If we go on with God, the Cross leads us immediately to the House of God. The Cross opens the way to the House of God, and the House of God depends for its full meaning upon whether the Cross has done its work.
A great many people think that the Church, the House of God – or whatever you may term it – is a doctrine, a part of a system of Christian truth. Have you thought that? Well, let me say that you are wrong. What is the House of God? We may first name a number of things which it is not.
The House of God is not a part of a system of Christian truth or teaching. It is not a congregation with religious services. It is not a Christian society with a membership. It is not a religious association for religious purposes. Yet these are the ideas that are in so many minds when we speak of the House of God. People think of it as a place where religious observances are carried out, or as a society set up for religious purposes. The House of God is the spiritual relatedness of believers. "For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one Body…" (1 Corinthians 12:13). That is the House of God… a spiritual relatedness.
But it is more. The House of God is the recognized and active relatedness of believers. It is not a nebulous thing. It is not an abstract idea. The spiritual relatedness of believers is very wonderful, but there must be a recognition of it; and that relatedness must be made an active thing. That is the House of God.
Then the House of God represents a greater measure of Christ than is possible to any number of separate individuals. Separate individuals can never come to the Lord's fulness. It will necessitate all the believers for the Lord's fulness to be entered into; but to come to it, believers must needs be in a relatedness… and that, an active relatedness. That is very practical. Any life that is a free lance – that is independent and detached – will be limited, even though there may be belief in the spiritual relatedness of all believers. This thing has to become practical – an actual working thing. Fellowship is essential to fulness.
We know that is why the enemy has never ceased trying to scatter the Lord's people – to divide, subdivide, and divide again. He is always after that, because he knows that actual relatedness is the way to the fulness of Christ – the way in which what Christ is in heaven becomes expressed here on the earth.
Fellowship and relatedness after a practical sort is an important thing on the earth, and it cannot be repudiated. We cannot, without robbing the Lord of something, pass it off as something which has irreparably broken down and can never again find an expression. Not at all. The Lord has not taken that attitude. That represents surrender to the devil – the devil's triumph amongst the Lord's people. Actual relatedness, which involves persistent fellowship, is the way of heavenly fulness. That is the House of God, the heavenly fellowship of born-anew children of God here on this earth.
You see that a feature of the House of God is fellowship – actual fellowship. Given that, another feature arises and becomes manifest… and that is Life. Oh, what Life there is in fellowship. The Life of the Lord – His risen Life – is manifested in fellowship, and that is a feature of the House of God. And is not the House of God, the Body of Christ, intended to be the expression in a corporate way of the fact that Christ is alive – is risen?
Then Life leads to light… and in the fellowship of the Lord's people there is a ground for the Lord to communicate the knowledge of Himself in a way that He cannot do to isolated individuals; that is, if they are isolated by their own fault. We are not talking just now about that geographical isolation which cannot be avoided, but we are dealing with spiritual isolation, spiritual separateness. The Lord reveals Himself in the midst of His people in His greater fulnesses.
Thus the House of God is a very practical thing, bringing us on the way to heavenly fulness; and we have to recognize that we are under a great responsibility for what the House of God represents in the matter of spiritual fellowship. It is the place where the personal is put out and we no longer live unto ourselves, but unto one another – unto Christ and for Christ – in order that there may be an increase of Christ.
First published in "A Witness and A Testimony" magazine, Mar-Apr 1937, Vol 15-2