Now, dear friends, that's the fellowship with God's Son, that is the call, that is the purpose of the call to fellowship. What? Oh, you've got to get rid of a lot of ideas over this! We hear so much about forming churches. The apostles never set out to form churches. What do you say to that, as an idea? See? Forming churches! They came into being, but they went out of being. God only looked upon those things, whether it be in Ephesus, or Laodicea, or Thyatira, or Philadelphia, or Smyrna, or Jerusalem, or anywhere else in this world, He only looked upon them as perhaps, perhaps providing some ground for His presence and being supremely characterised by this one thing - there the Lord is. There the Lord is, there the Lord can be found, there the Lord can be met, there you will meet the Lord and find the Lord. It is a place for Him: He is there.
These believers, what are they? What am I? What are you, as believers? Well, call yourself by any name you like, there is only one thing that justifies you being in fellowship with God's Son, only one thing. And only one thing that justifies the existence of what I call "churches", or anything at all like that: movements and groups of a Christian title, name. There is only one thing that justifies; that is: is the Lord there? Is the Lord there? If not, then like Shiloh of old, an empty shell: the Lord is gone. It goes on, the thing, it will go on, it will go on, but the Lord has forsaken it. And look now at the seven churches in Asia. Where are they? Was God jealous for the thing? Never! He was never jealous for the thing, you can call it a church or anything else, He was never jealous for that, He was jealous for His Son.
God's eye from eternity to eternity has had one object in view all through. It has been focused on one thing only, not on other things. He has used them in a related way, but when they ceased to fulfil that purpose, He has left them. He has forsaken them. They may have continued, time may have destroyed them, they may have ceased to exist, but God is out of them. God's focus from eternity to eternity is His Son! He is jealous for His Son, and He is always saying, "How much of My Son is there in your life? Not all you are doing, but how much of My Son is in the doing? Not having many gatherings, meeting places, filling the earth with what are called churches...". Oh, the Lord deliver us!
I want to know when I go into this place and that place: do I meet the Lord here and does the Lord meet me here? And do I go away or come away and say, "The Lord was in that place: I met the Lord," not, not this and that, not people, not men, not the assertiveness of autocratic leaders, and so on and so on, no. "I met the Lord."
The Bible, you see, circles around that one thing, always. The Tabernacle, the Lord was there, but where is the Tabernacle? The Temple? The Lord was there, but where is the Temple? He was here, He was there, men met Him; but when He saw that it no longer was a place where He could be at rest and satisfied, He passed on.
Our countries, our countries are strewn with shells that once had something of the Lord. All the disappointments! Way back in 1925 I had been greatly helped by the ministry of Dr. A. J. Gordon of Boston. And so, when I came to America for the first time and I was going to have a conference in Boston, was the first thing, I made it my business to go to Clarendon to see the place of my friend A. J. Gordon who had helped me so much. Oh, brothers, Gordon was gone the Lord was gone. He was gone. A shell! The place of where, you've read it: "How Christ Came to Church", have you read it? A ministry to the Lord's people all over the world from that place, but not now. The thing goes on, the thing.
And that's the story of so much; but, oh, God grant that it may not be my story and your story, "Once we met the Lord in that man, in that woman. Once when we met them, you did feel you were meeting something of the Lord, but now, but now..." May I say to you coming here that in my contacts, in my contact with you individually, I am always feeling, "What is there of the Lord here that I can touch, that we can live upon and have fellowship with?" Not where you come from, not all these thousand things about your life, but: the Lord. Are you making an impression of the Lord?
Now I say that is the purpose of our being here. It is the testimony of Jesus, that is, that He is the Divinely appointed Heir to this world and we are here where God has sovereignly put us, whether it is in a living fellowship or not, in a Christian country or a Mohammedan country. Where God has sovereignly put us, we are there to put both feet down and say, "I claim this place for Jesus Christ. He is Lord!" Hell will rage, hell will do anything to get you out immediately. Be careful how you get moved and what arguments are brought to bear on you. Oh, how many of our young people, who are in a living place with the Lord, get married and look for a nice home somewhere in the country. And go out into a wilderness spiritually and lose their spiritual life. What was the argument, see? A nice home? Oh, be careful.
We are here to claim this lentil patch for God and if we have got to fight until, as Shammah did, till our hand cleaves to the hilt of our sword and go on to the end of the day, may we come out at the end with the Philistines worsted. The enemy defeated. We stand. So Paul in this battle, this cosmic battle, says, "Stand... withstand and having done all, stand."
See, the purpose of the fellowship? To claim a foothold for the Rightful Owner! He said this gospel of the kingdom must be preached in all the nations. Do you stop there? No, as a testimony. Do we hold all nations for Christ? You can, but you won't. As a testimony in those nations, you are there as a testimony that, "Here are the rights of the Lord Jesus Christ, and I am here for them." That's all. That can be enlarged upon as you see, but what are we here for, why are we Christians? To presence the Lord, to presence the Lord and this is the battle. It was the battle of the Lord Jesus Himself Who brought God in and declared God's rights. And the devil said, "Out You go, if I can have any say in the matter."
But we know that the end is with Him. We have got the vision. "The knowledge of the Lord shall cover the earth as the waters cover the sea." It is going to be! We are heading up, fast heading up, to the great climax when the one issue will become universal: "Who is going to have this world?" And there is every, every facility and every means now available for deciding that in a very cataclysmic way. "A new heaven and a new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness."
Well, I don't know how to stop with such a thing, but I did want to get this to you: why are we on this earth? Things will be taken from us, men will turn against us, repudiate us, reject us. They will discredit us; they did it to the Lord. Why are we here? For self-vindication? Not at all. To hold the ground for the Lord, to be a patch for the Lord in this world. That is the purpose of being called into fellowship with Jesus Christ, our Lord.
Shall we pray: Lord, do cover all the faults. Take responsibility for the imperfections of thy servants, but do register in us what is the truth, "as the truth is in Jesus." Oh, convict us of this. We are interested in a lot of things, making, forming, all this, Lord; but do show us today, there is only one thing that matters to Thee, and that is the place that Thou dost have and how much of a place Thou dost have. Do bring this upon us in a new way. Hear our prayer, answer us, for Thine Own Name and satisfaction's sake. Amen.