The Horizon of Divine Purpose
by T. Austin-Sparks

Chapter 4 - The Instruments and Reactions of God

Instead of reading the number of portions of the Word of God which have to do with our present meditation, I'm going to, for the present, reduce all into two fragments in the letter to the Ephesians in chapter 1 at verse 9. It's a part of a long statement, but this is the part that is the heart of it: "Having made known unto us the mystery of His will according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Christ." His good pleasure which He purposed in Christ.

Chapter 3 at verse 11: "According to the purpose of the ages, which He purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord."

For the sake of those who have joined us for the first time in this present series of gatherings, to try to help them to come right in to what we have (we feel) been led to take account of at this time, we are following up what the Lord said to us in the last series of special gatherings, when we were occupied with Christ as the horizon of all things in the counsels of God. At this time we are occupied with the horizon of purpose - all things horizoned by Divine purpose - the purpose as the extension of the Person.

We're not going to stay with the detail of that, but suffer a very brief word of explanation of our terms to remind you that this word horizon is a New Testament word, although it never occurs in our translations, it is there in the original language. In our translations it is translated ordained or ordain. It doesn't convey to us, that word, what the real meaning is: horizon. And we know that the horizon is the sphere, the realm within which we live and by which we are bound. It is the range, the full range of vision, and the limit of action. In the New Testament, as we have seen, it is the description and definition of Christ. He is God's sphere, range of vision - nothing beyond Him - He is the limit of all the Divine activities, for all things with God are in Christ.

So, my friends, then for horizon, for the moment, we come to the other word connected with that: purpose.

Horizoned by Purpose in Christ

This, again, is a word of interest. The original word prothesis is a word that all students understand. You know what a thesis is. You know that it is that which is presented, offered, as relating to some particular subject as intended to govern the future use or outworking of that subject. You present a thesis for your degree, your doctorate, and that thesis is a contribution, which if accepted by the authorities, is going to govern the particular subject in question in the future. They're going to refer to that for their guidance. And this word prothesis (the little prefix pro simply means before) is something before presented as God's ground of governing this whole universe in the ages to come. That is the meaning behind the word translated purpose in the New Testament, and it occurs, as you know, a number of times, especially in the writings of the apostle Paul.

God's thesis, which He has presented before the foundation of the world, is to make His Son the heir and sum of all things. So says Paul here and when that is so, when that is an accomplished, universal fact, it is God's intention to come right in to that in fullness and dwell there in pleasure and satisfaction. So that the end, as we have seen, and one of our passages indicates in the last words of the prophecies of Ezekiel: the Lord is there. Where? Just where His purpose is fully in expression.

Now, there are several aspects of this purpose which are going to occupy us throughout this day, if the Lord so leads and helps. Unto this purpose the Word of God is a revelation of the fact, the fact that God elects specific instruments in relation to that eternal purpose, that purpose of the ages. God elects specific instruments. We'll just leave that for the moment and come back.

The next thing that is so clear right through the Word of God from beginning to end, is that the third Person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, is unrelentingly putting forth His energies in relation to that purpose. The Bible along that line is one continuous revelation of the energies of the Spirit of God for something - not just doing it for the sake of doing it, exercising Himself and putting forth power, but He has an object in view always. And all the way through from the very first mention of the Spirit in Genesis 1, to the last mention of the Spirit in Revelation, the Spirit is moving in energy with this purpose in view. The energies of the Holy Spirit are continuous throughout history toward this end.

The third thing that becomes perfectly clear from the Word of God is the judgment of all things is in the light of this purpose - that is, all things are judged as related to this purpose. If they are against it, judgment works to their undoing, destruction. If they are for it, judgment works for their glory. The whole work of judgment is concentrated in and focused upon this matter that is called God's prothesis, God's eternal purpose.

Now, they are the three things that you must keep before you and we'll go on to break up. Firstly then:

The Election of Specific Instruments in Relation to Purpose.

In the Old Testament, He is very patent that Israel as a nation was elected, chosen of God in His own right and sovereignty. There's no other ground whatever, no other explanation, it's always a mystery. Why? Oh, there's plenty to say He made a mistake, He got the wrong people, just got hold of the wrong type altogether. Well, that argument is a very big argument if you'd like to follow it through in the natural. The Word is, "I did not choose you because you were better than others." In the essential and exclusive sovereignty of God, He acted in choosing Israel. He chose Israel in the light of the same purpose as is here mentioned in the New Testament. But their relationship to that purpose was peculiar. He chose Israel to be the channel of the Messiah - if you like, the womb of the Messiah - through which the Messiah, the Christ, should come. Underline that word channel, because that distinguishes Israel in its peculiar election purpose, that purpose to be God's channel through which to arrive at the Christ, through which to bring in the Christ. That purpose governed and characterised the election of Israel.

Now, dear friends, I have got to leave a very great deal with you. We here today are not here for preaching. We are here for instruction, for teaching, and I would be very much happier if this platform were not up here and I were just down there amongst you with the Word open on this Bible study and investigation basis. Please adjust your minds to that, because we are really down at work today with the Word of God. Suffer that by the way. Now a great deal has got to be left to you to work out afterward. I can only make these statements - if I were to deal with all that is included in a single statement, I would want a day for every one of them.

But here the purpose governing and characterising the election of Israel, they were called and chosen according to purpose. That just explains why God did choose such a people. To throw light upon it from the later dispensation in which we are, where we come in to the next instrument, the church. Not to anticipate too much at this moment. This is what I mean: you see the tremendous, the transcendent vocation of the church in the ages to come, the immense greatness of the calling of the church. And then you look at yourself and I look at myself, and when we do that and begin to know ourselves in the light of God, we at once say, "Well, that may apply to some people, it can't apply to me. He wants better people than I am for that. He wants better stuff than I'm made of for that." And then you read that we should be "unto the glory of His grace." And that's the answer. Called. Called, chosen. And the very choosing has in it everything that is going to make possible and make necessary a superlative display of the grace of God. The choosing is governed by purpose, you see. Not as something in itself. Not as an end in itself.

Then in the next phase the purpose was governing the constitution of that people. After having been chosen, they were constituted, and what a history that is and what a lot there is in that. See Israel from the time they went into Egypt, under all the discipline of the four hundred years of bondage, being secretly and hiddenly wrought in and wrought upon and constituted, and then brought out from Egypt into the wilderness and the constituting work going on. And everything to do with that constitution - the tabernacle in all its details, the priesthood in all its details, and the sacrifices, and the feasts and all their details - this whole, wonderful, comprehensive constitution and constituting of this people governed by a purpose. This purpose: to make them the channel through which the Christ would come. And everything to do with God's handling of that people in their constitution had something of Christ hidden in it. You can see that, of course, in the tabernacle, in the priesthood, in the sacrifices, but see it in their own experience. There's a field again for much meditation, but God was dealing with them within and without in the light of the purpose for which He had chosen them, to constitute them a channel through which He would reach His Christ and bring in His Son.

Further, purpose governing their history. You could only explain the history of Israel under the hand of God through the centuries up to Christ in the light of some thing that God was working toward. The discipline, the discipline, the suffering, the infinite patience of God, the instruction - all that that history contains in their relationship to God and God's relationship with them, is explained by this one thing: they were intended to be, chosen to be, this channel along which God would move and at last reach His Son, bring in His Son. In Israel's case, in the earthly sense, in the historic sense, and in the temporal sense, they were called according to His purpose, chosen for this purpose concerning God's Son.

Well, the election of Israel is unmistakable and the ways of God with them are discernible. The purpose of God in all must be perfectly clear, because it's something that does not end with Israel. We come into the next great, elected, chosen instrument of the Divine purpose. We come to that elect Body, it is called "the elect" sometimes, we call it (and the New Testament calls it) the church. The difference between the church and Israel is this: that the church is not a thing of time, the church is a thing of eternity. It was chosen in Christ Jesus before time began, "We were chosen in Him before the foundation of the world". Israel is a thing of the earth and of time; to serve a purpose as a channel, but the church is an elect vessel or instrument to be, not the channel of the Christ, but the Body of the Christ. There's a great deal of difference between a channel and the very Body - this is something superior, something far greater than Israel - eternally elected, not as a vehicle but as the embodiment. So we find that the church is said to be called according to His purpose. The calling, the calling is according to His purpose. Dear friends, listen very closely, get hold of the meaning of statements like this.

We're so familiar, aren't we with these words. How we love that passage, "All things work together for good to them that love God and are called according to His purpose". It's something very lovely that we cherish and bind to our hearts. There's a promise, but note: it's all governed by the last fragment: "who are called according to His purpose." You were never called by God just to be saved - great as it is to be saved - you were never called by God just to be a Christian. You were never called by God just to be a member of what is called "the church". These things may be included, but you were called by God and chosen in Christ from eternity for the purpose which God has as His goal and end ultimately: called according to His purpose. It's the explanation of God first coming to us and calling us. It's the explanation of His saving grace, not an end in itself, but according to His purpose. And also constituted according to purpose. Let us weigh every matter as we go on step by step.

Constituted According to Purpose

You know that in the whole realm of creation, species are constituted according to their particular purpose, and it's just wonderful how they fit into the purpose for which they were created. They're adapted to that. They just spontaneously and organically move and work in relation to the very object and purpose for which they were created. You would not like to have to be caused or required to do and act as many other creatures do and you would say, "Well, I could never do it, I could never do it!" You see that horse running, running its many, many miles, and keeping on, keeping on, keeping on perhaps all day long, and you say, "I couldn't do it!" And that horse that stands up so many hours, hours on its feet, "I couldn't do it." Now, you're not asked to because you're not a horse! A horse's feet and legs are constituted to do that and if you were called upon to do that, you'd soon find that you're not a horse. And so we're different.

I, for the life of me, could not be a woman! I don't mean changing my form or anything like that, but I feel so terribly sorry for women often. I do! Terribly sorry, and I say, "Oh, I couldn't be a woman for all that you could give me." And I'm not asked to be a woman; I'm not constituted that way. I don't know whether the women feel the same way about the men, but there it is, you see. We're constituted for the purpose for which we are created. And if we keep to our own realm, things are not so difficult for us as other people of another realm might think they are. And men can go through things that a woman is not called upon to go through and if she tries to, she'll get into trouble. That's where you make this world topsy-turvy, confused. A woman is called to go through things that a man is never called to go through but if she keeps in her realm, she'll go through all right. It's a matter of constitution, isn't it, in creation.

Now then, the church by the Holy Spirit is being constituted for its eternal purpose. It's being qualified, equipped, endowed, and developed for this great purpose of God. We find that on the one side there are things that we know at present we cannot do, we cannot answer to, but the Spirit of God is working at us to make possible what naturally is impossible. That's the great difference between a natural and a spiritual man. We know that there are many things that we cannot understand naturally, but that is true of the species, "the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God neither can he know them" but the spiritual man can. The Spirit of God, you see, is qualifying for the understanding of the things of God.

And so I could go on, this handling of God with us in reconstituting, reconstituting and it's not going to be artificial like the man in space, I mean, to be kept there on artificial means, something that is not a part of his constitution at all. This is going to be our natural element for which we are constituted: Heaven, and all that is so different in Heaven from what it is here and there are many other aspects of this constituting, God's dealings with us. What is He doing? Why is He doing this? Why this history that is turning us upside down and inside out? That's from the natural standpoint, but really is putting us right way up from Heaven's standpoint. Well, constituting the church as the vessel of the eternal purpose as different from Israel. All our schooling in the school of the Spirit is governed by the election, by the choosing, by the purpose.

Now having said that - and what a lot of ground it covers in a few concise statements - having said it, there is always the abiding peril and imminent tragedy of the loss of purpose in the Christian life, in the church. With Israel, that peril was ever present; it's part of the history. With Israel that tragedy was always very near at hand and at last overtook them: the peril and the tragedy of the loss of this sense and consciousness and domination of specific purpose lying behind their history and behind all God's dealings with them.

We have earlier in this season noted some of the characteristics of the Holy Spirit's presence and activities in relation to purpose. We have seen what it means, just what it does mean to be in the grip of the Spirit of God in relation to His purpose. I don't know that I dare go back over that again, but may I remind you that overall, there was at the beginning, both of Israel and of the church, this dynamic sense of being in existence as God's people for some special purpose. They were mastered by it. It took possession of them.

Paul uses a very expressive word which we understand now in the light of one of our systems. He said, "I was apprehended by Christ Jesus." Now, I trust that nobody knows anything about that in the natural, that no policeman has ever come along and put his hands on you and taken possession of you and walked you off to the police station and made you a prisoner. That is what the law calls being apprehended. That's the very word Paul used, "I was apprehended by Christ Jesus", and he links the word in the statement with purpose - Divine purpose.

See how true that was of the church in the beginning. What a consciousness they had! I do not mean that they understood all the meaning of it, that they had all the light and intelligence and instruction about it, but they had the consciousness of it. And it's far better to have the consciousness and the reality than to have all the doctrine without the reality. But there they are in the book of the Acts at the beginning, my, these people, these people are under the Holy Spirit's apprehending grip and mastery, with a sense of something on, there's some big thing in view. There's a purpose in our being where we are and what we are. And it must be like that. It must be like that, and that has got to be applied, dear friends.

Now then, we go on from that point to:

God Reacting in Relation to Purpose.

We have seen that, with all, tragedy overtook Israel at the end. And Israel chosen, chosen, dealt with by God in a way that the Old Testament reveals to be the channel through which the Messiah, the Christ, should come and be reached by God. When He did come, that very nation killed Him and killed the very purpose of their existence. When they slew Him, they slew themselves as a vessel and instrument of God's purpose. And so God said, "All right. You stand aside. I have no place for a thing which is just a thing. Whatever I have intended for that, however I may have worked at it and been patient with it, if after due probation, due time, that does not move through to My purpose, I never keep it, though I chose it. I never keep it, though I bore with it. Though I expended much upon it, I set it aside." Now, that's a terrible possibility, isn't it?

I'm talking about purpose. Don't read into this election or salvation. I'm talking about purpose. You come to the book of the Revelation (and I'm going too far ahead, but I must for this moment for this point) there you have the Lord speaking to the churches and to one He says, "Repent or I will remove thy lampstand out of its place. I have no room for good things, even good things that fail in the essential purpose of their existence. I have no place for anything that does not fulfill the specific object of its creation or its election." Well, Israel failed. But even with Israel we have got to see how God reacted in purpose, and the prophecies of Ezekiel are peculiarly and especially for that very object. They are the book of the specific reacting activities of God in relation to purpose.

God chooses in the light of one great, all-inclusive purpose. What He chooses becomes the vessel and instrument of His Spirit and His Spirit's energies. Now I do want here that you should note what I'm going to say. Note God's method with Israel because it throws such a lot of light upon His method with the church. Because, while the sphere may be different - earthly and heavenly - the principles are exactly the same at all times. As we look at God's method as in Israel we get a lot of instruction on this whole matter.

First of all, we have noted that the whole body of God's people was called according to purpose. The whole body in the first instance was called and chosen according to purpose. Better be careful how far we allow our ideas of specific testimony and specific ministry and specific fellowship to lead us away from this one great fact, this all-governing fact that the whole church is God's elect vessel and instrument, the whole church is chosen of God according to purpose.

The history of the church is a deplorable departure from that, but I'll not dwell upon it. But if the whole Body loses that distinctiveness of character and purpose, God moves next to raise up ministries within its frontiers, its sphere. In the Old Testament they are called prophets. In the New Testament, too, apostles and prophets, ministries - not essentially persons, but ministries within the range, the compass, the horizon of the whole people - to call back, to reannounce, to define, clarify, rebuke, exalt, plead, entreat, warn - all in the light of the lost distinctiveness of purpose in their life and in their way. He does raise up vessels, instruments within. First He meant the whole to be that; loss and departure means that He first reacts through the voice of the prophets or these specific ministries.

But again, those ministries are never intended to end with themselves. They are a call to the whole people of God. They are intended to be a revelation of God's mind to all His people everywhere, all who are truly called by the Lord's Name. That is their purpose, that is their range. Their voice must go into all the earth. Their ministry must reach to all the people of God. And if all the people of God will not make the response that God wishes, wills, desires (note we follow, we follow the Old Testament closely in this) if, as in the case of the prophets, if many people turned a deaf ear or turned a spiteful hand, what was God's next move? Out of the whole people: a remnant. A remnant - all in line with God's purpose, a people within the whole who do respond, a remnant to be on one side a rebuke to all the others and on the other side, an example to all the others.

And, dear friends, I want to say here, after very much thought about this, and while probably I'll have no difficulty in finding your agreement when I speak of God's purpose concerning the whole church, and His will for the whole church, and that remains, that remains unaltered, my own conviction is (and I'm open to the Lord to give more light, to correct this judgment if it is faulty) my own conviction is that the local representations of the whole church are God's intended reaction to a general condition that they're, as in remnants, here and there. And I could name the places. There are some here in this gathering this morning: here and there and there, local representations of God's purpose in expression, on the one side to be a rebuke to the general declension in the whole church, and on the other an example of what God really wants for all His people. Local churches are in existence, not to be something in themselves, not just to be the receptacles of teaching and doctrine and just to be proceeding on a certain line of procedure and technique, but to be an impact upon the whole church of God worldwide for rebuke and example.

Believe me and test and suffer me, be patient with me, I do want to bring it down and be very practical. Some friends here are here in the company of Honor Oak. Some here are in the company in Richmond. Others in Deale and Canterbury, and so I could go on, far off Australia, Ethiopia, and elsewhere. You're here as representing local companies of the Lord's people, and the Lord would say to you this very day that you are not there as a company in any one of those places or all of them, just to be something with a circle round yourselves, having a nice happy time together in an exclusive fellowship (or unexclusive fellowship if you object to the word) and getting a lot of teaching and doctrine with which you're filling your heads. You're not there for that. Every one of these assemblies ought to have a worldwide impact; ought to be a rebuke to everything that has lost its distinctiveness of purpose - and that, a great purpose, and it is a contradiction to being an example. That, if there is seeking to know what God really wants, it should be found there where you are. It should be found there! It's very challenging, but God raises up for this purpose.

"When He ascended up on high, He led His captivity captive and gave gifts among men, and He gave some apostles, some prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers..." what for? What for? Nothing less than the full purpose that, "we attain unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ". And you come back to Ephesians. What's that? "That He should fill all things and that the church should be the fullness of Him that filleth all in all". Something, something that is like a seed plot, that is like an overflowing vessel. The content, the deposit, the trust with which His touching ranges far beyond its own locality. We hardly touch our own locality! Is this putting too much on? I say that this is what the energies of the Spirit would do! It is true - it was true of the churches in the New Testament when they were really in line with the Spirit. When they got out of line with the Spirit they immediately turned in on themselves and got into a terrible lot of Babylonish confusion and contradiction, but while they kept in line with the Spirit, far beyond their own doors people were hearing and talking about them and out from them - out from them - to ever widening circles and ranges, the testimony went forth in persons and in report. This is the kind of rumour that's good. All rumours are not good, but this is the kind of rumour.

Well, now note, and I must come back to emphasise this: God acts sovereignly over this matter of vessels. He acts sovereignly when He is in His way of reaction. He did, of course, with the whole, as we have seen, His sovereign choice and election, but that sovereignty of God becomes specific when He's in reaction. He - for His own reasons He may never explain, and which you can never explain on any natural grounds - He lays His hand upon an instrument. It may be personal, an individual. It may be an individual, in relation to His purpose and reaction to recover what has been lost. Then, He may sovereignly act over a remnant, a company here and there. There's no explanation on any other ground than that God has brought that company and those companies sovereignly into existence for a specific purpose, not for just a general thing, a specific thing. A remnant movement, not to be something in itself, again exclusive. God save us from that, exclusiveness in mentality or in any other way, but God acts sovereignly. We're keeping close to Ezekiel.

Ezekiel

Ezekiel was a born and trained priest. And I can't stay to tell you, but you can study if you like, the training for the priesthood was a very exacting thing. The priesthood had got to be very exact and very exacting; had to be a very intelligent body. You see, the priest presently has got to handle the sacrificial lamb, and a lamb would never be brought for the sacrifice at the temple when things were right without the best natural judgment having passed it as quite clear and free of all blemish or spot or wrinkle or any such thing. But that is not good enough for the priest. The person who brought it may have looked at it and watched it for a long time and said, "Well, I can find absolutely no fault in this lamb. So I take it." But that's not good enough for the priest. He receives it, but he sets it aside for a certain definite period under the closest scrutiny. That sacrifice must never be offered to God if there's a hair of another colour than the rest, it has got to be absolutely perfect under the scrutiny of a trained eye. As some have said before, the best critics in the world were these trained priests. That's their business. Before God, they were answerable to God not to offer anything with a blemish. Their training in that matter, and in many other ways, was a very thorough training.

Ezekiel was a trained priest. At the age of 30, the age when he was to graduate from the school of priesthood into the actual ministry of the priest, (for that was the age, as you know) taking up the vocation for which he was so thoroughly trained, that about which he knew it all! The day, the thirtieth year of his life, when he should have entered upon his priestly vocation, the Lord called him to be a prophet and to leave his priestly work behind and take up another vocation for which he was not trained. That was the cry of some of these prophets, you know. Jeremiah, you remember, "I cannot speak. I'm but a child. I'm not trained and qualified for my job that You've called me to." And Ezekiel was called to be a prophet, and the Lord had to give him a lot of assurances when He called him.

Read the first chapter, the first verses, "Son of man, I send you to a people not of a strange tongue. If I sent you to them they'd hear you. I send you to the people of Israel. They will not hear you. But speak whether they will hear or whether they will forbear. I make your forehead brass against them." A lot of encouragement needed for this man. He wasn't qualified for it. It's a sovereign act of God. He was chosen. You can't understand, you'd say, "Oh, well, God would choose those who are really naturally qualified and trained." Don't you believe it. Don't you believe it! He may use some qualifications and some trainings sovereignly afterwards, they may come in very useful and we do not despise them, otherwise we should be setting Paul aside, but mark you, when God acts, He does not act on natural grounds like that. This is a sovereign act.

And this applies to ministries. Mark you, it must be God acting. It must be God choosing. If you and I get into a position for which God has not called us, it's going to be terrible tragedy, exposure. We will sooner or later be a laughing stock and we'll be wanting to get out, get out as quick as we can, out of any door. We can only get in on this because God has put us in; put us in. Now, that may apply to individuals. It does in the Word of God and it does now, but remember, the same principle is passed to the remnant or to the company in the first instance. God brings these into being.

Oh, how we've gone astray over this, how Christendom has gone astray. Organised Christianity as we call it, going about to form churches, set up churches, set up testimonies here and there. God have mercy on us. What's the result of that? We don't get very far with that. No, this thing must come out of the sovereignty of God. All those churches in the New Testament were acts of the sovereignty of God. Look at them. Look at Philippi! Was that an act of the sovereignty of God? No doubt about it. Paul saw in a vision the man of Macedonia. This is the sovereignty of God canceling out certain other things and directing his attention thither. And he said, "We assuredly gathered. The Lord had called us to preach the Word there." So he went, but there he met the difficulty, the opposition. At once hell rose up to say, "No! Not here." But the sovereignty of God said, "Yes, here!" Jails, earthquakes, anything, it's got to contribute, come under the Divine sovereignty. This is a thing which God has done.

Oh, that every one of our assemblies were like that - something that God has done, really. Go back and pray about it. These things have got to be born out of Heaven by the Holy Spirit of God. They have to be there and to function because, for no other reason, than God put them there and wanted their testimony in that place, wanted the lampstand there, wanted the vessel there.

The point, then, is the sovereign act of God reacting toward the whole purpose. It must be like this. It's like this. If it was true of Ezekiel, it's true in the New Testament. You notice John the Baptist was born into the priesthood, by birth a priest. By birth a priest, his father Zechariah was a priest. He was a Levite by birth. But did John ever act as a priest? Well, you may say in principle perhaps he did when he pointed to the Lamb, but he's not a functioning priest; he's a prophet. He's called the greatest of the prophets. He's a prophet and what is his function as a prophet? Sovereignly, in the power of the Holy Spirit from his very birth, is it not to rebuke the departure of the nation from the purpose of God and in himself to show what God wanted?

But there's a greater than that: Jesus is a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. His highest function is His function of priesthood here, in redemption. But even He had to suspend His priesthood while He became a prophet. It was not until the end, in John 17 and on from there, to the judgment hall, to the garden, and the judgment hall, and to the cross that He took up his priestly function. Until that time it had been in suspense while He was functioning as a prophet of God. That is what this said. Read, "Jesus of Nazareth, a prophet, mighty in deed and word." A prophet; to rebuke the nation - and, my word, He did that - to show in His own Person what God required of His people, to suffer and lay down His life for that. He is God's inclusive and supreme example of sovereignty in the history of this world, that God would react to sovereignly, against this loss of distinctiveness of purpose amongst His people, to recall, to rebuke, to express.

And there this morning we must leave it and follow on if the Lord wills from that very point this afternoon, if you will seek to keep continuity in your spirit and mind. How can we gather this up, focus it? Have you seen? You may not be an individual prophet. You may not be an Ezekiel. You may not be a Paul. You may not be any one of these particularly chosen vessels, elect instruments in the individual sense, but you may be a part of a remnant. And this is very testing.

So many people want to be something themselves personally, have their ministry, fulfil a ministry, go out preaching. And the most difficult thing for them is to be content with being one of a company chosen of God for a specific worldwide purpose and to be in that with all their heart. That's testing. But thank God for all those dear faithful people of His who do not revolt against such a position, ambitious for their own personal ministry, but are content not to just be passengers, not just to be a passive latent part of an assembly, but who are there on the spot in prayer gatherings and in every function of the company, to be a contributing factor toward a corporate purpose for God.

What would we do without all those people who are not Ezekiels or Pauls or anything like that, but who are there because they feel, "I'm a part of something; I'm not that something, that something does not focus in me, but I'm a part of something that God wants, as expressive of His mind in this place and in that place and I give myself to that." Go back, dear rank and file, as you're so often called, go back again to your company where you are. Don't worry if God has not sovereignly made you what people call a prophet, but see to it that you are functioning relatedly with others there, to be for God His vessel, an instrument for, it must be rebuking, but what really must be: exemplifying, showing what God wants. So help us God.


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