The Divine Reaction (continued)
Responsible Men In the Church Must Be Spiritual Men
Now, the point is that the Holy Spirit saw this encroachment, saw this thing beginning, and sought to react to it. Through Paul He wrote these letters, pointing out that elders and overseers in the Church must be essentially spiritual men: they must be known for their spiritual life and measure, as well for their moral character; and everything in the House of God must be spiritual in its nature and value, not official. The Lord's word, then, now and ever, is: If you want to recover the power of testimony in this world, recover spirituality! If you want to have that impact and registration which was known at the beginning you must recover the spiritual state which existed at the beginning. Everything must be like that, not like this. A man's position in the House of God depends, where God is concerned, on his spiritual value and nothing more. You may dress him up and decorate him and "lord" him, and call him by this name or that, but with God it is no more than that man's spiritual value that counts.
And what is true in the realm of those in position of responsibility is true of everyone. Paul calls Timothy a "man of God"; indeed, he makes it personal, and says, "O man of God ..." That is because of Timothy's particular position of responsibility; but, mark you, Paul uses that phrase of all others too, in the same writing. Why are the Scriptures given and to whom are they given? Are they only given to Timothy and to overseers and to men in particular responsibility? Not at all. "Every scripture inspired of God is ... profitable for" this and that, "that the man of God ..." (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Who is that? Every one to whom the Scripture is given is called a "man of God." So, if you have the Scriptures, you come into that category, under that designation; you are supposed to be a man of God". What are God's men, the men of God? Again, that title belongs only to those who are in a spiritual position, not in any formal, official position. They are where they are because of their spiritual life, measure and value. We cannot underline that too strongly.
We thus see something of the crisis involved in this change from what was inward to everything being outward - offices and functions and positions and titles - the introduction of formalism. Paul is bringing it back to where it ought to be - to the person himself, the person herself. That is where he fastens it. In order to recover, and to safeguard, and to protect, responsibility must be in the hands of spiritual men and women.
John's Writings: A Renewed Recall to Spirituality
These are indications of the course of things, of the change that was coming over Christianity, and, as I said earlier, there is so much proof of this. Paul went, but somewhere John was going on. You know that Paul went in the terrific holocaust of persecution that led to John's exile. John is somewhere - and then he writes his Gospel, the Gospel of preeminent spirituality. You do not need that I should stay to show that the Gospel written by John was written with the object of bringing things back to spiritual principles. And then he wrote his letters: and John's letters are just full, from beginning to end, of spiritual essentials - life, light, love, and so on. And when you come to his Revelation, and read those chapters containing the Lord's challenge to the churches in Asia - Paul's churches - what do you find? Full development of those things of which we have been speaking! Moral laxity: "thou sufferest the woman Jezebel" (2:20); formalism, empty show: "thou hast a name that thou livest, and thou art dead" (3:1); and so on. The thing has come about.
(continued with # 45)