I have just a simple thought about the way in which what was on David’s heart in organising a habitation for God has been answered in the line of promises of God in a full way in the work of the Lord Jesus, and how this work is being carried on now as the house is being built. We refer, of course, to two different houses in these passages. One is a physical house that was actually built as a Temple, not by David, but by his son, as we know. And that house was meant in the exercise and desire of David to be God’s habitation amongst His people, as related to the centre of His promises in Zion, the place that God had chosen. The house that is being built now is not physical, nor localised in any particular place, but is made of living persons who have been put together by the Lord Jesus in His work. The Lord is building what will become, in true result, a habitation and pleasure of God. I thought that, following up what we had before us yesterday, and what we enjoyed together this morning, we could consider how God can find this habitation amongst His own, and how this can really be formed through what the Lord Himself is doing. I hope this thought can be developed by the brethren together.
I am thinking about the importance of believers in the Lord Jesus Christ being established. Paul speaks in this lovely doxology at the end of the Epistle to the Romans about God as the One Who “is able to establish you.”
I think the establishment of believers is a very important part of the ministry of the apostle Paul. You read, for example, in the Acts that he went on his missionary journeys to new territory to secure believers for the Lord Jesus. When he came back again to see these believers, one of the things he did was to establish them (Acts 14:22). In other words, it was important for them not just to hear the message and believe the message, but to be established in the great things of God. I think there is a need today for myself, and others who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, to become established Christians.
In reading these Scriptures, I had the thought in mind to ask myself, and, I trust, my brethren, ‘How appreciative are we of the blessings that have come to us?’ We need hardly say that we live in a day which is marked by unthankfulness, indeed it is one of the features that is mentioned in Romans (ch 1:21). Man away from God is unthankful. But that should not mark the believer in our Lord Jesus Christ. He has got much to give thanks for.
The blessings that have come to us in Christ are absolutely wonderful! They have come in the operation of divine love, and surely they would stimulate a responsive appreciation in every one of our hearts for the way God has richly blessed us. Indeed, just before coming out I was looking in one of the magazines, and there is a quotation there from Isaac Watts’s hymn:
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all!
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.
As regards titles and offices, I think they mainly relate to the Lord Jesus. That is to say that He fills many of the needs of God as desiring to have to do with men, and, through grace, of men as desiring to have dealings with God. It may be said of the Holy Spirit, of course, that He is the Comforter and the Earnest, and maybe has other titles as well. But Scripture, I think, dwells a good deal on the titles of the Lord Jesus Christ. And the Epistle to the Hebrews is one – not the only one, obviously, but one – good place to look to see what the Spirit has to say about the offices that the Lord Jesus fills.
I read these Scriptures in the order in which they occur in the Epistle, because that is just the easiest way to keep them in mind. But I did not have in mind to suggest that there was any progression through the passages we have read. They each stand by themselves, apart from the close connection that there is between chapter 3, “the Apostle and High Priest of our confession,” and what there is in chapter 8, where the apostle himself says that a summary of what has gone before is that “we have such a one High Priest Who has sat down on the right hand of the throne of the Greatness in the heavens.” And he then says that He is “Minister of the holy places and of the true tabernacle.” So, I think it is good to think of the High Priest and the Minister perhaps in somewhat the same context.
The question has been weighing with me, dear brethren, as to how the Christian – and, indeed, the Christian company – is to be preserved. And I suggested these Scriptures – which bear, I think, upon us individually and, to some extent, together – to set on an enquiry as to how we may be preserved.
When I say ‘preserved,’ I actually mean being preserved at the most practical level of keeping our faith and our walk, in the state of the world as it now is. I am sure it was always a difficult world, but there are difficulties which are very obvious at the present time. Satan is making a definite assault on a number of things. Some of the things that are most obviously affected relate to the family and family life. I did not have in mind to go into any detail as to that, but rather that we should be alerted, freshly if necessary, to the fact that Satan is active, and that the saints, each of us, as well as the saints when together, need to be preserved.
It does not, of course, manifest itself only in its moral aspects. There is a great tide of what is secular and unbelieving, and that, too, can affect the saints if we are not careful. And we may also be in danger of simply being disheartened.
So we need to be encouraged, but not just in a vague, general way, that everything will come right in the end: we need, rather, to be quite specific that the saints do need to be preserved and that Scripture points to ways in which they can be.
I wondered if, this afternoon, we could be occupied in discussing and focusing on the sufferings of Jesus. Not as an intellectual exercise – we have read quite a few scriptures; we probably know these chapters quite well; I have only picked a few verses from both chapters in Matthew – but more from a personal point of view. I really think 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 – and if we were drawn to Him, in affection to Him as the One Who suffered, in obedience to God, but also on our behalf, but I think that if we were drawn towards the Lord Jesus afresh then this exercise this afternoon will have been a worthy one.
The thought of resurrection has come before me. I think there are certain things in Christianity which we perhaps accept as fact, and do not fully appreciate how they are to be worked out in our lives, and I think for myself that resurrection is one of these things.
What is in mind in reading these Scriptures is the thought of what has been prepared. In John 12 it is what the household in Bethany prepared. In Luke’s Gospel it is what Peter and John prepared; also, it says in Matthew and Mark it is what the disciples prepared. In John 14 it is what the Lord has prepared. And in 1 Corinthians it is what God has prepared. We can get, I think, only a little of what these Scriptures may have for us, because in themselves they are very full.
What is in mind in reading these Scriptures is the cross. It is a subject which deserves considerable attention, always having in our minds what R. D. Edwards said in his hymn as to the wonderful character of the cross. There God’s heart is revealed to us:
O the cross of Christ is wondrous!
There I learn God’s heart to me
I think, beloved brethren, we need to consider what the cross means. I am looking at it not exactly from the way man approaches it, but I am looking at it from God’s point of view, because I think that is a side of the truth which we need to consider in greater depth.
These Scriptures speak in different ways about the way, and I thought that we might get help in considering these various aspects of the way. If we have come to the Lord, we are in the way. That is how the early believers were described – as being “of the way” (Acts 9:2).