THE HOLY SPIRIT AND THE BODY

1 Corinthians 12: 1 - 13

Ephesians 4: 9 - 16

Colossians 1: 17, 18

PM  It is in mind to look at the Spirit’s service in view of the functioning of the body; and that the headship of Christ might be known.  It is not in mind to go into the various gifts that have been set, but more to see the power of the Holy Spirit that gives life to this body here.  Every believer who is alive today, who has the Spirit, forms part of the body; although I might not be walking in the light of it, nevertheless I form part of it.  It is not as wide a thought as the assembly because it relates to those that are alive.  The assembly is a wider thought because it covers all those who have been indwelt by the Spirit, from Pentecost until the rapture.  The fact that the body is here at the present moment gives us a fresh sense of the present active operation of the Holy Spirit.  Each one of us who has the Lord Jesus as our Saviour would be exercised to have the gift of the Holy Spirit.  It is very important.  In the early chapters of Acts it says, “Repent, and be baptised, each one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins, and ye will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit”, chap 2: 38.  It is almost as if in that presentation the receiving of the remission of sins is in view of the gift of the Holy Spirit being known in the believer.  How do I know I have the gift of the Spirit?  I can remember when I asked to break bread, a brother asked me that and it was a good thing he did, because I did not know.  It may be a question that needs to be revived, not to arouse doubt but to create certainty.  The wonderful fact is that, as having the gift of the Holy Spirit, I form part and I have a part in the body of Christ, the most glorious vessel and company that is on the earth. 

         Before Paul touches on the teaching of the body in 1 Corinthians, he has to speak of a lot of other things, which is how we come into the gain of the teaching.  He has to touch on the fact that there was evil among them and they had to judge that.  He speaks of the marriage relationship which must be held in honour.  He speaks of the recognition of his apostleship; he touches on the important matter of fellowship in chapter 10, and then the teaching as to the Lord’s supper in chapter 11.  Having touched on those great truths, he is able then to speak of the body, and the Person and power of the Holy Spirit is operating in the body as its life.  I wondered if we might get some impression that the service of the Spirit is in view of the headship of Christ being known in the body.  They are not separated from each other, two blessed divine Persons; but they work together with a view to the enhancing of the other in the body.  I wondered if that might give a little scope for enquiry.

AEM  The distinction that you make as to the assembly and the body gives us a clue to the very vital activity that is continuing at the present time under the Spirit’s guidance.  I wondered whether that was the secret of where the Spirit is particularly focussed at the moment in His service, and that would keep us alert.

PM  I think that and I would ask myself: ’Am I conscious of what the Spirit is doing at the present time?  What is He doing?’  He is operating in the body, but why?  He is bringing us to appreciate what that body really is.  We have it in the end of verse 12, “so also is the Christ”; that is the anointed system here, the Christ.  It is not Jesus personally but it is His body and if I might say reverently it is just as glorious in His eye as He is.

RDP  Is the reference, “no one can say, Lord Jesus, unless in the power of the Holy Spirit” a link with what we had in the first reading.  I was thinking of the Spirit in relation to the kingdom, the side of the truth which underlies all our relationships, the thought of “Lord Jesus”.  I notice it says, “no one, speaking in the power of the Spirit of God, says, Curse on Jesus”, which marked those who were outside.  Then he goes on with this positive side: “no one can say, Lord Jesus, unless in the power of the Holy Spirit”; that seems to me to be a link with the kingdom: it is the same Spirit.

PM  It is indeed, and the same Lord Jesus.  I am thankful you draw attention to it because I cannot rightly take up my part in the body if I am not rightly in the kingdom.  Even an unbeliever could use the words “Lord Jesus”, but that is not what Paul is saying here.  This is someone who from the heart is saying “Lord” to Jesus.  It is not just quoting the two words; it is a heart matter here, and someone who is coming into the gain of the body is in the power of the Spirit saying “Lord” to Jesus.  What a blessed thing that is.

RDP  The kingdom underlies all the truths that we have to do with and if we find difficulties and failure in some facet in assembly truth we will usually find that there is some defect in relation to the truth of the kingdom.  It is a very important thing, using the simple words, “Lord Jesus”, if that is truly meant.

PM  Yes; what is taught in the world and in schools is that you have your opinion and I have mine; and you get a room full of a hundred people with a hundred opinions.  That is not the fruit of the kingdom.  The fruit of the kingdom is that there is one thought, one will; and that will is the will of the King.  If I am to take up my part in the body it is not a question of my opinion about anything.  It must be Christ’s will.  It seems to me that the Spirit is making way for that in Corinthians.  He does not actually speak in Corinthians of Christ being Head of the body.  He cannot bring that in in Corinth, there was not the state for it, but he is speaking of the preparatory work of the Spirit that would make way for the headship of Christ which comes into expression in Ephesians and Colossians.

RDP  The truth of the body grows and dawns upon the believer as moving rightly.  You get a touch as to “one body in Christ” (Rom 12: 5), which is not exactly what is in this passage, but here there is a suggestion that there are many believers together in Corinth.  Then you move on to the body in Colossians and Ephesians, and you come to the height of it.  There is a dawning it seems of the truth of the body.

PM  I think so, and the way it is presented here is to awaken exercise with the Corinthians and with me as to whether I have found my part in it.  If I have, do I know the source of the power of life in it?

RMB  On a practical level, would it be right that, in speaking to the Lord, when we address Him, we would use this name “Lord Jesus” rather than His personal name on its own.

PM  Yes I think so, especially in assembly response; I have felt more at liberty in doing so and I think the Spirit would help us to do so.  I would not like to be legal about it.  You remember Mr Darby broke out in one of his doxologies ‘Oh Jesus, Jesus’, Notes and Comments vol 7 p135.  I think normally it would be the attitude of someone who was in the gain of what we had this morning that we would address Him as “Lord Jesus”.  Would you go with that?

RMB  Yes; His personal Name is very precious to us.  It says in John 20, “Jesus came and stood in the midst …. The disciples rejoiced therefore, having seen the Lord”, v 19, 20.  I wonder if that confirms that when we are together He is the Lord Jesus.

PM  I think so; it shows the spirit of the one who speaks on behalf of all who are present.  It shows a spirit of subjection and reverence in the presence of One who is so great.

JAT  Saul as a young man witnessed the address and death of Stephen.  It was a wonderful moment when Stephen spoke; he had to address Israel but now he is addressing the Lord Jesus. “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit”, Acts 7: 59.

PM  That was a remarkable moment; they previously “saw his face as the face of an angel”, Acts 6: 15.  It shows how close he was to the Lord, that he had the Lord’s own feelings as to Israel.

DJW  Can you say more as to this expression which comes several times in this chapter “the same Spirit”?  It is as if it permeates the whole body.

PM  I think so; as we look at the saints, each one differs, as Paul says: “for star  differs from star in glory”, 1 Cor 15: 41.  Each one has a personality, but when we come to the power in which every operation in the body is to proceed it is “the same Spirit”.  There is no variation in that; it operates the one and the same Spirit.  Paul is clear as to that.  It is not that there is a different character from one operation to another; it is one and the same Spirit and His service in this regard is to prepare the ground in the saints in the recognition of what that body is for the headship of Christ.  I have wondered if that is something that is being drawn attention to at the present moment, the headship of Christ.

QAP  The Lord prays to the Father, “that they may be one, as we are one; I in them and thou in me, that they may be perfected into one”, John 17: 22, 23.  Would this reference to “the same Spirit” and one Spirit lead to that oneness and unity practically amongst us?

PM  That will be seen in its fulness in the day to come: “and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and that thou hast loved them as thou hast loved me”, v 23.  It is a witness to what will be seen in a day to come, that the divine operation has been so perfect that the saints may be seen as perfectly one.  I think what you say is important, that the Spirit in any measure in His operations at the present time has that in view.  He has in view that not only should there be the same power but that there should be the same supply in the body, without variation.

CCDR    You have mentioned several times that we are to take up our place in the body.  How do we do that practically, and where does that lead us?

PM  I could ask how did you do it?  It is set out here: “in the power of one Spirit we have all been baptised into one body”.  That is a very glorious movement of the Spirit; the reception of the Spirit is not only coming to dwell in me individually but He has come to dwell in me in view of my blending into this wonderful vessel, the body.  The thought of baptism here is not the thought of water baptism at all.  It is more that the Spirit is made way for in the believer.  It removes personal distinctions that mark me out in order that I might blend into this company in which He is the life of it.

CCDR  I think what you say is helpful.  I wonder if it would lead on to what we speak of as assembly privileges, the Supper and the things we can enjoy as together.

PM  I am sure that is right.  If we consider the truth of the one body in relation to fellowship, we must consider the place of the death of Christ in the basis for fellowship.  But we could not rightly enter into the partaking of the Supper, or any other privilege, without the one and the same Spirit.  I might come to the Supper, I might break bread, and we give thanks for all that do, but if I am to be in it vitally it must be in the power of the one and the same Spirit.  That is really the burden of one’s exercise today, that we might be in things vitally.

JW  On our side, we are told here that we “have all been given to drink of one Spirit”.  I wondered if there is a connection there with the Supper, particularly in the drinking of the cup.  We are set together at the Supper in an organic way, through links in the Spirit.  We have the same Spirit and, drinking of one Spirit, we find satisfaction from the same spiritual source.

PM  I think that is the force of this.  The drinking is for satisfaction and maintenance of right feelings from a satisfied heart in relation to the body here, and it is presented here as if it is the only source of life and satisfaction for the believer.  As having a part in the body it comes from the one and the same Spirit.

JW  Would you say that through receiving the Spirit, the Spirit has given me a place in that sovereignly?  My place is not your place, and your place is not my place, there is variety but unity, and the Spirit has done that sovereignly.

PM  The Spirit would help us to find our place in the body and help us to be satisfied in it.  I do not get dissatisfied because I am not a hand.  The Spirit would help me and if I ask Him to help me to find my place in the body, He will do it.

JW  This matter as to an organic link with one another in the Spirit is important for the function of this.  We each have the same Spirit; therefore, as having that, we have an organic link with one another in the Spirit.

PM  It is important to get to that in our links together.  Some of us have quite strong personal peculiarities; that is not what we link on with.  What is of the flesh would be under control; that is another side.  What we are according to nature is not the link that we have together.  The link we have together is in the Spirit.  The enjoyment of fellowship and the enjoyment of the Lord’s supper comes from a moral and spiritual base and not just from what is positional.  This is more than being among the brethren.  I say this to the young people: we are glad for all who are together and gather with the saints and remember the Lord, but do not just rest in that position because that does not lead to vitality of enjoyment for you and it does not lead to vitality of response to the One who has died for us.  It seems to me, as having known what it was just to rest in a position when I was younger myself, to be so important to form this link actively with the Holy Spirit so that I might fit into the one body and take up my part in it and be here for the pleasure of Christ.

JBI  It is “according as he pleases”.

PM  You are referring to verse 11; “all these things operates the one and the same Spirit, dividing to each in particular according as he pleases”.  You have some thought?

JBI  I was thinking of how the servant told Isaac all that he had done, Gen 24: 66.  It is a joyful thing to the Spirit to know that there is that which is here in the body which is for the pleasure of Christ.

PM  Yes; I am sure it is and He operates with that in view.  Oh that I had that in view more, what is for the pleasure of Christ!  That is what the Spirit has and this refers to His sovereignty.  He imparts as He pleases, it is a sovereign operation and movement of the Spirit; so that you may have an impression of Christ that I do not have, and I might have one that you do not have.  It does not set us at conflict with one another; it makes us appreciate one another.  Those impressions are needed to fill out what the body really is.

GMcK   This would be collective, would it?  Would it be right to say we can be rightly in the kingdom as an individual?  This must bring us into contact with others, into functioning with others.  I was noticing the word later on in verse 21, “The eye cannot say to the hand, I have not need of thee”.  It is an impossibility.  Is that right?

PM  It is; and I think what you say is important, that as giving place to the Spirit it awakens the desire in the soul to be set together with others who are indwelt by the Spirit and giving place to Him.  There is an expression that so and so is a ‘loner’.  There are no loners in the body; there is no such thing.  The indwelling of the Spirit as made way for in the believer sets me in relation to the work of God in others and the desire to be in the company where the Spirit’s operations are known.  There may be times when that is not possible, and John on the island of Patmos knew what that was, but he “became in the Spirit”, Rev 1: 10.

GMcK   You would have to say that he was not enjoying the body at that time.  You cannot on your own.

PM  I do not think you can enjoy the operation of the body on your own, even though you may be part of it.  The body requires for the fulfilment of the operations of the Spirit that there should be others.  The Lord in looking on to our day in Matthew 18 speaks of “two or three”, v 20.

JW  The body is more than a collection of persons.  It is a vital unit; there is a vessel here and we belong to that, a vessel here that is in the power and dignity of the anointed, which is for God’s pleasure.

PM  We might just ponder that for a moment.  This expression is so important.  It says, “we, being many, are one body in Christ”, Rom 12: 5.  That must be a reference to the anointed vessel that is here.  There is that here upon the earth that is entirely in accord with the Man who is in the glory.  I might ask where it is; the Spirit would help me as to that.

JW  Do you think Christ was the anointed vessel here?  God committed Himself to Christ.  Do you think this involves that there is something here that God can commit Himself to?

PM  He delights to; not because of what you or I are, but because of the indwelling of the Spirit.  I trust, dear brethren, that we can work at this because I see a very grave danger in settling into ‘Brethrenism’, without the vital power and life that is needed to maintain a living testimony and a living response for divine Persons.  If we settle for something less it will become the worst sect in Christendom.

JAT  The gatherings of the saints are very important.  It is a wonderful thing to assemble: these are members of the body but assembled together.  As we recognise the Spirit and the headship of Christ then liberty is proved immediately.  It is not worked up to; it is known.

PM  It says, “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty”, 2 Cor 3: 17.  We cannot bring that in.

JAT  I think the liberty connected with the Spirit is very important.  It is the Spirit that brings in the liberty, I agree entirely.  As we are available to the Spirit then we are part of that liberty amongst the brethren, amongst the saints.

PM  That is the key: to be available to the Spirit; maybe the Lord would adjust my view of things because if we are not careful I might think that so much depends on me.  Everything depends on the Spirit, and the Spirit operates in vessels.  My responsibility is to have a free flow for the Spirit within my own soul.

DJW  This letter was written before the public breakdown but it would be true to say wherever I see gift it has come from the Spirit, and there is a good deal of gift outside of those with whom I walk. 

PM  We have brethren who were converted under evangelists who we do not walk with, and we give thanks for their service.  We would that there was more, but the question that I have to ask is, ’Where am I?’.  What place does the Spirit have with me?  If I come into the gathering having grieved the Holy Spirit I shall bring the weight of that into the company.

RDP  I was thinking of Genesis 24, and how easy it is to divert from this.  It is all about the servant - typical of the Holy Spirit - and at the end there was agreement as to the marriage of Rebecca.  Then Laban says, “Let the maiden abide with us some days, or say ten”.  The servant replies, almost sharply,  “Do not hinder me”, v 55, 56.  Some idea came in which sounded innocuous enough but was in actual fact a hindrance to what the servant was doing.  How easy it is for there to be a blockage with something of my own thoughts in it.

PM  I think that is important.  I was thinking of reading that section; you could not say what came in was evil or wrong, but it took the place of Isaac for the moment.  ’Let her stay with us rather than go to him.’  I have to search my own heart, because the service of the Spirit is to make way for the unhindered headship of Christ.  In this epistle, Paul is only able to speak of the headship of Christ in relation to us individually.  That is important because if you and I are under the headship of Christ as individuals, we shall be agreed and go on together.  It is a moral impossibility for two persons to be in the gain of the headship of Christ and to be at variance with one another.

JW  The organic link we spoke of helps us by the Spirit to merge together.  It is not a question of one person being dominant.  I wonder if that would help in the exercise of making way for the headship of Christ.

PM  I think so, and recognising the body.  We are set in local companies and sometimes we do not always see things the same.  We have to say that humbly.  There has to be a respect for one another and working things out with divine Persons.  It is not a question of who is the strongest; that is not what pervades in the body.  What is the Spirit saying?

GJR  You referred to 1 Corinthians 12: 12, “so also is the Christ”.  Did you say that is just as precious as Christ Himself?

PM   I did; just as glorious as Christ Himself.

GJR  That is something to lay hold of.  It is striking and therefore with what care we should treat Him.  We would all seek to treat the Lord Jesus with the utmost care, but in that case with what care should we treat His body and the expression of it.

PM  And to make way for the Head of that body; the head supplies all that is required for the body.  I got a touch of this at the Supper: “His head is as the finest gold”, Song of Songs 5: 11.  Think of what is coming from Christ: “His head is as the finest gold”; that is what permeates and directs the body, and the Lord Jesus needs that body now.  He is not here corporeally but He is here in testimony because His body is here.  The light of that dawned on Saul of Tarsus in Acts 9 and gave character to the whole of his ministry, that the body was here.

QAP  That verse in Acts 9 confirms what we have been taught, that the body is really the continuation of what was seen in the Lord Jesus here Himself in testimony.

PM  Yes; but I am tested by it.  It can only be true practically as everything is done in the power of the one and the same Spirit.  Unless what I do or say is in that power, it is not a continuation of what was seen in Christ personally; that is sobering. 

         In Ephesians 4, we have these references to the giving of gifts but what was before me was that “we may grow up to him in all things, who is the head”.  Lying behind that is the service of the Spirit: “we may grow up to him in all things”, links with what you said as to the character being seen in testimony.  It also relates to the object that the Spirit forms in the affections of the believer so that we might grow up to Him.

JW  The reference, “grow up to him in all things”, has been spoken of as all round growth.  That means growth in every sphere in which I am.

PM  What does all round growth really mean?

JW  Whether in the work place or school place, in the home or in the assembly, there is evidence of growth in each sphere.  It is not that I grow in just one sphere.  It is a challenging thing but I wonder if “grow up to him in all things” involves that.

PM  I think so; we had earlier about arriving at “the full-grown man, at the measure of the stature of the fulness of the Christ”.  What you say links with that; that there is the formed expression in the saints by the fruit of the Spirit, an expression of Christ in every sphere in which the believer finds his life.  It comes into expression in an appreciative way in the assembly but it is to mark us in our lives.  I cannot be behaving foolishly in the office and come and sit down in the assembly and seek to teach the brethren; the two are not compatible.  Someone referred this morning to the Lord Jesus being, “Altogether that which I also say to you”, John 8: 25.

JW  Do you think this spiritual growth will promote the experience of the headship of Christ?

PM  I think that; and I trust these occasions today may awaken a little with me the exercise to prove the headship of Christ in a greater way, to prove what is coming from a glorified Head that is not only the answer to every situation through which the testimony passes, but provides the resource for there to be this growth and stability in the scene from which He has been rejected.

DSB  How do we prove the headship of Christ?

PM  We would have to search our own hearts as to that.  Proving His lordship is perhaps more easily recognised but proving His headship involves nearness to Himself.  It involves the drawing of impulses from Himself.  It is more than teaching; in the household the head normally does not teach his wife what to do, although he gives leadership in the house.  Headship involves the working of love between Christ and His assembly and Christ and His own, in which He imparts what is near to His own heart and dear to His own heart, so that there might be movement here in relation to Himself.

IMcK  You spoke about unhindered headship.  We are used to things being exhausted and finishing and stopping.  The Spirit would give us that sense of supply that is unhindered.

PM  It is available always; the Head is always available.  In the office there may be disagreement and you might sit down and hammer it out.  Among the people of God, sadly, there might be disagreement; but we do not sit down and argue things out; we get back to the Head.  We get back to the one who is the Lord.  That is the way things are resolved.  They are resolved morally in our links with divine Persons.  It has often been said that the conflict proceeds in the soul of man because the enemy is seeking from different directions to put in his bid and spoil what is for Christ; the conflict proceeds in the soul of man and the answer is for me to get back to the Lord Jesus to acknowledge His claim and to prove His headship.

KM  I was thinking of your expression, ‘to hammer it out’; Christianity does not work like that.  Christianity is more like a magnet; it is more the power of attraction.  “Wilt thou go with this man?” has been referred to; I wondered if the Spirit would interest us all the time in whatever environment or circumstances we might be, to hear that small voice, “Wilt thou go with this man?”.  He will not go with you if you are going to be hammering things.  I know you just used it as an expression; but the power of attraction would be the way the Lord does things, the way the Spirit would attract us to Christ; ’Wilt thou go with Him?’.  Can I take the Lord with me; is it compatible, would it be agreeable to him?

PM  There is no one more attractive than the Lord Jesus.  We do not get His deity explicitly mentioned in Ephesians, but we do get the greatness of the Person of the Lord Jesus as Man.  In chapter 1 He is presented to us as the One who is the Centre of everything for God and, as we go on through the epistle - even the practical exhortations- He is there as the point of attraction.  We may grow up to Him.  Where are we growing?  Are we like a plant that grows to the light?  We grow to that which is attractive to us.

JAT  There is normality in what you are bringing before us, and I need exercise as to whether I am in the gain of it personally.  If we make way for divine Persons, the way is clear.  You have spoken of growing up to Him; in Zechariah there is this vision: “What seest thou? And I said, I see and behold, a lamp-stand all of gold, with a bowl upon the top of it, and its seven lamps thereon, seven lamps and seven pipes to the lamps, which are upon the top thereof; and two olive trees beside it, one on the right of the bowl, and the other on the left of it”, chap 4: 1-3.  It seems a great system of supply.  It is a beautiful illustration.  It might link on with what is available to us in the Spirit and having to do with Christ.

PM  Paul speaks of “the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ”, Phil 1: 19.  Dear brethren, what a supply it is!  It is unhindered and unlimited.  I may rest in the knowledge of scripture and in the terms of the truth, but the Lord would bring me to the point where I come to realise that - precious as those things are - they are not enough in themselves.  I have to come back to my own relations with divine Persons.

AJMcK  I wanted to ask if this growing is continuous?

PM  It is not seen here as stopping.

AJMcK  That is what I wondered, but I would like to know more about it.  It seems as if it has to continue.

PM  Yes, because of its Object; we are growing up to Him.  What fulness there is in that glorious Person that we could never exhaust, or measure; He is sufficient to be our Object here.  And not only our Object; but the Spirit is working in the souls of the saints that those very features are not only seen objectively, but valued in a moral and subjective way in the affections of His people.  Would you go with that?

AJMcK  Yes, I would; growth needs light and it needs nourishment.  All of that is in the Spirit; it is in the activities of the Spirit that you are bringing before us; and that is the power for this growth.  He is the Object but the power for the growth and the resources for it are all in the Spirit.

PM  I trust we may lay hold of that today; that resource, the power and the strength all lies in the Spirit.  We can be in the divine presence in admiration of the One who the Father admires and we can be there as being formed by the Spirit.  There is nothing to substitute for being in the divine presence.

RDP-r  Could I just ask about this growth; it seems to be collective here, is that right?  We have all to come into it individually but there is something collective that is growing.

PM  Yes, because He is the Head of the body; we are growing up to Him because He is the Head of the body.  That brings in the importance of those of us who have responsibility in our local settings, that this should proceed in our local gatherings, and that what is foundational and necessary in teaching should not be left behind.  We cannot afford to do that - maybe we have.  It is in view of growing up to the One who is the Head.

RDP-r  So it is “until we all arrive” at the full grown man.  It is a collective thought.  Ultimately, we all get there collectively.

PM  Yes, and we shall be there very soon because the One of whom we are speaking is the One who is about to come.

         In Colossians, we have the greatness of the Person again; One who is “before all, and all things subsist together by him”, is the One who “is the head of the body”.  We speak carefully; it could not be anyone less.

AEM  Could you say something as to the Spirit’s appreciation of this One?  We have spoken of the power of it, which is more than influence.  Could you say something as to Him having taken the lowly place here and the Spirit’s appreciation of a glorified Christ?

PM  You could have three days meetings on that!  Think of the Spirit descending upon Him as a dove; He had never been able to do that on anyone else.  A glorious Man was here in holy, humble circumstances and the Spirit could rest and find a dwelling place.  But now He is saying, “That is my master!”, Gen 24: 65.  There is no one greater in the Spirit’s affections than the Man who is coming to meet us.

AEM  We have had quite a bit recently as to the Spirit descending upon Him but also dwelling in Him.  Now we come to the point where the Spirit has come to provide what is so precious for Him and to point our gaze to Him.

PM  He has done it because, if I might speak carefully, He loves Him.  There is love between divine Persons.  It is not only what there was before the foundation of the world; there is love between divine Persons in that appreciation of one Another.  The Spirit has served throughout this dispensation in love for Christ in order that He might have a perfect answer.

QAP  In this epistle the Holy Spirit is almost out of sight, to magnify Christ.

PM  It has often been said that in Colossians you do not have the Spirit emphasised at all but what you do have is the headship of Christ.  It seems to me that it really sums up what we have been seeking to get at, that the Spirit is serving in view of there being a vessel here that is living in the appreciation of the headship of Christ and taking character from Him.

JW  The only reference to the Spirit in the epistle is “your love in the Spirit”, chap 1: 8.  Does that suggest that what is brought out is fruit of the Spirit’s work in the saints?  It is as a result of that that the glory of Christ is appreciated.

PM  It is not ‘love by the Spirit’; “your love in the Spirit”.  That is the link we have together; those are the affections we have together.  They are in the Spirit.  It puts everything on a different level.

RDP  It says that “he is the head of the body, the assembly”.  You made a remark at the beginning as to the assembly being a wider thought; it seems remarkable that they are linked here.  There is a widening out here which leads into this great thought of the assembly.  Perhaps the assembly is here in responsibility, but the assembly is the great vessel for the heart of Christ.

PM  Yes; it is also for the heart of God.  What an answer the assembly is for divine Persons.  You think of divine praise proceeding in the assembly, glory to God in the assembly; what an answer!  Through grace you and I have a part in such a vessel.

RDP  It seems to me to be unfolding glory.  Paul is introduced to it; the Lord says, “why dost thou persecute me?”, Acts 9: 4.  There is something here that Paul saw that is identified as persons, ordinary persons, weak failing persons: the Lord says “I am Jesus, whom thou persecutest.  But rise up and enter into the city”, v 5, 6.  There was something there, acting for Him.  As you go through the Acts what comes to light is the assembly; but now you get the thought the body, the assembly which is for Christ’s heart and for God’s glory and so we are on a very ascending line.  Your exercise would be that that would always be the Spirit’s service.

PM  I think so; that we might touch it and know it vitally.  This glorious answer is still here because the Spirit is still here.  You might say it is in ruins; so it is publicly, but it is not spiritually in ruins.  The service of the Spirit proceeds that what is true for the heart of Christ might be maintained to the end.

RWMcC  You drew attention to the Spirit not being prominent in Colossians.  It is “that he might have the first place in all things”.  I was thinking of what you said as to the affection of divine Persons for one another; this is what is in mind.  The Spirit has His place and we are thankful that we have the liberty to acknowledge that and worship Him.  The Lord is to have His place; the Head is to be first.  It is what has been worked out now.

PM  I think so; the place He will have in a day to come is already fixed.  This relates to His having that place practically now.  Divine work is proceeding whether the conditions are difficult, or whether it is in His normal service in opening up the glories of Christ; whether it is meeting conditions that might exist, His service remains constant and the object is “that he might have the first place in all things”.

Witney

27th September 2014