Readings at Croydon. No. 1.

John 20:1-20.

The subject before us is the resurrection, and I think it would be a help to open out the subject, if we divided it into sections.

1. What the resurrection is to God;

2. what the resurrection is to the Lord Jesus Himself;

3. what it is from God to man, to the sinner;

4. what it is for the sinner turned to God;

5. what it is to the power of evil;

6. what it is to all things.

We will take them in order, but our subject is, the resurrection.

The first is, what the resurrection is to God. It is very interesting for us to understand what it is to God, because it has changed everything. Perhaps there is no subject that we are more practically unacquainted with than the consequences of the resurrection. Nothing can be simpler when you come to look at it. Up to the resurrection God was dealing with man as he was; it was from man to God. Now, from the resurrection, God has got a Man to His own satisfaction. That Man is raised from the dead by the glory of the Father; and now God is acting downward from Him to man.

You said, I think, that before the resurrection God was acting with man according to what man was.

Yes, but now He has a Man to His pleasure. He was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father. God is working downward now, from that Man. He is not working from man upward.

Do I understand that Christ in resurrection is the beginning of the creation of God?

Exactly. It is the first day of the week. In the Old Testament the seventh day was the day of rest; now it is the first day. The first great thing (and it will have a great effect upon every soul that really understands it) is, what the resurrection is to God.

Would you just develop it a little?

Instead of dealing with man, or having him under trial, He has a Man to His entire satisfaction at His right hand, so that He can work from that Man down.

Would you connect that with the cross?

Of course. You see the first man was under the judgment of God. God had him under trial. Then comes the Lord Jesus Christ, born of a woman. He takes man's place, He bore the judgment that was upon man; but not only that, He glorified God in doing it.

Would John 13:31-32, come in there?

Exactly. "Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in Him." As another has said, God was indebted to a Man for glory. But that Man was His own Son! Still, it was a Man, because none but a man could suffer for men. "Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same."

Does not that help us to understand what the resurrection is to God?

It does. As we read, "I have both glorified, and will glorify again." He was glorified in raising Lazarus, but He was glorified again in being raised Himself. That is the first consequence of the resurrection, and what all our blessings date from. What a wonderful alteration it makes. Infidelity springs from trying to work from man up to God. Evolution works that way.

So that, from God's side, we understand that the resurrection is a new start altogether?

Quite so. In Matthew 27, the moment Christ died the veil was rent. God got the answer to the golden box - the ark. He rent the veil because He had got a Man on the earth who answered to the golden box. He had got the antitype to the ark. People talk of going into the Holiest as if they were going to a place. They are going into the presence of Christ, because He is the antitype to the golden box. God has got all He wanted.

Can we say that God will have all He wants because the first-fruits are before Him?

He has got it.

But He will have more when the end comes. How?

"Afterward they that are Christ's at His coming."

Oh! I see, that is the body raised. Nothing is complete till Christ comes back.

Can we say all is made sure because Christ is there?

No doubt of it. The thief goes into Paradise because Christ is there, though he had lost his body. You see resurrection alters everything. If I look at current thoughts, resurrection is frequently called a receipt. Quite true; but that is not all, and there is nothing that so hinders truth as a limitation of truth. God has got a Man to His own pleasure at His right hand. The other is part of the truth; but the danger is, you put a part for the whole, and do great damage.

God has satisfied His love as well as His righteousness.

Quite so. The parable of the prodigal son illustrates it. The elder brother says to his father, in terms, "Your conduct is most incongruous. I never transgressed your commandment, and yet you never even gave me a kid; you never showed me such consideration, yet here is a scapegrace who has been a scandal to your house, and you kill for him the fatted calf." Now you solve that incongruity.

What you have stated before is the secret. God has found a Man that suits Him.

Exactly. It is on the ground of that Man that He receives him. He is accepted in the Beloved. It was the Shepherd that brought him back, and it was on the ground of the Man who brought him back that the Father receives him. He is bringing many sons to glory. If Adam had never done anything wrong, he never could be in the same position as one brought to God by Christ.

The second section is what the resurrection is to Christ. The first great thing is that He has opened a way for God's heart to reach man. Therefore He says, "I have meat to eat that ye know not of." He had come to remove everything, so that God's heart could come forth in all its mighty volume, and meet the returning sinner here on earth. So that the prodigal finds he is received with love. Goodness brought him, and love meets him. But that is not all. He has also found a company for Himself. "Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit." He has opened a way for God's heart to flow out, and He has found a company for Himself.

The rent veil would signify the first, and here (John 20) we get the second, "My Father and your Father."

Yes, and you get it in Hebrews. "Both He that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one." People try to make Adam love Christ. No such thing. What is Christianity? It is that we belong to another race altogether.

Thomas a Kempis proceeds on those lines.

Yes. Thomas a Kempis and all those did. What was the only thing the steward was sworn to in seeking a wife for Isaac?

She must be of his kindred.

That is the difficulty with souls. They have not got hold of the fact that they are Christ's kindred. How can you be His companions if you are not of His kindred?

Would John 12:24 illustrate it?


Does not that difficulty spring from souls not seeing the new kind of man?


Would you say a little, please, as to the new kind of man? As the Christian is now, as the fruit of Christ, so to speak.

Well, that properly will be our subject tomorrow evening - Christ formed in you. The great thing is now, that the resurrection has opened the way for it. If He had not died, He would have been alone; but if He die, He brings forth many grains of His own order. Christ lives in you. Most people think they get eternal life. Quite true; but they do not know that Christ personally lives in them. What has happened to the old "I"? Crucified. "I am crucified with Christ." Well, if that man is gone, what sort of person are you now? "Christ liveth in me." That is, Christ formed in you.

You spoke of trying to make Adam love Christ. Is it impossible?

Don't draw me out on that subject. I might shock you. The finest quality in your nature dislikes Christ. Do you understand that now? Do you like it? The most amiable trait in your character doesn't like Christ. Christ and Adam can't go together. I know Romans 7, but Galatians 4 is far deeper experience to me than Romans 7. Christ has got brethren of His own order. The first was a natural man; of the earth, earthy; the second Man is out of heaven.

I think we might go on to the third section now.

Before we proceed, might I ask if, when we speak of this new company, we can apply the words "out of heaven"?

That is what it is. I am not saying how far your heavenly origin comes out, because that is as you grow. Therefore the great effect of ministry is "till we all come … unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ." Some people get out of it very easily by saying it is future.

Is it not rather the object of the ministry?


Here on earth?

No man can say he has finished his work.

Quite so; but it is not a question as to whether you have reached it.

Certainly not. If you had reached it you might go home.

Now, the third section is how God is to the returning sinner because of resurrection. You see it well described in Saul's conversion. The light shines from God. God begins the work. Many think man begins and God goes on. A light out of heaven met Saul of Tarsus. God has a Man at His own right hand, and He works from that Man. God begins from the finish. We think He ought to begin at the beginning, but He begins at the finish. The light comes first. It comes down from a glorified Christ.

Is that conveyed by the preaching of the word now?

I believe it is the great power of the evangelist - the light to open their eyes. Look at the woman who searched for the silver piece. She sweeps diligently; but if she had not had a very bright light she would not have found it.

Is it light as to His love?

God's nature is light. Fear is always the first result of the light. Fear is the beginning of wisdom. You see it in the thief on the cross. He says, "We receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss." You see grace there. Light shows us the good as well as the bad.

Is conscience the only doorway for the light? God works on it.

I suppose we learn the love in the light.

Yes. Look at the woman of Samaria. She doesn't say a word about the love. She says, "He told me all that ever I did." He is a purchaser with notice. Do you understand that? You purchase an article knowing that there is a flaw in it. He knows all about you.

Does God always act as light before He reveals Himself as love?

He must do so. It is His nature. Look at Saul. When the light shone on him he fell to the ground, because the light exposed him. He had thought he was a perfect man.

Is the conscience always reached first?

I think it is.

You are speaking of an unconverted person?

Not only. The great thing with the most advanced Christian is, he is distressed that he is not according to the light.

But is not the saint drawn through the heart?

Well, he gets drawn to the Lord, but his senses are exercised. It is remarkable that the word there is a very strong one - it means gymnastics.

What would you call the drawing of the Father?

It is His work to do it. And John uses heart for conscience. "If our heart condemn us." Peter's conscience (John 21) was clear, but his heart was not. There is the affection connected with the conscience.

But, with the woman, she had conscience.

Christ begins with the way He could set her up in Samaria? When she did not take in the spiritual meaning of His word, He touched her conscience. She could not have got it without. She thought it was spring-water. It is the same word in the original. What a wonderful thing, that God can come out and take the prodigal in His arms. He can say. It is because I am glorified by a Man, and I work from that Man downwards. What Christians find out after perhaps 20 years God begins with. It may be a very long day before you find it out; still, God begins there.

I suppose really we learn the truth in the reverse order to which God works.

We have to learn it from our own side. I think that, as a rule, you are thinking of how the sinner feels instead of how God feels. But the prodigal says, It is my father I have offended, and I want to see how he stands with me. I count upon his goodness. And he comes, having made up a speech (make me as one of thy hired servants), but he finds his father is full of affection, and he doesn't venture to propose it. Not a word of it. I once said to a brother, Do you know how God feels about you? I never was asked that question in my life, he said.

So that the true gospel is, that God works down to the sinner?

Yes. In the Old Testament you brought an offering to Him; and as you had faith, your offering was accepted. But there was no resurrection. Now God has removed the man that offended Him, and however you may try to bring him back into favour you never will. That is what people are trying to do. The prodigal felt that he was not fit; but we are looking at the resurrection - how God can take the prodigal in His arms, and let out all His love, because He works from the Man who has glorified Him, and, therefore, "where sin abounded, grace did much more abound." It is not only that He has forgiven all your offences, but He has transferred you to new ground. You are changed from Adam to Christ, and now "they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ" And, therefore, the chapter winds up with, "Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: that as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord."

Can we find all the prodigal's blessings in Romans? I think so. I think he has got as far as the fifth. He is accepted, but he doesn't enjoy it.

Is not he in the Father's house?

It is the joys of the Father's house - the Holy Ghost. The great supper is the present enjoyment, when "out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water."

Could you put it in other words, so as to let us all be clear? You say at the end of Romans 5 you have a man changed from Adam to Christ.

Yes; the first eleven verses are the terms upon which God can be with you.

Now we turn to what the resurrection is to the believer himself. I can explain it better by the type than anything else. In Exodus 12 Christ is the perfect sacrifice. I may say, every Christian upon the face of the earth knows that. But what is the state of that Christian? He is occupied with Pharaoh, that is Satan; and the Egyptians, that is the flesh. He is not out of Egypt. Next he learns another thing. Not only was Christ "delivered for our offences," but He "was raised again for our justification." Now that is what the Red Sea is. Moses has to make a way through the Red Sea, and they are to walk it. I believe in walking it that you appropriate the death of Christ, and then you are out of it.

Then deliverance will be connected with that?

Deliverance must come after. I am speaking of how you stand with God. You are through the Red Sea, what Paul learnt in those three days when he appropriated the death of Christ, as the only way out of himself. You are then free with God.

I refer to the type. You are out of Egypt and clear of Pharaoh and the Egyptians. That is the Red Sea. But I don't believe a person is there unless he has gone through it experimentally. "Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, ye have no life in you."

You make walking then appropriation?

Yes. I use the type to make it plain. You are passed "out of death into life," not "from death." It is a great help to see that if I am out of it I must have been in it. Every man on the face of the earth is in death. John 5:24 is "passed out of death into life."

John 6 is not the Lord's supper then?

Oh! no. That is where Romanism comes in.

A Christian in the present day may say, "I am very happy; all my sins are gone." The next day he is very depressed. He doesn't know resurrection as it is with God.

Do you mean that the resurrection is the demonstration of the putting away of sins?

It is the putting away of all that is not of God. There must be death or there could not be resurrection. If you accept resurrection you must accept death. The comfort of the saint is that he knows that the old man is gone from the eye of God to His infinite glory. It is gone from Him whom I have offended. I knew it was gone from the eye of God for years before I saw it was gone from myself - because I was trying to improve myself. The first great thing is to understand acceptance. There are two great steps; first acceptance, then liberty. Acceptance is that God can accept me without a cloud.

Then liberty can only follow upon the experimental acceptance of resurrection?

Quite so, and if the acceptance is not full, the liberty will never be so.

I think we might go on now to the next section. The power of evil is destroyed. He entered into death that "He might destroy him that had the power of death." The more you study it, the more you see how it affects everything you have to do with.

Would you explain in what way He destroyed him that had the power of death?

He let him expend all his power, and came out of it. He annulled it.

Set aside his claims?

Yes, abolished death. Pharaoh is gone. That character of power is over.

What power did Satan exercise over man?

You get the thought all along the line with Israel - Pharaoh, Amalek, Balaam, and the seven nations. Pharaoh is over for the Christian. He begins with resurrection. "Thanks be to God which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." I do not say you are free of the others, but I say you are free of Pharaoh.

What are the seven nations?

When you come into it you will find out. The sixth of Ephesians - the combined forces of Satan. I think very few know what the sixth of Ephesians is. You must be on the ground before you can find out. You must be over Jordan before you can fight the seven nations. What is the good of armour to a man if he is not in battle? It is the man who is in battle who knows the good of it.

We cannot say that Satan is destroyed, can we?

His power of death is gone. It is taken out of his hands. A man has come out of it. … Israel suffered eventually from the nations. I don't believe Satan is cast out of heaven till the Church goes up. If you want to have an easy path here, don't touch heavenly things. There is nothing that Satan hates more than a heavenly man. He will do all he can to oppose you, and he knows what will oppose you. He has only two barrels to his gun. The first is, he will allure you; and if that does not do, he will crush you if he can. Look at the children of the captivity. The enemy says "If you won't eat the king's meat I will put you into the fire." Well, the same God that delivered from the one will deliver from the other. Nothing shows the terrible nature of Satan like his trying to tempt the Lord. First he tried to allure Him, and then he attempted to crush Him. In Gethsemane he brings death before Him.

I suppose every man who takes that ground has to meet Satan?

No doubt of it. If he found you were making advance, he would use it. But you would find you have the power of the Lord with you. As an engineer would say if you ask him, "Can you execute that work?" "Yes, if I have means." Ah! that will do.

You mean the more a man takes that ground, the more he has God with him.

He cannot take it unless he belongs to the heavenly Man. Some try to be heavenly men by themselves. By union with Him I am a heavenly man, but not otherwise … I am united to a Man in the glory.

Then in union I am on resurrection ground.

You are united to the Man in heaven. You never know union till you are brought to where the person is. Rebekah has to go all the way to Isaac. She has to encounter two things; first, family influence; and then she has to go through the wilderness, and every step she takes is a step further away from her family.

Does she give up her family?

She gives up its influence. She has a higher influence.

Quite so. The more right a thing is the more dangerous it is.

What does Balaam mean?

Balaam is the worst influence that you can possibly be subjected to. The lowest society you keep is that which colours you. Many a person I have no doubt gets into low society, and he is leavened and damaged before he knows where he is. The Corinthians suffered from Balaam, the Thessalonians from Amalek. Woe betide you when you get into Balaam's company. He invited them out. You get into society, you get under its influence. If you read Rev. 2 and 3 you will see it. A man or woman is spoilt by the company he or she keeps. I do not mean in business. There is no notion of company in business. That is not company. You are then on the qui vive. I mean social company, where you can unbutton your coat; do you understand? In business you keep your eyes open.

Do you mean unconverted people?

No. A Christian on low ground is worse than an unconverted person, he damages you more, because you say, "Oh! he can do so-and-so." But how can you keep company with a worldling if you have really the motives and tastes of Christ - how can you find any pleasure in his society? Duties and business are very different from society. Look at the Corinthians, what they came to; they went into an idol's temple to eat.

Well, the last section is, that in resurrection everything comes out new, and therefore Christ begins. It begins with a new day - the first day of the week. Everything comes out new. He says, "Behold, I make all things new." Our subject for tomorrow is "Christ formed in you." J. B. Stoney.