1 Kings 21: 1-4, “my fathers”
I would seek to encourage us all in the valuing of the inheritance of our fathers. We have a very great inheritance, and particularly as having part in the recovery of the truth. I do not take it away from being the inheritance of everyone: any believer can enter into the privileges and blessings but, through grace, you and I have a part in the recovery of the truth, a recovery which approaches two hundred years old. There is an inheritance, something that was secured: something has been secured. It was all, of course, in the Scriptures; we do not take away from that. It was there throughout the dispensation, and persons perhaps did have enjoyment of it in degree, but there is something that has been distinctly brought out by God in the recovery of the truth, and I trust that we appreciate that and the privilege of it, and are prepared not to give it up, even if, as in Naboth’s case, it is at the cost of our lives.
There are various ways in which we can think of the fathers. Most of us here have had the benefit of a natural father who had part in that recovery, which is a privilege and a benefit, but it does not in itself confer anything upon us. Any who take their part in the recovery of the truth can look back to persons in an earlier period who were fathers, whose ministry in the recovery we are to value as part of our inheritance and heritage, and not to give up. I think, too, of persons who have carried that testimony forward even in this city, and even up to our beloved brother whom the Lord has just taken. He was someone who came into the inheritance, into the recovery, and carried it forward. The inheritance that we have is in part something that is carried forward from our beloved brother.
But I was thinking back to the way in which God came in and secured something distinctive in the recovery of the truth. It began with a clergyman who, it is said, woke one morning and said, ’I have a Head in heaven’ (JBS vol 6 p62); and that had to be worked out in his soul and in his practice. Now, do you value the fact that you have a Head in heaven? Do you value the fact that that light has come to you, and distinctly to those who have part in the recovery? Because of that impression, he found, among other things, that he had to acknowledge that he could no longer be a clergyman: if there was a Head in heaven, he had not to get in the way of the way in which the light and the truth came from the Head to the body. So he found, because of that, that he had to separate from what was publicly claiming to belong to Christ, that separating meant that he had in exercise to come together with others in simplicity to remember the Lord in the breaking of bread, and that the only ground that was a true ground of gathering was not denominational but the one body, JND vol 33 p31. Do you value that truth? Do you value the fact that there is one body. I do not, of course, detract from the fact that every believer who has the Spirit belongs to that one body, but not all walk as practically having part in it, not all have their enjoyment of it. To have our part and enjoyment of it requires that there should be that way, that way that he took, the way of separation from what was in the public church surrounding him, and this is part of our inheritance. I present it to you in this way as an inheritance we have, the light and the truth and the enjoyment of it, and it is worked out practically in different ways. And the very fact that someone had taken such ground meant that fresh light came in, and through grace fresh light has continued to come in.
One of the things that came in, and came in very soon, was an appreciation of the fact that the Lord Jesus was going to come to take us away at the rapture - that was a truth which had been lost largely to Christendom, to believers. There were faithful persons, and we do not detract from their faithfulness, but they did not appreciate the fact that the Lord Jesus was going to come for them. They were looking for improvement in this scene, and that light came and has been valued ever since, but do you continue to value the truth, the light of the rapture, as part of your inheritance? Light came in. Do not give it up, and have it constantly before you day by day.
There are matters that worked out practically and, simply, if the body was to operate there was the liberty of the Spirit. So even things that we are used to, such as gathering together for a reading of the Scriptures, to speak over them, each one at liberty in the Spirit’s control to contribute, is part of our heritage and our inheritance, and something to be valued. This was freshly brought to my attention in being among the brethren in India. I asked, ’What attracted you?’ and several times the reading of the Scriptures was mentioned. It was ordinary to me, it was everyday to me; but we should realise it is something distinctive, that this is the body operating in the reading of the Scriptures. Value that inheritance and do not give it up.
There was other light, and blessedly we had help with it on Lord’s day about the reality and the truth of the Lord’s sonship. The view in Christendom was taken from what was written, not in the Scriptures, but in the creeds, early in the history of church, but, through grace, we have been brought back to value the fact that the Lord Jesus is the Son of God as Man, as coming into manhood. That is rejected, this truth is despised very close to us among believers, those who have some of the same history as we have. Do you value the fact that you are one who has the privilege of understanding that we cannot speak of the Lord Jesus as Son in eternity past Divine relationships subsisting then are not revealed and beyond human comprehension; but He has come into that relationship in which He speaks of His Father as greater than He. His dignity in sonship is enhanced in that, and His dignity in His Person is enhanced to us in that; He cannot in any sense be thought of in any way less than having the same glory as the One we know as Father before the world was founded. He has taken the place of sonship. That magnifies His grace to us, and that is a light and a truth which we have as a privilege, and it is part of our inheritance in the recovery in which we have part.
Another matter that has developed as part of our inheritance is the order of the service of God, and that was worked out, it was worked out over years, and it is a great privilege. You gather together, and again persons who come in say that this is something different, and wonderful to them. They come and see that there is an assembling to break bread. Do you value that? You come together, you do not have a sermon first, and you do not have anything else. You do not have a series of hymns working up to something; you come together and you remember the Lord Jesus in the breaking of bread. That is the whole initial objective before you.
And then, through grace, there has been an opening up, particularly by the Lord as the Minister of the holy places, it has been suggested, of an order in the service. It is not a rigid repetitive order, but there is what is under His control, what is under His headship and leadership, so that there should be something for His own glory and pleasure, so that the Spirit of God should have His part in worship, and so that there should be an expansion in the worship of the Father.
Well, these things are not to be given up, they are to be valued as our inheritance: they are to be valued. Naboth said, ’I am not going to leave, I am not going to abandon my inheritance’. Do you value the inheritance you have, that it is a special and distinct privilege that you have as having part in the recovery, through the sovereignty of God? It is not through anything of your own doing, but through His sovereignty. It is something to be clung to, something to be helped in, and something to be cherished, as has been brought before us, in the local assembly.
That is another important thing, that the local assembly has its distinctive place; yet not independent of what there is universally. There should be the respect for the universal fellowship; yet everything is worked out in local assemblies, which needs divine skill and divine help. That is something which has come in, and been helped, in the recovery of the truth.
May we value all of these things and be prepared to stand for them, not to give them up, and to see them for the privileges that they are. May the Lord bless the word. For His Name’s sake.
25th December 2012