We...Beholding...The Lord Are Changed Into the Same Image (continued)
So we repeat: the Pattern is a Person Who is shown to us by the Holy Spirit. There is one test as to whether we have seen this Pattern. We may think we have seen because we have a lot of Christian truth, but there is one, and only one, proof that we have seen the Pattern. I use the words of the Apostle Paul: "We ... beholding ... the Lord, are changed into the same image" (2 Corinthians 3:18). The proof is that as the years go by we are becoming more like Christ. It seems all too slow, but it just must be like this - that more of Christ is being manifested in us as time goes on. That would be the only justification for our being here in this way - not that you have a lot of notebooks full of notes (whatever you are intending to do with them - it might be that you are going to preach all this to someone else, but that will not justify your having come here). The only justification will be that, having seen the Lord, we will be more like Him.
May the Lord make it like that!
Jeremiah 18:3, 4
The vessel, then, that God is now making is according to Christ, and this time He is going to succeed. The end of the Bible shows us the vessel perfected an glorified.
Before we go further with this Pattern, there is a general word to be said. It is important for us to realize that God always had only one vessel in mind. He never did intend to have two vessels, one spoiled and the other good. The whole of the Old Testament contains the mystery of Christ. He is hidden everywhere in it and, in reality, God was working through all those centuries on the principle of Christ. The fact that the Old Testament closes in failure only means that the earthly representation failed. The heavenly intention never did fail, so that if God has to set aside one earthly expression, He is going on with His eternal thought. God's intention concerning His Son did not begin when Jesus came into this world. Christ had been in the mind of His Father from all eternity and was appointed to be the Pattern before ever this world was created.
You must remember that the only Bible the first Christians had was the Old Testament, and Christ said that everything in that Bible concerned Himself. He said: "The Scriptures ... these are they which bear witness of Me" (John 5:39). He took up all the writings of Moses and the prophets and "interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning Himself" (Luke 24:27), and Peter says that it was "the Spirit of Christ which was in them (the prophets)" (1 Peter 1:11). So that if you had lived in the early days of the Church the only Bible you would have had would have been the Old Testament. But it would have been your Bible. If we ask for a Bible today we get the Old and the New Testaments together, but if Christians in the early days asked for a Bible, they were given just the Old Testament. Jesus used the Old Testament for Christians, and so did the Apostles, whose business was simply to show that the one Person in the Old Testament was Jesus Christ. All the outstanding features in it point in some way to Christ. It is God's Book. He wrote it, and in His Mind there is only one object, and that is His Son.
So, in the outstanding persons of the Old Testament you have to see some feature of Christ. Was it Abraham? Well, we have been seeing how Abraham leads us to Christ. Was it Moses, or David, or the prophets? It was Christ about Whom they were all speaking and Whom they were representing in some way.
Let us take one simple illustration. Before the New Testament was written, during those wonderful movements in the early days, Philip was in Samaria, where God was doing a great work. The Spirit told Philip that he was to leave Samaria and go down to the desert. We might just say, by the way, that it seems a strange thing for the Lord to lead someone away from what was a very evident piece of His work to a desert. If Philip had not been a man utterly committed to the Holy Spirit, he would have had an argument with the Samaria and He would have said: 'Lord, You sent me here to Samaria and You have proved that that was right. There is a great work of the Holy Spirit going on here, and now You tell me to go to a desert. How on earth can there be a revival in a desert?' The Lord does strange things, but the end of the story shows that He was right. Perhaps you would choose to stay in Samaria, where things are happening, and you might not like the idea of going down to a desert, but it might be that the Lord has something in that desert which is bigger than Samaria: Not only a town, but a whole new nation was touched in that desert. Well, that is just by the way.
You know what happened when Philip went down to that desert. He was looking around and wondering why he was there when he saw something coming from a distance. When it got nearer to him he saw that it was a chariot with some men in it. The Spirit said to Philip: "Go near, and join thyself to this chariot" (Acts 8:29). Again Philip was obedient to the Spirit, and as he got near to the chariot he heard the chief man in it reading. He looked at the man and saw that he was a dark-skinned Ethiopian, but as he listened, he said: 'I know what it is that that man is reading. He is reading out of my Bible.' So he said to the man: "Understandest thou what thou readest?" The man was reading from Isaiah 53, and he said: "How can I, except someone shall guide me? And he besought Philip to come up and sit with him ... And Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this scripture, preached unto him Jesus" (Acts 8:30, 31, 35). I think this settles all arguments as to whether Isaiah 53 related to Jesus!
(continued with # 17)