Matthew 12: 22 - 28
Romans 14: 16 - 18
Matthew 16: 27, 28; 17: 1 - 8
PM I wondered if in these two readings we might get help to enquire as to the present operations of the Spirit. I have in mind in this reading the operations of the Spirit in relation to the kingdom; and in the next reading, unless we are directed otherwise, the operations of the Spirit in relation to the body.
Verse 28 of Matt 12 is particularly in mind to enquire into: “if I by the Spirit of God cast out demons, then indeed the kingdom of God is come upon you”. It seems that this reference, “the kingdom of God is come upon you”, has a bearing very much upon the present day. The Lord Jesus says in chapter 16, “the Son of man is about to come in the glory of his Father”. That will be a remarkable day when the Lord comes in His kingdom; He will take up His rights here. By Him, there will be one will in the universe. It is a remarkable thing which we are not used to; there will be one will in the universe. The headlines in the newspaper today state that this country has gone to war: that is because there is more than one will in the universe. When He comes in His kingdom there will be one will. Not only will there be subjection but there will be blessing under the administration of that will. Man will live in a sphere of blessing.
As I understand it, the kingdom is now here in the Spirit. We may get some help as to the way the Spirit serves in view of the power of the kingdom being known by us. It “is come upon you”. In Romans 14 we have the effect of the kingdom and what it is. It “is not eating and drinking”; it does not belong to what is natural. It is “righteousness” in the Holy Spirit, “peace” in the Holy Spirit “and joy in the Holy Spirit”. Everything is on a completely new basis. In Matthew 16, the Lord speaks of Himself about to appear in His kingdom and it is as if the Spirit gives us a touch of what that is like. The glory of the King is set before us and the blessing comes by hearkening to His word: “This is my beloved Son, in whom I have found my delight: hear him”. One word, one will and a sphere of blessing: I wondered if that might provide an enquiry for us.
AEM The Lord Jesus saying, “if I by the Spirit of God cast out demons”, would bring the authority of the Spirit immediately into our hearts.
PM That is important, yes; “if I by the Spirit of God”. The One who said that was none less than God. The authority and power by which He operated was by the Spirit of God. We might ask if He could not operate in His own power. I think it is to bring on to our view, as you suggest, the authority under which the effect of the kingdom and the power of the kingdom is to be proved. The centre of the kingdom is Christ. If there is to be an effect morally it must be in the power of the Spirit.
AEM This is very encouraging for us in this dispensation, because these words could simply be said today. There has been no diminishing because of the ascension and glorification of Christ; rather more, the Spirit maintains in all His authority everything that belongs to this realm.
PM What you say is important, because this chapter speaks of the power by which the Lord Jesus did things Himself. From verse 38 to 42 the scribes and Pharisees ask for a sign and the Lord says, “behold, more than Solomon is here”, v 42. I take it that that reference might involve the Holy Spirit as well, “more than Solomon is here” and “more than Jonas is here”, v 41. It is the power of the kingdom, the Lord operating in the power of the Holy Spirit. That was there then and it is here today. The power is undiminished, “more than Solomon is here”, and “more than Jonas”.
DJW The challenge was against the Lord Himself, but it is interesting the way He protects the Person of the Holy Spirit. In verse 32 it says, “whosoever shall have spoken a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him; but whosoever shall speak against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him”. I was affected many years ago about how one divine Person protects another. It is interesting in this section that we get three different titles of the Holy Spirit; the “Spirit of God”, the “Spirit” and the “Holy Spirit”. Is that significant?
PM I am glad you refer to it. The presence of the Holy Spirit is protected in such a way in this chapter because of the lowly way in which He moves. Yet it is as if the Lord Jesus is saying here that the power of that divine Person is so great, although moving in a lowly way, His Person is to be protected. I have to come to that myself; I need to be careful what I might say about anything that the Holy Spirit might say to us.
IMcK Why was the power and presence of the Holy Spirit necessary when the Lord Jesus was here? The Lord Jesus as a divine Person could do everything.
PM He could in His Person but He was moving here as a lowly Man, as a dependent Man. We might just ponder that; He acted in the power of the Spirit. The Lord Jesus is the perfect model for us in everything. If He, being who He was in His Person, should be here dependent on the Spirit how much more so should I.
JW This man “possessed by a demon” shows the power of Satan. The power of Satan is operating but the power in the kingdom is much greater. The Lord moving as a dependent man relied on the Holy Spirit and His power. Is that the way we would prove the Spirit’s power in dependence upon the Spirit?
PM It is the only way. I believe we are in times when divine Persons would have us to get back to the source of things. We may become occupied with many other things, we may even become occupied with persons. The Spirit would help us to get back to the source of things. In Matthew 12, there was a divine Person operating in lowly manhood, dependent manhood. In that dependent manhood the whole power of the kingdom was operating in One who was moving in the power of the Holy Spirit. This man who was healed becomes an evidence of how powerful the power of the kingdom is. What had been operating in the man was a power that nothing else could touch; there was no cure. The kingdom was operating to set him free, so that it says, “the dumb man spake and saw”. He brought the man into what was normal in relation to manhood according to God. That is what the kingdom does.
JW The Lord does not exactly say that the Spirit does this. He says, “I by the Spirit”. The Lord was doing things by the Spirit. I wondered if we have to learn to do things by the Spirit.
PM We do, and that is a hard lesson. It involves that my will and any thought I have of myself has to go. Dependence is not thinking that I am weak; dependence is thinking that I am nothing.
QAP Part of the glory of the Spirit is that He has remained unseen: the Lord Jesus says, “the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see him nor know him; but ye know him”, John 14: 17. Is that a wonderful privilege that we have?
PM They knew Him because He was there in the Person of Jesus. We know Him, if we do, as a divine Person. Do I know the Person? The Lord will test me, and is testing me, but do I know the Person of the Spirit or am I content to rest under an influence from a source that I am not acquainted with?
AEM What is your thought as to the demonstration of the kingdom in the casting out of the demon?
PM I think it is to bring before us that there is a power in the kingdom which is greater than every power that is opposed to it. That is going to be seen in a day to come. All the powers that are set against Christ are raising their heads today in an almost full blown character. They are going to be set down in a coming day; they are not going to be adjusted, they are going to be met, because they have already been met morally in His death. The power of that is upon us, upon those who have a part in the kingdom. Is that not a wonderful assurance to our souls that the power is here? It is resident not in ourselves but in a divine Person.
KM We may sometimes think how wonderful it would be if the Lord Jesus was here all the time, and so it would be, of course. The Lord puts it as though it is an advantage that the Holy Spirit has come, “if I do not go away, the Comforter will not come”, John 16: 7. We have the Spirit and He is here. We are to be at no disadvantage that the Lord is not here because the Spirit is here.
PM Do we believe that?
KM I believe it.
PM I know you do: “more than Solomon is here” and “more than Jonas”. The power is here in the Holy Spirit. We are in conditions of breakdown, but has the breakdown diminished the power? It is available to be drawn upon by those who seek to be under the effect, the moral effect of the kingdom.
AJMcK Can you help us as to this matter of the kingdom coming upon us? Scripture speaks of our access into the kingdom and seeing the kingdom. What is your impression of the kingdom coming upon us?
PM What you refer to in John 3 is our side, “Except any one be born of water and of Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God”, John 3: 5. That is our side; this is the Lord’s side; to give us the assurance that the resource and power of the kingdom is here. It is right where we are. The exercise that it awakens is as to whether I am morally in a condition that is able to get the gain of the kingdom. That involves that my will and what I am naturally has to go because there is going to be one will in the universe. Coming upon us would suggest its influence and sway known in the souls of persons here.
RDP The kingdom came in when Jesus came; it came in silently but it came in. We see the smallness of the little Child that came, but it was inescapable. The kingdom of God had come in, it was upon them. The appreciation of that, the entering into it, involves God’s work and the recognition of it. The expression “come upon you” that has been brought before us is rather unusual. The world changed; everything changed here when Jesus came. The kingdom of God entered silently. As far as the world was concerned it was not noticed; it went on with its census. The kingdom of God had come in; things could never be the same again. Is that right?
PM Yes, the Lord Jesus does not say it has come to you. We might have been content with that. It gives us the sense of the power of that kingdom; it is here upon persons who are in the scene of the absence of Christ but under the influence of Christ and of the Spirit. I have to ask myself what influences me in my life.
RDP I think those two scriptures in John are very interesting. You have quoted verse 5, but there is also, “Except any one be born anew he cannot see the kingdom of God”, John 3: 3. We will only have any inkling as to the kingdom of God if God’s work has begun in us and we have a sense that this kingdom is here. The entering into it involves the Spirit. The kingdom of God is a very powerful subject, perhaps one we do not speak about too much; it is here, and it is upon us.
PM I wondered that; we may say the truth of the kingdom is basic. It may be due to not speaking about it very often that we may become shaky about what is basic. This is open to us all. If the Spirit has wrought sovereignly in the believer, the power of the kingdom is available to him. We have to put ourselves in the way of it, but it is available to us. Elsewhere the Lord says that “the kingdom of the heavens is taken by violence”, Matt 11: 12. I come into it by exercise, not natural force or the ability of mind, which has to go. I come into it through soul exercise. The righteous take it by force, and I get nothing substantially in Christianity without exercise with divine Persons.
RDP That is right; we often speak about the Acts of the Apostles as to the assembly, but largely the Acts of the Apostles is the truth of the kingdom and right at the beginning the coming of the Holy Spirit is prominent: with “a violent impetuous blowing”, chap 2: 2. I think Mr James Taylor says it stresses heaven’s right to be heard, JT vol 6 p241. What you find in the Acts is those who have submitted to that and come under the power.
PM Acts 9 is full of the witness of the kingdom. There are more references to “the Lord” in that chapter than any other chapter in that book. Paul, bowing to the Lord in chapter 9 and submitting to the will of the Lord in the recognition that there was One who was greater than he was, whose will had to be supreme over his life, is a witness of one who was coming into the kingdom. All the blessing that flowed from that flooded into Paul’s soul.
DJW Is the liberty of the Spirit connected with the atmosphere of what you speak of, of what is moral. I was thinking the public testimony of His coming in this book is when the Lord says, “thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness”, Matt 3: 15. Is that the moral basis on which the Spirit can be at ease?
PM Yes; you are leading on to the company and that must be so. Righteousness must prevail in the company: Paul says that “grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life” (Rom 5: 21) and that must be the basis. We speak of Matthew as the assembly gospel; flowing through Matthew’s gospel is the truth of the kingdom that fits us for the assembly. We can never rightly fit in to the assembly if we are not the subject of the kingdom.
RMB I was thinking of what the Lord Jesus says in Matthew 18, “Unless ye are converted and become as little children, ye will not at all enter into the kingdom of the heavens”, v 3. I wonder if that would fit into what you have in mind.
PM Yes, it would. There are the two thoughts there; being converted, which involves turning round completely and getting God’s view both of myself and of Christ, and become as a little child, moving into the spirit of dependence. Any element of selfwill on my part or the mind of man is against the operation of the kingdom. That is a sobering matter because we must each one of us come under the authority of the One in whom everything is vested from the divine side. As I come under that authority I find that it is for my blessing.
JAT You referred to Paul’s conversion and I think the way that he puts it is most wonderful: “Who art thou, Lord?”, Acts 9: 5. He has found someone who was over him; he uses that title. The Lord could have said, ’I am the King of kings and Lord of lords,’ but He does not. He says, “I am Jesus, whom thou persecutest”. Is there a certain attractiveness about the King? In Matthew’s gospel He went up the mountain and His disciples were attracted to Him and they went up the mountain to be with Him, chap 5: 1. As converted we are attracted to the Person the Spirit calls to our attention, and that is what makes the kingdom so wonderful.
PM Yes, attraction is important in relation to the kingdom. Perhaps we will come to that in chapter 17. The Lord Jesus led His own up the mountain to be occupied with Himself. In our day the Spirit is doing that. He is taking us up to another sphere altogether outside all that is pervading here, that we might have heaven’s view of God’s Man in whom all authority is centred.
JAT As gathered today, I would think there must be some affection towards Christ and then towards one another.
PM Yes, love operates in three directions: love for God, love for the truth and love for one another. If we try to change the order we shall get into difficulty. It has not changed.
JW I appreciate what you say and the importance of it as to the bearing on ourselves. It would appear that the Lord says this to these Pharisees who were opposed. I wonder what you could say as to the bearing of that.
PM The kingdom is here in a scene of adversity. The rights of Christ and the rights of the Spirit are maintained in a scene from which Christ has been cast out. This chapter begins a new section in Matthew’s gospel. In chapter 11 the Lord Jesus is rejected, all His works of power rejected, and at the end of that chapter He is calling persons to Himself. He says “Come to me”, Matt 11: 28. That is the King establishing His rights; He says, “Come to me”, and “learn from me”. In this section He goes over the power in which His authority and dominion are going to be proved until the time when He takes it up publicly and exercises it Himself.
JW It is very helpful to see that, so that these persons have to reckon with that power. It works in a positive way but it is also working against evil.
PM It is working against evil, and it is working against the will of man and the mind of man. I feel this very much in the moment in which we are. It is so easy for the mind of man to start working things out and coming to a conclusion that may be according to man, but there is one will that must prevail in the universe. I am sure we would all agree to that. To come into the gain of it, and thus for the kingdom to be upon us, involves that I have to submit myself and come under the sway of another Man. That takes me away from every other influence that might affect where I am at the present time.
IMcK It is something that flourishes, answering to the Lord’s call and proving submission to that one will and the power of the Holy Spirit. It says, “the dumb man spake and saw”. It is beautiful.
PM I think it is wonderful. Submission is what is effected through the initial appeal of God in the gospel. I submit to One, like Saul did on the Damascus road. Then by the Spirit there is a state of subjection wrought out. That is a state; it is not exactly action. The actions of obedience flow out of subjection. Subjection is not exactly actions; it is a state. You say, ’That is a subject sister’; it is not because she does things differently from everyone else: it is because of her quiet spirit. That is subjection. Obedience, which the gospel requires, because it is preached for the obedience of faith, is in the actions that follow and that I think all lies behind the kingdom coming upon you.
RDP I was just thinking of Paul again, or Saul of Tarsus, as he was. He had to come to it that he had been persecuting what he thought was a system of things, an organisation of saints, persecuting them to death. What he comes to on the Damascus road is that it was not just a system. The kingdom is not a mere system of things; it is a Person and the Lord says to him, “why dost thou persecute me?”, Acts 9: 4. He realised that the kingdom is in a Person. Everything for God is in a Person. The Lord says, “why persecutest thou me? it is hard for thee to kick against goads”, Acts 26: 14, and Paul says, “What shall I do, Lord?”, Acts 22: 10. There is a man there who comes under the power of the kingdom, but it is in a Person rather than a system of things. Perhaps we think of the kingdom as a whole system. The kingdom really is Christ.
PM Yes; if the Queen walked in here today the epitome of the United Kingdom would be in front of us. That is what she represents, the kingdom. The Lord Jesus does not just represent the kingdom. He is the kingdom and the character of it. The power of the kingdom is thus available to us because, even though the Lord Jesus is not here, the Spirit is here to occupy us with this Person, so glorious and so great, and to bring us under the influence of the King.
JBI You read the verses about the kingdom, “every city or house divided against itself will not subsist”. Is that a word for us at the moment? As we are each subject to the Spirit there will be no division.
PM That must be the basis; if our wills have gone and we are subject to the Spirit and under the influence of the kingdom we shall go on together; it is not a question as to who is He supporting. We may come to meetings and it may be in our minds to wonder who is a brother getting at, who is he supporting? It is time we became men and ceased to be babes and came under the influence of the King and the power of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit would help us to get our eye off of persons and be drawn to this high mountain apart and just show us what the King is in His glory. One who alone is to be hearkened to. The One whose voice is going to control the universe in a day to come, is the One who is, as the poet says -,
To claim supreme submission in my soul.
(Robert G Fear, 1944 - Poems 1953, Page 61)
AEM You have spoken of the Lord being the character of the kingdom. I wondered if that helps us to be relieved of these things that are earthly. We spoke earlier about it coming upon us. You spoke about the high mountain. The place where this kingdom has been established is a heavenly place. I wondered if it would help us to see that. It comes upon us; it comes from somewhere.
PM It does: it comes from the scene where God has set His Man. “I have anointed my king upon Zion, the hill of my holiness”, Ps 2: 6. I remember Mr Fred Trussler saying, ‘God has set His King where He can no longer be touched by the hatred of man, but where He is available to all’. How wonderful that King is: “I have set my king upon Zion”. It would be an interesting piece of homework for some of us to see how many persons in the scripture were taken up, or called up. These three men were taken up to a high mountain apart and that is what the Spirit would do for us. He would take us up to have a different view of the One in whom everything for God is centred.
AEM I was thinking of your comment about our hearts and how they are set as we gather to an occasion like this. Jesus took them up the mountain here. Where you finished reading, they still had to lift up their eyes and see Jesus alone. There is exercise in that, but the sight of Him here is unobscured.
PM And is effective as they came down. It affected their part in the testimony. To see Christ where He is established as the One in whom everything is vested for the divine pleasure will affect our part in the testimony. It will draw us away from every other power and influence and see that there is a Man here who is great enough to eclipse everything else.
RDP-r We started the Lord’s day recently with the hymn -
Gazing on Thee, Lord, in glory
It struck my heart then that that is what Satan is trying to prevent us from doing at the present time. If we get our eyes on the Man in the glory, it is going to change everything.
PM If I have my eye on the Man in the glory I will not want anything here. I will not want the world; I will not want the scene from which He has been rejected, even the religious world I will not want, because I have seen the Man in the glory.
RDP-r I think it is a good thing to get our eyes on Him now. It would help us all together if we are kept with our view upon this blessed Man. There is nothing better to help to deal with issues that may be amongst us than for all of us to have our eye on this blessed Man.
PM The Lord was going to be moving here; He was moving on to Jerusalem, on to the cross. It seems that He gives these three men the view of Himself glorified in order that they might take up their part rightly with Him in the movements of rejection in the testimony. That is what is in view here. The Lord is in rejection; we are conscious of that, and the Lord is moving in His testimony. We have exercises that you refer to, and they are very deep, but where is the Lord going? His objective is not just the resolving of a problem, if I might say carefully; that is not just His objective. Where is the Lord going today?
AJMcK Is it significant that He takes them with Him? It is very deliberate, “Jesus takes with him Peter, and James, and John”. I was just thinking of what you were saying as to our wills. These three submitted to His will. They were available but they submitted to it. That was required for them to be able for this; for them to be able for this height. It speaks of “a high mountain apart”. That is the place where He belongs but they submitted to His will that they should be with Him there.
PM He takes them and He brings them. That is helpful. They were amenable to leading: am I? When Peter wrote of this moment he says he wanted to stir his readers up, 2 Pet 1: 12. I have wondered if that is what the Lord is doing to me; to stir me up, not to make us downcast. Peter did not want to make downcast but he says that it is time we were stirred up. I feel the edge of that for myself because we may settle down in a company and be content with the company. We may settle down in the social side of fellowship and be content with that, but what are we seeking to get to? The Spirit’s service is to take us beyond that, to take us into a scene which “is not eating and drinking, but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit”, where everything is vitally established in the power of a divine Person here with an objective of a Man in the glory.
AJMcK They came to that, righteousness, peace and joy. The three found that here on the high mountain.
PM Yes, they had to be adjusted to reach it. We are quick to criticise Peter, but I might have said far more than he did; he says, “it is good we should be here. If thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles”.
JW When he wrote in his epistle he spoke of being “eyewitnesses of his majesty”, 2 Pet 1: 16. I wondered if you could say something as to the way the Lord is described here: “he was transfigured before them. And his face shone as the sun, and his garments became white as the light”.
PM I wondered, speaking reverently, if the disciples were given a preview of the Lord in His body of glory. He was transfigured before them; there was a change in His appearance. It was not what they had been accustomed to. They had been accustomed to a lowly Man moving here in a bondman’s form. Here was One now who was going to be the Centre of the universe, and who was the Centre of the universe of God, and “his face shone as the sun, and his garments became white as the light”.
JW What you say is right. The sun is influential, an influence for good. His face was shining as the sun; it will be seen in the world to come. These persons saw it now; do you think as coming into the gain of the kingdom we come under the influence of such a One? His face, which has been described as the face of the lowliest Man, shining as the sun and His garments white as the light: it is enlightening. If we get into the presence of this we shall become enlightened as to everything.
PM That is where we see things clearly; “in thy light shall we see light”, Ps 36: 9. That is where things are seen for what they are. “Until I went into the sanctuaries of God: then understood I their end their end”, Ps 73: 17. Everything became clear. If I go into the presence of the Lord, without my will operating, and just lay everything before Him, I can be restful. You cannot be agitated in His presence.
JW We would come out different. If we have some sense of “his face shone as the sun”, surely that would have some effect and reflection in us.
PM I think so. The beneficence of the majesty that Peter speaks of would be carried here in testimony.
HTF In John 11 the Lord uses words of power and authority that bring Lazarus out of death, and I wondered if that is another preview. I was going to ask you earlier about the power in which that was affected here in Matthew. It is one piece, is it?
PM It is good to refer to the power in which He brought Lazarus out of death. We have to remember who He is in His Person. We are in the time when “the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that have heard shall live”, John 5: 25. I think Romans 1 bears on your question “concerning his Son (come of David’s seed according to flesh, marked out Son of God in power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by resurrection of the dead)”, v 3, 4.
JAT The queen of Sheba was a remarkable woman and she travelled a long way to see and ask questions of Solomon. We spoke earlier of a greater than Solomon here. That must relate to the Lord Jesus, but as you say, it could relate to the Spirit, although it must relate to the Lord Jesus as well. She was subdued under the effect of what she saw and heard. It is God’s goodness that He presents a Man to us, a lowly Man. He could have reigned earlier but He did not; He was qualified to reign. God has presented this Man to us in all His glory. What has been said about Him is wonderful, and I would like to know as to His garments. Mark speaks of them in a unique way “such as fuller on earth could not whiten them”, Mark 9: 3. Here, “his face shone as the sun, and his garments became white as the light”. Could we be helped as to that?
PM I do not know how much I could say as to it: “his garments became white as the light”. We need to be very careful that our minds do not operate in things that are not told us. It seems to me that the garments becoming white as the light are witness of the character and of the sphere in which He is King and supreme. When it comes to us, we have to wash our garments that we might have a right, Rev 22 v 14. He never had to wash His garments; He gave character to a scene in which His supremacy was known.
JAT It would speak of glory. The great thing about Jesus, as we understand by the Spirit, is that He never feigned anything. He never put on airs and graces: He was what He was; God would let us see that He was born King but here He was who He was and what He was. That is the attractive thing. We have nothing to doubt in our minds about the Lord Jesus at any point. He says He is, “Altogether that which I also say to you”, John 8: 25. We walk together in the light. Everything that is done should bear on the matter of light showing in that way. It is an important matter.
PM “If we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another”, 1 John 1: 7. This was taken up in London a little while ago and I found it helpful. It is not that we come into fellowship but we have it. It is the light of the revelation of God, a wonderful thing; “if we walk in the light as he is in the light”.