The Assembly in Time and Eternity.

(Notes of an address)

Scriptures read: Matt. 16:13-49; Matt. 17:1-8; Rev. 21:2-3, 10-11.

At the close of the Bible Reading we touched on the subject of the Mystery concerning Christ and the church, that which had been hid from ages and generations, but which God now desired to make known to His saints, so that we should be intelligent in regard to His thoughts and will. I thought that we might follow on with what God has told us of the church in Matthew 16. At this place in the Gospel a distinct change takes place. Earlier, the Jews had rejected the Lord as Messiah; now, as seen in verse 4, He turns from them. But who was it that had been rejected by Israel, whom did men say the Son of Man was? The disciples were able to give the different opinions of men, opinions which showed that mans highest thoughts of Jesus were poor indeed. But now the disciples are challenged: what are their thoughts of Him, "Whom say ye that I am?" Simon Peter responds "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." What a reply Here were thoughts supremely transcending the highest thoughts of men. The One rejected by Israel is indeed the Anointed of God and His own dear Son. But Peter had not discerned the glory of Christ's Person in any natural way; the thought did not proceed from himself, nor did any man communicate it to him. It was a revelation to him from the Father. The Father Himself had enabled Peter to perceive Who Jesus was. And it was on the truth of Christ's Person, thus revealed, that Christ would build His assembly. He was the Son of the living God, and in resurrection He would build a structure against which all the power of Satan could not prevail.

In the second chapter of the first epistle of Peter we learn something more concerning this living structure. It is a spiritual house, composed of living stones; those who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ; who come to Him as the Living Stone. Every true believer is part of Christ's assembly, and forms part of the spiritual house. In relation to the spiritual house, Christ is seen as the "Chief corner stone, elect, precious;" and the believer in Him is not confounded, but rather enjoys the preciousness connected with the Person of Christ.

The Father had given a wonderful revelation to Peter, so that the Lord could say to him, "Blessed art thou Simon Barjona;" and the Lord Himself had spoken great things to him. He had called him Peter, indicating that he was a stone for the building to be built, and declaring the imperishable nature of the structure. Now He commits to Peter the keys of the kingdom of heaven, a particular administration connected with His affairs on earth. The kingdom is now in mystery, for on earth we have a great kingdom with many subjects, but without a visible king. Peter, having the keys of the kingdom, admitted the Jews in Acts 2, and the Gentiles in Acts 10. All who submit to the authority of Christ, whether in reality or in profession, are viewed as responsible subjects of this kingdom. It is one thing however to be a responsible subject in the kingdom, and quite another to be a stone in the building that Christ calls "My assembly." Peter was given the keys of the kingdom, not the keys of the assembly, nor the keys of heaven. It was into an earthly administration that acknowledged the rule of heaven that Peter admitted men. He has nothing to do with admitting into the church which the gates of hell can not prevail against, or into the presence of God in heaven.

If Peter had the privilege of confessing Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the living God, in chapter 16, he has the privilege along with James and John, in chapter 17, of witnessing the glory connected with "the Son of Man coming in His kingdom." And this shall soon be the privilege of every member of Christ's assembly. Soon we shall see our blessed Lord in glory and exaltation, soon we shall enter into the cloud where He is, and from whence the Father's voice has been heard. We shall be with Him, and like Him, in the presence of the Father, to enter more deeply into the meaning of the words, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear Him." But how wonderful that we can look into His unveiled face even now, to behold His glory, the glory that proclaims Him to be the Father's beloved Son. Very soon too we shall see Him, according to His own desire, to behold the glory that the Father has given Him as having loved Him before the world's foundation.

Passing to Revelation 21:9 we see the assembly as the bride, the Lamb's wife. Of divine origin, manifesting her heavenly character, the assembly is the vessel of divine glory. Those who are the living stones in the spiritual house are now seen as precious stones reflecting the light of the glory of God. But the shining of the church is compared to "a most precious stone, as a crystal-like jasper stone." Here is a vessel suited for the display of God's own glory; that which He Himself has created and formed, a vessel bearing the same character as Him who sat upon the throne in chapter 4:3, and which is resplendent in heavenly light.

In verses 2 and 3 this same assembly is seen in eternity. Under the watchful eye of Christ she has passed through all the vicissitudes of her earthly sojourn, and the millennial display has passed; now she is seen in her pristine beauty, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband." Here we learn what the church shall be for the eye and heart of Christ for all eternity; also what it shall be as God's tabernacle for His dwelling with men on the new earth.

How near these things are: how very soon and we shall have left all of time behind, and for eternity dwell with the Father and the Son. But how great the grace that has enlightened us regarding his counsels concerning His church, conceived in eternity, formed in time and preserved while in this world, the vessel of His glory for the Millennium, His tabernacle for eternity.
J. Muckle.

God's Love for Me.

God loves me as He loves Christ. I dare to say that. He has glorified God by taking my place. It was a true transfer. When He sits in judgment, we shall be seated on thrones around Him. When He takes up Israel, we shall reign with Him.
J. N. Darby.