Heart Response to Christ.

John 1:14; Rev. 1:5-6; Rev. 22:16-17, 20.

John Alfred Trench.

Article 17 of 19 from 'Truth for Believers' Volume 1.

(New and Enlarged Edition 1906.)

These passages possess one feature in common: in each the Spirit pauses, if I may so say, in the communication of the truth, to make room for the response of our hearts. And it is the expression of how the Lord looks for the answer of our affections to the truth presented to us. Thus, even in the midst of that most wonderful unfolding of the glory of the person of the Lord in John 1, when the apostle comes to the "Word become flesh and tabernacled amongst us," there is a parenthesis. Before the Spirit resumes and speaks of Him as "full of grace and truth," room is made for the testimony of those who by the opened eye of faith beheld His glory, "the glory an of an only begotten with a Father," and saw in Him the one cherished object of the Father's delight — Sonship now first fully revealed. Oh, how infinite the grace that has opened our eyes thus to behold Him! What, then, is the answer of our hearts to such an One?

It might seem as if we were on lower ground in Revelation 1. But it is because of the different character of the book, and of the way God and Christ are revealed in it. It is Jehovah first, rather than the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ; the One who is, connected with all He was and will be for ever — an added point of very great moment to our souls. Then the seven Spirits which are before His throne, not the one Spirit as we know Him in relation to the one body. The throne is preparing for the direct government of the earth, and the Spirit is presented in sevenfold perfection, connected with the administration of the throne. And when we come to the Lord Jesus, He is not seen in the deeper glory in which we know Him while hid from the eyes of men, but as "the faithful witness," looking back to His path on earth, the first begotten from the dead in resurrection; and then — passing over all the present epoch of grace — to what He will be as "Prince of the kings of the earth" in coming millennial glory. But whatever the glory in which He is presented, what touches our hearts and strikes the chord of praise, for which again the Spirit makes room, is that He "loveth us" (for the verb is in the present tense — it is ever a present love). It is this that makes Him personally dear to us — proved in what He has done for us as having "washed us from our sins in his own blood," and in what He has made us as "kings and priests unto God and his Father."

True, this does not rise to the height of "my Father and your Father, my God and your God," as John 20 has made the full character of our association with Him known to us. But it flows from it. For it is involved in that wonderful revelation from the mouth of the open sepulchre, that if He has brought us into all He has entered into as Man arisen from the dead before His Father and His God, there never will be a position which He takes that He will not have us associated with Him in it. Now the highest position that He takes in the Revelation is as Priest upon His throne; hence we are made kings and priests to God and His Father. And note that if this is not as intimate — as having His Father for our Father, and sharing the very place He has in His Father's love, it is His richest place in the book, as nearest to God in power, looking downwards for the kingdom, and in approach to Him upwards. Anyhow, it is His place we take and share. No wonder our hearts are full: and He makes room for the expression of it — our praise is sweet to Him "to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever."

Nor does He close the book without giving one more opportunity for the expression of affection from hearts that He has won for Himself. In Revelation 22 He addresses the church personally from verse 16. He is the root as well as the offspring of David — so secure the accomplishment of promise to Israel in the earthly blessing of the kingdom, which has been largely the subject of the book. "The Sun of righteousness shall arise with healing in his wings" for this, as in the last promise of the Old Testament. But it is not this that awakens the church's response: He adds, in the closing words of the New, "and the bright and Morning Star." As such He has to do with those who belong to Him before the rising of the sun. The first rays of the rising sun and the morning star is then no more seen; the star belongs to the watchers through the night. And now the answer is immediate. It is thus we know Him through the night of His absence. The Spirit dwelling in us gives the consciousness of the relationship of the bride, before the day of our espousals in glory, according to Revelation 19 and forms the church's heart according to that relationship. So that her one desire is to see His face. "The Spirit and the bride say, Come." He is the first object of her heart, when known as the Bridegroom in the power of the Spirit. And when He has thus His normal place, His interests in His absence will be her interests. Accordingly this verse gives us the whole circle of the church's affections. There are those who have, like us, heard His voice, but are not yet resting in accomplished redemption so as to possess the Spirit, and be of the bride; — we want them to be at peace, and to be able to join us in the cry that bids Him come. Then, outside of those in whom He has thus wrought in quickening power, there are the many that have drunk deeply at earth's springs, but only to find a thirst that even becomes more intense; the heart of Christ goes out to them, and the church's heart carries down to them the invitation, "let him that is athirst come; whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely." The Lord answers to the affections He has awakened, "Surely I come quickly," that once more He may hear from our hearts, "Even so, Lord Jesus, come."

May He give us exercise of heart before Him as to how far He has the response of affections from us that He so prizes. Till He come may our attitude be that of watching for Him, in full out-going of heart to Him, in answer to all the fulness of the out-going of His love to us, and as set for His interests in the scene of His rejection.