Answers to Correspondents: House of God and Church Identical?; Matt. 9:13 and 12:7; Luke 15:23; JOhn 20:23

1 Timothy 3:15; Matthew 9:13; Matthew 12:7; Luke 15:23; John 20:23
A. J. M.
A.-In scripture " the church" is presented to us under two aspects:-In Eph. 1:22,2322And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, 23Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all. (Ephesians 1:22‑23), we have " The church which is his body;" and in 1 Tim. 3:1515But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. (1 Timothy 3:15), we have " The house of God which is the church of the living God." Both " the body" and " the house," it will be noted, are called " the church." Originally " the house" and " the body" were identical, but now " the house," which includes all professing Christians, is much wider than "the body," which includes only true believers united to the Head in heaven by the Holy Ghost.
A.-This expression, twice used by the Lord as a rejoinder to the Pharisees, is a quotation from the book of Hos. 6:66For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings. (Hosea 6:6), where Israel having turned from God, and in every way outraged His goodness, the prophet touchingly pleads with them to return to the Lord, upon the ground of His mercy. " I will have mercy and not sacrifice," is Jehovah's own statement of how He could receive any that returned to Him. This would be His answer to the moral state of the heart that turned to Him in repentance. The outward forms and sacrifices of their religion were nothing to Him. The moral state that owned sin, and sought refuge in His mercy, was what He was looking for. Had the Pharisees understood God's ways in mercy towards His failing people, they would not have misjudged the Lord, or " condemned the guiltless." God's mercy is always the resource of faith when under chastisement. The Lord Jesus was acting in mercy towards a people who had failed, and thus brought themselves under God's judgment. The proud self-righteous Pharisees failed to see this, and rejected Him in consequence. Poor sinners, moved by divine grace, gladly drank at mercy's spring. It was the true " knowledge of God." The knowledge of God, according to this blessed attribute of mercy, is touchingly expressed by the prophet Micah " Who is a God like unto thee,
that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage; he retaineth not his anger forever, because he delighteth in mercy." (Chapter 7:18.)
A. O.
A.-We think that, in addition to the general idea of feasting and communion in joy, the expression of the father's delight in. the recovery of his son, the fatted calf points to Christ as the true sacrifice of peace-offering. In this light it would be God's delight in the sacrifice of Christ shared with His people. Not as the sin-offering, but as a sweet savor offering. The true ground of peace and communion between God and the saved sinner. Eating the fatted calf is thus emblematical of free and happy worship before the Father; where Christ, in the perfectness of his love, as having offered Himself to God for us as " a sacrifice of a sweet savor," is the enjoyed ground of communion with God.
Q.-What is the meaning of John 20:2323Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained. (John 20:23)? Were others gathered with the apostles on that occasion, and if so were these words addressed exclusively to the apostles? F. B. K.
A.-We have no doubt ourselves that this is the general commission of the disciples to bear the testimony of remission of sins to the world. Jesus, rejected as the Messiah, had made peace by the blood of the cross for all who would take that ground before God. He appears in the midst of His disciples and having first set their own souls in the enjoyment of this peace, He sends them forth to proclaim it to others-to " whosoever" would accept it. We do not think it has anything to do with the discipline of the assembly or forgiveness of sins under the government of God in this way. It is pretty plain, from John 20, that others besides the apostles-the disciples generally-were present. But Luke 24:3333And they rose up the same hour, and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them, (Luke 24:33) puts this beyond doubt, where we read of " the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them." There is nothing in the text to confine the words used " exclusively to the
it appears to have been a general commission to all present; and this is more apparent if the account in Luke be taken in connection with it, as it is clearly to all there the Lord says, " That repentance and remission of sins should be Preached in his name among all nations," adding, " and ye are witnesses of these things." c. w.