Real service does not come by being "trained." We are never servants of God by going to Bible institutes. They may be good things, very helpful, very useful, but they do not make a servant of God. You cannot be trained to be a servant of God in this academic sense. "It pleased God ... to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles." It pleased God to send me to college, that I might preach Him? No, it pleased God to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him. Real service of the Lord comes out of that sonship. In the Word of God, sonship always lies behind service - The Levites and priests, sons of Aaron; service, sonship.
The Testing and Perfecting of Sonship n the Wilderness
Now, Paul says, "When it pleased God ... to reveal His Son in me ... immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: neither went I up to Jerusalem to them that were apostles before me; but I went away into Arabia." It seems to me that what Arabia stands for is always very closely related with sonship. Moses had forty years of it. Well, he was truly far more a son when he came out than when he went in, in a spiritual sense.
"The heavens were opened ... and a voice ... said, Thou art My beloved Son; in Thee I am well pleased ... Then was Jesus led of the Spirit into the wilderness" (Luke 3:21, 22; 4:1). Sonship was being dealt with there. "If Thou be the Son ..." That is the basis of the wilderness. Somehow or other, in the economy of God a wilderness has a great relationship with sonship. It is a principle. "I went away into Arabia." What is Arabia? You do not get very much help from the world in Arabia, nor do you get very much help from the flesh. The flesh has nothing to thrive on in the desert; the natural life is staved in Arabia. You are alone with God: that is the point. Moses was alone with God for forty years. The Lord Jesus in the wilderness was alone with God. The devil was there, it is true but He is now being tested and proved on this matter of His relationship with God without any help from the flesh or the world. Paul went away into Arabia. I have no doubt that during that time - some say two years - the sifting out of this position took place, the adjustment of things, the handing over of the old traditions to the new facts of experience. Perhaps you know something of Arabia. You can live in a great city and be in Arabia. You may be here right in this meeting and be in Arabia at the same time. You are knowing something of the dry desert, the wilderness; that is, you are not finding a great deal upon which your natural life can thrive, a great deal to support you naturally in your relationship to the Lord. All that is being withdrawn, and you are coming to the place where it is the Lord, and only the Lord, and all other things are taken away. Beloved, the desert, Arabia, has proved again and again to be a school of sonship, and a very valuable school. Some of us know a little bit about Arabia. Oh, the desolation for the flesh there! "I conferred not with flesh and blood." No, it is coming, under desert conditions, to know the Lord. That is sonship, where the Lord alone is our resource, and where, if it were not for the Lord, we would die, our carcasses would fall in the wilderness; but we are proving that He can prepare a table in the wilderness. That is sonship. You will see the thing in principle and in spiritual meaning if you cannot follow or wholly grasp the way in which it is put. What the Lord is set upon is having us like that, sons in a true sense. May He have it so with us!
(continued with # 1 - "The Mystery of the Gospel")