The Sufficiency of Christ Triumphant for the Entire Need of His Body on Earth

J.N.Darby has beautifully written, "Christ never fails, and there cannot be a want in Christ's church without there being an answer to it in Christ's heart." Yes, and how blessed, how full of comfort it is to know that His heart not only discerns and feels and responds to every want, but that His love is not an impotent love, but that He has triumphed over the whole power of the enemy in order to meet the needs of His church from His exalted seat of glory! This comes out in Ephesians 4.

"But to every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. Wherefore He says, when He ascended up on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men. (Now that He ascended, what is it but that He also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that He might fill all things)" (Eph. 4:7-10).

He once stood a Man upon earth, come down from Godhead's fullest glory to deliver men from the bondage of a great foe. He met for Himself first of all all the subtlety and power of that foe, for He had to be tested Himself. How could He deliver others unless He were able to stand free Himself. In the wilderness He was tempted, and triumphed, and Satan left Him for a little season. Having failed to bring Him beneath his yoke by his wiles and allurements he returned and confronted Him with all the terrors of darkness and death in Gethsemane. How little we understand that conflict which caused the sweat of blood to fall from His sacred brow to the earth! We can only stand by and wonder, but our wonder deepens to adoration as we hear Him say to His Father. "O my Father, if this cup may not pass from Me, except I drink it, Thy will be done."

Thus He proved Himself to be invincible before the whole force of the enemy, but thus far He stood alone, and He had become Man to deliver men from Satan's captivity, and to do this He had to descend into the lower parts of the earth, "Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die it abides alone." He had to go into judgment and death; to meet the great oppressor in his own stronghold and there destroy his power, as David tracked the lion to his lair that had robbed his flock of a lamb; and this He has done, that "through death He might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver those who through fear of death were all their life-time subject to bondage" (Heb. 2:14). Now He has ascended up far above all heavens that He might fill all things. He has travelled in His conquering might from the lowest spot in death to the highest point in glory, having made Himself master over the whole dominion of darkness, the captivity in which men had been held captive. So could He say to John, "I am He that lives and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore. Amen; and have the keys of death and hell." It is as Man that He has gone up; His exaltation from the side we are viewing it is in virtue of an accomplished redemption and the overthrow of Satan's power. He glorified God His Father; and as Man He fought for men and His triumph has been gained for men, the deliverance is for them, little though they care about it; and the announcement of it is sent out to them by the evangelists that the exalted Christ has given to them, though we have sadly to ask, "Who has believed our report?" Sad it is that men love their captivity rather than the glorious liberty into which He can bring them.

But if men at large despise the gifts He has given for their blessing, and spurn the blessing which might be theirs through belief of the truth, nevertheless the great purpose of God for this present moment is being carried out, and the gifts are enumerated, "and He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers" (Eph. 4:11). They are given for the building up, the blessing, and the completion of His body. They are given, "for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ" (Eph. 4:12).

The apostles and prophets are those who laid the foundation. They abide for us in the Scriptures which contain the inspired words. The evangelists, pastors and teachers still abide. How solemn yet how blessed the position of any and all who are such! How needful that they should be in close contact and communion with the Head of the body so that their communications to the saints who form it may be from Himself to His members. The purpose is, says J.N.D., that "the assembly, and each one of the members of Christ, should be filled with the thoughts and the riches of a well-known Christ, instead of being tossed to and fro by all sorts of doctrines brought forward by the enemy to deceive souls."

Yet while there are special gifts, every member of the body has his own special gift, for, "to every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ."

Christendom has spoiled everything, and few now look only to the Head for the giving of gifts for the needed ministry to the saints; few indeed recognize Christ as the One all-sufficient Head of His assembly. The majority walk by sight and must have some visible authority to which to turn, and whether this be pontifical, episcopal, presidential, congressional, or what not, it is all in principle the same, and correspondingly the loss is great.

Oh that there might be an awakening on the part of the saints of God, who are the body of Christ, as to the complete adequacy of Christ to maintain His own assembly; there would follow the abandonment of every human organization that has grown up in Christendom; the turning away from every worldly device for the furtherance of God's work; tradition would cease to enthral, precedent would no longer guide, but Christ would be all. What power and blessing and liberty would be the result for all who did this. Their part would be the one that Peter found when he left the boat to walk on the water to go to Jesus. "If it be Thou," all he wished to be assured of. Then he stepped forth out of everything to which a man might cling, to learn that none but Christ to whom he stepped forth could maintain him, but that He was altogether competent to go forth to Him, He cannot fail us; evangelists, pastors and teachers may fail, every member may fail in the exercise of that gift that Christ has given to them, but Christ the Head abides the same. Times and circumstances change, hence we cannot act upon precedents, or rely upon tradition; we have no need to, for the power and wisdom and care of the Head is equal to all changes, and every crisis; His Name, His word, His grace, His direction are all we need.

"When human cisterns all are dry,   Thy fullness is the same; May we with this be satisfied   And glory in Thy name."

No good in creatures can be found,   All, all is found in Thee, We must have all things and abound   Through Thy sufficiency."

Does not the heart stir at the thought of being a means of supply from the living Head to ones fellow-members! To have a part in the nourishing and increase of the body, to its development to the full likeness of Christ! What a favour, what a high honour is this! This is brought within the reach of the feeblest member of this wonderful body; and if these few pages, put together in fear and trembling, and many prayers, result in any being stirred up in these things to fulfil those functions which are proper to them as being members of this body, then will those who have laboured be abundantly compensated, for in this the Lord will be glorified and His saints truly edified.