G. V. Wigram.
If I read scripture, faith sees and adores that One in whom is all perfection; from whose life given to me I derive all adoration and all power for living to Him. It is not only that life gushes from Him the smitten One, but I can look up and adore Him as the display of that life.
When the whole work which He has undertaken is finished, and His people are taken up in bodies of glory, then will it be seen that all the springs of God are in Him; and all the fresh eternal fulness of the life that was with the Father will be manifested. But it has been manifested on this earth. There was the display of that life in the whole history of Christ as man down here — He, the only holy, undefiled One, the One in whom was no spot, but spiritual divine purity.
I find that people's minds slide over the thought of that life having been a thing displayed in the Son of God on earth. In every part of that life here He won adoration and worship.
People often overlook that the effect of having the life of Christ is, that everything contrary to it must come into judgment, and faith casts the burden of this on Him, as He is the only One who, having given that life, can carry it on in our souls. He alone can carry us through the wilderness, the time-state, to the hour when "this mortal shall put on immortality."
When God had brought Israel over the Red Sea, and said to them, "You are my chosen people, do you choose and are you prepared to walk with me?" they did not do it. It is too often just the same with people now.
His plans for us are surpassingly wonderful — and if Christ says, "I am in the Father, and you in me, and I in you," and if this is a fact, how can one who believes it turn to anything of the flesh, and bring in a thought of the creature? If I did so, I could not walk as one who realized oneness with Christ. While I am realizing that I am in Christ, and am living Christ, all the affections of my heart will be set on Him, and I shall have competency to do things which I should not be able even to think of apart from Him. Oh! He has given me His own life, He tells me that I am in and He in me. And if any one really knows something about the love of God, it is because of having a right view of the place into which it has brought us.
God could never forget what is due to His holiness and glory. A ruined sinner could never have appeared in the light in His presence, if that living Man, the Lord Jesus Christ were not on the throne of God — that One who, before He took that place, went to the cross and bore the whole ruin which sin brought. And now a stream of life flows down from that risen Man to me; I am brought into fellowship with the Father, and can stand in the light in God's presence, rejoicing with ever fresh delight at the blessedness of His having given that Son to bear all my ruin.
The revelation of Father goes far beyond that of God. As a son, I am brought where I can have fellowship with the thoughts of the Father and of the Son — "I in them, and thou in me." Is that true of you individually? you, in your littleness, put into Christ; all that Christ is, giving you value before God. It makes one feel one's exceeding littleness — a zero, a thing utterly valueless, made by the figure put before it, to be of exceeding value.
I should like to see in saints a larger sense of the grace of God in having taken them up; so that they should be more bowed down in the thought of it. It is one thing to be crippled in the sense of what poor creatures we are, and quite another thing to be bowed down in the thought of that grace which met us where we were, and put us where we are. We were dead in trespasses and sins, when He picked us up and gave us life and fellowship with the body of Christ: and I should like to see that thought bowing down your hearts.
In Revelation 5, I see the Lamb in the midst of the throne, as the connecting link between that throne and a poor feeble disciple; and I say, if I have got that Lamb as my connecting link with the throne of God in heaven, how can there be a thought of anything but an acceptance as perfect as that of Christ? But there is another thing: What sort of walk ought mine to be? Do I begin where God begins? Are God and His Christ the two first thoughts in my mind? If walking with God and the Lamb in heaven, what sort of person shall I be, doing everything in the light of God and the Lamb?
If I know the love of God, it gives day by day a certain strength to lift one's feet out of the sand of the desert; it is something I rest in. There is no rest in looking within or around, it must be upwards and onwards. Take many Christians of the present day, and you will find them always looking within or around: it must be upwards and onwards.
John, the beloved disciple, first delivers his thread of messages to the seven churches; but the moment he gets to Jesus Christ, that name causes a vibration in his heart (Rev. 1:2); and we cannot hear that name without a movement in our souls, the result of God's having shown us that we have in that Lord Jesus Christ an answer to everything in Himself and in man. If Adam's rest was broken up, there was a place belonging to Christ, and John knew that place of rest, and joy, and peace, as his own; and the name of this Christ vibrated in the springs of John's heart as being all his own. Just where he was, Christ had stepped in as Redeemer, and John could not utter His name without there being a thrill in his heart — a burst of praise on his lips.
Oh to know that the only answer to the deceitfulness of these hearts of ours and the hypocrisy of human nature, is, that we have got that One, that faithful and unchangeable One who is with His people all the way through the wilderness till He gets them into the Father's house.
Have you tasted the sweetness of the cry, "Abba, Father, in your heart, and the blessedness of Christ in heaven being in you, and you in Him? And is it, think you, strange that He should take notice of your walk, and want you to walk as a child of the Father? Is it a strange thing that He should be the One to watch over you? No! and it is a blessed thing to know that he does do it. He never supposed that we could get through this life and get into glory without His leading and watching over us Himself; no such thought was ever in His mind.
We want reality; not a name, but the eternal life in the soul so practically our own, that it is seen by the way it works in us, and the things that flow forth from it. Wonderful is the effect of "doing truth"! Look at Paul — what were all those sufferings and all that self-denial of his, but an immensely strong argument for all that people heard from his lips? seeing him act out the truth gave immense power to it. People might challenge him, but if they did he could say, "whether I have done it well or ill, I have been trying all my life to carry out practically the life that Christ has put in me. I may have failed, but my sole desire and aim has been to live Christ."
My whole view of anything depends on my standpoint; if in a high place I get the whole compass. Paul could say, "My stand-point is Christ in heaven." From being in Christ, he had the power of Christ causing him to lot the whole stream of life flow out in service. The result was a very different thing from gleaning a straw here and there.
It was quite right, John, Peter, Paul, that when the world looked on you and saw you were like your Master — it rejected you as it rejected Him; and could not know you because it did not know Him. I ask believers now, Are you walking so like Christ that the same world which did not know Christ, or John, or Paul, does not know you? Even an infidel will tell you the points of difference between you and Christ. In Paul the world saw a man who, in everything he did, had
Christ's glory as the end in view. Could any who had been watching me the last 30 years, say the same of me? Not like Paul indeed; but whether it were the bell-bearer of the flock, or the feeblest lamb in it, the life ought to have the same character. If it is true that I have that life, am I walking in accordance with it? Are you? Do you say that I want to put you in bondage? I wish I could put you into bondage by binding your heart so close to Christ that all which is in Him should flow out of you. Let each one ask himself, "Can I say I am a member of Christ and He looks down on me and sees the life I have in Him flowing out through me? Is all the responsibility I am under that of pleasing the Christ who has loved me, and who, notwithstanding all that I am, is not ashamed to confess me?" If you do not find that answer to His love which you long to find in yourself, go to the Father and tell Him you do not, and see what He will do. Calling sons, was His thought. Go to the great Physician, and you will find plenty of balm in Gilead.
If you do not walk as a son and as a child with God, you will find that you will not have strength to withstand all that is fast coming on the world: but if walking with Him you will find Him for you, and the deeper the trial, the more your joy will be.
If we look at the millennium, we see on one side the glory of Zechariah 8:3, and on the other side the bride: but there is something higher in the title of sons of God, Christ taking them into the Father's house, bringing many sons to glory; that is the highest glory — being sons with Christ, the only-begotten Son in heaven, in whom the Father has all delight, and having life in Him, the Father's love shines down on them freely. If I know that love of the Father to Him who is the centre of this new system, and am conscious that through Christ I have that love shed abroad in my heart, will it drive out all of the flesh in me? No; but the outgoings of the life of Christ in me will be seen. The flesh is indeed still in me, but I have power to reckon myself dead unto sin and alive unto God through Jesus Christ; and all who are blessed in Christ ought to be using this power.
Take John and Paul — the power of life in them was not according to their thought of it, but according to the Father's measure of it in Christ. When battling with circumstances saying "I must, and I must not," do you find that you have the victory over self and the world? No; but if you get a happy train of thought about what Christ is, then just where you found all was failure, it becomes the scene into which He comes. He meets all the failure of His people, and all His grace comes in to meet me just where I fail.
If God's grace acts in you as a ruined creature, He says, "Christ is your hiding-place, you are accepted in Him, and I delight in all who are in Him;" and if so, everything that is unlike that Blessed One will be what you will hate, and you will like to take up all things that are according to His mind — purifying yourself even as He is pure.
Can we understand God's book? With the Holy Ghost we can — He will teach us. Have I found in it that if I am a son, I have life in Christ — life that connects me with the very being of the Son of God! He has given me the Spirit, and brought life home to me, not like Paul in the forefront of the battle, but in my own little corner. I get all the glory of Christ there. Ah, it is in our own littleness that all the divine glory comes out; we look for something great and majestic, but God takes little things to show it out; "base things and things that are not."
God claims those who are Christ's as His children, His dwelling place, and that makes the responsibility of a child's walk. Many there are who do not choose to recognize their responsibility to walk with God in their practical ways. Do you believe that God dwells in you? and if He does how are you walking?
Do you find a single occasion in which Christ ever acted independently of God? If you walk in the same path it will be sweet to you to feel your entire dependency, finding in all difficulties the everlasting arms underneath.
We have to see what the large-heartedness of Christ is, and what the blessed grace of God is, desiring to have His children walking with Him, and of His word coming to them as a word of rebuke if they are not. separate from the world — settled down in Sodom perhaps: and God, in order to show His grace towards you, may have to send you sorrow and trouble to teach you where you are. God does not want you to say that you have become religious, He wants you to know that you are one with that Nazarene whom men spit upon, and to confess Him as the One in whom He delights, the One who is set on high as the giver of eternal life. He wants you to be able to say, "That eternal life is mine." Is He and are you in Him? then there is power to make manifest the mind of Christ.
I would press two things, there is a difference between them — the manifestation of life in the soul, on our part; and, on His part, the light always streaming down from Christ: if Paul deviated in his course, no shadow was cast on the heart of Christ, but Paul would have to be corrected for it.
Do you know the glory of God to be your portion, rejoicing in the hope of it? Do you see the bright light shining in the distance? The things we meet with on the road may be trying: Jacob's head lay on a stone pillow whilst he was enjoying the heavenly vision. The deep sands and sharp stones may make the wilderness road very uncomfortable to walk along, but God uses it for the breaking away of all that will not do for the glory; and by it is teaching me the patience of Christ, and putting that part of God's character before my soul. Is it long, this waiting-time? but will any who are weary now make a murmur when standing in the glory, at the length of the way they had to pass? We should even glory in tribulation because it works patience. (Rom. 5:3.) Patience is not indifference. A patient man takes all that tries him and bears it in the presence of God; and in the presence of God he finds the Spirit of God shedding abroad in. his heart the love of God. (Rom. 5:5.)
"Now is the Son of Man glorified." (John 13) There is a difference between this and the glory of the Son of Man in Daniel: there it is visible outward glory, here it is the moral glory of a person whom every one was despising: One whom man did not think worthy of a slave's price — and why? Because He was so entirely God's servant, and had so entirely the mind of God. Such a mind was out of fashion amongst a people who all had wills of their own, whilst He said, "Lo I come to do thy will, O God," He the only one perfectly able to meet Satan, able to meet powers of every kind, because He came in this will-less way, obedient even unto death in doing the will of God, taking everything from the hand of God.
What we want is the character of a little child. What do I know? Nothing: but I believe and am sure, because God has told me, that I have eternal life. Does God say it? Yes! "This is the promise that he has promised us, even eternal" John 2:25); and all who believe possess says it, whose judgment is alone worth hearing, He who alone has a right to speak, says it; and I bless Him that He is able to speak such large words about me. It is the simplicity of a child believing just what God says, that is lacking; and that is the reason why Christians do not walk (as they ought) as children of the Father. How can they, if they do not believe that they are children!
Put yourselves among the Jerusalem saints after Pentecost, and ask yourselves if you are walking as they did. Have we that Nazarite position outside everything connected with the world? And "all that is of the world is not of the Father." Can we say of any when going into their house, "That person brings me Christ?" If one had paid a visit to Paul, would one not have come away with a fresh taste of Christ? I have often come out of the house of a poor bedridden creature, feeling, Oh how I wish my soul were like that! — Oh, that that pulse of Christ were throbbing in every part of the body. How I want, how I long, to see it so in all who are His!
We do not live in heaven and then we complain of earth. If walking as men on earth, we shall have bitter experience. As it is, we get a quantity of experience for which we have to thank self. Enoch, in a day when there was no scripture, walked with God. 300 years he walked according to the mind of God. Such a walk as that is a little thing as to making a noise in the world. What would be the world's judgment of any one of whom God could say, "That man and I know each other, and he walks with me." It was a very quiet, very unostentatious, walk. It was simply saying at every step, "Whereabouts is God in this step?" Did the people of that day before they put their foot to take a step, ask first, "Is God in it?" No: it appears that Enoch walked alone with God. He had a set of thoughts and ways peculiar to himself, but the same as God's; and he must have known himself as one who could boldly say, "I am walking with God." I would ask as in the presence of God, with the measure of light given to us, can we say, not to man, nor to one another, but to God, "Father, Thou knowest I walk so with Thee, that as the end was to Enoch, so will be my end?" What is true of faith at one time, is true at all times. These things that came out in Enoch are as a touchstone for the people of God from those days to the present time, by which to test themselves. Can you say, "I know God's judgment is coming on that which professes to be His church on earth, but where faith calls me there will I be found in separation with God Himself. The wide world may have gone aside and left me standing alone, but there I am with God?"
"Except a corn of wheat die, it abideth alone but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit." It was a strange way of not abiding alone — Christ dying, by death to bring many sons to glory! And what does it tell a person now? that this man, God's chosen One, was of the world or not of the world? Let us see where this Casket, the holder of all grace and blessing, is now, and who He is; it is Christ, at the right hand of God. If Enoch could have seen a man in heaven in the central place — the throne of God — and had known himself to be connected with Him (as we can say we are) would he not have said, "Ah, that is a man who has done with the world, so done with it that He is up there clean out of it; and I, being quickened, and raised up with Him, have done with it too?" People may say they hardly know how to walk with God — but quietly take up the details of your walk, and see how far God is in everything in it, begin by looking for Him in every step you take. It is a matter of progress; if any have not yet learnt to walk with Him, they will make many mistakes, but they must not be discouraged: it will be the blessedness of seeking to walk with God in a worse day than Enoch's, which you will enjoy.
We never find that the mere thought of the glory to come enables the mind to look forward to it; we want something more. When it came to John at Patmos, he felt, "I am an outcast now:" but the thought his heart laid hold of was, "He has loved me and washed me from my sins in his own blood."
What so sweet as the thought of the worship that will be rendered to God and to the Lamb in presence of the glory! Christ will be the guide of it, and its object too: that is the sweetest thought of all. (God and the Lamb are the light of the holy city.) If I take Christ as the light, the rays of light that stream forth from Him will shine through the city and the golden street: we being the medium through which the light shines down upon the earth; not seeing it stained as now with sin, but the people looking up to the glory which shines down through the city — but never mistaking the bride for the light. As you may see a cloud bearing light, coloured by the sun, so we see the city lighted by God and the Lamb. If Christ were not God, the light could not shine out. We shall be brought into the closest association with God. Most blessed to find a Man on the throne of God, all the universe owning Him as God, but we shall reign with Him; He has a throne of His own, on which we shall sit with Him and reign with Him. The bride will see Him as God, having the glory of God, in a place of which God and the Lamb are the light, and it shines through her. But there is something else, much lower down, connected with the human heart; the first Adam in Paradise had all blessing. Ah! but if he had had no help-meet for him, no one with whom to share his thoughts, and feelings, would he have been happy? And Christ, the last Adam, is in heaven as Son of God connected with worship and government; but as Son of Man, as the One on whose bosom John lay, the One who wept at the grave of Lazarus, has He no need of human affections? Yes, all will be as perfect on the human as on the divine side. Yes, He will have the human family gathered round Him. Eve, sitting in the garden of Eden, shared all with Adam, she was the complement of Adam's happiness, set there for him by God.
It is not government, not the throne, not the giving of light, that the last chapter of Revelation ends with: — it ends with a sort of converse, in which the heart's affections are seen. The heart of Christ responds, as one man might speak to another, when He is invited to come. "The Spirit and the bride say, Come!" and the Lord Jesus answers, "Behold I come quickly!" And again the heart of the bride replies, "Even so, come, Lord Jesus!" How blessed all this! If God has set you apart for Christ, you are His. As Solomon sent down into Egypt for a stranger to make her his wife, so God has chosen me, the believer may say, taken me out of the world, and set me apart as part of the bride; and the moment Christ takes the glory, I shall meet Himself.
The heart God has formed for the Lord Jesus, can never speak to another, but can turn to Him only, asking Him to come. Could God propose to your heart anything more blessed than the being set apart for Him who is the object of His own delight? Has He formed your heart for that Son in whom is all His own heart's delight?
It is blessed to be in the wilderness, if there is any little thing Christ can give us to do, but more blessed still to have something put into our hearts that enables us to say to Christ, "Come, Lord Jesus!" It is too so sweet that in reference to this hope and those who know it, nothing can come in between the heart and it; whilst you judge your practical inconsistency, you can allow nothing to come between. The Lord says, in the midst of all failure and inconsistency, "I come quickly; surely I come quickly," and the heart answers in the midst of it all, "Even so, come, Lord Jesus."
Does that Lord see many a one, here and there, whose heart is formed by the thought of His coming, as a thought that has power to form and fashion it entirely anew? Are His thoughts first about the deep sands and difficulties we are in down here? No! His first thought is that there is a response to His own heart in the hearts of a people here, that they desire what He desires, that they are waiting with Himself. Take this thought simply: suppose a mother were told that her son had been walking up and down the street for an hour expecting to see her; what a stir it would cause in the heart of that mother, all her feelings would be stirred up and occupied with the thought of this child waiting for her. Just so with the Lord, in the blessed way He has formed the hearts of His people to wait for Him till He comes. I might bring the report to a mother of her child wait for her, but I need not report it to our Lord; He has so formed my heart that I feel I must see Him. He needs no report, He sees the waking up of my heart morning by morning — sees that its first thought is that I am waiting for Him; that it is not with my perplexities and difficulties that I am occupied, but with His coming.
I believe that if I get near the Lord Jesus Christ, I shall find in His heart a speciality of affection about a people down here who are waiting for Him; not waiting for glory, but for Him, which is quite a different thing. Do I love Him? Do I not know He was my Substitute? and do I not want to see Him? Has He not taken from my mind everything that harassed and perplexed me? and do not I want to see Him? Do I know that for eighteen hundred years He has been sitting at the right hand of God, with everything His own, but with a craving in His heart that will never be satisfied till He has got us — till He has got me home with Himself; do I know this? and can I be satisfied till I see Him face to face in the glory of all divine uncreated light?
I do not so much think of the glory we shall enter into, but what my heart recognizes is the sweet truth that it is the Lord and myself that are to he in companionship together. Our going and His coming, though different things, are both connected with the deep consciousness formed in the heart that we are to be in Christ's own individual presence — not till then, not till there — satisfied.
There is fixity of purpose in Christ's heart, to come, but there is the patience of hope in Him, and I am to have it. The tomorrow of the believer is formed on the yesterday of the believer; and today, where does the heart get its rest? By going inside the veil where the Lord is — perfected for ever in Him. Because of your connection by faith with what He did who is at the right hand of God, you are before God without sin, accepted in Him, that is our anchoring ground: not only brought inside the veil, but in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself as He is in heaven, you are accepted, even in the Lamb upon the throne. That is the yesterday of faith. We have the entrée of the house with no veil on the light; and the love that brought us there tells its tale out in all that we pass through in the wilderness. Suppose that I have not learnt this love as I ought down here, yet I can look up and say that that Lamb on the throne is not only the measure of what my guiltlessness is before God, but that that Lamb on the throne has also undertaken to come and fetch home the children whom God has given Him.
What does my faith begin with? the belief that God took me from Satan and gave me fitness to be in His presence by being washed in the blood of His dear Son; and He will keep me to the end. Yesterday and today I have had the continual proof of His faithfulness — tomorrow and for ever it will be the same Christ.
1 Thessalonians 1:9-10. There are two marks of faith: first, serving the living and true God; second, watching for His Son from heaven. There can be nothing more important than works to a believer. If you are the Lord's children, what are you to be but channels for that living water? Is God to dig a channel, and no water flow through it after all? What are we if not channels for that water to flow through? Bought at such a price, can we think it of no importance to serve the living and true God? He does not — and high as He is, with everything in His hand — He is not too great to look into the little attic where I am, to see if I am serving Him. How the greatness of the living God comes out in this! Everything concerning the soul is, in the greatness of His love, settled for eternity, yet He can come down quietly to a poor thing in the wilderness, saying, "I am looking at your works" — a poor bed-ridden cripple, one obliged to be kept in a dark room, and the living God coming to see how one so feeble as to be hardly up to the smallest quota of service, is serving Him! How wonderful a God to accept it! saying, "I know what every child is about; I am expecting service because I have given you my Son, and when I say 'Give me something,' I am endearing you to that Son, for He must give you grace and intelligence that you may have power to give." Is it not wondrous grace for the living God to say to poor things like you and me, "Give?" Do you say "What can I give?" Ah, He will accept even a cup of cold water. There are a number of little things in which the heart can go out to the living God in service to Him.
The First Epistle to the Corinthians begins with the church of God, endowed and enriched with all blessings in Jesus Christ; the Second, with God as the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation, conducting through sorrow, trial, and trouble, hearts that are close to Himself, knowing Him as the God of the wilderness; they can have one ceaseless flow of comfort and consolation all through their course. God saying to them, "My bosom is the fountain teeming with mercies; I want my people to hear my voice ever speaking to them, and their hearts to hang on me throughout all their course."
Mary came and anointed the feet of the Lord, in the power of love, and the house was filled with the sweet savour of the ointment. There was something very peculiar about the time and hour of her doing it. Her habit had been to sit at His feet, Martha's to be full of active bustling service. Mary takes her wonted place, and anoints His feet. Judas thinks "What a quantity of money has slipped through my hands!" The disciples too are thinking about the bag. But Jesus turns to them, saying, "Let her alone, against the day of my burying hath she kept this. She is in the current of my Father's mind and knows my Father's secrets."
The two leading thoughts of the mind of God are the humiliation and the glory of Christ. Yes: they are the only two points — the two pillars on which the whole of Christianity rests. Can you say they are the only key of all your thoughts?
1 John 4:17. We want love of such a kind as to give us boldness in the day of judgment. How could you like everything about you to be brought out before the judgment-seat of Christ if your foot was on a bit of sandy ground? But if on the Rock, with Christ your only dependence, you can say, "The Judge is the Person who bore my sins. I was thoroughly ruined, and found that that love had given the Son of His love to become Son of man, in order to bear my sins in His own body on the cross, and that is the love which gives me boldness in the day of judgment."
We must all appear in the light which makes manifest. People now may wrap up things, and cover over where there is a bit of themselves mixed up with that which is of Christ, but all must come out in that light; still, you can say, "If I have got Christ, He cannot fail me; He, the propitiation for my sins, the accepted sacrifice in the presence of God, cannot fail me." There is no time when the confidence in His love will be stronger than then.
"Behold the Lamb of God!" Man would account a lamb to be but a very weak thing, but what a contrast here in this Lamb of God! In John's thought, This one without form or comeliness to the eye of man, is the One who is to be the bringer-in of the new earth, the remover of every spot and mark of sin. Who is the bringer-in of this? Who? That lowly Man - that Jesus, unknown in His own universe, save to the eye of faith!
As soon as John gets a view of Him, the adoration and affection of his heart are so kindled that he drops out a few broken words, and those who heard them have their hearts set on fire; they feel the attractive power of the Person of that Lamb, and immediately go after Him.
Where is that Lamb now? and what have you and I to do with Him? The throne of God became the mercy-seat when He ascended: "In the midst of the throne is the Lamb" — still in the servant character, hymned, praised, and worshipped, by the elders and angels, but in action as the Servant, opening the book. In the end of the book of Revelation, He is presented as the One in whom all the glory of God is displayed, and Himself displaying His glory in the church. Revelation 21:22-23, are unspeakably blessed in connection with this: "And I saw no temple therein, for the Lord God almighty and the Lamb are the temple thereof; and the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof." God and the Lamb are its temple; everything connected with worship will find its full expression in God and the Lamb; as even now we can adore and wonder and worship, just as we have God and the Lamb as our power of worship.
In that city there is no need of the sun or moon, "the glory of God and of the Lamb is the light thereof." What will it be to be in a scene where there will be the whole outshining of the Lamb, a scene where everything will be seen through Him, as the medium! To see things down here now through Him, is nothing but anguish to the heart that loves Him, but then to see a world in which nothing will be out of order, nothing but what is divine — all the glory of God displayed through Him. Oh, what will it be to have Him as the medium through which to see everything.
"And he showed me a pure river of water of life clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb." Is there no thought of blessing in that? The Lord told the woman of Samaria that if she had asked, He would have given her living water. Had this woman ever so little an eyelet of that water, heaven was on its surface, for Christ was there. And again, the Lord says, "he that believeth on me, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water." How hindered here by the flesh, but up there with full unhindered joy in Christ, the pouring out of the gushing streams, the welling over of the waters that come forth from God and the Lamb, and everyone eternally filled, when
"By the Spirit all pervading,
Hosts unnumbered round the Lamb,
Crowned with light and joy unfading,
Hail Him as the great 'I AM.'"
What will it be to dwell in a sphere where all that God delights in will be expressed in the gushing forth of that flowing well of water in every heart!
Is there nothing to delight the heart now in the thought, "Whose will be the glory?" God and the Lamb. Whose the plan? God and the Lamb. Who the light and the temple? Ah, that God and the Lamb! Whence flows the river of life? From God and the Lamb. O the blessedness of finding that the glory of God and the Lamb is to be there fully displayed; that then and there all the yearnings of the redeemed nature will be fully met and satisfied. Are you on your way to that scene of glory, to that city built by God Himself; on your way there as a stone that He has dug from the quarry and fitted for it? You will find in each part, that which fits a ruined sinner for the glory. And in that which puts him there it is God and the Lamb all through.
If you and I are to meet Christ with joy when He comes, we must make quite sure that our consciences are up to the mark with Him where He is in God's presence; able to be in identification with Him up there in the light: if not, you will not be able to meet His face with joy.
What a difference between poor cowardly Lot, afraid of destruction after having been dragged out of Sodom, and Abraham on the mount with God!
Practically, God sees nothing you could not give up for the Lord Jesus Christ's sake; and, depend upon it, He will not be in your debt; it will all be brought out in bright daylight when Christ comes, and meantime rays from His face will be playing on your hearts the whole way.
God does not see His people apart from Christ. You are in Christ and in God.
Everything in the Levitical service showed the danger of a creature in his sins approaching God. Now, through the cross, the veil is rent, all is open, and the creature is brought into God's presence, and can look up and say nothing else than "I am perfected for ever by the blood of thy Son, O God!"
How is it as to the inward convictions of your state before God? Is the thing that satisfies God, the thing that satisfies you, and that enables you to draw nigh to Him in perfect peace? God saying "There is the Lamb in the midst of the throne, cannot bring any charge against Him. To bring a charge against a believer, would be to bring a charge against my Son."
To one I said, "Suppose you were going home tonight?" "I should tremble," he answered. To another, who said that to know the forgiveness of his sins was the indefeasible birthright of the believer, "Suppose, I said, you were to fall off that chair dead this moment" — "God forbid," cried he, in alarm. If not ready at any moment to be called into His presence, you are not on the ground that God is on, as to the perfect justification of a sinner. It is the blood of His Son that fits you to be in His presence. Are you satisfied with it?
Christ is in heaven as the accepted sacrifice; everything in the eternal mind is rolling round Him. God will not allow of any low thoughts about that blood, He will not allow His children to have a slight estimate of its value. You must get by yourself with God, to test whether the value which you set on that blood corresponds with His.
I believe that many of God's children would hesitate to say of themselves what God can say, that is, that they have a perfect conscience, a conscience that cannot be improved. (They do not clearly distinguish between conscience, and consciousness, of sin.) But a purged conscience is a conscience which Christ has washed in His own blood, and He did it perfectly. If any know that they have that conscience, it is because they know the value of the blood of the Lamb on the throne, that. blood making them as white as snow, and because it is ever in their mind as that which makes. them perfectly fit for the presence of God.
I believe there are many Christians whose intelligence does not enable them to realize that they are in the position of Ephesians 2:5, "quickened and raised up together with Christ." When the people of Israel were brought through the Red Sea there would have been no difficulty in finding borderers, trying to blend the two things, Egypt and Canaan, together. If you do not believe that God sees you dead, buried, and risen with Christ, it is no wonder if you are a borderer; but if through God's grace you see your standing before God as identified with the death and resurrection of Christ, I defy you to be a borderer.
When Moses came down from the mount, it was not only the ten words on the two tables of stone which the people saw, but the face of Moses which shone with such brightness with the reflection of the glory, that man could not look on it, and Moses put a veil over it. God uses that as a type of the veil on the hearts of people until taken away by Christ; then all the thoughts of God flow out to us, and we "with open face beholding as, in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image, from glory to glory." Paul looking up sees Christ in glory with unveiled face, and as he Walked the light shone; he was the reflector of his Lord in his walk; in bodily presence weak, yet he could say "to me to live is Christ."
How much of the world creeps in, even in what is called devotedness, and people find on a deathbed that they have been occupied with things in the world, and have not been walking as heavenly men with Christ.
What will it be to be in heaven, clothed in white, not a spot, the whole of me fit for Christ's own presence; all so pure, so transparent, as to be fit only for heaven! There is rest and refreshment in the thought.
Think of a soul being there, and Christ saying to the Father, "This is one whose name I can confess as an overcomer." Ah, one feels, if Christ said that of me or of you, we must say, "It was not of us, Lord, it was through the faith thou gavest us in thyself that we overcame; it was thou who didst it, thyself who gavest the power to get the victory." How the difference between Christ and ourselves comes out; He loves to praise us, and not to gather praise for Himself. How unlike us! We love to gather up a good report, to get praise for ourselves. Christ will give it all to the overcomers, although it is entirely His. He is the One who helped them and set their feet right on the Rock, and over and over again restored their souls. Do you believe in Him? Then you must be an overcomer, "for this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith."
Take today: How many thoughts of Christ have you found in your soul? I shall never walk apart from the world save as Christ is in my soul. Has your walk today flowed out of your consciousness of Christ as a living Person in heaven?
If the God of heaven is occupied with us, how many thoughts ought not we to have of that God? It is only as occupied with God and with Christ that we can be unworldly.
When Christ went up to heaven, was He not competent not only to claim, but to keep a people separate from the world down here, in spite of all that Satan would do? How are they kept?. By what is earthly? No, but by the Spirit of God using truth connected with Christ in heaven. It is heavenly truth that keeps a people up.
Has God a right to speak? Does He know how to use human language, and drive it right home to souls? To be sure He does, and He says, "whoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God."
The Lord Jesus declares about His sheep, that they have eternal life, and that no one can pluck them out of His hand or out of the Father's hand; but human nature says, "How can I know that to be true?" How can you know it? a pretty word for a creature to put forth! Far better for the creature to say, "Let God be true and every man a liar."
Have you over thought of God dealing with you not as to what you are in yourself, but as to where, He has set you in Christ? Have you ever thought that it is the affections of the Father's heart which flow down to us where we are, seeing us in Christ, not in our poor wretched selves? What we are in self is not the thing to scan, but what we are, and where we are, in Christ; and what there is in the living affections of the God of glory, who has raised us up together with His Son, and has given us all heavenly blessings in Him.
It is not the Father's house, nor the millennial glory, but it is Christ that I want. Where I find the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, it is something for me to rest upon. Everything connected with the One we love, interests and touches the heart; but the more we love, the more we long for the presence of that One. Whenever I find the Lord in Person present, I find something beyond the scene: in the sermon on the mount, I do not see the Jews, the time or the dispensation — to me there is but the presence of the Lord.
When I get into the Father's house, what thought will be sweeter to my heart than the Lord washing the disciples' feet? What a thing to be in glory with such a Lord.
Many saints find it a great effort to get the heart into occupation with God and the Lord Jesus Christ in that exalted place; but it is much more a question of relationship than of place. When the heart rises up there, what is its thought? Is there nothing there to strike the chord of its deepest affections? Is there no answer? Yes! the Son of man is on the Father's throne, not ashamed to call us "brethren."
Whenever faith goes up, what does it find realized there? The thought of One once in all my circumstances of sorrow down here, now at home with the Father. "If ye loved me ye would rejoice, because I said I go to the Father."
I suppose the great blessing in connection with the glory we shall have there with Christ, is not that our glory is greater. but our nearness to Him, enabling us to taste that which man on earth will never taste.
We were in Christ before the foundation of the world, and shall be in Him when the heavens and earth shall have passed away; what can touch this eternal union? "The glory which thou hast given me, I have given them, that they may be one, even as we are one."
"If any man serve me, him will my Father honour." If anyone serves Christ, he will be specially under the eye and notice of the Father; when He sees any following Christ, the preciousness of that Son of His love casts its light upon them.
I do not know if any of you ever groan; there is much to make you do so, much to knock at the door of your heart, if Christ is not there. There is the sand of the wilderness, and Christ alone can keep it out. Yes, there is much to make the people of God groan, much to show them, as things pass on, what a worthless thing human nature is (Peter could curse and deny his Lord); and what is the Lord's answer to it all? "Let not your heart be troubled, ye believe in God, believe also in me."
God reads everything in us; sees the flesh and the Spirit both striving for the mastery in our hearts; but God's way is to cripple the flesh, yet with the most amazing gentleness; cutting off a limb, yet full of love. God's thought is not to nourish and cheer the flesh, but to deliver us from it. He is dealing with you to deliver you from the flesh and to build you up in the Spirit. You cannot say to God "Thou hast given me life, leave me alone;" He will not do so. No father would leave his children without chastening if needed for their profit. How He cripples the flesh, as we see in Paul!
If Christ were always in the heart, we should not let the sand of the wilderness in, not that we should never have any, but if we have the oil of His presence, the sand cannot stick and clog our feet.
I have gone through a bit of the wilderness, and many have more, and what is the answer to that which is before us? There may be the bitterness of sorrow and trial to taste on to the end; but what is the answer to everything? "Let not your heart be troubled — believe in me." As much as too say "Let me be the answer to it all." He had been telling them that He was going away, and it was to stay away two thousand years, but He says "If I go away I shall come back again and receive you to myself, that where I am, there ye may be also." He could not forget to come, He never forgets His promise, it is ever fresh in His mind.
How many are there in trial and difficulty, who, in contrast to it any find great brightness in the thought that all will soon end in the presence of the Lord! Others there are, vexed with self and trying to carry the cross, seeing such failures that they hardly like to give a testimony, yet who in the midst of it are looking up with the thought that when with Christ, all will be unbroken light.
As one looks at Christ in the glory, and then at ourselves, one thinks, "there will not be beautiful garments found for God after such a course; but there will be the discovery that all through it He was showing His love."
It is true that that living Christ is where He is, in the Father's house; it is true that He will have us there as witnesses of His faithfulness, And we shall find there everything in contrast with what we have passed through down here. Not only there the all-pervading power of the Spirit working everywhere; not only the brightness of unsullied glory and of everything that the heart could desire in the presence of the Lord, being like Christ and the reflectors of His glory. But besides all this, we shall have the sweet consciousness of ever learning in Him the love of the Father that brought us there. The little realization there is of that love is a mark of the low state of believers in the present time.
That which puts before the heart the manner of the love of Christ is, to see Him up there wanting to share with us what is dear to Himself, desiring to have us partakers with Him in the brightness of that glory given Him by the Father. Seeing a guilty conscience, having washed and cleansed it in His own blood, He must have the poor sinner with Himself. Oh, this Christ does love! and of His love alone could it be said "there is a love which passes knowledge." Which is most worthy to occupy our thoughts, the littleness of out love, or the fulness of that love which passes knowledge?
Death is not the king of terrors to believers. He that had the power of death is nullified new to those who believe in Jesus. Through carelessness of walk some may say that they do fear death; they accredit the power of the enemy so as to sanction in themselves a certain degree of fear of it. If I look back before I was converted it was not the thought of death but of the great white throne, the judgment after death, that I shrank from. There is such a thing as a physical fear of death. It may be given of God for the protection of the body, to make people take care of themselves; but believers on their death-bed have no fear; the Lord has been with them, and they have desired earnestly to be absent from the body and present with the Lord. I have never known anyone who, walked closely with the Lord Jesus who feared death. I have known some who have said "If I were to meet death in my present strength I am not able to bear it." But will not Christ be faithful to His promise, "when thou passest through the valley of the shadow of death, I will be with thee, my rod and my staff they shall comfort thee?"
I do not know what others think of heavenly-mindedness, but I groan at finding so little of it in myself. At the end of a day or week, am I conscious of having been walking as a heavenly-minded man? I do not mean in regard to anything outward; it is of little consequence whether! stand or fall in the sight of others, of fellow saints. The solemn thought is, What am I in God's sight? What passes in my soul? Have I the mind of heaven? In all trials and troubles, is it the thought of my heart "I am up there with the Son of God?" His life is my life; am I letting it flow forth?
We have to make the discovery that the Lord of heaven and earth looks down and sees every believer as identified with Himself. Saul felt this when the Lord said, "Why persecutest thou me?" Yes, the Lord Christ looks down on His people as being vitally united to Himself. What is sweeter than the name of Jesus to the Father! and that Jesus was with the Father in heaven when Paul heard the words "Why persecutest thou me?"
Think of the delight of angels at seeing that One who had humbled Himself, that Nazarene, that rejected Man, take His place on the throne of God! And is it true that if we are accepted in Him, "in the Beloved, the Father loves us as He loves Him, and that because we are one with Him, in Him, and He in us? Yes, you are beheld of God as a member of that Christ at His right hand; and what is there in you that can interfere with the delight of God in His own Son?
Ephesians 3. No wonder if Paul felt burdened by the difficulty of putting simply and clearly before believers such a wondrous subject as that secret thought of God, hid from all eternity! When men said, "We will not have this man to reign over us," God was saying "I will bring out a secret thing wrapped up in my heart; I will have that One, whom you have put to death, with me on my throne, and I will gather out a people to whom He shall be the Head and they the members, joined to Him by living faith and sitting with Him in heavenly places." No wonder that Paul's heart laboured to bring it out in simplicity. Fellow-heirs! Fellow-heirs with whom Who was heir to the inheritance? Who could point up to it and say, "In my Father's house are many mansions?" Only One could. That One who could rearrange the whole heaven if He would. Only Christ the Beloved of the Father's bosom. The lot had fallen to Him. All belongs to Him, and He shares it with His body — co-heirs with Him.
Where is my comfort, think you, when I look at the people of God? Is it in anything I see in you or about you? No. I think not of what you. are, but of the purpose of Christ concerning you. He has to break down many a thing in us, and it may be very painful to us; but what a difference between a person tasting all he can of ease down here, with eternal woo hereafter, and one with the name of Christ on his forehead in the, midst of sorrow and pain, Christ dealing with him, and making thoroughly manifest what. His purpose is concerning him.
He says to His own, "I have separated you to bear my name in the wilderness, let all around, you see it." The deeper the trouble, the higher the service; the nearer to God, the greater the prostration of the flesh. Paul could say, "Examine my life:" was there ever such a long list of sorrows, and yet such a spring of joy in the heart that nothing could bow it down? Sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; in deep poverty, yet making many rich.
No Christian should be standing for himself; in every company and in every place, we must make manifest another — even Christ. The saints are to be an epistle of Christ, read by all; to be the living expression of what was in the mind of Christ. "Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body." Take this word and apply it to yourself in its power. Are you leaving the savour of Christ behind you in every place? as perfume is left behind by those who carry it — so sweet as to be unmistakable wherever left. If you are doing this, it is because you are bearing about in your body the death of Jesus, so that His life is manifested in your life. We cannot begin to live with Jesus until we have died with Him.
In the present time things viewed morally and spiritually are like things after an earthquake; all is out of order and disjointed. We cannot now turn round and view the church as it once was — a body of heavenly-minded men keeping themselves unspotted from the world manifesting the presence of Christ by their holy walk, shining as lights in the world's thick darkness. We must each one feel his own individual weakness and failure.
The heart is very apt to take counsel of self, and droop under the circumstances around, but instead of being cast down, the question should come in, "What is the spring, what the source, of the sustaining strength on which we lean?" It is in Christ Himself and in His power. If two or three desire now to meet in His name, and to walk unspotted in the midst of evil and failure, it is in the mighty power that never yet failed and never will, that they can do so. The church is loved and cherished by Him who is to present it to Himself. Nothing in earthen vessels can do this. Christ's own living power alone can sustain, nourish, and at the end present it to Himself without spot or wrinkle. How precious to be able to turn from our weakness and failure, and see this power up there in the living Person of that One who is "the same yesterday, today, and for ever," to see Him sustaining and nourishing me because I am bone of His bones, and flesh of His flesh, risen with Him, one with Him.
Looking at the divine side of the gospel, I get in it God's direct appeal to my mind and heart God says, "My Son is at my right hand, and if you are a believer in Him I see you according to what He is." The One who took the place of being my life, is the One who, before He took that place, had borne on the cross everything that God ad against me.
It is a most marvellously blessed thing the relationship I am in with God, and marvellously blessed to be conscious of it by having received the truth that He looks on me and the Son of His love as one. What! I? a poor pitiful thing down here getting my feet soiled and entangled — what! am I looked upon by God as being one with Christ up there, with that One to whom you could not add a thing to make a ray of His glory shine out more, brightly? What! one with Him!
Angels cannot say, "Abba, Father;" it marks to the Father's mind our association with the Son of His love.
What an immeasurable blessing that ours is a life with Christ in God! I often ask myself whether I really believe it On the other hand I know it to be an indisputable fact, and yet I ask, "How is it, if I have it, that I can live so below it, as though my life were down here?" And again, "If I have a natural life bringing me down to things so low, how can I be occupied with things so high?" Really to believe that I am one with Christ would make a thousand cares drop off. In the morning one wakes up in astonishment — realizing it, but why cannot one act all day on the reality of it before God? One rises saying, It is a fact that He is my life, and I will act it out, letting it be seen in all I do that Christ's life is my life; and yet perhaps before one leaves the room something comes in between, so that one ceases to substantiate the fact of it in the soul.
Ah! that thought, "I am one with Christ," is the great power in the mind, giving to the heart a living warmth. The realization of having one life with that One up there — the Nazarene — would turn a London fog into the bright light of the glory He is in above.
If the life of Christ is flowing through us, the water from the Rock turning the wheel, as it flows into the heart, it will fill us with joy; and if so, we cannot contain it, it must flow out.
If taken up with my broken, aching body, I am forgetting that I am one with Christ above. This body does beautifully for a light-house, but we are, not to be looking at little trials down here. You can say to everything this world can offer, "I have this which you have not; I am in Christ, and everything He has, belongs to me." As soon as you get to this side of life with Christ, the death of Christ closes over everything here.
We are brought out of the scene in which everything circles round man, into that in which everything is the expression of God.
It is Christ Himself who is our life — we are related to the Christ of God in the most vital way, having one life with Him; when He appears, we shall appear with Him, and all that characterises His manifestation in glory, will characterise us.
What a volume there is in that expression, "The glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ!" A man sitting at the right hand of God with God's glory in His face, and no covering over it. Ah! the fact of His being a man and such a man, up there, is the discovery of everything one's heart dreads to bring into the presence of God. I may have been carried away by my heart and so got out of communion, but when my soul comes in contact with that One seated there as the accepted sacrifice, I know that before God it is all right for me. If I ask, Who is that Lamb upon the throne? the answer comes, "It is the Nazarene," the One who came down to be my substitute, the One who washed me in His blood; and that One is the man in whose face God sees all His glory.
Have you living intercourse with that Christ? He who looks down and reads your heart, sees everything in you, any leaven not yet purged. He looks down as the One who as Son of man bore all the curse for you; and you may look up and say, "Oh Lord, Thou didst take the lust of this world out of my heart, Thou didst find me a wandering sheep and didst bring me nigh by Thy blood; and is there not affection now and thought in Thy heart for the poor thing Thou didst pick up? Thou didst care enough for me to bear the curse due to me, and now shall I say I cannot be sure whether Thou lovest me?" What! shall this heart entertain such a thought of treason against Him? Shall I be calling out against Him because things do not go as I like, and things are not made smooth? Where is my soul if I do not know that the person who has spoken to me loves me? Oh if you knew how the watchers in heaven have seen thousands of the proofs of His love in His dealings with you! Do you think they could have had a doubt of His love to the poor woman at the well of Samaria? Can the watchers doubt His love to poor things down here now? You may, because of our evil heart of unbelief, but they do not.
If love and affection were not in the heart of the Lord, how could He come forth to gather His people up to be with Himself for ever in glory? When He comes to call His people, He will not leave one behind. His faithfulness comes out there, as well as His love.
"The light of the glory of God" where? In the face of Jesus Christ. God, pointing to that fate, says, "If you want to know all my glory, there it is." Unsearchable glory — glory past finding out — there it is in the person of my Son!
What a blessed thing it is to get the light so connected with our souls that nothing we find in ourselves can take us by surprise! No light can shine into my heart save what is in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ; if I do not know it there, I do not know God. Can you say not only that you know Christ is light, but that the light is shining into your heart? It is the probe by which God shows us what self is. There has been little but failure ever since the day of Pentecost, and the failure is greater now than it ever was before. Ah but when that light shines in, it shows out everything, and nips every budding of the flesh, everything that cannot stand in the presence of God.
When Christ began to attract you to Himself, "Now I want to draw you after a new did you after a new Master," did you not know it? And do you not know it now, as Christians? Did He not know all your condition and all your circumstances when He picked you up as poor sheep, torn and weary? And, I ask, did He not act in a Lordly way when He picked you up?
When God calls a soul, the first feeling is, "I must be up and after the God who has called me." All who were called by the Lord when on earth followed the Lord, attracted and drawn by Him.
When Christ shined into my soul, did I look up into heaven first? or did Christ first look down upon me? Did I find Christ out by my own wisdom? I am sure that I did not. And if God had not caused His glory in the face of Christ to shine into my soul (some forty years ago), I should never have known the God who revealed Himself to me and not to others of my kindred. In the case of Saul, God revealed His Christ in glory to him, that He might lead him captive. God caused the light to shine round about him, to reveal Christ. He has shined into our hearts, and we are running after Christ because He drew us to Himself.
What is the stay of heart to an aged pilgrim? Can one find any comfort in thinking that for forty years one has tried to follow the Lord? Oh no! but it is that the Lord — that my Master, in His perfect beauty, has been down here; and it is that He who let His beauty shine draws me after Him. It was like a hook put into my heart, it might have been in the form of terror or of grace, but it was something that like a hook drew me after Him. Ah! it was the call of that Lord which linked me to Him, it was the effectual power of that Lord, used for drawing me after Him; and He did not mean me to follow as a servant only, but as a fellow-worker with Him: it is the privilege, in one way or other, of every believer.
How marvellous! being in a body of sin and death, with the consciousness of all sorts of different evils, to be exhorted to let the same mind be in us that was in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 2:5.) Yes, and the Lord says, "Be ye perfect, as my Father in heaven is perfect." Nothing short of that will do — nothing to rule my life but the same principles the Lord Jesus acted on — to be a display down here of the very same mind, the very same principles of action, as Christ the Son of God had. The complete and entire surrender of everything to God the Father marked Him who in obedience came from the very height of glory down to the very lowest depths of humiliation; and in us there is to be the same principle.
It is not the fragments of obedience which we can render to God, that give peace to the soul; but it is the thought of Christ exalted as a Saviour; and that God has joy in seeing Him there as a Saviour, and commands us to believe in Him for salvation to our souls. And what is the masterfeeling of my soul in thinking of it? Ah! I say, What a Father! what a Son! How unutterably blessed that the presence of Christ as Son of man up there, is real joy of heart to God! heaven being made a place that witnesses the delight of God in the mercy provided by this Son of man who is seated at His right hand.
A young Christian thinks that he has fully tasted at first that which is in himself and that which is in Christ; but an old Christian can say, "Every day I see more of my own evil and of Christ's love; but in spite of all my waywardness, He never changes. If I am where I am, it is because the Lord Christ is the same yesterday, today, and for ever. I look not at my own experience, but my faith is in God whose Son, at His right hand, never changes." Yes, clouds may roll around us down here, but we ought to have a happy face and a bright heart, always able to rejoice in the Lord.
I may slip out of my body, but what of that? I shall find Christ on the throne, the same yesterday, today, and for ever. If it comes to the thought that He is up in heaven and I down here; well! there can be no separation. I am one spirit with Him, one life with Him. I might give Him up, but He will not let me go; because He is there, I must be there, for He has made me obedient to faith.
When Peter cursed and denied his Lord, there was not a waver in the affection of Christ, not a cloud on that brow as he turned round and looked on Peter, and Peter went out with a heart broken under the power of it.
How can that God of love be ever satisfied unless we walk like Christ? unless, in everything we do, the same principle is in us which was in the One who, being the highest, went down to the lowest, and took upon Him the form of a servant? Let the light of that principle displayed in Him. come right into your soul, so as to shine out in the world. You may have need of patience, there may be pressure and heaviness of spirit, but if God has shown you the very delight of His heart, Christ in heaven, it is in order that you may forget your sorrows down here, saying, "Ah, there He is! and if the waves are breaking over me, none can break into the port where He is!" His people forget to look up, and get looking down and around at everything that is coming against them. Instead of looking for Him who is coming, you sink into the sand of the desert, and get your mouths and eyes full of it.
How blessed is the word, "Yet a little while (how little a while!), and he that shall come will come and will not tarry." It is sweet to be able to single out any face that tells out "In a little while He will come." In, early times any that had houses and lands sold them, looking up full of joy because the Lord was coming. The question now is whether the thought of Christ's coming is strong enough to make our hearts bright under every trial.
I fear that there are very few of God's people of whom it can be said, "There is one whose whole heart is full of Christ — a man with this one thought ruling him, 'whether I live, I live unto the Lord, and whether I die, I die unto the Lord; living or lying, I am the Lord's.'"
The crown of which the Apostle speaks is not to be given for being a Christian, but for a faithful walk. Poor Lot will not have it, nor Demas. It ought to be a solemn thought to hearts, that the Lord means to notice how people have stood as witnesses for Him, and what sort of walk theirs was. All are to be in glory on the ground of free grace; but Christ watches to see if we run well, and will bestow a reward if there has been faithfulness, and a crown of righteousness if we have loved His appearing.
If there were no difficulties, you could not say that you know what it is to have Christ with you in them. You would not experience the tenderness of this Shepherd all the way that He carries the poor sheep from the far-off common where He picked it up, right into heaven. Oh will you not try — not in nature, but in the power of divine life — to realize the love of this Lord? and that if He has got His hand strongly upon you, it is to bear you up, that you may be looking for His appearing. I want bearing up until the time when He comes to take me to Himself; I want His strength made perfect in my weakness, the whole way through the wilderness.
We find sonship so blessedly brought out in John's Gospel. I find the Father's heart so near mine: as one lately departed said, "Not only has He given me eternal life, but the Father enters into all my smallest wants; the least things about me are remembered, the Father's love and grace streaming round me."
Sonship is relationship. The Only-begotten came out of the divine glory, and every one who received Him became a son. If I am a son, then God is my Father, I can say, "Abba, Father." I get my rest there.
While in the Apocalypse, the church is represented as the vessel through which the glory of God and the Lamb will be displayed, yet there is a nearer place in the Father's house, and our being associated with Christ as sons will be our right and title to be there. All the saved will be in glory, but for the children given by the Father to the Son, it is the Father's house.
God takes all the blessing Christ won, and shares it all with us. There is a spring in the heart of God, flowing forth for us as sons, individually, for you and for me, for His name's sake. Not only the new and living way opened, but beloved in Him as sons. Not merely light streaming down, but a relationship established between us and God the Father.
We can follow and adore the Lord in all His course on earth, but not till He ascends into heaven can our fellowship with the Father and the Son be understood. Christ in heaven, and the Father looking on that Son of His love, and seeing all the people He has given Him as one with that Christ, the Lord quietly waiting till all who are given Him are presented there. Ah I say, what a Christ this is! I can understand seeing Him up there, all the Father's delight in those who believe in Him, and all streams of heavenly blessing flowing down to them, because He is there, But not only is the living water flowing to the children of God, but there is another thing, that is, the wonderful communion of the Father and of that Son of His love, with the people who have received Him down here.
The power to walk in the eternal life given us is divine. There is not a struggle to give a thing up for Christ, without a power of joy owing into the soul in letting it go for His sake; because you have got into communion with the divine nature. We not expect to find a bag of gold in God's presence, but we look for the appealing and the kingdom, and if meantime we are accounted as the off-scouring of all things, we have the joy of communion with the divine nature. We have strength given us to break through everything: we are brought into an entirely new world by it.
I want to see saints with that stedfastness of soul, With that power of joy; not like Timothy with tears rolling down because of wilderness sorrow, but like Paul, putting everything right down, in the power of joy.
It is a solemn thought, as one stands on the earth, that He who, earth-rejected, sat down at the right hand of God in heaven — He in whom dwelt all the fulness of the Godhead bodily — He who was the brightness of God's glory and the express image of His person; seeing too our position, seated with Him in the heavenly places, it is, I repeat, a solemn thought that He has to claim the heavenlies, and this earth where Satan has usurped the dominion.
It is not persecution that the people of God find now, but a slippery day, in which it is difficult to keep the feet. The hot blast of persecution is not so bad as the clear frost which, after a shower of rain, makes the ground slippery as glass; and that is the character of the day we live in. Little snares of Satan are on every side, the feet slip and slide, and you get discouraged — but why? God says, "Is not eternal life yours? Have I not pledged myself that it is? If you fail, Christ will not fail. If you slip get up again and go on, you have eternal life in Him." What! is your heart drooping when Christ in heaven is yours? Because you are going through the sea and cannot steer, are you drooping? Take hold of that little word (the promise of eternal life) and never let it go and if others are inclined to be discouraged, saying, "We cannot go on, we see no way whatever to turn," do you bring that word and see if they will not be ashamed. It is not only that Christ in heaven is ours, that Christ, the very delight of the Father h ours, but there is in Christ our answer to everything.
The eternal life pledged to me in Thy Son, my God! that is what I have got; and that eternal life entirely changes death and the grave to me. The life of the body is corruptible, every day tending to corruption. What grace it is on Christ's part to sever the soul from it. But I have a life which is altogether new, a life born of incorruptible seed, which nothing has power to corrupt. It is not only like pure water gushing out of a rock, but water of such purity and brightness, that you can neither colour nor corrupt it. But let us ask ourselves "Has this eternal life been marking the life we are leading?" Today, for instance, have we been passing with it through every duty? A saint has no business to do anything unless he can recognize Christ in it. If today you have been living a life in the body, indulging its lusts, wishing for this thing and that, you have not been walking as one who possesses the eternal life.
Redemption was no after-thought of God's. Eternal life was promised before the world began. (Titus 1:4.) Here we are in a system where everything turns on fallen man as the main object, but that which separates me from it is that I am in Christ's system in heaven; chosen in Him before this earthly system had a beginning, "before the foundation of the world." This thought gives great steadiness to the mind in all that we may be passing through. His, and kept by Him in everything, and waiting on Him to see what He will do. If I left my body tonight, I should go straight to Him; and when He leaves the throne to come and take His people home, my body will go there too; the dead raised, the living changed, all made like Himself, all to stand around Him. He the centre, and they covered with all His beauty.
When God displayed His Son in the world it was as the One of whom He could say "He is the resurrection and the life." He abolished death and brought life and immortality to light. It was an eternal life that had light in it. It burst through the grave and made death an entirely different thing to what it was before. By passing through death Christ destroyed death. He bore judgment to destroy judgment. God gave Him to it, and He willingly gave Himself. To nature, death is a dreadful thing; there is corruption, and that is all that remains of those we love best. A curtain across the path, and we, cannot look through it; it is a dreadful thing. But the death of Christ has entirely neutralized death and destroyed its power, that is to say, to a saint. What is it in fact? When your work is done, you lay your head on our pillow, and go into the presence of the Lord, "absent from the, body and present with the Lord."
You may be called to pass through a stronger trial of principle than any you have yet had. Suppose you were in prison, with none to love you, to comfort you, left all alone. But if so, there is the eternal life. I have to walk on earth as one who possesses it, and if so, have I to care what my circumstances may be? Sorrow, and nothing but sorrow, there may be for a time; but if I have the eternal life, I am soon to be up and above it all.
Works have their place; fruit has its place, but it is found at the end of the branches, it grows on a living tree. Not one work of ours can help to obtain life. God never says, "Give me anything," to an unconverted person; and there is all the difference in the world between coming to Him as a lost, ruined creature, and coming to Him as bringing something. There was not one work of mine. I am a ruined sinner saved by grace, "not according to works."
There can be no question of doing till there is life in Christ. But, when converted, not only is the believer "ordained to good works," but to particular works. The Jew was to love God with all heart, and his neighbour as Himself; but in the Epistles, there is that which is far higher, I am not only to love God with all my heart, and my neighbour as myself; but to be willing to lay down my life for the brethren. If God in His grace is pleased to work in me to make me like Christ, I am to be the display of, what Christ Himself was, and all my works are to spring from the root laid down in Christ. So far, from, bringing into bondage, works are the greatest privilege. Is a soul converted? it is the life of Christ given to that soul, and there; is not a single occasion in which that life is not to be, shown forth, even in the giving of a tumbler of cold water. In your house, in every little thing that occurs, the Lord looks for fruit; everything, may be used to express the life of Christ in you; and instead of its being bondage, it enhances our joy in everything down here, because of enjoying all in connection with Christ and with God. A believer is not justified in saying, "What can I do?" knowing that God in His greatness comes into every particular of his life. If it be the question of Christ being everything to a saint, Christ cannot let him off from manifesting it in all the outgoings of his life down here. What will you trade on? What will you put on the loom to weave? if it be not Christ.
Many may build wood, hay, and stubble on the true foundation, and be saved so as by fire; but how different their power to walk! How beautifully was there displayed in Paul the sense of his fellowship with the life of Christ! He could say "Follow me as I follow Christ." His association with a risen Christ in life, flowed forth in such a way as to preach to all.
What was there in your soul or mine for Christ to love? Yet He loved us and washed us in His own blood. Did He do the work imperfectly? Did He leave streaks of sin upon us, or are we whiter than snow?
What magnificence in the thought that when He went into heaven, He went as the one who had made purgation for sin.
I, as an individual believer, can say "I am quite sure that He loved me And washed me from my sins in His own blood;" but more than that, I can say "I have Christ up there as a living Person ever at hand when I get into trouble."
I can have no relationship with God, save as being one on whom He sees the blood of His Son sprinkled; and that Son of His love is seated as Man at His right hand, with every capacity to feel as a man, and to mingle Himself with things that affect us down here.
His eye and His voice guide His people down here when they are near enough to bear and understand. Those who are so, know His mode of guiding, so that they know what He wants them to do. I do not see Him, but His eye is upon me, and I hear His voice behind me saying, "This is the way." Do you turn the thorns and the soil you may pick up by the way into so many the more reasons for walking with Him? Faith says, "There is a Man in heaven, and all the divine glory is connected with Him; I can walk with Him."
What would one do if instead of looking at Christ, one looked at all the billows and vanities down here, around or within? Here all conflict, up there all peace. Oh, the sweetness of that! and "Behold he cometh."
To know that I am Christ's, and bound up in one bundle of life with Him, is one thing; to say am a poor weak servant of His, is another thing, and it is yet another to be used by Christ as a messenger to His people; not only able to stand fast with little strength, but also to have direct messages from His heart of love to His people.
What shall we take into heaven? A glorified body, fit for the presence of Christ: but we have to keep ourselves unspotted down here too. We have to walk through the world as men who are clad in white robes — robes that ought not to have a spot on them. A person walking with defiled robes, will not care if they become more defiled; but one who has on a spotless robe will walk carefully and not allow it to get the least spot or mark to defile its purity.
Philippians 4:17-18. The Apostle Paul wanted every tree in the Lord's garden to bring forth much fruit, and he could rejoice in even such a thing as a little money being sent. He calls it "an odour of a sweet smell, acceptable to God." Turn to Ephesians 5:2, where it is written that Christ's giving Himself for us, was a sweet-smelling savour to God: and He has so made us one with Himself, He so fills everything connected with His people, that even a little money sent for His sake is called an odour of a sweet smell. The fragrance of the divine love of the Lord Jesus, led their hearts out in love one to another, saying, "The Lord having loved us and given Himself for us, how shall we express our love?" It is a beautiful thing when passing over a clover field to inhale the sweetness of the odour it gives forth, but here was "an odour of a sweet smell" fit for God: not merely the contribution, but the blessed root from which it grew.
We are too little to carry home the thoughts of Christ. Some poor thing might say, "Ah, I have never done a thing for Christ!" but Christ may reply, "I have not forgotten that cup of cold water which you gave." There was no costliness in it, but His name was connected with it.
Even an expression of love to Christ, comes from the heart with a full savour of a sweet smell, acceptable and well pleasing to God.
Do you find yourself constantly praying for the church of God? Has it as large a place in your prayers as your own trials and difficulties? Do you say, "I know that all is working together for good as to my troubles, but how can I help praying for that which is so precious, so beautiful to Christ? I cannot give it a secondary place in my thought. I am going to live for it, in the same way that Paul did."
It is marvellous if you and I are walking in the power of the eternal life, what a quick scent it gives. If anyone goes into a dark room with a lantern he sees everything in that room which could not be seen without the light. Believers are vessels to carry the light of the glory of God which shines in them from the face of Jesus Christ, in dark places.
How blessed to be able to say that the world has turned you out because it turned Christ out. If you are treading under foot all that is of the world and of the flesh, there will be abounding joy in every service. When the child of God is walking in the power of that life, there can be only one thought, one object, to be occupied with; saying, "There is Christ, and His whole heart is set on me; and here I am with a heart that is very little, but it is a very great thing to have that heart of mine occupied and filled entirely with Him, the eternal lover of my soul."
God says, "I have marked out a path for you, and if you do not walk in it, I am so near to you that my hand will be upon you." When Israel would not walk with God, He got a people to come against them and break them to pieces.
Did you never taste what the poor prodigal did when his father's arms were round him? The flowing of God's mercy to your soul, is not from any suitability in yourself to receive it, but from the strange marvellous ways of God. When His mercy reaches the soul, it comes with the revelation of the character of God in love.
We ever see the heart of man in nature seeking blessing through the law, but the heart of God seeking blessing for man through Christ. If after receiving the Spirit, man would add something of His own to that which is the mind of God for him, the whole is spoilt; let the smallest thing be brought in, all is spoilt in God's mind.
All were exposed to the curse of a broken law, till Christ was marked out as holy by the very law which cursed all besides. In Romans 6, we see all that Christ has given us, in contrast with the law. If it comes to me to do anything it is only this, how to get faith in that blessed Lord Jesus. Having got that faith, the poor sinner can say, "I have died and have been raised up together with Christ, and God has got Him at His own right hand for me, and what can disturb or destroy my peace when God has said, 'I have found a hiding-place for you; you are raised up together with Christ, and your life is hid with Him in me.'" (Col. 3:3.)
A man in Christ stands on other ground, on a new principle altogether, from that of the natural man. He is before God without guilt. Looking up where Christ is, can you see your sins? No. What takes them away? Christ's having left them in. the grave, and God having raised Him to His own right hand, and you with Him: He the Head, we the members; one life with Him. This gives unity: Christ is the source of it. God has made us one Spirit with Him, and I am required to be like Christ in everything — an epistle of Christ. But what presses most on my heart is unity, not outward unity of the flesh, but unity of heart and spirit, one with the other, of those who are one in Christ. Ought not my heart to feel united to every believer, because I am one with him in our risen Lord? When I see that God has raised Him and made Him my Head, ought I not to realize unity among the members? United by one Spirit, to the Son, there is nothing between Him and us.
You cannot have eternal life without the responsibility of walking according to it. If I have it in Christ and in God, I must act on it, it must be seen in my practice. Oh, I would urge with power the earnest desire that the walk of all who have this eternal life be worthy of it: each one saying in his walk, "I am a living member of Christ, and I am going to live as one who has eternal life." Think of the effect! your walk would be like Christ's walk, following in His footprints, bringing everything into the light of that eternal life, to see how it will look there. It is entire freedom. I am as free as the eternal life is free; but if I have this life in Christ, I am a servant of Christ, and must walk according to the mind of Him who has given it to me.
It ennobles a Christian immensely to know and to feel that he is a channel through which the life of Christ is to flow out.
All is perishing and fading down here, but I know a living and unchangeable Christ above.
Paul could say, "I not only know that I have eternal life in Christ, but I know Christ Himself as a living Person before me." Do you know that living Christ as a Man in heaven with all affections in His heart? I do know in whom I have believed; I know His ability to keep me. I could not keep myself for a day. Ah, but there is that Christ. Were He to leave me, I should perish, or fear to turn out a hypocrite some day. But He will keep me. He is my Trustee — a Trustee that cannot change.
If Christ were to save me from the world and from Satan, and not from self, what should I do? I have a self-will of my own. Christ must save us from self, and that is why we often get falls. Peter had a good opinion of himself, and the Lord let him alone. David was allowed to go down into the depths of evil, that he might learn how unlike he was to David's Lord. If anyone knows Christ, he will know Christ's willingness to save from self; he will be able to say, "Ah, there is One up there who if He has to break my heart to pieces in order to break self, will yet keep me unto that day."
Your body may be perishing, and all about you be broken up; well, never mind, you can say, "Eternal life is mine." Say it to yourself again and again, and walk in the power of it.
There were certain reasons why Peter and John walked on earth with Christ — God manifest in flesh: they had the blessed privilege of it, but every vessel is made for its particular purpose, and He who made them could use one where He could not use another; the living water filling each in, readiness to be used, because He had made that vessel for that particular purpose. In Peter, John, and Paul, you get vessels through whom God gave the truth.
It is sweet to have communion with saints in the truth; but after all the heart has to live with God.
The great thing is, beginning and ending with Christ — the same Christ that first quickens the soul, renews it unto the end.
One reason why Christians go so weakly, is that they are not occupied enough with Christ: if we want to be strong we must be full of Christ — going through no service without remembering that we have a living Christ with all power and with all capacity to enter into every feeling of our minds, and every movement of our hearts as we pass along.
The path of sorrow may be yours, but you cannot say that you are" The Man of sorrows." You may be in depths that you cannot lie in — "poured out like water" — but He, the Man of sorrows, has a heart to meet you in everything! He entered Himself into every sorrow — His experience makes all ours beggarly. If one looks at the experience of Abraham and others, we find His infinitely larger. His sorrow was without sin. Sin falsifies it in us in a measure. In trial, I am a sinner, and I shall be sure to give way to the flesh in some point or other; but there was not the smallest particle of dross to mar the perfection of that Man of sorrows; not a particle was there to come out in Him, as it does in us, of the flesh or of fleshly evil.
We could not fully know what the flesh and the world were, save as in contrast to Christ; He is the touchstone of everything, and He filled this scene, as He passed through it, with the beautiful manifestation of the character of God. If I could not go to Him when I find sin working in me, what refuge should I have? Ah, blessed Lord I cannot I count on Thee to come in, if I find hypocrisy or anything else? Amid all the strange things that come up in this heart of mine my soul needs to be where (with the sense of everything being against me in connection with the flesh, the devil and the world) I am yet able to say God is for me, and if He be for me, who against me!
People have often a much clearer view of the, work of Christ than they have of what it is to walk with Christ, as a living person ever occupied with them; and until they get this, they will not walk with Him. We cannot walk with Christ in that vivacity of joy, and power of the Holy Ghost, which the early Christians had, unless we know Christ as a living person with His eyes over fixed upon us.
We love Christ because He first loved us. We find that love expressed in John 14; He took us up at the hand of God, and loved us on that ground — "The men which thou gavest me." "Thine they were, and thou gavest them me." He puts forth His love to us as a divine thing in Himself, entirely irrespective of what we are. He, might have to say to Peter, "You have faith in your own love to me, yet before the cock crow, thou wilt deny me thrice;" nevertheless He could say to him, as to them all, "Let not your heart be troubled, I shall go away [and 1800 years would pass], but I shall come and fetch you, that you may be with me for ever." See when He says three times to Peter, "Lovest thou me?" how He is bringing off Peter from resting on his own love, to rest with implicit confidence in the love of Him who knew all things.
Everything is ours in Him. Having given Him to us, how shall God not with Him freely give us all things? What will He keep back?
The love of God is a love that gathers us into the presence of God Himself; a love that communicates the life of His Son to those dead in trespasses and sins; and they possess a life that is locked up in the Son, never to be touched. Is it true that you can turn to God and say that is the manner of life you possess? Life hid with Christ in God! If Christ Himself, up there, is my life, it links me up with Him in whom is the whole bundle of life. If the head could not say to the feeblest member passing through the difficulties and sorrows of the wilderness down here, "I have no need of thee," why is it? Because of being bound up in one bundle of life, that life being communicated by the Father, and being so in us that Christ cannot say He has no need of us. Did you ever look up in the face of the Lord Jesus Christ, with the consciousness of having one life with Him? If so, you cannot entertain a single question about the place you are in before God. If you have the eternal life that is in the only-begotten Son, you cannot look up without seeing that you are in a new place altogether before God.
Looking round Eden, man might have said, What a large giver God is! But what can we say, as those to whom this life has been given? Truly our fellowship is with the Father and with the Son!
If you possess that life, you have found and will be finding out, till you go to Him, or till He comes to take you to Himself in a glorified body, what a contrast you are to Him; but it is not a question of what you are, but of the portion that has flowed to you from the Father.
If I begin with self, there is nothing but ruin. Is there anything to be got out of the ruin? any want felt there of God? Impossible that there could be! I begin with God, not with self. If God uses my sin to show out the virtues of the blood of His Son, am I to be occupied with Him, or to be saying, "My leanness, my leanness!" Your leanness! how came you to be calculating on your anything in yourself? If you bring an empty vessel, you can keep it full to overflowing if you put it into a cistern of water, even if there be a crack or flaw in the vessel.
The proper expression of a redeemed soul is thanksgiving, that such a manifestation of the divine will should have come out — the deepest, highest, brightest, fullest, most blessed counsels of God having their expression in Him who said, "Lo, I come to do thy will."
Who was that babe laid there in a manger? What could it mean, those angels saying, "Glory to God on high"? God could look down, on that babe, and see there the perfect expression of His glory. All God's glory came out in connection with the person of Him who said "No one knoweth the Father but the Son and he who hath seen the Son, hath seen the Father."
After all the self-denial of Christ for me, is there to be none from me for Him? When He says, "I bought you with my own blood, I charged myself with all your guilt," am I never to say, "Anything that is not for the glory of Christ I will renounce?"
How beautiful to be on those terms with God, that we find in the word certain individuals were on with Him!
By intercourse with Christ in heaven, you get the perfect answer to every question: Christ in heaven is, God's answer to everything.
"Blessed with all spiritual blessings in Christ." What are those spiritual blessings? Not the golden city, but we find that we are brought so near to Christ that everything we want we get in Him. That, God can look on us with the same delight as on Christ, because we are hidden in Him. He cannot stop the flow of His affection and delight in Christ and so it all flows on us. We are before God in the completeness of Christ's work in the removal of everything He had against us. Christ charged Himself with everything, and all God's delight is in the work of that Son of His love. All the perfection of what He is and of what He has, He gives to us; we are blessed with all spiritual blessings in Him; amongst them we are quickened, raised up, seated in heavenly places in Him. All the blessings connected with the place where He is sitting are ours. Are you realizing that you are before God as one dead, buried, and risen, with Christ? People find it so difficult to believe that God sees them without spot or wrinkle, in Christ.
If you and I knew a little more about Christ's ways, we should get a great deal more communion when we come together; we should speak more of those things which we possess in Christ as our portion.
I never get near Christ as an individual without the consciousness that the Holy Ghost is mine, so also I never get near Christ without the consciousness of having power to do what He wants. He has the power, and I have only to go forward with Him and I shall never fail.
If I were to say "All is wreck and ruin, and all I can do is to sit down like Lot in Sodom," I should not find Christ uncovering His glory there. But if I say, "This state of things will not do, I must be holy, I must be separate from all that is not in character with Christ, then He could say that that is like Himself, and that if I am not going to forget the Holy One, He will not forget me.
What an unspeakable comfort it is that there is a glory of Christ connected with individuals! He might shut the door and put you aside — would you find no sweetness in being able to say, "Christ has shut the door"? Which is best, the door being shut by Christ, or opened by man? In a hundred ways He may shut the door: I must not struggle like a naughty child because He has shut it. He cannot deal in full blessing with a soul till it can say, "Thy will be done." If I sit down quietly, because He would have me sit down, then He can say, "Rise up and go out; whether you sit down or go out, you are acting as the expression of my will."
To me it is a more real thing knowing Christ as a man in heaven, than seeing Him as His followers did when down here. God has let the reality of His being there into my heart, and the light of that reality shines forth in rays that come to me right down from heaven. I call this faith in living exercise; but I may have faith, and yet may not be dwelling on the reality of a living Christ in heaven. My heart may not be up there, with all its feelings gathered up to Him.
Salvation has a divine as well as a human side. Nothing that God had created could satisfy Him, save to have Christ as man sitting on His throne. Ah! His ways are not as our ways. God's glory in redemption was to show how low He could let the Son of His love stoop — in letting Him go down to the death of the cross — break His heart in woe — and then to set Him as the centre of a new system as the Lamb slain. Would that be according to man's thought of glory? But God would have His own way, and all His glory shone forth in redemption. His glory is to have heaven filled with poor sinners, brands plucked from the burning. And His Christ finds Himself sitting patiently waiting 1800 years for heaven to be so filled
Can you say, "Ah, that Lord Christ has washed me from my sins, yes, washed me after a fashion which none but He could have had the least idea of; and He is waiting now, but soon He will rise up — and may such an one as I go up and be accepted? Yes. Why? Because the whole place is filled with the fragrance of the work done by the One in whom I am accepted."
I was for years endeavouring to find God, but like a bull in a net struggling and striving to do something first for myself, not knowing that God had done something for me; till I looked into heaven (thus an earthen vessel gets turned up to the light) and there I saw the very thing to suit a poor sinner — a God of grace, in Christ; in a place where there is not a single element of the place I am in now. And I am brought into the light shining there, the light that makes everything here easy to be read and gathered up.
If you ask, me to measure sin, there is no measure for it but the cross. There alone can you form any idea of what the intolerancy of God is to sin. If looking up by faith to the One crucified there, the cross will be your mark by which to measure everything in you.
There is no charge against me, for Christ has met it all, and perfected me for ever. The blood shed for sinners, ever pleads in the presence of God, and not only can I be perfectly free from guilt there, but God delights to give me all that Christ has and is.
If God has cast seed into a heart, ruined thing by nature though it be, He expects something to come forth for Himself out of that seed. His eye is looking down on Christians, and ah! must He not say they are not like what they were on the day of Pentecost Do any say, Circumstances are not what they were then? Ah! He will not measure you by what circumstances are, but by Himself. He comes forth to Laodicea as the true and faithful witness. That is the character in which He tests and tries everything. Are those eyes fixed on me? fixed in searching power, fixed with unwavering purpose, on me, the eyes of that One who has responsibility to keep me, because of my being part of the bride down here? Thank God they are!
Can you say that the One who never had a thought apart from the Father's will, and who knows no blessing apart from that will, is occupied with you, and that He regulates all your blessing in accordance with that will?
Does it suit you to be in the place where the light comes down on you to bring out your ways and walk as an individual? Once you and I did not like the light What! everything to be brought out? if everything is to be brought out at the judgment-seat of Christ, what think you of Christ's eye being on you now, reading in the light everything in you that is practically inconsistent with it? He must act in thorough consistency with Himself; if He finds anything of death allowed to work in me, He must say, "I did not take you up for that, but for life to work in you. I do not forget that you are mine, and I am watching you as one predestined to be conformed to my image." If you have to say, "There is no one who loves me enough to find fault with me, not enough to couple me with Christ so as to find out in me all that is contrary to Christ and tell me of it, there is one who does; Christ Himself!
Up to the last moment He says, "I stand at door and knock;" up to the last, "If any man hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to him and I will sup with him and he with me." Can you say that He who is Jehovah's fellow has been occupied with you, calling upon you to hear His voice? Ah! it is only wonderful that He should have gone on so long. What a mark of His grace! The professing thing, as a whole, set aside, and He calling on individual saints, saying, to each individually, "If you have heard my voice and open the door," etc., bringing you into companionship with Himself, putting you on terms of mutuality — that is His heart. Judgment is coming on the mass, but He is saying, "Do you come out, and sup with me." The heart that has got hold of the gospel, knows the force of that expression, "I will sup with him," knows what companionship with Him is.
Are we in the wilderness down here, labouring through the sand and clay? And never was the labour more heavy for those who are not of this world, than in this our day; but Christ says, "Weigh all that I shall give to him that overcometh." Contrast it with all your toil and suffering below, and what are your difficulties? Will the having passed through them be a strange thing to you at the end? No! Though the horizon of difficulties, like the horizon as one mounts to the top of a hill, appears to be higher and higher, the farther you get, yet Christ sets against them all, "To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame and am set down with my Father in His throne."
It is amazing to be able to look back at the cross and say in God's presence, "Blessed Son of God and Son of Man, Thou didst bear the whole of God's wrath for me, and now Thou art at God's right hand for me." Amazing thing that I should be able to look up there and know Thee in the glory as the One who bore my sin! Thine eye coming right down on me, saying, There is one with whom I can have intercourse in the power of that light which shines down from me into his heart." Think of that Lord Christ looking down at any of you and saying, "Where is that poor sinner whom I saved from wrath? I must have him up here, he must come and sit down with me in my throne." Ah! blessed Lord, what manner of love is thine? How could such love flow on the ground of my deserving it? Never! It would shock any mind if a poor sinner were to say, "I have a right to shine in glory."
If I am a quickened soul, raised up with Christ and brought to God, knowing Him as the living and true God, do I owe nothing to the God who has done it? Should I like it to be proved that God has not an open hand to receive anything from me? Should I not be unutterably sad if my heart, standing in such blessing, could find no God to render its little bit of service to? Having brought us where we are, is it not unutterably blessed that He would have us there rendering up the fruit of our lips for what He has done? It is from the continual realization of what He has done, that praise flows forth; and oh! how it brings out the exceeding magnificence of God in His greatness, that can take notice of the very smallest things. What a little breath, breathed forth in a few words of praise, an "acceptable sacrifice!" One can understand Christ's sacrifice being acceptable — that one sacrifice by which we are perfected for ever. But does the same Spirit, after telling us of that, turn round to you and to me, saying, "I look to you to offer sacrifice?" What! can God accept as sacrifice a little breath, embodying to my soul the thought of what He has done? Yes! and I am to offer it to Him continually as the fruit of the lips giving thanks to His name.
There is a poor thing on a sick bed, lisping praises, and God having an ear to listen to and accept that sacrifice of praise. I was with a dying one who was full of uncertainty as to what would be her end; I said, "Would it not be better to use up the little time remaining to His glory?" "What!" she answered, "I, gasping here, able to do anything for His glory?" "Yes, if you take all you are suffering from His hand, saying to it all, Even so, Father, for so it seemeth good in thy sight, He will settle with His Son all about your end, on the one hand; and on the other hand, be listening for your sacrifice of praise." All love on one hand, and all magnificence on the other.
The great secret of getting to the sunny side of sorrow is to get to its divine side. Who can say they are able to give thanks in all things? It is very happy when one can, then one will not be on the world's side, but will see God in everything; and that is the divine side, where the soul gets perfect rest in God, seeing all ordered by Him.
It is what is within, that forms what comes from us. If you do not know that you are saved, you will be asking God to fill the void in you, not knowing how things stand between your soul and God; but if you know that you are saved, your soul will be bursting out in praise. With John at Patmos it was not O that He might love me!" but seeing Christ, the first thought of his quickened heart was, "Oh that is He who loves me!" and his soul at once wants to express something of its rapture. "Unto Him." Who? Ah, a well-known One, that One who has washed us from our sins in His own blood. That first thing must ever be before the mind. If the heart is not settled in peace, by knowing the personal love of the Lord Jesus in having washed us from our sins, every day will bring something to startle us and prevent our do one thing for Him.
Do I know that Christ has brought me near to God? then I cannot go on a step without feeling a spiritual want to praise and worship God.
Ah, shall I not say when I see the worthy One in the very highest place in heaven, "He is the only worthy One?" And if suffering for Him down here, will not the going forth of my heart be all praise?
No one but the Lamb slain is recognized in heaven as worthy to receive power, riches, wisdom, strength, honour, glory, and blessing, in the place where God is, all laid down before the Lamb.
If we look at Him now, with all the glory of that place given to Him who is to have all things, and say, "But are not man's misery and sin to shut him out of that place?" The answer is that we have absolutely nothing to bring to Him except our sin and misery, but the love which met it all has given us a claim to be there. And just because of that misery and that love, we can say, There is a house of mercy where crimson and scarlet stains can be washed white, and He who leads all the redeemed people before God in heaven, is the only One to be praised. Who shall be praised save He who for deep crimson stains gives robes of white? Only that One is worthy; not only washing you and bringing you there, but the thought of reward in His heart towards you! He will not forget the least thing done with an eye to Him — every cup of cold water marked. "Lord, when saw we thee an hungered or thirsty?" Ah, it is His own way, "ye did it unto me." When we shall hear Him praise His people, the deep feeling of our hearts will be, "Ah, it is like Himself, and He alone deserves all the praise!"
Can you take your place before God with the thought of all His light breaking in on you to show nothing but rags and tatters, nothing whatever in you to fit you for His presence, but that same light showing you what He is for you there, and that He has given you His Christ as your fitness?
If you are in the enjoyment of settled peace with God, you will be standing in it with the conviction that the only thing worth living for is to please Christ. If you have not that peace, self will be at work to obtain it: "My house is not so with God, I am not this, or that."
It was God's thought to connect you in life with Christ, and you must not for a moment look at yourself apart from that Christ. God connects you eternally with Him. You are bound up for eternity in the same "bundle of life" with Him. Ah, if eternal life in Christ is yours, you can take that as a girdle to gird up the loins. The body may be perishing, all about you broken up; well, never mind (may you say), eternal life is mine. Say it to yourself again and again, and walk in the power of it.
Can you say I know Him who is life — light, so that I have got light about myself and about God. About myself as a ruined creature, about God as having given me rest in Christ; being able to be in His presence and in the presence of the Lord Jesus in the light, conscious of there being no condemnation for me. If I see if I am in the light, I am not like a blind man groping for a wall. All things stand out in the plain light of life that shines out from Christ with all the brilliancy and transparency that He who expresses the whole mind of God can give it. Where do I see the light of eternal life? In the face of the Lord Jesus Christ. I see it in the Person of Him who is presented as the light of the world.
What was Christ's character in the world? He was "full of grace and truth." So full, so overflowing as a fountain, that every empty vessel brought to it He would fill — the waters flowing over to all, in all circumstances. A man might have looked up to heaven and said, "Why, there, up there, is the Man I spit upon, and He is saying 'If you call upon me, you shall be saved.'" A poor puny worm having treated God like that, and He saying "You are in an awful position, yet look up to me here, I can give the Holy Ghost to any who call upon me." So with Saul of Tarsus; the eternal light and life was stronger than man's darkness. Saul left his darkness and death, to go in the power of that life, and be a servant of the Lord Christ who had looked down upon him.
Do you know the Being who has a life that never had a beginning? You had no being before you were born: compare the life you have with that of a Being who never had a beginning.
God had a plan for the glory of His Son, and that plan was to show the perfection of the Son's obedience, and that perfection of obedience to be followed by His being raised up to the perfection of glory at the right hand of God, the Father of glory.
In Revelation 4, 5, I see the glory of the place He is in. A certain Lamb is there in the midst of the throne. Co-equal with the Lord God Almighty as the object of worship, the place of glory that that Lamb is in, is as complete as it possibly could be. It is the place of perfect light. The believer can go right up to the throne of God, because the Lamb is in it.
This blessed One was raised up and planted by God at His own right hand to be the centre of all and of every heart. Oh, have we got self as our. centre, or this One who is the centre of all God's dealings, and is all His delight. A living Man in heaven, making all new. If you were to pick out the best down here to be a centre, you would only find in him the first Adam. What a different centre to bind things round is this Christ of God! If He made Himself the centre round which to bind a man like Paul, everything of sorrow and difficulty which Paul went through, became the means of binding him more and more closely round Christ.
Do you ever, like Peter, find your heart searched by Christ's "Lovest thou me?" and followed by some such sweet little word as "Feed my lambs?" You may have been very weak, very inconsistent, but still able to say to that blessed Searcher of hearts, "Thou knowest all things, and thou knowest that I love thee, and could not do without thee, now and at all times."
What broke in upon the heart of Saul was the beauty of the eternal Son of God, who had come to Calvary and shed His blood, and gone back to heaven; and there that Son of God had a heart to look round the earth and appropriate to Himself one who had been a blasphemer and an enemy, and to make of him a model man.
Look at the glory of that One who was with God, and was God, from all eternity, saying, "Lo, I come to do thy will;" and then, having come and perfectly accomplished that will, going back into His own eternity, that all the riches of God's grace might be read in Him in the very dwelling-place of God, in the light no man approacheth unto. He alone could say, He alone had a right to say, "Lo, I come to do thy will." None but the eternal God in His own eternity could have said it. He, in eternal glory, knew the mind of God. He alone could do the will of God — carrying out all His plans and counsels. He knew that what was nearest to the heart of God was the removal of the barrier between man and God, and He said, "Lo I come to do thy will, even to the death of the cross, in order to remove it, and to connect believers with Himself in relationship with God, so that He could say 'My Father and your Father, my God and your God.'"
He has no more to do, there is no more offering for sin; but through His work we have boldness to enter into the holiest. We have perfection of access into God's presence by the blood; We are brought there now in spirit, through faith, but soon He will come and take us as the fruits of redeeming love, in bodies fashioned like His own, radiant with glory.
"I know thy poverty, but thou art rich." What did the Lord mean by "rich?" To the divine mind the most beautiful works are of the character marked here: "but thou art rich." If Christ said to the Syro-phenician, "Oh, woman, great is thy faith, to His mind she was the richest person in the world. It was the expression of His own work in her, but she showed a character of faith that Her could not but commend. He treasures her faith. It is not a little thing in a day like the present, to, have faith.
What a difference when things are looked at on the heavenly side! How different Paul saying, "Take away the thorn," and the Lord saying, "No, I shall not, you shall keep it, because I want you to have an excuse for leaning on me." What a poor thing was Paul's "take it, take it, take it away" — the poverty of the vessel comes out.
One has had a bitter cup, and has been able to say, "Father, I will drink it:" ah, but to put the cup down to be filled again and again, as fast as one could drink it — the Father giving it as the greatest possible expression of His love. And when one has passed through it, seeing it to have been so.
The address to the church of Smyrna begins with a divine title, "the First and the Last." If you get into eternity, you find that this Son of God never had a beginning. He was with God, and was God, in the beginning. The thought of eternity to come is more easy for the human mind to grasp, than the thought of eternity behind, without beginning. I have in the eternal life given to me a new order of being. If I drop the body, the life goes up to Him who gave it. There are many spirits absent from the body up there. Paul and Peter are there, with no hindrance, walking about where all is bright and beautiful. Who secures the joy and perfection of it? Who came down, went to the grave, and rose again? Who drops that side of the curtain, save the One who stood and held open the other side? The blessed Lord who became dead, and He lives. They killed the Prince of Life, but before He became man He was the eternal God. That Man spoke of Himself as the First and the Last.
In the persecution raised by Satan against those whom he hates because they are Christ's, what a difference if you look at being cast into prison by the devil, with the thought of his having got his own way at last, or if you say "God told me before I was put into the furnace, that He would put me there to be tried, in order that, as a specimen of His own handiwork, I might shine in it." It is important to take everything from the Father's hand; important to look at the trials of others in the same way — saying to a tried Christian, "If not a sparrow falls without the Father, how could you be in this trial without the Father?" What a difference when things are looked at on the heavenly side, feeling that whatever comes of suffering or difficulty, we have got the sunny side with Christ.
"Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life." The contrast here between the death of the body, and the life, is very beautiful: the death ending the union of the believer's body and soul, this being the dissolution. "Be faithful till I take your quickened soul home."
John could say of Christ, "He was a Man down here whom we looked upon and our hands handled, but I never think of Him under any other character than that of the only-begotten Son of God." (God manifest in flesh.)
"I beseech you, abide in him, that when he appears, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed;" that is, He has set us to work, to preach and to build you up in Him, and we want to see you all so walking that we may have gladness of heart when He appears, because of not having laboured in vain. This thought of John's in connection with the appearing is touching, but not the same as Paul's joy at standing in the presence of Jesus with his dearly beloved Thessalonians round him. The fruit of his ministry will be his crown of rejoicing in the Lord's presence with all the blessedness that belongs to it — the grace of Christ being sufficiently large to admit of Paul's joy at that crown. People say, "What, shall we think of any other in the glory save the Lord?" Surely of none like Him. (I shall worship Christ but never Paul.) But while giving Christ the place which He only can have in every heart up there, my soul would exceedingly miss it if the Lord would not allow my affections to be there in connection with those dear to me down here; and so Paul says, "What is our hope or joy or crown of rejoicing, is it not even ye? who are the fruit of our labour for him in whose presence ye will be with us, at his coming?" A great many things will rejoice us in the glory, and you are one of them, a crown of rejoicing. Paul expected every groan in the wilderness to shine in the glory, and it may well be so, for it is life down here, the life of Christ in the soul, and it will not be another life when in glory. It will be the same life that was displayed in different circumstances down here, that will be displayed there.
Every vessel will be filled up to the brim in the glory, but there will be the difference between big and little vessels. If I saw Paul walking in the glory, I should understand the difference between large and little vessels; and should I not delight to see him honoured of Christ, who wrote many and many a blessed sentence in my soul? delight to see him there within with Christ, enjoying the reward of his much suffering here, up there where will be the full manifestation of everything.
If you cannot see Christ with you in the furnace, you can be quite sure He is there. What though I were in the deep three days and three nights, if I have Christ with me there! Whatever the place I am brought into, I shall find sweetness if He is with me. O do not let Christ have the second place! It is to be nothing else than Christ and you, and you and Christ, all the way through the wilderness. Let Him always be the only object before your mind. Refuse to see anything save with Him. Having Him you will find strength for everything.
The very taste of weakness should link the heart with strength in another — with that One whose strength is made perfect in the creature's weakness.
Wherever the flesh appears, there is something that Satan can touch, and unless we judge ourselves, can turn to grief of heart in us and dishonour to God.
If you have not a thorn in the flesh now, it will be sure to be given you one day, to make you realize your weakness. The pitiful beggarliness of the flesh makes you ashamed to speak about what you are passing through, to any but the Lord. There will be different thorns for each.
We are washed as clean as God could wash us, but we have to walk down here where we find difficulties of every sort. If you say "I cannot get over that," Christ says "I am there to help, you have got my hand to deliver you. Poor crippled thing that you are, you cannot jump over that river, but lean on me, and so get over."
"He that hath an ear to hear, let him hear." I had no ear to hear till God opened it; and now that it is opened, I shall not take in any voice but the Shepherd's. He, the eternal lover of my soul, the One who laid me as a lost sheep on His shoulder, He alone has a right to be heard; and what does He say? Ah, it is very searching when He who knows the heart tells me what He would have me do. Blessed Lover of my soul! dost thou say, "Stoop down and pick up that poor thing?" Dost thou say, "Come up hither?" Hast thou called me to give up life or health? Could I say if God were to bring the Turks over this country, "Even so, Father, for so it seemeth good in thy sight?"
"Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?" Faith in Him as Son of God on high is the power to overcome. As a child of the Father I must be an overcomer. That which as a "young man in Christ" I overcame, I must now overcome if I am a father in Christ. I have to be daily overcoming the world, self, and Satan. I have as an overcomer to realize my connection with the One who completely overcame everything, and is seated up there as the proof of it We cannot run up the bright shining way, save as overcomers, and He who overcame will help you to press on because He has overcome It is exceedingly blessed. God giving the revelation of a reserved portion for the overcomers. (Rev. 2:3.)
It is very blessed when passing through all the trials and difficulties of work down here, to look at Him who came down to battle with Satan; all the sorrow in the world not equal to His sorrow; and the One who was obedient even to the death of the cross, drinking the cup of wrath. Most blessed, I repeat, to see Him set down on the throne of God because He overcame, and calling on His people to overcome even as He did.
Soon He will leave the Father's throne and take a throne in which we can sit with Him, and He with us. Is it a fact that you and I, individually, shall sit down with Christ in His throne? Yes, it is; and when He has taken up and presented the church, without spot or wrinkle, to Himself, He will seat her with Himself in glory. (Rev. 3:21.) Often one hardly knows how to get through the trials down here; but the fruit of them remains, for which the overcomer will bless God for over.
How we see the Lord dealing in different ways with souls in the wilderness, to bring home to their hearts that all flesh is grass! Whether it be by the agony of sorrow or by a taste of the glory, what a withering sense we again and again have that all flesh is grass! and with it, that all the sympathies of a Father are for us,
The flesh must be broken. The Lord can use us then, not while it is unbroken. While Paul was writhing under Satan's thorn, he could get some estimate, though not a full one, of what the flesh is as God sees it. When it was broken, and Paul did not know what to do, the Lord came to pour sympathy into the writhing heart of Paul.
Ah, what a marvellous display of love comes out to fill the soul with joy at the very time that the Lord is teaching us our own nothingness and misery When one sees the thought of God and of Christ, in the breaking down of the flesh in us, how one should joy in Him and rejoice! Better, saith Christ, be a poor weak creature in utter weakness, than have any amount of power without "my strength."
In Paul we see "a man in Christ" in the third heavens, losing — in what he was in Christ — all sense of the weakness of the flesh, and then coming down to the full experience of utter weakness, and having all Christ's sympathy at the bottom of the will. These blessed tastes the Lord gives us of our portion in Himself. But we shall never know, in anything of its fulness, what that portion is, save as we realize Paul's blessed experience as "a man in Christ." As men whose feet touch the earth, we must have the experience of utter weakness. As a man in Christ, Paul does not speak of the flesh, but whilst we are in the body, there must be discipline to hinder the flesh showing itself out.
When people fail, we are inclined to find fault with them, but if you look more closely, you will find that God had some particular truth for them to learn, which the trouble they are in is to teach them.
I would press two things: the difference between life in the soul, and the light always streaming down from Christ. If Paul deviated from his course, that cast no shadow on the heart of Christ, but Paul must be corrected for it.
The action of faith in the believer's soul is very simple, it is the realization in the soul of the nearness of Christ — a groan caught up by Him in a moment, every fear, every sigh, marked by Him. When the sun is shining on you, you do not measure its distance from you; but walking in its beams, you can look up and see how bright the light that is shining down upon you. And so if your eye be single, light comes right down from Christ and guides you — there is no care, no anxiety of yours which is not a care and anxiety of His. Why should I have any burden on my heart to trouble me, when I may take it all to Christ?
Believe me, you can only plead with God as you know Christ. He alone is the channel by which God can bless.
No one can get above circumstances unless he knows that he has the ear of God. The power of intercession is a great thing to the servant of God.
"The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us! Do you know this One? Who is He? Ah, the Only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. And we beheld His glory. No veil concealed it, there was the full revelation of a higher glory than the lower glory of creation work. The glory of the Only-begotten of the Father. In God's own eternity, the only One who could reveal God. If any one were to say, "Where shall I see the glory of that God who dwelleth in the light which no man can approach unto," a saint would answer, "Do not you know that there is One who came out of that glory to show God to us?" God manifesting Himself in flesh. When I see Him, I see all the beauty, the glory, the character of God in Him. And He is just the One to suit an undone sinner. Man's ruin and rebellion, and all that Satan has done for us, was just as a background for the showing out of all the bright glory and beauty of this One, in whose face we see all the glory of God and the Father.
If you have a thought of God being against you the answer is, "Why is He who bore our sins now upon the throne? If He is there because of having done a work upon the cross which perfectly satisfied God, and if God sees every one who believes in Him as dead, buried, and risen in Him, how can, there be any question about that person's acceptance?" This is what I call His death being brought into the soul; and if you do not thus count yourself to be dead in His death, you will find the old nature working in an extraordinary way; and your heart will go out after everything of the old man, if you have not so taken in this truth as to have it become a part of your very being that you are crucified with Him — dead, buried, and risen with Christ.
I beseech you, carry about in your body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus may be made manifest in you, as you pass through the world: not having a word to say for self, not coming with I, — I; not wishing and hoping to become more worthy — not I at all, but reckon yourself to be dead. Had not Paul thoroughly done with self, when he could say, "Not I, but Christ liveth in me, and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God?"
The prophet Habakkuk gets up into his watchtower and strikes the key-note of the gospel "The just shall live by faith." He gets into the presence of God, and only watches for what He will say. He had not a single thing besides and he says, "If you want to be justified it must be by faith." This did not alter Habakkuk's circumstances, but his soul being occupied with the secret of God was kept at rest.
One who has faith takes God's estimate — does. not look for the evidence of his own senses, but says, Let me hear what God says, He must be true. What God says will come into constant collision with what is in myself, but I have to say, "Let God be true and every man a liar."
If any one says, "I have faith in the blood, and I am sure I shall be in heaven at last," and that person is mixed up in all the rubbish of this world, does God take no count of it? Yes, and most surely God will bring, will drag His people out of Sodom, perhaps just as the whole thing is about to be destroyed. He knows how to pull them out, and I delight to see Him doing it, forcing them out, and making them go up hill into glory, whether they like it or not.
The Lord makes His people act, not by their feelings, but by the reality of the place they are in; makes them act as those who are in His presence.
If the world offers a Christian any advantage, he should look at it and say, "It will not become me to accept it — I am one seated in heavenly places, I have but one object in life." Whatever the world could offer him he should turn from it, because a man cannot have two objects, if he be a heavenly-minded saint. The savour and root of everything, to such an one, is Christ up there, and he does not want to be a prosperous man down here, where Christ had no place.
What a thought! to be so one with Christ, so living Christ, that we have to put as a test to everything, "Would my Lord like this or that?" The Christ of God, who has made me one with Himself, what does He think of it?
Happy the person who has an empty vessel and God ever ready to fill. Unhappy they who have no empty vessel. The oil flowed still, when the woman lacked vessels. The Lord sees plenty of empty channels to be filled, and oh, it is a blessed thing to take up all our needs to God, and go before Him as those who know. His character as a giver.
I doubt whether many know the sweetness of going into the presence of God as a channel or pipe to be filled in order to bring out what is wanted for others — saying, "I have got the ear and heart of Christ." He let the apostle Paul pour out all his thoughts and met them with His grace, far above all that He was asked. Blessing is not measured merely by the wants of the individual, but by all that is in the heart of God towards those who are in Christ.
You may not think there is much brightness in the furnace whilst in it, but when come out of it, its light will be in your soul. Something put there by the Son of God who walked with you through it, which will shine out to His praise and glory when He shall appear.
Suppose the Lord were to say in the case of two of His children, "I shall shelter and take home that one; but as for the other, I shall make him go through all the closing days, carrying the testimony which would certainly be the last;" such an one will find perilous times and plenty of sorrow, but which will look brightest up there?
The extent of Christ's love for those given Him by the Father, the Father alone can understand. Look at the prodigal — what a pitiable object! and yet there he is in the father's arms, all the expression of the father's love put on him, all the joy of the house flowing out in response to the gladness of the father's heart. What did the prodigal bring? Nothing save the marks of misery. Starvation and rags. The angels did not understand God's mercy till then. They could not know it till Christ became man. When they saw the Babe lying in the manger, they knew that Babe to be the eternal God from off the throne. And it was only by the church that they learnt the manifold wisdom of God.
We understand that mercy in the heart of God, because we have tasted it.
It is a secret between my soul and God. God looked upon me and picked me up, and brought to my soul individually the taste of pardoning love through the Son of His love washing me in His own blood. Oh! the sweetness of the thought of this Son of God having given Himself for me, and having occupied Himself with me in all my misery. The most precious thought in connection with redemption is that of being a poor prodigal in the Father's house. The bringing in of the prodigal was to prove the delight of God in showing out all the riches of His love to poor ruined sinners,
Does any scene on earth now tell of the power of God without a mark of Satan? As we pass along, we have to see the marks of feebleness and sin in one another; and we stand out as witnesses of some strange thing having come in through Satan.
What is the rest of my soul for eternity? The fact that He, the Just One, took my place, the unjust one, on the cross. And then another thing comes out — the essential glory of Him who died there. We see in Him the power of One whose springs are in Himself. The way in which He bears the wrath of God, tells, if there were nothing else, of divine glory; there is one there whose springs are in Himself.
When I come to the cross, it is impossible for me ever to understand what He suffered there. He had a heart full of affection — the volume of it, no heart of ours can understand. He had a mind that grasped everything; we can only say of ours how very little they can hold, like a shelf that can hold a certain number of things, and if we try to put any more, they will roll off.
As a creature, I can get no idea of what the mind of Christ was, because it was the mind of God. When I see what the cross presents, it is not possible for me to form to myself the full idea either of the sufferings or the glory of the One who was put there to open shame.
Not a single spring of gladness in the heart of God, but was found in this perfect One, entirely God as well as man. Oh the thought of God having sent this Son down from His own eternal glory, this Son of His love, all His bosom's ineffable delight, sent down to the cross for me! It puts me in the dust. What am I that He should not only have brought me salvation, but have sent that Son of His love to bear all for me — as man essentially perfect, divine in every way, yet made sin for us. I believe that in the present day, it is a matter of deep moment for the Christian to look again and again into the place of the Son of God on the cross, and to study all the divine attributes of that divine One who hung there
"Smite the Shepherd and the sheep shall be scattered "The Lord did not quote the latter part of this verse nor the beginning of it. "Awake O sword, against my Shepherd, against the man that is my fellow, saith the Lord of hosts." That is God's estimate of Him whom man valued at thirty pieces of silver. (Zech. 13:7.) The last part of the verse is exceedingly sweet: "And I will turn mine hand upon the little ones." What a sweet thought must that have been to the Lord's heart, that if He was smitten, God would turn His hand upon the little ones. If wrath came on Him and the sheep were scattered, there was that drop of sweetness in the bottom of the cup. Oh! I cannot tell you what that word has been to me, in hours of trial and difficulty. God's hand being turned on the little ones — not one of them ever lost. Where were Mary, John, Peter? God knew they were where they would all turn up, unharmed; they were given by God to this Shepherd, and God kept them for Him, and no one could pluck them out of God's hand.
The blessed Lord's heart could enter into all human feelings — there lies in that fact the very thing that gave such a poignancy to His sufferings. Our minds are so little, they cannot hold more than a certain measure of great sorrow or joy. If in great sorrow we cannot feel little things. The Lord had all great things in connection with suffering, and yet the shooting out of a lip, the shaking of a head, all was felt by Him in detail at the same moment.
You cannot see the breast-wave roll over you, and let it come up, and up, till the last moment, giving up your life in obedience. He did this. We walked on calmly through His whole course of obedience.
The cross showed out what was man's hatred of God, but there was in it a woe such as man and Satan could not give: He was forsaken by God.
When we shall see Him with all the brightness of God's glory about Him, we shall say, "But He became Son of man, and He came down to die; He became a man of sorrows in the midst of His brethren. None ever went so low, or tasted sorrow as He tasted it." When we come to the Father's house, that home of joy and glory, what a thought it will be for our hearts, that He should have left it, and come down here to be initiated in the way of sorrow.
Am I only to see Him as the man of sorrows? No, I can go on to the Solomon glory, and rejoice in His joy whom God hath anointed with the oil of gladness above His fellows. Never was sorrow like to His sorrow, but there is nothing there of the man of sorrow. Has any human heart ever felt what the Lord Jesus now feels? The oil of gladness poured over Him above His fellows.
I do not know what you feel, but joy opens the heart, and it is joy to see every poor sinner rejoicing. Soon we shall see His face radiant with joy, be rejoicing for ever in His joy.
He is heir of all things: and he that overcometh shall inherit all things. If I go forward to the thought of association with Him, it is not only in heavenly places, but I find a new heaven and earth, where I am to be with Him, the heavenly man. A scene where the eye may search in vain for anything unworthy of God. A spotless place all filled up with the glory of God.
If God were to deal with me as a creature I must stand before Him until every one of my sins can be counted up, for each one to receive a just recompense of reward. How perfectly simple it is! If God from Sinai gave certain laws for the government of His people Israel, and not one of those laws could be infringed without a certain penalty, it must needs be the same still to any who take that ground. If you are standing on that ground before God, take care! He will not pass by one single transgression without a just recompense of reward, and you must receive it. If I go before Him to prove my own righteousness, He must weigh me in His scales, must weigh every thought and imagination of my heart.
But if I come before God on the ground of being a poor lost sinner, what are His thoughts? He says, "I am not going to put you on. doing this, or not doing that, I have a purchased right to come in and pick you up as lost, and if you are lost, there is a Saviour for you."
Have I ever turned my thoughts upon this great salvation in heaven, in the Son of God? Oh how blessed to be a poor sinner brought into all the glory, bound up in one lot with Him! Everything sweeps round Him, as waves sweep round a rock, round Him who made all things. When we contemplate the glory of Him who is the brightness of God's glory and the express image of His person in connection with the great salvation that He wrought when He by Himself purged our sins, what added glory flows to Him from that great salvation!
After He had purged our sins, He sat down on the right hand of the majesty on high. The very last place where man in nature would go to look for one who had been crucified between two thieves. This gives a very special character to salvation. The religion of human nature kept man at the foot of Sinai; the religion of Christ Jesus brings him to the right hand of God. A ruined sinner, and this great salvation, those extreme points, meeting there.
I cannot draw any limit to this great salvation. Drop following drop is not the expression of the fountain's fulness. We may see all these drops, but that is not enough. It is the fountain itself, Himself in person who purged sin, that I want — not salvation only, but a living Saviour. The affections of the heart can never flow, unless fixed on Christ in person. When I look at Christ Himself I know it. Christ who has washed me and is ever making intercession for me in heaven. When I get individually a living Saviour, one with me and I with Him, instead of salvation as measured out to all the saved, it is the bright light shining into my heart from His living presence.
Oh! if I can get with all my trials and sorrows into the light where Christ is sitting, at God's right hand I get there fresh life and joy. What a difference it makes in the practical power of walk if you can say, I have not only been washed from my sins, but I have got a Saviour at God's right hand, and He Himself is the One I am to live unto; drawing spiritual strength and nourishment from union with Him, as a sucker out of a root.
What can harm me if I am upon Christ's heart? A ruined one like me. and a Saviour like Himself go together; my name is upon His breast.
I was a child of Satan once, under the curse of a broken law, and nothing would do but for some one to come in and say, "That Saviour is given to this sinner, and this chief of sinners is given to that Saviour, belongs to Him." Yes, blessed be His name, we can say that we do know this, that the one resting place of our souls is Jesus.
I cannot keep my salvation — God keeps it, and He has turned my eyes to it, where it is at His own right hand in heaven. We cannot get away from the blessedness of saying, "That great salvation, that Saviour, belongs to us, and we belong to Him."
The world is going on at the foot of Sinai. Content to stay there, under the full blaze of the light of salvation by faith, and in the sight of a great Saviour at the right hand of God in heaven. What effect does the thought of Christ up there produce in the hearts of professing Christians? Are not many of them equally saying, "Who is Lord over us? our lips are our own." But whether they think of it or not, that Nazarene is sitting up there, and nothing escapes His notice, not a word, not a thought. When careless walkers think of Him there, what effect has it on them? not peace.
It was God's thought to give an inheritance to those who, by Adam's transgression, had lost their heritage; not by putting man again into Eden, but by bringing him into a paradise of glory, an habitation of God. It was His thought to have a Son sitting with Him there as the One who would bring many sons to glory. Let us pause and see the entirely new world which that expression "bringing many sons to glory" opens to the mind. It was no new thought to the Father's mind: He knew what it was, but man knew it not, for it had not entered into the heart of man to conceive the things which God hath prepared for these sons, but, saith Paul, "He hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit;" and as soon as we know it, we get the thought of the joy of the Father's house, we enter an entirely new world — a world unknown until revealed, and the Holy Ghost alone could teach us about it. We cannot look at it apart from atonement: "It became him, through sufferings, to bring many sons to glory." (Heb. 2:10.) These sons are all brought to glory from amongst a sinner race, therefore if there were not the atoning and cleansing blood, we could never see God.
If I am to be in the Father's house, a redeemed sinner, I want a perfect Man there. And if He is up there as the One who has run the race down here, and won all for us, what can I do? There is nothing to be done but to receive from Him. I suppose that is just the difficulty which the human mind finds the greatest; that is, to receive everything from Him at God's right hand. Not to have a single thing but what comes from the hand of God; and not merely receiving, but showing in every act whether the things of Christ rule in us.
There is but one place of anchorage for the soul, and that is faith in Jesus. But even where there is that faith, there may not be settled peace of conscience, and that is why it is so important to have a right understanding on the question of works. It is not the question only of getting peace on first coming to God, but of abiding in God's presence with unbroken peace ever after; and this cannot be unless God's idea of works be clearly understood.
Are the Jews alone in thinking that they had, as sinners, the same power to keep the word of God as Adam had before sin entered? No. If you look, not only at Rome, but at most protestant churches, you will find that the basis on which they are formed, is the competency of man to keep the law. That is the great master-principle of human nature. Man's thought throughout is that he can do something for God. But the thought of our being able to do anything cannot exist with peace of conscience in God's presence. One only could stand there and say, "All that thou requirest I can and will do. In the volume of the book it is written of me, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God."
Paul had thought by his own resources in works to meet God's demands, but when converted, a new principle broke in upon him, he found that that Nazarene was in heaven telling him of gratuity of grace, and he took salvation, not of works, but by faith.
God does not cause to germinate some little seed already folded up in man, but he implants an altogether new principle of life. God cannot see in man what we can see in examining a seed through the microscope — the exact form of the future plant all folded up, which when the seed is put into the ground begins to spread forth. When God's eye examines a sinner, what does He see? What did He see in such an one as Saul, the persecutor? Did He see the divine life, afterwards manifested in him, all nicely folded and shut up within his soul? No; but the enmity which made Saul persecute to the death the followers of Jesus. He saw moral death, but no life in him. And how was all this changed? By the communication of a new life, an incorruptible seed. (1 Peter 1:23.)
Has your mind been occupied with this thought, "He hath quickened us together with Christ?" Let us picture to ourselves the blessed Lord in the grave. He had been crucified, death had followed, then the grave. He had gone down into that new grave wherein man had never lain, but He could not see corruption; not here the question of His coming out of the grave, but of the quickening in the grave. He had power to lay down His life, and power to take it again. He was quickened as He lay in the grave. The movement of life in Him could have been seen, which could not have been seen in Lazarus. The power of another must cause him to move, and the voice that said, "Let there be light, and there was light," must say, "Come forth" to him.
Observe, also, the difference between the life of the Lord and our life in Him. He had given His life for the church, and the first expression of power connected with it was the quickening of His own body, as the Head of His church; and He has so associated her with Himself that we can say we were quickened together with Him. (Eph. 2.)
What amazing grace! God saying to us, "You have I quickened together with Christ, when you were dead in trespasses and sins." He is here speaking of our new nature which we have first presented to us when Christ woke up in the grave. The place where we first find the life given to us is here.
I cannot but dwell on that expression "quickened together with Christ," it comes so to me in connection with the glad tidings of the gospel. To think of being quickened together with Him who is now upon the Father's throne! All the church, in every separate member, being in Him up there.
I can trace everything connected with my circumstances, and what I am here to the first Adam; but, connected with all my blessing in Christ, I have to go up there where my life is hid with Him in God. How wondrous the grace of God! His mercy does not rest merely in the cleansing blood, vast as that blessing is, but it puts poor sinners into association with the Son, in life above. (Col. 3:3.) God reckoned to Him our guilt, and if we are freed from guilt and in association with Christ in life, we get power from Him to walk as living men.
Where living faith is in any soul, there has been the communication of the divine nature to that soul. God can look on us with the same delight as on Christ, because we are hidden in Christ. He cannot stop the flow of His love and delight in Christ, and it all flows through us, as being in Him.
The human mind cannot see the glory of Christ in having come off the throne of God to the cross, but the believer has received "the mind of Christ," and can see something of it, and he finds that according to the measure in which he can enter into the humiliation of Christ, in that measure he sees the beauty of it.
Ephesians 1. God says that He chose me from the foundation of the world; and He called me within this present century. Six thousand years ago He chose me, and never has He wavered during all that period for a moment. I could not say that since He called me, and since He has been my choice, that I have never wavered in love, never turned aside from the path of enduring affliction with His people; but if anyone were to say, "How do you know that you are one of God's chosen?" my answer would be, "I know it because God revealed Christ to me and let His glory shine into my heart." The time was when there was no place in my heart for Christ, and as to feeling anything like interest in Him, I had not the slightest; but now He is the central object of my heart, and everything turns upon it. God has let into my heart that there never was so beautiful a Being as He who hung between two thieves. No, nothing ever like Him! And that Person has said to Me, "I took everything that God had against you on myself, I bore all your sins in my own body on the cross." And I believe His word; I stake everything on the truth of it. I have not a thought but that Christ has been revealed by God to me, and He is the connecting link between my soul and God, telling me that I am one of the chosen.
Revelation 2:17. If it were not for that wondrous unsearchable Person, God manifest in flesh, and for His, sake, He having taken the cup of wrath for us, what would have been our future?
If we look at the glory, we could not do without Him. Ah, and God would have the manna laid up in the golden pot, to show His delight in Christ. Is there nothing that speaks to our hearts in the delight God has in the Son of His love? If I feel that I could not do without the manna; to think that God could not either! Do not talk as if it were only you that cared about the manna — God does. He had the golden pot of manna laid up before Him, to show His delight in it; and He gives us to feed on that hidden manna.
I have tasted God's delight in Christ, I know He is precious to God, and I too can say, "Precious Jesus!" If anyone asks, "Why do you say Precious Jesus?" I answer, "Can you say it?" If you can, you will know what God thinks of Him. You and God will be of one mind. And if you get the taste of it here, what will it be when you get home? There it will not be the manna hidden in the golden pot, but the open display of God and the Lamb; God leading us inside the glory. Not like sunshine down here, bright one moment, and a storm coming on the next, but the fixed calm shining of the glory for ever.
Not only will all of you, as overcomers, eat of the hidden manna, but each is to receive a new name, a name that none will know but the one who receives it: a secret between Him that gives it and yourself.
Would you not like to know that there is something individual in Christ's heart connected with you? You might have all glory, but a heart that loves Christ would rather have something particular giving it the taste of His love individually. You will find some one with perhaps nothing but a broken text, full of the taste of Christ's love. I had rather be an old woman hardly able to read, who tastes thus the love of Christ, than be a person of the greatest knowledge without tasting it.
Ought it not to be something precious to us that we are called Christians, that the name of the anointed Man should have descended to us?
In the Lord's people it is to be the positive, not merely the negative; not gathering up things, but throwing them off; getting the heart fitted to feed on Christ, and the feet free to walk with Christ.
It is up there above whence power comes that pushes us right off the world's platform, keeping us occupied with and knowing a great deal more about heaven than about earth: walking in Nazariteship and saying, "Blessed Lord, the only thing I have to do is to live to thee and to die to thee." Only as we do this are we imitators of Christ's life. A certain joy this gives, which nothing can take away, able then to rejoice alway, come what may; saying "Christ is mine, and if He laid out His life for me, I want to lay out mine for Him, that whether I live or die, He may be magnified."
Wonderful is the thought of God being so occupied with me as to bring me into desires after spiritual things; and when I cannot tell what it is I want, He says, "I know it and will give it you." It brings out the weakness of the vessel. I learn the poverty of nature, but somehow I find certain desires in my heart that are dear to the heart of God, and He understands all about these desires, and I am brought into the consciousness that that which is working in me connects me with Christ and with God. I am sure that the Spirit of Christ is in my heart, and sure that He is in heaven for me; but I am brought into consciousness of the weakness of the vessel, realizing by this weakness the strength made perfect in it.
Evil in us cannot hinder God's love. It will flow in and so fill your soul that you will have no room in yourself to be occupied with self. Is it not more blessed to think of the flow of that love than of your own shortcomings? Not that it will cover sin; if sin be allowed, it brings in discipline, but the soul owns it as all right. If anything of self is shown out, He will not pass it by. The believer is one whom He means to be a channel for the eternal life to flow in, and He will not spare discipline for that which would hinder it. His whole heart is set upon you, and He cannot pass by a single thing.
"There is no fear in love, but perfect love casteth out fear, because fear hath torment." But there is a godly fear, which nips in the bud many an evil thing; a fear which, if a saint were saying "I should like to do this or that," would make him feel "but the eye of God will be looking at me, and I shall give it up."
What part have I to play in connection with redemption? None but implicit subjection; forced to repudiate everything connected with self, and receive blessing of God's providing.
The want of a distinct apprehension of the difference between the flesh and the Spirit, keeps people in a very low state. They may be safe for eternity, and yet may grieve and quench the Spirit. If you have got salvation but have Jewish notions of a Jewish walk, you will be incessantly grieving the Spirit, accrediting something in your walk which God wants to strip off. God cannot accredit Demas's love of present things. He cannot accredit anything of the flesh in Christians. If the Spirit of Christ is in me, all that is of myself must be judged.
In a cup of water, how could you displace the water? By putting something heavier into the cup. If you have a heart full of lusts and vanities, how are, you to give them all up? By the precious gold of God poured into the vessel — all there will be displaced by it.
Do not talk of what you have given up, if God has given you Christ. Can you compare anything with Him? Are they not unsearchable riches you have in Him? Are you not obliged to say "Father, thou only canst know what that gift of thine is — thou knowest about His cross and glory." Oh, what heart can conceive what it will be to look in that face! What will you say then of the beauty of Christ! Oh, when one thinks of what that anointed One is personally! Who shall read the fulness of the Godhead in Him, and not feel like a little child looking at the Father who gave Him, and feeling "He knows all about Him," and there the heart rests.
Evangelists say, "Can the gospel suit a person who does not see that he is a sinner?" It suited me! I found by it that God had given Christ, and that Christ, as a living Man — God manifest in flesh — with all human affections, occupied in heaven with me, was revealed to my heart. The first effect was to bring out a flow of affections towards Him; the rest came afterwards, and I had to learn all my sinnership. But my heart was caught by the beauty of that Christ. I have not got Him yet, but God has got Him for me. Rays of light shine down from His face, but I shall not see Him as He is, till He comes to take me up. I can raise my voice and join the saints in songs of praise till I see Him face to face, and am glorified together with Him.
Where love is in activity in the heart, action precedes thought. The Father is on the prodigal's neck, and the reason is given afterward. Love leads the heart captive. The Father's eye crosses an object, and His heart and mind single it out at once. "There is my prodigal son."
So in John at Patmos. The Spirit knew how great the tie was between Christ and John, and gives an impulse to his heart's affections, so that it all bursts out in a moment. Christ stands before him — there He is! and John breaks forth "Unto him that loved us … be glory and dominion, for ever and ever." Christ, in certain ways, had told of heights of love in the divine character, and of depths of misery in the objects of this love. He had let all this height and depth into the heart of poor John, and John singles Him out (Rev. 1:4-5), and his heart is instantly put into the position of worship: "To him be glory and dominion, for ever and ever, Amen."
Christ Himself is that which feeds our hearts, and His love so realized that it becomes the one object of our hearts to love Him.
The heart of Christ is with us in the very least thing that is trying us, but all is to be received at the hand of the Father, and discipline shows us what that hand is in the correction of evil as we pass on.
Until our heart gets broken, and we see the folly of our own wisdom, we do not care for the sympathy of Christ. When we find wave upon wave, sorrow upon sorrow, then our hearts look out for some stay. It is a horrid discovery we have to make of the slowness there is about us to take our place under the yoke with Christ. He lets all things roll in upon us, and our souls cannot get away. He touches us to the very quick, because He must teach us the lesson we have to learn.
Ah, the secret of a disciple's quietness under trial, is the knowing that things do not happen by chance. If we see them in the light of God, we have rest immediately; not only rest in the future, but rest for today. Seeing things in the light, and under the power of the hand of God, makes all the difference as things roll in upon you. My walk may be inconsistent and unsteady, I may need deep humiliation, and have loss and very dearly bought experience, in order to be able to say that I see the Father's hand present in everything.
One of the most important things to get a start onwards. If the start has been made, is there in us all a going on to God? He had no such thought as to give truth for the imagination to play with. He wants to feed our hearts, that we may grow; and if we do not on we shall find His hand in discipline. Oh, what a place our God has set us in! going before us as the Provider, giving blessing, and never refusing help. We shall find that nothing is right until seen in the light of Christ, and in connection with all that is given to poor sinners by that One who is the Servant of blessing to all and who has the keys of everything.
It does not matter what it is if you have not got the thing in the light of the personal affections of the Lord Jesus Christ, you will not form a correct judgment about it. The experience John had of the Lord's dealings at Patmos, is that of His people now. Christ's love did not come with greater freshness to John's heart than it does to our own. It was not because John was an apostle that there was a greater echo in the Lord's heart towards him than there is towards any poor saint on earth now. Are you walking in the light of the affections of that Lord Jesus who loved you and washed you from your sins in His own blood? Is that name of Jesus causing a vibration in your heart as you walk along the wilderness? And in service to the Lord, does that glory of His for ever break on your soul with the sense of full blessing and joy in the One who was dead and is alive at God's right hand? And if it brings the sense of your own weakness — oh, is He your Upraiser, ever ready to put His hand on every poor servant who has fallen down? Oh! for our hearts to be more fixed on Him — more bound to that blessed One!
We were chosen in Christ before the foundations of the world, and we shall be in Him when the heavens and earth have passed away. What can touch this eternal union? And "the glory which thou gavest me, I have given them, that they may be one even as we are one."
It is one thing for the living water to descend from Christ into the heart, and another thing how — when it has descended — it moves the heart to worship. All power of worship in the soul, is the result of the waters flowing into it, and their flowing back again to God.
Can you draw near to the Lord, saying, "Nothing can satisfy me save coming before thee, and speaking of thy glory, standing as a testimony of thy love in the world, to tell of thy glory and to praise thee?"
In Genesis 3:14-15, we see the commencement on God's part, of His purpose to carry on a conflict with the serpent, and the firm purpose expressed, that Satan should be worsted. Satan had got this man and woman down, God comes and takes the matter up against Satan, "Because thou hast done this thing, thou art cursed — the seed of the woman shall bruise thy head." That was the beginning of the conflict which has not ceased up to the present time. No one can escape it. Believers are to be delivered by the Seed of the woman, but cannot get out of conflict as long as they are down here.
The serpent's head shall be bruised: that is a truth which stands, and acts on my soul, giving strength. Suppose a man in a scene with Satan on the one hand and the Seed of the woman on the other. If anyone said to him, "Call on the name of the Lord Jesus and thou shalt be saved, it might give him joy, but his position would be just the same, he would still be on the ground of conflict. I want not only the consciousness that I am saved, but that I am to get deliverance from this evil world, because God is on my side where the conflict is going on. Can you not take delight in the good news that the earth is to be delivered from Satan, the liar and murderer? Do you find no joy in God's having declared that He will overpower that wicked one? It is good news, I can rejoice and see beauty in the thought of God destroying the destroyer. I see the glory of Christ in it. I see a beauty in the thought of there being no spring of power against Satan, save in God, and that I can calculate upon God's coming in: Satan did not.
What discoveries were made to the early Christians of the depths, the immeasurable, unfathomable, depths of evil within! What can give any heart simple rest, in such an experience? Nothing but the thought of God's taking up the evil in conflict with Satan, declaring that He would provide One to bruise his head. If I have got firm hold of that, whatever be the discovery of evil I make in myself, I shall not be daunted. I find such depths of evil, all sorts of evil, in my heart, that I cannot fathom it. It requires the power of Jehovah Himself to sound and measure it. I must have been daunted, had He not put forth that word. I can have rest from all that the power of darkness can do, because the Seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent's head. Who is the Seed of the woman? Only One, born of a virgin — only One, the Son in the bosom of the Father before He was the seed of the woman.
It is a very solemn thing to feel that one is in the place where this conflict is going on between God and Satan; and one cannot get off the scene of conflict, but how blessed is the knowledge that God is for us in it!
When I think of the walk of Christians from the day of Pentecost to the present time, what can I say of it as corresponding with that which is given? And why is not that taken away? Why is there the constant putting forth of it in the leading on and restoring of the soul? Why? It is only mercy. If I cast my eye forward and think of what is to come, and have a thought of those who are absent from the body and that Christ will raise those bodies to fashion them like His own, what can I say, save that it is "Jesus Christ the same yesterday, today, and for ever?" The self-same grace displayed' by God in the gift of His Son, which we shall taste all through the wilderness — just the same taste now as when first converted, always the same in different circumstances, the same when we get home. All the glories of Christ are only the development of the grace of Him who died upon the cross. All glory is a part and parcel of that display of it upon the cross.
God tells us that the Son of His love has a glory yet to come, and He shall not be robbed of it, that is, the presenting many sons to glory.
There were two parts of the world, there was Egypt with everything to minister to the flesh, and there was the wilderness; the latter equally expressing the power of Satan, but a place in which nothing can harm me if I am there with the cross, if I am walking with the heaven-side of the cross. It is a wilderness, the whole place is marred and spoilt to me, because I have to walk as Christ did. He never had a home down here. He could turn aside for a while with a little company of His own, but it was a wilderness to Him, it did not bear the stamp of His Father's heart.
One can look on the wilderness as the place formed by God for the display of Himself; Christ being hid in God.
When we know that it is God who works in us to will and to do of His good pleasure, ought there not to be fear and trembling, and a solemn feeling — not on the ground of what we are, but of what God is doing in us? If He has taken me up for Christ, and is blessing me and working in me, to make me like Christ, there ought to be a very practical feeling in my soul as to walk.
The life of a believer is inseparable from the person of our Lord Jesus Christ. Among all the glories and marvels of that blessed One, there is nothing more precious than that He is the life-giver, and is Himself the life. If you have not got Christ as your life-giver, you have not the rest and peace which are inseparable from that life. The life so given bears the impress of Him. The living water in the heart of a poor sinner bubbles up to the spring from whence it came. Who can let go his hold of the things that are clamouring in our hearts down here? Who can rise above it all as a secondary thing but the one who knows Christ as a life-giver?
"Sonship" supposes none but children, and nothing standing between the Father and us.
Do not tell me of the wonders of creation, I will tell you of something surpassingly wonderful: God made Him who knew no sin, to be sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. Can there be any wonder like that? And because of it a poor creature like me made able to lift up head in His glory, able to worship there. Wonder cannot be separated from worship. Adoration and wonder linked together.
There is something to move the whole soul with wonder and delight, to think that we have such a God! One whose love led Him to give His Son that we poor ruined sinners might be brought to Himself.
Oh! do not let the blessing given to you be uncultivated blessing!
If we turn to the world at its best, all is vanity of vanities — but there is a power enabling us to pass through it — a golden chain hanging down from heaven, which we have laid hold of.
We must either be subject to one who would like to tear everything to pieces, or to One who, delights to bless. Every man living is either in one place or the other, either nothing but a football of Satan's, or a poor withered flower picked up to be worn by Christ in His infinite grace.
When in prison, Paul was weighing everything to see what would be most to the glory of Christ.
Our light affliction which is but for a moment worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. Oh what afflictions Paul took pleasure in! What was the secret? "While we look not at the things which are seen but at the things which are not seen." Our connection is with unseen things: a risen Christ, in glory filling the eye, the mind continually weighing the things of the Sanctuary above, with the things of time and sense down here, the believer can turn and trample on them, and combat all of the flesh and the devil, that would take the mind off to things seen.
That one thought, asking in everything, "What will be for Christ's glory?" is impossible to us if the question of our salvation be not settled. How can I be thinking what is for Christ's glory if I am pondering as to whether He has perfectly saved me? Job's heart was not happy in God, and all that came upon him tore his heart to pieces. Paul, was happy in Him, and let all outward things go on as they might, the inward joy in God was not disturbed; nothing took him by surprise.
Take your heart full of cares, and get into the presence of the God of peace in heaven, what will be the effect? Will they remain in you there? What are they? Only outside things connected with self. Can you find one sorrow of one individual believer from Abel downwards, of which you could say that sorrow was not in connection with the God of peace? Not that He is the sender of sorrow, but the God of peace, sitting in heaven and causing everything to work together for good to us, taking flesh into the account, sweeping the very ground of the heart, taking strength from the strong, causing pulsation to cease. But is anything terrifying when we get into His presence? No all is peace in the presence of the God who counts the hairs of our head.
"In everything give thanks." Is there a lust or a single thing in me that I would try to hide from God? No: I would like His knife to cut, to root up every evil, so that I may bear more fruit.
How apt we are to limit thanksgiving to things that we can understand to be good, but we have to give thanks for all things. If we are within the veil and living there, we shall know what it is to give thanks for all that is most contrary to what we should naturally choose. Are there any who have one thing they cannot give thanks for? Whatever that particular thing may be, they have not got into the light of God's presence. If they had they would know what cause they had to thank God for that very thing, as for all else.
There was a peculiarity of sorrow in that feeling of Paul's when he said, "Not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God." He did not come behind any, either in service or in suffering for Christ, but ah! he could not forgive himself that, before grace came, he had persecuted the church. When he had learnt to see God's thought of marvellous wisdom about the church, the heavenly bride, and to see its beauty as the expression of God's thought how could he forgive himself, or ever get rid of the recollection that he had been a persecutor of it? "This beautiful thing, this church, the body of Christ, and I, miserable thing, in ignorance of God's bright glorious luminous thought, I, like a very blood-hound of Satan, would have hunted it down in the hope of utterly crushing it." His soul was bowed down so low, he had got his face thoroughly in the dust, with the sense of his own unworthiness and nothingness, and of God being everything. If any looked at him, he said, "Do not look at me, I am less than the least of all saints, not meet to be called an apostle; and am I the man picked out to make known the mystery? I know that I belong to the body of Christ, but I do not know where to put myself so as to meet my thought of self — I would go down lower than all."
How all that is in Christ just came out to suit such a one as that poor thing at the well of Samaria! How came He to be there when she came? How came He to be on earth? Why did He come out of heaven at all? There is no other answer save the father's in regard to the prodigal: "It was meet and right," etc. I cannot ask why God should show mercy — He declares, "I will have mercy on whom I will." Blessed be His name He has a character of His own, and He will show it forth in having mercy on poor sinners. How? Ah, by their being justified by the Son of His love! If a builder, there must be a foundation-stone. His own Son must come off the throne, out of glory, if poor sinners are to go up into it: and oh! the willingness of that Son!
"I have meat to eat that ye know not of." In His soul there was a deep need that went far beyond the need of the body, and He had been meeting that need of His soul, while the disciples were looking after bits of bread for the body. He hungered and thirsted till the work His Father had sent Him to do was done thoroughly. And ah! blessed Lord! because Thy Father is seeking worshippers, Thou canst turn any poor sinner into a worshipper as Thou didst that poor woman. When one thinks of that woman, Where is she now? absent from the body, present with the Lord, and when He comes forth, there will she be with Him, the possessor of eternal life, a monument from first to last of redeeming love, to the eternal praise of God.
When once the soul has bowed down before Christ, it finds there is such an infinite unsearchable fulness in Him. Do you not when you have to do with Him, find an open fountain from which flow thousands of rills of blessing in connection with Himself? It is all my salvation and all my strength to see that it is all in Himself. How are you sure that you will not break down? Because you have got something that is clean outside the range of the creature, it is God, and His Christ. Do you think they are competent to make you sure? If God has put His hand to it, it is the security the competency of God Himself.
Ah! has Christ ever touched the quick of your soul in solitude? Do you know the exquisite tenderness of His touch? He does not tear and lacerate. The necessities and trials of saints down here are created by God in order to show them what Christ is for them. If I have taken Him as Lord, I do not expect an easy way; God never meant us to have it as disciples. He takes us into a rough path, to show us what Christ is, and that in it His grace may be able to vent itself. There is a yearning in His heart up there to let this grace be displayed in a poor needy people down here — a longing that His strength should be made perfect in their weakness. Do you know for yourself the grace of that living Christ? Do you know what Christ has to do with you and you with Him? Do you know yourself as one of a flock that belongs to Him, that He is tending and guarding through the wilderness, and carrying on to glory to be for ever with Himself?
Do believers like the details of their lives to be spied out in the light? And how is it they come to be spied out? Because the Lord Jesus would have people in present association with Himself. He had an object in dying, to bring them into that association with Himself, and if I am not prepared for it, I am not prepared for Christ, as the risen head, to claim me as a part of His body at the present time. As a man is occupied with every one of his members, so Christ, the head, is occupied with every one of His; and if I do not want that occupation of Christ with me in everything, how shall I be able to say, "The love of Christ constrains me because He died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves but unto Him who died and rose again for them?" Who would like to say to Christ, "Well, sorrow in this world forced me to seek a Saviour, and now that I have found Thee as one who has saved me, I do not want to have any more to do with Thee?" Would it not be treason against the love that led Him down to my depths of woe, if I said it? But is it not, practically, so with many souls?
With Paul the love of Christ was not a constraint from fetters outside, as when he was bound to a soldier, but a constant hold of Christ on the heart, saying, "I am led captive by Christ; that love of His binds me like a fetter and makes me go as a captive whither He would." It was not Paul's love but Christ's.
"We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that every one may receive according to that he hath done." Everything will come out there! there can be no disguise it all in the pure bright light before the throne of the discernment of Christ, where all the full intelligence of His mind will beam out on His people. It is not the question of being saved, but of how we, as saved ones, have been walking. Is it strange, since it cost Christ so much to accomplish that sacrifice, that when He gets His people home, He should say, "Now let us look at their walk, no question as to personal acceptance, but let me see whether they have walked according to my Father's thoughts, who would have His sons and daughters walking as those who are separated unto Him by the blood of His Son; as those bought with such a price, did they walk worthy of it?"
I can by faith say of all that is in connection with the first Adam, "it is a thing ended." I can reckon myself to be dead, buried, and raised up, with Christ, because God reckons me to be so. The rock, Christ, was smitten in death, and afterwards life flowed down to us. The life of Christ in heaven is that which I am made a partaker of. And as to my walk down here, if I have His Spirit, is it to be different as to its results in me from what it was in Him? Are we walking down here as Christ walked? All the counsels of God let into His soul, the will of God His only thought and, as to everything belonging to the world, dead. To Him, death characterized the whole scene. Moral death was everywhere. Where the weak flesh of the disciples shrank, Christ let all roll in upon Him — morally dead to the whole thing. No one could pretend to be what Christ was, but we have to walk as He walked, as sons of God in the world, dead and risen with Christ. As to all our mind and motives, "like master, like servant."
Christ could look on the vilest sinner whose deeds are only worthy of hell, and all that sin might be blotted out entirely. Ah, but then there would be another thing — if His blood has blotted out my sin, I have to walk as the servant of such a master ought to walk. Ah! how infinitely short do we fall in our walk from that of the early christians. The death of Christ shut out the world from them; they were morally dead to it, being connected in spirit and ways with Christ above.
I ask you, who are sons and daughters of God, Can God look down on you, saying, "There are my sons and daughters passing through the world, showing forth the death of Christ, and walking in the power of what Christ is at my right hand, walking as a people blest in Him?"
There is never anything so sweet as trouble in which we have nothing but Christ. Is not Christ enough? Christ had nothing but the Father, was He enough?
Which is happiest, to be like water in a still place never moved, or to be poured from vessel to vessel, finding it all Christ, and Christ, and Christ? The Lord does not let the prospect of glory into the soul when any are settled on their lees, but when they are poured from vessel to vessel. He chooses the time of trial as a time to give the sweetest taste of His love. When in a time of difficulty, faith may break down, but Christ will not. He sees when the storm comes, and makes that the time to come to us, walking on the waters, and at His word the storm subsides in a moment.
If I have met a person in the street, and sorrow is mentioned, and I have said, "God has done that for blessing," a bright side has been seen directly, God's side of it.
In Eden, nothing that the hand of God could give, enabled man to taste His redeeming love; but in the paradise of God, the place of His joy, we find a place where all His redeemed people will be gathered in the full sense of it, and with nothing to remind them of the past; but it is not a place where man as a mere creature could find his joy. If we take the close of the book of Revelation, and compare the description there with Eden, we find God showing in every point the superiority of one over the other.
The thing I see most important to understand is that God has pitched a tabernacle of mercy in the heavens, so that a ruined creature can draw near and worship. There can be no thought of being in heaven without worship. I know who is in heaven, and I cannot be there without my heart melting with adoration and worship.
When God gives living water in the soul, all need in the soul has a perfect answer; and not only that, but the water springs up. It is not difficult to know whether one has such a fountain welling up in the soul, although not always walking in the power of it.
How blessed to find when under trial, or in weakness and temptation, a little stream rising up in connection with God which gives power to go on: to see this power in saints on a death-bed, enabling them to rise above all the misery of human anguish, giving thoughts of the Father's love and of joys above, by which thoughts of self are all broken down; and to see this stream rising with more and more power; it is something that comes without effort, springing up into eternal life. When saints walk onward with this stream in them rising up to eternal life, they do not thirst for anything by the way.
The believer should be able to say, "I have seen the glory of the Father revealed in the Son. Out of His fulness I have received this new nature, the Spirit of adoption, the earnest of the inheritance, the seal of the Spirit. God has let me into the light of His presence where all glory is playing round the Lord Jesus; and He has set me in the relationship of a son with Himself in that glory." That earth-rejected Christ, seated at His right hand, will say, "Behold me and the children given me of the Father!" The Father looks on Him as the Firstborn, and sees the church in Him, receiving grace for grace.
It is a searching thing to ask ourselves to what extent we have that singleness of eye which Paul had; and to what extent, with such singleness of eye, we are living the life of Christ, going straight on to one point, cost what it may. Could you and I bear the scrutiny of the Lord's eye as to this? Are our consciences at rest as to singleness of purpose to live Christ. It is an immense thing to say, "God is my exceeding great reward, and the life I live is to be spent to God, and I will set myself. to spend it to Him, cost what it may." It was just that which gave Paul his strength in service. Over and above acceptance through Christ in God, which was perfect, there was this life of Christ in him; and that was what he had to live up to, and blessedly could he say, "To me to live is Christ."
Oh, that there was that character of Nazariteship in us! Like Paul, could we say, "It is a little thing if you hear that my head is cut off, it is only that I shall go straight to the arms of Christ. If it is not cut off, I shall have another occasion to magnify Him down here?" His life being in Christ, he is sure that that life will always come out, no matter where.
Would that when any of us are ready to depart, we might have that blessed power to say, "The whole of my life has been spent for Christ, and the testimony of God!" Not to be with any of us as with Demas — loving this world, and turning back.
If Christ has given me life, He takes care of it and makes it shine forth, unless I grieve His Spirit. Is salvation merely taking up my cross and going through the wilderness? No. He who has taken me up and made me His, will bring me through it all; but till I see Him and have a glorified body, I have not got full salvation. Peter and Paul have it not yet. It is the being with Christ in the Father's house.
I have the knowledge that all the glory of God is in the face of Jesus Christ, and the rays of light that have shone into my soul are infinitely more precious than every other thing; but when I see Christ as He is, I shall be clothed upon like Him; I shall see Him with my eyes, hear Him with my ears; there will be no distance whatever between Him and me. Christ proposes to us to, stand in the Father's house in bodies of glory like unto His. You have His competency to be in heaven. You are a partaker of His nature. You could not be there save on that ground. If any fall asleep, they are present with Him. He enables me to say to the Father, "I have as true a light to come into thy presence as He who is on thy throne; for I come by and through and in Him who has given me the right and title without a thought of what I was.
Why do believers go so heavily through the wilderness, going through the sand, and their feet sinking so heavily down in it? It is because they do not see that their acceptance with God is as perfect as that of Christ; God seeing all the beauty of Christ upon them, and they will be presented by Christ to God, glorified with all His glory. I am on my road to glory, able to sing songs in the night.
If Christ has said that He means to bring us into the Father's house, He will be occupied about us the whole of the way, and will have us to know it too. If thinking of self, I shall not be able to sing songs in the night.
If we want to follow Christ, we must have fellowship with the sufferings of Christ, bearing the stigma as did Paul. If thinking of the flesh and of what belongs to the first Adam, it will be sorrow all the way; if of the second Adam, it will be joy all the way.
Philippians 3:21. We shall find when we see Christ, all the perfection of what He is. He cannot look into dead souls without giving them life. He cannot look on this body of humiliation without making it a body of glory. Your body carries in it all the seeds of corruption, and is all through life a dying body; and the more you think of Christ, the more conscious you are of the contrast between your body and that of Christ. Everything in ours to humble us, pain and weariness, and exercises of mind, all sorts of thoughts arising, and we have to put them down, but there they are. How sweet the thought that the body of glory is to be fashioned by Him, according to the mighty power whereby He subdues all things to Himself. There may be temper, or anything else, that we would not have had seen by any eye save His, but how blessed to know that He will subdue it all. He has only to speak the word, and all the beauty and magnificence of the glorified body will be given to each believer.
Whilst on earth, He means us to have the sorrows and trials of the wilderness. We may have to walk through a forest of difficulties, but we shall have Him with us. He meant us to be tried that we might learn His grace, and find in His love a blessed well-spring of joy all the way through. Blessed it is when we realize that Christ is with us! Is there any time when He is not so? No, but our poor foolish hearts get occupied with all sorts of things. Yet if there is one heart full of joy down here, it will be the heart of that one whose eye is on Christ, occupied only with Him.
"Rejoice in the Lord." You may say, "I cannot rejoice;" but if the Spirit of God gives a command, He gives power too in connection with it. Looking at exhortations as coming from the Lord, one finds help by bringing in the thought of His power with them. My hands may hang down, but if the command comes, "Now are you to rejoice in the Lord," I can begin rejoicing, and I find He gives strength for it.
One evil after another starts up in this heart of mine and I might well be discouraged and cast down; but the answer to all is, "Did not God give me to Christ before the foundation of the world?" A Peter might curse and swear, and deny Christ but "having loved his own, he loved them unto the end." He is up there in heaven as a Saviour God — as the One who can pour out peace and joy. I can say, "He is on the throne of God for me, He knows what a price He paid for me." But is it because He loves me that He leaves me down here as a sheep for Satan to drive and harass? Yes, because He will break down all that is not of Himself in my heart. But having loved His own, He loves to the end.
He cannot be in heaven without revealing to us now that He wants us there; wants us all around the throne. What would it be if, after all the travail of His soul, there were no saved ones there? What if He who sits upon the throne were to see all the seats around it vacant? What were we worth when Christ picked us up? What are we in self worth now? — Nothing at all. But we are united to Christ, and He never forgets His own, given Him by the Father before the foundation of the world. He has prepared their glory — not on the ground of their worth — but on the ground of what passed between Him and the Father, when we were chosen in Him before the foundation of the world.
A believer once asked me why anyone should find fault with him for wanting to be a rich man. I answered him by 1 Timothy 6:10. Adding "If you gather riches for yourself, awful sorrows will come;" and so they did. He lost wife and child, and had other things which touched him to the quick.
Would any like to be as Lot, settled down in Sodom? God burnt up the place, and drew him out of it; showing that He would not be a party to such a walk as that.
Do you ever feel that you ought to praise, and yet your heart is out of tune, and you cannot have any thought of what to say? Just repeat over what God has done for you; and that will be the best praise you can give. God has made manifest His power in the gift of His Son, and in the work He has accomplished. Ah, not only are we able now to give thanks for the marvellous way He has led and brought us through the wilderness; but soon, in bodies fit for His presence, we shall be able eternally to show forth His praise.
Nothing but redemption can bring to the heart of a poor sinner what God's character is as Love. God is God. Let Him have His own way; yes, let Him have it! There is nothing like it for His glory — nothing like it for our needs. He knew right well what He did in giving Christ. He came not only to save a people, but to have a saved people with Himself in glory.
We never rightly see the full measure of the blessing wherewith God has blessed us, unless we see that it all sprang up in His own mind, as the God rich in mercy. God always keeps the place of the God rich in mercy. There is no end to what He will give. He has given us His Son, and He will send Him a second time off the throne to take us up in bodies of glory, to show out in us the riches of His mercy.
God always acts as God. How utterly beyond all the thoughts of man, His having sent down His only-begotten Son to put away sin, because none but He could do it. Redemption through His blood only, and those who believe, marked off in a peculiar way before the foundation of the world.
When I think of the throne of God, and Christ there, the only One who has the right and title to be there, and when I say that God chose me in that Christ before the foundation of the world, and I am accepted in the Beloved, how could my own or any other human mind have ever formed any thought or intelligent idea of such a purpose in the mind of God!
If a spring has not been opened in a soul, a spring of living water from God's own Son, no waters can flow and there is no life in you.
If you were to put all the good works of every believer all together, do you suppose that would give a title to go on the cloud of glory with Christ into the Father's house? No; it is not their worthiness, but His, and He bestows it on His people, saying, "If you come to the Father in my name you will be heartily welcome." Why does God always smile upon me? Because He sees me in Christ, and loves me as He loves Christ. Are we really welcomed there? It is because we belong to such a Master; and as it is for no goodness of ours, the feeblest little one is as welcome as the oldest apostle, because of coming in the name of Christ.
Christians have not learnt the double bearing of death and resurrection in themselves, if they do not see that being dead with Christ is the entire putting away of the old man. As a believer I am a crucified, dead, and buried man, my old self put aside. God looks on me as identified with the life of Christ, and tells me all the things which this life has made mine — "blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ;" "one spirit with the Lord."
If you say, How can we stand fast? God will give you the power, just as surely as when He said, "Lazarus, come forth!" and His word gave life and the power of life, and Lazarus came forth.
God calls us to joy. Joy not sustained in the soul by anything of our own, but God having given His Son to bear all that He had against us, He would have us to joy and rejoice in Himself; and never can we get to the end of that joy. The want of joy in Christians comes from the want of practically understanding that its spring must be all found in Christ. Let Christ be your portion, and you cannot but joy and rejoice in Him. What! is all that God sees in Him, mine? Let nothing then come in to disturb me in the enjoyment of my portion. When a saint is really enjoying Christ, a thousand little things are quietly set aside: having food and raiment, he is therewith content. If my spirit is always occupied with the Lord as my portion, I shall be satisfied.
If the only thing I am looking for is the coming of the Lord, feeling how soon I shall be with Him, I shall feel that I have not time for a thousand things that might otherwise occupy me.
I never had my heart occupied with a living Christ in heaven, without finding that His love drew my affections after Him. I never grew careless without there being cold chills. If occupied with Him, you will not be thinking of yourself, your walk, your beauty, or anything except the love which draws your heart after Him.
I can give no reason why my heart was wrapped round Christ, save that the grace of God drew me to Him, and has kept me these forty years, because He loved me, and will love me unto the end. Peter cursed and swore, and denied the Lord, but the Lord had bound Peter to Himself, and He would keep him to the end.
To the disciples it was not only that the Lord was their shelter, but it was HIMSELF they loved.
I cannot have to do with Christ without having His life communicated to my soul. I have to do with the Son of man as a Life-giver. Where is eternal life? In the Son. Nothing in me can change the intrinsic value of what I have in Christ. Is there anything of nature in it? No. The waters of the well have no connection with the rock in which the well is dug. The spring is below, and if the waters flow out, no thanks to the rock. Christ fills the soul with living water, refreshing not the rocky nature but the new nature that we have in Him.
There is something very sweet in being able, as a saint of God, to recognize the entire stripping off of everything connected with the old nature, and so getting rest of heart, perfectly undisturbed. If I knew nothing but my own failure as a creature, I could not have that rest, but in the presence of God there is the One whose blood has cleansed me. The Quickener, who gave me eternal life has so connected me with Himself, that God sees me in Him.
How many look at death (believers, I mean) as something solemn, the thought of which is to be avoided; instead of being able to say with Paul, "To die is gain." True, death came from the entrance of sin, but, if it should overtake me, I shall be borne upon the crest of the wave, right, into the presence of the Lord, one leap into the bosom of Christ.
In the death of a believer, I only see the expression of the love of Christ opening the way to a place where the soul can be present with Himself.
Ought we not to be able to say of a believer, that the way he lives to God, delights the heart of Christ; and the way he lives to Christ, delights the heart of God?
There were some of whom the Apostle could say, "I remember without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ." I am sure that my eye is not so keen as was Paul's, I may entertain happy thoughts of those around, but should you be surprised if you heard me say of any individual, "Oh, that is a man or woman, in whom I see the work of faith, the labour of love, and the patience of hope?" Those three things Paul saw had wrought thoroughly in certain individuals, before men and in the sight of God. Does Christ see this in you, as He counts over His sheep individually? Does He look down and see your heart true to Himself in the presence of the Father? Does He see not only the work of faith and the labour of love, but the patience of hope? Is His coining known as that which you have to steady yourself by? If there are breakers ahead, are you able to say, "Ah, He is coming — I can endure, I can steady myself because He is coming?" Does He see love producing such fellowship with Himself that it moves you to work with all the energy of your heart? Is love an energetic thing constraining your working? Does He see it working because the light of God has shined in your heart and you are continually gathering from God, standing in communion with God?
The moment we are "in Christ" we should be laying hold of everything that is connected with faith, love, and hope.
What a joyous thing if I can say that my eye is on Christ, and that that Christ is the vessel in which I am hid in God, and in which all the fulness of God is to be poured into me. And if so, is it not a little thing to have to give up all little things to that Christ, to let all I do be in the light of His presence?
There is a difference between looking for Christ, and living in the light of His coming, as the point to look up to, referring everything to it. We are set between two things — the cross and the coming. Hope, when really in power in the heart, looks straight on, right up to that point. Our life should be given up to the Lord in the light of His coming. Oh, to do all, and to give up all, in the light of this coming Lord! What a blessed thing to the heart that loves Him! Oh that one might be found occupied and busied in doing everything as to this coming Lord!
What strange beings we are! professing to be occupied about the coming of Christ, and yet refusing to do things, or be occupied about things only in the light of His coming.
It is the question of the object of life — what is it that I am living to? That is a life of the Spirit where Christ is the only object. It signifies little who it may be, whether a Timothy or an elect lady — it just comes to the simple question, Are you living to Christ? A bed-ridden saint may live to Christ; another there may be whose object in life is the looking for the coming of Christ, and who is doing everything in reference to that.
"We look for a new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness." Ah! there will not be scenes there in which man in failure will meet the eye of God. It will be the Lord's earth then, no Serpent there, no temptation, but everything that meets the mind of God. Not man as a creature in Eden, but man where all in man meets the mind of God; the whole a scene becoming His Son. That One — both God and man — able to introduce God in everything. God thinks it meet that His Son should be in a place every part of which has the savour of redeeming love, that He should have His people there in glory with Himself.
When we come to the glory, it will not be the golden city, not what we are, but Christ Himself that will be the absorbing object of our hearts, the being with Him, and the being able to appreciate what He is, all the deluge of glory nothing, compared with being where He is fully and completely appreciated, and He being the alone object to each individual heart. Even when down here in humiliation, do not we see that directly He appeared on the scene, no other could stand, He the alone One to open His mouth, to be listened to; and as they failed to see Him as the One, the All, in the scene, so they failed to get blessing.
What are the people who are one with Christ? Ah! they have treasure in earthen vessels. Do not we know it? Do not our feet stick in the clay? Do not we know what is the burden of these bodies we are in? We do, and we ought to know it, and when the Lord comes He will say, "I claim that house, and He will make it fit for His own presence. But as it is now, it is a poor tumble-down thing. We ought to know the character of the vessel and of the treasure set forth in it. Up there in the glory Christ is thinking of poor vessels down here, to fill them with all His own moral glory. He can say, "When I went up, I sent down the Holy Ghost to make you one with myself; and now I can mingle all that I have with all that you are, not you to shine but I who am to shine in you."
Has the poverty of the creature been tasted, so that my only resource is the knowledge of having got the heart of the living Christ in heaven, who wants to use me as a vessel down here in which to pour forth His grace, and perfect His strength in my weakness?
Even as a man caught up into glory, the old "I" of Paul was there. I do not know anything more humbling to the soul than this specimen of what was the effect of the vision of glory on Paul, or anything more blessed than the specimen it gives of the grace of the Lord in dealing with Paul about it.
All the glory he was in belonged to another and not to himself at all; but the I of Paul's old nature could turn even that into corruption. Paul prays three times, and gets no answer till the third time, and then it is a point-blank refusal. Have you ever considered what this must have been to Paul? Like a child lifting up the foot to step a little higher, saying, "Now I know I shall get it." So he did, but what was it? "My grace is sufficient for thee, for my strength is made perfect in weakness." Christ not speaking of Paul's ability to meet the trial, but of His own heart with him in it, to brighten everything, saying, "You want the removal of the thorn, but I shall leave it, because it will be something to make you lean on my arm. Do not you know that I went to the cross and went into the glory, for you? and I am coming again to take you there; but whilst you are down in the wilderness, I must be continually giving you something to guide and help you; my grace, my strength, are for you. I want you to see what a living grace mine is which you have to rest your heart upon. I shall leave the thorn just to make you feel what you have got in. me, you will learn it as did poor Jacob every time the shrunken sinew told him that he was lame."
When the waves were let roll in on Paul, he not only found himself to be a broken thing, but he found out that a broken thing was one which the Lord could get glory from. "My grace — my strength." There is a blending here of two things very sweet to one's heart, the blending of the sympathy of Christ and the thought of the Father getting glory for Christ out of poor broken things down here. And that thought changes all, to a resurrection man down here.
When God's searching eye comes into everything connected with me, how shall I have perfect rest under it? Ah! it is a solemn thing, God going through all our thoughts and affections with the ray of perfect light, and yet to be in perfect rest. "Yes, my God, I have perfect rest in Thy presence, and why? Because the Christ in whom Thou hast brought me to rest, is the One in whom Thou restest with perfect delight, and I have perfect rest in Him."
If the Lord came and looked into my soul tonight, seeing everything that starts up there as evil, if I had not Christ dwelling there by faith, I must cry out, "Woe is me!" If I have the eye of God on me discovering all these evil things, and could only think it will not be just in Him to let it all pass (which I should if Christ were not in my heart by faith) I should give up all in despair, and come to the conclusion that I never had part nor lot in Him.
There is in the very centre of the throne of God a Lamb slain. Can you say, "That Lamb knows me and I know Him, He has been the channel of communication between the Father and me; and all the Father's secrets are opened out to the people connected with Him through that slain Lamb."
I remember the time when I thought nothing of Him, now, if I think of dying, my soul is as quiet as possible, because I have only to think of that Lamb up there, slain for me. Oh! what a blessed comfort to a poor sinner to be where he can have the same thoughts that God has, that there is none worthy save that One, and that His rest is in that One who really met God's mind. If I were to ask you about rest, could you say that you rest in nothing save Him? It will not prevent failure coming out, but that will not touch my rest. The need of rest is never so much realized as when God is humbling us, turning over everything that is inconsistent in us with life in Christ. Ah! it is a very solemn hour when God is pulling to pieces and breaking down in us what is not of Christ; but never does rest in Him come out so blessedly as then, so that we do not want to have a single thing covered over, nor to have a patched garment. No! I want nothing save for the Holy Ghost to discover it all in the light of God's presence where the Lamb is; and there is my rest before God.
What would a mind in nature do in a place where the whole mind must be occupied with Christ and nothing else? As to all you come in contact with now, could you say, "I have something to tell about the Lamb?" I remember there was once space in my mind for everything save the Lord Jesus Christ.
Can I bring anything into God's presence where none but Christ is precious? Will my work shine there? No, none but Christ can shine there.
There is no saint who does not know that whether he has to live forty years or three days, he is as much dependent on the present grace of God for the three days as for the forty years. Grace must be a fresh thing flowing to me today from God; not as the humanly religious man, who moves on and plans his own way.
You get up in the morning to go forth as sheep crossing the wilderness, doing there for Christ whatever there may be to be done. Do not let your shortcomings be unjudged, but remember the worthiness of the Lamb. I may put my head on my pillow at night, saying, "I have done nought today for Christ," but thinking, "If Christ had told me He had put power in the vessel to enable me to do anything, I should have done it." Ah, if I cannot recognize the fulness of the everlasting springs in Christ, it will always be, "My leanness, my leanness" — always occupied with the empty vessel, and not with Christ pouring into the cup.
If looking away from Christ, we directly find that we have lost the power which forms the heart to live unto Him down here. We get it while we look at Him and it gives at the same time the deepest humiliation. If there is one thing that shows the power of God acting in the soul, it is the experience one has when in communion with Christ, of how one loathes everything in oneself, whilst occupied with Him, there is the deepest self-loathing, and the deepest, calmest, rest of soul before God.
"And when He had taken the book, the four living creatures and the four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints." (Rev. 4:8.) That latter clause is very peculiar as connected with the grace of God in His own proper eternity. There are things His people suffer from, and that He never forgets. All their prayers are treasured up before God — their tears are put in His bottle and treasured up. What! the sorrow I have forgotten, has God put that down? Is that one of the things that will shine? He can use all for His glory, but can the prayers and groans of a saint be kept and have a special place, be an odour of a sweet savour to God? The sinner does not know this, but a poor broken one can say, "Not only does God remember my prayer, but He puts it by on His own throne, like the pot of manna which He liked to be laid up, to be remembered as a trophy of the way He carried His people through the wilderness." And so will their prayers tell there what their special need of His presence was here. "Golden vials." Gold marks the divine character of that by which they are kept; the odour, a fragrant incense going up; the fragrance ever the same. Is that said of the prayers of saints? Yes, not one of them lost. The Lord Jesus knew them all, they were ever before God.
Are you living in the power of life in Christ? One has heard of many who have lived long in a damp prison, and when brought out into sunshine, have found themselves not able to walk, they could not go through the varied functions of life. You want more than the mere pulsation of life — you want the power of life, life not only to make a start, but to, press on. Christ not only gave me life, but I have to. show the power of it — to show what the persons are who have that life. I have to walk with feet unsoiled, where there is a great deal to soil them, and by every act to develop the great fact of my life being a life hid with Christ in God.
Would it not be very blessed if you who are in Christ walked so as to be in practical Nazariteship with Christ? Not only going forward because He did, but going with Him as an overcomer — Satan, doing all he can to hinder. Ah, but if you go with Christ, Satan himself becomes a minister of joy to your souls, while you can say, "Ah, my Master was down here as an overcomer, and I have got Him with me to make good my being an overcomer too." Satan cannot stand against this, and it gives a sweetness to being an overcomer, that to my own soul surpasses everything. It is Satan and the world that have to be overcome. What a blessed company there was of Jerusalem overcomers, what a still more brilliant band in Ephesus! In the world a band of soldiers have often been called the Invincibles. Overcomers are just that, in the thought of the Lord who gives them that power of victory, because of our being connected with Him in whom we believe, and of our being in a position where God is not ashamed to say of us "There are my overcomers."
We find no scene anywhere in which the personal glory of the Lord Jesus shines out so much as on the cross, when the hottest furnace of the wrath of God for sin came on Him. Was there any murmuring from that perfect Son of His love? Oh, no! When He came to the cross He was the perfect Servant, and in that hour of suffering, a poor thief could touch His heart. And another thing mark in Him: when a believer seems to get no more the bright light he used to have, he says, "I cannot praise without the light;" but this perfect One, when without one ray of light, could vindicate God. You will find that the power to praise is given by God, and praise can never flow save as He gives power; but in this One was the eternal spring whence it flows; for He was God, and the divine glory shines out there. I do think that Christians of the present day have but few thoughts of all the divine glory connected with the cross. But when we reach the glory, in the view of all that wide-spread glory as we shall behold it in all its parts, its heights and depths, there will be the understanding of its connection with Him who hung upon the cross, and there opened our way into that glory.
Is the cross between you and the world? What does the cross say to your soul about your connection with the world? What are the armorial bearings of the world? Not the cross of Christ, and when we see that the world is running on, doing everything to magnify man, what are we to be doing? Ah, glorying in the cross, we have to, bear the cross, and to follow Him who died on it.
Can I say that I have known that cross of Christ, not only as to what Christ did for me in bearing my sins on it, but that It have seen my connection through that cross with the glory, and am separated to God by the power of it?
You could not say that the Father was the God of the Lord Jesus Christ before the incarnation.
When I view the eternal Son as Man, I get the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, not as with us, sons by adoption, but the Father's only-begotten Son. I was brought into the family by adoption before time was.
My fellowship with the Father is my taste of the delight He has in the Only-begotten.
That Son came into the world as the perfect presentation of all that the Father is; and the Son is presented to me, and all the fulness of God is poured into my heart through Him.
The Father would not allow anything to come into existence but in some way to be associated with the Son of His love. Everything gets its mould from the Father's thought about the Son — everything ran into it, like a pattern.
The moral glory — the beauty of the ways of God — is what I understand "the riches of His glory" to be. He finds His whole delight in the Son of His love, and you are to bear the stamp of, and to have your heart full of, that Son — seeing the riches of His glory now in the exquisite beauty of a Father with such a Son, and of His having brought children into such a place.
In "the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints," we look forward and see the heavens as they will be in the millennium; see not only one heavenly Man there, but heaven filled with heavenly men; and when the Lord takes possession of the heavens, He has them all as His "staff" around Him. The time is coming when God will use the heavenly saints as His dwelling-place, and possess the heavens.
If I turn my mind to that with which Ephesians 3 closes; that is, the breadth and length, and depth and height of love in connection with the infinitude of the divine Being, my mind cannot grasp it; but when I see the central object is Christ — Christ loving me — love presented in a human heart, and He Himself mine; He in the very infinitude of God, able as a Man there to fill me with all the fulness of God, I can lay hold of it; and it is the only way a creature could have to do with the divine infinitude. I am brought by the Father to the Lord Jesus Christ, blessed in Him, and the love in His heart made to bear on my heart. He has a people down here, and He is filling them with all the divine infinitude, "all the fulness of God." How He has to empty me, to get my heart filled with Himself! Wondrous! to be able to look up there and say, "There is He, my eternal Lover." I cannot grasp the infinitude of God, but I can say, "He does love me." There is peculiar sweetness in being able to say, "Our Lord." He of whom God says, "That is my only-begotten Son;" He, the One in whom dwells all the fulness of the Godhead; and to think that He can love a poor thing like me, and that I can love Him!
A sheep of the slaughter down here perhaps, but Christ my portion up there; and He saying, "I am the only-begotten Son of the Father; I who have been in His bosom from all eternity, know that Father's heart of love, and the infinite fulness of it, and I want you to have the full idea of the blessedness of believing in my name, because His heart's delight is to fill you up with blessings in me." All the people who believe in Jesus can look up and feel the affections of the Father flowing through the bosom of Christ to them.
For forty-two years His hand has moulded me out, for forty-two years, in all the struggles and pressure down here, the thought of that Man up there on the throne as my accepted sacrifice, has brought me through, and kept me up, and made me resolve each day to thread my life on that truth of substitution up there. If God made Him to be the Sin-bearer for me, the whole question is settled. I am become the righteousness of God in Him.
Christians say, "I feel that my works will not bear the being spread out in the light." Ah, but they will, because God has taken you up for the glory of His Son; and everything in you, and everything you do, from the greatest to the least, is continually coming out in the light before Him. Your heavenly Father will not take His eye off you for a moment, and all through your course you have been under His eye; and blessed that it is so, in order that the walk of His children may be becoming the place they are in, and that their consciences may be always brought before Him.
One, who had been, a few days before her death, full of peace, told me that for days the Lord seemed to pass a review before her, the whole course of her life since she had known Christ — what she had been as a wife and a mother, and how in everything she had failed; the light showing it out. "Why," she said, "is He at such a time showing me where my life has been inconsistent?" Ah, but she could look at it all with Him who had borne her judgment, and she had to reckon herself dead because of sin, and alive because of righteousness.
I am sure that saints are never established in peace, until all has been seen in the light and judged there; so as ever to be in fellowship with God's Son — able to say, "To me to live is Christ."