NOTES OF A BIBLE
ON THE LORD'S SUPPER
It is thought well to state that the following notes of
readings with our late beloved brother C A. Coates which took place at
Teignmouth in 1941 were not revised by him.
They have, however, been carefully revised by others, in which revision some who were present at the readings have given much assistance, and it is believed that they contain substantially what was ministered on this important subject on those occasions.
They now go forth in printed form at the request of many who feel that such ministry should be available to all who compose the household of faith.
I Corinthians 1. 17, 18, 21-24.
I Corinthians 2. 1-5.
C.A.C. It was thought that in considering together the precious subject of the Lord's supper we should first of all get some idea of the kind of persons who can eat the supper. The thought, therefore, is to see how these people at Corinth came to be the assembly of God, and the features that marked them as the assembly of God. It is clear that the Lord's supper has its place in the assembly of God, and to understand it we must necessarily be acquainted with the character of the assembly.
Rem. I was wondering whether the two verses in early Acts would give the thought. "Those then who had accepted his word were baptised; and there were added in that day about three thousand souls. And they persevered in the teaching and fellowship of the apostles, in breaking of bread and prayers." Acts 2. 4 1-42. They give the setting of those whom we have in view at the present time.
C.A.C. Yes, the same character of things evidently took place at Corinth. The testimony corresponded. with that rendered by Peter at Jerusalem, His testimony was that God had made " that same Jesus whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ." That was the announcement which promptly affected them. Likewise at Corinth (Acts 18) Paul announced to them in the synagogue that Jesus was the Christ. It is well for us to understand that that is the very essence of the assembly position, it is composed of persons who believe the testimony that Jesus is the Christ.
Ques. Do you get that in the opening verses in Corinthians? Paul refers a good many times there to "the Lord Jesus Christ."
C.A.C. Yes, it is important to look at these things from the standpoint of divine testimony. It is not a question of our personal experience or needs at all, but it is a question of a Person to whom God has given' testimony that He is the anointed One; He is the Christ, God's Anointed. It is the testimony apart from all feeling or experience that I or anybody else may have.
Rem. " According as the testimony of the Christ has been confirmed in you."
C.A.C. He refers to it further on -" I came to you announcing to you the testimony of God." It is summed up in " Jesus Christ, and him crucified." We cannot be too simple in regard to it, yet it is most profound because of its stupendous reality. We just believe the testimony. It cer-tainly must come to us as the testimony of God, and if we received that testimony it would result in our identifying our-selves with the Person who is the subject of testimony: and those who do so, form the assembly in a place.
Ques. Will you say what the testimony of the Christ involves ?
C.A.C. It is most important to understand that. The testimony is that there is such a Person as God's Anointed. There are many prophetic references to Him in the Old Testament, but the testimony now comes to us that Jesus is that Person, that anointed Man of whom the Old Testament spoke. The thought of being God's Anointed means that He is the Man whom God distinguishes and accredits, and we cannot believe that without being powerfully affected. It is the first thing we come to when we have to do with God; we must accept that He is God's Anointed.
Rem. It was said of Simeon that "it was divinely communicated to him by the Holy Spirit, that he should not see death before he should see the Lord's Christ."
C.A.C. That is the whole thing. Jesus claimed to be the Anointed when He stood up in the synagogue at Nazareth (Luke 4. 18-21), and His whole life was the evidence of the fact. I think Paul gave that evidence at Corinth for he reasoned with them. It was a matter of careful proof that Jesus was the Anointed.
Rem. The main theme of the first preaching was that God had made Him "both Lord and Christ."
C.A.C. This lies at the very basis of the formation of the assembly; you have no company to take the supper otherwise. It is all a question of believing God's testimony, and His testimony is Jesus. It clears the ground at once. Corinth was full of idols and there were schools of philosophy and a synagogue of Jews, but none of these things had been anointed by God. He had put no distinction on any of them. He had put distinction on Jesus. These things are in a sense simple, but they are immense in moral power and significance. God is distinguishing one Man, He is testifying that Jesus is the anointed Man. It is no question of our exercises at all.
Ques. Is there a separating power in it ?
C.A.C. Yes, I do not want to go on with anything that God has not anointed. God has shewn me a Man who has been anointed. He stands alone - it carries with it a separating power. This is a thing that can be reasoned out and Paul shews there is unquestionable evidence that Jesus is God's Anointed Man. If people do not believe it they do not believe God's testimony. It was all developed in the life and testimony of Jesus, all was an undeniable proof. " God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power; who went about doing good and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God with with him." (Acts 10). Now God is still submitting the evidence of it to men, and they are responsible to form their own judgment regarding it.
Ques. Why is it that he stresses the crucifixion ?
C.A.C. Because the princes of this world had crucified the Lord. The testimony was all there before their eyes. They did not call the blind man of John 9 or Mary Magdalene as witnesses. They did not call any worth hearing.
Rem. It says, "None of the princes of this world knew, for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory."
C.A.C. It shews their blindness. It is just to bring out the utter incapacity of men to receive the testimony of God. So there must be certain persons who are called, and to them Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God, but He is to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness.
Rem. Man after the flesh cannot appreciate Christ.
C.A.C. That is the whole thing, so the belief that Christ is God's Anointed Man really delivers the soul from every other kind of man. That is the kind of man God distinguishes and accredits. A distinct issue was raised that none of us can avoid. The mass of men do not believe that He is the Christ, and the fact that some do makes a sharp line of demarcation and every believer feels that he must be baptised and take his stand with Christ or with the world that crucified Him. It is a clear-cut issue. The Anointing brings out the moral character attaching to Jesus. There was not a single thing about Him that God was not pleased to distinguish; He loved to put distinction on that Man.
Rem. I was wondering whether it went back to the breakdown in Eden. It is a necessity that One who pleases God should come into evidence, and that is the One to whom God is looking.
C.A.C. Yes, that is it. There is a perfect testimony in that blessed Man to all that God is morally. Does that attract me ? Do I believe this testimony ? If so, I have finished with the world as a system. We find how very soon there is a sense even in a child of being naughty ; very early there is a sense of not being pleasing to God, even at two or three years old This wonderful testimony comes concerning Jesus there is everything in Him for God's delight. If I believe that I must stand by it.
Rem. We see it in the first two Psalms. God can anoint the Man in Psalm 2 who pleases Him in Psalm 1.
C.A.C. Yes. This is the supreme question of all time. There is one Man whom God has signalised and accredited, and every other man is discredited. If persons believe that they are fit for the assembly. It is a question of whether I have believed the testimony. It is what I believe, not a matter of experience or formation. After the preaching that God had made Jesus "both Lord and Christ" they recognised what an awful state the world was in and said, We must get clear of it If I have really believed the testimony of God's Anointed, I have finished with the world. The world is after money and gain and pleasure. There is not a single thing that God has anointed in it. If there is one divine spark in my soul I am attracted to Jesus. Then I accept baptism, I have finished with the world - that is what baptism means. This is the kind of company who can eat the supper - persons who have believed the testimony that Jesus is the Christ, the anointed Man.
Ques. When did this anointing take place?
C.A.C. It took place at His baptism, which was the public accrediting of that Man.
Rem. I suppose we need to see the beauty of His deeds and Person and the immediate effect of what the world has done, and these would help us to have done with the world.
C.A.C. So that all things are exposed. The princes of the world are exposed; they crucified Him, they are exposed. How could I go on with politics and such things if I believe that Christ is God's Anointed ? The assembly is made up of people who have judged these things.
Rem. It involves His coming into His rights down here.
C.A.C. Yes, it must involve that, because the One whom God has anointed must have the supreme place. God has not adjusted things yet, but when God adjusts everything in the universe He will have that place. What you feel is He ought to fill the scene-the universe. He is capable of filling it, we all ought to have that sense.
Ques. Would you say that if we are in the good of God's testimony, the Lord's pathway traced through this scene has a different bearing altogether ?
C.A.C. Yes, and then of course His being crucified brings in another element, because if I accredit the Man whom God has accredited, there is another man who is the direct opposite. That is the best way of learning self. The proper way of learning self is to learn Christ first. It is reached by believing divine testimony, not on the line of my exercises. We see God expressed there ; and everything that is pleasing to Him is all there in that Man and not in a world of learning and pride.
Ques. Will you say why it is the cross here and not the death of Christ ?
C.A.C. We learn the necessity to value the cross, because if I really accept Christ as the Anointed of God and contemplate His character in the gospels, I begin to feel I am not like Him. He is everything that is desirable, but I am just the opposite - that is where the cross comes in. The cross is a judicial matter, it was intended to be so by the princes of this world. Their judiciary sentence pronounced that Jesus ought to be subjected to the utmost degradation. From the divine side we know God would never have let them crucify Him if He had not something else in mind, that is judicially to expose what in us is not in correspondence with Christ. It is exposed publicly for He suffered on the cross what was due to me. He suffered for it, that is God's side of it. Everything about me deserved to be nailed to that cross ; if I believed that I should never want to lift up my head again. God has been pleased to set forth in the most beautiful Man the condemnation of the degraded man - what I am. Every one who comes into the assembly comes in in the light of that, and cannot come in otherwise. It is a wonderful company clothed in white raiment in a world of persons in black garments who do not believe God's testimony.
Rem. "God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ."
C.A.C. It was to mark in the strongest possible way the contrast between those that crucified Him and the place that God has given Him. He fills it gloriously and He fills it efficiently; we come together in the light of that. This is really the basis on which the assembly of God stands; when once it gets into the soul you cannot get away from it. We should be reminded of one thing, that faith cannot be maintained in its integrity without the Spirit, and that is why christians to-day are in such a lamentable state. At some point in their history they have come to this and they have drifted from it. How is it to be maintained ? Only by the Holy Spirit. Christians are often not in the grace and power of it because they are not keeping in the company of the Holy Spirit. I am sure that we have all come to the fajth of it. God is committed to that Man and we have committed ourselves to that Man and to His Name and His company, but the maintaining power of it is the Spirit. If I do not keep company with the Spirit I wane in my soul. He is the power of things, and the Spirit never deviates from Christ. I may often do so, but I should be kept steady if I kept in the company of the Spirit. 1 Corinthians 3. 16, 17. 5. 6-8.
We were reading last Lord's Day that these persons who are addressed as the assembly of God in Corinth were persons who had believed the testimony of the Christ that Jesus is the Christ, that Jesus is God's anointed Man. What we had before us was that if Jesus was the Man whom God could accredi.t and distinguish, this necessarily involved the setting aside of every other man. That was judically brought about at the cross, so that " Jesus Christ, and Him crucified " really implies the testimony of God, and it was declared in Corinth.
Rem. This would be foundational and it would be illustrated in the Ethiopian eunuch who wanted to be baptised. That is, it is soul work.
C.A.C. Yes, he believed the testimony and it was testimony of " some other man." His question was, " Of whom speaketh the prophet this, of himself, or of some other man"? The Ethiopian had some inkling in his soul of some other man. And Philip preached unto him Jesus, He was the other Man Immediately he wished to be baptised. Every one who really believes that Christ is God's anointed Man must desire to be in the good of his, or her baptism, to be manifestly on the side of that Man whom God distinguishes. Those are the people who compose the assembly of God and form the temple of God. - I thought it would be well to read these .verses today to see the greatness of the position the assembly occupies. Unless we do, I do not think we shall be able to enter much into the thought of the assembly.
Rem. Last time you referred to the need of the Spirit to support faith.
C.A.C. Well, I think it is important for us to recognise that faith is not sufficient, there must be a divine power to maintain things, and that lies in the Spirit. Many believers begin with faith, but decline because they do not keep company with the Spirit. So in chapter 3 the apostle stresses that fact. In chapter 2 he stresses that his own service has been by the Spirit; here He tells the saints that they are the temple of God and the Spiril dwells in them. The Spirit is needed to support and maintain in our souls the things we have received from God.
Rem. These are such great things and we are so feeble that we need divine power to be maintained in them.
C.A.C. Yes. The thought of being the temple of God would suggest that it is a place where the service of God can go on suitably. That is the thought of the temple. There would be light in the temple. There were idolatrous temples in which dark and dreadful mysteries were enshrined. We should be exercised that there should be something in the place where we live which has the character of the temple of God. There is much around that has not.
Ques. When the apostle touches one of these vital points, he says, " Do ye not know ? " Why does he say that ?
C.A.C. I think it intimates that there may be great realities that we have never recognised. There are christians around us who have no thought of the temple. Have we recognised the temple of God as a place where there is divine light, and where God can be served and which is marked by holiness ? It is a very important matter if we are going to serve God in His temple that we should take our shoes off as Moses did before serving. And Joshua too, before he com-menced his service was told to take off his shoes in recognition of the holiness of the place where God was.
Rem. That would not hinder liberty.
C.A.C. No, it would create liberty ! There is no liberty apart from holiness. We do not want liberty apart from holiness
Rem. It says, "The temple of God is holy, and such are ye.
C.A.C. If there is a wrong state it can only be put right by the truth. If the testimony of Jesus being God's Anointed is accepted, and the truth of the cross as setting aside every other man, then we come to it that we are the temple of God where He dwells. We have to accept that as a great divine reality.
Ques. Will you please say what you mean by taking off our shoes ?
C.A.C. I suppose it intimates to us that we set ourselves aside and any dignity or greatness that might have attached to us and we take the lowest place. The ground is holy. God said to Moses " The place whereon thou standest is holy ground." That is, there is no suitability in anything being found here that is not of God.
Rem. It says in Ecclesiastes 5, " Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God, and draw near to hear, rather than to give the sacrifice of fools : for they know not that they do evil. Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thy heart be hasty to utter anything before God : for God is in the heavens and thou upon earth; therefore let thy words be few."
C.A.C. Yes, I think that is very helpful in this connection. There is danger of saying too much; we had better say a little that the Spirit of God can sanction rather than a great deal otherwise. In the assembly you would not look for an excessive amount of utterance but for things to be said which the Spirit could sanction. I think that taking off the shoes would intimate putting off what is not suitable for God. The shoes are loosened as not suitable to holy ground.
Ques. In what way is the temple looked at here ?
C.A.C. I think that it is the place where God is suitably served, but the prominent thought here is holiness, the definite exclusion of what is not holy. We have to recognise that we are connected with what is intrinsically and essentially holy_that is the character of the things to which we belong.
Ques. Would taking off the shoes mean there is no standing for man, but the place is a place of service ?
C.A.C. That is very important, so that we serve God in relation to what has come entirely from God. " Of thine own have we given thee," David said. It is what comes from God into the hearts of His saints and gladdens them, and they can bring it back to Him, and it bears the stamp of holiness. Then the thought of the temple suggests intelligence- that God is intelligently served. In heathendom every idol temple would be marked by certain persons who understood, or pretended to understand, how that particular god should be served. There was nothing casual or haphazard about the service in the temple at Jerusalem. The courses of the Levites or the priests were all ordered. There were songs, they sang psalms that were inspired, that were indited by the Spirit of God and therefore acceptable to God.
Rem. Ezekiel was to shew the form of the temple to the house of Israel to make them ashamed. " Shew them the form of the house, and the fashion thereof, and the goings out thereof and the comings in thereof, and all the forms thereof, and all the ordinances thereof, and all the forms thereof, and all the laws thereof : and write it in their sight, that they may keep the whole form thereof, and all the ordinances thereof, and do them. This is the law of the house; Upon the top of the mountain the whole limit thereof round about shall be most holy. Behold, this is the law of the house." Ezekiel 43. 11-12.
C.A.C. That is very helpful. - We have to bear in mind that we are in the midst of the christian profession, and we have to learn the true character of the temple and service. There are things which God has ordered and appointed, the service in the temple is all in accord with what God has appointed. The temple of God is a place of light, light is continually shining there. The candlesticks in the temple were bearing light, so light is maintained in the ministry by the Spirit so that we are instructed priests who know what to do and how to do it. It is a great matter to accept these things as the truth of God. They may humble us, but at the same time they lift us up to the holy thoughts of God.
This subject is further developed in chapter 5 where the saints are spoken of as being unleavened. "According as ye are unleavened." That is what the assembly is in its true character. It is the holy temple of God, and it is an unleavened lump, therefore if anything comes in that belongs to the former state of things it is to be purged out - it is a little bit of the old lump of what we were according to the flesh brought over. Satan would like to bring it over to what is really unleavened.
Then there is a holy watchfulness to be maintained, for the old leaven is not far from any of us it is myself - and the danger is that it may leaven the whole lump; so we must deal with it promptly and cast it out. This does not refer to the evil committed but to the puffing up of the company who had not mourned over it. That was old leaven and that had to be purged out. To meet that the apostle brought in a new apprehension of Christ that they had not had before. God generally does that when we have been wrong ; He brings in a new impression of Christ. There is a difference between Christ crucified and Christ sacrificed. The Corinthians got away from the former, and God recovered them by presenting Christ sacrificed-a deeper lesson. If I am going on rightly God helps me by continual presentations of Christ ; f I am going on wrongly He helps me by a presentation of Christ. That is God It is wonderful
Crucifixion is a public matter. Everyone can take account of a crucified man as put in the place of curse and dishonour. But Christ sacrificed is a more inward thing and refers to all He went through in His holy soul as typically roast with fire. As we move on in the epistles we are more able to take account of Christ's death as an intimate matter. The attention of the household was concentrated on the lamb for four days before it was sacrificed, intimating that God would have us consider Christ in His spotless character and perfect suitability, and then sacrificed and eaten in this character. This is a private matter. I believe it is an intense, personal exercise before God. It is to be eaten. It is not Christ crucified, that was a spectacle, something to be looked at. "Jesus Christ has been portrayed crucified among you " Paul wrote to the Galatians. It is a far deeper thing to eat the lamb roast with fire, and it is intended to give the power to get rid of the leaven. If it is an assembly that is affected by leaven, it is only done by this intimate personal eating of the passover. He has been exposed to the public judgment of God and now He has been sacrificed. If we want to get to 1 Corinthians 11 we shall have to reach it by way of chapter 5.
It is possible to see Christ crucified and yet to become bewitched as the Galatians were. But feeding on Him would prevent that ; it would give us a constitution that would preserve us from being bewitched. The passover was eaten at home; it is the intimate consideration of Christ as coming under the action of the judgment of God. He is our Passover. Thus we become attached to Him. The four days give the opportunity for the firstborn sons to become attached to Him. So God secures " firstborn ones." The passover is very important and wide in its range.
The Lord would help us so that we should eat the passover in company with Him, and consequent on that is the keeping of the feast. All leaven was to be discarded for seven days, typifying the whole christian period. There is power brought in to refuse the leaven. This is how the assembly assumes its true character. Someone might say, We cannot set ourselves up as being unleavened. Well let us acknowledge the fact that God says, " Ye are unleavened." He would say, I am going to bring Christ into your affections in such a way that you will get rid of it without any trouble. This is brought about by private and personal consideration of Christ as the passover. I think we have a much too small thought of the passover, as if it were only very initial and elementary, but it is the greatest of all sacrifices, the only one of which God says, " My sacrifice." It is the only sacrifice by which He gets His own firstborn sons out of the world for His pleasure. I think it is correct to say we have to eat our way out. 1 Corinthians 10. 15-22.
C.A.C. We were noticing that faith is not sufficient if things are to be maintained. Without the Spirit faith will decline. So the apostle calls attention to the saints that they are the temple of God, and the Spirit of God dwells in them and the temple of God is holy. We were seeing that in the temple of God we get much light as to Christ; everything in the temple speaks of Christ, and coming to the truth of the temple we get more light as to Christ. So in chapter 5 we have an increased knowledge of Christ ; He is known as "our passover . . . sacrificed." That means we have a spiritual view of Him and see Him not only crucified but sacrificed, which brings out the personal sufferings of His holy soul when He was typically roast with fire. By feeding on Him as the Lamb roast with fire we get strength to get rid of all leaven. So the exercise in chapter 5 is to purge out all leaven that" ye may be a new lump." Leaven is something that works inwardly causing us to be self-important, something in us that is not Christ. The assembly normally is unleavened, there is nothing active there but the life of Christ. It is only an unleavened company of persons who can truly eat the Lord's supper.
In chapter 10 we come to the thought of communion or fellowship. It is the question of the adjustment of our associations.
Rem. There was a young man in Malta who said his reason for coming to the meeting was because he found more of Christ there.
C.A.C. He was an "intelligent man" evidently as wanting more of Christ. Persons like that are suitable material for the assembly; if they want more of Christ they wish to r eliminate what is not of Christ; we must begin personally as leaven works inwardly. "That ye may be a new lump," that is what the assembly is; a leavened mass could not really be the assembly of God. Persons can go a long way on the line of exercise about themselves and their conduct without being much exercised as to their associations. I suppose every believer is exercised about personal conduct who may not be Lord's supper.
We get the truth of associations in chapter 10 before the supper in chapter 11. It would seem that at Corinth there were some who could go into an idol temple and eat what was offered, doing it on the principle that the idol was nothing and that it did not make any difference if it was offered to idols. But the question of association comes in and the apostle shews that they were really in communion with demons. God is very concerned about the associations of His people and not only about our personal conduct. It is a serious matter to be going on with something that, in principle, is evil. A recog-nition of the true character of christian fellowship would save us from that. The apostle brings out the only kind of associ-ation that is contemplated for christians. They are linked up with the communion of the body and blood of Christ - it is an exclusive fellowship. Nothing could be more exclusive than the thought of the body of Christ and the blood Of Christ. If we are associated with that it entirely precludes any other kind of association. It says, " Ye cannot drink the Lord's cup and the cup of demons"; "ye cannot," that is the true principle of all associations. It is not that there is anything narrow about it, it is a far greater and richer fellowship than any other kind of fellowship. He would impress that on us by speaking of the blood first which is not in the order of the supper. "The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ?" He has in mind to give us a sense of the wealthy character and wonderful blessing of the christian association. It is well for us to look at it and see that it is the cup of blessing. He supposes that all believers bless the cup and break the bread; the Scripture does not suppose that any christian fails to do so. If he does not he can hardly be said to be occupying true christian ground. Such are not behaving like the believers in the beginning for they "persevered" . . in breaking of bread;
The blessing of the cup shews very clearly that we think very highly of it. There is nothing about drinking the cup here; it is blessing it, involving that we look at it. You look at it as a cup of blessing and you bless it. It supposes that all christians do it. " The cup of blessing which we bless "- he assumes it. He is hardly thinking of the cup in its literality but in its import. It is very large in its import and contains every blessing that comes to us in the death of Christ. In this chapter you look at it; it is a cup larger than any cup you ever thought of, and it contains the love of God that comes to us through the death of Christ. It shews the necessity for purging out all leaven, for it will obscure our vision of the cup. The thing to do is to get rid of the leaven. We see here the immensity of the cup of blessing and we are associated with all that. How can you associate yourself with this defil-ing world after that? It would be well if some of us came into fellowship If we were to consider all that the cup speaks of it would take several readings. It is a great study to consider the effect and result in blessing of the blood of Christ being shed.
Rem. It is a feast the feast of unleavened bread.
C.A.C. I am glad you called attention to that. It is not a fast of unleavened bread. When you can stamp out a little bit of leaven from yourself it is a happy day for you, as making more room for Christ. It is feeding on the holy, spotless Lamb that gives us power to eliminate the leaven that is so ready to be active in us. We shall never eliminate it in any other way.
When our associations have been adjusted, we shall be quite free for the supper in chapter 11. Our leaven has been purged away and our old associations put away because of the new associations we have entered upon, then we can sit down together to eat the supper. It was not the Lord's supper that the Corinthians were eating. It is a very important point that the assets of the fellowship are put first the infinite gain that comes to us in the shedding of the blood of Christ. We "then have no craving for any other associations among men. All of these propose some benefits, but what benefit can it give me if I am in the gain of the benefit of all that of which the cup speaks ? It is a fellowship of supreme satisfaction.
Rem. There are worldly attractions as well as religious associations.
C.A.C. There are all kinds of things to ensnare us, but we shall have fewer desires for them as we come, more and more, into the knowledge of our associations. Then the other important element of the fellowship is the bread;" the bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? " He suggests to us the thought of partaking. With the cup we are to look at it and bless it, but with the bread it is the thought of eating. The bread which we break you do not break bread except with the thought of partaking of it, and our object in partaking is that we may become an unbroken loaf ourselves. " We being many are one loaf, one body." In connection with the bread he distinctly brings forward the thought of partaking of it. It was when the bread was going to be partaken of that the Lord broke it. That gives us another view of the christian associa-tion or partnership. Christendom has got very used to the word " communion," and " fellowship" has become with us rather hackneyed, so it is good to use another word. It is a partnership - a most wonderful one, and it brings out what corresponds with the cup of blessing. The blessing that is in the heart of God and in the love of God comes to us in the value of the blood of Christ, that is the side of blessing. But that necessitates something else and that is a moral character with us which corresponds with all the blessing, and I think we reach that through the loaf. The blood of Christ is a sacrificial thought and intimates the blessing that comes to us from God in the value of the death of Christ. It can never be less and it can never be more.
The body of Christ reminds us of what was in His body for the pleasure of God. It is the other side of the question. There was a Man here in a body and that body was the vessel. of God's pleasure from the manger right through to the cross, and most of all at the cross. We are to partake of the bread morally, we all partake of the one loaf. The exercise is import-ant. To put it simply, it shews that the fellowship can only be taken up in the life of Christ, only in that character of life that was expressed in His body. There is a moral significance attaching to it - a moral result. The partaking results in our being one loaf, one body. Every christian normally wishes to move on that line, for we can' only move on the line of the life of Christ or the line of the flesh: We can see what the life of Christ was in Psalm 16, " Preserve me, 0 God for in thee di I put my trust." Is it not very attractive to think of partaking of it?
The Psalmist goes on to say that his delight was in the saints, speaking of them as" the excellent, in whom is all my delight." That is the life of Christ, and we delight in the saints too. As to the idolatrous world he says, "Their drink offerings of blood will I not offer, nor take up their names into my lips." He will not touch the idolatrous world and he finds his joy in God, he has his portion in God. That is all the life of Christ; it came out in His body that was given in death that we might partake morally of it, and then we shall come out as one bread. If this one is a partaker of the life of Christ and that one is a partaker of the life of Christ, if we are all partakers of the life of Christ, shall we not come out as one bread ? That is the common partnership of the body of Christ. This is the association in which we are set to-day, and it is only as we are true to this in principle that we are fit to eat the Lord's supper. We are not in a condition to eat the supper otherwise. It is good for us to see what christianity is. Christianity is Christ. All this puts our associations right, we cannot touch any other kind of associa-tion. The more clearly we see what true christian fellowship is the less we shall be influenced or attracted by any other kind of fellowship whether religious, political or social. They are altogether inferior and below what we have learnt to value. There are associations working for the benefit of man, and christians get drawn into them, but they are inconsistent with the true christian fellowship, and if christians learnt the true character of fellowship they would have to give them up. Rem. There Is the thought sometimes of doing things as an individual.
C.A.C. There is no ground in Scripture for any believer detaching himself from the company of his brethren. I have often referred to the young brother who was on a two years' cruise in the navy. He said to himself as he lay in his bunk the first night, ' I do not know that there is a single believer on this ship and I do not know that I shall see a single believer for two years, but how I behave myself on this ship will affect the fellowship all over the world.' If you go into wrong associations you take all the partners with you and it is inconsistent with the association in which God has set us in His great blessing. Mark 14. 22-26. Matthew 26. 26-30.
C.A.C. I wanted to link these Scriptures together. I thought it was perhaps needful that we should consider that aspect of the Lord's supper which stands in more immediate connection with the passover before we go on to the great thought of remembrance, which is specially connected with it for the assembly. That is why I suggested reading the verses from Mark and Matthew. They suggest a certain apprehension on our part which seems to be necessary if we are to take up the supper as it is possible to the saints of the assembly in Luke and 1 Corinthians.
Ques. You think the passover aspect should have its effect on the saints before the remembrance is taken up?
C.A.C. Yes. It would appear that the aspect presented in Mark comes first. That is, " As they were eating (i.e. the passover), Jesus, having taken bread, when He had blessed, broke it, and gave it to them, and said, Take this: this is my body." I think the first thing we should learn is how to take the bread.
Ques. You suggest that the further thought of eating comes in Matthew?
C.A.C. Yes, the first thought is taking the bread, and the second is eating, which comes out in Matthew.
Rem. " Eating" is not in the text in Mark, it is take " there.
C.A.C. Yes, the Lord does not refer to eating in Mark, and in connection with this great subject it is necessary that we should go carefully and observingly and not miss any part of the Lord's instruction. In Mark He stresses the point, Take this." Take is the distinctive word.
Ques. Would it be connected at all with the thought of taking the lamb?
C.A.C. Well, I think there is a suggested connection. It is important that we should take the bread in the wonderful import which the Lord has connected with it. We are told that, "Jesus having taken bread, when he had blessed, broke it, and gave it to them." It is when He had blessed, not when He had given thanks. blessing?
C.A.C. I think blessing gives the thought of the character which the Lord would attach to the loaf. That is, in blessing He gave the loaf such an import as no other loaf had ever before possessed.
Ques. Would it suggest the Lord taking the body prepared for Him?
C.A.C. No doubt it does suggest that. The fact that He took bread, or the loaf, intimates there is something very tangible which would clearly refer to His having become flesh. He has come into the conditions of Manhood, and all this blessing and the subject of the blessing is connected with that. The Lord would have us all to ponder deeply the great purpose of the incarnation-what has come into Manhood. It has come into Manhood in order that it might be taken, be appropriated. So the great thought of taking is primarily in this matter.
Rem. "Taking" implies a very deliberate action on the part of the Lord, as if designed to bring something before us.
C.A.C. It was to bring the greatest matter before us that ever took place in the universe, or that ever will take place, the most important matter in the whole of eternity. Now, He says, I want you to take it with something of that in your soul.
Ques. Would the body imply that these great thoughts have come into its compass?
C.A.C. Yes, there was so much told out in the Lord becoming Man that is available for us to take.
Rem. And "My body "- it is the Person who comes into it, that Person's body.
C.A.C. Yes, and this blessing connects the immensity of all that with the symbol. But the Lord's blessing connects the greatness of His becoming Man with the character of the loaf, it makes it. all available to us. This matter becomes in this way concentrated, and we see what is infinite compassed in these simple outward emblems, and the Lord would have us avail ourselves of all that. His blessing connects with it. I think this would fill out the thought of the remembrance. We take it up with little sense of what it is, and what it is we remember; but taking the loaf in the great sense of what His blessing connects with it would greatly help us.
Rem. The Hebrew bondman served for six years as coming into this condition, and in the seventh he said, " I will not go out free." I thought it was the deep affection that was at the back of it.
C.A.C. I think that ought to affect us profoundly, and it comes very fittingly in Mark's gospel where He is the great Servant, and where He stresses that He came not to be ministered unto, but to minister. He came to minister. The body He took up was the vessel of service. Who can measure the marvellous service? We take the loaf in the sense of what it symbolises. The Lord took it; He connected all in His life of marvellous service with the symbol, and says, Now, I want you to take it that way.
It appears to me that in blessing, the Lord connects with the simple emblem the thought of all that had come in from God in Himself as in Manhood. Then He breaks it, to indicate that it is available. It could not be taken unbroken. It was so when He broke the bread in feeding the multitude, it needed to be broken to be available. In a certain sense it refers to His death because then it was that all that was there in His body was made available. Otherwise it would not be available. It is a figure of His death in that particular aspect. If He had not died there would have been a gulf which we could not have passed over, but He has passed over that gulf and made it available to us. How could we take it all to ourselves, all that He is as incarnate? I could not as a poor sinner! So the greatest expenditure of love has been put forth that we might take what will fill eternity. That is, it is all available.
A sister said to me that she could not get as much of Christ as she wanted. That is darkness in the soul, and the Lord saying "Take" is the answer to it. This Scripture says nothing but "TAKE" in all its blessed assurance, and nothing is required on our part but the preparedness to take. It is marvellous to think of that great Person - all that He is as Man, and all that He has secured in His death - He has put the symbol of it in a loaf and He says, "Take this." It is available. He was among disciples who loved Him - but in the principle of it, it spreads out to the entire household of faith.
Ques. Would you connect the Lord's teaching in John 6 'with what is now before us?
C.A.C. In John 6 it is the condition He stresses, which has in view the entrance of believers into eternal life. It is not the supper there, it is the appropriation of Himself in death in view of entering into life eternal. It is noticeable that it is all in the singular number in John 6. "He that eateth " etc. In the Lord's supper there is nothing individual. We could riot bring it down to the individual. The great blessing of the Lord's supper is that it is a company that eats it. It is a company all thinking alike of Christ, all having the same thoughts of that blessed One. Some, of course have a little more capacity than others, but there is not a divergent thought. So the young convert looks round and says, They think just as I about Christ and better of Him than I do; and he says, What a privilege to be among them! Well, we might dwell a long time on that, but we must try and take in the thought that is added in Matthew. There is the additional thought of eating, "Take, eat."
Ques. Taking is appropriation, then what is the thought of eating?
C.A.C. It is assimilation I should think. We first appropriate, that is we see that divine love invites us to take possession of all that is signified by a divine Person coming into Manhood, but with that - the loaf taken - there is the thought of eating. That is a further thought, indicating that it is the divine thought that we should become like Him. In Matthew the thought of being disciples is very much stressed. There is very little about apostles in Matthew. I think they are spoken of once where it gives their names. But disciples are stressed, that is, those who have come under His moulding and instructing influence. There is the thought of training, but it is hardly the thought of discipline, because that suggests the need for correction on our part. The divine proposal is that we should be corrected by feeding on the One in whom there is no possible thought of correction. We are to assimilate the One who needs no divine correction. It suggests that by eating we are to become assimilated to Him, which of course has the body in view. What came out in the body of Christ is to come out in the whole company of saints that form His body. It is to get extension, but by way of eating. I think it is a weak point with us all that we do not feed upon Him sufficiently. In a physical way the food we take in becomes part of our physical constitution. Now when we feed upon Christ what we eat spiritually becomes part of us spiritually. We take character from what we feed upon. Now this truth all underlies the supper. It is not merely coming to break bread week by week, though that is essential. What underlies it is this great reality of taking and eating.
Rem. The body and blood are separated to emphasise the import of each.
C.A.C. Yes, it is how we understand. The question is how much have we eaten? What we have taken of Christ, not all the power of earth and hell can ever take away from us. It becomes part of the fibre of our being, part of myself, and that cannot be taken away. What is introduced to me objectively, becomes part of me subjectively. We shall not really please the Lord in taking His supper if we do not move on these lines. We may ourselves become sacramental as if deriving something from the action, instead of being on this line, that we have taken what divine love has made available in Christ, and have really eaten it and made it part of ourselves. It is taking and eating, not eating first. There must be the eating too. It is a wonderful thing to get something of Christ into the soul, so that it becomes so part of me that nothing could possibly get it out of me! That is the divine thought.
The Lord introduces us to the greatness ot what is available in Matthew and Mark. The question is, Is there enough in Christ to change me completely from what I am into what He is - to transform me! Everyone that knows Him would say, Yes, there is everything in Him to change all that I am into what He is. Then I am a disciple. His great distinction of a disciple is that he becomes as his teacher. We ought to ponder all these things. If this is not so, I do not know what it is to eat it, and in saying that I am not referring to partaking of the literal loaf. We might do that for forty years and not enter into the spiritual reality of eating it.
Ques. Would you say that we can break bread and not touch the supper?
C.A.C. That is what they were doing at Corinth, making it part of a common meal.,, To get away from that we must enter into these spiritual things. We need to enter into the import of all that the Lord has conferred upon it by blessing, so that we are in harmony with Himself.
Then there is the eating. The apostle says, " Yet not I but Christ liveth in me." He must have done some eating! How did Christ get into him? By eating. We have to take up these things from Mark and Matthew in order to be qualified to remember the Lord according to Luke and 1 Corinthians. Matthew 26. 26-30
C.A.C. As we were dwelling on the thought of taking and eating, I wondered if the Lord would say something to us this afternoon about drinking. I feel impressed with the thought that the presentation in Matthew and Mark is of very great importance. We are apt to begin with Luke and to think perhaps of the remembrance. We all observe that there is no thought of remembrance in either Matthew or, Mark. It is the question of eating and drinking, and it seems to me that the thought of eating and drinking must precede the thought of remembrance.
Rem. Will the act of remembrance be greatly enhanced if we eat and drink in a spiritual way?
C.A.C. That is what I had in mind, and I think it is important for us. There is no doubt that in Luke we get the setting of things more in relation to the assembly. So that the account in Luke's gospel is practically the same as the account which the Lord gives to Paul by direct revelation from heaven. It has to do with the assembly as such. The assembly would be normally made up of persons who knew what it was to eat and drink; their constitution and inward state of soul would be greatly affected by what they ate and drank. We have been considering that it was important in approaching the Lord's supper to see the kind of people who can eat the supper.
Rem. You would say there is a kind of moral order in it all? We can only "remember" what we know and appreciate; eating and drinking deepens the knowledge.
C.AC. Yes. It seems to me there is the thought of eating and drinking connected with this matter, as well as remembrance. We get a spiritual constitution which would enable us rightly to remember the Lord. As we observed, when we come to eating and drinking, it is what no one else can do for us, it is our activity. The most wonderful supply of spiritual food may be there, and yet it is only what we personally eat and drink that builds us up and gives us constitutions. That side of things seems to link on with the passover. It is a question of eating and drinking the cup there, because we find there was a cup connected with the passover. That thought really links on with the passover.
Ques. Was there a cup with the passover?
C.A.C. There was no cup in the institution of the passover, but we find in the course of centuries it had become necessary to have one or more cups on the table at the passover, and evidently there was one on the table which the Lord took. The passover reached its fullest development in having a cup connected with it.
Ques. Is building up connected equally with the cup?
C.A.C. I thought so. I thought the strength of the constitution would be derived from the bread - the eating_ but the stimulation would be connected with the cup. Some of us feel we not only need spiritual strength and vigour of constitution, but a stimulating element. The eating and drinking pass out of sight when you come to remembrance, and the Lord Himself is the Object in view. In remembrance we have not the thought of what we get at all, but, He says, "This do in remembrance of ME." That blessed ME takes the place of every other consideration.
It seems to me that the thought of eating and drinking morally precedes the thought of remembrance, providing constitution and stimulation so that there is perfect freedom to take up the remembrance where the Lord fills the vision. Do this in remembrance of ME." It supposes a state of heart that can be absorbed with Himself.
Rem. In Exodus 24 you get eating and drinking, both ideas are there.
C.A.C. Yes, and the thought of drinking is very prominent in Scripture. We all remember the allusion in 1 Cor : 12 where he says, "By one Spirit are we all baptised into one body" which is an allusion to the one loaf, and all made to "to drink of one Spirit," which clearly alludes to the cup. This last is not exactly the gift of the Spirit from outside, but refers to our drinking of the Spirit, which is a definite personal act. I think in connection with the Lord's supper there is the great thought of stimulation. We should look for that on every occasion. We may be heavy and pre-occupied with what we have come from, and we require stimulation for the service of God, which it seems to me is connected with the cup as having in view our drinking. The drinking is part of the remembrance in I Corinthians. I think the drinking in Corinthians merges in the remembrance.
Ques. Why does the Lord have more to say about drinking than eating? I mean, in a practical way, we find we need to understand the cup more than we do the bread. Is that not so?
C.A.C. I think so. In the bread, we get the great thought of the Lord's incarnation. He has actually been here in a prepared body, a body entirely different from any other man's. He was a true Man but unique in His humanity. 'rakiiig that and eating it is a very wonderful thing; the soul being formed in substance by the great fact; the Lord and the will of God being available to us in the eating.
Ques. Were you linking the remembrance with the cup?
C.A.C. No, I said it is also connected with the cup.
Ques. Why is it the cup and not its contents?
C .A.C. The prominent thing before the Lord is the common character of it. The cup, that is the vessel from which all drink, shews it is a portion shared by all. Matthew begins with the lowest level of the blessing, because he speaks of it as the remission of sins. It is the blood of the new covenant that is shed for many for the remission of sins. The ground is divinely cleared of the question of sins, so that we do not need to revert to that question. It is important that all should know their sins are remitted and no longer present to the mind of the believer or before God. Throug.h the blood we are as clear as if they had never been committed. That is a basic reality and if we do not know that we cannot proceed any further.
So we are liberated for a new kind of association which the Lord intimates is to be known by His saints outside all question of sins. They have been remitted in the power of the blood. It is the most elementary part. The assembly does not dwell on that, but we could not take up the assembly position if we did not know it. After they had drunk in Mark He said to them, "This is my blood, that of the new covenant, that shed for many." The Lord Jesus opens up more after they had drunk. I think we get that service from the Lord sometimes, and we should give Him the opportunity if He pleases. There is evidently an opportunity suggested by Mark, that the Lord may have something further to say about it.
Rem. The Lord "gives thanks" for the cup.
C.A.C. ln blessing the bread the Lord is clothing it with such import as no loaf ever had before, so that it can be taken and eaten on our part as conveying the thoughts which the Lord has impressed upon it in blessing. In the cup there is that which the Lord could recognise as coming in from God for men, and He could take part in thanksgiving for it. If you connect it with the Spirit (and Scripture does so) , you can understand what profound pleasure the Lord had in giving thanks that men were to be in the good of this present blessing in the power of the Spirit. So that all are stimulated, we do not sit down in a heavy dead state, but we are stimulated into it livingly. If there is a long pause before there is liberty to take part, it indicates that the divine stimulation is not present.
Rem. It has been said that there is the silence of weakness or the silence of power.
C.A.C. Yes, but there is not much power in silence if nothing has been said before, but there is a silence of power after something has been said that is so rich that you want to keep quiet about it for a while. These suggestions need to be weighed-the thought of stimulation and drinking. That is what we have done by our own act. Drinking of the Spirit is not God's act for me, but it is my act. We are so apt to be formal. Christendom is a solemn warning for us, because holy communion, so-called, is taken up in a very poor and formal way. It seems to me the thought of drinking would dispel all formality.
Rem. In Song of Songs is; "Eat, 0 friends, drink, yea, drink abundantly, beloved ones!" There is the thought of increase.
C.A.C. We need to be exercised in heart as to all that is connected especially with the supper, so that the spiritual side should be uppermost with us. There is the great thought of being inwardly stimulated. There is a new association too, because the Lord calls attention to it. There is going to be a suspension of what He has enjoyed with them before, and a new association isin view.
Ques. Are you linking it with what is to come, or with His entering into it in a new way with us now?
C.A.C. I think the Lord is linking the hearts of His own to a new kind of association - a spiritual association outside this scene where He was abont .to die. There had been a most blessed association with Him as Messiah; they had eaten and drunk with Him often in this way; now He is suggesting to them that there is to be an association of an entirely new order.
Ques. Which of the two cups is it here?
C.A.C. In Matthew and Mark the cup merges in the supper; in Luke the two cups are separate; after the passover supper He takes another cup. No doubt the Lord had in mind this wonderful period coming in by the saints drinking of one Spirit, which was a spiritual association and there was spiritual joy in connection with it. It was not like that which they had enjoyed with Him on earth, but it was based on His death and His blood poured out, and it was given from heaven in order that we might be able to drink of one Spirit. That is a new kind of association in which all christians should share.
Ques. Would you state the difference between "my blood "and" the fruit of the vine?"
C.A.C. I think the fruit of the vine was suggestive of what would be enjoyed in the millennium.
Ques. Do you think the assembly has no part in it, or that we touch it now?
C.A.C. I think the Lord was leaving all that for the moment although He was entitled to all earthly blessing and joy as Man, and entitled to an earthly kingdom. The saints are to leave it too for a heavenly portion. The Lord has had to give up earthly blessing, He has had to give up Israel.
Rem. The Lord said in Luke following the supper, " I appoint unto you, as my Father has appointed unto me, a kingdom, that ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel." So it is all in view of what is coming in.
C.A.C. Yes, but that has not come in yet.
Rem. It would shew a very blessed scene of glory as the result of the Lord's operations.
C.A.C. But really our association is entirely different; it is the fellowship of the body and blood of Christ, and the more we understand that, the more we shall understand the character of the blessing that has come in. It is of a spiritual order, and the enjoyment of it is connected with drinking of one Spirit.
Rem. The kingdom of God is "righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit "- it is the spiritual side.
C.A.C. Yes. We come into it as a people who are really called to heavenly blessing, but we touch the new covenant, or the new covenant touches us in a spiritual way.
Rem. He gets from us the response He would have had from Israel.
C.A.C. Yes, and very much more. There will be very much more from a company of persons in association with Christ where He is, than from any earthly people. It would help us if we meditated more on the thoughts suggested by the Lord's supper, before we take up the thought of remembrance. The remembrance is not always so rich as it ought to be for want of taking up these collateral thoughts, especially the thought of eating and drinking. The " cup of blessing contains very much more than any thought of the covenant. Of course all these things take on an infinite character when they are connected with divine Persons. Everything is as immense as it is immeasurable. 1 Corinthians 11. 23-28.
C.A.C. It may be well just to say what we had before us on a previous occasion, namely the presentation in Mark's gospel and in Matthew of the Lord's supper, the prominent feature in Mark being that the bread was to be taken, and in Matthew the prominent thought is that it was to be eaten; the thought of calling the Lord to mind not having any place in these two gospels. But when we come to the account in Luke of what took place in the presence of the twelve apostles, and the account given to us by Paul, which he received from the Lord that he. might give it to the Gentile assemblies, the thought of remembrance or calling to mind is, I suppose, the prominent thought of the service. So that we come to that particular aspect of this precious subject this afternoon.
Ques. Does Luke's account follow this?
C.A.C. Well, I think it is very likely that this account was the first one that was given to the assembly. It is a debatable matter, but it is probable that 1 Corinthians was written before Luke's gospel. This account distinctly places the Lord's supper in the assembly, does it not? It is important that the Lord's supper should not be seen as an individual privilege. Most believers perhaps regard it in this way. It is important that it should be seen as a collective matter - it requires that the saints should come together. It is that He should be called to mind in a particular way, and requires that the saints should be together in order to do it. There are comings together mentioned here. It was evidently possible, we find, to come together for the worse, but the proper object to be before the saints in coming together in assembly is to eat the Lord's supper.
Ques. Does it belong exclusively to the assembly?
C.A.C. Yes, we have no reason to think otherwise, and the moral significance of the one loaf and the one body would confirm that thought.
Rem. Other families will take up other things, but not this.
C.A.C. I think that is so. It was for the collective calling of the Lord to mind, so that no amount of individual exercise or desire, prayer or study of the Scripture could take the place of it. There was evidently a custom in Israel of breaking bread for those who had died. We are all familiar with the Scripture (Jer. 16. 7). That Scripture would shew us it was customary to break bread and drink a cup in reference to those who had died. Now the Lord takes up that custom and glorifies it by giving it an entirely new setting. ' He gave it anew thought altogether, because the thought was that it was done in mourning. There is no such thing in the Lord's supper. When the Lord instituted it, He set aside all thought of mourning; it is a eucharist - it is thanksgiving. It is the Lord's desire to bring about a particular condition of mind in His saints collectively-that is the Lord's intent, and it is brought about by the breaking of bread and nothing else. If anything else would have done it the Lord would have used other means. Love is infinitely wise, and there's no better means than the Lord's supper to bring this about.
Ques. Is there not the thought of His sufferings?
C.A.C. The Lord did not mourn. No, the sufferings are not absent, but they are past. When the Lord instituted the supper He was in mind beyond His sufferings and death. He spoke of His body given and His blood poured out, so they were all past in His mind.
Rem. To remember the Lord in His death is not a right expression.
C.A.C. No, I do not think that it is right, though it is often used and affectionately meant. But it cannot be established by Scripture.
Rem. The emblems represent a dead Christ, it has been said. We cannot dissociate them from His death.
C.A.C. Yes, His body is given and His blood poured out, that is clearly in death; but it is for a remembrance - the calling of ME to mind.
Rem. His death is included.
C.A.C. Quite so. It is not Christ after the flesh that we call to mind, it is a living Christ known in love which has been expressed in death.
Rem. We are apt to be too historical. Mr. Raven called attention to its being a remembrance, not a reminiscence.
C.A.C. Yes. No one will understand the supper until he sees the Lord was anticipatively beyond His sufferings and death, and is now actually so, so that nothing remains but thanksgiving. In breaking the bread and drinking the cup there was nothing of mourning, it was an occasion of unmixed thanksgiving. The Lord says, Now, I want you to call Me to mind in that relation of things. It was intended to bring about an attitude of mind in the saints of the assembly, so that they are positively unified in one mind, so that there is not a divergent thought. Is not that a wonderful thing? We have been saying that there needs to be a constitution built up, so that assimilation precedes this. The eating and the drinking, I think, really preceded the calling of Him to mind.
C.A.C. It is " in remembrance of me" in relation to this particular act of breaking bread and giving thanks for the cup. The Lord says "This do "- you do it, but do it for the calling of ME to mind. It is not a dead Christ; it is Christ beyond death. If we miss that, we miss it altogether. It has an active sense of calling to mind. He would have the assembly united in this wonderful way, all having Him in mind. The functioning of the assembly depends on this unity of mind.
Ques. What is the significance of when He was "delivered up?" It is not when He died.
C.A.C. I think the great moment of crisis had come. That was the thought - the great moment of crisis. He was just about to be actually delivered up and to go through suffering and death, but He anticipated it, having in mind that the saints were going to continue in the place where He was absent. In doing it the Lord regarded His own body as given and His blood poured out : He was anticipatively beyond His sufferings and death. He says, Now I want the saints of the assembly to call me to mind in that manner; we come into the apprehension of the love of the Christ that we know. As Christ is now, He has given His body for the assembly, and His blood has been poured out - that is how we know him. So the calling of the Lord to mind is not our individual thinking of Him in what He has done for us; we can do that all the week. There is this peculiar privilege of doing it collectively, so that all are unified, so that this blessed ME fills every mind. That is the starting point of assembly privilege. We cannot move at all, until we are all of one mind. It should have a pervading influence all the week, but there is a remembrance at the beginning of the week when the saints together expericnce this peculiar unity of mind, which brings all together, so that we merge. It is not like so many individuals. We are so intensely individual. I was looking last week through the epistles to find something of individual privilege or blessing and I found it very difficult to find any! It is so beautiful that the Lord unifies us in the calling to mind of something of which there cannot be a divergent thought. The supper, properly taken, would absolutely abolish every bit of discord. We see the importance of this matter to the Lord. He had given it officially in the presence of the twelve apostles, who represented the assembly administratively; but when He gives it from heaven it is almost a personal matter. It is a personal communication to Paul. He cherished the thought of it and wanted it to be set amongst the assemblies, such as ourselves. We need to cherish the thought of the assembly, for it is the assembly that eats the supper. A young person says, " I should like to remember the Lord," but that is not quite the divine thought, there should be the thought of being identified with a certain company of persons. We have been noticing that it is not until the 11th chapter of this epistle that he speaks of the supper, and morally we have to travel over the previous ten chapters, we cannot jump into the matter. He speaks of many and various matters before He comes to the supper.
Rem The Supper is introductory to what is coming.
C.A.C. I think the Lord had a good deal in view that He did not unfold to the Corinthians, because they were not ready for it. The apostle suggests that he has many things to add later on, but he brings in this great unifying power by the calling of the Lord to mind in this precious and distinctive way.
Ques. "The Lord Jesus, in the night in which he was delivered up "- would it be suggestive of intense affection ?
C.A.C. Yes. And yet the supper was being brought in correctively. There was great disorder in Corinth, they were making it applicable to saints in whatever state they may be. They made it available to the most carnal believer on the face of the earth. The apostle speaks of their eating and drinking in a carnal way and even bringing judgment on themselves. It does not enter into the supper at all.
Rem. I should like to be clearer as to the difference between blessing the loaf and giving thanks for it.
C.A.C. When the Lord blessed the loaf He gave it a new and spiritual import which never attached to any loaf before; but in giving thanks the Lord places Himself on ground where there was nothing to do but to give thanks - it is not a mournful occasion. Tears shed over the Lord's sufferings at the supper are not pleasing to the Lord. It is not the right time and place. You can do that in your room, but do not bring tears into the assembly. it is a moment of thanksgiving, a joyful occasion.
It is important to notice that the whole service has the character of calling to mind from the giving thanks for the loaf, which is the beginning of the service, to the drinking of the cup which is the end of the service of calling Him to mind. The supper so gone through spiritually leaves the Lord filling every mind. That is the sort of material for the service of the assembly.
Ques. We have spoken of the Lord giving His body for the will of God, here it is " for you." Is it included in the thought of the will of God?
C.A.C. I think all that was accomplished for God in the giving of His body is conferred on the assembly the whole value of it. The whole value of the incarnation and the giving of His body in death is for the assembly, and we come to it afresh each Lord's day. It is not that we do this Lord's day what we did last, we come afresh. So you can understand how the assembly becomes suitable to the Lord. It seems to me that a company of persons, 50 or so, who actually come together, find things become so unified, that there is no divergent thought. And with all unified in thoughts of this wondrous Person, what is there to hinder the Lord coming to us? There is everything to attract Him! He may not come to us if we are not attractive to Him. I think that is sound doctrine. He fills every mind. The effect of the supper has failed of its object if it does not fill every mind with Himself. Then, there is a clear course for the Lord, He does not keep away from those who attract Him. The spouse says; "The voice of my beloved! Behold He cometh leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills.'' He will come with the utmost speed if the conditions are there. The calling of Him to mind is with this in view. It is not for our comfort or " a means of grace " for us, though we shall assuredly get that. But the object is so to unify us that we are attractive, and the Lord says, I cannot keep away from that company. He will not keep away if these conditions are there. He comes as an Object of worship; He comes in all the greatness and wonderfulness of what He is as having given His body. Then the assembly's relation to Christ, and Christ's relation to the assembly can be developed affectionately.
Rem. Everything up to that point is prescribed, and nothing after.
C.A.C. Yes, quite so. We have no divine authority to do anything else before we break bread, not to carry on a little service before it, which has been done. The Lord has expressed His mind,- This do for the calling of Me to mind,- It is not an open matter, if our affections are right, we shall carry out His mind.
Rem. Sometimes we try to work up to it as an object.
C.A.C. In christendom they have what they call "the Lord's supper" at the end of the service. That is not the divine thought, it is at the beginning I (Acts 20. 7). With this remembrance in view, I wish we might have this before us, that the Lord's thought is that it is for the calling of HIM to mind (not a state of heart exactly, but a state of mind), which has a unifying effect. I wish we could pray about it and consider it. John 12. 1-8.
C.A.C. It was before us on a previous occasion that the effect of calling the Lord to mind as the One who gave His body and poured out His blood, would be, that perfect unity of mind would be found marking the assembly the Lord Jesus filling the mind, we might say, of the assembly; so that not only is the Lord known, but also the assembly is known in her true character, a fact which I thought was important. We have been reminded more than once that the "ME" has its counterpart in the "YOU." He says, " This do for a remembrance of ME." He also says, "This is my body which is for YOU." Thus the "ME" and the "YOU" are Christ and the assembly in principle. I was wondering whether we had considered quite sufficiently the bringing to light of the true character of the assembly involved in the act of calling Him to mind.
Rem. There is the necessity of having our minds in unison in regard to the Lord; it brings us together.
C.A.C. Is that not a most important side of the matter? Not only does the assembly call the Lord to mind, but also manifests itself thereby in its true character as entirely occupied with Him. Well, what a moment to have once a week when the assembly becomes attractive to the Lord, so that He moves towards it! We get here that He moves towards the little company at Bethany, which may be viewed as the assembly from this point of view. I was thinking of the Song of Songs, chapter 5. The spouse is challenged in verse 9. "What is thy beloved more than another beloved, thou fairest among women? "And the spouse answers from verses 10-16. It seems to me those verses illustrate what it is to call Him to mind. That is, He is not actually present, but He is called to mind, and in calling Him to mind she can describe Him.
It is "ME." The Lord does not say, " Do this in remembrance that Christ died for thee." That is not the thought at all. It is not what He has done, but what He is - it is Himself. I was thinking that as the spouse speaks of Him in this way in admiration and delight, she comes to view as the undefiled one of chapter 6 verse 9. "My dove, mine undefiled, is but one; she is the only one of her mother." I think that would answer to the assembly's calling the Lord to mind, and being unified in so doing. She comes under His eye as unique, which is very precious to think of. She comes to light as undefiled. Why is she undefiled? Because her whole heart and mind are filled with Him. It is precious to think of that being realised in the assembly, even if it is only for five minutes! So that really the Lord's supper brings the assembly to light, and I believe it is the divine way of bringing the assembly to light in this world bringing to light a company of persons who are unified in their thoughts of Christ. The spouse can say further on in chapter 7 verse 10, " I am my beloved's, and his desire is toward me." My impression is that that links with John 12, that is, He came on that principle, He was not sent for. He was sent for in John 11, but in chapter 12, He came on the principle of desire, He came to a place where He was thoroughly appreciated. Is it not an important matter that the Lord should be attracted to come, because He knows the kind of reception He will have? That is the kind of company that will attract Him; He knows He will be welcome there.
Rem. "I am coming to you."
C.A.C. I was thinking of that. He comes on that principle, as being desired, not sent for. I do not think anything could keep Him away from a company taking the supper and being unified by being filled with Himself. I do not think He could keep away. The first effect of taking the supper and calling Him to mind would be, that He would be attracted to come. The presence of the Spirit in a way provides the Lord with opportunity to come. I think sometimes the Lord waits; He waits for this. He waits to see the effect which the supper has had upon us, whether we have really been unified and whether our minds are full of Himself as calling Him to mind. He waits for that. It is very important that room should be left in the assembly for the character of things we get in John 12. It is not God or the Father here. There is no thought of God or. the Father in the matter; it is the Lord who is the object of the service. "They made Him a supper" and it is all in relation to Him.
Ques. Would the previous chapters enter into it?
C.A.C. I think so in a very marked way. They had learnt Him on previous occasions and particularly in chapter 11. They had learnt Him as the resurrection and the life. He was unrivalled in their thoughts. So this is a scene characterised by the power of resurrection, known in His own Person. When the Lord instituted the supper He was anticipatively beyond suffering and death in His own spirit, so He gave thanks for the loaf and the cup, recognising the accomplishment of what is spoken of in the loaf and the cup. He places the d,isciples beyond it in giving it to them. So here the Lord is the resurr.ection and the life: resurrection was there in the power of His own Person even before He died. Lazarus is here too, though he is quiescent. He did not take any part in the service, that is, the service is carried on by the feminine part of the family. Lazarus is not active in the service of the occasion; Mary and Martha are. He represents the thought of "part with Me." He "was one of those at table with him" Of course that thought ought always to be present at the meeting; it is not always voiced. Lazarus is not brought in on the side of making a supper for Him; the feminine side is brought in the state of the assembly - and it indicates that side of the service.
Rem. It is a matter of affection and of what is subjective; what has been brought out in that sense, rather than what is apparent or in testimony.
C.A.C. I thought that. This service is entirely a matter of ministering to the Lord - not to God or the Father, but to the Lord and ministering to Him in the feminine affection of the assembly; that is the prominent thought. I think we need locally a greater apprehension of this, for we often find, when we are just beginning to have liberty in the service, that a brother gives out a hymn addressed to God and the Father, and the service is sometimes intruded upon and hindered.
Rem. This was an occasion of great value to the Lord; He came to Bethany by His own selection.
C.A.C. Yes, I think that is right. The Lord loves the appreciation of the assembly. We must be exercised. that this part of the service is maintained. It seems as if we hurried away from it, but the Lord would detain us, and He would intimate to us when the moment has come to turn to the Father. It is the lack of this element that weakens the service Godward, and exposes where we are in our affections; because, if really lovers of the Lord, we should like to dwell upon Himself. "They made Him a supper." All the previous experience of the soul and its knowledge of Christ enter into this; so that when together in assembly we can easily take on the service, because the affectiohs proper to the service are with us; we bring those affections with us. Rem. It is good to see Martha's over-activity adjusted here.
C.A.C. It seems to me that Martha represents the element that would secure what is suitable in the external service of the assembly; and the inwardness, the spiritual side, is secured in Mary. We must not think, of course, that the Father is losing anything by this service; it is of the utmost delight to the Father to see it rendered. This is not depriving the Father of anything; it is providing Him with positive delight. He says, "the Father himself has affection for you, because ye have had affection for me." The assembly comes under the Father's affectionate regard because of it. It was Abraham's delight for Isaac to have a wife. How this carries us away from anything formal or religious! If this is right the outward would be right, so that the assembly, marked by this service, would be in perfect order. Mary sets forth in a unique way the inwardness of the assembly in her appreciation of Christ. There is nothing like it. This pound of ointment stands alone; there is nothing in Scripture you can put beside it. She was not acting on the impulse of the moment, but she had this store in possession and could bring it out at the right moment. In the New Translation note we are told a peculiar word is used in regard to it, difficult to interpret and never used on any other occasion. It seems to bring out the uniqueness of it. She had gathered up a precious store, she had entered into who He was, and where He was going, in a way no one else had. None of the apostles had this pound of ointment.
Rem. She was ready to take advantage of her opportunity.
C.A.C. That is a very helpful suggestion. It should make us very alert. We need to be alert at the supper. We ought to be more lively then than at any other time.
Ques. In intelligent affection?
C.A.C. Yes, so that this extraordinary wealth of appreciation of the assembly should come into evidence. There were types in the Old Testament like the incense and the anointing oil, of which the ingredients were all prescribed. But there was nothing like that about Mary's pound of ointment. It represented what developed in her, own affections as she had been with Him. This wonderful, intense valuation of His Person developed, so that she had a sense of the infinite divine wealth in His Person. That went to make up this wealth-incorruptible affections, you might say. Such are the affections of the assembly normally. The assembly is capable of taking up what is set forth in Mary's act.
Rem. It is good to know exactly when to come in.
C.A.C. That is very delightful in regard to any little part that we take in the meeting. It is ieportant in the service that every part in it should fit in.
Rem. And the place is mentioned. It says it was there, where the dead man had been.
C.A.C. And it is in the place where His death has been. What it must be to the Lord in the midst of a world that actually despises and rejects Him, to see a company that thinks everything of Him! We can hardly conceive the delight it must be to Him.
Rem. It is the place where death has been overcome and set aside.
C.A.C. Yes, and do not you think that Mary is there? He has died, and all she has to think of is His burial, and in her mind the day has arrived for His burial. It is beautiful. It shews that in spirit she is beyond His death, and only looking at His relation to this world, to be prepared by her affection for His burial. He is to disappear from the world, from man, by being buried, so that He should be known in a new relation in which He stands to the Father and to the assembly. He has not a link with the world, He is out of it! Burial is the disappearance of Christ after the flesh, but He appears in the Father's world. The next chapter shews this; and He lives in relation to the assembly. I think all that is set forth in her preparation for His burial. How the Lord would have us understand that He has done with this world! He has not only died but was buried, so that we may live with Him in relation to the assembly and the Father. The Lord having been buried, could not be touched after the old order at all. He could be touched in the assembly. " Handle me and see." It is to be understood spiritually, He is to be handled in all the substantial character of His new condition.
Rem. Mary anoints His feet, which speak of His pathway down here.
C.A.C. His feet now move in the assembly in a new way. " I am coming to you" signifies a movement of His feet. It is very precious to see there is a distinction in John's gospel. In the other gospels His head is anointed; here it is His feet that are anointed, that is, the full thought of His Person has come out in this gospel, so you could not think of anointing His head if you think of Him as God. But the assembly can also anoint Him. " He is head over all things to the assembly." The assembly can do that, but when it is a question of His Person it must be His feet in adoration; there could be no rising up to His head in John's gospel. One wishes these things might affect us arid come out in the service of the assembly. We pass too quickly away from the service to the Lord, to the Father; we do not give sufficient place for His service. I believe it is most important. John 13. 1. 14. 18.
C.A.C. It is not easy to suggest Scriptures comprehensive enough to cover all that relates to what we are consider-ing but I thought we could read these two verses to start with, and work from that. I might just say that we have been looking at matters connected with the Lord's supper. We thought of what was connected with calling Him to mind in the reading before last, and last week we were saying what the effect is upon the Lord of our calling Him to mind, which we thought was an important matter. We referred to. the Song of Songs 5. 10-16, beginning with the spouse saying, "My beloved . . . The chiefest among ten thousand," and ending with, " . . . Yea, he is altogether lovely." We thought that was calling Him to mind, because He was absent. He was in her mind in all His personal excellence and beauty, surpassing all others, and we thought that was properly bound up in the calling Him to mind. The effect in chapter 6 verse 9 is that the attitude of her mind, in calling Him to mind, brings her into view in her unique beauty under His eye. As we have said, the assembly is unified in calling Him to mind, and she is seen in her true character, and so in chapter 7, she becomes the object of His desire; and it is on that line that He came to Bethany in John 12. He came that they might make Him a supper. It is the converse of the Lord making us a supper. The service is set forth in a feminine character. Lazarus is not active, Martha serves and Mary worships in a way that surpasses anything in Scripture, as far as I know.
I thought we might see this afternoon what follows upon that. That is not the end of the matter. There is something even greater than that, greater than any service that we can render to Him. That is, He serves us in a way of surpassing excellence. I thought it was the service following on the supper that we might consider this afternoon for mutual help.
Ques. Would you say how the Lord's service of feet-washing is connected with.that?
C.A.C. That is necessary on account of something on our side, but I was not thinking of dwelling on that particularly, as I do not know that it should have been prominent, but it comes in incidentally, on account of the need of His own. It is always necessary in order that we should have part with Him. We cannot enter into what follows in chapters 13-16 without having our feet washed. The Lord takes account of the fact that we are affected by the scene through which we pass, and would have us liberated to have part with Him; really to share His thoughts, and His precious thoughts are unfolded in chapters 13-17. If we do not share His thoughts, it seems to me, we cannot share in His service of praise.
Rem. The assembly is the only vessel that can rightly interpret the heart of Christ.
C.A.C. What He communicates must be greater than anything we can say to Him. What He says to us in Headship is of the greatest importance. It must be so when the marriage tie is in view. Whether it is Moses with Zipporah, or Isaac with Rebecca, or Boaz with Ruth, or Joseph with Asenath, or David with Abigail, or Adam with Eve - whichever way you look at it, the communication from the Head would be the important matter.
Ques. It follows on; it is the Lord's response to those at Bethany, would you say?
C.A.C. That is exactly what I was thinking! The Lord is so affected by the attitude taken by the assembly, there is such a reciprocity of affection between Christ and the assembly - the " ME " and the " YOU "- that there is liberty for Him to communicate all that is in His mind. Unless we understand this we shall not enter into His singing in the assembly! It is most significant that these chapters in John follow what describes the institution of the supper, though John does not give us the institution of the supper. I believe the Lord would give us spiritual impressions in these chapters. He has something to say to us after the supper, to draw us to His side, to enable us to join Him in the way He approaches the Father. This is the first part of the communications He gives. The Head is the source; it is as getting what is in His mind and His heart that we get the gain of Headship. It is very striking that after saying all this, He turns to the Father in chapter 17. There is instruction in that, shewing He will go a long way in communicating to us, but there is something more, now He is going to speak to His Father. In these chapters the Lord has very much to say about the Father, it really would answer to His declaring the Father's Name; and He would bring us into His mind, that we should get spiritual impressions of what is opened out in chapters 13-17. We shall never understand the assembly unless we see how the Lord was with His own, as J.N D. and J.B.S. said. In learning how the Lord was with His own in these chapters, we get an apprehension of the character of things that belongs to the assembly. I think it was a drawing of them to His side. The key to it all was having " part with me." Part with ME is entering into what is in His heart and mind - what He would communicate.
Rem. "I will declare thy name unto my brethren," comes first.
C.A.C. " I will declare thy name unto my brethren" comes necessarily before His singing praise, and all that is before us in John is connected with making' known the Father's Name. These chapters are full of the Father and the Spirit; we can see the spiritual beauty of them. It is important to see that when He says, " I am coming to you," it is a greater thing than chapter 12. There He came to them to be served - Martha served and Mary anointed Him. But His coming in chapter 14 is greater than that, because He comes to serve - to minister to them. " I will not leave you orphans, I am coming to you." And if He comes it is to serve a condition of heart, an orphaned condition, and supply the comfort needed by the affection of the assembly, a peculiar kind of comfort derived from His presence and the ministry of His own thoughts. All is for the attuning of the instruments to praise the Father. The first thing after the supper is that we should serve Him. There was the supper and Martha's service and Mary's pound of ointment, all that He should be served, When He says, " I am coming to you," He comes to serve us, and chapters 13-17 are a real, actual, living example of how He serves His own in love. It is the service of the head, of the husband to the wife, it is a marital service. We may say we do not know much about it ; the Lord will help us, let us pray about it. The Lord would delight to lead us into it and give us the intelligence of it.
Rem. "Another Comforter."
C.A.C. It is the Spirit on the line of needed support. He takes His place in service and represents Him on the line of His service for us, just as the Lord served His own in these chapters. Chapters 13-17 are full of His service in love for His own. Now, He says, the Comforter is coming to continue the service. I can understand now, the great importance the great servants of the Lord saw of ministering in the assembly. J.N.D., J.B.S. and F.E.R. almost invariably - ministered the word in the assembly. I remember J. B.S. expressed astonishment if there was no word from the Lord in the morning meeting ministry on the line of the Lord's service as Head to the assembly. We think we can join the Lord automatically and sing with Him, but we cannot without being served by the Lord first. Do we look at it that way? We say, we go to remember the Lord. That is not all that I go for!
Rem. " The Head, from. wbom all the body, ministered to and united together by the joints and bands, increases with the increase of God." Col. 2. 19.
C.A.C. That exactly puts in one verse all that I had in mind. The Head ministers, with the result that the body becomes intelligent. What follows is, the word of the Christ dwelling richly in it - in the body, so that there is wisdom to admonish one another. " In all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another." This service is going on still. The result is, "Singing with grace in your hearts to God." Now you get the service Godward-"Giving thanks to God the Father by Him" the assembly is to function vitally, we must understand these things. lithe assembly is to go on intelligently we must understand these things.
Ques. You mean in the sense of the assembly as one whole, so that there is freedom?
C.A.C. I thought so. It is not given to us purely as doctrine; the service of the assembly is never laid down in doctrine. If it were, all christendom would have followed it. He says, I am going to put the teaching of it in such a spiritual way that it will not be understood unless there is reciprocity and love. We need to pick up the spiritual hints dropped. We shall not be qualified to sing with Him unless the thoughts relating to God and the Father have the place with us that they had with Him. This moment becomes a turning point in the meeting when His service to us ends, and He turns round to praise God. We have to have sharp eyes to see Him turn round. If one thinks that He is serving us when He has turned to praise God, and another thinks that He has turned to praise God when He is serving us, we bring discord into the meeting, like trying to sing two hymns at the same time. When He turns to praise God, if we do not turn too, the service is spoilt.
Ques.- Is it voluntary?
C.A.C. You can join a chapel on a voluntary basis, and some have joined the brethren on a voluntary basis, but how would you get into the body on a voluntary basis? Nobody does. What we have to do is to find our place in the body; you could never think of getting out of it. We cannot come in or go out of fellowship on a voluntary basis. If any one does he is a thoroughly lawless person.
Rem. The breaking of bread is not a matter of option.
C.A.C. No christian is left at liberty as to whether he will break bread or not. It is never supported or contemplated in Scripture that a believer will not eat the Lord's supper. A good many unenlightened persons think it is the Lord's supper anywhere where they have bread and a cup, but, it is not ! The Lord's supper is set in the assembly of God and nowhere else, though there is a kind of imitation. How could you have two Lord's suppers in one town, you could not have it ! 'The Lord's supper is intended to unify all the saints. If you have two companies not in fellowship with one another, claiming it, one of them at any rate is deceived.
Rem. Would you say a word as to sensitiveness to the Lord's movements, what promotes it?
C.A.C. Nothing will promote it but personal acquaintance with the Lord, to know Him well enough to know when He says, " Arise, let us go hence."
Rem. John who was so intimate with Him would know.
C.A.C. A man like that would know whether the Lord was speaking to them or to the Father. All the apostles would know. When He lifted up His eyes to heaven, they all knew He was speaking to the Father. There could not properly be praise in the assembly before the resurrection, but it illustrates it. It was an entirely different attitude, and we ought to understand that, and that in His position as Man He can take that place as addressing "the Father." The Lord wants us to understand what He is doing. We see the Son has taken a place in Manhood in which He can say, "My God and your God," which is a relative position, though in His Person equal with God. In the service these things should be understood, otherwise they will not be in order. Any christian would be free as to the Son praying to the Father, but no christian would think of the Father praying to the Son, it is an impossibility. The Son prays to the Father, He takes a place of dependence, and it belongs to the place He has taken as Man. The Lord would draw us to His side by speaking of the communications in chs. 13-16 in the assembly or whenever we come together, so that we might be so served by Him that we really come to His side. We are alongside of Him; He can turn to the Father, and we can turn in company with Him to the Father.
Ques. It would be mediatorial service would you say?
C.A.C. Yes, surely. Well, one can only with imperfection say these things, and the Lord can help us and I hope will, because I think the side of the Lord's service to us is little understood. It is a time when the Lord would serve us by giving us spiritual impressions, and one should covet being used by Him for it. If it were so, we should not think of saying such and such a brother gave a word, but what a word the Lord gave us this morning! Hebrews 2. 11 & 12.
C.A.C. I might say what was in mind was, that we might consider the Headship of Christ in its Godward aspect. We had it before us last week in its aspect towards the saints, the ministry of the Head to His saints the body, as illustrated in the spirit of it in John 13-16. My thought was it would be profitable to look at the converse of this, that is the Lord in His great service Godward as singing praise in the midst of the assembly. Rem. In Psalm 22 it is the great result of His death.
C.A.C. Yes, quite so, it is the result of the death of Christ in sin-offering character. Psalm 22 gives us more definitely than any other Scripture the sufferings of Christ in sin-offering character, as a consequence of which He is heard from the horns of the buffaloes, from the direct point of suffering. He is heard from the extremity to which He went as being made sin. What is brought out then is that He has brethren. It is there that this Scripture is quoted from, " I will declare thy name to my brethren"; it is His brethren as I understand it, on the footing of holiness.
Ques. What do you mean by that?
C.A.C. He is the great Sanctifier; the sin-offering was necessitated by the holiness of God. He says, "But thou art holy, 0 thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel," it is God in holiness that is the subject of praise. Therefore it is in that sense that the assembly must of necessity be a sanctified company sanctification having to do with holiness not righteousness. God's thought is to be praised in His holiness. I think that is the great point of praises. The offering of Christ results in there being a sanctified company. The sin offering is Godward, but there is not only a result Godward, God is glorified in the Son of man, there is a result manward, that is, a certain company of persons, as sanctified by that work, are set in holiness before God.
Rem. You said that here in Hebrews it is rather more positional.
C.A.C. Yes. I think this is a Scripture that the Hebrews did ,not enter into much, but you have to go to John to get the completeness of it. It is a great matter, it seems to me, that the sanctification of the saints is entirely the result of what Christ has effected nothing whatever to do with any work done in us, it is entirely the work of the Sanctifier. Christ has this great honour from God that He is the Sanctifier, and the way the sanctified company is set before God is entirely the result of what He does as the Sanctifier. It is a work done entirely outside of them.
Rem. "By one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified."
C.A.C. The understanding of this is most important. The general idea of sanctification held is a sort of process going on in souls and being added to continually, and it never reaches a point of completion. Those who hold that as the position in which they are with God, are never at liberty, but in bondage. They are in no sense suitable to be in the place where 'Christ sings to God, because they are not clear as to the footing Christ has put them on with God. Galatians and Romans shew how we can be with God in righteousness, but Hebrews how we can be with God in holiness.
Ques. In I Cor. 1. 2 it says, to those "sanctified in Christ Jesus, called saints" is that in spite of their condition? He could address them further on as carnal.
C.A.C. Yes. It is by the calling of God and in Christ Jesus, but this Scripture supposes a work of God in men, because the saints are in view in their character as the children of Abraham, the subjects of divine calling and divine work. The Spirit of God brings out that they are not sanctified by divine calling or a work of God in them, but entirely by what the Sanctifier does for them.
Rem. "By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all."
C.A.C. God is most concerned that we should honour Christ and the work of Christ. The sanctifying work of Christ is so complete that there is not a flaw in it. The saints as a sanctified company are placed before God in Christ in holiness. If we do not know that, we are not in the position o of Christ's brethren. Sanctification is the way we are set in the presence of the holiness of God. We are set there on a perfectly holy footing so that there is no disparity between Christ as the Sanctifier and those who are sanctified - they are all of one.
Ques. The importance of this matter hangs on the understanding of being "all of one" would you say?
C.A.C. Yes, and it is how Christ regards us, not how we regard ourselves. So it says, "Fpr which cause he is not ashamed to call "them brethren." It is how He regards us; He regards the sanctified company as being as clear of sins and sin as He is Himself. Is not that a wonderful thing? God has provided in sanctification a holy way through the work of Christ, for the saints to be before Him as being suitable in holiness. He is not ashamed to call us His brethren, otherwise He would be ashamed of His own work; they are the fruit of His own work.
Rem. They are called "holy brethren."
C.A.C. That is how we regard one another. The writer addresses them as holy brethren, they are not viewed in any other way. H we were writing to any company of saints, we should have them in mind in that way, it sets us in happy relations. It seems to me, it is this that sets us perfectly free to listen to the Lord declaring the Father's Name to us.
Rem. Here the brethren are a necessity to Christ in the service, if one might so say.
C.A.C. Yes. He must have a company to whom He can declare the Name of God, and the company must be sanctified apart from the question of sin and unsuitability. He effects that by His death so that all can be at liberty to listen to His declaring God's Name, the Father's Name particularly. There is nothing to hinder His speaking to them of God as He knows Him. God's Name is Himself as having come into revelation - all that God is as known to Christ. Think of the assembly as a company at perfect liberty to take it in! J.B.S. used to speak of the assembly as the most august company in the world. I think all this is to prepare the way for the Lord's singing.
Rem. This would seem to be an amplified quotation, for singing is added here.
C.A.C. Yes, that is very interesting, and this matter of singing is one of which we have no example in Scripture, except as suggested in the hymn they sang after the supper. If we want to understand it, we must enter into it ourselves. I think perhaps the most important matter in the service of God is to understand how He sings. He says, I will sing," that is, the great point to understand is how He sings, because that will affect us profoundly. It will put us off the ground of what we are, and on the ground of what He is and what He does. The declaration of God's Name, or the Father's Name, which is included in it, is to us-ward, but His singing is God-ward. The understanding of this new position that He takes up in the midst of the assembly is most important.
Qu. "By one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified" What character of sanctification is taken up there?
C.A.C. I think it goes beyond the thought of that Scripture. You see the service manward brought out in the first three gospels in connection with Christ risen and His service during the forty days; the result is the going out of the glad tidings the presentation to man. But in John it is the other side, He sends this message, " I ascend to my Father and your Father, and to my God and your God." It is the movement Godward. That is what we are occupied with this afternoon, we want to understand how He moves that way.
Ques. As Minister of the sanctuary, is that more the thought?
C.A.C. No doubt it comes in at the same time in the service Godward. Minister of the sanctuary undoubtedly suggests the thought of singing. There was no singing in the tabernacle service.
Rem. In Chronicles we read of Asaph giving direction as to the singing in the service of God. Does Christ not give direction as Head to what is voiced in the assembly? In Romans 15 we get" I will confess to Thee among the nations, and will sing unto Thy Name."
C.A.C. I think He gives us apprehension as to how He sings. There is a quality and excellence about His singing in the midst of the assembly because He is there as Head, He is the pre-eminent One. He is not on a level with His brethren, He is amongst them as the Firstborn, He has a unique place. And this thought of singing is going to be extended. The nations in the world to come sing praise after the pattern of His praise. Singing in that scripture means singing to a musical instrument. It suggests that the notes are yet to be attuned to the praises of Christ. At the present time He sings in the midst of the assembly in a unique way. He is all-glorious, there is none in the company on a level with Him, but yet it is a company that can give expression to His singing; they are a sanctified company. I think we should all be affected profoundly if we got a sense of it. It belongs to the realm of mystery - the Lord coming into the midst. In John He comes to serve us by ministering what is in ,His own heart and mind, set forth in pattern in chapters 13-17, but now He also comes to sing, He comes also to serve God. The Lord's praising in the midst would give, us a sense of how He sings to God His Father. He would keep His Person distinct. I am anxious we should not lose any conception we have of His greatness. He does not say, I ascend to our Father and to our God " but " to my Father and your Father and to my God and your God." He distinguishes Himself; He carefully preserves His own exclusive glory, so He is alone in His glory. I think the whole thing depends on Christ having His distinctive place. We do not understand the place of many brethren if we do not understand the Firstborn.
Rem. " For their sakes I sanctify myself that they also might be sanctified through the truth." (John 17).
C.A.C. The " Myself " is distinct from the " they." All this is much for the pleasure of God, that we should realise that there is this divine Person who has come into Manhood, that He might take this place before God, and no one can sing as He does. With the Lord you have the full measure, the completeness of the thing. " My Father," it is what His Father was to Him, it is immeasurable in His case, " My God ! " We see the completeness in Him, One who could compass what His Father was to Him, and what His God was to Him. That gives a complete value to His singing, you have the full measure of things in Christ, and His body, the assembly, is to be equal to expressing it. We come into it not according to the measure of our spiritual stature - it is according to our measure, and that with most of us is small. What we are speaking of now is what He is as the glorious ascended Man, that is the One who now sings to God. He is in that position, the glorified Man, the heavenly Man. He moves Godward in ascension and He links us up in that way. "My God and your God." All that His God ~ is to Him at this moment is the fulness of what God will be to the saints eternally. The epistle to the Hebrews labours to bring us to a sense of His personal distinctiveness and that gives character to the singing in the assembly.
Rem. In Exodus it says, "Then sang Moses and the children of Israel this song."
C.A.C. And I have no doubt Moses sang it in a much more excellent way than they did. We find on the side of response they did not go very far.-"Jehovah hath triumphed gloriously"- but they did not reach the sanctuary. I daresay Moses was more interested in that than in anything.
Ques. The unique place of Christ enters into sonship too does it not ? He is the unique One.
C.A.C. Yes, and that being understood He should take the central place in the assembly, so that the assembly may gather in some sense how He sings to His God and Father. That will put our singing right. He can put all that the blessed God is as known to Him in a hymn of praise. The thought is that the praises of the assembly might really take character from His praises. - We cannot get any further than that, it is pretty well the climax of our subject, and that is what the supper leads to. It is the highest privilege of the assembly, a company in the midst of which Christ sings praises to His God and Father.
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