As we have just been considering our Place and the results of it, where it is consciously known and enjoyed in the soul, it would seem suitable to consider the Portion of the saint now, and some of its corresponding consequences.
I trust we have clearly seen that our standing and place are in the second Adam, where He is, and not in any sense in the first. If this be not apprehended in the soul by the power of the Holy Ghost, everything else will be both vague and feeble; it is the divine platform upon which, in grace, we are set, and where we are maintained by the Spirit, in order to our enjoying and using all that is ours in Christ.
There is a double danger, which it seems suitable to indicate here. First, — measuring the greatness and blessedness of what we have in Christ, where He is, by any enjoyment of ours, be it ever so elevated; being in fact so one-sided about it, as to lead people to suppose that the possession of it depended upon the use of it, or the enjoyment of it.
Secondly, — overlooking the fact that earnestness and diligence of soul, prayerful dependence of heart upon the Lord, and counting on the energy of His Spirit, are all necessary in order that I may appropriate and use what is mine already; and thus discover the good of what is mine like a man entitled to large estates, who never knew the value of his property until he lived on it, and worked it.
It is an important thing to preserve the balance of truth in our souls, and to give every part of God's Word and revelation its divinely ordered place. Our Portion, then, is Christ Himself! And what a portion!
Now, while it is blessedly true, that it is not in our power to forfeit the possession of our Portion, or to lose it by any folly of ours, it is equally true that the realization of its blessedness, the satisfaction of enjoying it, the consciousness of our union with Him who is our Portion, all depend upon ourselves. It is only by the Holy Ghost who dwells in us that we have power. If He be grieved, His witness in this respect is for the time lost to us; in that case He witnesses against us, that the failure which we have allowed may be judged, and He be free once more to pass the glories of Christ before our souls, and occupy us with them; thus have we fellowship with the Father and His Son Jesus Christ, and thus our joy is full.
It is also important to observe that our Portion is our Object; that which marks Christianity specially is, that we are furnished with an Object in heaven, and a power in us and with us on the earth. Nothing of this kind was ever known under the law; it proposed no object outside of wicked self, and it supplied no power to meet its requirements, which were backed up with condemnation and death. The new order of things tells of power at every turn, the power of God quickening, raising us up, seating us in heavenly places in Christ, our Portion and Object, and "working in us." (Ephesians 3:20.) That is to say, power surrounds us on every hand, but power equally works in us for the realization of the enjoyment of that for which power has laid hold of us.
Now, it is important to remember that neither enjoyment nor realization are our Portion or Object, and yet the more earnestly our souls are fixed upon Him who is both, we do realize and enjoy, "Beholding, as in a glass, the glory of the Lord, (2 Cor. 3:18,) secures two things to us: —
First. — Satisfaction of heart with Him on whom the eye of the soul is steadfastly fixed.
Second. — Transformation into the same image, from one degree of glory to another, — moral likeness to our Object and Portion.
Stephen in Acts 7, is a fine illustration of all this. Filled with the Spirit, he steadfastly gazed into the opened heavens, and there his eye was filled with Jesus in glory, his Portion and Object! No strife or clamorous uproar, which, like a wall of fire, encircled him around, could prevail to turn his eye or heart from that blessed One who Himself filled them. No he "looked up steadfastly into heaven." There was his place, his home, his Portion, he is satisfied and at rest here on earth, from which he must shortly depart; he shares the fortunes of a rejected, crucified Christ; hatred, enmity, and violence here, are the counterpart of rest and satisfaction there, and to him, too, they are the consequence of it; these he accepts as those he enjoys. It is a wonderful scene to us, but how heaven must have looked down upon it, who can tell? But this is not all; not only does he behold, but he is like the One into whose blessed face he looks; like Him who said, "Father, forgive them;" he too, says, "Lord, lay not this sin to their charge." Truly, it is so "beholding, as in a glass, the glory of the Lord," he was "transformed into the same image from glory to glory."
There is a beautiful illustration of our subject in Leviticus 7:34, where we find that the wave breast and heave shoulder of the peace offering were the appointed portion of Aaron and his sons. "The wave breast and the heave shoulder have I taken of the children of Israel, from off the sacrifices of their peace-offerings, and have given them unto Aaron the priest, and unto his sons, by a statute for ever, from among the children of Israel." What excellent things are here for faith to feed upon
The strength and the affections of Christ, as well as Himself in whom is our all, are the blessed Portion of His people. Of old, it was said of Israel, "The Lord's portion is His people." Now, in the highest way, we can say, "The Lord is my portion, O my soul," "Christ is all and in all."
"My Lord, my life, my rest, my shield,
My rock, my food, my light;
Each thought of Thee doth constant yield
Unchanging, fresh delight."
I shall very briefly note some of the consequences which would follow from all this.
1st. — With such a Portion, things here would be eclipsed, and esteemed as dung and dross. "The knowledge of Christ Jesus is the most excellent of all sciences" [Bacon?] — the possession of Him, true riches. Thank God, there is what another has designated as "the expulsive power of a new affection," and, for the heart possessing this Portion, and possessed by it, earthly themes now cease.
An incident in David's history is an apt though poor type of all this. When David returned to his own house after the death of Absalom, among the first to meet and bid him welcome, was Mephibosheth, the son of Saul. With genuine and true hearted loyalty, he carried in his very person the evidences of David's absence, while he was as yet away (2 Sam. 19:24); but now that the king has come again to his own home in peace, Mephibosheth's cup is full; his Portion was in David himself and because it is so, even the good things of David, the bounties and favour of his hand, can he let go with a willing heart. "Yea, let him take all; forasmuch as my lord is come again in peace unto his own house."
2nd. — One other consequence is, the way in which every part of our history here is used up by us to show the good of what we have in our Portion; there is not one trial too many, not one sorrow too grievous, for the heart that is possessed by Christ, to manifest the value and blessedness of Him who is our Portion, and our compensation in every grief and perplexity. May the Lord give us to abound and have all things, in having Himself, until we see His face, are like Him, and with Him for ever!