Scripture Truth 1941, p. 182
“According to the glad tidings of the glory of the blessed God, with which I have been entrusted” (1 Timothy 1:11, N.Tr.).
To preach forgiveness of sins and relief from judgment with sure hope of heaven at the end is good as far as it goes, but the gospel of the glory of the blessed God is according to His purpose and grace which, was given us in Christ Jesus before the world was, and takes us out of the world in spirit now. It brings us into salvation and a holy calling with the enjoyment of eternal life now (2 Tim. 1:9-10; Gal. 1:4). The gift of the Holy Spirit is the distinctive mark of this gospel by which the believer comes under the new Head (Christ) and begins to learn the glorious range of truth connected with the new eternal order of things in Christ the Sacred Man.
Thus apprehended the gospel leads into a large place where all things are of God. Here all is of His eternal purpose and we apprehend what it is to be before God in the relationship calling of sons, and relationship which associates us with the Son of God as His brethren; and still further, gives us to know what it is to be united to Christ the risen Man, and to realise the blessedness of His risen life as members of His body. It is thus we are led to the great truth of “the mystery” (Eph. 3) in which we perceive the Church set in the midst of the nations as the Body and Bride of Christ. Here the grandeur of God’s thoughts and intentions are reached, and in that wondrous plan, for which creation was a necessity, fills our souls with adoration; that grand redemption scheme by which God would provide out of the fallen race of man a Bride for His Son.
The magnitude and grandeur of it will ring through the whole redeemed creation, its joy and delight permeating every family in that glorious scene, and yet, sad it is to say, how little those who form part of it are in the joy of it today. May we not repeat with increasing emphasis that the refusal of the gospel of the glory of the blessed God is the cause. Our poor, selfish little hearts having got the assurance of escape from hell with the hope of heaven, like the Israelites of old, we refuse the pleasant land and thus miss the wealth that God has for us now, with the result that He is slighted in His very best.
Assuming that we have entered into the new creation by the door of the gospel of the glory of the blessed God, we come properly to the truth of the Church. None would affirm that the truth of the Church can be known this side of the Cross, nor indeed any of the blessings of Christianity, for every link that abides must lie on the other side of death. In the Church we come to the great fact of the Body of Christ which is the mystery, the outstanding feature of Paul’s ministry, given to him by revelation as the central part of eternal counsel and much spoken of as the masterpiece of God.
The Church, that is the whole aggregate of believers between the Pentecostal Baptism of Acts 2 till the Rapture of saints to heaven of 1 Thessalonians 4, are all baptised into one body by the Holy Ghost, which constitutes an organic unity as in the life of Christ the Head. This blessed secret of grace revealed to faith gives the way the blessed God has taken to provide a Bride for His Son. As members of the Body each are seen outside the original Adamic relation, for nothing but what is of God can be there. Even here, there is in Scripture a progressive idea. In 1 Corinthians the saints are viewed locally as Christ’s Body, providing a circle for the manifestations of the Spirit in the saints, as gathered together. In Colossians the ground is enlarged. Here the whole Church is seen as the Body of Christ, so that the thoughts, sentiments, and feelings of the Head come out through the members in the energy of life as delivered from empty and formal religion. “Let no man therefore judge you in meat or in drink … which are a shadow of things to come, but the body (substance) is of Christ.”
In Ephesians, we reach, by way of the gospel this same truth of the Body, and there, too, we are led on to the great truth of the Church as the Bride of the Lamb. Here the truth is carried on to give an answer to the beautiful type presented in Adam and Eve in the garden. Before Eve was the wife of Adam she was part of himself. The Church, the Body and Bride of Christ, was taken from Him in death which shows the perfection of the ways of God and the ulterior thoughts before Him in His dealings with the first man and woman before sin was permitted to come in. While speaking of such things as ulterior thoughts, we are privileged to know that they existed long before, and indeed were the purpose for which Adam and Eve were brought upon the scene.
This glorious theme opens out from its place in eternity, taking a large place in Scripture till it crowns the New Testament revelation and stands as the keystone of the arch of divine dealings from eternity to eternity. It will stand at the centre of a redeemed universe in the time of millennial display, and after time has ceased to be will be the centre and metropolis in God’s eternal day. An intellectual apprehension of it is the cause of its being lost sight of, but he that has once drunk in the truth and been illuminated by it will never again be able to turn to this world for satisfaction.
While the Mystery is an integral part of the glory system, there is something else that calls for thankful and devout appreciation, something indeed, which in the very nature of things carries us inside beyond display to love’s divinest conceptions. Passing, as we have said, by the gospel of glory into new creation, we come into not only the mystery—which links us in relationship with Christ, the Head—but into the place of sons, in the glorious calling of sonship, in relation to our God and Father. A calling which associates every beloved saint with the Son as His companions, in all the blessedness of the life, love and counsel of that glorious Godhead, who would have us there for its own eternal satisfaction and delight. This is shown in the words, “Before Himself in love.” “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies in Christ, according as He has chosen us in Him before the world’s foundation, that we should be holy and blameless before Himself in love” (Eph. 1:3-4). How could it be possible for anyone enjoying this blessed relationship to seek even the very best, whether in the sphere of nature, or the system of the world?
Sonship is a new holy relationship which necessitates the gift of the Spirit. “Because ye are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying, Abba Father.”
The Spirit is not only the power by which the relationship is formed, but also the source of the holy affections and feelings inherent in and proper to the relationship. Sonship associates saints with the Son in life, nature and rank; His God is their God, His Father their Father; His nature, life and all its associated feelings and sensibilities are theirs by virtue of the calling of God which is Sonship. The Son is not ashamed to call them brethren (Heb. 2). He sets them free in the freedom of the House (John 8) and holds nothing from them as to its secrets (John 15). He is the builder of that House as He is the Architect of creation and takes pleasure in His brethren as His royal associates. They are in the life, nature and acceptance of the Son. The relationship is His eternally; it became available for them in the purposes of the eternal Trinity and without it they stand before God in the company of the Son in a condition of life and love as if sin never had existed.
This, then, is the blessing, and with it there is access, peace, rest, joy, complacency and delight. It ensures both condition and position, nor is there the slightest necessity to wander from it. The Spirit indwelling is the source of supply; He supplies the filling up of all connected with the life by opening up the Scriptures and all the priceless, treasures connected with Divine Persons, divine purpose and divine life, which both enriches and engrosses in a way that is educative and serves as a course of training for all that is yet to come.
There are many other sectors in this glorious circle of truth, bur the two mentioned are the main parts as opening out the position of saints in connection with each of the Holy Trinity, Sonship connects with the Father, and the mystery views us in relation to our Lord the risen Man, which all is under the unction and power of the Holy Spirit. There is also reconciliation, the new man, the holy priesthood and the Sanctuary with its services to which they are called. All connects with a new order into which we come by the Gospel, but if there is a defective apprehension of that Gospel, nothing can be right. The refusal of the new creation leaves the saints undelivered from the man of sin and shame, and there is no way out. It dishonours God by ignoring the wisdom and beauty of the perfect combination of all His ways in time with His eternal counsels. It dishonours Christ by connecting Him in incarnation with fallen man and thus strikes a blow at the cross. For if our Lord in becoming man linked Himself with a fallen race to adorn it, He is disqualified from His redemption work, and on the other hand, if man is uplifted from his fallen state by the incarnation there is no need for the Cross. It also ignores the presence of the Holy Spirit who is here to maintain the interests of the Father and the Son.