1 Timothy 3: 14-16

RHB     I wondered if it would be profitable in this reading to consider what the saints are as God’s house, which is - as the passage says - the assembly of the living God and the pillar and base of the truth.  The thought of God having a dwelling place on the earth goes back a long time in the scriptures.  It is a thought that is very precious to His heart that He would dwell with men.  I think it comes in initially after the Passover in Exodus. Redemption having been in figure accomplished, God reveals His desire that there might be a sanctuary in which He could dwell with men.  What was set up then in the tabernacle, as we know, is a figure of what was much greater.  When Solomon built his house he said, “But will God indeed dwell on the earth?  Behold ... the heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house that I have built!”, 1 Kings 8: 27.  I trust that we do not lose our sense of the wonder of that.  

      These things that I am speaking of are fairly fundamental but I think our souls are to be filled with a sense of wonder, that the One whom we have addressed in our hymn (405) in such exalted terms, should dwell on the earth.  We know He is going to dwell with men eternally, Rev 21: 3.  And then we get the clear statement of Stephen, “the Most High dwells not in places made with hands”, Acts 7: 48.  It was evident even as the temple made with hands was built, that the builder of it found it almost incomprehensible that God should accommodate Himself to it, but what is presented here is what is spoken of elsewhere as a spiritual house, which is, as the passage goes on to say, “the assembly of the living God” - the living God.  I wondered if we might get help in looking at these expressions as to the house of God and the features that are to mark it which are developed in this epistle.  Firstly, we have the thought of prayer in the beginning of chapter 2, prayers for all men, v 1.  That is a prime feature of God’s house, that prayers are to be made: “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations”, Mark 11: 17.  It should be evident that there are persons in living touch with God and in touch with Him in relation to His interests, which involve all men.  And then in chapter 2, it goes on to speak of God’s order in creation in men and women, and appearance and behaviour that is suitable, v 8-15.  In chapter 3 you get references to oversight and practical service, care of persons’ souls, and care of their bodies and their bodily needs, v 1-13.  All this is going on in what is typical and characteristic of God’s dwelling place, which is the assembly of the living God.  It is stressed that He is the living God not only in contrast to idolatry but in contrast to the danger of falling into becoming fossilized in relation to forms and procedure.  But God is the living God and I think the reference would include the thought of divine communications; not only our speaking to Him but present living communications from Him.  And then it speaks of it as the pillar and base of the truth.  I am very much relying on the help of the brethren to open up these few thoughts.

     We get in chapter 2 the desire of God that men should be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth, v 4.  We might speak of what that means - the truth, but in this chapter we find where the truth is.  It is in God’s house and it is there to be discovered. God desires that it should be discovered and what follows in the verse which pre-eminently speaks of Christ personally, I think is helpful as to the truth that is to be discovered.  God manifested in flesh, and the other references in that verse, are very brief but very extensive, but what was manifested in Christ in flesh is to be manifested in God’s house.  I think that is the reason that it is brought in here in relation to the mystery of piety.  I hope that will be profitable for us.

EFW     I am sure it will be, and it is of great interest to every believer.  Going back to your opening remarks do we get something, very early, of God’s desire to be with man even in the Garden of Eden?  He called out to Adam “where art thou?” (Gen 3: 9) and, although the conditions there were not suitable for His dwelling, do you think that it gives us some impression that at the outset that was His desire to be with man?  The conditions there were of disobedience; now is that something to which the truth would be the opposite?  The Lord said of Himself, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life”, John 14: 6.  He is that.

RHB     Yes, I think that is helpful.  God making man from the outset in His image and after His likeness (Gen 1: 26) had that in mind, that He might enter into relationship with men.  It says in 1 Timothy 6: 16, of God, “who only has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light; whom no man has seen, nor is able to see”, so that in His essence He is unknown and unknowable; and that would never be sufficient for the heart of God?.  He desires to be known.  He is the God who reveals Himself, and we as His creatures are dependent upon what is revealed, are we not?  But He has revealed to us ”his great love wherewith he loved us” (Eph 2: 4) and I thought that what has been so expressed in the blessed God is to be expressed in His house and in those who form it.  Would agree with that?

EFW     Yes, that is very good.  I do not think I can add anything to that.

STE     Is the house of God a complete matter or is it something that is being built at the present time?

RHB     Well, I think in the context here, it is really speaking about the Christian circle on earth at any one time, is it not?  It is referring to what is here.  We know that many of the saints are with Christ, but I think the house of God as it is spoken of here refers to what is on the earth at any one time, and how we are to conduct ourselves in it.  I do not know if I have answered your question but that seems to me how it is presented; but you tell us what you were thinking.

STE     It just struck me that there is something that is so precious.  Men’s buildings are for our eyes to see, to look at naturally, but this is something that has to come from the heart; it has to come from the inward being of the believer to appreciate, and that is what God takes pleasure in, does He not?

RHB     Yes.  And we know that in the beginning all believers were together so that it was easy to identify the Christian circle as opposed to the Jewish synagogue and the idol house, but in writing this epistle the apostle could see what was coming in.  In fact the next chapter opens with the Spirit speaking from the house, that there would be apostasy from the faith.  All that was anticipated, that the Christian circle as it was set up in the Acts in its pristine glory would not remain like that.  The present chaos and confusion in Christendom publicly was fully anticipated and provided for in the scriptures but what is important in the apostle’s mind, as he writes, is that this man to whom he wrote would know how one ought to conduct oneself in God’s house.  I think what is brought out in the epistle is timeless.  It is always true as long as the house of God is here on the earth.  

JW     Was the house built by Christ and the Spirit took His abode in it?  It has been here since Pentecost, persons are brought into it by receiving the Spirit but it was built by Christ and the Spirit took His abode.  That is how God dwells in it, is it not?

RHB     Yes.  I thought that would be included in what is said in verse 16, that He was justified in the Spirit.  There was what was formed on the earth by Christ but the Spirit took possession of it in the Acts.  It says in Acts 2: 2, “and there came suddenly a sound out of heaven as of a violent impetuous blowing, and filled all the house where they were sitting.”  Now while that was clearly a reference to the literal building they were in I think there is spiritual significance in that.  The persons there had been brought together and formed as a company by Christ, but the Spirit took possession of the House and the evidence of that was that the gospel went out.

PJW     It is spoken of as “the true tabernacle, which the Lord has pitched, and not man, Heb 8: 2.  I was thinking it is important that man has nothing to do with it, neither its origin nor its building.  Is that right?

RHB     Well, in the truth of it, it is right.  Of course in our experience man has had a great deal of interference with it.  It is through the introduction of what is of man that what we, perhaps too lightly, sometimes refer to as the breakdown, has happened.  There have been things brought in to the house of God that do not belong there.

DAB     The house of God has to be worthy of the One whose house it is and everything in it must be as He would have it.  The way it may be held in the profession may not be right, but that departure cannot compromise the integrity of the divine thought, which as our brother says is maintained by the Spirit.  Unlike Solomon’s temple, this house is not falling down is it?  There may be those whose walk and conduct is not in keeping with it, with whom God would not feel comfortable, but the house is there in all its wonder and glory, is it?

RHB     I think that is a helpful way of putting it, that we get to know one another, speaking simply, in one another’s houses.  If I come to your house I see things as you would have them arranged.  What proceeds is according to your taste and preference.  Now if that is so in our houses, how much more so should it be evident in God’s house!  That is why I thought these features that are touched on in the epistle are so important and that the predominant feature of God’s house is the matter of prayer.  I wonder in that connection why there is with us sometimes a slowness in relation to prayer.  Sometimes in the prayer meeting and meetings like this there is slowness to pray.  Maybe we fall into customs and think, well, it is for somebody else or it is their turn and so on, but it seems to me that the predominant feature of the house of God is that in it men are addressing God in reverence.  

DAB     That is interesting that you should say that.  If I am right that everything in God’s house is to be done God’s way, it is significant that He says, “My house shall be called a house of prayer”, Matt 21: 13.  That is not just when we are ready, is it?  That is something He has ordained as an initial characteristic of His house and should therefore be supplied.  Is that your thought?

RHB     Yes.  It is ordained in chapter 2 as well.  The chapter opens with “I exhort” that these things proceed.  But when you get to verse 8 of chapter 2, “I will therefore”.  I think that reference to ‘I will’ is apostolic authority ordaining that the men (that is, in contrast to women) pray in every place.  I think we should encourage one another, dear brethren, as to this because the sisters are not free to pray aloud publicly.  It has been ordained in God’s house that the men are to pray.  Now why should there be delay or reluctance or hindrance in that?  The predominant feature of God’s house is that He is surrounded by those whom He has blessed, and in the sense of that blessing their hearts go out to Him responsively.  

AMcS      Do you think the delay in our prayers is because we have not grasped the reality of the current situation?  I was thinking of Acts 4 and the position in which the disciples found themselves, and the prayers that were offered up.

RHB     What are you referring to in Acts 4?  Help us.

AMcS  I was just thinking about when Peter was challenged by the authorities because of his service, that the saints gathered together to pray.  They were not praying at that time for the sick or the poor even, although that was one of the things they prayed for normally, but it was the reality of what it was to be a Christian - to testify to the living God.

RHB     Yes, there was great prayer in relation to Peter in the early Acts and the position that the testimony brought him into.  In 1 Timothy 2 it is particularly prayers for men; you might say it is prayers in relation to the glad tidings because the passage brings out that they are very near to God’s heart.  The reason why that is bought forward is given: “for this is good and acceptable before our Saviour God, who desires that all men should be saved”, 1 Tim 2: 4.  It seems to me that comes back to what was said about God being entitled to have things as He would have them in His house: His desire is that men should be saved and that they should come to the knowledge of the truth.  That is God’s desire and He would have that desire reflected in those that form His house here on earth.

JW     Would God in His house set himself in relation to all men?  He did in the Mediator when Christ was here.  He sets Himself now in relation to men in His house: do you think that is why prayers are made for all men?

RHB     It is one of the great features of the house of God, is it not?  That it is for all.  It is not, as in the Old Testament, for one nation on the earth but it goes on to speak of God being manifested in flesh and so on.  He has been preached among the nations and has been believed on in the world.  It is universal, is it not?  It is God setting Himself in relation to humanity, and where is the evidence of that today if it is not in God’s house?

JW     You can understand that the gospel went out from the house: the house had to be there before the gospel went out.  We have to keep that before us even in the day of breakdown, that the gospel goes out really from the assembly.

RHB     Yes, and the assembly is built up by the gospel.  The brethren will know that, historically, amongst us there has been a tension between what have been described as 'church men', or 'assembly men' and 'evangelicals'.  If you look at the scriptures it is difficult to see why that should be, because it separates things that the scriptures put together.  The preaching of the gospel is an essential feature of the house of God, and the assembly of God is built up through the preaching of the gospel.  In the Acts, it says that “the Lord added to the assembly” (Acts 2: 47) through the preaching as it went out and one wonders why there has existed and may still exist to some extent, this tension; some fearful that through stressing the gospel we are somehow lowering the dignity and truth of the assembly, and others thinking that by stressing the truth of the church we are in some way overlooking the gospel.  The two, it seems to me, are inextricably bound together and what I think should be a concern with us is that the gospel as it is preached amongst us in our rooms and wider in our testimony is maintained at the level that God would have it preached because if it is not, if we overlook that feature of the house of God apart from the grace of God, we shall wither away.  We cannot rely on what has been described as a hereditary fellowship, there must be the outgoing of God’s heart reflected in His house if we are looking to Him for the maintenance livingly of the testimony on the earth.  

EC     Could you help us as to how the assembly of the living God becomes the pillar and base of the truth?  I was thinking of a pillar being supported, and the base being the foundation, but how do you link those two things with the assembly please?

RHB     Well I would be glad to enquire about that, but I have always thought that the thought of the pillar is what can be seen, and the base is what is supportive, is it not?  The assembly of the living God is spoken of as the pillar and base of the truth and I suppose we are familiar with what has been said as to the truth that it involves all that can be known of God.  It is not just simply what is true as opposed to what is a lie but all that God has been pleased to reveal to us as to Himself.  He Himself is unseen but where is what has been revealed to be seen on the earth if it is not seen in His house?  So the truth is located there.  It is there, I suppose, primarily in testimony - the thought of a shining out for others to take account of but I think it is there also, if it is the assembly of the living God, in the sense of living hope in the souls of those that form the house.

DAB     Is not what we are now enquiring about exactly what you were just saying?  I wonder if there is a connection with the porch of Solomon’s house which was formed with two pillars, 1 Kings 7: 15.  They did not hold the temple up, because they were taller than the temple, but I wonder if the idea of the pillar is monumental.  The Lord says that in relation to the overcomer, “him will I make a pillar in the temple of my God … and I will write upon him” (Rev 3: 12), that is on the pillar.  What is written on the pillar is a witness to what that person is.  Is that not what should be manifested among us as people approach, as it was to those who approached Solomon’s house?  One might be at the porch, and there should be this witness to the things that you have spoken of, the harmony of church truth with the gospel.  Is that what it is intended to be a monument for? 

RHB     Yes.  I think it is and that is a helpful way of putting it, that in the house of God the harmony between those two things is readily seen; and it is there for all who would accept it.  It struck me as thinking about this before the meeting that the element of testimony in the house of God is part of man’s responsibility, is it not?  We speak of persons who hear the gospel coming under responsibility in relation to what they hear.    But because the Spirit is in the house, even in the broken day in which we are, the testimony that goes out puts men under responsibility and accountability to God in relation to it, do you not think?

DAB     I was thinking that there should be a testimony, as any one drew near, not simply that there is a living God, as opposed to the idolatry that marks other systems of religion, but that He is the centre of a living order of things.  As Joshua said, ”Hereby shall ye know that the living God is in your midst”, Josh 3: 10.  The spiritual house you refer to is made of living stones (1 Pet 2: 5), it is not?  And as anyone approached, the testimony and witness that they would find would be to the living and responsive system of things of which the living God Himself was the centre.  That would challenge us as to our moral responsibility and whether we are marked by moral life or death.

RHB     I think what you say is very challenging because it is not the house of God simply because we are in fellowship with one another, is it?  The house of God is composed of living stones.  Persons that have come to Christ - “to whom coming”, 1 Pet 2: 4.  They have come this way.  It is interesting in this epistle that the apostle speaks of how he came.  He says that what he was before he came was “a blasphemer and persecutor, and an insolent overbearing man … But the grace of our Lord surpassingly over-abounded”, 1 Tim 1: 13, 14.  He speaks of himself as the first of sinners and mercy shown him, v 15, 16.  All these things are recounted here.  He recounts how he came to be part of the house, and that is the way we all come.  We cannot presume, because we are in fellowship with one another that that is the house of God; it is through personal contact with Christ.

DAB     It is not as if Paul was shut away to have some kind of theological debate with himself, but he was drawn to this by the living witness that there was among the people of God.  He was drawn to it with a desire to persecute it but drawn to it he was, and the Lord showed him as he was drawn towards it what its true moral character had to be.

RHB     I think that is very interesting because, as you see from the account of his conversion, he had to do with the Lord personally on the road to Damascus; but then the question “What shall I do, Lord?” was met with, “go to Damascus, and there it shall be told thee all things which it is appointed thee to do”, Acts 22: 10.  His attention was drawn to a circle here on earth.  The Lord was not operating independently of that, so that, as Saul came to Damascus his first contact with that circle was a man coming and putting his hands upon him and saying, “Saul, brother, the Lord has sent me” (Acts 9: 17) - “Saul, brother”.  His first impression of the house of God was of a welcome.  If we think of Luke 15, we often speak of that as the Father’s house and of course there is a good deal of prominence given in that chapter to the father, but what the prodigal son came to was not the father’s house in glory, he came to God’s house here on the earth.  The first impression he got of it was of a welcome.

JRW     I was just wondering if you could say a little more of what is in mind as to the preaching in that regard.  Was what you are speaking of established before the preaching went out?

RHB     I think it was, yes.  What were you thinking about it?

JRW     I was just trying to link on with what is in your mind and the question in relation to the assembly of the living God, the pillar and base of the truth.  It seems that if there is to be the gospel going out (it speaks here of ‘has been preached’) it would be God, would it not, who “has been preached among the nations, has been believed on in the world”?  There must be something stable to which that relates.  

RHB     It was in a relatively small compass in the beginning when the Spirit came, but it grew rapidly through the preaching.  The house of God had to be formed first before the preaching could go forth from it so that there was a place of salvation here on the earth to which those that were affected by the grace of God could be brought, do you think?

JRW     Yes, I was struck by what you said of Paul when he was Saul, there was something there that could be attacked.  And I wondered whether one of the features of God’s house is that of life.  Prayer, which you have spoken of, would be evidence of life, would it not?  It says, “the living, he shall praise thee, as I this day” (Isa 38: 19); there is evidence of life in God’s house.

RHB     Yes, it is the living God.  We know that His earthly people went on with feasts that had been ordained of God but left God out, so that each became described as “the feast of the Jews”, John 5: 1; 6: 4; 7: 2.  I think that is an ever present danger that we may lay hold of or apprehend things that in their time originated from God Himself but we may hold them apart from God.  The thought of the assembly of the living God is that it is not historical, things are living, there are living communications from Him.

CJRB      Does he keep this thought very much before Timothy?  In 1 Tim 4: 10, “we hope in a living God, who is preserver of all men, specially of those who believe”.  Then he challenges him to “be a model of the believers, in word, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity”, 1 Tim 4: 12.  He encourages Timothy even in his youth.  I was thinking of the reference made to the young ones amongst us, is this showing the path that we should take, the energy that should be used in what is in relation to the living God?

RHB     Yes, and you are quoting in chapter 4.  There is a very touching note to verse 5 where it speaks of the simple matter of giving thanks for our food.  The verse speaks of the very food itself being “sanctified by God’s word and freely addressing him”.  Mr Darby’s note to “addressing” speaks of ‘intercourse with a person ... one person speaking personally to another'.  It is a very blessed thing, is it not, to have that liberty with God - freely addressing Him - and He having liberty to freely address us, and without the consciousness of anything that might hinder such intimacy?  You see the things that you have referred to as to conduct, love, faith and purity: any failure in relation to those matters would bring in tension in that relationship, would it not?  He stresses in the first chapter that, “the end of what is enjoined is love out of a pure heart and a good conscience and unfeigned faith - a good conscience; that is, the knowledge that there is nothing between you and God, and that must be maintained if there is to be the intimacy of this freely addressing Him, do you think?

CJRB      I value that.  

MRC     What you are saying raises a challenge with each soul as to how familiar I am in my intercourse with divine Persons, reverently speaking, and how readily I turn to them.  In John 17: 1 it says, “these things Jesus spoke, and lifted up his eyes to heaven and said, Father”.  It shows the simplicity of the way in which He could just turn to the Father at any time.  Is that your desire that we should be more free in our individual communion and hence as together be more ready in prayer?

RHB     Well, I feel the need of it.  I am feeling my way on these things with the brethren because I feel the need of it myself, the need of being stirred up in relation to it and the danger of becoming fixed in forms and procedures and customs and so on.  We might wait at a meeting to pray because it is customary for this or that to happen or somebody to speak, but in the assembly of the living God there is liberty for men to speak to God publicly, and that is all men, all that form the house of God.  It has been well said that it does not require gift to speak to God in prayer.  It does not require gift to open a meeting in prayer or to close it.  What it requires is affection, affection for God and affection for His people, that would serve them and would serve Him in that way.

DH     Do you see any connection with the house of God you were speaking of and the body of Christ?

RHB     Well now, that is a big question!  You must give us some help on it.

DH     You spoke at the outset about being available.  1 Corinthians 12 mentions the assembly there, but it is as the body, “all the members of the body, being many, are one body”, v 12, and “have all been given to drink of one Spirit”, v 13.  There is a mutuality there?

RHB     Yes, I suppose the thought of the body is that it is Christ’s body, it is “the fulness of Him who fills all in all”, and it is what the saints are as expressive of Christ, do you think?  The position here seems to be the more public one, and I suppose this epistle is more practical.  There is very little in the way of doctrine in this epistle.  What is stressed is what is practical and I suppose in the day we are in there is a need for that because we may become top heavy, we might know it all in its terms but our practice may part company with what we know, and therefore the stress in the epistle is on how what we know works out in very practical and basic ways.  I think the mystery of piety is that; it involves the simplicity in the detail of our lives, not simply when we are together but when we are away from one another.

DJR     The first thing mentioned of the mystery of piety links us directly with Jesus so that any time we are together anybody would see that here are some people who are occupied with One who is God manifest in flesh.

RHB     Yes, although He is not named here.  God has been manifested in flesh.  It could be rendered of course He who has been manifested in flesh.  All that God is has been expressed.  All the fulness of the Godhead dwelt and dwells in Him bodily (Col 1: 19; 2: 9) and that has been expressed.  It has come onto view and it has been seen publicly and it has been rejected.  That is the situation.  People say that there is nothing to see but there has been everything to see and it has been rejected, but I think in the house of God there is a continuation of that.  God is manifested in flesh, speaking reverently.

DAB     There is something very wonderful here, is there not, because this reference to piety involves that God is glorified?  God was manifested completely, would you say, in One who glorified Him completely?  If people ask 'What was there to see?', the glorifying of God is what there was to see.  Is that right?  And that continues now by the Spirit in God’s house.  That precious testimony is still here.  I wonder if that is partly why the name is not given because there is a principle at stake here which continues in the day of the Spirit.

RHB     That is what I was feeling after.  You would go with that, would you?  This pre-eminently refers to the Lord Jesus, that God was manifested in flesh in Him, and all these statements, glorious in themselves, relate to Him but the fact that they are brought in here in relation to the house of God seems to convey to me that there is a connection of each statement with those who form the house of God.  Would you agree with that?

DAB     I was just noticing that God and God’s dispensation is the theme running through this letter.  That was set on, was it not, in the life of Jesus here and has been set on too in the coming of the Spirit, but it continues now?  We are in God’s dispensation in which He has this relationship with the world through His house.  These things that were seen in the initiation of that dispensation in Jesus should continue in the power of the Spirit.

RHB     And they do, do they not?  It says in the Acts “all things which Jesus began both to do and to teach”, Acts 1: 1.  You get the harmony supremely there in the things that Jesus did and the things that He taught, and it seems to me that the history of the dispensation has been that the enemy has sought to drive a wedge between them.  What we teach and what we do tend not to be equal but in Him they were perfectly equal.

JW     The mystery of piety would involve that God was seen in the details of the life of Christ, and piety would ensure that we bring the living God into the details of life and God is expressed in them, would you say?

RHB     Yes.  So that even as to the matter of the giving of thanks for the food that is referred to in the next chapter, it was the way that the Lord Jesus did that in resurrection that revealed to His own who He was, Luke 24: 30,31.

DAB     We could just make a simple point for the children; they are accustomed to giving thanks but the Person who started that was Jesus.  That rather illustrates the point that our brother was making, that things came into expression in the detail of life, in the life of Jesus.  They should be continued now in any rightly instructed believer, any who “are faithful and know the truth”, 1 Tim 4: 3.

RHB     How easily that simple act could become a formality.  People speak about saying grace - it could become a formality, and yet it is an opportunity for my heart to go out to God in thankfulness for His blessing and it is an opportunity to remember that what is before me to eat does not simply come from the supermarket, but it comes from the hand of God.  I think that God would have us to be reminded of it, that what we are appropriating and need to appropriate for the maintenance of our lives comes from the life-giving God Himself.

KJM     In Corinthians It speaks of a simple person and the comment is made that he would report “that God is indeed amongst you”, 1 Cor 14: 24, 25.  I wonder if that would be a characteristic of the house of God.

RHB     Well, I think so.  It is the evidence that God is there, and it speaks of that in relation to what we call a ministry meeting too.  Someone might come in, and they would be searched by the fact that God was there and His word was there.  There is that side to it, the very nature of God involves that if we live in intimacy with Him we shall be searched.  It is an inevitable consequence of being called to be the people of God that His word will search us out because of His intrinsic holiness.

EC     Could please say how you explain God being justified in the Spirit.

RHB     Give us your impression!

EC     My only thought is that the Spirit has made manifest much of God Himself and that has justified God.  There has been a witness by the Spirit to what God is.

RHB     It is quite a profound reference, I think.  I would like help on it myself, but He was not justified in the flesh, was He?  The Lord Jesus was not justified in the flesh.  He was God manifest in flesh.  But as far as men would say outwardly, His life was one of sorrow and He died and He has never been justified since.  That is the public position.  He was not justified in the flesh.  His justification was in the Spirit in the things that He did in His life in the power of the Spirit, and in the Spirit coming upon those that He left and the testimony that the Spirit of God has borne to Him since.  You get also that reference in Romans 1: 4 that He was “marked out Son of God in power, according to the Spirit of holiness”.  He was marked out, and was justified in the Spirit, and He was marked out “by resurrection of the dead”.  That, of course, was the public evidence that He was the Son of God, not only His own resurrection but the fact that He raised the dead.  The Spirit of holiness is referred to in relation to that.

JRW     Does what the Lord says in John 16: 10 help?  He speaks of the Spirit bringing demonstration to the world (v 8), and one of the things is “of righteousness, because I go away to my Father, and ye behold me no longer”.

RHB     Yes.  The Lord did not look for justification in the flesh did He?  If we bring this through to those who form the house of God, there will be no public accrediting of that until the Lord comes into His own.  There will be no justification, you might say, in the flesh, rather it will be suffering; it will be, “all indeed who desire to live piously in Christ Jesus will be persecuted”, 2 Tim 3: 12.  The maintenance here of what was seen supremely in Christ will attract the greatest hostility of the enemy, which is why we might shrink from it and be slow in relation to it.  The justification is very real in the Spirit, is it not?

PJW     Would it be right to say of every believer who receives the Spirit that that in itself is justifying God?

RHB     And they received it from Him, did they not?  Is that what you had in mind?

PJW     Yes, it is vindicating God really, is it, in His operations?  Your suggestion that this carries forward this thought which I think is very helpful.

RHB     “Has appeared to angels”.  You see, angels are brought in in relation to the saints, they desire to look into the glad tidings (1 Pet 1: 12) and in relation to the token that is referred to in Corinthians - it is on account of the angels.  There is something that can be taken account of that is of God.

DAB      I remember when I was a boy, a brother used to say that the death of Jesus raised a question about whose side God was on.  Would He take sides with the Jews, and what they had done in treating Jesus as an impostor, or would He be true to the One who testified to His glory?  And the Spirit came on those who believed on His Son.  That justified Him, did it not?  God signalled His allegiance.  I was thinking of what was said that, the Spirit comes on those who believe and that is the witness, is it, that God has justified Jesus in that it is His believers who have the Spirit?

RHB     Yes, I think that is helpful.    


30th June 2007