The Father's Name

John 17:26; Hebrews 2:12.

It has been recently taught, and we heartily accept it, that there is no present action in the declaration of the Father's name. In the scripture from John 17 it says, I have made known (for this is the force of the word translated "declared") unto them Thy name, and will make it known; and it had been thought by some that the "will make it known" was carried on in the assembly. But, as it has been indisputably shown, this clause applies to what was then future, namely, the resurrection, and found its blessed fulfilment in the message transmitted to the disciples through Mary: "Go to My brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto My Father, and your Father; and to My God, and your God." Whether the disciples understood it then or not, and we do not suppose it was possible for them to do so until they received the Holy Ghost, the import of the message was there; and it surely contained no less than that henceforward the Lord put His disciples down, in virtue of His death and resurrection, before the full revelation of the Father's name, and brought them, in association with Himself, into His own place and relationship. That even after they in some measure had apprehended this, they would go on to learn more of the Father's name is unquestioned, but the Name had been made known, and nothing more could be added to it.

It is quite true that in the passage from the Hebrews, a quotation from Psalm 22:22, we find two actions apparently connected: "I will declare Thy name unto My brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto Thee." It does not follow, however, that the two actions take place at the same time and place; on the other hand, a brief consideration will show that this is not the teaching of the scripture. When the Lord is singing praise to His God and Father in the midst of the assembly He is on our side, He is Head in the midst of His own; and we apprehend that whenever He thus is in the midst of His people, it is always as in identification with them as before God, though ever in His supremacy of love as Head, even as Aaron was head of the priestly family. But making known the Father's name indicates another position; it is an action from the Father towards us. If, therefore, it is sought to combine these two actions in the assembly, the proper position of Christ which in grace He assumes in the midst of His own is obscured, and the attitude of the saints when thus gathered around Himself is converted into that of listening. In that case the worshipping company would be occupied with hearing as well as with praise and adoration.

The truth is that the worshipping company has been formed by the declaration of the Father's name. This may be seen from what took place on the resurrection day. Mary was sent with her precious message from her risen Lord; and the effect was that, the same day at evening being the first day of the week, the disciples were gathered together, and then Jesus came and stood in the midst. Indeed it might be truly said that our qualification for the assembly (we do not speak now of how we enter into it) is knowing the Father's name. For apart from it we cannot understand the truth of our calling, that we are of the company of the many sons whom God, through the Captain of our salvation, is bringing to glory; and again, until this is apprehended we could not take up our privileges as priests. We have only said this much to make it clear and simple that the making known the Father's name is one action, and that singing praise in the midst of the assembly is another, and that the former has laid the foundation for the latter. As the Lord said to the woman of Samaria, "The hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth; for the Father seeketh such to worship Him." How infinitely blessed! For all is of grace in the accomplishment of the Father's counsels for the glory of His beloved Son.

Having said this much on this point, we may profitably consider a little wherein making known the Father's name lies. As we understand it, it was the setting forth of all that the Father is, first in the Person of the Son, and then in His relationships to His people. As already pointed out, there are two parts in the declaration - I have_ made known, and I will make it known. The first refers to what was done during the sojourn of the blessed Lord with His disciples on earth, and of this, in relation to this subject, we have the record in the Gospel of John. As we read in chapter 14, the Lord said to Philip, "He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Show us the Father? Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of Myself: but the Father that dwelleth in Me, He doeth the works. Believe Me that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me: or else believe Me for the very works' sake." We gather, then, that what the Son was, and that His words and works, made the Father perfectly known. If therefore the eyes of any had been opened, they would have seen in Him, and what He said and did only revealed Himself (John 8:25), the perfect revelation of the Father. In the measure, therefore, in which we apprehend the Son we apprehend the Father, and we do not read this gospel aright unless we read it in the light of His declaring the Father's name in it.

The second part of the declaration is contained in John 20. But here, as will at once be perceived, there is nothing additional concerning the Father; and yet it 'completes the making known His name, because we have revealed the object of its declaration in the accomplishing of His eternal counsels. In the words of the hymn:

"Thou gav'st us, in eternal love,
To Him to bring us home to Thee;
Suited to Thine own thought above,
As sons like Him, with Him to be."

We have, then, first Christ risen out from among the dead; and He is going to the Father: "I ascend unto My Father, and your Father; and to My God, and your God." Now it is essential to see that Christ presented Himself here, at least in the midst of His disciples, as the last Adam, for "He breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost." (v. 22; compare Gen. 2:7.) As the risen One, therefore, He was, and is, the Head of a new race of a new order; and His message through Mary reveals the relationship and place, as before shown, which all the members of that race occupy before God. In association with Himself, His Father is their Father, and His God is their God. He is the Head of this new company; and He in His resurrection condition, as well as in His relationships, is, God's Exemplar for all that are His. Rather, we behold in Him as risen and glorified God's purpose and pleasure for man  - for all who are the subjects of His eternal counsels.

Another thing must be pointed out in connection with the scripture from John 17. Here we have also the object of the declaration of the Father's name: it is "that the love wherewith Thou hast loved Me may be in them, and I in them." And this object, we apprehend, is to be reached now, even while we are here in this world. But who can comprehend the magnitude of it? Still, we can understand this much, that the Father's love, in the full measure in which it was enjoyed by the Son, when Man down here, may be in the hearts of His people, that love which is infinite, without bounds or. limits, and the love which, as so known, is the love of intimate relationship, into which we have been brought through the death and resurrection of Christ. It is undoubtedly meant as the present portion of God's children, and can only be limited by their state and capacity. This is the joy of the Father's house, and it is entered upon now in a scene where we must have tribulation. (John 16:33.) We wait indeed for the Lord to return to receive us unto Himself, that where He is we may be also; but we need not wait for the blessed enjoyment of the Father's love. It is, we repeat, our present portion because we have been presented before the Father by the Son as the fruits of His victory and as His brethren, in the midst of whom He is the Firstborn.

One word more will make all plain. The last words of this scripture are, "And I in them." In chapter 14, when speaking of the coming of the Comforter, He had said, "At that day ye shall know that I am in My Father, and ye in Me, and I in you." In chapter 17:23 He also speaks of being "in them," when displayed in the same glory with Himself. This, then, is a cardinal truth, that the Son is in His people. Two things follow: the Son reveals the Father to the hearts of His own; and inasmuch as the Father's love ever fills the heart of the Son, it flows out from His heart into theirs. In other words, He is the channel or medium for His people of the full tide of the Father's love. It should be remarked that it says "in" them, not "on" them; and this at once shows that it is not simply that we are the objects of the Father's heart, which we surely are, but that what is in view here is that the love should be known and enjoyed inwardly. What need, then, for constant watchfulness and self-judgment, so that nothing may rob us of our heavenly portion! "If any man love the world," says John, "the love of the Father is not in him." The love of the Father, indeed, flowing into our hearts through His beloved Son, will deliver us from all that is contrary to it, and enable us to live in the power of the Spirit in the constant enjoyment of our eternal portion. The Lord Himself keep us, and so enlarge our hearts that we may enjoy it increasingly until He come!