THE CONTINUANCE OF THE TESTIMONY
Matthew 28: 16-20
Acts 1: 21, 22
John 20: 14-19
I have an impression, which has been strengthened by the hymn and the prayer and the word that we have had, as to the continuance of the testimony. Our brother has been speaking to us about the way the Lord will maintain what is His. I have had this impression since Lord’s day as to the truth that the Lord will not only save the personnel of the assembly and keep them, but He will keep His thoughts, these thoughts that have been set forth so vividly in Himself. What God has made known, His thoughts in Christ, and brought to us in the power of the Holy Spirit, God will maintain.
And so it says in Matthew where we have this reference to the place of reproach, Galilee, and the eleven disciples seeing Jesus, “And when they saw him, they did homage to him: but some doubted”. What is really in my mind in this section of scripture is, “And behold, I am with you all the days, until the completion of the age”. This is not exactly centred on any particular aspect of the truth; it is the whole thing: “I am with you”; that is, the Lord was going to maintain what He had set on. We have had it in Matthew 16: “I will build my assembly”, v 18. How is that going to be maintained? “I am with you”. He was with them, those whom He had left behind, and He would be with us, not on the grounds of claiming anything, but so long as we walk on the path in which He has set us by the Spirit. “I am with you”; that is, with persons who hold and love and maintain what He loves, that is the light and truth of the assembly. And it is not a mere matter of a set of rules or anything like that. What He has in view is making “disciples of all the nations, baptising them to the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit”. There is going to be somewhere, and there is in the hearts of His own, where that Name, that glorious Name, is held and revered, and it is this that He is maintaining, where the greatest thoughts of God are held and maintained.
But, thanks be to God, they are maintained in persons, feeble people as we all are , ordinary, weak, failing, but we are not merely that when the Lord takes the matter in hand: “I am with you all the days, until the completion of the age”. His thoughts are being maintained, and will be maintained, and the fulness of the wealth that belongs to them will be maintained. It will be said that no company can claim to be the assembly. That is true; we cannot because of the public breakdown. But we can carry in their fulness divine thoughts as to what God has set on in His purpose and has worked out and is working out in His ways. And so the Lord says through the angel in the last page of Scripture, “to you in the assemblies”, Rev 22: 16. We would say even amongst us that things are broken, things are very confused. There are many brethren suffering for various reasons and feeling things, tested in their spirits, tried by what goes on from day to day. “And behold, I am with you all the days”; the Lord would help us to stand true and faithful to what is pleasing to Him and to hold to the truth at its height.
We read in the Acts. I was struck on Lord’s day by this; they were choosing the twelfth disciple under the Lord’s hand, and they referred to “all the time in which the Lord Jesus came in and went out among us”; being with Him was, apparently, a necessary feature that was to belong to the one who would be selected, and I submit that it is a necessary feature for the maintenance of the testimony. We have just said the Lord is with the testimony. That is true, but this is something else to think about, that He comes in His movements: in His maintenance of the testimony, He comes in, and what does He find? Other accounts in the gospels make it clear that, even before the Spirit came, the Lord found amongst His own what He looked for; and He came in among them: “all the time in which the Lord Jesus came in and went out among us”. It impressed my spirit that this is a vitally important part of the maintenance of the testimony; He is not here corporeally but as we gather in faith and dependence and obedience, the Lord takes account of that. He would not ignore the fact that His saints are gathering in faith, in dependence. He came in on specific occasions we read of in John but here it is “all the time in which the Lord Jesus came in and went out”. What did He go out for? The day is coming when we will “go no more at all out”, Rev 3: 12. He goes out, I believe, and takes us with Him; much more could be said; this is a very wealthy section of Scripture.
I will just touch on John to complete the matter, God willing, because this is a very, very precious scripture. This was a time of confusion, indeed. The Lord had died; they did not even know where His body was. I am speaking simply but reverently. They were utterly distressed and bereft by what had taken place. He came to the place where Mary was: “Jesus says to her, Woman, why dost thou weep?”. Well, He knows; He knows what the brethren feel. He knows what the sore parts are; He knows about them. “Why dost thou weep?” She says, “Sir, if thou hast borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away. Jesus says to her, Mary”. That struck me recently. This was a confused, difficult, very sad situation but two words put it right: one word was, “Mary”, and the other word was, “Rabboni”. That was it; the link was formed; the thing was complete; they were there together. It is almost - I trust I am not wrong in saying this - a hint at least of what lay ahead when the Holy Spirit came, that is, union. The link was such that it needed no words, no explanation, just the name, “Mary”, and the whole thing wakened up in her, “Rabboni”. It was like the sun rising; here He was, this Man! A moment or two ago her heart had been filled with grief. Here He was and He had things in His hand. He set matters on right away: “go to my brethren”. He did say, “Touch me not”, I know, but I do not want to go into the detail of it, but He took her in hand, and she became serviceable. What did He say? “I ascend to my Father and your Father, and to my God and your God. Mary of Magdala comes bringing word to the disciples that she had seen the Lord”.
And then He seals the matter, in a sense, a little later: “When therefore it was evening … Jesus came and stood in the midst”. I do not want to be fanciful, but do you think the Lord has been here amongst us? Will I go back out of that door exactly the same way as I came in? Our brother brought that in in his preaching. You come to the Supper; you come with impressions; and that is right; but do you go out of the door exactly the same way as you came in, no difference, no change? No! He comes and He leaves His own impression and, in a sense, when He goes out, He takes us with Him; that is the case here. In that sense He is taking them right in, or giving them an impression, at least, I should say more accurately, of the name of the Father, “my Father and your Father …”- what a Father! - “my God and your God”.
Well, He “stood in the midst”. The midst is still here, brethren. The midst is still available to the Lord. God grant by His grace that each one of us remains part of it and free and useful in it! May it be so for His Name’s sake!
Word in meeting for ministry in Grangemouth
6th June 2017