Let us remind ourselves of the basic word of our previous meditations as found in the First Letter to the Corinthians, chapter 1, verse 9: "God is faithful, through Whom ye were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord." - called unto the fellowship of His (God's) Son Jesus Christ our Lord.
We have been occupied with the Person of the fellowship and the call, God's Son. We have been saying that we shall never get anywhere at all in the Christian life as the Lord's people, and we shall certainly never get through to the end and at the end, unless we have an adequate apprehension of the greatness of Christ. Over against all the littleness of what is presented as Christianity, there stands this immensity of that into which we are called when we are called into fellowship with God's Son.
We could have dwelled longer upon speaking of the Person, the great, eternal, matchless Person of Jesus Christ, as this is foundational to everything. I say again that you will never get very far if you have only a small apprehension, a small understanding of the One into Whose fellowship we are called. Seeing that many of you are Christians on the way, well on the way, and some far on the way, let me say to you that this understanding of Christ, Himself, is not just an initial need. We are only going to get through at the end, through all the trials, the adversities, the difficulties, the sufferings, the afflictions, the perplexities, and the problems of mature, spiritual life, we are only going to get through under the increasing pressure and the forces of evil, on the ground of an adequate apprehension of the Lord Jesus. It is He alone Who can measure up to our need and Who can take the measure and meet it.
Well, having said that, we have to pass on and come next to the people of the fellowship, and I hope to be able to get as far as the purpose of the fellowship. These two really go together. "God is faithful, through Whom ye were called." "Ye were called into the fellowship of His (God's) Son" (ASV). Forgive me for being slowly emphatic and underlining every word. We must move carefully together, not just hearing words, but weighing them. Weigh them because, you see, God always weighs things. The famous Dr. Parker, of the City Temple London, used to have a great midweek service in the Temple. People used to speak about the great number who attended, but Dr. Parker said, "I never measure my congregation: I weigh it." And that is it: God weighs us. God is weighing us all the time. God is not looking on the outside: He is weighing us on the inside. So we want to be "weighted" with every word.
People Of The Call
In a word, "ye were called" just seems to be the whole matter to us, but what "whole matter" does it bring to us? Of course, these words were addressed to the Corinthians. Yes, this statement that "ye," here in Corinth, "were called" was brought to the Corinthians; but it did not begin with the Corinthians. This call was the long, long thought of God that reached right back into the past eternity where the Divine Counsels were framing what Paul called the "eternal purpose." Concerning this purpose, Paul will say in another letter, ye are called according to the "eternal purpose."
This call that came to the Corinthians was in the way, in the line, of this counsel from eternity, the God and Father Who "worketh all things after the counsel of His Own will." This call reached right back: it did not begin at Corinth with these people, but they were called into those goings of God from eternity. It was as though God, moving from eternity down through the ages came by way of Corinth; and as He came by way of Corinth, He cried, "Ye here are called, called into the fellowship of My Son. Come along: join in with all those who have responded to the call through the ages, and go with Us to Our end, Our predestined end concerning My Son." That call had been sounding then right through the ages reaching back before the world was. It goes on. They have heard it of old: they have made their decision. Some responded and went on with God. Some have heard and made a response and turned aside, but God has gone on. Some have hesitated by weighing things up and deciding that it was too costly. They could not go on, but God has gone on; and there through history, the ages are strewn with people who heard the call, who God called, but who have missed all that was involved in it.
God has slowly collected, shall I say, a people of the call through the ages; and He is still doing that, gathering a people into the fellowship of His Son. We might note by way of collecting a few lessons that this call can be likened unto "mountain peaks" and their adjacent valleys. There have been the valleys, and in the valleys the ordinary people have been hearing and making their decision, but there are these "mountain peaks" of the call through history which in a special, particularly interesting, and instructive way embody the meaning of this call. God chose certain ones to shine forth in this way: one, for example, is Abraham. We are not going to stay with these people, but we will just lift out some things in their lives that indicate what the call meant.
Stephen, in Acts 7, said, "The God of Glory appeared unto our father Abraham," when he was in Ur of the Chaldees, "and said... 'Get thee out.'" We will see in a moment what that implied. This call gripped Abraham there in Ur of the Chaldees: there with his one thousand or two thousand deities, he met the One Deity or was met by the One Deity, the One God, the God of Glory. Amidst all the deities of the Chaldees, Abraham distinguished a Voice, a Person; and, isolating this whole matter of divine relationship from all the other deities of worship to which Abraham was accustomed, he was drawn to one focus, to the God of Glory. The God of Glory, not just meaning, God Who is in glory, but the God Who has glory at the end as His object.
The God of Glory appears, and Abraham heard the Voice, the call of the God of Glory; and somehow in some mystic way, some strange, inexplicable way, Abraham came to understand that his call was related to God's Son. We do want to study his life, of course, do we not? We want to find the place of the Lord Jesus in the life of Abraham. There is no doubt about it: you cannot mistake His place in the life of Abraham as you go on. "Take now thy son, thine only son... whom thou lovest...." Abraham has come right into the very heart of God, right into the very heart of Calvary. I do not know, I cannot explain it all, but somehow, somehow Abraham himself came into the fellowship of God's Son; and this can be marked again and again in his life, right up to that mighty, inclusive crisis of offering his only begotten son.
Abraham came into the heart of God. The Lord Jesus Himself put His finger upon this strange, mystic something - this something being a relationship with the Son of God - He put His finger upon this relationship right back there in the life of Abraham when He said, "Yes, your father, Abraham, saw My day, and he rejoiced to see it." I do not know how, but Abraham heard the call into fellowship with God's Son and, at the cost of everything, said, "Yes, I will go." And he went. He stands as one of those "mountain peaks" of the call because of that response. At great cost in the beginning and all the way along, he made that response, and see what his name represents in history! But let us leave that and pass on from Abraham to Moses.
Here is Moses in the silent desolation of the wilderness with all that is going on inside of him as he is looking at his life and looking at himself. He is looking at his deep-seated consciousness of standing in relationship to this God, Jehovah. There he is in the wilderness for his forty years of aloneness with God. Then one day, not the burning bush, but the "non-burning" bush appeared. The bush that never did come to an end appeared: it held a fire that did not go out. He noticed that while all other bushes flared up and flamed up and died, this one never did. The undying bush was holding the secret of the Life which is eternal, the Life which is never extinguished, the power of His resurrection. Moses said, "I will draw near: I will turn aside and see this great wonder." He drew near, and from the bush there came a Voice, "Take off thy shoes from off thy feet: the place whereon thou standest is holy ground."
Then came the call and the commission, the challenge and the command. Moses heard the call, and he tried to argue with God. He tried to enter into a controversy with God. - Very good, very good! - If your controversies with God and your arguments with God are of the same kind as that of Moses, it is very good. Really there is nothing wrong about that. Some controversies with God do not get you anywhere, but this one thrust him along the way because it was a controversy on the basis of what God had been doing in his own life to bring him to the place of suitability to answer the call. Moses would never be able really to enter into this fellowship, (as one of our brothers said), "until the bottom's been knocked out of you," and then you are able to say truly, "I have had a devastating experience." Even as with Moses, you say, "I cannot, I cannot." Ah, but you thought you could once. "No, I cannot."
That is all right: he heard the call and argued with God, but when it is on that ground, there is no use arguing with God. You are having to deal with God, no use arguing, because here God is going to have the end in His Own Hand. Moses heard the call. He eventually, after arguing and after having to have a certain amount of accommodation made by the Lord to his situation, he went: he obeyed. The call is out - "Moses, Moses." Oh, what God can do and will do when our response is from the brokenness which God Himself has brought about through the emptying.
Where shall we go next? We might go on to David. Here we have a young man who is tending his father's sheep far away from the city, away from the world, out there, living a life in secret with God. "The Lord who delivered me: the Lord who delivered me from the lion and the bear." This lad had a life with the Lord, drawing his strength from the Lord. Later he will say, "The Lord, He called me from following the sheep." God called him from following the sheep. Out there in a simple way, the sovereign God called him, and you know the story. A vindication of David was that his response to God was so complete, so utter. With everything we may say about David's life, some of those things in his later life, we can yet say here is a man whose heart has been captured by God. The call meant that for David.
We go on meeting many in the Word who heard the call; and we come to the great prophet whom we all love so much, and perhaps who we can understand better than we can understand most of the others, the prophet Isaiah. You know the story, the account of chapter 6 of his prophecies, "The day that Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high, lifted up: His train filled the temple." At His presence, the foundations did shake. Then there was the overwhelming consciousness of his own uncleanness and unfitness that always comes when you have come into the true presence of God. Isaiah said, "Woe is me! Woe is me! I am undone, I am undone."
Here we have again the background of a great life of service and usefulness to the Lord. Again, he said, "I heard the Voice of the Lord, saying, Who will go for Us: Whom shall I send?" The call came to Isaiah in those circumstances: the day when everything else had become a mere illusion, the day of disillusionment. Uzziah, Uzziah, that great king in Israel. Yes, Isaiah undoubtedly had fastened his eyes upon King Uzziah. He was his ideal, and he was his hope and expectation for Israel. He was the man who answered to all Isaiah's desires, hopes, and expectations; and then, as you know, Uzziah broke down. He broke down, failed; and by his act in the Temple, he was smitten by God with leprosy and was a leper until the day of his death. Poor Isaiah! But when all the glory of this world faded, in that day Isaiah said, "I saw the Lord, high and lifted up." Here the course of God is going on - on with His call into the fellowship of His Son, and Isaiah more than any other prophet has the place for the Son of God. We know that, do we not? Why, chapter 53 alone has that, but there is so much more. The Son of God is in view, and Isaiah has been called into the fellowship of God's Son, Jesus Christ.
On we go. Shall we take one big leap right over to the apostles? Here are these apostles by the lakeside involved in their daily vocation, fishing; and Jesus passes that way. God passes that way and just calls this one and that one, "Come, follow Me." And they left their nets and followed. The account is very simple, but a lot was involved. Yet, they heard the call, and that is the point. As one of the hymns, fairly known to you, simply puts it, "I heard the call, 'Come follow,' that was all. I arose and followed." But, how tremendous was the involvement, the response to the call.
Outstandingly the Apostle Paul gives the account of his call three times. He gives what was contained in it and what it was unto on the day that he heard the call, "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me? Who art Thou, Lord? What wilt Thou have me to do, Lord?" Then we have all that follows because as he says, "I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision." I am just giving these instances of the one who heard the call of God as God was moving on through the ages. He was passing this one and passing this way, and as He passed He just called; and after that call, immense things issued. God is calling.
Now what I want to say, and I have got young people continually in mind about this as we go on, is that this call undoubtedly brought a crisis in the life of every one of these people who heard it. And so it is today in the life of everyone who hears it, along whose way the Lord comes and leaves this impression that something has happened. You may not hear a call from heaven, and it may not come to you as it came to some of these; but somehow or other God has come your way, and He has left an impression that you have come to a crisis. There is a crisis bound up with this; and if you have come to this crisis, you will realize, one way or the other as you go on, it was a day of destiny.
Destiny was bound up with this encounter with God, or God's encounter with you. It was the day, and we older Christians know this whether it was some particular day, twelve or twenty-four hours, but it was a time, a time appointed in our life, when everything became involved in this that I have called an encounter with God - when we met the Lord - put it how you will. The Lord passed our way: He came into the realm of our life. Something happened, and everything to us was involved. Paul himself described it as being apprehended by Christ Jesus, laid hold of, arrested - the day that everything was involved. And you know that the passing of the Lord Jesus our way is always like that - it is everything now. It is everything. - For or not - Everything is gained or lost when He comes our way.
You can go through the Lord's life while here on this earth, during those three years, a little over, and see how He is passing along. He is just passing along precipitating life's issues and destinies for those by whose way He came. Something is precipitated, and everything is in the balances now. Did He heed His enemies? Their destiny and doom is settled because He has just passed their way. He heeded the needy ones who cried out, "Lord, have mercy upon us." What a day that was when He passed by Jericho.
The Lord happened to come, shall we say happened, no, not mere happed, in the Divine eternal counsels of sovereignty, He came to Jericho. Here a little man, who could not see over the heads of the other people, climbed a tree to have a look at Him and got the shock and surprise of his life when Jesus looked up and said, "Little man, Zacchaeus, come down: I must abide at your house today." A day of destiny, was it not? Tremendous! That man did not get up that morning thinking or imagining for a moment how he would go to bed that night. His destiny had been settled because Jesus passed through Jericho.
What means this eager, anxious throng,
Which pressed to Him as He hasted along?
An eager voice thereupon replied,
"Jesus of Nazareth passeth by."
He is passing by. The eternal destiny registered on this one and that one until He even comes to Pontius Pilate. Pontius Pilate knows one thing, even if he does not recognize all the issues, he knows that his destiny is in the balances of this Man, Jesus of Nazareth. He wriggles and writhes to get out of this predicament. He makes his decision and has gone down in history as wrong. Jesus passed this way. It was an eternal crisis with Pilate and with all these. So it is that He is still passing on. He is still coming on. He is still in that course from eternity with God and is precipitating this issue of fellowship with Himself.
Involvement Of The Call
Now a word about the involvement of the call. If you go over again these lives that I have mentioned, Abraham, Moses, and the others to the apostles and on since then to ourselves, you will see the involvement of the call. What is the involvement? What is involved with any kind of contact with the Lord Jesus? At this period of time, we ask, shall we believe that He has come this way? I cannot but believe that the devil tries to prevent it. Oh, what a battle! Is it because Jesus of Nazareth is passing by? God from eternity is moving and taking us in His stride. Is that it? Will you believe it? If so, there is an involvement in this contact with His Son; and if you look at these lives, you will see that the involvement worked out in this way - it was first of all a demand for changing position. What of Abram? - "Get thee out." - a change of position, a change of course. And in every other case, it is a changed position. With Isaiah it was a change from the earthly, from the earthly kingdom, the earthly Uzziah, the earthly glory, the earthly expectation to a heavenly one. "I saw the Lord, high and lifted up..." It is a heavenly position now for Isaiah.
I do want to say to you, dear friends, that if you go the way of this call, do be true to the initial encounter of the Christian life, and do remember that this encounter involves a CHANGE OF POSITION. This fellowship with God's Son does not begin and end there. It goes on right through our lives; and will you believe me when I say to you that if you have been going on with the Lord for sixty or more years, you will still have encounters with the Lord which involve a change of position? You are up against that all the time: I am. How many, many times I have had to change position, and I thought my position was quite sound, right and true. I was convinced of it, and in measure it may have been true because in the sovereignty of God I was there. I came to discover that that order was not all that fellowship with God's Son meant: fellowship with Him meant some very big changes of position.
Now you are wondering what I am talking about. How can I illustrate it? Well, you know, I was a fully accredited minister of two denominations at the same time, two of the biggest denominations in the country, and I know that was of God. I know He did it that I might have an insight, a thorough insight into the whole of that system. He did it so that I would understand it and know all that "ministerialism" is, all that "churchianity" is, all that the whole system of organized Christianity is; and now I have an insight that is unusual.
Strangely enough, I have preached in some of the most important churches in London, and I have got a further knowledge of the whole thing. Tremendously valuable to have it from the inside - to know it, through and through, to get its measure; and then the Lord just as deliberately took me right out of the whole thing, out of the whole system.
You see what I mean? And I look back, and I say, "If that was really not God's thought concerning His Church, and it is not, if that is not what we have in the New Testament as the Body of Christ, the heavenly Body of Christ, why did the Lord lead me in?" Just to show me the difference. The Lord would say to me, "Now you know, and you can talk out of knowledge. You have not got a theory about churches and ministries and ministers and all that sort of thing: you know from the inside how far all these things will take you and leave you." And it is so after many years. See what I mean: I am illustrating.
Do not take this up and begin to say, "Well, then, I must leave my denominational church." But no, that is not the point. It is what God does with you that matters. My point is that as we go on with God, and as we come more and more to know the meaning of fellowship with His Son, He demands a changed position. I have repeatedly changed and continue to change because we have not got to the end yet. I do not know what the next change is for me, if there is another one, but I am having to date to change position.
However, this whole matter of the call goes on. "Come follow. Come follow. Where I go thou knowest not now, but thou shalt know afterwards." The explanation and the vindication do come, but the call to "follow" was a crisis of position. With the call comes the involvement unto all that God has at the end. Perhaps some of you are going to find a new position, and you will change course. You will come up against this issue over and over again: it is that you are as sure as anyone can be that you are right about something today, and then tomorrow you have a question about that.
Oh, how many men I have known in the course of my long life, in the whole realm of things, and it has been a very wide realm from far east to far west throughout all these years. I have known many dear, dear men, whom God had used, who came to a crisis like this, a crisis which required a changed position, and they have said, "No." - Gone away sorrowfully because they had great possessions.
I remember one such man with a very honored name. You would know the name perhaps because he was greatly used of the Lord. He was occupying a position of influence in the Anglican Church, and he got hold of a little book of mine: "The Centrality and Universality of The Cross." He read it, and he said to me, "I want to talk to you." So we went to lunch and coffee. He said, "I read your book. I know you are right. I know that it represents a tremendous challenge to my position. It involves everything for me." In the course of the meeting, he said, "I cannot. I cannot. I have found a good place to preach out of, and I think that I had better stay there." What happened? - the name faded out, the position faded out - he just went on: he lost so much. Oh, what a tremendous thing he might have had, not by coming to accept this book, but by coming to accept the challenge of God. God came his way and gave a challenge to change position: the man refused, and God moved on and left him there.
On another occasion I was in India at a church. Right in the front there were two fine, young Indian men, fine specimens of men. In front of them was the Lord's table, and the loaf and the cup were brought in. I paused and said, "Do you know what this means? This means everything for the Lord. You are taking these symbols of the Lord and saying that He only and altogether is your life, your days, your future, your everything." They both looked very serious. Then one of them said "Yes" and partook. These two young men had come together. Presently, they looked at each other, and then the second young man said the last good-bye. The Lord met one, and he said "yes:" the other said, "I cannot - too costly." I do not know about them. I cannot tell you the issues in their history, but this is how it was for them.
Any encounter with the Lord does involve this change of position. It did with Abraham. It did with Moses. It did with David. It did with Isaiah. It did with the apostles. It did with Paul, and it is like that right on to the end. Do not think that you have reached the end or that your present position is final. This is where the trouble sets in, is it not?
Oh, be careful on any matter whatsoever of thinking and saying that you have got the final answer and that your position is "it." "There is no more to it," some say, and people are also saying in groups today that they have "the truth." My word - what a history! I have followed such a position. True, there are some things about which we can be quite sure. We can be sure of the Lord, of our salvation, and so on, but our knowledge of the Lord's ways is different. No, we have got to go on hearing the call and having a change of position and a change of object.
A change of object - what is your object? You can follow a change of object in the lives of these men mentioned. You can follow the change of object for which they were living, as we illustrated in the life of Isaiah. A change of object - what is your object? What have you now in heaven? What a radical change it was with the Apostle Paul. Think of the apostles: they had to change their object from an earthly kingdom to a heavenly one. "Wilt Thou at this time restore the Kingdom to Israel?" They were looking for an earthly kingdom and their place in it, asking to be on the right hand and on the left, "when Thou comest into Thy kingdom." - This "kingdom come set" - this position proved to be utterly false, and, afterward, they had to have a revolution as to the object for which they were living and working.
I did want so much to say something about the purpose of the fellowship, and so far all that we have said has been on the way to that. Would you suffer me a few minutes on this because this is really what I want to get to; and I think that this is probably all that is necessary at this time as far as I am concerned.
Purpose Of The Call
The PURPOSE of the fellowship with the Son of God - what is it? At this point I am not thinking of the purpose in the ages to come: we will come to that when we speak about the Prospect of the Call, but I am thinking of the present purpose, which includes the present up to the time that the Lord Jesus returns. And what is it? Now if you forget everything else, get hold of this. Let us widen out and get the immense setting of it. As we go back to the Book of Genesis, we see that God created the heaven and the earth and next the earth in all of its detail. Then at a certain point in His progress and creation, He finished and rested from His labours. God looked on all things and said, "It is very good. It is very good."
God rested, and what exactly does this mean? God came into the garden. He had said, "It is very good." God delighted to come into the garden, and He walked in the garden in the evening time. He had made this world, and the garden was a symbol of everything else in creation. He had made this world to be a place for Himself where He could be satisfied, perfectly satisfied, and have a place to which He could come. It was like that: this is where you begin your Bible.
How do you end your Bible? Revelation 21: "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them... and be their God." The Bible is bounded by a place for God. God is present, in satisfaction, in rest. Between Genesis and Revelation, what have you? Almost immediately the great forces of evil disputed God's right to have a place here; and so you have all through the ages these two things: firstly, God ever and always seeking a place where He can be satisfied and at rest, a place where He can " presence'' Himself without any controversy; and, secondly, there is a great cosmic conflict that is raging through the ages. The Bible is just full, packed full of this dispute of God's right to have a place here, of this challenge to God's rights here as the place of the inheritance of His Son, a place where it speaks of His glories. The battle rages right through history: it rages today, and the battle comes to get God out, to force Him out, to cause everything that is of God to quit this earth. The enemy forces persist in this because they desire to live here, to possess it and have this place. This conflict of the ages is over the presence of God in His creation.
Now, dear friends, this is the call; and this is the purpose of the call and the fellowship of God's Son that there be a place here for the presence of God. Oh, you have got to get rid of a lot of ideas concerning this. We hear so much about forming churches. The apostles never set out to form churches: they came into being, but they went out of being. God only looked upon those things, whether it be in Ephesus, or Laodicea, or Philadelphia, or Thyatira, or Smyrna, or Jerusalem, or anywhere else in this world, He only looked upon them as perhaps providing some ground for His presence and being supremely characterized by this one thing - a place where the Lord is. There the Lord is, there the Lord can be found, and there the Lord can be met. There you will meet the Lord and find the Lord. It is a place for Him: He is there.
Now, these believers, what are they? What am I? What are you, as believers? Well, call yourself by any name that you like, but there is only one thing that justifies your being in fellowship with God's Son, only one thing, and that is, is the Lord there? There is only one thing that justifies the existing of what I have called churches, or anything at all like that, movements and groups of Christian title, of Christian name, and that justification is, is the Lord there? If not, then, like Shiloh of old, it is an empty shell: the Lord is gone. It, the thing, may go on, but the Lord has forsaken it. Look now at the seven churches in Asia. Where are they? Was God jealous for the thing? Never, He was never jealous for the thing, whether you call it a church or anything else. He was not jealous for that, but He was jealous for His Son.
God's eye from eternity to eternity has had one object in view throughout. His eye has been focused upon one thing only, not on other things. He has used these other things in a related way; but when they ceased to fulfill that purpose, He has left them. He has forsaken them. Time may have destroyed them, they may have ceased to exist, and some may have continued; but God is out of them if His Son is not in them. God's focus from eternity to eternity is His Son. He is jealous for Him, and He is always saying, "How much of My Son is there in your life?" - not all your doing, but "How much of My Son is in the doing?"
There are many gatherings, meeting places, filling the earth with what are called churches. Oh, the Lord deliver us! I want to know when I go into this place and that place, do I meet the Lord here and does the Lord meet me here? Do I go away or come away and say, "The Lord was in that place: I met the Lord. I met the Lord," not other things, not people, not men, not the assertiveness of autocratic leaders, and so on and so on, no. "I met the Lord."
The Bible, you see, circles around this circumference always. The Tabernacle, the Lord was there, but where is the Tabernacle? The Temple, the Lord was there, but where is the Temple? He was here: He was there. Men met Him in these places; but, friend, when God saw that it was no longer a place where He could be at rest and satisfied, He passed on. Our countries are strewn with empty shells that once had something of the Lord. All the disappointments! I had been greatly helped by the ministry of a brother of Boston. So when I came to America for the first time and was going to have a conference in Boston, the first thing afterwards, I made it my business to go see the place of my friend who had helped me so much. Oh, brothers, the servant of the Lord was gone, and the Lord was gone. It was an empty shell. From this place there had been a ministry to the Lord's people all over the world, but not now. The thing goes on, but the Lord has gone.
And that's the story of so much; but, oh, God grant that it may not be my story and your story. Once we met the Lord in that man, in that woman. Once when we met them, you see, we met something of the Lord, but now... may I say to you coming here that in my contacts with you individually, I am always feeling, "What is there of the Lord here that I can touch, that we can live upon and have fellowship with?" Not where do you come from, not all these thousand things about your life, but the Lord. Are you making an impression of the Lord?
I say that is the purpose of our being here. It is the testimony of Jesus, and that testimony is that He is the Divinely appointed Heir to this world; and we are here where God has sovereignly put us. Whether it is in a living fellowship or not, in a Christian country or in a Mohammedan country, where God has sovereignly put us, we are there to put both feet down and say, "I claim this place for Jesus Christ. He is Lord." Hell will rage: hell will do anything to get you out immediately. Be careful how you get moved and what arguments are brought to bear on you. Oh, how many of our young people, who are in a living place with the Lord, get married and look for a nice home somewhere in the country; and in doing so, they go out into a wilderness spiritually and lose their spiritual life. What was the argument brought to bear upon them? A nice home?!! Oh, be careful.
We are here to claim this lentil patch for God, as Shammah did; and if we have got to fight until our hand cleaves to the hilt of our sword as Eleazar's did, and we go onto the end of this day, may we come out at the end with the Philistines worsted. The enemies intimate differently. We stand. So Paul in this battle, this cosmic battle, says, "stand," "withstand," and "having done all, stand."
See, the purpose of the fellowship is to claim a foothold for the Rightful Owner?! Christ said that this gospel of the kingdom must be preached in all the nations. Do you stop there? No, it is to be a testimony. Do we hold all those for Christ? - As a testimony, in those nations - you are there as a testimony that "Here are the rights of the Lord Jesus Christ, and I am here for them." That is all. That can be enlarged upon as you see, but the question is what are we here for: why are we Christians? To "presence" the Lord, we are here to "presence" the Lord. This is the battle, and it was the battle of the Lord Jesus Himself Who brought God in and declared God's rights. And the devil said, "Out you go, if I can have a say in the matter."
But we know that the end is with Him. We have got the vision. "The knowledge of the Lord shall cover the earth as the waters cover the sea." It is going to be! We are heading up, fast heading up, to the great climax when the one issue will become universal. "Who is going to have this world?" And there is every facility and every means now available for deciding that in a very cataclysmic way. "A new heaven and a new earth" - "wherein dwelleth righteousness."
Well, I do not know how to stop with such a thing, but I did want to get this to you, why are we here on this earth? Things will be taken from us: men will turn against us, repudiate us, reject us. They will discredit us: they did it to the Lord. Why are we here? For self-vindication? Not at all. We are here to hold the ground for the Lord, to be a "patch" for the Lord in this world. That is the purpose of our being called into fellowship with Jesus Christ, our Lord.
Let us pray: Lord, do cover all the faults. Take responsibility for the imperfections of thy servants, but do register in us what is the truth, "as the truth is in Jesus." Oh, convict us of this: we are interested in a lot of things, making, forming, all this, Lord; but do show us today, there is only one thing that matters to Thee, and that is the place that Thou doest have and how much of a place Thou doest have. Do bring this upon us in a new way. Hear our prayer: answer us, for Thine Own Name and satisfaction's sake. Amen.