John 1:35-45; Ephesians 1:9-11; Revelation 5:6-14.
J. A. Trench.
Article 20 of 55 from 'Truth for Believers' Volume 2.
It is a blessed thing if our hearts know anything of the wonderful attraction of God's grace, leading us to the Centre of His own thoughts and counsels — His beloved Son. I want to enter a little into the way it affects us. In Old Testament times God had been acting in view of the object of His counsels — His Son; but the Object was not revealed; God Himself was not revealed. Now, by all that His Son has done, He has set our hearts free: not merely by the work which has been the end of all that we were, but by the setting up of the Lord Jesus Christ, raised from the dead and the Spirit of God given to us.
I think it is in the individual aspect that John bears testimony to the One who baptises with the Holy Ghost. Even the very place He has in His Father's love is made ours. We hear Him say when on earth, "Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die it bringeth forth much fruit" (John 12:24), but now He is no longer alone.
What a wonderful divine clearance of everything that would otherwise have occupied us, so that God's Centre might be before our souls.
We see this in Ephesians. It is only when the soul is, by the power of the Holy Ghost, consciously as Christ is before God, that we can be occupied with the glory of God's beloved Son. When we have been brought into the consciousness of this place, as in Ephesians 1:4-6, the Father counts on being able to interest His own in all that He has counselled for the glory of Christ.
My thought in turning to John 1 is that now for the first time we have that Centre appearing on earth. All the divine glory of His person shines before us as revealed from the very first chapter. There was here for the first time a Centre of gathering on earth, now that the only begotten Son was here to declare and make known all that God was. One heart after another falls under the mighty attraction of that revealed Centre.
In John 10 you get the main thought in verse 16. One flock (not one fold). His word coming home in divine power to the heart and conscience established a link between Himself and His own sheep. They had heard His voice. When they heard the stranger's voice they knew it was not His. That personal link had been established between each sheep and the Shepherd. The Shepherd is the Centre of attraction for the flock — for each sheep of the flock.
Now let us look at John 12. He had always been the Centre of all that God was doing, but this was not revealed before. (Vers. 31, 32, 33) "Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. This he said signifying what death he should die." The lifted up One on the Cross was to be the centre of attraction, that now there might be a true gathering around Him.
In Ephesians 1 we find Him as raised from the dead and seated at God's right hand. As one soul after another is reached by the gospel and attracted to Him, we see Him as the Centre of all God's work. It was the eternal counsel of God to head up all things in Christ. Everyone who receives the glad tidings of salvation receives the Holy Ghost to unite him to Christ at the right hand of God.
In chapter 1 the Apostle prays that we may be in the intelligence of what God is doing. In Ephesians 3:16, 17 that we may be "strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith": that the One who has been the Centre of all God's thoughts may now be the Centre for our hearts. Do we know what it is to be in true relation to the centre of all that God is doing in grace?
Matthew 18:20. "Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." With what interest that invests the smallest company gathered in His Name! The Lord Himself in our midst — the Centre to which we are gathered. In Hebrews 10:25 the Apostle exhorts them not to forsake the assembling of themselves together. These Hebrew Christians had learnt that they could draw near to God. They might have thought, now we can each draw near to God alone in our own houses, and there will be no reproach. But God summons them together in the face of the world, out from the privacy of their houses. In one other passage that word "assembling" occurs. (2 Thess. 2:1) "We beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him." He will be the Centre in the air of what God will be doing. He is going to be the wonderful magnet of attraction then. "The Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout . . . then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up . . . to meet the Lord in the air." (1 Thess. 4:16, 17) And now the Apostle bases His exhortation on this. What a moment that will be! Then we shall be assembled to Him — gathered round Him — in the air! And this will be only the ushering in of the eternal glory. In Revelation 5 we find the whole universe ordered round the same Centre, redeemed to God by His precious blood: all in perfect order — no one missing there. All will be gathered on the same ground of redemption and round the same Centre as we gather around already here on earth. And then there will be one burst of everlasting praise. They are not occupied with themselves; that word "us" is not really in the text. He was worthy who had accomplished the work. That was what occupied them. And then we see all things in heaven and on earth headed up in Him. The inheritance of Christ becomes the inheritance of His people, according to the everlasting counsels of God. He who is ever before the heart of God, becomes the all-absorbing object of our hearts. May He grant it to us now more and more for His precious name's sake.