J Bruce Ikin

John 11: 47-52

Luke 24: 13-36

Matthew 18: 20

1 John 3: 1-3

Psalm 133

JBI  It is very evident as coming together today that it is something that many have looked forward to - to be able to meet one another again and gather again together in this way. I am sure the Lord would bless the desires of the dear brethren to do that.

         These scriptures speak of gathering, the basis for gathering, and the responsibilities involved, and as fulfilling those responsibilities, the great blessing that flows from gathering in exercise before the Lord.  In the first passage, we read of one of the reasons why the Lord Jesus has died.  We read what Caiaphas said, his motives exposed no doubt for what they were, but as we have been taught, what is added by the Holy Spirit is specially to be noted.  The Lord Jesus “was going to die for the nation; and not for the nation only, but that he should also gather together into one the children of God who were scattered abroad”.  It is a comfort to know that John writes for the very day we are in, the day in which there is and has been grievous scattering.  I wondered if we could enquire together as to how gathering comes about instead of scattering and in spite of scattering.  We see that the death of Christ and gathering in appreciation of the light of it is essential to blessing and enjoyment of the privilege of being children of God. The Lord Jesus is the gathering point, and He is the Gatherer too.

         We see that in the passage read in Luke’s gospel.  There was a poor state of things. What can we say of the present day anything other than that there is a poor state of things in Christendom affecting us all!  But the Lord Jesus is intent to recover, intent to revive. You see His own movements here in relation to two who were going away. He listens to them and hears what they have to say, He hears their complaints, hears their despair and He gives an answer; gives a remarkable answer!  He draws attention to His suffering, “Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into his glory?”.  I believe we should take a note of that.  The pathway is not easy, it involves suffering, the testimony is going through until the Lord comes as demonstrating suffering, suffering indeed for Him and with Him.  In Romans the Holy Spirit Himself witnesses “that we are children of God … if indeed we suffer with him, that we may also be glorified with him”, chap 8: 16,17.  We see that as the Lord Jesus proceeds in speaking with these dear souls that their eyes are opened.  O that many of us should have our eyes opened, opened as to who He is and what He would lead us into!  As they respond to that they returned, returned to Jerusalem. Who did they go to there?  It says, “they found the eleven, and those with them, gathered together, saying, The Lord is indeed risen and has appeared to Simon”.  The Lord comes into view, the Lord is recognised, the Lord becomes the centre, the centre of that company, the centre of that gathering.  As a result of that conditions are such that He comes into their midst, “And as they were saying these things, he himself stood in their midst, and says to them, Peace be unto you”.

         That leads on to what we read of in Matthew 18; that is, the responsibility on our side is to gather unto His Name. It would be good to enquire together what that means.  The fact that it is “unto my name” means that He is not actually present. The gathering here is the result of being exercised and deliberate that there should be conditions to which He can come.

         In John’s epistle we see that the result of coming under His rule and recognising what is due to Him as Lord is that we come into the enjoyment of the Father’s love. The Father’s love is given to us “that we should be called the children of God”.  The thought is “children of God” rather than “child of God” and so appreciated as being together. What a privilege to be together and experience that the Father loves us in the same way that He loves His beloved Son!

         In Psalm 133 we see that it is at the end of the songs of degrees that there is cause for saying, “Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity”.  It is pleasant to us, but it is also good in God’s sight.  We see at the end of that psalm that Jehovah commands the blessing, “life for evermore”.   Think of how as subservient to His will blessing comes in!

NJH  It lies behind the exercise for gathering today.  I was thinking of Christ in type; He rejoiced; He came “with rejoicing, bearing his sheaves”, Ps 126: 6.  There is something in the heart of Christ that is the principle of gathering starting off; is that right?

JBI  Very good; so I think the Lord would be rejoicing to see the saints coming today with desire.

NJH  Speaking simply of even our normal fellowship meetings we had, we have far more brethren today - so it is the burning desire in every heart to the principle of gathering.

JBI  Yes, to see that it was in His mind as He died, it was in His mind that there should be a gathering, gathering indeed of those “scattered abroad”.  We are in a day of much scattering. We feel as to those that have been lost, feel as to those that have gone away, but there is provision in the death of Christ that there should be a gathering. May we be gathered in that sense.

WMP  In referring to the Lord Jesus Himself as the gathering point were you thinking of the next chapter, John 12, “I, if I be lifted up out of the earth, will draw all to me”, v 32? 

JBI  Yes, I am glad you draw attention to that: “Now is the judgment of this world; now shall the prince of this world be cast out: and I, if I be lifted up out of the earth, will draw all to me. But this he said signifying by what death he was about to die”, v 31-33.

WMP  There is other teaching in this gospel that He is going out of this world; so we gather on that principle do we, that we are going out of the world: we are not of it?

JBI  Yes, I am sure of that, that He has died that we should follow Him.

WMP  That is how that gospel finishes, “Follow thou me”, chap 21: 22.

TRC  I know it is in the negative sense but the Lord says, “how often would I have gathered thy children as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings”, Matt 23: 37.  Can you can see the feelings of Christ in relation to His own, that as gathered the Lord’s affections are behind it, and as we are gathered we find we are in an area of affection?

JBI  Yes, I am glad you draw attention to the Lord’s own feelings.  He had feelings in relation to those who did not want Him, those who would not be gathered, but His desire was to gather them.  We should be governed by the feelings that are His feelings that in a world where He is rejected, not wanted, we should meet His desires to be gathered by Himself.

JCG  The Lord in His prayer to the Father in John 17 says, “that they may be all one, as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee”, v 21.  The greatness of the gathering is that there should be oneness.  Do you think that despite the evident outward side of scattering, like small numbers available in different parts of the world, the Lord is drawing attention to the oneness of the assembly that we should be gathered together in view of one assembly; that is what is in the Lord’s mind for rapture, is it?

JBI  Yes, it is good to speak of oneness, “that they may be one, as we are one”, v 22.  What a standard!  What a lovely scene!  Think of how the Lord Jesus speaks of His own desire that they should be so; it should be demonstrated, should be seen.

PAG  Could you say something more about “together”?  It would have been enough to say ‘gather into one the children of God’ but it says “gather together into one”.

JBI  I would like you to say something about that. The word “together” is so often seen in scripture.  Do you have something in mind?

PAG  Does “together” suggest we have a link with one another?  The death of Christ removes the things that would make us selfish and individualistic and brings us together, and one of the links we have is that we have a common object, but another link is that we have the gift of the Holy Spirit. 

JBI  Yes, that is good; so we are “baptised into one body”, 1 Cor 12: 13. The Holy Spirit is the power for bringing in oneness.  The death of Christ removes everything that would cause us to be set apart as dealing with the mind of man and the will of man, and what is positive is seen in the love of the Christ and in the work of the Holy Spirit to bring us together.

AMB  This is really a comment that the Spirit makes.  John the writer quotes what Caiaphas says until verse 50, and then what follows is really the Spirit’s comment, do you think?

JBI  I was thinking that and really it is special that John’s hand is guided by the Holy Spirit Himself to show this aspect of the death of Christ and the fruit from it, the basis for being brought together as one.

AMB  Would you say more as to what is in your mind as to the death of Christ providing the basis?  Paul has referred to the removal of what would keep us apart, and then there is more to it than that, I am sure.

JBI  My exercise was to seek help of the brethren as to what this would mean for us. As contemplating the death of the Lord Jesus what was in His mind as going into death was not only that our sins individually should be dealt with but that there should be a gathering in oneness; that was His objective also.

AMB  Having died, He is now risen and living, He is the object of every heart that loves Him; that gives a great basis for being together, shared love for the Lord Jesus.

DAB  Have you any thought why these scriptures refer to us as children of God?

JBI  Is it as born of God?  You help us.

DAB  I am glad you say that; I think being the children of God is more of a privilege than we may realise.  It is a mark of God’s love according to the passage we read, we are called to be His children and He has imparted His nature to us.  It must be a very distressing thing to God that members of His family are scattered, so much so that He has been prepared to give His Son to gather them together.

JBI  I think that is a good way of putting it.  As children of God we are not individual units but are brought into the family.  It has been said that the term “children of God” is given distinctively to the saints of this dispensation. We will not be referred to as children in eternity.  Is that right?

DAB  Yes, but we will have the divine nature and we will be gathered too!  Even naturally speaking it is a very dishonouring thing which a father would feel if his family were at odds with each other and cannot go on together.  God feels that so much that He has given His only Son that they might be gathered.

JBI  What it has cost Him that He should give His beloved Son, that He should die so that we may come into the appreciation of the privilege of belonging to Him and deriving from Him as His lovable family.  

NCMcK  So one other aspect of the death of Christ is that these links are not on a natural basis. They are on a spiritual basis because the death of Christ is the divide between these; born not “of flesh’s will, nor of man’s will, but of God”, John 1: 13.  That introduces us into the spiritual side of things does it not; spiritual bonds?

JBI  I am glad you have drawn attention to the beginning of John’s gospel showing that the Lord Jesus “came to his own, and and his own received him not” (chap 1: 11), but there were those who received Him, and who believed on His Name. May we be amongst them, that we may come into the enjoyment of that, not of “flesh’s will, nor of man’s will”. All that has gone in the death of Christ, and He has laid the basis for what is new and living in our relationships together, in our appreciation of the Father’s love for us as His family.

DCB  Do we get some of the practical application of it as we gather at the Lord’s supper?  In a certain wilderness way we are children of God, but then we gather together and the gathering point for us are the emblems before us, bringing to our minds and affections the death of the Lord Jesus. We are drawn practically together, our eyes are focused, our minds and thoughts are focused on the loaf and the cup, and therefore there is a practical enjoyment of what it is to be gathered together into one.

JBI  I think that is right.  What a privilege to come together with a common Object, the Lord Jesus Himself - our hearts moved as appreciating that He has died. There are the emblems separated from one another, speaking of His death and there is a common bond as finding in Him the focus of affection.

WMP  Mr James Taylor often said that when we gather at the Supper we also gather to ‘meet the brethren’ (eg vol 7 p137), we consider one another as we assemble.  I think what has been said is helpful in that regard, because these are persons with whom we have a bond and we have affection. 

JBI  I think it is important that you say that, that we are there early enough to see one another, and to see one another come in with a purpose of heart to make much of Christ.  We are children of God with a bond, a bond of affection for Him.

PAG  The death of Christ involved the cross and the shedding of His blood and it says in Ephesians 2, “now in Christ Jesus ye who once were afar off are become nigh by the blood of the Christ”, v 13.  So the blood is the answer to the requirements of God’s righteousness; but then it says further down “and might reconcile both in one body to God by the cross, having by it slain the enmity” (v 16); the cross answers to the requirements of His holiness.  The death of Christ provides a basis that meets God’s righteousness and answers to His holiness, and it is a good thing then for us to align ourselves with that and to be together recognising that God is drawing us together on a righteous basis.

JBI  That is helpful - so that there are two matters, His righteousness and His holiness.  We can see reconciliation is not bridging the distance - it is removing everything that caused the distance.  So God’s holy nature is revealed.

PAG  It is honouring to God that we should be together.  He has given His own Son and His Son has died and shed His precious blood and the scripture says, “and that the death of the cross”, Phil 2: 8.  Surely it is honouring to God as well as a testimony that we should be together.

JBI  Yes, the testimony is seeing the saints together as one; it is a testimony to the world.

DAB  God has gone to remarkable lengths in this time in which we are to secure this end.  I was thinking of Israel - you might say that it was a miracle that the twelve tribes stayed together as long as they did, but they were bound by natural affinity.  But in order to maintain this togetherness among those whose affinity is with God Himself He has brought in the death of His Son, His blood, His cross and the gift of the Holy Spirit.

JBI  Yes, so as we come into the gain of that, it involves the Holy Spirit, One who would bring us into the enjoyment of being together and being one.

DAB  I was thinking when our brother quoted, “that they may be one, as we”, that God has responded to that by giving His Spirit.  And as His Spirit is made way for there is a unity that the Lord desired.  But that is a gift that is special to the present time and is in pursuit of a more exalted thought of unity than God has ever pursued in the past.

JBI  Yes. What is meant by, “The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit, that we are children of God”, Rom 8: 16?

DAB  I was reflecting that a believer has the divine nature; God does not seem to rest with that, but that truth is reinforced firstly by the work of Christ and then, not only by the gift of the Spirit, but by the witness of the Spirit.  Would you say these things all underlie one another, making a multi layered bond between the believer and God, but also between the members of the Christian company? 

JBI  “The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit”.  He bears witness with us so that there is a living bond between the Holy Spirit and the saints as coming into the enjoyment of this wonderful relationship together.

DAB  And those passages in Romans 8 bring out the idea of children of God being a matter of privilege.  We tend to think of it as a testimonial responsibility, which it is, but in that passage in Romans 8, he speaks about “the liberty of the glory of the children of God” (v 21), and of the privilege of that relationship.

NJH  In Luke 24 the Lord “having taken the bread, he blessed, and having broken it gave it to them”.  It does not say they partook of it, but did it not mean that what impressed them was they were the same order as Christ, and therefore brought them back to the company immediately, “the same hour”?

JBI  Yes; it says, “having broken it, gave it to them”; it produced a movement as their eyes were opened.  I was thinking that as the Lord comes into this matter of recovery drawing attention to His sufferings, to His death, our eyes are opened to see.  The passage we read later in John’s epistle says, “See what love the Father has given to us”.  We feel the need that all of us might be revived, and young ones appreciate and come into the experience of having our eyes opened - that there should be movement, movement back as necessary to the company where the Lord is loved and where the Lord is owned.

NJH  The Lord was never rebellious; He was obedient to everything from the hand of His Father.  But we have impressions individually and find that we realise we are of the same order of Christ and therefore it behoves us to be obedient to the coming together of the saints; is that right?

JBI  Yes, it is; it is His commandment, and we are privileged to address ourselves to obey, but what blessing comes as we are gathered to where the Lord is owned.  I wondered if the emphasis in this passage is that there were those who were gathered and those with them, saying, “The Lord is indeed risen and has appeared to Simon”: “The Lord”!  So the enjoyment of privilege that we are speaking about, the privilege of knowing what it is to be children of God, must be as recognising the Lord’s authority.

ARH  The Lord did not command them to return to Jerusalem; He did not tell them to go back to Jerusalem: they did it themselves!  Is it spiritual instincts? 

JBI  How wonderful that the Lord should work that way so that there was something that came out in them to move spontaneously, quickly, back to the company where the Lord was owned.

ARH  I feel how much it is needed that something should touch your heart and you feel that you need the brethren.

JBI  Yes, there was a spring in their step; they found the eleven and those with them gathered together; “And rising up the same hour, they returned to Jerusalem”.  There was no delay, no dithering; it was a quickening with them, do you think?  And that is what the Lord would seek in serving us as the One who would gather us, the One who is the gathering Centre and the One who is the gathering power.

DAB  We get the point our brother is making in John’s gospel too.  The Lord sent a message with Mary; He did not tell her to tell them to gather, but they did!  Where they were we do not know, maybe all over the city, but the effect of the message and the prospect that the Lord was risen gathered them.  In a sense He gave Mary the easier task to find the eleven in the city whereas He devoted half the day to reaching out to these two.  He did not send anyone after them, did He?  He spent the large part of the resurrection day on this activity that you are speaking about.

JBI  So in John’s gospel it is not ‘their midst’; it is “the midst”.  There was a company there that was already devoted in affection for Him and speaking of what is centred in Him as speaking of the assembly.

JTB  In Luke we have the reference, “And when the hour was come, he placed himself at table” with them, (chap 22: 14); does that suggest there was an element of preparedness among the others, the apostles, an alertness to what the Lord’s movements were, really as having followed the man with the pitcher of water, do you think?

JBI  So that it involved deliberateness and affection and responsibility as providing for what was for Himself.

JTB  I was touched by, “we … have all been given to drink of one Spirit”, (1 Cor 12: 13); we all derive from that common source in that sense of satisfaction and intuition as to what is pleasing to the Lord. 

JBI  Yes, that is very helpful to bring that in, one Spirit, so that we see that it is a wonderful resource for bringing in the divine pleasure, in bringing it about in the family, do you think?

PAG  You drew attention to the Lord’s word “ought not the Christ to have suffered these things” in your opening remarks; what did you have in mind about that?

JBI  Is it not true that the testimony in the time which we are in is carried through in the preparedness to suffer?  The assembly is the Lamb’s wife, she is prepared to suffer with Him.

PAG  Occupation with the sufferings of Christ has a refining effect on the soul of the believer, and it also brings perspective.  These dear believers got a different perspective when Christ spoke to them of His sufferings.  Do you think that if we are exercised about recovery, as we are and we should be, if we are occupied with the sufferings of Christ then if we come into contact with someone who has maybe got away we will have something useful to say to them?  We will not have something critical to say, or complaining, but will convey some impression of Christ.  It has such a living effect.

JBI  I am glad you draw attention to that, rather than our complaining about what seems to be disadvantage.  We see that the Lord Jesus would draw attention to the fact that it is a suffering company - a company that loves Him so much that she is prepared to bear His reproach, and that it is worthwhile!  Am I prepared, as coming to the Supper, to bear the reproach of honouring Him publicly while having in view that the saints as loyal to Him and suffering with Him will be glorified with Him?

TRC  The two that returned brought something into the company that was not there before.  Everyone is needed, everyone has experience with divine Persons, and as we gather together every saint is needed in our local companies.

JBI  So that everyone is a contributor as based on the vitality of experience, the vitality that comes from seeing, having our eyes opened as to what the Lord is doing in His assembly.

WMP  There are references to “himself” in these passages.  These two had received a testimony that the Lord was risen, but “Jesus himself”, and then verse 36, “he himself”; what would you say about that?  Do we have to have that intimate connection with Christ?

JBI  He was prepared Himself to draw nigh to those who were going away.  It is important to see that He recovers to Himself; that link with Him motivating us to find fellow believers as those who also find in Himself the joy of what is divinely pleasurable.

DCB  Also “he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself”.  Does that shows the importance of the teaching, of divine teaching if we are to gather together, and also of what is prophetic?

JBI  So as reading the Scriptures together great fruit comes from being engaged with Himself.  The Lord Jesus becomes the Centre from cover to cover as we read the Scriptures, do you think?

DCB  Yes.  It is a very interesting passage in the detail of it.  The Lord goes with them; we might think He could have introduced Himself immediately, but He gives them experience walking with them, and opening up the Scriptures to them before the point comes in which is made known to them.  I wondered if we have got to have that experience, an experience with Him, and a process with Him, to be available so that we would be gathered together and responding as these persons were.

JBI  Yes, such is His love that He would engage us with Himself in reading the Old Testament as well as the New!  The Holy Spirit would engage us with the Lord Jesus so that we might appreciate Him personally.  The Lord Jesus would recover us to Himself. The accumulation of this results in a company to which He can come.

JCG  Do you think that there is evidence of the need for strengthening of faith or revival of the faith?  They were told really that the Lord had risen and that He is living, “And some of those with us went to the sepulchre, and found it so”, but they did not believe it until the Lord personally introduced Himself to them.  I was thinking of what you said earlier about those that were scattered, revival of faith lies at the basis of recovery, acceptance as has been said of the death of Christ, and through faith and where He is in glory now.

JBI  I think it is important what you say, that we may have faith, faith to see forward, and faith to see what the Lord is doing for Himself in gathering to Himself, that there should be a company that is according to the character of God.

AMB  In relation to what has been said of the importance of the Scriptures, and the Lord opening them up to these two, we are very privileged in having meetings like this, reading meetings, not widely known among believers generally, but the Scriptures can be opened up by the Spirit and with the Lord as Teacher.  Do you think also as we accept the teaching and it becomes food to us that helps us to have Jesus as our Lord: we accept His authority?  You have been bringing that before us in relation to verse 34, “The Lord is indeed risen”.  I was just thinking of how important it is to be governed in our thoughts and our affections by the teaching of Scripture, and in willing and happy subjection to Jesus as Lord.

JBI  I think it is important that you draw attention to that - it is a real privilege to come together for a reading.  It is not possible if there are arguments about the truth.  We should seek to enquire as to where the Lord Jesus is in every Scripture, and be together in it, and seek help of the Holy Spirit that there should be fruitful enquiry together.  It needs conditions for that, does it not?  The Lord’s authority must be recognised, and we need to be ruled by His authority and subject to Him, subject to the revelation of the truth, and to be together in that and make room for the Holy Spirit.

NCMcK  It is striking too in verse 33 it is, “found the eleven”; it is an incomplete number, an acknowledgement of a measure of breakdown that had come in, and yet they are able still to enjoy this, are they not?

JBI   You are thinking of the number eleven.  It was made up to twelve in the Acts, chap 1: 26.  What you have in mind is helpful.  We are in a broken day.  Is that what you are thinking?

NCMcK  I was thinking that; it is clear and it is helpful the Lord is the gathering point, but now on our side one of the grounds of our gathering is separation from iniquity, and that involves a broken day; it involves that we have to separate from what is not true to the Lord.

JBI  Yes.  I think that leads us on to the passage in Matthew, that is gathering unto His Name.  As taking what we have been reading of in Luke 24, that Christ as Lord was predominant in their affections, gathered unto His Name means there is a desire to provide conditions to which He can come, and that must involve separation as calling upon His Name.

DAB  Could that verse in Matthew be regarded as an incentive to the work of recovery?  I was thinking about the brother who has been offended going to visit to gain his brother, and he might take someone else with him.  And they could say to the brother, 'Look if we were two or three gathered to the name of the Lord He would be there’; that would be the basis on which they could appeal to gain Him, would you say?

JBI  Yes; in these matters that exercise us it is in view of bringing about togetherness on a basis that the Lord can come to.

DAB  I do not want to be negative at all but you can imagine if those that go fail to gain their brother, and he will not hear the assembly, they would say, ‘The Lord is coming, and we did not gain our brother; we were not able to gain him, and we shall meet the Lord and he will not be there’.  These things work out very simply to be exercised on this line.

JBI  So it is “thy brother”!  The brother would speak of belonging to the family, and a desire to recover is that the appreciation of the family should be known, conditions to which the Lord can come, and be honoured there. 

PAG  It has been said in ministry that gaining your brother might take years, but it would always be the attitude of your mind.  You might say, ‘Well, we have tried once or twice and it has not worked’; well, keep trying! 

JBI  It requires patience, the long patience of God.  It is a very practical exercise.  We should not write one another off.

PAG  I know of one brother who prayed for me for thirty-five years at least, and that is how long he kept on praying.

JBI  In the parable of the fig tree, time was given (Luke 13: 8,9); a time was given that they should be repentant in view of recovery.

NJH  What has been said is testing because he remains “thy brother” even though he has sinned. 

JBI  It is very testing as to whether love would motivate us to look for recovery, recovery on a righteous basis, the basis of repentance, but love such that it should be easy for repentance to come to light, do you think?

WMP  “Again I say to you” - so the present time is in view, is it?  The present circumstances of the testimony are in view.

JBI  “Again I say to you”; I would like to understand a little more what you are indicating there.  Our brother is speaking about continuing exercise for recovery, but what have you in mind in this?

WMP  The Lord is adding; He is adding something in view of the present time; He is looking forward to what would arise in the testimony: many companies claim verse 20 as the basis for their gatherings.

JBI  Does what would arise underlie His promise?  “For where two or three are gathered together unto my name, there am I in the midst of them.”  Does it bring out the affections of the Lord Jesus that He is prepared to say, “Again I say to you”?

WMP  Help us: what do these words mean; “gathered together unto my name”; what does that entail?

JBI  I would be glad of the brethren’s help.  Gathered unto His Name means I am honouring that Name.  The Name is given in heaven, the place where He is.

DAB  Believers who name His Name may imply that He is already identified with them.  I might say in relation to someone else’s children, ‘Would your father let you do that?’.  That is using the father’s name, as if he himself was there.  So if we gather to the Lord’s name - in view of His coming, we are professing that there are conditions which honour Him.

JBI  It is clearly associated with providing conditions where evil is repelled.

DAB  If a company professes His Name, and He were to come, His presence would measure their profession; if it fell short that would become apparent to Him.  So the Lord envisages that there would be conditions there with which He could readily be identified.

JBI  I was thinking that “there am I in the midst of them” is His committal to where there are conditions that are pleasing to Him, is that what is in mind?

NJH  It is to the name of the Lord; it is a continuous maintenance, not having done it once, but who “names the name of the Lord” in 2 Timothy days (chap 2: 19) means that we personally have to be in keeping with that.

JBI  Well, that is a test: naming the name of the Lord Jesus. 

TWL  Would it be right to say that where these persons are there is a testimony to the name before the Lord moves, and because of that He has the liberty to move.  Where they are gathered together to His Name; it is very interesting the way it is put, “For where two or three are gathered together unto my name, there am I”, not ‘there I will be’.  It is not exactly that He comes and that is the testimony, but the testimony is already established by those who have gathered to His Name and the Lord has the liberty to come there.  Does that fit in with what you have in mind?

JBI  I think that is good, there is that which is pleasing to Him, pleasing to Him as seen in those who honour His Name.

TWL  It is a wonderful thing to provide the conditions where love has liberty. 

JBI  Yes, liberty that is instigated by Himself.

TWL  The Lord has the freedom, speaking very carefully, to move as He chooses because the conditions warrant it.  That is what happened to these persons who gathered together “unto my name”. 

JBI  It is important to see that, that where He is not honoured you cannot say He will be there.

DS  Does gathering to His Name show that the personnel are of the same character as the Lord Jesus Himself?  They walk here in relation to the will of God as the Lord did when He was here.  The Lord speaks of them as not being ashamed of such people, they are His brethren, the Sanctifier and the sanctified are all of one, (Heb 2: 11); they are a separate people.  So that walking here in the same character as Christ they are gathering to that Name and He is glad to come in amongst a company who are of the same character and mind as He is.

JBI  That is very good; so He is the Sanctifier.  So that scripture in Hebrews says, “he is not ashamed”, and we trace it back to His own faithfulness with us that we should be set apart and that we should be a company that is like Him.

         The side of realised, appreciated privilege comes about where conditions are existing where the Lord’s authority is recognised and the principles of fellowship established.  We get fellowship and the issues of fellowship at the beginning of John’s epistle, and later in chapter 3 we have, “See what love the Father has given to us”.  As taking up responsibility in relation to the Lord Jesus and His rights we come into an appreciation of the Father’s intention for us, the Father’s love for us, “See what love the Father has given to us”.  As coming into a circle of affections amongst the saints we trace all back to the Father’s love.

TRC  That is very fine, not only are we brought into that position but there is a practical answer to it and a testimony that we are children of God.

JBI  It is the love of the Father, the love of the Father for the Lord Jesus, and He sees the saints as what is formed of the Lord Jesus Himself.

NJH  You are not trying to better the world; it says, “every one that has this hope in him purifies himself, even as he is pure”. 

JBI  So there is no point in trying to better the world.  It knew Him not; it is given up!  It is alien.  But over against it there is that which is so pleasing to the Father, a loveable company, a loving company formed as Christ.

PAG  Is it encouraging then that fellowship involves how we are to be together, but privilege involves how we are to be together with God.  Attending to the principles of the fellowship makes way for a blessing as it says, “the world knew him not” (John 1: 10); the world does not even know it; it does not recognise it and it cannot recognise it.

JBI  It is important what you are saying.  You reminded us a few years back of that address of Mr Raven’s, Fellowship, Privilege and Testimony (vol 1 p58).  The appreciation of privilege is after first coming to honouring the Lord on the principles of fellowship.

PAG  Yes; fellowship would be how we can be together, privilege how we can be together with God, testimony how God wants you to be together with Him!  We can reach out to persons, saved and unsaved, and say that God has great things in mind for them.  I am not using ‘we’ in any exclusive sense; believers are entitled to do that.

JBI  Quite so.  Think of how receiving Christ as in the beginning of John’s gospel, and, believing on His Name, we have the right to be children of God, chap 1: 12.  That applies to all real believers.  The opportunity is there to appreciate what it is to come into the divine family.

AMB  And good in God’s sight.  You were making remarks at the beginning as to the psalm, and you spoke of what was pleasant and good.

JBI  It is very interesting the way the Psalms are written, Songs of degrees, so that Psalm 133 seems to be a conclusion of ingathering as seen in other psalms that preceded in these Songs of degrees; they are like steps upwards.  In Psalm 122 it says, “I rejoiced when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of Jehovah”, v 1.  Is it like the expression of the children as speaking to one another; they desired to go into the house of Jehovah.  “Our feet shall stand within thy gates, O Jerusalem”, v 2.  Then in Psalm 132 you see David’s committal to finding a place for Jehovah, “habitations for the Mighty One of Jacob”.  “Behold, we heard of it at Ephratah”, (v 5-6), brings in others.  There is a gathering together of desire for making place for Christ in the centre of our affections.  But then we see in Psalm 133 what is good in the sight of the saints, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together”; how much more so in God’s sight!

AMB  That is a fine summary of these songs of degrees!  Beginning in Psalm 122 it says, “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee”, v 6.  It is a test for us as to what we pray for in relation to the prosperity of what is for the Lord here.

JBI  I am glad you say that.  I find the prayer meeting a test in that we should pray for the peace of Jerusalem, and that what is to go forward in the remaining time that is left to us should go on prosperously amongst the saints in bringing about what is pleasurable to God. 

WMP  As seeing what it means to divine Persons, saints gathering together on right lines and making way for the operations of the Spirit, grasping that in our own affections would it encourage us and cause us to have these right desires?

JBI  Yes.  What we see here is the experience of the flowing down of what is precious from the Lord Jesus as the exalted Head - “the precious oil upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, upon Aaron’s beard”.

WMP  Say more about it for our help.

JBI  Well, would the hem of His garments be the saints?  He is up there, He is exalted, think of how He is anointed, think of what is precious upon His head, the Holy Spirit, and then there is that which is flowing from Him right down to the hem; that is us as gathered together as one whole!

DCB  Is there a fragrance with this oil?  There was a fragrance in the anointing oil in Exodus (chap 30: 25); it is the same at the hem of the garment as it is at the head.  Everything has the same delight to the nostrils of God.

JBI  It comes from the same source.  Think of what is delightful to God, what is going up to God, the results of the saints being gathered together in this way with true desire for Christ to be honoured and become our object.

NJH  The anointing oil was not to be imitated, v 32.  You may say this is from God’s side, but the way it is written, “As the dew of Hermon that descendeth”, is very beautiful; everything has come down from the Head, is that right?

JBI  Yes; there is the idea of freshness in “the dew of Hermon”; you see the dew on the grass in the morning; the next day you see the dew again; the freshness that comes from appreciating the Lord Jesus where He is.

NJH  And the manna came on the dew in the wilderness, Num 11: 9.

JBI  Yes, very good, day by day.

NCMcK  It is “for there hath Jehovah commanded the blessing”; does that link with the earlier thought as to the assembly as those walking in the light of the assembly?  There is an area where blessing is now to be found, but it cannot be in line with any sectarian ground at all; it must be on assembly ground.

JBI  I am sure of that.  It is according to God’s commandment - that would involve His will, would it not?  In Ephesians you get three references to the will of God; you get “the good pleasure of his will” (chap 1: 5), “the mystery of his will” (v 9) and then you get “the counsel of his own will”, v 11.  We sometimes, I speak for myself, shrink back from considering the will of God.  It is all in view of blessing.  As we come under regulation we see that there is blessing and there is joy, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!”.  If we try to come together on some sort of social ground, or religious ground it will produce nothing.  But if it is under the command of God, “for there hath Jehovah commanded the blessing, life for evermore”, it goes on forever.


23rd April 2022


Key to initials

AMB Alistair M Brown, Linlithgow
ARH Alex R Henry, Glasgow
DAB D Andrew Burr, West Norwood
DCB David C Brown, Edinburgh
DS David Spinks, Bo’ness
JBI J Bruce Ikin, Manchester
JCG John C Gray, Bo’ness
JTB Jim T Brown, Edinburgh
NCMcK Neil C McKay, Glasgow
NJH Norman J Henry, Glasgow
PAG Paul A Gray, Linlithgow
TRC Trevor R Campbell, Glasgow
TWL Terrty W Lock, Edinburgh
WMP Walter M Patterson, Glasgow