An Object Lesson and the Need for Open-hearted Inquiry
You know certain nations at our own door are suffering untold misery, because as long as seven years ago they were told of secret propaganda going on within the borders of their own country, and working its way secretly and subtly into high places, but would not believe it. They were told what that was going to end in, what the object was, what the result would be, and they said, No, impossible! I ask you this: If nine months ago a prophet had stood up in some prominent place in this world and prophesied the history of the following nine months, what would have happened to him? Seven or eight countries overrun and surprised, and this final terrible collapse of France! He would have been put in a lunatic asylum or have been lynched, he would have been shut up for safety. But it has happened: the unbelievable has happened and is happening. No one would believe it or accept it. See how they are suffering for saying, Impossible! Ridiculous!
Ah, I say to you that this should be a lesson to us. That is a trick of satan. It is a part of his strategy, to work subtly and at the same time to make people believe there is nothing, that all is well; to be working underneath to the internal disintegration and downfall of a people, and yet on the surface to be making nice speeches. This is a satanic method, and again and again satan has gained his strategical advantage by that same means. And I say to you that at least we ought to come to a thing like this and say, Well, it is just possible that may be right, and if there is the remotest possibility of its being right, it is such a big thing we had better attend to it! I know many have managed to get past that, but I say again, from the lowest level of making this appeal, that it just may be that the Lord's Word is true after all. It just may be that this is the true revelation of God's thought and intention; that He chose an elect people, a company that has come to be called the Church, He chose that company, that Body, that corporate entity in Christ before the world was, with a view to it coming through at length to take the throne as His vessel and instrument for governing His universe. I say, that may be true. All I ask you to do is to consider the possibility of it being true, and if only you will allow that, it will give you real pause: and then to see that this is quite true so far as the Scripture and the experience of the Lord's people are concerned in a spiritual way. God is doing a certain thing in His people, in many at least who are pressing on with Him, those of whom we were speaking in our previous meditation who are marked by a purposefulness with God.
In these He begins to do something deep and strange and painful, the end of which is never, never reached in this earthly life, the value of which is never entered into by anybody during their time here on earth. It is unto something: it is the preparation of sons unto adoption to take the throne; and I urge you to pray with regard to your own place in this, and to pray for a movement of God's Spirit within the compass of His people to produce this man child. The Church, as a whole, is moving steadily into this travail.
Then will you not pray that the Lord's people may be enlightened on this matter, enlightened as to what the issue is. It is between Christ and antichrist, between the Church which is Christ's Body and the whole antichrist system; for it is quite clear that antichrist, though he may be an individual opposed to Christ personally, is also a church, a system, a terrible system. satan has his church opposed to Christ's Church. Blessed be God, we have this assurance, "I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it!"
The Explanation of the Mystifying and Painful Preparation
Well then, that is the matter before us in this School of sonship, namely, the throne. My dear friends, I want to get hold of that in my own heart, and I want you to get hold of it. You see, we are so prone to make our sojourn on this earth the big thing; I mean in the matter of what we are able to do, how much we can do and realize and see in our lifetime, and when we find the Lord shutting us up and limiting us and seeming to put us in prison, ofttimes under the strain and pressure of it, when the iron enters into our soul as with Joseph, we begin to think we have missed the way. Life is going, and it is all unfruitful; we are not doing anything. It is other people who are doing the thing, we are not. Thus we make so much of this present life in the matter of what we are able to do, as though that were everything, whereas (and this, of course, is no argument why we should be slack about doing) so often the Lord has got His greatest effectiveness in those who have been just shut right up, unable to do anything outside.
Is not that the truth about Paul himself? Oh yes, it is, and Paul, as we have often pointed out, was the embodiment of the revelation which was given to him of the dispensation of the Church, and when we come to the end of his life, we have Paul, who had had such a wide scope of ministry, who had been able to do so much, we have this man, with all the values that are in him, put into prison. But we get the concentrated essence of value from those prison experiences. We get the letter to the Ephesians, and that was worth Paul's going to prison, and anything like that will be worth all that we undergo in the School of sonship, which sees a very great deal of what is here on the earth closed down, if only the heavenly may become the far more real and valuable as an expression in us and through us.
But I say I want this to get into my heart, into your hearts, that the Lord is not so much concerned - please do not misunderstand me - the Lord is not so much concerned with how much we do now in this life. He is more concerned with the measure of Christ to which he can bring us in this life ... "till we all attain unto the ... measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ" (Ephesians 4:13). It will be Christ corporate who will come to take the kingdom of this world in the coming ages, and it is unto that - the fullness of Christ - that God is working preeminently in our experience, and that is the thing that matters most. It is the most difficult thing for us to accept; a supremely difficult thing for any active temperament t accept. To some it is martyrdom not to be doing something. It may be God's way of getting the enlargement of His Son in His members, the patience of Jesus Christ, among other things.
God has this great thing in view. The issue comes up acutely and in an intensified form as we get near to the great end. In order to answer satan, to have His answer in a corporate Man, God has to prepare you and me and a company of His people to take the throne, to be caught up unto God and to His throne, to rule the nations with a rod of iron. That, of course, has reference to tomorrow, the tomorrow of the ages I mean, and there is something beyond that, namely, our reigning with Him forever and ever, another form of reigning. I aspire rather to the day after tomorrow than to tomorrow. Ruling with a rod of iron may appeal to us naturally, but we would sooner have the glorious reign where nothing wants a rod of iron. "Now unto him ... be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus unto all generations [of the ages of the ages]" (Ephesians 3:20-21).
It is a big thing for which we go to school for a few years and suffer as we are suffering. It is easy to say that, but it is a painful thing, this school. The Lord knows what He is doing with us. It is the matter of this overcoming, and, in the light of this school o this schooling, we can appreciate the word "overcomer." There is a lot of overcoming to be done. We have to get on top of a very great deal, and the getting on top of many things is leading us to get on top of the devil and his kingdom. Presently, in the great hour when the sons are manifested, when the man child is caught up to the throne, the creation is to be delivered from the bondage of corruption.
See then the meaning of the day in which we live. See the meaning of the suffering into which we may go yet more deeply, and how it is to be God's answer to this working of satan that has been going on ever since he made a bid for the place of God's Heir, the Heir of all things. Ever since satan made that bid and was cast down from the higher to the lower heavens it has been going on, and now it is being brought out in a new way. That is what it is, and you and I, as part of Chris's Body, are called to be God's answer to that, and it is to be so now in a spiritual way. presently it will be in the full way, the literal way, that the saints will take the kingdom, and He shall come whose right it is to reign. The dominion shall be given unto the saints of the Most High.
(continued with # 32 - "Over all - Faith," And a Final Consideration")