(c) The Sphere of Divine Government and Authority
Then the temple was the place of God's government. Things were brought there to be decided upon, to be judged: and Peter says, "Judgment must begin at the house of God"; and that is Matthew 18 again. Tell it to the Church, let the Church decided on this. It is the place of Divine government. I cannot stay with that, but you see that the corporate company, livingly constituted according to Christ, is of very real and practical consequence to God in this world now: and oh, how important it is for life's sake, for light's sake, for power's sake, that we all be consciously and livingly a part of such a local expression of God.
I do want to say this to you from my heart, that it is necessary for you, dear friends, to be a part of, to be in the midst of, to have behind you, a living, functioning company of the Lord's people on this basis. I know the difference it makes in depth, in strength. For many years, I was a minister, as we say, of different churches, congregation, but oh, I know the difference between that and what has obtained since. It is not a difference of the natural caliber of the people at all, but a difference in kind. The one was a part of a system largely organized and run by man for religious purposes: the other is something formed of the Spirit; and that is an immense difference. I know the difference when I meet things. All you can say is that those who have a living local company of the Lord's people of whom they are a part, have something that other people have not. There is measure about them. There is something about them that is more than you will find in the other things of which I have spoken, where it is purely individualistic or formal. It is very important. The Church intended to be this, and thing can only know its Divinely appointed resources as it functions according to God's intention. If therefore we are called for this as the Church, then we must be the Church in order to fulfill our great purpose and know our great fullness. I do ask you to think about this very seriously. It is a thing of no little importance, is this matter of the local fellowship of the Lord's people.
I know it may raise problems for some of you. "There is nothing in our neighborhood and I do not know how it is possible." But there is an answer, and the answer is a simple one, although it may test you. If this is God's mind, you go to the Lord about it. "Lord, if this is Your mind, either bring me into such a thing or bring about such a thing where I am." Hold on to the Lord for that.
Brother Nee, when he was here, speaking about this matter and talking with one and another about it, spoke of how in one place this very thing arose between someone and the Lord, and how that one held on to the Lord for several years over the matter; and then how that, after holding on for so long, gradually the formation commenced, a second being joined to the first, and then a third, and then another. But they were greatly exercised for a long time, standing themselves into the meaning and value of God's thought and holding on to Him for it to find expression and become a reality. You see, that is just it. That is our ministry; through prayer to bring into being what God intends. If we can be put off easily, well then, we have not seen the vision, the thing has not gone very deep. That is only said by way of helping with the problem that arises. Let us to exercised about the Church and let the Church be of greater importance to us than the problem, then I think we shall find a way through.
The Governing Law of the House of God
Ezekiel 47:1-12; 1 Peter 2:4-5
We are not going forward now with a further consideration of the major features of the spiritual house of God, but are leaving that for another time. We are going to bring those features already considered to the measuring line of their own governing law, which is that of live and spirituality. "Living," "spiritual", they are two great words in this passage - "a living stone," "living stones," "a spiritual house," "spiritual sacrifices."
Lest anyone should be in difficulty about that second word, "spirituality", let us stay for the briefest moment to say that spirituality just means government by the Holy Spirit; but a government by the Holy Spirit in such a way as to make us one with the Holy Spirit in all His standards, in all His ways of looking at things, deciding about things, so that, being one with Him, we are not at all influenced or affected by natural judgments, natural standards, natural considerations, but ours are all the Holy Spirit's judgments and values and ways of viewing things. That in brief and comprehensively is what is meant by spirituality, a constituting of us according to the Holy Spirit, which means on the other hand, the ruling out of all that is merely and purely of our own natural life, mind, heart, and will.
Well now, let us look at these four features of the spiritual house of God, which house we are if we are the Lord's, and look at them in the light of life and spirituality.
(continued with # 20 - "The Exaltation of the Lord Jesus)