THE CHILDREN OF GOD, AND HIS WORKS

John 9: 1-38; 10: 1-16

DJW  I think it would be good, beloved brethren, if in this reading we bear in mind John 1: 12, 13 which we had yesterday, as to receiving Christ and the right to be children of God.  The experiences referred to with the blind man in this chapter are part of what God would intend for His children to come in to enjoy, and be in the gain of. 

         The Lord points out in verse 3, when the disciples had asked, “who sinned, this man or his parents, that he should be born blind?”, that “Neither has this man sinned nor his parents, but that the works of God may be manifested in him”.  It is not ‘work of God’ but “works” in the plural.  So it is an ongoing thing; there is a development with him and that would be normal in those who are truly the children of God.  And something unmistakable was wrought out in him, to be taken account of; that he was blind, but the Lord “spat on the ground and made mud of the spittle, and put mud, as ointment, on his eyes.  And He said to him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam”.  You might say that would make his condition worse: what a spectacle it must have been to see this blind man making his way to Siloam.  “Mud of the spittle” speaks to us of the humanity of Christ but what we see here is the obedience of faith.  Now, I suppose in a certain sense that is one of the first steps in soul history; the obedience of faith.  If you answer to the gospel, that is the obedience of faith and there is no progress apart from that. 

         The knowledge that the blind man had of the Lord grows as we go through the chapter and he has to encounter opposition from the Pharisees, the religious element.  They were the leaders of a system of things in which Christ had no place.  Firstly, the neighbours enquire of him as to how his eyes were opened.  He says, “a man called Jesus made mud and anointed mine eyes”, a man called Jesus.  Later, he is asked what he thought of Him and he said, “He is a prophet”.  It is the same conclusion that the woman in chapter 4 came to: He is a prophet, v 19.  That is another step.  I think the Lord manifestly knew what was going on in this man, and He allows him to have a rough ride from these Pharisees.  The stronger the opposition becomes, the more he is strengthened in his faith to be faithful to the light he had.  That is an important thing.  Receiving his sight was, no doubt, a landmark in his history.  He says, “One thing I know, that, being blind before, now I see”.  And nothing could shake him from that because he had experienced it.  I think we are at the strongest in our testimony when we are speaking from our own experience.  And all the power of the Pharisees could not move him from it.  He knew more than one thing, of course, by the end of the chapter.  And that is normal in the children of God, that there is progress.  The greatness of the Person, who Jesus was, grew in this man’s soul.  He says in verse 30, “in this a wonderful thing, that ye do not know whence he is, and he has opened mine eyes”.  A Man who opened his eyes must have been somebody unique.  That was the case with the blind man, and yet there was such blindness in the Pharisees.  Unbelief is a blinding thing.  “Since time was, it has not been heard that anyone open the eyes of one born blind.”  It brings out the distinctive character of the Person of Jesus in the eyes of the man.

         Well, they cast him out: so he was in the same position as the Lord Himself.  He had already been cast out.  The Lord finds him; if he was cast out of one order of things there was another order of things opening up to him.  The Lord presents fresh light to him.  He asks, “Thou, dost thou believe on the Son of God?  He answered and said, And who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him?”.  He was not just content with what he had in the way of a meeting of his need but he was ready for fresh light.  The Son of God is another Man in another world.  He was ready for it, and he did Him homage; as if the greatness of who He was filled his soul: “and he did him homage”.  That is another link with the woman in chapter 4: she became a worshipper. 

         Now the Son of God becomes the Shepherd; the experience of the man in John 9 therefore goes into chapter 10.  That brings us to a sphere of salvation and liberty and where there is food.  I think that is brought out in verse 9: “I am the door: if anyone enter in by me, he shall be saved”.  It is an area of salvation: not only a question of eternal salvation but practical salvation in the one flock, coming under the one Shepherd.  He “shall go in and shall go out”, which is liberty, “and shall find pasture”, which is food.  So it is an area of safety: these things are open to us to enter into and enjoy.  It is what God in His goodness has provided for us while we are still here; “one flock, one shepherd”.  It is parallel with Paul’s ministry as to the one body, the Head in heaven, the body here.  I wondered if we might get help together on that.

AKL  It is wonderful to see how what is born of God shines in this man in all these different answers and how he is able to stand on his own feet.  He goes through in victory and reaches Christ as the Son of God.

DJW  Yes, I am glad you bring us back to that: nothing can be affected apart from that.  But what is normal as being born of God is progress in the soul, an increase in the knowledge of the Person, knowledge of Christ.  I think we see that in this man.

MJK  I wondered if you could say something in relation to the thought, “anointed mine eyes”?

DJW  I cannot say I had a thought about that, but perhaps you will give us the benefit of what you think.

MJK  Well, it is interesting that it says “and put the mud, as ointment”.  Then it seems the man recognises something: “anointed mine eyes”.  He does not say that the second time but, “He put mud upon mine eyes, and I washed”.  But I wondered if it could be connected with the growth in his soul.

DJW  I think that is a good observation, so that there is a certain dignity that develops in this man as a result of a sense of his eyes being anointed.  The Lord Jesus was the anointed Man, the anointed vessel.  There was a dignity attached to that, and this man, as following in the same path of being cast out, has a certain dignity in his answers to the Pharisees. 

MJK  I think that is helpful because we see in relation to priesthood, or in relation to the kings, that there was an anointing.  Here is a man that could properly bring in the principle of anointing.

DJW  Well, there is to be a distinctive character attaching to the Christian.  “The disciples were first called Christians in Antioch”, Acts 11: 26.  They did not call themselves that, but they were called that.  That simply means persons like Christ and I think the thought of the anointing is involved in that. 

KAK  As to the obedience of faith, do we see the steps of the gospel in the way this man confesses the Lord Jesus and believes?

DJW  Yes; I wondered that and that is why I quoted “the works of God should be manifested in him”.  There is some development, and that development goes on as long as we are here.  As we are under the hand of the Lord, and we have the knowledge of Him as the Son of God, we are attracted into another world in which He is the Centre.  We know a sphere of practical salvation.  All these things are very precious to us and the more we experience them the more precious they become. 

WSC  Do you think it would be important for us to seek a touch from the Lord like this?  It should be an active concern, or interest, of ours.  I am wondering if it would not help us to look for that in our own lives. 

DJW  Well, the touch of the Lord is a distinctive thing in our experience, and it becomes a landmark.  So that as you develop you can look back on it and it is a point of reference; it keeps us steady, do you think, in the Christian way?  The touch of the Lord is distinct, it is unique; and if you go to the next chapter the Shepherd knows the sheep by name.  There is something very personal about it. 

AKL  Is it significant that the chapter starts “as he passed on, he saw a man”?  Would the Lord move on in the testimony today and see where there is receptiveness for what He desires to bring out and work out from there, whatever the situation? 

DJW  Yes, I think that is right.  So with the woman in chapter 4 and with this man, it is an individual.  There is a certain quality about them, the children of God as presented by John.  They were believers who became real believers; so there is a certain quality about them.

NJH  After his eyes were anointed, he got no assistance to find the pool of Siloam.  Why was that? 

DJW  That is a difficult question to answer, but I suppose the obedience of faith involves dependence.  It would have been a spectacle to see this blind man with mud on his eyes making his way to the pool of Siloam.  I do not know that I can say much more on that point but you have been thinking about it.

NJH  There was temporary blindness with Saul of Tarsus, as he was led by the hand; but here it seems to bring out that, when the Lord starts to work the works of God, there is reliability.  He was left to function, you might say, in the power that was transmitted in the anointing.

DJW  I think that is right.  Therefore the Lord left him to the opposition of the Pharisees because he knew that there was something wrought in his soul that was reliable and would stand the test. 

HJK  It says there in verse 5, “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world”.  Does that help answer the question?

DJW  I think it does bear on it.  I was thinking of what it says at the beginning of the gospel, “The true light is that which, coming into the world, lightens every man”, John 1: 9.  Mr Darby’s note says; “or ‘is light to every man’.  Not ‘enlightens’ but sheds its light upon”.  So the light of the world in Christ was universal, in that it could be seen.  But it was necessary to have a transaction with Christ as this man did to be enlightened.  And as being enlightened we enter into this path of being children of God.

DTH  Is this “obedience of faith”, Rom 1: 5; 16: 26?

DJW  That is what I was thinking.  Do you think that is right?

DTH  It was so of Abraham.  It says he “obeyed to go out … not knowing where he was going”, Heb 11: 8.  This man did not know the direction; it was a step in faith.

DJW  The steps of our father Abraham were steps of faith, Rom 4: 12.  We cannot take more than one step at a time.  But as having taken one step we are ready to take another step.  So in effect this man ends up by going “forth to him without the camp”, Heb 13: 13. 

JRB  As to this thought of the works of God becoming manifest in him, it is an interesting link with what we have in Ephesians 2: 10, where it says, “we are his workmanship, having been created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God has before prepared that we should walk in them”.  It is obvious that this is a normal feature of God taking up a believer and God’s work in him coming into expression.

DJW  Yes, “we are his workmanship”.  What comes into expression in divine workmanship is Christ.  The children of God bear the image of Christ, do they not?  That is the end of God’s thoughts for us, that we will eternally bear the image of Christ.  That is to come into expression in an adverse scene as we see here. 

JRB  You referred earlier to the work of God coming into expression in the saints in Antioch in Acts, when they called them Christians; there was something there coming into expression.

DJW  Yes, and that is what Saul of Tarsus saw in those who were of the Christian way.  That is why it has such a prominent place in his ministry. 

KRO  Would it be right to say the thought of testimony comes in there?  You have referred to the spectacle.  I was thinking of how he is marked out as distinct from what he was before.  I suppose it comes out in a fuller way when the others refer to him after he sees  - “It is he”.  Is it the thought that as soon as we have had this interaction with the Lord the testimony for Him begins? 

DJW  We had yesterday, and I think it is worth repeating, that we are here for two things, one is the service of God and the other is the testimony.  Part of the royal priesthood that Peter speaks of is that, we are to “set forth the excellencies of him who has called you out of darkness to his wonderful light”, 1 Pet 2: 19.    There is a certain dignity attached to it. 

APD  Would you link the thought of spittle with essence, JT vol 46 p 481?  It is the Person, is it not?  I suppose it suggests humanity but the essence of the Person is involved, is it not?

DJW  Yes, it is.  Jesus was a real Man, as having come into flesh and blood condition.  But He did not cease to be what He is in coming into manhood, He remains God.  It seems to me that the man here in chapter 9, the blind man, perceives the greatness of the Person. 

TWL  Is the Lord allowing these circumstances part of what He says about the works of God?  He is separating this man to Himself, is He not?  He gives him the revelation of who He is after He separated him from everything that was around, and He did that by the contrariety? 

DJW  As was just said, there was what was reliable in him.  In the gospels you get the man called Legion, from whom the demons were cast out and went into the herd of swine, Luke 8: 26-39.  He wanted to go away to be with Jesus.  But Jesus sent him back into the city to tell them how great things God had done for him.  Now He had full confidence in what was in that man, that he could go back into a scene of evil and remain faithful.  That is the same character of the work of God that is wrought out in this man.

TWL  Yes; the man becomes powerful for the testimony, but he becomes precious to Christ.  And subsequently Christ will have him for Himself according to Himself on His own ground.  Subsequently he must be separated from everything that is around him.  That is how it works; that is what it is to be one of the children of God. 

DJW  Yes, I think so.  So that he comes out of one order of things, and then the Lord says, as it were, ’I have got something else in mind’.  He becomes one of the sheep in the next chapter.  That is a wonderful collective thing and the provision God has made for us in this provisional time. 

SWS  As to that, “that the works of God may be manifested in him”, it is remarkable when you consider the progress that is seen in this man’s soul in the portion we read.  “A man called Jesus”, “One thing I know”, and then he comes to the point where he is a worshipper, as you point out.  It is wonderful to contemplate that and see the progress that is seen in this man, but what I was wondering about is, that “the works of God may be manifest in him”.  It is not by him but in him.  I wondered if you could add to that because we spoke about it a little bit in the home as to testimony and I think this relates to that.

DJW  Do you think that it is what he was, “manifested in him”?  It was his manner of life; it was the bent of his interest.  That could be taken account of, manifested in him.  It is not only what he was to say when he answered to the Pharisees but what he is himself. 

SWS  It is encouraging when you consider that it begins with the obedience of faith but it continues by being faithful to the light that he had, and he grows in that.

DJW  Yes.  I think that is an essential point, that he is faithful to the light that he has.  We read in chapter 6 yesterday and that showed that at that time there was a drift away from Christ.  We can be affected by that.  The love of the most has grown cold.  But if we have had this landmark experience in our souls, let us hold to it, be faithful to the light we have; and as we are faithful to the light we have we will get further light. 

KM  You referred to Abraham earlier on.  It says, “Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness”, Rom 4: 3.  Do you think that, with every step a believer makes in faith, God reckons that as a matter of righteousness, and it is very precious?

DJW  I think so, and “he is a rewarder of them who seek him out”, Heb 11: 6.  There is no evidence initially that this man sought out Christ.  But He approached him and anointed his eyes.  But if, further down the road, we have exercise in our souls, and it draws us to Christ, He is a rewarder to those who seek Him out. 

DTH  Is there something of the sense this man had as to the dignity of the anointing?

DJW  Yes, that is what we have been saying, but you have got something further in your mind?

DTH  I am thinking of how Paul addressed the saints in Corinth in his second epistle where he says, “Now he that establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, is God, who also has sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts”, chap 2: 22.  These things are not successive. 

DJW  He starts by reminding them that they were the assembly of God in Corinth and his ministry brought in the truth of the cross in order to adjust the state that was among them to bring them up to the dignity of their calling, 1 Cor 1.  We have been saying here in relation to this man in chapter 9, that there is a certain dignity about him in the way that he answered those Pharisees.  He was steadfast, he was reliable. 

PMcF  I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about the thought of ”Sent”?  “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, which is interpreted, Sent.”  This man had nothing, sitting as a beggar.  He came to an end of himself, and that would be a challenge for us as we are in this world?

DJW  Yes; you are emphasising the word ‘sent’, “which is interpreted, Sent”.  Well, that is all involved in the obedience of faith.  There was a divine Person there, the Lord Jesus who sent him.  The Lord Jesus Himself is the sent One; that is another thing that John’s gospel emphasises.  That He came here as the sent One in order to carry out the will of God.  This man answers, and obeys what the Lord said to him.  Therefore he was sent in that way. 

DJK  He says that in verse 4, “I must work the works of Him that has sent me”.  Could you say something as to that?  I know he is referring to the day of grace but would there be a sense of urgency in that too?

DJW  I think so, yes.  “I must work the works of Him that has sent me while it is day.  The night is coming when no one can work”.  In chapter 4: 35, you get the reference to “the fields, for they are already white to harvest”.  That is the present time.  The fields are white to harvest; therefore there is an urgency in relation to the work but it is all under the hand of the Lord, who would send. 

DJK  There may be a certain complacency as children of God, recognising that we are among them, but the work continued on in this man, did it not?

DJW  Yes it did.  That is something sobering for us to take account of.  We are here for the service of God and the testimony.  I find it a searching thing as to how much I have my part in that; as among the children of God.  And yet a desire for it would come out of affection for Christ. 

APD  Why does something so beneficial have to be washed off?  I think it is well said in ministry that the Lord had in mind another order of things altogether; what is beyond the flesh and blood condition.

DJW  Well I think it is good to keep that in mind, because John in his ministry emphasised what is spiritual.  It is entirely another world of things; faith and the Spirit is necessary for us to enter into that. 

ASP  How does this link with wisdom’s children, Matt 11: 19?

DJW  I think it does have a link; there is that which can be taken account of in wisdom’s children, just as there is what can be taken account of in this man.  But you have something in your own mind?

ASP  It says that “wisdom has been justified by her children”; so the man was able to be resilient to the Pharisees; his faith was unshakable.  He is marked by dignity and he was obedient as well.  So there was perfect justification: the Lord’s choice was perfect.

DJW  In that sense the man justifies the Lord.  The Lord in His goodness gave him that touch to give him his sight and then his behaviour and his faithfulness in the chapter justify what the Lord has done.

DC  It has been remarked that a new order has been brought in.  Do you think we get that in what it says that his parents really reject him?  So from then on he does not take anything from them; he is not dependent on them at all.  What comes out of him cannot come from anybody else but from the Lord Himself.

DJW  Yes, I think that is right.  It is confirmed in verse 22, “His parents said these things because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed that if any one confessed him to be the Christ, he should be excommunicated from the synagogue”.  It shows how absolute the rejection was of Christ.  The parents, as not having this touch, were not prepared to leave that system of things so that it says, “On this account his parents said; He is of age: ask him”.  They put the responsibility back on him.

RG  He immediately leaves the individual side and becomes collective in his thinking in verse 31: “we know” - who told him to say that?  “We know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone be God-fearing and do his will, him he hears”.  He is actually ready for the next chapter.  He was collective in his thinking now.  Then the Lord takes him up to open up the great truth of His Person, that He was the Son of God.

DJW  I would like the young people to grasp this, that you are not left to work out for yourself the things here just on your own.  It is essential to maintain a link with Christ but He has provided, in His love, in this time scene, the one flock and the one Shepherd.  There is a sphere of practical salvation where there is safety and where there is attachment to the Shepherd, the One who loved us enough to die for us.  The Shepherd laid down His life for the sheep; and there is salvation, first to be brought into it and then to be maintained in it. 

KDD  When he speaks about this transaction, he says, “Now in this is a wonderful thing”.  It is a great thing to recognise what has been worked out in each one of us through the Lord’s dealings, is it not?  It was mentioned that this man is ready for the next chapter; he could see beyond what the Pharisees could see, could he not?  It is a wonderful matter to deal with the Lord Jesus individually, and come into the blessing as being brought into the area of the flock that the Shepherd cares for.

DJW  So His unique touch also brings with it a sense of the greatness of the Person, and the blind man perceived that.  The Pharisees had no idea of the greatness of the Personage that was there, and that was through rejection of Christ, and unbelief. 

JRB  When he raises the question with them in verse 27, it is an interesting touch - an evangelical touch - as though this was the normal outcome of something which was coming into expression.  He says to them “do ye also wish to become his disciples?”.  It was the confession that he had taken up this position of discipleship, but he was suggesting laying it on their conscience that the work of God coming into expression in this way should have this result in them.

DJW  Yes, indeed.  Unfortunately, it had the reverse effect with them because self-will was operating.  So the next verse goes on to say they railed at him and said, “Thou art his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses”; they claimed to be from Moses.  The railing comes as a result of that challenge he presented to them. 

GDR  It is clear from the outset that there was spiritual growth in this man.  We would be exercised about that, that there is consistency and spiritual growth.  It is a wonderful result but then there is a process.  You would see evidence of growth.

DJW  The present time is the time of growth.  When we are translated to be with Christ this time of growth will be over.  But the present time is a time of growth.  Think of the infinitude there is in the Person of Christ.  Whatever fresh knowledge you have of Christ, there is always still something else, and that will be the case while we are here. 

GDR  It is that we may “grow up to him in all things” (Eph 4: 15); that is important is it not?  That is what you look for and desire to see in individuals and local companies too, building up. 

DJW  Yes.  It involves looking to the Person, “grow up to him in all things”.  Flowers open out to the sun: it has that effect.  The flowers come out, and as we look to Him, turn to Him, in every circumstance and exercise, that is how growth in the knowledge of the Person takes place. 

NJP  Can you say something about the importance of the recognition of His voice?  Both of these chapters really are concerned with that are they not: hearing His voice?  That was really the blind man’s impression of Christ in the first place, His voice.

DJW  Yes, hearing His voice.  You are thinking of the shepherd’s voice in the next chapter?  It is recognised through intimacy with the Person.  One illustration I think that would help is that if someone who you know very well phones you they do not have to announce who they are; you know who they are because it is their voice, something distinctive.  There are many voices today.  We are not called upon to distinguish all the different voices around us, but acquaintance with the Person would involve that we recognise the Shepherd’s voice.  The Shepherd’s voice will never lead you into the world.  It would lead you into this “one flock, one shepherd”. 

NJP  That is good, and we are to respond to that voice, are we not?  It is coming to us with a view to a response.

DJW  Yes, indeed.

NJH  Linking on to what our brother has said it says, “Thou hast both seen him, and he that speaks with thee is he”.  What is He referring to there?

DJW  “Thou hast both seen him, and he that speaks with thee is he”.  I suppose the Lord is referring to what He had just presented to him as being Son of God, the greatness of who that One is, the very One who was in his presence, the One he had an intimate contact with.  “Thou hast both seen him, and he that speaks with thee is he”.  It is not ‘to thee’ but “with thee”; it brings about a certain communion, does it not? 

NJH  I suppose we see the Lord in circumstances, do we not?  Then we receive directly from Him as part of true Christian experience.

DJW  So that whatever the circumstance is, the thing is to draw near to Him.

NJH  His parents in refusing to support him, and the Pharisees casting him out, really served that man, for him to arrive at the Son of God.  I suppose we can hear the Lord’s voice in every circumstance, and then you have to know Him directly.

DJW  When he was cast out the Lord found him,”God maketh the solitary into families”, Ps 68: 6. 

AKL  When Jesus says to him, “Thou, dost thou ...”; is the Lord referring to the work of God and recognising what was already formed in his soul?  “Dost thou believe on the Son of God?”: it is really pointing on to the work of God in his soul.

DJW  The Lord had perfect knowledge of His work in him.  He has a perfect knowledge of His work in each one of us.  His work in each one of us is perfect, and therefore there is something to appeal to, and there is something that will respond as this man did here.

MN  Do we grow more attuned?  You mentioned experience, and as we grow in experience do we grow more attuned to His voice?  There were some here who did not understand that which He spoke but those who gain the experience increase in knowledge and reliability, and so would be more attuned to what flows in chapter 10.  Would that be right?

DJW  There is a certain sensitivity therefore, is there not, in being ‘tuned in’, if that is not too common an expression?  But to be attuned requires a state on our part.  Being attuned, there is a response immediately to further light as this man shows.  “Dost thou believe on the Son of God?  … Who is he, Lord, that I may believe on him?”

MJK  Can you help us a little in chapter 10; you spoke of the one flock and one voice? 

DJW  One flock and the one Shepherd.  I think one thing is that, as the Shepherd’s voice is heard, it brings about unity.  The Lord loves each one of us intensely, He loves all the sheep, all that are His, His love for them is intense.  He knows their names: He knows our names.  He knows our circumstances, He knows our exercises; and as we are in earnestness in relation to Him, in relation to every circumstance and exercise, He would gather us and therefore there would be unity.  Do you have some thought?

MJK  I think that is very helpful.  There was a thief and a robber, and then the thief and the wolf.  But in each case the snare is that he would get one aside for the purpose of killing, stealing or destroying; but the principle that there was with the true Shepherd is that He would bring in unity, and bring the flock together.

DJW  Yes: the preservation of life over against the destruction.  That is good.

DCD  At the end of verse 3, it says “he calls His own sheep by name, and leads them out”.  I was wondering if you could say something as to the thought of being led, “leads them out”.  We are talking about our circumstances; in each circumstance we would want to have the Shepherd in front of us, not the other way around.  It might be our will to go first but we would want the Shepherd in front of us so that we can be led by Him.

DJW  The Lord Jesus had been cast out; He was outside.  He would find every one of His sheep who were in that position in faithfulness to Him, like the blind man.  It is essential for the Lord to go in front.  The Shepherd’s voice would involve that we follow Him.  He would draw us out of one order of things into another.  There is what you are delivered from in the world, but then there is what you have been brought into in the one flock with the one Shepherd.

MTH  Is the work of the porter necessary for that?  It is the first thing mentioned in that verse.  Then it says the sheep hear His voice.  I was wondering if you could say something as to that.  It is essential for all of us.

DJW  Do you have some impression as to who the porter is? 

MTH  I think from what we have been taught it might be applied to the Spirit of God, but I would like to understand better how His work is essential to hearing His voice?  Sensitivities were mentioned, and how that increases; and that is really the work of the Spirit, is it not? 

DJW  It is.  I think it is a reference to the Spirit.  Therefore it is important for us to take account of the place that the Spirit may have with us.  On the one hand it would help us in the judgment of the flesh, which would hamper us in hearing His voice; but then it would also open up something to us in a positive way: “To him the porter opens; and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name”.  It opens up a sphere of things in which intimacy with the Shepherd is known and enjoyed. 

NJH  As to the question raised, while the link with Israel had not yet been terminated, in the three and a half years He was actually gathering for the assembly.

DJW  Yes; in verse 16 it says, “I have other sheep which are not of this fold: those also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice: and there shall be one flock, one shepherd”.  The fold refers to what is Jewish, but then there are others He must bring, which would bring the Gentiles in.  Jew and Gentile become reconciled in the one body, or the one flock. 

NJH  Our brother has referred to the porter and then, “he … leads them out”.  It is the assembly in mind; it is a wonderful thought.  I think this man in chapter 9 must have found his place among the one hundred and twenty in Acts 1: 15. 

DJW  Well, I hope we can all grasp that, each one of us, that in receiving Christ and having a right to be children of God the assembly is in view.  That is the fulness of the gospel message.  It is not just a matter of meeting our need; that is very true, but persons who sit under the gospel with that limitation presented to them have a limited vision of what God has in mind for them.  But the gospel message has in view that we are saved from this world; and it has in view a part in the assembly, which is a very precious thing. 

AKL  Would that be involved in the reference, “I am come that they might have life, and might have it abundantly”?  Would that be a reference to the wealth of Christ and the assembly?  I am just thinking of what is collective leading up to the worship of God.

DJW  We sometimes sing,

         Life is found alone in Jesus

                   (Hymn 266)

but this scripture says, “and might have it abundantly”.  I wondered if that might have reference to gift of the Holy Spirit?  God “has not spared His own Son, but delivered him up for us all”, Rom 8: 32.  He has also given us the unspeakable free gift in the Holy Spirit; “and might have it abundantly” is known and enjoyed in a sphere of practical salvation in the assembly.

JRB  There is an interesting reference in relation to what you are saying now as to the Spirit’s place in these things in Isaiah 30: 21; it says, “And when ye turn to the right hand or when ye turn to the left, thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it”.  Our links with the Spirit are critical to our not going off on a tangent.

DJW  I am sure that is very important.  Therefore I come back to the point of the importance of giving Him His place in our hearts.  We will miss out on so much unless we do give place to the Spirit.  He is the Spirit of life.  It introduces us to a sphere where life, and eternal life, are known and enjoyed.

WSC  I was interested in your comments about obedience of faith, which encase the book of Romans, as we know.  But in the midst of that is that “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set me free from the law of sin and of death”, Rom 8: 2.  That is a real experience, and we should look for that.

DJW  So there is a certain process you can take account of in Romans which really runs parallel to this.  We recognise that we cannot please God in the flesh; it is impossible to do so.  Then you find you have a desire to do what is right, which is a sign that there is a work of God in you, but you have no power to do it.  Then the Spirit comes in, to join His help to our weakness so that we have the power to overcome the flesh and walk in the Spirit of life.  Now Romans does not give us the assembly but those exercises produce assembly material.

APD  Do you think that leading them out involves liberty? 

DJW  I wondered that.  In verse 9 you get the reference, “he … shall go in and shall go out”; that is liberty, is it not? 

APD  It is not liberty to do as we please.  But it is really holy liberty in functioning in the assembly. 

DJW  Yes; the Spirit would set us free for that. 

MJK  It is liberty for the new man to do as he pleases.  He has no desire but that which is of Christ.  Is that right? 

DJW  Yes, that is right. 

MTH  Would you comment on the quality of the title “the good shepherd”?  There are many characteristics attached to that Shepherd title, for example, “the great shepherd” (Heb 13: 20); but here “the good shepherd” is drawn attention to.  It is “the good shepherd” who lays down His life for the sheep.

DJW  We just commented on the difference between the activities of “the good shepherd” in preserving the sheep over against the destruction of those that serve for wages.  I think this is something we can remind ourselves of constantly.  When was the last time we thanked the Lord for dying for us?  “The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep”: “No one has greater love than this, that one should lay down his life for his friends”, John 15: 13.  It was for the sheep.  We owe everything to the Shepherd.  I think that, if given a right place in our affections, would govern our life.  He has distinct love for us personally, and He has love for His own collectively. 

GDR  The reduction of self in these matters is so essential, proving that He alone is the one that is in control.  It eliminates all natural reasonings which come in all the time.  It must be Him alone.

DJW  That is right.  So that His Shepherd service is what we are to prove at the present time.  We will not need it when we are there with Him.  There will be no enemy activity there; there will be nothing to destroy up there.  We need it now.  It is provided for us here. 

TWL  So is this thought of life - “I am come that they might have life” - really what we are as quickened with Christ?

DJW  Yes, I think so.  Then to have it abundantly relates to the Holy Spirit.  So that it is the fulness of life in that verse. 

Aberdeen ID

5th July 2014