"Do ye now believe?"

John 16.

E. L. Bevir.

Christian Friend vol. 17, 1890, p. 258.

It has often been remarked, that the disciples in this passage were wrong in saying that they had understood the Lord's words, and that "they were sure," etc. (v. 30.) The difference between their state before and after the coming of the Holy Ghost has been also fully insisted upon. Bearing this in mind, it may be useful to meditate, for a few moments, on the deep lesson conveyed in the blessed Lord's words at the end of this chapter. (John 16.) He was speaking to eleven persons who had believed that He had come forth from God, had seen, heard, and loved Him (v. 27); and this fact constituted the grand difference between them and the world who (chap. 15:22-25) had seen, heard, and hated both Him and the Father. They (the eleven to whom He was speaking) had tastes widely different from those of the world; they had a new nature. Love and hate are two extremes.

But the point I wish to dwell upon is this, that the true knowledge of the Son's deity, and of His coming forth from the Father, and going to the Father, is a divine gift. It will be said that this is nothing new. Granted; but it is difficult to admit that all is of God, and not allow the mind to work - to be subject to divine action. The disciples had believed that Jesus had come forth from God. In receiving Him, they had received infinitely more than they had supposed, and this reception was not of the natural man. Then the Lord says (v. 28) that He had come forth, not merely from God, but from the Father into the world; and that now He is about to leave the world to go to the Father. This the disciples understood not.

It has been often remarked that the only begotten Son did not leave the Father's bosom "who is in the bosom of the Father"); but He came forth from the Father, and in the exercise of divine and infinite power laid aside the majesty of the glory to appear in this world at Bethlehem. What was the distance between that glory and Bethlehem? Oh, subject infinitely beyond us, and yet open to our hearts for eternity! And now, rejected by the world, He was going to the Father. It is at this wonderful point that the disciples show the ignorance that they were so disposed at all times to display. (vv. 29, 30.) "Thou speakest openly … now we are sure that thou knowest all things." They were treading on dangerous ground in saying, "We are sure." The only infallible Person present in this world at the present time is the Holy Ghost. Others have pretended to infallibility, and miserably failed; a Christian as subject to the Spirit and the revealed Word may say "we know," but no one else. The eleven had not yet received the Holy Ghost, and show by their expression, "we believe that Thou art come forth from God," that they had understood nothing of what the Lord had said of having come forth from the Father.

Our blessed Lord's answer is worthy of all remark. He does not allude to their pretended knowledge, but says, "Do ye now believe?" The divine perception by faith of His Person as Son of the Father was wanting. They had believed sincerely in Him as come forth from God, but faith in the Son, by whom the world is overcome, was unknown to them with all their boasting. Their tastes, we have noticed, were widely different from those of the world, but on that very night it would be shown (v. 32) that they knew not, by faith, the glory and divine Sonship of the One they loved, and the world should overcome them. "Do ye now believe?" They should be scattered, and every one go to his own house, and leave Jesus alone. The scattering and going to one's own house should display all their weakness and selfishness; no human power could keep them together, and then each one thought of his own personal safety; the Lord abandoned, though not alone. So much for man's wisdom and pretension!

In "that day" all should be changed.

We, beloved brethren, have received the Holy Ghost, and (1 John 5:4-5) divinely given faith in the Son of God, who has overcome the world. Are we, in practice and in truth, walking so that our peace is in Him? I mean the peace of a heart truly dependent upon Him in the midst of tribulation. (v. 33.) We are living in days when man's knowledge is at a premium, Laodicea has grown rich, and even faith is looked upon as a kind of human accomplishment. Do we believe, dear brethren, in the Son of God? Victory over the world is attached to this true faith; all else must end in utter confusion. E. L. B.