He Wrought His Work on the Wheels (continued)
At the end of the Bible this vessel is represented as the new Jerusalem and is seen coming down out of heaven. All the ages have been occupied in forming this heavenly vessel. Nevertheless, what is heavenly has to become more and more real in us while we are here. We shall never know what the Lord has been doing with us until we get to heaven, but when we do see all the meaning of His work with us here we shall be very surprised. There is a larger meaning than we can see in those words of the Lord Jesus: "What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shall understand hereafter" (John 13:7). Why it is that the Lord puts us together as He does: what has He called us to live in certain relationships which are not what we would choose? The full explanation of that awaits us in heaven, but that does not mean that we have to wait until we get there to express the relationship. It is a mark of something being wrong spiritually when members of the Body of Christ separate themselves from other members. Our great peril is to live an independent spiritual life. There is something of a Thomas in most of us. You will remember that when the others were together enjoying the presence of the Risen Lord, Thomas was not there. Fellowship is a spirit before it is anything else. It does not necessitate our always being together in one place. It is a very precious thing to be able to be together as the Lord's people, for many of them live a very lonely life. Nevertheless, fellowship is a spirit more than it is geographical. When the Apostle said: "Giving diligence to keep the unity of the Spirit" (Ephesians 4:3), he was not only localizing that. It is an exhortation to the whole Church, scattered over all the earth - "giving diligence to keep the unity of the Spirit." It is the "unity of the Spirit" - fellowship is a spiritual thing.
Now the Potter, by the energy of the Holy Spirit, is seeking to form a heavenly vessel, and the formation is a progressive day-by-day expression of the Lord Jesus.
To Be Conformed to the Image of His Son
We are going to consider the next movement into God's Mind as represented by the potter's work but before we come to that I just want to add a brief word to what we have said earlier.
We were speaking about the pressure of the hands of the potter, and saying that one of the effects of that pressure is to bring each particle of the clay very close together, so that they do not remain individual parts, but become parts of one complete whole. Now, while there are many more things that could be said with advantage about that, there is just this one thing that I want to add.
We have spoken of the final triumph of the potter with the clay, and it is a mark of his victory that the parts are pressed closely together. But let me explain what I mean. You are very well aware of what the enemy is trying to do with God's vessel. His great work is to break up that vessel, to scatter and disintegrate it, by persecution and all kinds of methods, but in that divine sovereignty the very work of the enemy is being made the pressure of the hands of the Potter. Our hearts are more united today with the hearts of the poor persecuted people of God in China, in Russia and in other parts of the world than they have been before. We are praying today as we have never prayed for all the scattered and persecuted people of God, and, while outwardly it looks as though the vessel is being broken to pieces, inwardly it is becoming more and more united. All the parts of the vessel are becoming more closely knit together in the spirit, so that the pressure is having just the opposite effect to that which the enemy wants it to have.
We find that there is some special blessing of the Lord upon international gatherings, and one of the chief blessings is the wonderful fellowship that we realize we have. This is not a fellowship that is made by our coming together, but it is already present and is only expressed by our being together. So this is a triumph of the Lord over all the disintegrating efforts of the enemy. I trust that you are going back to all your lonely places the stronger for realizing that you are not alone. That will be one of the Lord's triumphs over a great deal of suffering.
(continued with # 11)