Chapter 6

The Failure of the Church

We saw in a previous section, the Lord as Head over all. His position and power are supreme. Why, then, is there not more manifest progress? Because a head is wholly dependent upon its body for the carrying out of its plan. All the members of its body must be subservient, that, through their coordinated ministry, may be accomplished what is purposed. The Lord Jesus "Head over all things to the church, which is his body," is hindered in His mighty plans and working, because His Body has failed to appreciate the deep meaning of His exaltation, and to respond to the gracious impulses which He is constantly sending for its quickening.

It is a most vital truth of the divine working that..........The Word of the pattern by which the ministry of the Church is framed. The glory of the Body of Christ is the fact that its members are living members, each with a personal will. The Holy Spirit comes into these individual members in order to bring them into unity with the will and purposes of the Head. But this is not done through inward impulse alone. Inward impulse inaugurates obedience towards the Head, but the renewed mind cannot be fully instructed save through the Word. Consequently, it is only as the Word is carefully meditated upon, understood, and obeyed, that the Head has freedom of action through its members. How little the average member feeds, with careful mastication, upon the Word, most of us know from our own experience.

The importance of this can be seen by comparing Ephesians 5:l8ff with Colossians 3:16ff.In the first passage, the stirring of the inward emotions of the heart, with the consequent subjection of believers one to another, in their various relations, is indicated as the working of ....The Spirit of His fulness, but, in the second passage, exactly the same results are pointed out to be the result of the rich indwelling of the Word of Christ. The Word of Christ is the setting forth of His will in a form that is understandable by the renewed mind. But the renewed mind, while understanding the Word, lacks power to perform it. The fulness of the Spirit is the incoming of the Spirit of God to empower the human spirit for the carrying into effect of the accepted will of the Head.

Thus, unless the Word richly indwells for the instruction of the mind, the Spirit of God, although present in His fulness, has nothing to work upon. The impulses of the Head cannot be translated by Him into appropriate action through the Body, but are often like the immature motions of a child. The Head is thereby hindered because the Body has not grown up into the stature of a perfect man. In divine patience the Head waits. Brethren, we are to blame greatly, not only for our own weakness, but also for "the hands that hang down and the palsied knees." God help us to realize this, and to fulfil our ministry through the Word both to others and to the Lord.

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