1 Cor. 12.

1867 298 It is not the gifts that we shall be occupied with, but especially verses 12, 14. We may consider the Holy Ghost in the Christian looked at as an individual. (1 Cor. vi. 19.) He may also be considered in the Church as a body. (1 Cor iii. 16.) In the first case, it is very important to distinguish, in the Christian, between the work and the indwelling of the Holy Ghost, because His work is a work in man, whilst, as to His presence, it is God Himself — consequently there is power.

But we will now speak of the Holy Ghost in the Church, the body of Christ.

The baptism of the Holy Ghost is that which constitutes the unity of the body. The Holy Ghost dwelling in Christians unites them in one, because there is but one Spirit.

There is another passage (namely, Ephesians ii. 22) which says that we are "builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit."

There are therefore two ideas:
First, to be a tabernacle, the habitation of God;
Secondly, to be baptized of the Holy Ghost

When one is saved, the first thought of faith is that God dwells in us. One wishes God to dwell in and with us, and God recognizes this desire of faith. (See Exodus xv. 2.)

In Exodus xxix. 43, 46, we find that God answers the prayer that Israel had made in their song on the borders of the sea. He made His abode in Israel by means of the ark.

Well, in Israel, all this has been lost, for that which is the nearest to God becomes the worst, when one is unfaithful. (Eli. Sam. iv.) In the days of Eli, they were not able to retain the tabernacle and the ark as Joshua had given it to them. When the people had entered into rest, they had to bring the ark into battle. It is the occasion for pronouncing Ichabod upon Israel. Here is the judgment of God exercised upon His people. (1 Sam. iv. 21; see Psalm lxxviii. 59.) Then when God had disciplined His people, He raised up David to be the one who should deliver them. (Psalm lxxviii. 65-72.)

In Psalm cxxxii. you will find that the thought of God was to have the ark in His rest. When God begins again His work in grace, He returns to the rest of the ark; this thought is awakened. If you examine the Psalm, you will see three petitions of David, and God, when He answers, goes beyond each petition in blessing:
Petition, verse 8. Answer, verse 14, 15.
Petition, verse 9. Answer, verse 16.
Petition, verse 10. Answer, verse 17, 18.

It is a question of restoration. Meanwhile all is changed; the tabernacle was at Gibeon, and the ark in Sion. And the song, in which David celebrates the rest of God with His people, is sung not before the altar, but before the ark. At that time the great thing was the King, and the ark rested on mount Sion, the place where faith sought the presence of God on the earth. Sion was the place where "the Lord awaked." (Psalm lxxviii.)

After all Gibeon was a high place (at least for faith). Solomon did not rise to the height of David's faith. He did not present himself before the ark; he went before the altar at Gibeon. (1 Kings iii. 3.) Later, he went before the ark in the temple, where everything was found united; but at first he did not go to Sion.

Although these things are but imperfect shadows, it is the same for us. One finds in the New Jerusalem that the throne of God and of the Lamb are there. "Come hither, I will show thee the Bride, the Lamb's wife." God and the Lamb are there. It is, then, this first idea — the Church is the "habitation of God through the Spirit."

As it has been said, God accommodates Himself to the state of His people. When His people are walking in the desert, God walks there also: He goes before to conduct them. When they are settled in safety in the land, and His enemies defeated, God builds Himself a house. For the present, the Church is "the habitation of God through the Spirit." It remains to be seen what we have arrived at now.

With Israel God hid Himself behind a veil. It was then the law, and Israel would have been consumed if God and Israel had come face to face. Now God has accomplished in redemption the work which places us definitely before Him. Christ having died, God could gather together His own — it is the Church: Not only could He establish the relationship that was possible of a people on earth with God, as in Israel, but gather together His own. Caiaphas said that Jesus should die for the people; and John adds "to gather together in one the children of God."

The children of God in Israel, David, etc., were not gathered together. It was a hidden election of some, as alas! men would have it now-a-days to hide from the Church what it has. But Christ died to gather them together. The question was, What is to be done with these children of God? In Israel there was nothing to be done for that. Now that Israel is judged, God adds these children to the Church. (There is always on earth a vessel of the revelation of God; Israel, in their time, were so. But "they are not all Israel, which are of Israel." The Church takes the place.)

I return to Ephesians ii. It was not only children of God converted, but children of God gathered together, and gathered together on earth. This is simple, and essential to remember. It was not only a question of salvation, but of gathering together the saved ones. This could not be done before the death of Christ. After His death He could not do it in person, because He must needs ascend up on high to present His blood and appear for us. Then He sent the other Comforter to gather them together. It is this which is called being baptized of the Holy Ghost — not regenerated only, but baptized. We see it in the case of the disciples at Jerusalem, and in the cases of Samaria and Caesarea. In the latter case God baptized of the Holy Ghost immediately, before the baptism of water, to show that He received the Gentiles. In this He departed from His ordinary ways.

Touching this baptism here are some examples from God's word: — Luke xxiv. 49; Acts i. 4, 5. We have here the baptism of the Holy Ghost, which was the promise of the Father. In recalling the promise, Jesus does not say 'baptize with fire,' although there were tongues of fire to purge the inward man, because this baptism of fire announced by John the Baptist refers to the judgment by which the Saviour will "purge his floor." Acts ii. 31–33. Mark here, that Christ Himself received the Holy Ghost, after having ascended on high, though as man He was baptized on the earth. Here He receives it in an altogether new manner, as His disciples here below for His disciples. And this is the baptism of the Holy Ghost, the sending of the Holy Ghost upon people already disciples.

Psalm cxxxiii. is more the latter than the former rain. We have the firstfruits.

Christ has received the Holy Ghost; but one must remember that we are not speaking of His person, who fills the heavens and all things. He, the Head of all things, took upon Himself the form of a servant, and humbled Himself to receive all things.

It must always be remembered that the God-man could have done all that He wished, only He did not do it; but we cannot say that He was under any necessity. Of Christ, the word never says that the Spirit abides in Him, dwells in Him, though He consented to be led by the Spirit; it says that He was sealed and filled with the Spirit. It takes care not to state the thing in any way that might present anything equivocal with respect to His person.

John xiv. 16-20 is distinct that the Holy Ghost gives the knowledge of this unity.

It is not life which forms unity.

If the baptism of the Holy Ghost were the life in us, it would be an incarnation, as in the case of Christ.

All this leads us to understand that, being baptized with the Holy Ghost. We are one body on the earth. It is not in heaven that we are baptized with the Holy Ghost. The important thing to know is, what the unity of the Spirit is. (Eph. iv.) Seek for this unity, for there is an unity. He who does not seek for that unity, does not gather with Christ.

There is not only one Spirit, but one body.

We must seek to unite and to realize the position of Daniel and that of Nehemiah. Daniel, among the Gentiles, received the revelation of their history down to the end. And Nehemiah even dares to build Jerusalem. One must be very near the Lord to realize these two positions. — For us who believe, the first thing to do now is to realize what the body is.

We come now to another general question: the Bride.

In that which occupied us, we saw Christ as the Head of the Church, seated at the right hand of God, until God puts His enemies under His feet. Meanwhile, He gathers together His own, the Church. Baptizing with the Holy Ghost, He forms the body, fills the house, and comes to dwell there.

The reception of the Gentiles is not a fact ignored by the Old Testament. Having said in Ephesians ii. 1, 2, what man is, Paul takes the thing by the other end, and says, "But God, who is rich in mercy," etc., etc. Then there is that which we do not touch upon — the relationships of this body with Christ. If it is a question of the Father, it is not a question of the body; it is children.

At the end of chapter 5 we have two things said of the Church. It is the bride of Christ, and it is His body, Therefore, what is evident is, that there is but one, for Christ has not two bodies, nor two brides.

As to the relationship which exists between Christ and the Church: He certainly nourishes and cherishes it, even as His own flesh. He cannot fail in His affections towards the Church, although it is often unfaithful.

The Christian is thus considered in two ways: one may see him in Christ in heaven, setting aside his infirmities; or else one may see him in his weakness on the earth. Then Christ is seen, not as Head of the body, but as Priest alone in heaven; this is the Epistle to the Hebrews.

The Church is the Bride. Two things flow from this.
1. This body is but one.
2. It belongs to Christ.

It must be remembered, that although this will be accomplished in heaven, it was begun on earth. The actual realization of this grace is the real conflict of the Christian. It is not Romans vii., the flesh in the presence of law, presented as being something, but the conflict of the Holy Spirit resisting the flesh (Gal. 5:17), the flesh being recognized as worth nothing.

If I have laid hold of what the Church of God is, everything else falls. There can be nothing else.

It remains to be seen if it does present that state, for God can recognize nothing else.

The Church ought to have been faithful to its Bridegroom, during His absence. It ought to have been His — only His.

Christ could not manifest Himself in person, He is in heaven. The Church was on earth, His letter of commendation before the world; the unfaithfulness of the wife toward her husband does not change her responsibility as wife. We have, 2 Corinthians iii. 3: ye are the epistle, and not, ye ought to be. At any rate, if the Bride is unfaithful, Christ remains faithful. But the Church is no longer now-a-days standing as His letter of commendation before the world.

"How long shall I be with you and suffer you?" says the Lord in Luke ix.

It is when the actual power against demons becomes useless, that the end of a dispensation comes. When the people of God allow themselves to fall, Satan has the upper hand. Then Christ must exercise judgment to show that in spite of all He is the stronger.

When it is a question of the consciousness of our responsibility, let me ask, has the Church — the true Christians — been, and is it faithful to its heavenly character? If the Church is unfaithful, Christ is faithful, and He is faithful at all times, according to the state of the Bride; He can give her food if it is hungry, or medicine if it is sick. He cannot give all the blessings of the beginning; it would be to deceive the Church. If the time of judgment is come, He must prepare the Church for His arrival.

But then it is of all importance that one should know what the Church is, according to the thought of Him who is coming: the effect of this is apparently disorder, because what is already done must be undone. If my house is made ready for me, and in my absence those to whom I have confided the care of it, permit strangers to settle in it, and divide the house among themselves as they please, when I return, I destroy all their work, in order to restore the house as I wish to have it. In such a case, and until the Master returns, those who love Him as well as His house, are better lodged in the open air than within.

There are three things:
First. The Church belongs to Christ — it belongs to Him by redemption; this is what He did at the cross when He gave Himself for it.
Now comes that which He does in the second place. He makes it morally what He would have her to be; He washes it by the word. That is what He is doing all through.
And, thirdly, for glory, He will present it to Himself. Beautiful proof of His divinity! He can present the Church to Himself, whilst, as for Adam, God had to present Eve to him.

If we do not lay hold of what the Church is, and that we are the Church, we cannot hold our ground against that which is the contrary. If we have not the consciousness of the Bride, we cannot have her affections.

Christ is coming quickly, and He prepares the affections of the Bride. All this is connected with the waiting for the Lord.

He comes in judgment against this world, but the Church will be with Him at that time. At the same time, we shall be in the place which our work manifests.

When it is a question of the joyous hope of the saints at the coming of Jesus, then all the Church has one common joy. It is there that we find, not the waiting for the manifestation of Jesus, but the hope of Himself, to be for ever with Him. Now as to the coming of Christ, when it is not the relationship of the Bride, it is His appearing.

This is the difference between the ministry of Peter and that of Paul. Peter saw Jesus on the cloud, Paul beyond and within it. It is thus, as to His coming. It follows that Paul, when he speaks of His appearing, declares that we shall appear with Him in glory.

Revelation xxii. 17 has reference to that. — The prophecy closes with verse 6.

In ver. 7 the Lord says, "Behold, come quickly." Pay attention to the contents of this book. This is for faith.

Ver. 12. "I come quickly, and my reward is with me." This for conduct meanwhile.

Ver. 17. He announces Himself. Then the affections of the Bride are awakened. He has no need to say "I come" in this place, it is enough that He says "I am the morning star" for the Church to bid Him immediately "Come." Revelation ii. 26 shows that the Church has a portion in the Morning Star.