The New Cruse (continued)
Relative and Representative Ministry (continued)
But the main point is this. The Lord must have an instrument which He has formed in the fire and to which He has given peculiar knowledge of Himself. This instrument will have to stand upon a peculiarly pure basis of life in God. Whatever the rest may do, it dare not take its lead from them. Its methods, means, and standards must be those which have shed the less mature elements. Of some it would stand as God's plummet to reveal that which is 'out of the straight'; that which is short of God's best - or God's better; for who would claim to have reached God's best? A much greater cost will have to be met by such an instrument; and there will be little place left, if it is spiritually constituted as against mentally apprehended, for spiritual pride.
Now the chief difficulty, as history has shown, is how to realize such a ministry, constituted by knowledge of the Lord through suffering, and how to hold it in relation to ALL the Lord's people, avoiding separation in spirit, schism in the Body, exclusiveness and 'watertightness'. It is the easiest thing to withdraw to some given point and look down on all others, as though to say: 'We are the people - you must come to us.' The Lord will lose much this way. No; while in practical matters, for consistency's sake, there may have to be withdrawal, as also where error predominates, yet the preservation of what there is of God must be diligently sought in spirit. While there can be no official link with what is wrong, there can and must be a reaching out in spirit to keep the door open for the "more excellent way".
The next thing is to apprehend the Divine meaning behind the creating of this instrument. Surely it is two-fold.
Firstly, to have for Himself in the earth that which is as close an approximation to His own mind as possible; that it should not be true that there is nothing which is in any real way an expression of the Lord's mind. Thus, further, He would have that which cleaves a way through for others. So it ever was in battles of old. The specially trained and disciplined troops broke through for others.
Secondly, that there may be that which gives the Lord His point toward which to work. As He creates a sense of need in His people, and leads them on thereby, He would have that which can be His means of meeting that need in spiritual knowledge. That the Lord directs hungry ones to those who know Him through special dealings is a principle not far to seek in the Divine record. We remember how Cornelius was brought into touch with Peter (Acts 10), Apollos with Aquila and Priscilla (Acts 18), and so on. There is such a thing as election to special service, and there ought to be mutual recognition of this. When the Lord Jesus took Peter and James and John into the more inward activities and revelations of His life, especially up to the Mount of Transfiguration, He was not guilty, in principle, of an act of schism in the Body. What the others thought or felt we do not know, but in the long run we know that ministry was in view, not personal preference. He was not making of them a specially privileged and separate company. A great need was coming and this was His method of providing for the need which would one day be created.
The appreciation of what He did and what they knew had to tarry until that need arose. There will never be an appreciation of special resource without conscious need, but such need will justify God's methods, and prove His wisdom sound. God has from the beginning of the world always had His escape ready before broke out - His lifeboat before the wreck - His store before the famine - His Cross before the curse. His peculiar ways with some are in view of a coming need which will give them a peculiar ministry. There are those who are out on a general basis of activity with the Lord, going all the time in a continuous stream of good works. There are also those who are cut off from anything great as to measure, and are cut off from anything great as to measure, and are reserved for what the others cannot do; less in bulk, but perhaps of indispensable worth and service in emergency, and beyond a certain general point of attainment. The latter have to bide their time in patience, but when their time does come it is their time in the Lord, and no one else can do the work.
Let us return to our main principle, namely that remnants are relative. The remnants of which we spoke in our first chapter were not something conclusive in themselves. Sometimes a remnant of only a couple of tribes is referred to as "all Israel", showing their representative character. While in the first instance the movement was on the part of a few, comparatively, there was from time to time a trickling after them, as there was that to which such tricklings could come. The remnant was not conclusive.
(continued with # 10)