God’s Light In Days of Difficulty --Part 3

God’s Light In Days of Difficulty
Part 3

John W. Bramhall

We now consider the leading counsel of God for the present day. When Christ was glorified as MAN in heaven, His relationship to earth was changed. Of necessity the counsel of God for His people likewise changed. In their relationship, God’s people are now united to the MAN IN THE GLORY, for God does not speak to us through any other person but the Person of His Beloved Son (Hebrews 1:1-3). For this reason, Saul of Tarsus, later called Paul, was apprehended by the Lord of Glory Himself on the Damascus road to be His chosen vessel of divine communication to the Church today. His unique conversion, different in circumstances to others, was for a specific purpose which the apostle later declared in Acts 26:16 as a twofold objective:

    1. To be “a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen.”

    2. “AND of those things in the which I will appear unto thee.”

The appearance of the glorified Lord to Paul emphasizes an essential truth we have lost sight of today, THAT CHRIST IN GLORY IS THE SOURCE AND SPRING OF ALL BLESSING TO HIS PEOPLE! He is “HEAD OVER ALL THINGS TO THE CHURCH WHICH IS HIS BODY” (Ephesians 1:22, 23; Colossians 1:18). Though we have other important doctrines in the New Testament, this one is the leading truth of God’s counsel for us today — THE HEADSHIP OF CHRIST. His preeminence in this relationship to His people is of paramount importance. Its truth directs us into two lines of responsibility:

1. Our Personal Responsibility Toward the Headship of Christ

This has been exemplified in the Apostle Paul’s experience. Upon his conversion, the Christ of glory was not only revealed to him as Saviour, but also as LORD!! At once Paul grasped the truth that Christ was the Head of His body of people on earth. This he demonstrated as he said, “Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?” (Acts 9:6). The realization of it brought full submission to the One Who has supreme authority over His people. It enabled him from that moment to faithfully press toward the ultimate goal during his whole Christian testimony on earth (see Philippians 3:14).

Is not this the leading truth for each believer to obey today? Our obedience to the Lordship of Christ will enable us to walk through this scene of difficulty in HIS strength, in HIS power and in blessed harmony with the Spirit of God and the Word God! It is most unfortunate today that God’s leading counsel, for the greater part, is conspicuously absent amongst us! Would present day confusion and divided opinions prevail if each believer was wholly submissive to the Headship of Christ? The clear responsibility for each of us is to “walk by the same rule” and “mind the same thing” (Philippians 3:15). Outward evidence today would indicate that as it was in the closing days of the Judges, so it is today— “every man did that which was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25), rather than “in the eyes of the Lord.” The leading counsel of God for this age has not changed, nor will it, until the Lord comes for His own! Regardless of what other believers may do, each believer is still responsible to the Lord above as an individual. With yielded hearts and wills we should say, “LORD, what wilt THOU have me to do?”

2. Our Corporate Responsibility Toward the Headship of Christ

The complete New Testament revelation of the Headship of Christ was communicated to Paul in accordance with the Lord’s promise that He would minister “those things in which I will appear unto thee” (Acts 26:16). None can question the fact that all corporate truth regarding the Church has been given to us through the writings of Paul. It clearly places each assembly in direct responsibility to the Head in heaven above; to administrate and carry out the complete teaching of God’s Word in respect to the functions of Christ’s assembly on the earth. Nothing must be added; nor anything deleted from what the Word reveals our responsibility to be to the Head in heaven above! For the revelation of Church truth is complete; Paul has declared “ALL THE COUNSEL OF GOD:” To the Ephesian elders Paul said, “I have not shrunk from announcing to you ALL THE COUNSEL OF GOD” (Acts 20:27, JND)’ To the Colossians he wrote, “Now, I rejoice in sufferings for you, and I fill up that which is behind of the tribulations of Christ in my flesh, for His body, which is the assembly; of which I became a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given me towards you TO COMPLETE THE WORD OF GOD” (Colossians 1:24,25, JND). The last revealed truth to mankind in the Word of God is His truth concerning the Church, and which was entrusted to the Apostle Paul to reveal to us. It is that great “mystery … which has not been made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed” (read Ephesians 3:1-10).

The observation of corporate conditions today indicates that the Headship of Christ over His people is not a living reality! The doctrine is often mentioned by some, yet not practiced. It is unimportant to others and totally disregarded by many. If this leading truth were realized in proper measure, we would find that God’s counsel for us today would effectively help solve difficulties and enable us to be superior over the hindrances we face. We confess that the increasing confusion and chaos in the corporate character of the divine testimony on earth gives unmistakable evidence that for the larger part, the Headship of Christ is not honoured!

The drifting of the Colossian believers into Judaism and human philosophy was by Paul attributed to their failure in “not holding fast the head, from WHOM all the body, ministered to and united together by the joints and bands, increases with the increase of God” (Colossians 2:19, JND). See also Ephesians 4:15, 16. The carnality of the Corinthian believers can also be attributed to their disobedience to this same leading truth — the Lordship of Christ. Paul, prior to his departure, wrote, “All they which are in Asia be turned away from me” (2 Timothy 1:15). Today, what would he say but his words recorded in Acts 27:21, “Ye should have hearkened unto me”? The churches of Asia, in Revelation 2 and 3, in some particular way lost sight of Christ, and drifted away from His Headship and authority; then failed!

If Christ IS our Head in heaven, then each assembly should seek to faithfully maintain this relationship in practical obedience. Our ministry for Him on the earth should BEGIN in the glory where He now is! Our service, in its planning and directing, seems to originate from ourselves rather than from HIM above! We may be devoted and truehearted in our efforts, but either through ignorance or neglect toward our HEAD in heaven, we go about our service in OUR way and not in HIS way! All the assembly activity of worship and service should be wholly under the control of our living Head in heaven above!

Our responsibility toward God’s leading counsel still remains the same until our Lord comes again. Let us realize this. If we will devotedly adhere to this paramount fact of His Headship over us, we shall be sustained by Him, through His Spirit and His Word; and we shall keep in fellowship with our Head in heaven above. Through this we shall have the strength, the grace and the wisdom of our Lord that will enable us to prove in experience that we seek to follow GOD’S LIGHT IN DAYS OF DIFFICULTY! Would it not be a blessed delight to hear Him say to us when He comes, “Thou hast kept My Word, and hast not denied MY NAME!” (Revelation 3:8)? God grant that this will be our desire and the determination of our whole beings!