J. N. Darby.
(Notes and Comments Vol. 2.)
It is well we have Christianity. The thoughts of a future life by philosophers well show what their thoughts are worth. How thoroughly disgusting for instance are the thoughts of Madame de Gasparin. But one thing is specially worthy of note, that ancient heathenism is rapidly reviving. Lambert is merely Buddhism (or do I confound Brahminism here with it from want of memory?), save that in Buddhism in the three highest worlds there is no danger of descending.
All the Gasparin view is horrible and pretentious nonsense. Christian spiritual joys - the love of brethren - Jesus as He is - divine delight of a new man - all that constitutes heaven is out of philosophy, unknown to it. The Christian is more at home there than in this world. This is natural as they have no idea of a new life. But philosophically the spiritualist's ideas are wrong. I - personality - does not require memory; I is never memory - it is always conscious I. It supposes continuity not memory. I remember facts but they are brought to a present I, which I thereby continue to that time. It is done easily in brief space. The present I - there is no other - is in yesterday made present. If I look at I as in the scene past in time, my consciousness looks at another person though I may know it is myself by the facts, by memory entering into my present consciousness. I am conscious it is the same because my knowledge of the events is by my being in them. If there be an I, one individual soul, it is clear it continues though all memory of the past were lost. The conscious identity is lost as regards the circumstances, the knowledge of it (as in a somnambulist), but the I is the same. Faculties are not I but of I; nor is reason more so than anything else. No doubt God is the supreme Intelligence; but to be a cause this is far from all - there must be a will and action in power.
If, as some of these people assert, eternal life being only in Christ proves that man does not live, is not immortal, it proves that he does not live now. I do not use this at all as a proof that he does live after death, for it does not do that at all, but it shows that the argument proves nothing. Other things may prove that I am alive now and not then, but eternal life being only in Christ does not prove it, because if that showed that a man had not life without it, it would prove that he had not got it now, if not a Christian. If a man has life now without having eternal life, he may have it then; what kind of life it is remains to be proved, and how long it lasts. I have eternal life when I am certainly mortal as to my human existence, when I am not immortal but mortal. The word "eternal" does not therefore apply to my state of existence as man, for I have eternal life when I am mortal - I may be immortal and not have it. The very angels have not eternal life as we have it in Christ; are they therefore mortal or do they not exist? That is the question here. It is clear the decay of the body or system of senses proves nothing, if the soul be distinct in nature. All the argument from eternal life to existence in any shape or duration is perfectly baseless.
219 Life is that which a being enjoys, the position in which he is placed. Hence in man it may refer to that in which he enjoys what is down here, or, as he is in relationship with God, to his enjoying that position. Sin brought in the ruin of both. But we may lose one to keep the other, and save or spare one to lose the other. Literal death closes the enjoyment of what is down here, rather, more exactly, the capacity to enjoy. Being by sin it may involve a great deal more - through redemption it may involve much greater blessing, as leading to a higher enjoyment of the other part of our position - relationship with God.
Sin separated man from God - God was no source of enjoyment at all. Responsibility man could not destroy, but he was cut off by the state of his soul from any enjoyment of God, and responsibility brought only fear; he sought enjoyment in what was beneath him and hated the One to whom he was responsible. Now "life" is employed in both these respects and death too, "She that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth"; we are "dead in trespasses and sins," being alive.
Death may be used generally for deprivation of capacity of enjoyment, in either or generally involving both, or rather expressing that general idea, because the bringing in of death was judicial separation from God. When once man had taken his own will and lust he was dead as to God, and, though he might enjoy for a while what pleased those lusts, was dead to God; then judicially driven out from the place where life in the world was to be found in the tree of life. He was under death physically, appointed to die, and dead towards God. The law came and proposed enjoyment here, but with God. Verbally the judgment of man and woman in Paradise was only as regards his life, and her giving life, here. Driving out the man was another thing.
220 The life promised in the law was a life of enjoyment with God, but not necessarily out of this world. Man being made for God, the only full enjoyment of life even here is with Him, or we are dead whilst we live. And then actual physical death, closing even enjoyment without God, ushers into the place of judgment in connection with responsibility which is another question, a question of guilt and righteousness not of life, though these may go together. Christ is life and Christ is righteousness for us. So that when I say "the wages of sin is death," it is no doubt physical death, but having lost God it is abiding death to the soul when that is come, so that if it be said "if ye live after the flesh ye shall die," it does end life here but takes in the loss of all enjoyment in the soul. We are without God already, and all is lost, in event, with life here. "If ye mortify the deeds of the body ye shall live," it is not that we may not die physically, but possess the enjoyment of the soul in a higher way too. No doubt it is in the new Creation, but alive here with divine life we shall live that life in its proper sphere.
The whole question is if I consider life down here, or in relationship to God. Only Christ gives us life, the capacity of enjoyment with Him already down here (only in the sphere to which natural life belongs) but we are not, save by faith, in the sphere to which that life belongs and whence it comes.
The Law only proposed life generally, as the result of obedience. Life and incorruptibility were brought to light by the Gospel. We have the life of God, joy in Him, but not in the place to which it belongs, but in the place of ruin to which natural life belongs, though even so now in that state without God. Eternal life, in the thought of God for us, is in the sphere that belongs to it, i.e., the new Creation - likeness to Christ - conformity to His image. So we shall have it when He appears - now we have it having Him as life, but in a sphere foreign to it. Those spared in the millennium have the life and divine blessing on earth with it. Others may partake in the earthly blessing, not having it, and so fall away. But this even, in the spared then, is not its full development; incorruptibility is not then come, though the sphere is peace not combat, and Christ manifested there. In Luke 9 we have Moses and Elias, the disciples, and the cloud besides. Eternal life belongs to a certain sphere of enjoyment, but it is the capacity of enjoyment and has its highest objects now, but is not in its sphere, "This is life eternal to know thee" (the Father) "the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent."
221 I feel one has to go step by step in reading John's Gospel and Epistles too. The Epistle goes farther than the Gospel as to the blood of Christ. The first great point is Light and Life. Life being the light of men who do not receive it. Even the lifting up on the cross is that men "should not perish but have everlasting life."
Next from John 13, we have cleansing but with water, and this for companionship with Christ where He is gone - a part with Him who is departed out of this world to the Father. From thence we have the state and life, abiding in Him, and fruit here, and the Holy Ghost. Our place with the Father and with the world, Christ's.
With Pilate again He is on Jewish ground (Psalm 2), King of Israel and Son of God, but the Jews rejected in His rejection. He was their King, but they had "no king but Caesar." In Gethsemane and on the Cross we have the Lord only in that character in which He freely lays down His life that He may take it again. In both it is simply Himself, freely giving Himself and it up. In John 20 we have this present time till Thomas, and then the millennial manifestation after the remnant gathered, and closing with Peter and John's service - the present time and Paul left out.
But note, the eternal life and the cleansing associate themselves. Christ, as come down here, spake that He knew and testified that He had seen; He was the eternal life with the Father and manifested - the Son of man who was in heaven (ho on). Then when the cleansing of John 13 comes, it is that they may have a part with Him going to God as come from Him, going out of this world to the Father, all things put in His hands, when He could have no part with them; He was washing them in view of where He was going. So He has sanctified Himself that we might be sanctified by the truth, the Spirit takes the things of Him and shows them to us, and that is all the Father has, and we "are changed into the same image from glory to glory as by the Spirit of the Lord" - hence "unblameable in holiness before God and our Father at the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints," so 1 John 3:2-3. Still from John 13, it is our state and position - the revelation of the Father in the Son, so that we know where He was going and the way, and the coming of the Holy Ghost to make us know the things and our connection with Him - our position.
222 We get "the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world" (not the "sins" even of believers), and who baptises with the Holy Ghost. But we must be born again; even the Cross is to "have eternal life" - the eating His "flesh and drinking his blood" to live by Him. We have life and cleansing (by water) for the sphere life belongs to, not bearing sins or justifying, nor redemption by blood; that belongs to the old life and its fruits, or rather ourselves as viewed in it. You have Christ's death for our life, from love to us His sheep, or otherwise He abides alone, but so will have fruit, is loved of the Father because He lays it down that He may take it again But all this just shows what I refer to and mean.
But in the Epistle it is different, not that there is a development of redemption or justification or bringing us to God, but, as fellowship is its subject and down here, although life and its true character in us be its primary subject as that which we have - that fellowship - yet we must bring in the blood of Christ or the unclean would have it, and the guilty, which cannot be. Hence after stating the subject matter and object (1 John 1:1-4), the apostle speaks of what, from God's nature, we must have to have it; for we walk in the light, as God is, to enjoy it. We walk in the light as God is in it, having fellowship one with another, the blood cleansing us from all sin, not water here, for as he says, "He came not by water only but by water and blood," the fact having been witnessed in the Gospel. It is cleansing and divine favour, forgiveness, here, not propitiation and judicial righteousness, for this compare Romans 4, for we could not have administered forgiveness if there had not been the other - the justifying.
We cannot say we have no sin, nor that we have not sinned, and we have forgiveness on confessing them, and cleansing from unrighteousness. His advocacy to restore communion is that of the righteous One who has made propitiation, but all this refers to fellowship and communion. This is done towards God and according to His nature - the forgiveness is received administratively and actually on confession. And this of course runs through, the sins of all Christians are forgiven as to redemption and judicial imputation.
223 Love was manifested in that He sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins, but it refers to what we are fit for, how we are fit for communion before God; and love is perfect in this that "as he is so are we in this world." For the rest, it is what this life is as contrasted with the sinful one, and that the Spirit, the water, and the blood all bear witness that eternal life is not in Adam, but the gift of God, and that in the Son.
I have now to see how life is put forward in the Gospel. First "in him was life, and the life was the light of men" (these last specifically), as here "the light shone in darkness and the darkness comprehended it not."
Chapter 2 is Jewish, when being Son of man He returns.
Then, John 3, we have its nature in us, "That which is born of the Spirit is spirit." But it is also practical cleansing by the Word of God (water); then comes the Cross, "must be lifted up," and God "has given." But this introduces heavenly things (the other, even for the Kingdom, as earthly) and in connection with this He testifies what He has seen and heard. It is eternal life and the words of God down here. All things are given into the Son's hand.
In John 4, Judaism is left. The Father is seeking worshippers, and God must be worshipped in spirit and in truth. Here it is God's gift, and a Christ, a divine Person, completely humbled, dependent for a drink of water, which He had created, on a rejected stranger, gives living water - the power of life in the Spirit (the law of the Spirit in Christ Jesus), which is in us but springs up to the place of its source, the heavenly relationship known through the Son.
John 5. The Son is acting in power, as and with the Father, and gives life, quickens whom He will - first souls then and now, and in due time will bring up all out of their graves to life or to judgment which is committed to Him as Son of man.
In John 6, it is the incarnate and dying Man, and faith receives and feeds on Him - first, flesh and blood, a dying One known in death (closing relationship with the first man altogether), and then as the Bread come down from heaven to give life to the world, not promises to the Jews or Israel; hence it is always for believers "I will raise him up at the last day." Responsibility as to receiving life is at the end of chapter 5.
John 7. Instead of Christ's showing Himself to the world and giving rest there, He gives now the Holy Ghost to those that believe on Him - the time was not come for the other. This time is characterised by the Holy Ghost "was not yet" (ouk en eti).
224 In John 8, He is the Light of Life, but, as we have often seen, rejected in His words.
In chapter 9 He gives sight and is rejected in His works.
John 10. Here He gives eternal life to His sheep, lays down His life for them, and though the wolf may catch and scatter them, cannot catch them out of His hand. Also it is eternal life - they cannot perish. He and His Father are one - it is a common work and security. Judgment is the Son's only.
John 11 brings in another important element. He is the present power of resurrection and life for us - resurrection going first - here back to mortal life as Jesus was here. Now a life had with Him, spiritual quickening and resurrection from the dead as He is hid in God, and if alive first spiritually, will never die; but I doubt not when He comes not at all, though death is not then yet destroyed, but he who has the power of it bound. This is not positively revealed, but here seems to be found on principle. With a rejected Christ the power of resurrection must come first; hence in Ephesians, when dead in trespasses and sins we are quickened together with Him and raised, and sit in Him in heavenly places, but here Christ is looked at as having been Himself raised as One who had died, descended as to this where we were, and God is the Workman. So that, though impliedly owned, it is another aspect of it than life from Him.
In John 11 we have resurrection and life - His power - death theirs, but in God's mind for them and to gather the children of God.
John 12 closes His then present relationship with the Jews. We have the remnant attached to and separated to Him; then the final presentation to Israel, and the Gentiles, but for that, the Son of Man's glory, He must die. The world is judged, but its prince cast out, and the attractive point for all men set up before their eyes. The blindness of the Jews is then stated; still He was come Light into the world, and believers would not walk in darkness, and His Father's commandment which He fulfilled in His Word was life everlasting.
225 John 13 enters, as said, on the new position He was taking, only.
The beginning of John 14 shows what they had had while He was there.
The beginning of John 15, shows the disciples' relationship with Him while He was there. The Comforter's coming as, in a certain sense, taking His place, is gone into in the latter part of John 14, and at the very end of John 15, and in John 16; only in the beginning of John 15 they are exhorted to hold fast the connection, and abide in it, as are we. But it is responsible position here.
In John 17 the character and form of eternal life is the knowledge of the Father and Jesus Christ as sent of Him; for so He is ever seen in John, though everywhere God in his writings. "The Father" is the guiding word here, and then Christ as sent, though before the worlds.
As regards eternal life. First in its essence and nature it was in the Son with the Father; 1 John 1:2, so in John 1. "In him was life" - as Man down here, the Person of Christ. He was given to have life in Himself. Life and incorruptibility are brought to light by the Gospel. But "eternal" life was in the counsel of God and promised us in Christ Jesus before the world was. In its full result it is in resurrection glory, "In the end everlasting life," "Springing up into everlasting life." But we have it when we have Christ, "He that heareth my word and believeth on him that sent me hath everlasting life," "is passed from death unto life." "He is the true God and eternal life." And "whosoever believeth on the Son" was to have "everlasting life." Thus it is essentially in the Son, given us in Christ Jesus before the world. But in counsel this is in glory with the Father, yet intrinsically in Him and received from Him; before we are there we have it.
Then as regards Old Testament saints, the general truth remains. They must be born of the Spirit to have part in the kingdom which they have, "So is every one that is born of the Spirit." But life everlasting is, as far as I am aware, only spoken of the millennial state ad-ha-o-lam (for ever and ever) Daniel 12:3, and in Psalm 133, simply o-lam (evermore).
The life is in and accompanies Messiah's presence, only we know now that it is in resurrection it is displayed in man, and that we have it now in a glorified Christ. The saints on earth in the millennium will, I suppose, have it in the form in which blessing is brought to them. The foundation is in John 3:14-16; the moral change and that in communication of life is in John 5 et seq. But the place and character of eternal life is in John 3:14-16. As with the Father we see it in the eternal Person of the Son. Saints were quickened by the power of it in all times, but it was not brought to light. In Christ incarnate it took its form as regards the purpose of God - it is revealed in Man. But this was not the full purpose in counsel - that was conformity to Christ in glory as Man, through the Cross and triumph over death and him that had the power of it. The fruit will be life ad-ha-o-lam (for ever and ever) for those on earth, but not participation in the glory. The Gentiles will have it then too, as we see in Matthew 25.
226 The testimony as to eternal life before its full revelation in Christ stands, I think, thus. In the New Testament we find it clearly contemplated by the Jews, as in John 5 and Matthew 19:16. It may have been vague, but was fully before their minds as was the resurrection. As regards the Old Testament, not to speak of its implicit revelation in the relationship of God with Abraham, in Psalm 16, the path of life in resurrection through death is clearly announced, but only as to Christ directly. In Psalm 21, we have not death, but length of days for ever and ever - long life - eternal life. Psalm 16 is more, it goes through death into the divine presence by resurrection. This is governmental and millennial. Then when Judah is Lo-ammi, and God's ways with them then are brought out, Daniel is distinct as to the saints also "They shall wake up, some to everlasting life"; this carries it out, as I judge, to scattered Israel. Matthew 25 extends it to the Gentiles in the earth. The full heavenly character and place in which it resulted in Him, who had come from heaven and went back as Man into it according to the counsels of God, gave eternal life its crown and glory; but it is not the direct force of the thing itself. Yet John, who speaks most of it, always brings it out on earth whether in Christ or the saints. Paul pursues it to the heavenly glory in which alone he had seen Christ.
It is worthy of note how Paul never speaks of eternal life as a present thing. He says many things which involve it as "not I but Christ lives in me," but as he brings us before God justified and in glory, so eternal life is there for him, as for all, in its fulness. He can say in general, "The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." But it is not, as in John, a present living power in us more than a state to which we arrive; for Paul the end is everlasting life - for John, "He that hath the Son hath life." I do not mean difference in doctrine, for there is none, but aspect and apprehension in the Word - one is intrinsic life, the other condition in result before God.
227 Connect these passages, Titus 1:2 - life promised before the world, then 1 John 1:1-3 - here it was with the Father and was manifested in the world - what and in whom the life was. Then John 1:4-5, life in Him, but this life light distinctively and as such for man, not for angels. It was the display of that in which man was to be in light before God. The old man understood nothing of it. But then 2 Timothy 1:9-10, where we find it manifested by the Gospel after He had gone up, life and incorruptibility being brought to light in it. Now, turning back to Titus also, it is manifested by the Word, by preaching, by which Word we are begotten to life. Thus life is eternally in the Son, before the world and promised before it, given us in Him, i.e., is manifested in the second Adam, the power shown in resurrection, and its place in the counsels of God in the glorified Man for ever. The first Adam, however true and real his responsibility bringing in result death and judgment, comes in as to eternal life by the bye. Then Christ undergoes death and judgment for us and enters into the power of life in Himself, but by the action of God, into the new eternal sphere of man's blessedness. Thus life was before the world, will be after it as to its present state. The first man and the world only come in by the bye - between - as the sphere where all is brought out and the work of redemption wrought, for that was in respect of sin, and so God is glorified as to the first Adam, and life is in righteousness according to God. But what a thing eternal life then is!
It is to be remarked that in John 3 eternal life is not connected with being born again but simply the kingdom. It is necessary for that we get a nature suited to have to say to God in whatever way. It is the Spirit's work - a nature suited to know Him. Eternal life is connected with heavenly things, and the lifting up of the Son of man, Son of God. This shows us what eternal life is; it is wholly in Christ (compare 1 John 1) and to us through the incarnation, but necessarily also the death of the Lord Jesus, compare John 6:33-58. In Him and promised to us (Titus 1) before the world was, but brought into man by the incarnation (for He was in heaven) and we into its place and condition through His blessed death, resurrection and ascension, compare John 6:62. The Bread from heaven is Christ; then we come into its own proper place by redemption and in resurrection, for redemption in the full sense brings us into heaven. The Kingdom, specially the lower part, does not meet this. No doubt every blessing does for sinful man, but it is not the proper fruit and result of redemption - heavenly things are that - eternal life knows no other place. In Christ thus, who was and is eternal life, risen - here He the Son of man was in heaven. There may be condemnation by rejection here, but entrance into that to which Christ belongs involves for us redemption, death and resurrection. This in its great principle of application is reasoned out in Romans 4 and 8.
228 Further we have the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost which He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour, that being justified by His grace we should be heirs according to the hope of eternal life. The renewing (anakainosis) of the Holy Ghost is not merely "regeneration" or a new life; it is objective bringing into the sphere we are introduced into by Christ and redemption, the kainos state of things - new creation (kaino ktisis), the neos regeneration is more subjective, essential but subjective and in application does not, that I see, go beyond earthly things, but earthly things with God - the desert now (not Canaan) and the desert to blossom as a rose but not Canaan. So in 1 Peter 1:22-23, it is subjection "you have purified your souls in obeying the truth, being born … of the Word." No doubt heaven is here full in hope, but the regeneration, the being born is subjective condition. The strongest point of connection, for that is what it is, is in James 1:18, but it does not in fact reach out of the sphere down here, though the sort of nature for that according to the purpose of God. Peter is "hath begotten again" (anagennesas). In Matthew 19:28, the regeneration (paliggenesia) is clearly earthly and a state of things. So that what I get in regeneration is a subjective state "born of God," "of the Spirit," "of water," "of the Word," and as a sphere merely, so far as earth, only the foundation of relationship with God.
But the Spirit as shed on us goes farther. Here I have an anakainosis of the Holy Ghost.
229 The whole sphere of relationship is changed and the hope of eternal life comes in. So in Colossians and Ephesians, the palaios anthropos (old man) is put off. This is general, the former man now grown old and rejected, but then we have distinctly the neon and the kainon; here neon is in connection with regeneration and subjective, and kainon new in nature and character, and, brought into a new sphere, its relationships are in question - neos begins, kainos is different, and so lives in a new sphere. Thus, Colossians, we have put on the new - it is a new man now beginning, but it is anakainoumenon into knowledge according to the image of Him that created it. This is the renewing of the Holy Ghost shed on us, anakainosis. The nature is proper - capable - but it is in a wholly new scene and there developed in power. So Ephesians 4 we are ananeousthai in the spirit of our minds. This is subjective again, in contrast with the corrupt old man - what it is - and we have put on the kainon anthropon, one new in character, different, created according to God in righteousness and holiness - neither corrupt nor innocent, but according to the character of God Himself. The sphere is not entered into; he had largely done this, and his object here is character, still it is objective (kata).
The washing of regeneration cleanses subjectively, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit - has Its essential nature and characteristics - but the renewing of the Holy Ghost leads us into the whole sphere of that new state of things into which Christ is entered as risen and now gone up on high. And though we must be born to have life, and have life if born, yet eternal life is only known in redemption, and the scene and state into which redemption brings. Hence though we have put on the new man (kainon) in putting on the risen Christ, yet there is an anakainosis through the Holy Ghost in bringing us into the apprehension of the new creation (kaine ktisis) where all things are new (kaina).
Then in John 3 also, water is no way baptism. Baptism is death, as is evident - our purifying, having done with the nature in which I lived; the water came out of His pierced side and life is in the Son, the second Adam, and that consequent on death as come amongst the first. God has given to us, therefore, eternal life it is said there, and as the water and blood through death testify it to be in the second, risen One, Son of God, so the Holy Ghost is a witness of it. Here again we have what Eternal life is. But the water, though really purifying, the application of the Word, yet is here only by birth not death and resurrection as in baptism, and goes only to the kingdom.
230 "Ye are clean through the word which I have spoken to you" - a new nature and moral effect that was produced, and must be, by John 3; but the sphere did not thereby go out of this world - by death and resurrection it clearly does. But the Son of Man coming in in the power of that life which was before the world, and then dying and rising, introduces into the new creation (kaine ktisis). He abode alone while here, but by redemption, and being in Him, we have our place there, and to this the Holy Ghost corresponds.
Note, the Master or Teacher (ho didaskalos, Matthew 10:24) is no difficulty; Israel was the disciple (ho mathetes), and so he ought to have known - it is the article of contrast quite common.
But there is another point, I think, which comes out from the end of John's gospel. I have said for us it must be by death and resurrection, but in itself it is in Christ, and this leads to another and more intimate apprehension of what it is, though always on this ground.
I have an idea that Colossians, as to the point of progress, takes the ground of John 20, Christ risen breathing on the disciples; as God breathed into Adam the breath of life, so Christ does in the power of His resurrection. It is life in the power of resurrection, by the Spirit communicated, that was associating them with Him in the power of that life. In Colossians we have not the Holy Ghost, but we have "risen with him." In Ephesians we have the Holy Ghost and sealing for the day of redemption; hence purpose and the new Creation. This evidently connects itself with the coming of the Holy Ghost, whether from the Father as putting consciously in the place of sons, or sent by Christ glorified revealing all given to Him as Man. In general the Holy Ghost leads us into knowledge of the purpose of God, length, breadth, depth and height.
The Old Testament saints will clearly have been born again, and have the kingdom. They, as every one else blessed, are clearly dependent on the work of Christ as propitiation, as in Romans 3, "the remission of sins that are past." But there is more in the Cross (as received). It is not the blood on the doorposts the blessed Lord refers to in John 3. There is the recognition of the world being no place (though God may be with us in it, not as in Egypt), but the world recognised as atheos and place of Satan's power, and so Christ, proving it, lifted up out of it. While He was in it consequently He was alone - men by nature were of it. And though born again they get the kingdom; here was more - He, Christ, was alone in His Person that eternal life which was with the Father, and was alone such in the world which was not it in any way. Hence "the only-begotten Son who is in the bosom of the Father," "the Son of man who is in heaven." Who else was there? Even had ascended? He was thus alone. He came "eternal life" into this world, but was alone in the out-of-the-world, heavenly condition of relationship and Being in which eternal life consists, which was before the world not only in God but in counsel for us - given us in Christ - manifested in Him alone in the world, and now consequent on His being lifted up and gone out of it into the heavenly place of which He taught, that into which we are introduced in Him.
231 Now in John 6 we have this brought out; not the blessed Lord's death as offered to God, the one ground of all blessing, but the reception of it, entering into it by man. He is the Manna, the Bread which came down from heaven, was not of this world though in it and born of woman. This is expressly stated in John 17, and carried on to the disciples. It is life to the world - Jew and Gentile all merged in sin in nature, and so children of wrath; and here Ephesians joins in chapter 2 - we are there quickened together with Christ and set in Him in the heavenly places. But in John 6 we have the process in the apprehension and reception of Christ - the digesting by faith into the life of our own being. He is first the Bread which came down from heaven to give life. But so only, though really such in power, He remains alone. We have it only in resurrection, a new life and condition of man because in nature he was away from God in nature and wrath - a condition entirely out, away from God, yea, in enmity. Hence as receiving this life we enter into the expression of this, and that in our conscience, in Christ's death and resurrection; we are rejoiced to have a part in death because it is death to the nature and system estranged from God, and have life only in the new condition in Christ. It was in Him in this world not in the old condition in life though entered into it - come down from heaven; but we have it who were of that condition by being delivered out of it, having wholly done with it by death - ceased to exist as to it - and entered as receiving Him dead into the new place.
232 But John 6 takes up not our entering in, though we receive Christ for it, but the full reception by faith of His dying in grace, so that divinely for faith the life-giving One separates us by the end of criminality (death) and atoning redemption, but here in the power of separation absolute, and judicial, from the old; not leaving it, which He could have done, but so no use for us, but by dying to it so that He did so in that which was needed for man as coming under that judicially, and man's ceasing to have to say to it in the only possible way because we were alive in the nature which made it such - death only could end that, besides the putting away of sins. Hence we have eternal life through it in due time - the form of it in that we shall be raised again and conformed to Him where He is gone; but it is not our dying with Him here, though that be true, but our full entering into His doing it in grace, giving Himself in flesh for the life of the world. And this belongs to the character of life He had with the Father before the world was, for He ascends up where He was before.
Nor is there any full truth as to what man is, or God is (in respect of man), or the world is so as to be with God according to the power of Christ's work but by this. He gave Himself for our sins that He might deliver us from this present evil world - that, though the truth, is its lowest expression, for He brings us to God according to all God's judgment of good and evil, as glorified in Christ in His death (and so taking man to Him and making him the vessel of the revelation of what He is). Whoever believes on Him has this, but it is only by the death and blood-shedding he has it. The Word has been made flesh that it might be thus. To guard against false conclusions from this as to the term "eternal life," we must remember that the spared of Matthew 25 go away into it; still even then it is those who have received Christ, in His humiliation, in His messengers - will have had shared in the sorrow of a Christ the world rejects. So the 144,000 of Revelation 14 and "the great multitude" of chapter 7, though the matter be not then in hand.
In John 6 we have One in whom is eternal life in nature and being, always in the bosom of the Father as living here, coming down and bringing this new heavenly thing, and dying, giving Himself even to death to close the old thing and set it aside, i.e., to believers, thus while having it in Himself dealing in respect of the world, i.e., of man's condition in it so as to make an end of that, and introduce us in the pure glory into which He is entered according to the worth of that which He has wrought. He has taken flesh, eternal life being in Him, and given it for the life of the world. It is the death we enter into, and receive in our souls, so as to have a part in the eternal life in Him. Hence in the sacraments, figures of this, the first has no connection with union with Christ in its signification; the second has - we are all one Body. Yet it is not so as that in itself, we are thus one with Christ therein risen in figure, but we are all one out of the world as united to Him; the union with the Head is by the Holy Ghost, another truth founded on His ascension, yet supposing His death - being so united we return and see how it all came in, and own death not union. In one sense death goes deeper than union, because all God's moral nature is made good and glorified in it, and the question of sin settled. Union is a special privilege of ours.
233 In a word, Christ is eternal life with the Father, becomes Man and dies, setting aside for us the whole condition of man with God in the world - making cease, as setting it aside - and then takes man up into the new glory purposed, of which He was thus worthy.