The Universal Range of the Eternal Purpose (continued)
"The creation itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption" (Romans 8:21). Christ's work in His Cross has effected in the ultimate, the redemption of the whole creation. But more, the redemption of the whole heavenly range surrounding the creation; and the heavenlies are going to be cleared, and the very atmosphere is going to be purged, and the Person of Christ in sovereignty embraces that for coming government, and the work of Calvary involves that. So that the vessel of the testimony is called not merely into relationship to the salvation of a few men and women, the vessel of the testimony will go on in relation to the whole work of Calvary, the full work of redemption, the entire range of the significance of the Person of Christ, and that vessel will not only be in relation to the earth, the redemption of and the redeemed earth and the new creation, it will be related to the whole range of heavenly realms, lower and higher, in the ages to come. That is the vessel and that is its calling, that is its ministry. It is called to a tremendous thing, and it is important for us to see the cosmic nation of the Cross, the cosmic significance of the Person and work of Christ, and then the cosmic relationship and vocation of the vessel of the testimony.
At present it is the taking out of the nations a people of His Name. There will be developments by stages, but the ultimate issue, ultimately, when God's day of probation is finally closed and the testimony has been for ever decided according to an attitude taken, and evil and evil ones have been swept from God's world, then the vessel, the Church, the Body, will be the instrument of administration; administrative in relation to the throne and the whole of that range of redemption's work.There will be things beyond the Church; there will be nations which will walk in the light of that City, which is the Church; but at present the Church is the thing upon which the Lord's heart is set as the vessel, not only for purposes in this age, which are limited comparatively, but for the unlimited ranges of influence and usefulness in the ages to come (Revelation 21:22-27). Now I have only spoken out of the Word and you hardly need that I quote Scripture, it is floating in your mind as I go on. In the ages to come He is going to show by us the exceeding riches of His grace, and it is now unto principalities and powers He is making known His manifold wisdom by the Church. You see what we mean by the cosmic range of things; and the vessel is called in relation to that, something very great, very wide, very far-reaching (Ephesians 1:21; 2:7; 3:10).
We said that in speaking of the vessel we are here regarding it from the personal and collective, or corporate standpoint - in this sense - that we must not forget that while the vessel in the thought and mind of God is a corporate thing, a Body, a collective thing, it is made up of living members, and every living member of that Body is in itself a vessel and has its peculiar responsibility to the whole. It is related, and therefore, everything for that vessel is relative; and yet we must not fall into the snare of allowing our individual and personal responsibility to be lost sight of by the corporate conception of things. We must realize that we, individually, have a responsibility as a vessel, although our responsibility as vessels is related to the whole. And so we are vessels as part of a vessel. That is what I want to get at, so that we lay a safe emphasis upon the individual place in the vessel for the testimony.
(continued with # 57 - (Paul a Type of the Whole Vessel)