or righteousness exercised, as regards evil, and you obliterate the authority of God—the creation, place, and responsibility of man.

This part of the truth, again, enters into the whole texture of Scripture, from Abel to the allusions to it in Revelation. I shall merely quote a sufficient number of passages to shew that Christianity must be given up, as taught by Christ and His apostles, if expiation be. I do not quote the Old Testament; expiatory sacrifices are, beyond all question, its doctrine, and prophetic testimony is clear that He was wounded for our transgressions, the chastisement of our peace laid upon Him, and that with His stripes we are healed; that He made His soul a sacrifice for sin, and that He bare our iniquities.

When I turn to the New Testament, I find Christ stating that He came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many (Matt. 20:28). The Lord’s supper—the standing institution of Christianity—is the sign of His blood shed for many, for the remission of sins. John the Baptist points Him out as the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world; John 1:29. Paul tells us that God hath set Him forth as a propitiation, through faith in His blood (Rom. 3:25); Peter, that we are redeemed by the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot (1 Pet. 1:18, 19); John, that He is the propitiation for our sins and the whole world (1 John 2:2); Peter, again, that He bare our sins in His own body on the tree; 1 Pet. 2:24. The Hebrews enlarges on it fully as a doctrine. He must offer for sins (chap. 9). He offers one sacrifice for sins, and then sits down (chap. 10). We have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins; Eph. 1:7. We are justified by His blood; Rom. 5:9. Without shedding of blood is no remission; Heb. 9:22. He gave Himself for our sins; Gal. 1:4. It is when He had made the purification of our sins that He sat down on the right hand of the Majesty in the heavens; Heb. 1:3. Cleansing, justification, forgiveness, peace, redemption, are all attributed to His blood. He bare our sins, gave Himself for our sins, makes propitiation for the world, is delivered for our offences.

As I have said, it is a doctrine interwoven with all Scripture, forms one of the bases of Christianity, is the sole ground of remission—and there is none without shedding blood—and that by which Christ has made peace; Col. 1:20. The thought that He was sealing merely His doctrines by His death is utterly groundless, it is never stated as its force in Scripture, expiation is constantly; and if it was a mere testimony—perfect as He was in it—it does not serve for one, for the testimony would be, that the most faithful of men was forsaken of God. What testimony would that be? Take out expiation, and Scripture becomes impossible to understand: introduce it, and all is plain.

I have not written a treatise, but simply recalled what must present itself to every unprejudiced reader of Scripture, as memory furnished it, and what the soul convinced of sin cannot do without. If Christ be not God, I do not know Him, have not met Him, nor know what He is. No man can by searching find it out. If Christ has not offered Himself as a sacrifice for sin, then I had neither peace of conscience according to the holiness of God—but pass lightly over the guilt of sin, remaining at a distance from God—nor do I know God’s love, who so loved as not to spare His own Son. There is no true knowledge of sin without it, no true knowledge of God.

 

By: J N Darby