Ministry Conversational Bible Reading

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Titles and Offices of the Lord Jesus as presented in the Epistle to the Hebrews

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.

Preservation

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.

Revival

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.

The presence of the Lord amongst us

It has been on my heart for some time that we should have an impression of the presence of the Lord amongst us. I sought in prayer the help of the Lord to speak together about this important matter, of having a real impression of the presence of the Lord amongst us.

I was particularly impressed with the fact that, once we have come together, we can have an impression that, really, the Lord Jesus is pleased to be with us. It is a real matter. It is not a physical one, as, of course, we know, but it is a matter of really experiencing His presence. And I thought of these passages, the first one being the passage that sets forth the conditions in which we can receive the Lord.

The coming of the Holy Spirit

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.

The wilderness journey

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).

The habitation of God

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.

Seeing more of the wonderful things of God

When I was thinking about this afternoon, for some reason I had an overriding impression of Psalm 23. And then, following through from the thought of what we can enjoy currently, as believers in this wilderness scene that we are all treading through, we can touch what is eternal and what is of God.

It led me to think of Psalm 27, too. These are both psalms of David, a man of experience. What comes out here, linking with what we were saying yesterday, is that he had a desire and an earnest longing to see more of these wonderful things. He did not just want to look in from the outside; he wanted to enter in to what God would have for him, and to see something of “the beauty of Jehovah” (v4).

I read the other two Scriptures because, whilst many, many readings have taken place on Luke 15 and John 14, there is always something new you can gain, I think, from the truth of the Father’s house. Luke 15, I suppose, tells us what, again, we can enjoy currently. The younger son wanted an inheritance now. He actually came into something, now, that was far better than what he had actually hankered after in the first place.

And then what we read about in John 14 is a future day in many ways. It is something the believer can look forward to. We should not forget that. It is not all current, we have a future. It is the wonderful thing for a believer that he does have a bright future. The wonder and glory of that should affect us now as well. That is why the Lord spoke to His disciples, that the future prospect might also be a current enjoyment.

Psalm 23 is for where we are now.

The Gifts of Eternal Life and the Holy Spirit

My thought today is quite simply that we should have a desire to appreciate what God has given us. As believers in the Lord Jesus we come into much blessing. Some of it is future, but much of it is now. But, also, I am challenged as to how much I am concerned with knowing more of it.

There are two things principally that I want to speak of this afternoon. One is the gift of eternal life, the other is the gift of the Holy Spirit. They are two things which are to be enjoyed currently. And they are two things which we should desire to know more of.
So I read the New Testament Scriptures so that we can think about the gift of eternal life and the gift of the Spirit. But then I read the Old Testament Scriptures because I think it is always good to get practical examples of truth that we are considering. What strikes me about Caleb and his daughter is that they both had desires. Also, in fact, the woman in John 4 said, “Give me this water” (v15). I know for myself that, as being brought up in a Christian household, amongst the brethren, we take a lot for granted. But these things are to be gone in for. Would that each of us desired a blessing!

Appreciating our Blessings

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!
(Hymn 272).