1 Corinthians 15: 42-50

Genesis 1: 26-30

John 20: 19-23

AM   While considering this occasion, dear brethren, my mind has been increasingly focused on the expression in 1 Corinthians 15 as to the Lord Jesus, “the last Adam a quickening spirit”.  I wonder whether we might feed our souls by taking account of the Lord Jesus in this light.  It is a very full designation that applies to the Lord.  Each word seems significant; “the last Adam a quickening spirit”.  You think of the Lord Jesus in the greatness of who He is, able to give life.  Quickening means life giving: it could read, ‘the last Adam a life-giving Spirit’.  That is why I read John 20 because He breathed into the disciples.  In a sense He was anticipating what was going to happen in Acts 2; it was a question of life.  He was giving them a new basis of life altogether. 

         The title ‘the last Adam’ might make you think of the first Adam.  Once man was created, we find as the history proceeds that there could hardly be a greater contrast between the first Adam and the last.  Nevertheless, when God created man, He created him with certain thoughts in mind.  He created him that he should be the head of the creation, that he should have dominion over everything.  Man was given great wisdom; for example, he was given wisdom to name all the animals.  Adam was a wonderful person and yet he failed grievously.  That failure affects us even today; we feel the effects of Adam’s failure.  The last Adam is One who can never fail.  He will never break down, and He has established an order of life which will never fail.  It is an order of life to which sin could never attach, nor breakdown; it is centred in the Lord Himself.  It is enjoyed by the Holy Spirit amongst saints who are here below.  I had not thought we would necessarily take the scriptures in order, but just draw from them as we speak together and share impressions and trust that the Holy Spirit may be pleased to impart some fresh sense of the glory of Christ. 

DAB  It is remarkable that someone who was to be in the image of God was made of dust.  I wondered if we see in that that he was never in any full sense the man that God had in His heart.  When we come to Christ, there can be no one after Him.  He is the last, there is to be no other.

AM  Who could supersede our Lord Jesus?  Who could take His place?  It is important that we have that firmly in our souls.  There is a movement in the world that is anti-Christian, that claims that someone else has superseded the Lord Jesus.  That is of the devil; it is a lie of Satan: no one can take His place.  Even Job could take account of the Redeemer being the Last:  “I know that my Redeemer liveth, and the Last, he shall stand upon the earth”, Job 19: 25.  He could take account of that.  The One who has redeemed us from our sins, redeemed us from the present evil world, He is the Last and none can supersede Him.

DAB  I believe Mr Coates made an analogy between the last Adam and Jesus Christ.  I understand about that title that He stands alone and apart from every other man.  I remember Mr A J Gardiner once said, ‘There is only one Christ: Jesus Christ is the Man whom God is pleased to distinguish’.  All these other men that you are speaking about were made of dust.

AM  How could God find eternal pleasure in what is made of dust?  It had to be that man returns to dust.  What you say as to the Lord Jesus is very choice.  Many of us have enjoyed a remark made by a brother, that the word ‘unique’ is not sufficient for Him: He stands alone.  Every one of us is unique; it is not sufficient to say that about Christ: He stands alone. 

DCW  Would you also say something about “the second man”?  The Lord is in heaven.

AM  That is the character of our Lord.  He is heavenly.  He is from heaven; He is not of the earth.  It says, “the first man out of the earth, made of dust” - the first man is earthly - “the second man out of heaven”: that is the character of what He is and it is the character of the life which is imparted to a believer. 

RHB  As you mention what Job said, the Lord Himself speaks of Himself as “the first and the last, and the living one”, Rev 1: 17.  That last title, “the living one”, is distinctive to Christ.  “Why seek ye the living one among the dead?”, Luke 24: 5.  Does this connect with the thought of “a quickening spirit”?

AM  The Lord Jesus lived here in flesh and blood condition, but that order had to end; it ended in death.  In John 20 we see Him in resurrection and 1 Corinthians 15 is the great resurrection chapter.  He lives now beyond the sphere of death.  In Hebrews it says, “according to power of indissoluble life” (chap 7: 16), a life that will never end.  It is what characterises Him.  He is “the living one” and therefore He can impart life.

RHB  I was just struck with that.  This chapter goes on to speak of the saints; “this corruptible must needs put on incorruptibility, and this mortal put on immortality”, v 53.  It could never be unless it was imparted to us by “the living one”.

AM  Yes.  We have to face it that we are mortal.  As we become older, we become more aware of that; we are marked by mortality.  If the Lord does not come then we will have to go the way of all flesh.  There is a life that has been imparted that never succumbs to weakness or anything like that.  It is a life which has come from the One who lives, “the living one”.

PJW  Peter quotes, “thou wilt not leave my soul in hades, nor wilt thou give thy gracious one to see corruption”, Acts 2: 27.  Then he says, “Thou hast made known to me the paths of life”, v 28.  Do you think He is the only one who would never see corruption if He died?

AM  That is right.  The Lord did not see corruption.  It is significant that He was placed in a new tomb.  Even in death He was placed in circumstances where there was no corruption; God oversaw that.  As to Himself He was incorruptible, even in manhood.  We know that is a word which applies to God - the incorruptible God (Rom 1: 23); it applies also to Jesus in manhood.  That “holy thing” (Luke 1: 35) was incorruptible.

RJF  Can you help me about this verse: “the first man Adam became a living soul”?  That was the action of God but “the last Adam a quickening spirit”, was that His own action in breathing into the disciples?  Is that your thought?

AM  In chapter 2 of Genesis it says, “Jehovah Elohim formed Man, dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and Man became a living soul”, v 7.  Man naturally does not have life in himself; it is God-given.  That was an action of God.  “A quickening spirit”, a life-giving Spirit is what He is in Himself.  We see in John 20 that He is able of Himself to impart that: “he breathed into them, and says to them, Receive the Holy Spirit”.  The life that is imparted is the life that by the gift of the Holy Spirit we have part in, the life that He has.

RJF  It magnifies the power that there was with the Lord in a most distinctive way. 

AM  Yes and the word “spirit” being used is significant.  He is more than a mere man.  You think of all that is resident in Him: “For in him dwells all the fulness of the Godhead bodily”, Col 2: 9.  He is able to impart life. 

JRW  I would like you to say a little more as to that.  It says, “The first man Adam became a living soul”.  It does not say ‘became’ in relation to the last Adam - “the last Adam a quickening spirit”.  It almost seems like an absolute statement.

AM  I think so.  John’s gospel opens “In him was life”, 1: 4.  He did not acquire it: it was something that was in Him and yet He became Man.  He came into manhood’s form in order that He should impart life to men. 

DAB  This matter of life is something over which God has taken the utmost care.  He did not just give man an existence like a cow has, for example.  He is a living soul with a spirit which connects him with God.  How careful God is after the fall lest fallen man should live forever, Gen 3: 24.  If nothing had been done, and Adam’s seed had lived forever, he would have produced a line of endless sinners and that cannot be.  If someone is to be a life-giving spirit then that person must be entirely in accord with the thought of God.

AM  That is right and also he must first meet everything that the first Adam brought in.  What did Adam contribute to the human race?  God gave to Adam life and what did Adam give to the human race?  Sin, condemnation, and death.  That is what Adam gave us.  We have sinful flesh in ourselves; that is what we have inherited.  The Lord Jesus has come in.  The last Adam must first remove all that the first Adam brought in.  That is why it comes in in the setting of resurrection.  He dealt with the whole matter of sin.  Go back to Job: “I know that my Redeemer liveth”, chap 19: 25.  He is the one who has taken up the whole matter of what has come in through Adam.

DAB  There would not be a need for quickening if those who were quickened were already alive.  I only say that to illustrate what you have said.  Everything that Adam has brought in has been met in the last Adam.

AM  Yes, He has taken up the matter of sin, before God. He has taken up the whole question of judgment; He has borne the judgment.  He has even gone into death.  We started this occasion with the words:

         To win Thy bride what depths of woe were Thine.

                           (Hymn 99)

Think of what He went into.  May we become increasingly sensitive to what the Lord Jesus went through in order that we should have life.

STE  Is it important to have a heavenly view of the heavenly Man?  Is that what we should be having now?  If we are occupied with this earth we will be occupied with the old Adam.  We need a heavenly view; that is where life is coming from.

AM  “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are the most miserable of all men”, 1 Cor 15: 19.  We do not want to be the most miserable of all men.  The Holy Spirit would give us a view from the heavenly side: “he shall receive of mine” (John 16: 14), that is, what the Lord Jesus is dispensing now, “and shall announce it to you”.  You think of the Holy Spirit here with a view to a heavenly testimony going out. 

RHB  Does what the Lord says Himself in John 5, “For even as the Father has life in himself, so he has given to the Son also to have life in himself” (v 26), bear upon it? Man becoming a living soul was dependence; a quickening spirit is a life source.

AM  Yes, and so in chapter 4 He can offer the woman what is living.  In fact, that goes right through John’s gospel.  I was impressed as thinking about this that you can trace it through John’s gospel.  In John 4 we have living water, in John 5 there is the voice of the Son of God which brings life, in John 6 the living bread which comes down to give life to the world.  In John 11 there is a man actually raised up out of death.  It goes right through the gospel.  John had that high level view that has been spoken of and he could take account of the greatness of Christ as One who has been given to have life in Himself.  I take it that as Man He has been given to have life in Himself. 

RHB  It is as “marked out Son of God in power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by resurrection of the dead”, Rom 1: 4.  It is not only His own resurrection, but the resurrection of the dead marked Him out as a life source. 

AM  In John 11, how clear that was.  There was not only death, but corruption.  Yet He demonstrates His own superiority over death as the One who gives life. 

JRW  In John 10 He says of His life, “I have authority to lay it down and I have authority to take it again”, v 18.  Does that support what you are saying as to the thought of life going through John’s gospel?  He also says in John 10, “I am come that they might have life, and might have it abundantly”, v 10. 

AM   Yes, it does.  The One in whom was life actually laid down the life that He had as Man.  He says, “I have authority”: He had the right to do it.  No human being has that; no human being has the ability to do it by himself.  You cannot just lay down your life.  The Lord Jesus had that power and He had the right to do it.  You think of the One who has the power over life.  He imparts life to His own.

DAB  It is very interesting that the Lord speaks of having the authority to take His life again although in John 11, and in chapter 5 too, He acknowledges that the prerogative to raise the dead lies with the Father.  The Father has exercised that prerogative to raise selectively the One in whom He had delight.  I was thinking that all those references you make to what He gives are preceded by the reference in chapter 3 that “The Father loves the Son, and has given all things to be in his hand”, v 35.  That would include the authority to give life. 

AM  Yes, according to this chapter the day is soon coming when He will give resurrection life to myriads.  You used the word ‘selective’.  When the Lord comes, that will be a selective resurrection, although there will be thousands.  I never go into a graveyard without being impressed with the thought of how great that harvest will be.  There will be thousands, myriads raised, but there will also be those who are not raised. 

DAB  We need to bear in mind that cemeteries, which have seen so much sorrow, will one day be a scene of joy. 

AM  That is very touching.  How wonderful it is that we will hear the voice of the Son of God, but actually we hear it now.  That is the point in John 5.  The voice of the Son of God will be heard on that resurrection day when all the dead will hear it, but before that the Lord says, “an hour is coming,and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God”, v 25. 

DAB  That is why we have been so exercised to have meetings such as this again because they are not only occasions of fellowship; they are occasions to hear the voice of the Son of God.

AM  That is right and it is a great exercise, that we should hear His voice. 

DCW  It says, “they that have heard shall live”.  This is the hearing time.

AM  That is good.  Do we all understand that?  I would just say it is good to go back to your beginnings when you first came to know the Lord Jesus.  Maybe you were sitting in a preaching and something came to you, and you knew it was just for you.  That was the voice of the Son of God.  It was not just a brother preaching: no, it was the voice of the Son of God coming into your soul, and that voice continues to speak.  It speaks day after day.  It is our responsibility to hear and to answer to that voice.

HTF  It seems that what Peter said when the Lord asked the question in Matthew 16, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” (v 16), was particularly endorsed.  The Lord appreciated that.  That grew with Peter when he says, “To whom coming, a living stone, cast away indeed as worthless by men, but with God chosen, precious, yourselves also, as living stones”, 1 Pet 2: 4, 5.  We are brought in on the same basis.

AM  Yes, so the whole structure there is a living structure.  That shows how our natural minds are so limited.  We cannot think of a building as a living thing, but that is what has been secured at the present time.  It is as coming to the Lord, One who is a living Stone.  You mentioned how the Lord appreciated that confession from Peter.  He had spent so long down here and there had been such little response, but there was a man who had a revelation from the Father that the One he was following was the Son of the living God.

RMB  What more would you say about what is involved in the Lord quickening us?  We not only should be made to live in the first place, but we need to be kept alive. 

AM  Quickening is not just a one-off thing.  Every time we get a touch from the Lord, it would have that character.  You go to the Supper; you always get something as to the Lord when you are there.  The Lord is faithful.  I believe over the last two years that there has been far more exercise in relation to the Supper than perhaps we have had before, and there was far more confirmation.  We have had living impressions, living touches from the Lord, and may the exercise not wane.  May we continue with that exercise that as we come to the Supper that we should be conscious of the Lord coming in and hear His voice, hear what He would impart and that would surely cause our affections to be stirred in response to Him.  The service of God is not a routine; the service of God is a spontaneous response of hearts that have been touched by divine love.

PJW  Would you say that quickening involves affection? 

AM  Yes, I think so.  Our hearts are quickened.  I remember Mr Norman Meek speaking once of someone whose pulse did not change all the way through a sermon, and he said, ‘What sort of sermon was that?’.  Quickening should have an inward effect in our hearts.  It should have the effect of making us seek to be more firmly attached to the One who is the quickening Spirit.

PJW  I was wondering about the affections of the One who quickens.  He breathed into them and God breathed into Adam.  That was not a cold thing; I wonder if it involved the affections of the blessed God and the affections of the Lord Jesus as He breathed into them. 

AM  I think so, and do you not think that is borne out in Acts 2 also?  They were in the house and “there came suddenly a sound out of heaven as of a violent impetuous blowing”, v 2.  The footnote says it is like ‘hard breathing’.  The affections were involved. 

PJW  That has been linked with a further thought as to the Gentiles in Acts 10, which has been linked to the younger son: the Father’s embrace as the Spirit fell upon the Gentiles.  Is that a similar thought?

AM  Yes, that is right.  Think of divine Persons and their feelings in relation to men, but specially the saints.  By the saints I mean the saints everywhere.

RMB  There are many things that could be said about quickening, but do you think it is something that we should look for in our reading meetings?

AM  Yes, I do.  I think as the Holy Spirit is free there will be a quickening touch imparted in every occasion.  Even when you hear a brother pray it should stir your affections.  Particularly the Supper and the service of God; that is the great occasion where our hearts are just engaged with divine Persons, and that is unique.  Where would you go and find persons who are only engaged with divine Persons, not need or circumstance, but just divine Persons?  But then the touch should come into all our occasions.

RMB  Psalm 119 says, “quicken me according to thy word”, v 25.  I have often thought that we should be exercised about that in our reading meetings.  It is one thing to speak over the Scriptures together; there is great value in that, but to be able to detect that point where we get some sense of the Lord quickening us according to His own word.

AM  I think so.  If anyone just airs their knowledge, it would be dead.  You are looking for a touch from divine Persons that will stir your affections.

DAB  Paul says, “they who live should no longer live to themselves, but to him who died for them and has been raised”, 2 Cor 5: 15.  It is one thing to recognise that I am dependent on the One from whom I receive life; to reciprocate requires affections.  Man was made to praise; he was made to be here for God and to gratify the heart of God.  If I may just touch on a reading, it is one thing to say I learned a bit or I fitted another piece of the jigsaw in, but do I come away with any kind of feeling of praise to God in my spirit - not just gratitude because He showed me something, but because I had some insight into what is due to Him?

AM  Generally when we come to the end of a reading we stand up and give thanks.  How much do we really in our souls feel that we have had a touch and a response is due to divine Persons for that?

DAB  I remember a brother quoting a scripture as to the preaching: “whom I serve in my spirit in the glad tidings”, Rom 1: 9.  You may say you are thinking about the sinner, but the object of the preacher is to glorify God. 

AM  It is so that God should be known.  That is why Adam was created, that man should know God.  The last Adam has brought to us all the light of God. 

DAB  The whole creation should know God.

GW  Does, “The living, the living, he shall praise thee, as I this day” (Isa 38: 19) link with your thought that there must be not just what is living, but what returns to God?

AM  That is good.  You can regard Hezekiah as typically on resurrection ground.  He had been told that he was about to die.  Then God says, ‘I am going to give you life’.  In Hezekiah’s case it was just fifteen years, but he had a new start, a fresh beginning having had to do with God.  He says it is the living that will praise God. 

GW  It is helpful what you bring in as to that moment, that we can take it that he was on resurrection ground because it is one thing to marvel at what God is doing with His testimony at the present time, I feel increasingly the exercise that am I part of it?  Am I part of the answer that there is from His people at this very moment?

AM  God will secure an answer, and if I am not part of that He will secure it in someone else and that will be to my shame.

AAC  Life is all in view of responsiveness to God.  I was wondering if you could say a little more as to God’s purpose in it.  You have drawn from the very beginning of Scripture and God creating man in His image, but it is all in relation to an answer for Himself which brings in the affections and also the praise that we have been speaking of. 

AM  We have to bear in mind the nature of God.  God is love.  Love requires an answer; it requires an object, and it looks for an answer.  That is why God has created man, that there should be an answer from an intelligent being who should understand Him, and should be able to communicate with Him.  I once read the remark that God created man upright so that he could look up to the face of God.  Man is to know God and have a link with Him and be able to answer to Him.  That was in God’s heart before time was.  That is God’s purpose, that He should have an answer to His own heart.  The Lord Jesus having come in has made it possible that man should be secured.  You leave all that came in from Adam, you are given the gift of the Holy Spirit, given a new life by which you are able to respond to God.

AAC  What you say leads me to think this is an essential thing for God.  It is not just something He would love to have; it is vital.  We have been taught that God is sufficient for all things in Himself except in His love.  This is essential in God’s being that there should be this response to His love because He is love.

AM  That is absolutely right, because He is love. 

DAS  I think it has been said that life is the enjoyment of relationships.  Would that bear on what you say?  The Lord said, “I am come that they might have life, and might have it abundantly”.  That involves that He had to go into death, that the Holy Spirit should be available that this blessed relationship should be enjoyed.  I think we have experienced that in a particular way at the Supper in recent times, and probably in our private communion.

AM  I think so.  It is a great day in our spiritual history when we come to the conclusion that God wants our company.  He wants to hear what we have to say about Jesus, and He wants to tell us about what He has to say about Him.  He wants that communion; it is because of His love that He wants that communion.  Adam and Eve hid amongst the trees; that was no life.  Life involves communion and communication.

STE  Do you think the journey back from Emmaüs to Jerusalem was quicker than the one going the other way?  The Lord had come in; they were invigorated; they wanted to impart what they had seen and heard.  They became invigorated as to resurrection, the Lord Himself.  That is what we need, the power of attraction to Christ.

AM  Yes, that journey was about seven miles.  I would imagine it took them two hours to get to Emmaüs, possibly more.  The return journey was different, “the same hour”, Luke 24: 33.  You can imagine they could not get back quickly enough.  They came back and heard what others had to say: “The Lord is indeed risen”, v 34.  There was a living Man out of death and He had appeared to another disciple.  What a link they would have had, those two having come back from Emmaüs, and Peter.  What impressions they could have shared of One who was out of death, living in a new order of life altogether, and He had appeared to them.

RMB  This scripture in 1 Corinthians 15 seems to suggest that one of the consequences of the Lord Jesus being a quickening Spirit is that He has introduced a new race, a heavenly race.  Is that an important thing to lay hold of?

AM  Yes, so it goes on to speak about “the second man”.  It is a race of a different order.  It is the same personnel.  When we are raised, you will still be you, and  I will still be me, but all our natural characteristics will have gone and it is only the work of God that will go through.  That is the life of another order altogether.

RMB  Do you think crucially it is a heavenly race?  It brings out here that even if Adam had never sinned - let us say that he had remained in innocence - he would still have been “out of the earth”.  He would still have been earthly, but as a consequence of what the Lord Jesus is and what He does as a quickening Spirit, He has introduced a heavenly race.  He speaks of “the heavenly one, such also the heavenly ones”.

AM  Yes; so you can understand when the Lord Jesus was here men did not understand Him: “we know not whence he is”, John 9: 29.  They could not understand.  For the first time in the history of the world there had been a perfect heavenly life displayed on earth.  In Jesus that was always true.  In a sense there was nothing that He had to leave behind apart from the condition in which He was, flesh and blood.  He went through unchanged.  The wonder is that the life that He imparts to us is a heavenly life.

RMB  It is perhaps not too difficult to think of the Lord Jesus as the heavenly One, but do we properly consider what we are as heavenly ones?  Has it really laid hold of us that believers are a heavenly people? 

AM  We do not belong here.  It is possible to read Hebrews 11 and think that Abel, and Enoch, and Noah, and Abraham were wonderful people, but they are set there as examples for us.  They did not belong here; they looked for “the city which has foundations, of which God is the artificer and constructor”, Hebrews 11: 10.  We know that city.  Abraham looked for the heavenly Jerusalem.  He did not find it on earth; there is nothing on earth that we can find that we can attach to Christ apart from the work of God in His own. 

DAB  The fact that the Lord Jesus has gone before and has been acclaimed in the Father’s favour is the assurance to us that whatever might be imparted to us will be for the pleasure of God.  It helps us to mark Him out in our spirits as the One who God has accepted and glorified.  God is not placing His glory on the flesh.  There is everything in Christ that gratifies the Father’s heart.     

AM  How great is the Father’s pleasure in Him!  We often think of that resurrection morning and His ascension too, and we quote that hymn -

         Received in glory bright up there

                      (Hymn 350).

What it must have meant to the Father to have His Son who had glorified Him on the earth and undertaken the work which would secure men for His glory, now exalted on high.

DAB  It is very touching the way the Lord Jesus speaks about them in John 17.  “I am glorified in them”, v 10.  We need to get away from any idea that we are our own objects; we have been taken up to glorify Christ.  All that we are speaking about as to the heavenly order into which we have been introduced is to His glory and through that to God the Father’s glory.

AM  It just shows the greatness and the wisdom and skill of the great divine plan that everything ultimately redounds to the glory of God, to each divine Person.

JRW  How far can we enjoy what we are speaking of today?  It says here we shall bear also the image of the heavenly One; that is a future thought.  How far can we enjoy this quickening today?  The Lord breathed into the disciples, John 20: 22.  They were still here on the earth; they had to fulfil the rest of their lives here until the Lord took them.

AM  Yes, but they had the Holy Spirit.  I think it is crucial how much room we make for the Holy Spirit.  I am sure many have observed the way that the Lord Jesus speaks about the Holy Spirit in John 14, 15, and 16; when He refers to Himself sending the Holy Spirit, the context is the testimony.  When it is the Father sending the Holy Spirit it is in view of our comfort and consolation here.  When it is the Lord sending the Holy Spirit it is the testimony and that really is the key.  Romans helps us as to this.  As having the Holy Spirit in our hearts, making way for Him and ministering to Him, what will come out in testimony is another order of life.

JRW  Yes, and I think it is wonderful to think that there are persons secured here in a scene of death.  The fear and the consequences and all that death means rest more heavily on men than ever before.  There are persons here that can, in that scene, know what life is; they can be alive.  “In the Christ all shall be made alive”, 1 Cor 15: 22.  Through the Holy Spirit’s power that can be evidenced and enjoyed.

AM  We touch it; we touch it in our spirits.  You can just speak to the Lord and touch these things in your spirit.  That is nothing to do with our need or anything like that; it is just about Himself.  It is quickening; it gives you a stir; we touch it in our gatherings.  It particularly comes out in the great occasion on Lord’s day.

DAB-w  John says, “believing ye might have life in his name”, John 20: 31.  That is accessible to anyone who will believe: “life in his name” - there does not seem to be a limit to that.  Life in His name seems to be quite full.

AM  The Lord is not here physically.  When He was here, access to Him was limited simply because of geography.  Life in His Name is available all the time.  We are often reminded He is available to us at all times wherever we are, whatever we are doing; He is available.  We draw on Him as the source of our life.

RHB  The idea of “such as the heavenly one, such also the heavenly ones” is present.  Bearing the image of the heavenly One, is future; it is what we await.  Those persons you described in Hebrews 11 were heavenly.  That came out in the way they led their lives and acted differently from those around them.  The reason for that was that they were heavenly. 

AM  That is right, and they will be caught up at the rapture.  The rapture is going to be a tremendous thing.  Everyone who has had faith, in whom there has been a work of God from Abel onwards, will be caught up in that great company.  What a wonderful thing, and we have the light of that.  Not only that, we have the power within us in the Holy Spirit, and Christ on high, that carries us beyond the sphere of death that we will be taken out of. 

RHB  The extraordinary thing is that they are not going to be made perfect before us.  They are waiting for us; the scripture says in Hebrews 11: 40.  That is an extraordinary thing to think of persons who lived lives of such distinctive faith and holiness and heavenliness that for their final portion, they are waiting for us.  That is presented as an incentive.  For us the great cloud of witnesses surrounds us.

AM  What a privilege we have because we will not have to wait for any others.  There will be those who are martyred after the church has gone and their souls are told to rest.  I take it that is because they have gone through death; so, will they be a heavenly company? 

RHB  I would think so.

AM  Will they not experience resurrection?  We will not have to wait for them.  Our portion, once the church is complete, is to go.  We do not wait for any other family.  Abraham has had to wait for us.  Those martyrs will be raised in their time.  I think that gives a peculiar sense of the greatness of the present dispensation and what we have part in.

PJW  When the Lord says, “Blessed and holy he who has part in the first resurrection” (Rev 20: 6), am I right in thinking that the beginning of that was the resurrection of Christ and the end of that is when the last saved soul to die is raised, whoever that might be.  Then there is the second resurrection which is the resurrection of the dead.

AM  I do not think the first resurrection has reference to a point in time.  I think it is the character of the resurrection; so “the first-fruits, Christ”, 1 Cor 15: 23.  He is already raised, “then those that are the Christ’s at his coming”. 

RHB  We do not get much as to the spiritual body.  We get what is heavenly and earthly; there is also what is spiritual and what is natural.  I wonder if you have some thought about the spiritual body.

AM  We know so little about it.  We will be glad to get rid of these natural bodies.  Increasingly these natural bodies can be such a hindrance to us.  We will have another body, like unto His own body of glory.  What a body it will be: “we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens”, 2 Cor 5: 1.  It is capable of housing the great work of God and displaying it in its glory.

RHB  On the face of it, it is a difficult expression; the thought of a body almost seems to stand in contrast to what is of the spirit.  Is it right to think that we will be given a body in which what has been effected by God in us can be expressed?

AM  That was what I was thinking in relation to 2 Corinthians 5, “we have a building”, “For we know that if our earthly tabernacle house be destroyed, we have a building from God, not made with hands, eternal in the heavens”.  That will be capable of displaying the work of God as a glorious thing.  In these bodies that we now have, the work of God may assert itself in conditions of limitation, but then we will have a body that will display that work in its glory as God values it and sees it.  What a wonderful thing; it is immediately before us.

DAB  We have been speaking about the way Adam was in effect earth bound by his condition.  Mankind is well adapted to the environment in which he has been set.  There is no reason to think that a condition that is well adapted to life on earth has any place in heaven.  We know that we shall be like Him.  We know that He is completely at home in that heavenly place.  I like what you say that the spiritual body is transparent as to the work of God.  It is a lovely surprise to discover previously unknown manifestations of the work of God in another soul.  In a sense, there will be no surprises then because all will be on display.

AM  I think that is right.  We will be like Him.  Nothing can take Him by surprise.  There will be absolute consistency.  There will be variety, but all consistent.  What a thing to look forward to!  That is what is immediately before us.

Norwood, London

20th November 2021


Key to initials:-

D A Barlow, Sunbury; R H Brown, Maidstone; R M Brown, Strood; D A Burr, West Norwood; A A Croot, Sidcup; S T Eagle, Dorking; R J Flowerdew, Sunbury; H T Franklin, Grimsby; A Martin, Buckhurst Hill; D A Smith, Sidcup; J R Walkinshaw, Maidstone; P J Walkinshaw, Strood; G Wallace, Sidcup; D C White, Sidcup