The truth of the Lordship of Christ in the assembly should be kept prominently before the saints in ministry as giving character to the assembly life and witness. The apostle labours to emphasize this in the first Epistle to the Corinthians. His object in writing was to set in order details of assembly life, according to an order that was Divine, of which God was author (14:33). The Saviours title of authority is used in the Epistle 68 times, for the saints have been brought by the Grace of God under theocratic rule, and the Lord dwells in the midst of His redeemed to govern and guide, working out His Own Will in those who are gladly surrendered to His authority. The Churches of God are characterised as “All that in every place call upon the Name of Jesus Christ our Lord” (1: 2).
When pleading for unity, which had been disturbed as the result of their carnality, the apostle beseeches “by the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1: 10).
As Balaam observed it, the camp of Israel was a beautiful picture of perfect order and unity, each tent pitched by its own standard, and each tribe encamped in relation to the sanctuary in the midst. So that he was constrained to say, “How goodly are thy tents, O Jacob, and thy tabernacles, O Israel.” The secret of that orderliness was the one principle of rule acknowledged there. In the practical acknowledgement of the Lordship of Christ in the assembly, by every member of it, lies the secret of unity today.
The remembrance meeting is the very heart of assembly life and testimony. The instructions that govern the observance of the Lord’s Supper, were given to Paul by special revelation from the Lord. It was the Lord Jesus Who instituted it; the loaf Speaks of the body of the Lord, the cup symbolizes the Blood of the Lord and “as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord’s death until He “come” (11:23-26). The constant recurrence of His title of Lordship in the passage, shows that the Lord’s Supper is spread in that which is the sphere of His Lordship and rule. Because of this we must be prepared to judge everything in our lives that compromises His glory, and if we bring defilement into such a holy place, the Lord’s hand will be upon us in chastisement (11: 27-32).
The epistle has displayed the pattern of Divine order, and now, as if anticipating cavillers, the apostle says, “What! came the Word of God out from you? or came it unto you only? If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord” (14: 36, 37).
When God would dwell in the midst of His people in the wilderness, He. gave them the privilege of building His sanctuary saying, “Let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them” (Ex. 25:8),. But He denied them the privilege of being the architects of His dwelling, saying, “According to all that I show thee, after the pattern of the tabernacle … even so shall ye make it” (Ex. 25: 9). That pattern was afterwards detailed, and, significantly, the first thing that . God did was to set the Ark and Mercy Seat, and then He built everything around it and in relation to it. The Ark with its Mercy Seat was God’s Throne in the midst of His people. He issued His commands for the guidance of every step of their path (Ex. 25: 22). The Throne of God was given the central place in the service of “The Tent of Meeting” – ”The Sanctuary of God.”
The glory of the millennial house is thus described: “Behold the glory of the Lord filled the house … and He said unto me, ‘Son of man, the place of my Throne, and the place of the Soles of My Feet, where I will dwell in the midst of the children of Israel for ever, and My Holy Name, shall the house of Israel no more defile’” (Ezek. 43: 5-7).
In this dispensation the assembly, God’s spiritual house, answers to the material house in which God dwelt in old times. These titles of dignity and privilege, making such tremendous practical demands, upon us, describe the character of the assembly. It is intended to be, “The place of my Throne, and, the place of the soles of my feet.” The first of these emphasises His claim upon us as our absolute Lord. The second expresses our loving response to His claims, as we gladly bow at His feet with worship and homage and unreserved surrender, henceforth to serve His pleasure in obeying His Word, seeking His Glory in giving practical form to His Will.
So shall the presence of God be manifested in power and blessing in our midst, and “The Glory of the Lord” will fill the House.
(Mr. Trew’s next article, entitled “God’s Husbandry,” will set forth the Assembly as God’s Garden bearing fruit for His pleasure.)