Paul Martin

Amos 3: 3

1 John 1: 7

Micah 6: 8

         This verse in Amos is a very important one because it brings out a divine principle.  God has principles.  He has principles even in relation to the physical creation.  He established lights “to rule the day”, Gen 1: 16.  That is a great principle of God’s: “light to rule”.  He has established principles in His ways for our education and help, not that God needs the principles for Himself in that way.  When I was at school, I learned that there were principles in physics, and you cannot change them; they are fixed, and they help you to understand how the universe, and what is in the universe, operates; and God has done the same morally.  This great principle here in Amos was established because God Himself found His delight in it.  He loves what He does.  We have often been reminded that God does what He likes and He likes what He does, and what He does is perfect. 

         He has already found His delight in two walking together.  You will remember at the beginning of Genesis that Jehovah Elohim came down in the garden.  It says, “they heard the voice of Jehovah Elohim, walking in the garden”, (Gen 3: 8) and there was no one that would walk with Him.  Man hid himself.  Think of the feelings of the heart of God!  The top-stone of His creation hid himself from God because they heard Him walking in the garden to commune with man.  That was the result of sin.  That is why man hid himself.  Thank God for the work of Christ that has met the whole question of sin.

         But, if I might speak reverently, He found a companion in Enoch, the seventh from Adam.  Enoch was not hiding himself.  We do not know much about his life, but it says that “Enoch walked with God”, Gen 5: 22.  He may have heard from Adam -  Adam was still alive when Enoch was here - about the fall, and how he had heard Jehovah Elohim’s voice in the garden.  I do not know - Scripture does not say; but Enoch found in his heart the desire to walk with God.  Apparently, he may not always have done that: but we know he did it from when he was sixty-five years old.  It says he begot Methushelah when he was sixty-five years old.  And then it says, “And Enoch walked with God after he had begotten Methushelah”.  Think of the life of a man walking with God, bringing up children and walking with God.  We are not told much as to what Enoch did; in fact, we are not told anything other than that he prophesied and he pleased God.  That was the object of his life.  That is the object of the believer’s life to be here pleasing to God.  That was the object of Enoch’s life and, from some point onwards, “Enoch walked with God”.  What was the result?  God showed him great things.  He showed him of a coming day that we yet await and Israel awaits when the Lord will “come amongst his holy myriads”, Jude v 14.  God showed him that.  The blessed God loves to show His great thoughts to persons that are interested in keeping company with Him.  It is open to us all, and it was open to Enoch.

         And then we have Noah.  Think of these wonderful privileges that were open to men, men “of like passions to us”, Jas 5: 17.  “Noah walked with God”, Gen 6: 9.  Apparently, he did not wait until he was sixty-five.  It seems that it was the character of his life: “Noah walked with God”.  What a wonderful thing, if I might say reverently, for the heart of God, to have in His creature that which was entirely in agreement and sympathetic with Himself.

         Noah and Enoch, these men, must have been in agreement with God.  Amos tells us that.  They could not walk together unless they were agreed.  There is something wrought out morally in the lives of these men that our blessed God found His delight in: “Enoch walked with God”, and Noah did too.  No doubt they were pious men, but it is more than piety.  Piety is essential in the believer’s life.  There is no right walk in the circumstances of everyday life without piety, but this was more than piety.  This was walking in relation to God’s circumstances.  Noah had, no doubt, a judgment of the scene through which he was passing: “he condemned the world” (Heb 11: 7) through the building of the ark.  Here was a man preaching righteousness in an unrighteous world, and in that world, through the obedience of faith, “he condemned the world” in the building of the ark.  What a moment!  Here was a man fully sympathetic with the heart of God in relation to a scene of moral evil such as the scene through which we are passing today.  We cannot, dear brethren, take our bearings from the world through which we pass.  We cannot take our bearings from the Christendom in which we have a part.  We take our bearings from a Man who is at the right hand of God.  We take our bearings from another world, and Noah, in walking with God, was taking his bearings from the heart of God in relation to a world that was under judgment, and Noah judged the world in the action that he took, before God destroyed it judicially in the scene that He covered in water.  What a man he was!  He was in agreement, two walking together and agreed.

         It reminds me a little of Abraham.  Abraham and Lot were close together and Lot said, ‘I need more space’.  Do you ever say that?  ‘The path is too confined.  I need more space’.  Abraham said, ‘Well, you choose’.  And Lot looked and saw the well-watered plains and, it says, he “pitched tents as far as Sodom”, Gen 13:12.  Do you know what the king of Sodom does?  The king of Sodom said to Abraham later, “Give me the souls, and take the property for thyself”, (chap 14: 21), and he is doing the same today.  “Give me the souls, and take the property for thyself”.  Abraham would accept neither.  The business world does that.  It says, ‘Give me your whole life and it will be worth your while; you will have great reward’.  That is the business world.  May we be kept near to God!  It is not that the world can take away our eternal salvation.  That could never be.  That is founded in the work of Christ.  But it will take away the enjoyment of our eternal salvation.  It says, ‘Give me your life, give me your soul, and think what you will get as a reward!’.  Abraham says, “if from a thread even to a sandal-thong, yes, if of all that is thine, I take anything …; that thou mayest not say, I have made Abram rich”, v 23.  Why?  Because his resource was in another world.  And he goes out, and God shows him the whole of the heavenly scene.  It says, “Look now towards the heavens”, chap 15: 5.  That was the character of his inheritance.  How puny Sodom looked in the light of the heavenly inheritance that God was giving to Abraham, centred in a Man out of death, glorified.  That was Abraham’s inheritance, and he goes. 

         Then, later, you will remember in chapter 18 God comes down, and those two men come down to go to Sodom to pour out God’s judgment upon it; and it says, “and Abraham went with them to conduct them”, v 16.  Think of that: he conducted them to judgment.  How could he do it?  He could not do it if he was part of what was to be judged.  The house of God is apart from the scene that lies under judgment, and that really is represented in Abraham.  It says he “went with them to conduct them”.  He stood and spoke with Jehovah and he said, “I, who am but dust and ashes” (v 27); and he says, “There are perhaps fifty”, v 24.  ’Will you not spare the city for the fifty?  If there be forty … if there be thirty … if there be twenty’.  Think of a man who kept company with Jehovah, you might say, causing Jehovah to wait in the path that He was on in the execution of His judgment!  Abraham caused Him to do that.  He says, ’If there be ten ...’, and it says, “And Jehovah went away when he had ended speaking to Abraham; and Abraham returned to his place”, v 33.  Think of a man like Abraham detaining God from the execution of His judgment.  That is the present moment in which we are, the moment in which divine grace is operating in relation to the world.  If there be fifty, forty, thirty, twenty!  It says, “Abraham remained yet standing before Jehovah”, v 22.  Think of the moment, dear brethren, the effect, if one might speak carefully, of persons belonging to the house of God, having God’s judgment on the world, yes, the world that justly lies under judgment; and of someone sympathetic with God and seeking that there might be an answer secured in a day of grace that would be for God’s pleasure.

         Well, I touch on these things, but Amos says, “Shall two walk together except they be agreed?”.  Think of how that was seen in the life of Jesus!  In Luke’s gospel it says, “the Holy Spirit descended in a bodily form as a dove upon him” (chap 3: 22), and He “was led by the Spirit in the wilderness”, chap 4: 1.  In Luke you have the Lord Jesus and the Spirit moving together.  In verse 18 He says, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach glad tidings”.  That is the character of Luke’s gospel, two divine Persons going together: one blessed Man here in lowly, dependent form and a divine Person, the Holy Spirit, moving together.

         When you come to John’s gospel, it is the Father and the Son going together.  What movements they were!  John’s gospel is so attractive, bringing out the glory of the Person, but bringing out also the glory of the relationship into which that Person entered.  I wonder if I appreciate it, that one divine Person should come into manhood and enter into a relationship that He had never known before, and in that relationship find His enjoyment and satisfaction in answering to the Father’s heart and drawing from the Father’s heart.  The One who lived “on account of the Father” (chap 6: 57) was moving here.  The Father was His source and His object.  He lived “on account of the Father”.  Everything that He did, He did with the Father, and in the enjoyment of what the Father was doing.  From the age of twelve He could say, as Luke records, “did ye not know that I ought to be occupied in my Father’s business?” chap 2: 49.  What a business that was, having in view the working out of the great work of redemption.  There was one blessed divine Person moving forward committed to the working out of all that would be for the divine pleasure.  He says, “I do always the things that are pleasing to him”, John 8: 29.  At one point He says to His own, “Behold, the hour is coming, and has come, that ye shall be scattered, each to his own, and shall leave me alone; and yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me”, John 16: 32.  Think of the Father and the Son going on together!  It says as to Abraham and Isaac “they went both of them together”, Gen 22: 6.  You could write that over John’s gospel: “they went both of them together”, the Father finding His delight in the affections of Christ and in that perfect, dependent manhood, here as the Son, and the Son finding His delight in the Father and His love that the Father had for Him, and the Son giving fresh cause day by day for the Father to love Him.  What movements they were: “they went both of them together”!  Was there any moment when there was not agreement?  Perfect agreement!  Each divine Person having the same objective, the same desire, the same motive, each having the same object in view.  What movements, beloved!  “They went both of them together”!  Our brother reminded us in the reading of when the Lord Jesus came to the Mount of Olives, “And being in conflict he prayed more intently”, Luke 22: 44.  There was never any divergence even in such a moment between the Father and the Son.  Think of what it cost the Father, having in view what it would be to deliver up His own Son: “He who, yea, has not spared his own Son”, Rom 8: 32.  I often think of what it cost Christ, and rightly so, but think of what it cost the Father that He should see His Son go that way into death; and go that way, if I might speak reverently, without a murmur of disagreement, everything in total and perfect agreement.  “Shall two walk together except they be agreed?”  What a wonderful principle!  What a wonderful, established fact that God has secured and He will never relinquish because He has reached it in the Person of the Lord Jesus!

         When you come to the book of Acts there were those two men going up to the temple to pray.  The Holy Spirit had come.  Think of the movements of the Spirit in the book of Acts.  What movements of the Spirit there were, and as a result of the work of Christ, there were men here who were given to Christ “out of the world” (John 17: 6), upon whom the Spirit had come, and they were moving forward in testimony in the power of the Holy Spirit: so much so that persons said, “They are full of new wine”, chap 2: 13.  Peter said they were not “full of wine” (v 15) but “he has poured out this which ye behold and hear”, v 33.  Think of the glory of what came into expression upon persons like ourselves, beloved, persons who had been divinely wrought upon, and the Holy Spirit being pleased to come.  At Pentecost He came with “parted tongues, as of fire”, v 3.  He never had to do that at the baptism of the Lord Jesus, but with us He has to do that; nevertheless He came and abode upon those who were the product of the Lord’s own work, and they move forward, and they move forward in His power.

         Now, we come down to the present day.  We have read in John’s epistle in relation to the present time because it affects our pathway together.  It is a wonderful thing that believers have been called not only to be saved as individuals for the coming day, but to be set and have a part in the body of Christ!  What a wonderful thing that is, to have a part in the body of Christ.  The Lord Jesus is not here now.  He has been worthily glorified, exalted above all, bearing “a name, that which is above every name”, Phil 2: 9.  How worthy He is of it!  If we are left here till the morning, we shall seek to show to the world that that One who was crucified is worthy to bear the Name that He bears, worthy to have the office that He holds, worthy to come again and take up His universal dominion.  All that is in view as we come to “announce the death of the Lord, until he come”, 1 Cor 11: 26.

         But we are set together, beloved, as those that have part in the body of Christ.  You say every believer does.  Yes, every believer on the Lord Jesus who has the gift of the Holy Spirit has a part in the body.  What does that mean then for me?  The first thing it must mean for me is that I must know where the Head is.  If there is a body, there must be a Head.  Where is the Head?  The Head is in heaven.  A man asked me once, ‘Who is the head of your church?  Where is he?’, I said, ‘That is easy.  He is up there’.  That is where the Head is.  That is the light that dawned upon the souls of many believers two hundred years ago, that the Head was in heaven and the body was here.  What a wonderful thing that we have a part in Christ’s body!  You say, ‘That must be very dignified’, and so it is.  It carries responsibilities, and so it does, because it is Christ’s body.  Does that mean I can behave as I like?  No, but, you know, if I am drawing from the Head, I will behave in a way that is suited to Him; then there is no divergence in the body.  Sadly, we are living in a day when divergence has come in among the members of the body, and systems - and I do not criticise the persons - have heads, and a head other than Christ.  We live in a very sobering time when the church publicly has made way for things that the Lord hates.  What a sobering time!  I do not intend to go into the detail of it, but it has made way for corruption within its own camp.  What a sobering thing!  We should feel that, dear brethren.  We do feel it and we should increasingly feel it: it professes the name of Christ but does what He hates. 

         You say, ‘Where does that leave me?’.  John helps us.  John was one of the last writers to write and he says, “But if we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another”.  We can walk together, agreed.  It means that I have to separate myself from persons who are not walking according to the truth, and this is set before us in 2 Tim 2.  What wonderful light has come out from God, the light of a glorified Christ, light as to the presence here of the Holy Spirit.  Paul says to the Corinthians, “Do ye not know that ye are temple of God”, 1 Cor 3:  16.  What a sobering thing to be “temple of God”.  It would preserve us in relation to the dignity that belongs in the local assembly and in our walk here.  Our bodies are “temple of the Holy Spirit”. 1 Cor 6: 19.  What great light has come through the Scriptures that we have before us - and we thank God for them and I would that I knew them better!  I would say to young believers here today: read and learn the Scriptures while you are young because the time will come when you will read them and not be able to remember them as clearly.  Read them when you are young!  We have light from God in the Scriptures, indicted by the Holy Spirit.  An old brother - some here will remember him, Mr Charles Hammond - said to me once, ‘Paul, if God has taken the trouble to put His word in writing, you should take the trouble to read it’.  I do not say that I answered to that exhortation, but it is true.  If God has taken the trouble to put His word in writing, we should take the time to read it and to read it all.  Paul says in writing, “the things that I write to you … it is the Lord’s commandment”, 1 Cor 14: 37.  You say, ‘Was it not just what Paul thought?’.  No, it is “the Lord’s commandment”.  You cannot question “the Lord’s commandment”, can you?  He is the Lord.  You could not question His commandment. 

         When you come to the epistles to the Corinthians, they give us “the Lord’s commandment” in relation to our conduct in the local assembly.  In 2 Corinthians 6, Paul says, “Be not diversely yoked with unbelievers”, v 14.  We understand that.  He says, “for what participation is there between righteousness and lawlessness? or what fellowship of light with darkness? and what consent of Christ with Beliar”, v 14, 15.  You say, ‘Of course, there could be none’.  If we think back to Enoch and Noah and Abraham and, of course, to the Lord Jesus Himself there was no “fellowship of light with darkness”.  Everything was perfect.  Everything was light.  There was never darkness in Him.  “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1: 5), and in God’s wonderful ways He has given us the ability in a broken day to walk in the light as God is in the light.  If we do, John does not say, ‘You will have fellowship’; he says, “we have fellowship”.  It is there.  We do not form fellowship.  God has established it, for it is “the fellowship of His Son”, 1 Cor 1: 9.  And He has established it in relation to persons that desire to be apart from a scene of ruin and breakdown and iniquity.  God has established it and He has established it for our blessing and for the pleasure of our Lord Jesus.  So he says, “what participation is there …?”  There could be no participation in these things, between light and darkness.  The matter is clear.  It is a principle because two cannot walk together unless they are agreed. 

         It comes down to everyday company that I keep.  Maybe as we are young we seek a companion and it is right that we should because it is normal.  I say this, I trust tenderly, because some of us have been very much blessed.  You establish your link in walking with God (and that would be walking with Jesus as our Lord) before you seek to establish a link with anybody else, and if you establish your link in seeking to walk with God through the midst of a scene of chaos and breakdown, in God’s ordering, if it is His will, He may provide for you someone who themselves seeks to walk with Jesus as their Lord, and you can go on together.  That is how marriage proceeds with the believer.  You establish your link with the Lord first - that must come first - and then seek that you might find someone else who has established their link.  You say, ‘You are making it all very spiritual’.  I am not seeking to make it spiritual.  I did not love my wife just because of what she was in the meeting.  There is what is natural, but if there is to be stability in marriage, and if we are to walk together, and if my partner is to be one whom I can walk with in happy fellowship, both of us must be established in our link with Jesus as Lord.  I touch on that simply because you may say, ‘I have met this friend who is a very real believer and I want to take her out’.  I just put you this picture: if you married and you were not walking together, come Lord’s day morning you would go to one place, and she might go to another: what would you speak about in the home?  What would you share?  Would you be able to enjoy entertaining the saints?  All these practical things flow out from our own link with God, and I cannot emphasise it sufficiently that there must be the individual link and walk with God and our Lord Jesus before there can be a link with anyone else.

         It is important to touch on this because the Lord Jesus is looking in the present day for overcomers.  If we think of Sardis, He says to the assembly in Sardis, “But thou hast a few names in Sardis which have not defiled their garments”, Rev 3: 4.  They have kept their relationships pure.  The believer’s garments suggest his relationships of life.  We can understand that, can we not?  People say you rub shoulders with someone.  Your garments are in contact.  The believer’s garments suggest his relationships.  The Lord says to Sardis, “But thou hast a few names in Sardis which have not defiled their garments, and they shall walk with me”.  Think of that!  Persons who were here, seeking to walk with the Lord Jesus here in the scene of testimony, and He says, “they shall walk with me in white”.  They did not do it for the recompense.  They did it because they loved Him.  They did it because they enjoyed His company and did not want that company disrupted.  They did not want to have it marred and they did not want the unfoldings that the Holy Spirit gives in His wondrous grace as to the glory of Christ hindered, and so they kept themselves and the Lord Jesus says, ‘I value that, and those persons are going to walk with Me’.

         With Thee in garments white,

         Lord Jesus, we shall walk;

         And, spotless in that heav’nly light,

         Of all thy suff’rings talk.

                                        (Hymn 270)

How worthy He is that we should devote our lives, our all, to this glorious, blessed One of whom we have been speaking today, and to walk in company with Him and to prove something of His approval.  It is the only approval that matters.  You may serve in the preaching and persons may come up to you, and pat you on the back, and tell you how well they think you have done - they seek to be encouraging; but the approval that is perfect is His approval.  The love that is perfect and unchanging is His love.  The enjoyment of relationships that are eternal centre in Him.  Oh, may we know what it is to go in for them in an increasing measure! 

         I come now to Micah because there is just a simple word here.  Again it was a day in which Jehovah had to rebuke His people, and it says, “He hath shewn thee, O man, what is good”.  Where has He shown us?  He has shown us in Christ.  He has shown us what is good.  “And what doth Jehovah require of thee, but to do justly, and to love goodness, and to walk humbly with thy God?”  That is what is proper to the present moment.  “He hath shewn thee, O man, what is good”.  There is no room for pride, no room for self-exaltation, no room for human thrusting forward, even in fulfilling our responsibility in divine things.  There is no room for it at all.  But “to walk humbly with thy God”!  Think of the One who was here, One of whom we have read already today, who “emptied himself, taking a bondman’s form, taking his place in the likeness of men”, Phil 2: 7.  Who more humble than Jesus?  Who more lowly?  And it is our portion in the day in which we are “to walk humbly with thy God”. 

         It may be, dear brethren, that we may - and I say this carefully as bearing on myself more than anyone else, - because we have some understanding of the truth, however small it may be, we may have the local assembly calendar, and we thank God for that and may we be committed to it; but underlying it all, if there is to be power and continuance in the testimony, it must involve that we walk humbly with our God.  May the Lord help us to continue to do so for His Name’s sake!

Edinburgh

11th January 2014