The subject I have in mind is the believer’s fitness. And by this I mean the activity in a believers’ pathway. I feel believers should be very active, and I feel Scripture has something to say about this, so I wanted to consider together with you what Scripture tells us about being an active believer, and what is the ultimate result of this.
In this Reading Meeting we will look at some aspects of what Scripture calls our “so great salvation” (Hebrews 2:3). It is a very extensive subject, all centred in a glorious Person – the Lord Jesus. It covers our past; it gives us a wonderful outlook for the future; but it also is something that we need to experience at the present. What a salvation, dear brethren! It is centred for us in the Person of Christ.
I thought it might encourage our hearts this afternoon to take account of the work of God. And start here in Numbers with this wonderful statement, “At this time it shall be said of Jacob and of Israel, What hath God wrought!”
Of course, literally, it was applying to the end of the wilderness journey. They had come to the end of it, and God had been with them in all the way, despite all the failure and difficulties that had come in, And, as Nehemiah tells us, their footwear was not worn out and their clothes were fresh (Nehemiah
In this section where we started reading today, the threat from the Ammonite became great, and as a result, the Spirit of God came upon Saul, and he led the people, through God’s help, to this victory.
I have been thinking about the attributes of the Lord Jesus. And we often think of it in a personal way – what He is to me: Saviour, Friend; He is a King, too. All those are very blessed things. But I have been thinking lately of what He means to the Church, the assembly.
I wondered if, this afternoon, we could be occupied with the sufferings of the Lord Jesus. This is not an intellectual exercise. We have read quite a few Scriptures; we probably know these chapters, and others which refer to this subject, quite well; I would like us to see these from a very personal point of view. I believe that if we were to conclude this gathering with a real sense of knowledge about the Lord’s sufferings – what the Lord went through for each one of us – we would be drawn to Him in affection. He is the One Who suffered not only in obedience to God, but also on our behalf. If this causes us to draw close to the Lord Jesus afresh, then the exercise this afternoon will have been worthwhile.
I just suggest these Scriptures, dear brethren, as presenting to us some of the glories of the Lord Jesus Christ, and desiring, as our brother said in prayer, that we might get some fresh views of Him and His Person and excellence. There is, of course, nothing new in Scripture; the Scripture is its own record, but we come back to it looking for what we might call fresh impressions of what the Scripture contains.
I was just impressed with the awesome wonder of the coming of the Holy Spirit. My father came from a sect of Russian pacifists, the Doukhobors, and as one of their practices they would bow to one another in recognition of the Holy Spirit in one another. That may be a bit over the top, but I like the idea. It is amazing to think that the Holy Spirit has come and is dwelling in the saints. Maybe we could just look at John 14 in this connection.
Then, thinking of the many effects of the Holy Spirit, here are two: sin is reproved, and Christ is exalted. And we get that in Acts 2.
The Incarnation of Christ is an awesome and wondrous fact, and a reality that we can never get enough of. But the coming of the Spirit is so wonderful, powerful, and has such implications, that I just felt, myself, the need to be expanded in the awesome wonder of His coming. So we have Christ here physically – and you can see Him, but only those who have faith really discern Who He is. Then we have the Spirit, and He is not seen – as it comes out in this section in John 14, we cannot see Him.
In reading these passages, I had in mind the thought of revival. We live in days that Paul describes to Timothy as difficult days (2 Tim 3:1), and as you look at that section in Timothy, you see how difficult the days are. There has been such a turning away from the things of Jesus Christ. Therefore, from that background, it should be an exercise with us that there may be revival – first of all, in our own hearts, our own lives; then in our local meetings; and finally, revival of interest in the things of Christ in our nation, which largely has turned its back on the Christian faith.
suggested these passages because they all speak of the journey of the children of Israel in the wilderness. It is striking how many times the journey through the wilderness is spoken of in the Scriptures. It comes into several of the Psalms and several of the prophets, and Paul draws on it in his teaching to those in Corinth when he says all “these things happened as types of us” (1 Cor 10:6), which makes the subject important in our own day for what it can teach us.
Just so that we can be clear about what the wilderness is for us – I think it is what the world becomes to the believer when the light of Christ really lays hold of our hearts and souls, so that the world is shown up for what it truly is: “Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified” (Rev 11:8). As a result, just as the children of Israel were enabled to move out of Egypt, so you and I are to be enabled to move out, in that sense, of this world. God has called us out of this world, to be a people for His possession (see Deut 7:6; 1 Pet 2:9).