Robert Ingram - Second Testimony - Williams, Western Australia Convention - 1986

Hymn 186.


I Corinthians 10, "Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and were all baptised unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and did all eat the same spiritual meat and did all drink the same spiritual drink for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them and that Rock was Christ. But with many of them, God was not well pleased; for they were overthrown in the wilderness." Verse 16, "The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ." This chapter and the following two chapters teaches us a great lot about the breaking of bread. The most sacred moment, the most hallowed experience that we could ever possibly experience, concerns the touching of the bread and partaking of it. The most sacred moment and hallowed experience of touching the cup and drinking of it, there is nothing so sacred, so soul searching, and we could fail to understand what this means. If we do not examine ourselves before God and we partake, it will cause us to be sick and weak and asleep. We could be in a coma, sickly and weak. God has arranged for His people upon the first day of the week, a day of resurrection, like the day of Pentecost, we come together in remembrance of the Lord Jesus, a time when we would be brought back to the renewing of our covenant bringing us in to learn of the promises of God regarding salvation, and it is there where the great work of restoration takes place. It is not a matter of being stirred in a meeting or in a convention, because things soon settle down and become as they were. Peter writes about speaking a message, the word of God, that will stir their minds by way of remembrance, and this is necessary. God revives, quickens, and when things settle down, God makes us alive again.

We read here of our brethren in the Old Testament, and how God revived them. They were all baptized, had partaken of spiritual bread, had all drunk the spiritual drink, this was the food and drink of our brethren before the coming of Jesus. They all participated, but with many of them God was not well pleased. These things are recorded so that we would not err in the same way. The baptism in the sea has to do with faith and trust. The water parted before them, and at any moment, the sea could close in again, and they would all perish, but God prevailed and took them all through to the other shore. I can't think of any picture that shows us more clearly the picture of salvation, as baptism of the sea. The water closed in behind them, forever cutting off the past, cut off forever all that belonged to Egypt, all the things that they were involved with in their past life. It is a wholesome thing in the breaking of bread to give thought to how we heard the gospel, how baptism separated us, the work of God separating us from the old life. Then the baptism in the cloud, when I think of Jesus being baptised, the cloud over shadowed Him, and God said, "This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased." He was brought to that place where he had God's acceptance and approval on His life. If we forget these things, that we have been purged from our old sins, we will lose our vision and become blind, become unmindful of the word of God, in having His acceptance and His approval.

The cloud also meant their protection, it guided them, and the spirit of God leads us. We do not need to do great wicked things to be out of fellowship. We could stay where we are and the clouds carryon without us, and we could be out of fellowship. As the people were willing to take steps where the cloud led them, they could partake of the manna. This was only provided for them if they journeyed where the cloud went. The manna was not over the whole world, or over the whole desert, it was only in the place where the cloud was, and for us to have bread we must be willing to take steps in obedience to the will of God. This will give us spiritual food and drink. We might ask ourselves, "What was so spiritual about the manna?" This manna was not ordinary bread, it was as the result of an act of God. It came from Heaven. As we partake, this should be the thought in the breaking of bread, this is not an ordinary experience, this is not like eating a meal, this is a spiritual experience, a searching of the soul realising the greatness of God, and God's grace and gift to us. Every Sunday morning meeting is not an opportunity to express our weaknesses and short comings; this is not the time nor the place for such expression. We are only coming together to express the greatness of God, that in spite of failure we can know forgiveness and reconciliation. It is a time of praise and thankfulness to God, a time to search out in our soul, a time of participating and partaking of the bread, showing that we are totally involved.

There is no experience that we can experience in life that is like this experience, because this partaking of the bread involves all five of our senses. We look upon the emblems, we hear of Jesus in the meeting, we touch with our hands, and then we taste, and with this comes the smell. We know that there is a certain satisfaction in seeing the bread, the emblems, but then there is a greater satisfaction in touching it. I have noticed this in women shopping for cloth, they might look at it, they might even speak about it, but they are not satisfied until they can touch it and feel it. God has so arranged the breaking of bread that we would not only see it, not only talk about it, but we would touch it, we would taste it and we would smell. We would have a lasting impression of the greatness of God's salvation to us, to realize all that we have entered into all that it means to have fellowship with our brethren. As the people gathered the manna, they ate it; as the water flowed from the rock, they drank. This was wonderful blessing, to remind the people of God's favour and blessing.

With many of them, God was not well pleased. Why was this? The answer is given in a few words. It was because they had an evil spirit of unbelief. We might say that that is not such a terrible thing, but it is something that provoked God for 40 years. It caused people not to have any rest, it causes a restlessness, this evil spirit of unbelief. Jesus said, "Come unto Me all ye that labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. You come and learn of Me, not about Me, learn of Me, let Me touch you." There is soul rest when He teaches us. Our brethren had an evil spirit of unbelief and God was not pleased. What was it that was causing this unbelief? The first thing was that they lusted after evil things, and what are the evil things that this refers to. It was that soon after they left Egypt they went and lusted for what they had an appetite for in Egypt. Manna to them was vile, they wanted what they had in Egypt - flesh. Any time that we are not satisfied with the simplicity in Christ, when we desire something in our hearts that we had back in Egypt, then we are lusting after evil things. God gave them flesh to eat. There were feathered fowls that fell, one meter deep. As they went a day's journey on one side of the camp, and a day's journey on the other side of the camp, in every direction, this would be an area square of 40 miles, one meter deep. If they wanted flesh, they had it. They were standing in it up to their hips. Could you imagine trying to prepare to eat them? They ate them for one month, and lots of people died. They were wanting more than Christ, and what was in Christ, it says they loathed it.

Then it tells us that there were some who were idolaters, they sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play. The two tables of stone was the instruction of God given to His people. He had been speaking to Moses and wrote with His own finger. Then when Moses went down, he saw the golden calf and the people had been eating and drinking. This was the most sacred word and teaching of God to them but they were looking for something else. They were looking for something different to the living word of God, and Moses broke those two tables of stone, because they had broken the first commandment already: "Thou shalt have no other gods before Me." We need a Godly reverence for the word of God, for His teaching, for His guidance. We have to remember that these things were happening while they were eating spiritual food and spiritual drink. Their hearts affection was drawn out to idolatry. Their affections were alienated from God. In their hearts, they were in love with other things, and they were committing spiritual adultery. The Lord wants to be a husband to His people. Then it tells us that they tempted Christ, and they were destroyed of serpents. They were not tempting God, they were tempting Christ, in those days when Christ as yet had not come. They were bitten by fiery serpents. A snake bite is very deadly. Adam and Eve were affected by the serpent. People are not aware that a snake bite is so serious, and it is possible to be bitten and not be aware of it. The people of God were affected by unbelief. They were not aware that they were discouraged because of the length of the way. They were still partaking of the bread and the drink, but it was not having any affect upon them. It did not enlarge their experience it did not make them become more thankful. We have much to be thankful for in every way.

Then we read that they murmured. The spies went out to see the fruitfulness of the land and they brought back an evil report. They were full of unbelief, and they rebelled, and they wanted to go back. This was not long after they had begun the journey, it would only be 18-20 months when it happened. They had been partaking of the bread and the drink and instead of this making them full of enthusiasm, they murmured, and they provoked God, and these things are written to admonish us, to know the seriousness, the sacredness, the holiness of breaking of bread. We need to examine in our soul before we partake, because of the purpose we want to have in those moments, the spirit of fresh consecration, being prepared to lay aside the things that hinder us. We should not have an unbelieving heart. We could believe in a right ministry, we could believe that it is right to meet in homes, that this is all the will of God, but it could be that we don't believe what Jesus told us.

Jesus told us there would be problems, and in Matthew 18 it tells us that offences must come, they are a part of life. This matter of trespassing, someone we offend or someone offends us, and Jesus has given us divine instruction as to what to do when this happens. We are slow to do this, because we do not believe that it is workable. When something happens and there is offence, the first thing we should do is go to the person alone, and you must go in the spirit of a little child. But so often what does happen, because we are human, we go aside and go to our sister, our brother, and before long there is a whole team working on this problem. This is because the sin of unbelief. Jesus said, "Go first alone. For where two or three are gathered together in My Name, there am I in the midst of them." Sometimes this verse is misunderstood, it is spoken about as a little meeting in a remote place where there are only two or three together and Jesus will be there, and we know that that is true, but Jesus was not dealing with that here. This is a meeting when difficulties arise, when you go in the spirit of a little child, alone, to the other sermon, in that meeting He will be there. When we are meeting together, in that way there is the spirit of quietness, and Jesus is able to negotiate. He makes the meeting workable, and things are always resolved and rest is restored. We want to believe that with all our hearts. This is God's way of resolving difficulties that arise. Jesus has left us the absolute solution, and we must believe and trust in Him that it is right.

In the breaking of bread, we must partake worthily. We have to understand what it means to partake worthily. Worthy just means sinless, pure, and when we go to the meeting we often have feelings about our own understanding. When we come together to partake of the bread, Jesus is our great High Priest and because He is so worthy, we present our lives to Jesus as a willing offering, then He takes our lives and offers them to God as a sacrifice, and God accepts us because Jesus is worthy, not because we are worthy. It is not a matter of human effort of trying to be worthy, not a matter of will power of us becoming worthy, but Jesus and His sacrifice makes us worthy. When we present our lives to Him, it causes us to rejoice, because we are accepted because of Him. It tells us that the gospel was preached to these people, our brethren, but the word preached did not profit them because it was not mixed with faith. The teachings of Jesus were not mixed with faith. Faith is a catalyst. Sometimes you have two solutions, and you need to put one or two drops into the other solution and it sets, and it works. The word of God is like that when it is mixed with faith, the catalyst comes into the word of God and we believe, that is faith that is mixed with the word of God. This makes a strong solution, and it fixes it. I like to think of men who had a living faith, and in preaching the gospel we have the greatest opportunity to see this faith working.

One time in Alaska, on an island, there was an Indian man who received help and it was a miracle. There were unusual events occurred that got us there. We were walking down the street in this village and in a few moments this man sought us out, and he told us of the message that his mother had given him. His mother had a dream that he would receive a message in his old age that would change the remainder of his life. His mother died when he was young. He did not have any family, his mother and father both died and he said, "I have been without a family until the gospel came." When this man came to his first gospel meeting, there were about 6 or 7 coming, and one morning after a meeting, he came and said, "There is only one person coming to those meetings." We said, "What about Moses? He is coming." He said, "I have known him all his days, and he is only looking for place, he will never receive this." Then I said, "'What about David? He is coming." "No, he will not understand, because he always wants to be chief. It is only those who are childlike who will receive this message of salvation, and God has sent you two men, the servants of the living God, to me, and will you go on having meetings, if there is only one?" We said, "Yes," and we stayed on for a brief time. Then we left that man, without a Bible or hymn book, because he could not read or write, and there was no one for him to meet with, but we left him with the confidence that we would have had in Job or Abraham, and we knew that God could sustain such a person, who had such faith. He was now in advancing years, but he has love and zeal and living faith. When he turned 90, he moved to another place in a most unusual way, and the effect of his life and testimony in the church where he meets where 1 girl and 3 boys have gone from into the work, his faith is like a catalyst in the word of God. It gave him such trust and confidence in it and it gives us joy to see those who are full of belief in Jesus.

When I read I Corinthians 10 and I read of the Lord's table, the one day of the week, the day of rest, the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit was given, when all were gathered at the Lord's table, all enjoying communion, they were participating in the bread and the cup. This is the effect that it should have, realising the honour of being invited to the Lord's table, to be partaking. God has intended that this should do this for us, that we should not be weak and sickly, but that we would be full of faith, God's word working by faith in Christ. Before Jesus came face to face with Calvary, God arranged that Jesus would institute the breaking of bread. This is the most sacred moment of our life, being at the Lord's table, participating, when all doubts, all uncertainty is dismissed, partaking in all honesty, God's word working in us, producing joy and gladness. When we give our lives to Jesus, because we are not worthy to present our lives to God, He presents us to God and God accepts us because He is worthy. He is our High Priest and is worthy. We should not whip ourselves because we are not feeling worthy, but should rejoice that Jesus is worthy, and He can offer an acceptable offering. Rejoice in Jesus rather than in our own failures. God knows we are only human and we cannot make ourselves worthy through our own will power. We try, and we do our best to be honorable, to live for God, but then the rest we leave to God.