Gathered Of God (continued)
Gathered to Enjoy God's Full Approval in Christ (continued)
Many Christians who are rejoicing in the sacrifice of Christ as taking away all their sin, know very little of the deeper joy of being assured that in Christ God is satisfied with them. Does this sound presumptuous? What about Enoch? The whole secret of Enoch's walk of holy and happy fellowship with God was that he had the witness that he was bringing pleasure to the heart of the Lord. In ourselves we can never do this, but on the basis of Christ we can and we ought.
God does not merely tolerate the foreigner, but finds great pleasure in his company; and this, not because of anything inherently good in the man, but only on the basis of the altar. Christ is our burnt offering, to be daily appropriated as our sufficiency to bring pleasure to God. Even while we are seeking to walk nearer to the Lord, to be disciplined by His Cross and transformed by His Spirit, the very secret of our holy living is to rejoice in fullest acceptance in Christ. Thus the burnt offering will exercise a mighty sanctifying power in our lives.
And we are to do this in the house of God. Nothing must discourage or divert us from finding our place there. In active association with God's people we are to be rejoiced at the privilege of setting forth something of the perfection and glory of His Son. If we come by way of the altar God will welcome us and accept us - even the weaklings and the outcasts.
Gathered Into the Fellowship of Christ's Sufferings
This sacrifice has cost the stranger something. When Scripture speaks of God's acceptance of our offerings it refers primarily to the acceptance of Christ's offering on our behalf, but it also includes our sharing in the sufferings of Christ and the sacrifice of the altar. Those who are pledged to walk in faithfulness with the Lord will find that this is a costly way. That cost may be ignored or despised by others, be treated as the stranger's sacrifice would probably be treated by those who resented his intrusion. How few know the real nature of what we are bearing for the Lord! Men do no appreciate; perhaps some even misunderstand and despise; but God takes full note of the value of the offering. The house of God is not for human glory. Our offerings are not made for men, to be approved or praised by them. When in some solemn hour we joined ourselves to the Lord to minister to His pleasure, we were given a place in His house, not that men might praise us but that our sacrifices, through Christ might bring joy to the heart of God. He is dealing with us on this basis. So often we are tempted to discouragement; it is as we come close to God in His house that we know our sacrifice is precious to Him, and we hear His promise anew "I will ... make them joyful in My house of prayer."
Blessing For Others Because of the Gathered Ones
This will be bound to bring life and blessing to the scattered multitudes. True fellowship with God always provides a center from which blessing is ministered. If God truly has the first place, if people live a life together in which Christ is supremely honored, then this provides an expression of the house of God which is a house of prayer for all peoples. "The Lord God, Who gathered the outcasts of Israel, saith, 'Yet will I gather others to him, besides his own that are gathered.' When God's own people are scattered, wandering in unbelief and profaning His Sabbath, instead of being strong and united in loving communion in and with Him, there is little prospect of blessing for the outsiders. The gathering work must begin with the Lord's people. The house of God must be the place of joyful worship and communion before it can become a center of life and light. When the outcasts of Israel are gathered, then the Lord can gather in more, for there is a family and a home into which they can be welcomed. What the world needs is not merely a proclamation going out into all the nations, but a setting in the midst of them, however small and weak in itself, of a true representation of God's house of prayer, whose doors are wide open with a welcome for the lonely and outcast. What a need thee is for a gathering into true oneness of the scattered people of God, and so of a further adding to Christ of others besides!
(continued with # 24 - (A House of Prayer for All People)