By G.V. Wigram
Christ's yesterday was the accomplishment of redemption, -- His tomorrow is the having His Church with Himself in glory. But He is a living Christ for today.
Christ cannot light a single spark in the heart of an individual, without that little tiny spark being for God. He gives the light, and has ordained that every ray of it is to reflect something for God.
Nothing is more blessed than to have sympathy with Christ in His thoughts -- to be able to say, "I know what Christ cares about, and that which is the care of His heart shall be the care of my heart." He is caring about a testimony on earth for God; and if I am only little enough in my own eyes, He will say, "I can bring out a ray in you, and place you exactly where it can shine." Christ has present thoughts about His sheep, -- if rays of light shine on them, it is that they may shine from them. You may have very little light, but the glimmer of a glow-worm shines out brightly in a dark night.
We are to give a practical testimony to the lordship of Christ. Once we did not feel the reality of His being at God's right hand as Lord of everything and of all; now it is our very joy to think that He is so. God is working in you to will and to do of His good pleasure, and that good pleasure is, that everything in heaven and earth and under the earth is to bow down to His Christ. If He has been working in you, you have seen something in Christ that has bowed down your heart and made you, wish to be His practically. The Church is the only thing that with heart and intelligence, can say, "Let Him be Lord; let Him have all!" We are to let a practical testimony go out from us, that all does belong to Him, in the face of the strong current setting the other way. The desire of God's people should be, to make it apparent to all that that Jesus of Nazareth whom man rejected and despised is Lord of all, at God's right hand. They have set to their seal that that is the place which God has given to the Nazarene for whom man had no place but the cross, down here. God is carrying us on to a scene in which no other name will be known but the name of Jesus. Every knee shall bow to the only One who is Master. When one realizes what that scene will be, of how little consequence (in the thought of the great recompence of reward) is all we have to pass through on the way to it! Have I to give up anything because my Master does not like it, even to the plucking out of an eye? Is it worth speaking of, in the thought of the exceeding and eternal weight of glory which God is carrying me on to? We do not enough cultivate the thought of that universal sway, and the nearness of it. Are we longing and yearning for it? There is no hanging back on Christ's part: He only waits for souls to be gleaned. Yet a very little while, and He shall come and will not tarry.
If you and I have taken the place of owning Christ as Lord, we shall be sure to have a little bit of suffering. If He is Lord over me, I must do everything to please Him, and I shall be sure to displease friends. I must give up this thing and not do the other, cost what it may, if He is Master.
God takes the bright light that shines in the face of Jesus Christ, and makes it shine in our hearts. He is the perfect answer and character of everything delightsome to God. We are in Him, and His character is to flow through us. He has brought us into the light and holiness of the Father's house; and because of having fellowship with Him, we can turn round to Him and cast every thought and every sorrow on Him.
Do all around you get, in your ways, such a reflection of Christ's life, that they could not understand you without knowing Christ? Christ's heart was always in heaven while He was on earth, and everything came forth to Him in all the savour of the Father's love. He was of one heart and one mind with the Father. I want to be like Christ; I want the world to say, "Like Master, like servant." The present object of the Lord Jesus is to have a people down here who shall display Him in their ways, thoughts, and doings: speaking out intelligently and practically what He is.
No one was ever, on earth, so happy as Christ, because of His seeing everything in connection with God's purpose and God's will; and the greater the sorrow, the higher its wave broke over His heart, the more this is seen. There was always some expression of praise, some reference to the Father, showing the joy within untouched, as a spring of water hidden for refreshment. He was straitened till the Father's will was accomplished in the death upon the cross.
Water was in the rock, but until smitten, it did not give forth water -- so it was with Christ. And now He is revealed to us, in heaven, as the eternal Son of God, who was smitten for us, and we can turn to Him and say, "There is our spring of living water, He is ours. We have got eternal life in Him as a well of water springing up." All the way through the wilderness, the water flowed, to slake their thirst, to refresh them; all the way, and it spoke blessedly of Christ.
The freshness of heart in Christ was always the same. You and I get so weary in our experience of the wilderness, but Christ's heart is never wearied, it is as freshly set on the bride as when God chose us in Him before the foundation of the world.
Whatever the mind is most fixed upon, and is ever turning to, gives its impress to the mind; if my feelings and thoughts are fixed on Christ, I get the impress of Christ. If I am ever turning to Him in all His heavenly measure of love, I shall get the impress of it; and if my soul then rises to Christ in that freshness of love which can say, "Come, Lord Jesus," there is His answer in all freshness, "Surely I come quickly." He does not forget us toiling through the wilderness and the sands of the desert; He is with us all the way, and all freshness is in Him. If the heart turns to the heart of Christ, the heart of the Son of God, I find that heart immeasurably fuller than mine of love -- there, there is always freshness of love. I may be a way-worn pilgrim, there I shall find freshness -- a spring of cold water to refresh me just when fainting in the wilderness. Oh that love in the heart of Christ, that knows no weariness, no dragging steps, no hanging down of the hands. I may always turn to Him, and say, "Come!" His heart can always answer, "Surely I come quickly." Oh, the freshness of Christ's love and the brightness of that water for ever flowing in incomparable purity and freshness!
If we connect the wilderness with our great High Priest in heaven, we may still feel the bitterness of wilderness trials, but we shall have the sweetness of Christ's sympathy with us every step of the way. All blessing, carried on and sustained, must be so by the present action of the Lord Jesus. Where has there ever been found a single blessing, save in the hand of Christ? Could you wish for any save what He gives?
Can you spread out no wants before Christ, the Giver, the Healer? Believers grieve the Spirit by not using Christ, and then God must compel them to do it. He knew how to make Paul startle up the jailor at Philippi. Do I know that Christ up there has to do with my heart individually? Has He looked into it today? has He seen any brightness in it towards Himself, or coldness? Well, He does not trust a bit to the feelings of the heart. He knows what it is; whether it looks bright or not; everything is naked and open to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do. He does not trust my heart, but He says, "I want to give you all that is in my heart of love."
I see Christ's heart yearning over poor sinners -- not poor sinners' hearts yearning after Christ.
When Christ meets a sinner, and gives him peace, the only thing that He thinks of is His own blood, and anything added to that, He would turn away from and repudiate. Ah! there is no name to which Jesus of Nazareth responds more heartily than the name of Saviour -- it has not become a common name to Him. He will not share it with another. He may have every glory, but above all is this name of Saviour between Him and God. He, "the Saviour God," "redemption through His blood!" Ah! there is something there that has a voice to one's soul, the thought of that Saviour God, in whom we have redemption, being the One who is to have all glory. When you get home, will your delight be in the glory of that Christ? Not only happy because you are saved, but because of seeing what He is -- what a Saviour you have got! Being saved is nothing to the brightness of the glory shining out of the Saviour Christ; because He is what He is, we have redemption through His blood.
Will He ever lay aside His character of Redeemer? "The Lamb in the midst of the throne." points Him out as the One whose redemption-glory will still be seen, though we shall be realizing a different part. Israel when in Canaan realized a different portion from Israel in the wilderness, but this was still their glory, that they were the people of a Redeemer God. When you get into glory, every one of you will be pointed to as a spectacle showing forth the redemption-glory of the Redeemer God. God sees in redemption one of the thoughts dearest to His own heart: it shows out His highest glory, all centred in Christ, according to His eternal purpose. Is that glory in the person of Christ the thing that fills your soul? When telling over all the glories that attach to the person of that Christ, do you say, "Ah, that is the One in whom I have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins!"
God has set us in His Son, hidden us in Him. As Moses was put into the cleft of the rock, so God has put us into Christ.
If I am hidden in Christ, there can be no condemnation for me. Can God condemn what is in His Son? Can God find fault with Him? Satan cannot stand against one who is in Christ: all condemnation will roll back against Satan; there is none for me. I rejoice in Christ as a life-giving Spirit, not merely as One who brought me out of Egypt, but as One with whom I am united in life: the One smitten on Calvary, raised from the dead, a life-giving Spirit in heaven. Death may be stamped on every particle of the first Adam in me, but the spirit of life in the last Adam has made me free from the law of sin and death; it makes me know that Christ is my life, the stream of life is flowing down from Him to me, leading me on in life in the Spirit because the Spirit of God dwells in me, and I am not in the flesh but in the Spirit.
Christ is the smitten rock, and the water of life is flowing from Christ through my soul, witnessing of heavenly things; and if eternal life is flowing through a body dead because of sin, yet will it give an immense power of joy in the Lord. Whither has fled the joy unspeakable of the early Christians? Why are Christians now without it, but because they have not learned to give up the first Adam for the last Adam -- because they have not learned to walk as the early Christians walked. Do we not know a want of the Holy Ghost in power? a want of walking with the soul full of heaven? Is it not because we have not learnt that all that is of self is a stony rock which all that is of Christ is to flow through, to show how everything in self is to be set aside? Oh, do not be satisfied with ordinary Christianity; but be saying, "If nobody else is heavenly-minded, why not I? If others are not full of the Holy Ghost, why not I?" I would beseech you not to trifle with your own mercies. God has provided you with joy that might fill your souls to overflowing if you walk in the Spirit and not in the flesh. There is no dimness in Christ's joy -- not a cloud rests on Him: our blessing is not short of His. Oh that the power of the Holy Ghost may work in our hearts so that we may know the fulness of the spring of blessing in Him, looking to God to bring us into the enjoyment of the rivers of refreshing in the Son of His love!
If there was not a nail found in Peter on which to hang one single thing, there was for him the blessedness of walking after the Lamb of God, admiring and adoring Him, seeing Him perfectly doing the Father's will, at every step a bit of the Father's mind coming out, and a bit of the beauty and glory of the only-begotten of the Father; streams of grace flowing forth from Him. And if sheltered behind Him, Peter would be able to walk through the valley of sorrow with light shining out in it the whole way. In Revelation, we find quite a different line of truth. It was not enough for John to say, "My heart is moved in wonder and adoration at the person of the Lord down here, seeing all His beauty and grace," but also, "I am left down here with girded loins, to know what is the fellowship of the sufferings of that Lord Jesus." It was not John sheltered behind that Lamb of God -- not John teaching and going about like His Divine Master, -- but suffering, and cast into Patmos; cast, it might have appeared to him, out of all service. It is very sweet when we can connect that which leads to suffering, with the Lord Jesus, as John could say, "I was in Patmos, for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ." If more testimony were borne by us that all power in heaven and earth is His, we should be counted mad; the world's anger would be stirred up, just as it was when the people saluted Him as King. We are standing, in the place where He is rejected, as servants holding forth the word of life; patience in tribulation, the quality needed; waiting to know His thoughts. Our feet are on earth where John's were, and nothing but companionship in the tribulation and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ will do for us today. All blessing from the Father's hand, but heart-breakings and Patmos from man's.
As one quickened by Christ, the question is, "Am I walking worthy of Himself?" Judgment is to be exercised by me as one walking with God in the light; taking my place in God's presence, not as a stranger but as a son. All the thoughts. of my heart meeting His approval. Being, as I am, in the wilderness, shut in between the cross and the coming glory, I have got to bring everything into the light and judge it. I believe that nothing shows more what measure of vigour and power of spiritual life we have, than the way we bring out into the light, to be judged, not that which may appear outside, but all the hidden springs within, laying bare our thoughts and motives. How often in an action that man might praise, there has been a thought, a motive, not worthy of Christ in the light. If all coming out there be judged by us, we can be working together with God, whose purpose with our souls is to form us unto Christ. How can there be joy, if souls merely rest in the work of Christ, without entering into the thought of whether they are walking worthy of the place which that work has put them into? Suppose I lay down the reins -- what would be the result? How much passes in one's soul that is not worthy, that is not in harmony and keeping with, the death of Christ: am I to allow it? Impossible that God can, and if I don't judge it, God will. Ah! we who know this to be our place, know how happy and blessed a place it is -- a place where we have not of necessity to come under the discipline of God's hand, but where we may be abiding in the light, having power to judge ourselves and to pass sentence against all in us that is not worthy of Christ, as vessels to be kept clean in the light that makes manifest every spot.
For eighteen hundred years Christ has been sitting as the accepted sacrifice at the right hand of God. There is in that fact what tells of the marvellous greatness of God in condescending to accept anything from us. That He should keep that magnificent gift of His love ever before Him as the accepted sacrifice, and then turn to poor things like you and me, and say, "I am looking for a sacrifice from you (Heb. 13: 15, 16), I want that there should come forth a little trickling stream of praise from your lips," -- ah! when I think how Christ has loved me, that He has washed me from my sins in His own blood, that I am connected with all the blessing that rests on the head of the heavenly Man, and that I am to reign with Him too -- when, I say, I think of all this, have I nothing to say to His praise? Oh how hard to frame a thought of what I ought to utter! How, in that wondrous thought that I am made so perfect by the blood of Thy Son, blessed God! and that I am to reign with Him, how can I know what to say? It makes me turn to His word to find an expression for that which passes all comprehension. God having associated me with the Son of His love! "He is worthy." One ever finds in the thought of that precious blood that has washed us something that gives a fresh impulse of praise to the feeblest lip. How far do we live in an atmosphere of praise? There is nothing like the inspiring power of praise to set the heart free from all the shackles and bands of the world. If you once begin upon it, you will find a thousand things to call it forth, that never struck you before, in connection with the person and offices of the Lord Jesus. Do you say: How am I to offer it? Ah, it must be the produce of His own garden; you must pluck the flowers and fruits of praise from the garden of His own delights; and if you once get there you will find that your heart never had an idea of the mass of praise that will be flowing up as a continual incense from your lips.
In 1 John 4: 7, we get the character of God. God is love; and this is the family feature of the children of God, "Every one that loveth is born of God." The righteousness and holiness of God have reference to the sphere of things created, but here we are shown the character of God in His own sphere. How sweet the thought, as the contrast with all that man is, that God is love: no selfishness there -- no having to turn away from Him because one cannot get anything out. As rain on the thirsty ground, the soul draws in that thought, "God is love." There you have a balm to soothe your soul under all circumstances; and not only that; but the mind is thrown into certain scenes where it finds that that love has been displayed. God, in His own glory, thought of poor sinners. His was the thought to send His Son to die that we might live through Him. Who and what were those for whom He was sent? Poor things "dead in trespasses." Nothing but particles of dust, driven round by Satan, going into the vortex of destruction. God could say, "they may be dead, they may be but dust in Satan's hand, but I will send my Son to give them life." Ah! throughout eternity we shall find nothing so to rejoice in as God's thought of sending this Son of His love to give life to dead sinners. Christ given to us as eternal life, in all the death in which He found us. I should have been dead for eternity, if God had not interfered to give me life in His Son, and a nature capable of enjoying all in the glory.
When I say, "God is love," what do I mean by it? Why this, that God sent His only-begotten Son that we might have life in Him. We still carry about the old nature; but, blessed be God, many a time as Satan has caught me, he has never destroyed me; there is the propitiation, -- I am inside, sheltered by the blood, and forgiven.
What should I do if I had to carry the burden of last week's failure! What, if only looking at yesterday's failure! It would be like phosphorus eating into the tenderest part of one's body; but I have got One who is able to restore my soul, One who does continually and entirely. You are finding how different you are from Christ, but He is the propitiation all the way till you see Him and are like Him. Love in you is very different from love in God, acting in His own eternity, showing love by giving His Son to give you life, and power, and love. Love in God comes out with this thought of separating us from all that we are, into His own blessedness.
"No man knows the Son but the Father." The Lord Jesus was down here as the open book to reveal the Father. There is not so much known about the Son as about the Father. In all the actions, words, and ways of the Son in dealing with man He was showing forth the Father: "he that hath seen Me hath seen the Father." -- And if He was the open book to reveal the Father to us so is He the open door by which to lead us to the Father; and the Father whom He came down to declare, would point to that Son on the cross as the open door to bring many sons to glory.
In John 17 we find the Son in communion with the Father. Turning from earth He looks up, and we hear Him giving out the thoughts common to Him and the Father, speaking of the origin, the security, and the destiny of the people who are the sharers of the Father's love. He takes them up as a people who have not anything to do with the world, begins with them as seen before the foundation of the world connected with Himself by the Father. No origin can be higher, no blessedness -- nothing like that! Thus to get back to God the Father, is one of the most blessed of all thoughts. To be able to look on any individual who is one spirit with the Lord, and to think that there is one whom the Lord had given Him of the Father before the world was I Given to Him, but, before that, belonging to the Father. "Thine they were and Thou gavest them Me." And not only that, the beginning of our blessing, but He tells of it in a scene where none of the evil now present with us is to be found. Our standing, in the Father's thought before even the world was, is what we get here. "Thine they were, and Thou gavest them Me. It was Thy counsel and plan, all known to Me to be my reward, that they should be sons and heirs."
What a blessed thought put forth by the Lord, that they should be made so one with Himself, that the glory given to Him could be given to them; that they should be manifested as the people of His love, in whom His glory will be displayed. The moment He lets them hear of the glory given to Him, they hear also that He proposes to act in all the largeness of His love, and share it all with them.
He does not look to their joy in the wilderness, -- that is not their destiny; He looks to the future scene, to the time when all that now is shall have crumbled and passed away. He turns to the Father's house, where all the people loved of the Father will be, to be the display of His glory. Ah! dwell upon Christ's thoughts for you! that the heart of this Lord should delight in the hour of His own distress, to unfold the origin, the security, and the destiny of those given Him by the Father, for their comfort when He was to be taken from them.
The people of God will never understand what manner of people they ought to be down here, unless they have laid hold of the Lord's thoughts about them. Those three things, their origin, security, and destiny, must be brought to bear on every other truth presented. His love in letting those thoughts flow out in our hearing, ought to be very greatly marked by us. Having come out of heaven, and going back there, leaving us such a record of the Father's love to those that were chosen in Him before they had a beginning.
The true Tabernacle is pitched. God has arranged it in Heaven. If you have not come there right into His presence, you have not got a good and a purified conscience. We cannot draw near without these two things -- "a heart sprinkled from an evil conscience, and the body washed with pure water." God has opened the way by something of priceless value. If I have come to God it is as one who has proved its value (in measure but truly). It is the answer to every difficulty, because it is the answer that satisfied God, even the blood of His own Son. Are you at ease in the presence of God, in those moments when a sense of the holiness of God is most pressing upon your soul? Have you such an answer that you are able to say, "I should be afraid not to be at perfect ease in His presence, because of that answer. "God himself has opened the way into the bright light, made a path for the very chiefest of sinners. Shall I be ill at ease in treading that path, when I find that God in His holiness can turn and look on me there with perfect satisfaction, on the ground of this work done by His Son? Shall I turn to a purged conscience and say, "You are a false witness," when God himself provided the blood, and the Holy Ghost has come down to witness to the perfect acceptancy of a poor sinner? As to this new and living way, I bow and adore as I enter, not with trembling, but with boldness, because I have the testimony that God delights in this new and living way.
A great deal of trouble comes to weak believers from the accusations of Satan: but what is the answer? Let him go where the judge is. As to the value of the charge, let him ask what is the value of the blood. What is all that Satan can say against a people sprinkled with the blood, but a direct charge against God. The people of God can say, "Let him curse whom God hath blessed." It is not a covering over of sin, not an excusing it, but a simple answering of every charge by "Yes; but Christ died, the just for the unjust:" ever bringing in this death of the Lord Jesus as the answer to it all. Will God visit a second time for guilt? No. I can say, Christ bore my sin, and I am pardoned. I am the chiefest of sinners, but I am pardoned.
Strange, incomprehensibly strange, to find that eternal Son of God under wrath, made sin! There are heights and depths in it that we never could understand. But we need also to see the living Lord now in the presence of God for us.
The courts above are a strange place for me to tread. How can I find myself at ease there? Ah! because of the accepted Sacrifice, up there everything belongs to Him. Without Him heaven would be a perfectly strange place to me, but directly my mind gets occupied with Him in heaven, I know it to be true of me before God that Christ is there as the accepted sacrifice for me; and faith acts on the fact of His being there, to give me perfect ease. What a thing it is to be certain that if I were out of the body tonight, I have a life bound up with Christ up there, and I have got practical peace from His being up there as my accepted Sacrifice. How can I hesitate to draw near to God when He has told us that His whole delight is in the accepted Sacrifice who has perfected me for ever. That blood has done it -- that death, which has become a record in heaven of what sin is, as well as of its being put away from before God.
Oh what a light God has let shine in on me, if He has let me know what a wretched thing I am, all ruin, all misery. But ah! I have fallen to the lot of this Lord Jesus; I am not a wretched man; I am a saved man; and where all is utterly marred and ruined, just there can I say, "I thank God through Jesus Christ." I do not thank Him for the ruin, but knowing what I get from this last Adam, I do thank Him.
Philippians 3. One sees in the life of a man like Paul, the exceeding joy given to a man in communion with God. Christ said, "If ye loved me ye would rejoice because I said I go to the Father." Is it ever enough for you that Christ is happy? Do you ever get rest to your heart in the thought of the One who has done and suffered everything for you, having got His rest? What a mark of the standing of a disciple now, during Christ's absence, to be occupied with the thought that Christ is at home, looking at Him as one who has got back into His own joy, and who is looking down at him and telling him to rejoice with Him! Are your hearts filled with this heavenly joy. and getting their rest in the present joy of Christ?
Christ's only purpose in everything down here was to do the will of God, and He did it most entirely. He was one bright unwavering testimony to God, and nothing but God; and the more strength there was in that purpose. the more suffering there would be in such a world as this. But whether the Lord would in obedience go down so low as the death of the cross, was the question. He did so, and the wrath of God broke over Him; that was essentially His cross, such as ours could not be.
I have not the thought of what we shall do in glory; my thought is, Christ will be there. I shall be in the place where everything is ruled by the mind of Christ. Have you known down here the calming effect of realising His presence, hearing Him breathing out like oil on the waters, "it is I!" What will it be to be in a world where all is subject to Him who gives such peace even here! What will heaven be, when all that He is, all His perfect grace, will come out to us in the Father's house! What will it be where everything will be attuned to the name of Jesus! The full stream of His affections will flow over and spread blessing everywhere, "His fulness" poured forth to fill every heart, and every heart perfectly filled and satisfied with it.
How could Christ be in company with such a creature as the woman of Samaria? As a Saviour, beautifully, because she knew herself to be a poor worthless creature -- and it was the worthless and the lost that He came to save.
As a Christian, I have to know the Lord Jesus Christ in heaven, and to walk worthy of Him during the night, as a bird of the day and not of the night. The light of Christ's eye is coming right down upon me; if there is one corner of my heart covered over, I am uncomfortable under it. I could not sit in the Father's house and have His eye meet one corner of my heart not brought out. I don't want one corner in it to be covered by the thinnest veil possible. It is a solemn but blessed thing to the soul, to have the eye of God coming right down into it. It is a very blessed thing that the One who has washed you in His own blood, and has undertaken to conduct you to heaven, has an eye that sees down into all the recesses of the heart; and it can detect the least budding of evil. When you have been doing what you thought good, He may have seen evil lurking, and Satan near you; and He has discovered it to you and enabled you to judge it in the light, so that it will not have to be judged hereafter. He will go through all hereafter, if we don't do it now. He will talk to His people about their walk, and the effect will be perfect blessed confidence between your soul and the Lord. If I commit any sin now, the discovery of it in the light is attended with conflict and agony: then He will tell me how He met me and probed me, that I might have every thought brought out.
It is a solemn and blessed thought that God expects you to walk as one in His presence. A person's life may be perfectly blameless, yet that person may have to say, "Ah, but I want more of the power of Christ's life." He is the Head -- it is not the question of a spot or blemish here and there, but I want more of the volume of the life of Christ and of His affections to be displayed in me, so that I may be practically witnessing down here for Him up there. Nothing should satisfy us but the power and testimony which tells that Christ, our Head, is at God's right hand. What a difference between the testimony of one who, like Paul, has Christ in his heart, and counts everything else but dung and dross, who puts his foot wherever Christ left a footprint, to follow hard after Him, and the testimony of a man who is living after this world's course who is on the foundation, but who is building on it wood, hay, stubble, instead of gold, silver, precious stones. Immense difference between Abraham and Lot, in this life and in the next too -- though Lot will be perfectly saved. "How beautiful!" I shall exclaim, when I see one like Paul manifested in the golden city; one who when down here could say, "To me to live is Christ." Ah, there will be a recompense for works which are the fruit of grace and faith.
Paul knew his acceptance to be so perfect that he could look right up with an eagle eye into the light of God's presence, and say to all down here, "You have seen me dwelling in the light, and have seen the light shining out of me; everything in the very bottom of my heart has been made manifest in the light."
A strange thing it must have been to angels to see the Son of God tabernacling down here as man: but all the fulness of the Godhead was in that man. Never man spake like Him. Perfectly of God's mind. Able to communicate life eternal. Working all miracles. A man, but different from all other men. Never anything but perfection in Him. Directly we see Christ, we ought to bless God that we see Him as the One who met the mind of God from first to last.
The perfectness of Christ is my condemnation, unless I have it instead of what I am, and there all God's thoughts about me come out. He has set that Christ at His right hand, to be righteousness for me, and that changes everything in connection with what I am. If God has found for me in Christ, strength, wisdom, righteousness, everything, -- I can thank God that there has been such a person on earth as the Lord Jesus Christ. Not only can I say that Christ is on the Father's throne, but I can say "that is the Blessed One who has loved me and given Himself for me. He is happy in the Father's love, and my heart (set free by redemption) is happy because His heart is so. If He is the eternal life of my soul, I cannot but be happy." He says, "You are a debtor to Me, and I can let you into My joy with My Father." And I can say, "I rejoice, O Lord. that Thou hast Thy heart's delight, resting with the Father, for I do love Thee."
I can say, "My fellowship is with the Father and the Son." Fellowship is not a future thing, but a thing we have possession of while in these earthen vessels. It is up on the throne with Christ that we have it -- it cannot vary. What a position! Christ in heaven in perfect light, and I, brought there by Him, everything in myself contrasted with what He is, to have discovered at once, all darkness in myself and all light in Him!
I do not get rid of sin till Christ changes this vile body, but sin has no longer dominion over me. In being made a new creature in Christ, the body is not changed, but a new nature is communicated, and we are brought into the light; and while walking in the light, we have a good conscience. The root of sin is there still, but the heart occupied with Christ does not go out to see sin, But if a saint leaves that place, and gets occupied with things down here, he will lose the power which, being in the light, gives the heart to detect everything contrary to it. If I get out of that blessed place to which the Father brought me when He sought me out, I am back where evil reigns, I get where every one has likes and dislikes, then sorrow comes, and chastisement.
Christ on earth was perfect light -- and everything was discovered by it. "In Him was life, and the life was the light of men." We are made partakers of His life. We are up there in spirit, down here in body. If the body is to be kept subject, it must be so by communion with the Father and the Son. Practical failure there will be; but never say that we must fail, though we do fail. Paul failed as a matter of fact. It is not "When any man but "If any man sin, there is an Advocate" -- there is the fountain. I believe that the advocacy of the Lord Jesus is little thought of as it ought to be. Not the sacrifice for sin; that question is settled for ever when we believe. We have never to go to Him, as our Advocate, as to personal acceptance. It is when the accepted one sins: and there is not one single blot, one practical failure, but it has all been in the light, His eye has detected it.
Saints forget often that Christ is a great deal more watchful than they are. He said to Peter before he failed, "I have prayed for thee." Directly the heart of a believer recognises sin, it ought to recognise Christ praying for him. This blessed Lord is not only the restorer of our souls, but the One who continually renews the flow of affection between the Father and the wandering child.
The Father has all delight in Christ as the perfect expression of His love -- of all that He is; and we enter into His delight. What a God! Not contented to be Himself light and love, in His own glory, but He has presented light and love and glory to us in His Son. Has the delight and the blessedness of fellowship with Him up there, discovered to us the poverty of all down here. Are we a heavenly people? Have we heavenly stores laid up in Christ? Why put off the joy of heaven for a future day? Why not begin now to live in heaven? God calls us to rejoicing and joy in Christ now.
Can I connect all the sorrows of the wilderness with Christ's glory? Have I set up as my banner, "To me to live is Christ"? Do I devote myself and all I have to Christ's glory, turning everything into an occasion for magnifying Him?
If my heart is breaking, what matters it, if I have Christ? -- He loves a broken heart. His heart cares for me, as no mother cares for her child. Every throb of your heart is known to Him, and He beautifully knows how to show you how all -- able He is to give you rest and a peace that passes all understanding. And if you are broken down bit by bit, it is only to fit you for the place He has prepared for you. There is, for the heart that is resting in Christ's love, a perfect repose, a Divine peace, that Satan cannot shake. You will be wondering at your peace, you will be able to say of things that destroy the dearest hopes of your heart, "I thank God."
In the Person with whom I have to do, I have the word of God, the blessed Lord, the glory of whose person is set forth in the revelation. And if I am in that Christ of God, in whom was never a waver in doing God's will, it will bring me down to the very bottom of self. If He does know individually everything in me, He knows it by the perfect contrast it is of all in Himself. Have you cultivated an acquaintance with the heart-searching Word, who looks down into the very bottom of your heart, who discovers the first budding of everything wrong, and puts His hand to stop it? If He has to do with a redeemed people, how far does He find each one a vessel fitted for Him to dwell in?
If there is a corner of my heart that Christ has not searched down to the very bottom, I am undone. Would I have a blind Christ, one whom I should not like to search out every part of my heart? Ah! I would rather have Christ pointing out everything, than friends praising. I adore God that gave Him to me. Who am I, that my Lord should so condescend to search me? And where there is evil in me, that is just where God lets His streams flow into me. He sees everything that hinders and chokes -- would I stay His hand?
The reason of little growth in practical holiness and unearthliness, is that the heart is not abiding in the light of the searching eye of Christ in heaven, and making the whole value of it come right down to the very bottom of everything. There can be no power of blessing save that which begins with Christ, that which throws us (in the light) upon the heart of Jesus, upon the love that knows how to give sympathy in everything -- the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord, that love from which nothing can separate us. All the Divine glory beams down on us in the face of Jesus Christ; we are in Him, and have such fellowship with Him that what is true of the Head, as to God's delight being in Him, is true of the members. The great thing that gives liberty to the heart is the knowing its connection with a risen and ascended Lord, and so being able to stand, counting on the love of God in Him. There is in the heart of the Lord Jesus the full throbbing of that love, as He looks upon us as those given Him of the Father -- a Divine savour and fulness in it, because of its being the love of God: a perfectly Divine love, which lays hold of each individual as one given Him of the Father; a love which never changes, and from which nothing in heaven or earth can separate.
Christ tells it out in our hearts that in Him is the yea and amen to all the promises. We shall find immense strength in that thought in a cloudy day like the present when (we are like water spilt on the ground) we get clouded and troubled by the world on every side; but turn to Him, and all in Him is "yea and amen." He makes good all the promises. The bringing light out of a promise, the making any bit of truth come with power and freshness to the heart, all is His doing.
Why are the thoughts of many stirring with the question, "Where is the Church of the living God?" It is because Christ has not forgotten it. Why is the thought of His coming thrilling in so many hearts? Because He has not forgotten it.
No saint ever finds true rest in the thought of glory and heaven, save as he realizes that everything is centred in the Person of Christ. If I walked round heaven and found no Christ there, however bright and beautiful all might be, I should say, "It won't do without Christ." The Lord Himself must have a vividness in the soul, a living place there, if the renewed affections are to be satisfied.
What! this One, this smitten Rock, through which the river of life flows - this One, who knows all the secrets of the Father's heart! do I know that He loves me? Did He die for me? I had my sins, and nothing but my sins, when He looked upon me. Was His blood competent to take out all their crimson dye? and is God satisfied? Will God find fault with that work as inadequate? Oh no! He looked upon me, the chief of sinners, and I am to be a specimen of the cleansing power of that blood. How blessed a thought! Oh what love that is of His! How aggressive, how mighty in its power against all that is contrary to it, as it flows into the heart of a saint! How it enables one to look up and say, "I know Thee, Lord Jesus up there, as the One who loved me in all my misery, who didst interpose Thyself between me and my sins, and hast obtained and. given me a title to be a kingly priest to God and Thy Father, and hast made me to know it now. How is it that there is so little praise? Because there is so little appreciation of Christ and of the work of Christ, of how that blood has cleansed us and given us a place in glory. Why is there not willingness in saints to strip themselves for Christ, as Jonathan did for David? Why is there not that impulsive power of love flowing out in praise, as it did in John, when His heart welled forth, "To Him who loved us"? Whenever a saint gets into close connection with Christ Himself, and sees the living streams flow down, he will have no thought of self. When I think of myself in the glory, and Christ saying, "That is a man whom I washed from his sins in My own blood," I shall not want any glory for myself, but all for Him; and to be standing now as a testimony of His love in the world, to speak of His glory, to His praise.
Are you occupied with the person of Christ alone? You cannot have Him as the object of your life unless you are occupied with Him Himself. There is nothing so blessed to the heart as realizing the person of Christ, that One who is to come and receive us to Himself -- He, the centre of all the Divine glory.
We shall know nothing about beauty of walk till we come to compare our walk with the walk of Christ on earth.
I believe many Christians don't know anything about a living Christ in heaven, occupied with them and they with Him -- don't know Him as One who calls upon them to apprehend that for which He has apprehended them. How many thoughts have you had today, telling that you know Christ has apprehended exactly what you are to be in the glory? The heart cannot have strength to apprehend it all, but can you say that He has shown you bits of it, and that you follow after to apprehend more of it? Is it the formative power to your heart? Do you connect it with your walk in the wilderness down here? Oh how clear, how distinct in the mind of Christ is that for which he has apprehended you. I may follow after Him, finding more and more of the heights and depths of His love, and yet have to say, "I have not apprehended, but I press on."
How can one walk in communion with Christ in heaven and not come in collision with the world? Do I walk as one who is in present, living intercourse with the heart of Christ, having my heart formed and fashioned by the constant apprehension of His glory? And if so, how can I be conformed to the world? Do you believe that Christ is not ashamed to confess your name to the Father, as one whom He has apprehended for glory? Oh, is there no divine fulness, nothing unsearchable, connected with the love that says, "How are you walking? is it as one who is reaching forth, and pressing on for the mark?" If I am called upon to give up certain things, to be separate from certain things, is it sorrow to me or joy, under the eye of Christ who is leading me on into glory with Himself?
A heavenly life will never be found save in one who is in present communion with Christ about the place to which He is leading us. And a heart can never be abidingly in communion with the heart of Christ and be identified with the world that does not know Him. The Holy Ghost bids us keep our eye fixed on Christ, as He is conducting us on to the glory, for oh! He has apprehended us for it. Paul wanted the full manifestation of Christ in glory, his eye was up watching Him in heaven, looking for His coming. That is what tomorrow is for Christ: what, is it to us? Is His coming our tomorrow? Paul had discarded everything that came between him and a risen Christ upon the throne. Paul was going up hill, looking straight up to heaven, living upon the hope of that Christ's coming. Do you and I live in the light of the Lord Jesus Christ's coming at any moment? Is that the hope that sheds light on everything? It is of immense practical comfort, as well as power. If it were always the present object of the heart, how would it be possible to be overcome by the trials and difficulties we have to pass through? He maybe coming tonight, or we might have years of trial or of persecution in the wilderness, but in the thought of His coming to fetch us, and His hand under us, can we not forget this body of humiliation, and these trials until then? If I can calculate on His love all the way, I shall be able to meet every difficulty. The love that makes Him come forth to fetch me will shine forth then, and I can count on its shining forth today. Does any one say, "I know that Christ will come at last to fetch me, but He forgets me in my difficulties now"? Any not walking with Him might say it. Could we?
The grand expression of His love is that He will come Himself to fetch us to bring us to His Father's house. No other tomorrow is given us by the Spirit but Christ in heaven coming to take us up there.
The thoughts of God and of Christ in heaven, as they flow into us, make manifest to us an awful contrast between them and what we find in ourselves. But how sweetly, in all that reminds us of what even these bodies of ours are, we are also reminded of the love which, before we are taken up, will change and fashion them according to His own glorious body! In what dress am I to appear in His presence? In one fashioned like His own. The thought of power given, for a human body to become an immortal and incorruptible body, is feeble compared with this being fashioned like His own glorious body. He might have given incorruptibility, but not this, the being like Him when we see Him as He is. What a thought! This Christ soon coming to make me like Himself! Do I love Him, and am I a citizen of heaven, because of being hid in God with Him, until the time when His glory will be shown out fully? What think you of having bodies like His? How it brings the heart to heaven where that body is -- a human, though a glorious body. How sweet the association, with Him and like Him," when we see Him as He is. Till He comes it is a blessed thing to be able to say we have nought to think of and to seek for but heavenly things: "Ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God." All worldliness consists in some plan for self, something to see attractiveness in for self down here; but is our plan looking for Christ to come? The attractiveness of that Christ should make all things of the world drop off, and be judged. When He comes as the man honoured of God, it will be not only to lead us into heaven, but to come with subduing power into things which cause sensible groaning. He has poured life into my soul, but this body has got death in it still, and He will change it according to the working of that power whereby He is able to subdue all things to Himself. Are we walking as lovers of the cross of that Christ? When He who died on it came down from heaven, a glory shone out of Him, the glory as of the only-begotten of the Father. and His life was a perfect expression of what our life ought to be. Look to that Christ for power to walk, and do not be looking down here for something to lean on. Don't let forgetfulness of your wilderness portion creep into your soul. Be good soldiers of the Cross.
Strange that I am not ever looking up, if I expect to see the door of heaven open, and the One I love coming out. Oh! what a scene, when He comes forth to change these vile bodies, fashioning them like to His own glorious body!
Don't let there be such a thought as that He who saved you out of Egypt wants you to wander in the wilderness, as if He had no proper place prepared for you. He wants you to be walking as those for whom the place is prepared. A place where He will have all His own around Him in all His own beauty, all overflowing with all His own joy; when He shall have put out for over every root that troubled us in the wilderness. The pilgrims and soldiers of the Cross shall be changed after such a fashion that nothing down here could be good enough for them; nothing short of heaven will do. (Don't you be satisfied with anything less.) Christ never had a home down here, it was a wilderness to Him, it did not bear the stamp of His Father's heart. If there is a strange place to me, it ought to be the place where my Lord was crucified.
There is no joy in this life like the joy of walking with God, like the joy of picking out my footsteps after my Lord, and His eye upon me following my steps all through the wilderness.
How sad for any one to be called to go, with a quantity of things to settle! Blessed to be able to say, "What little bit of work the Lord gave me to do, is done, and I am ready at any moment to go up to the Father's house." Would you like your coming Lord to take you by surprise?
See what the Lord lets into Stephen's soul -- something connected with the taste of His love, something in Himself flowing out, ministering to His servant; not only to show the faithfulness of that servant, but to give that which made His servant able to serve Him with all joy. All that man could do, could not prevent the expression of the living sympathy of Christ towards him. When they were stoning him, he could look up and say, "I have the sympathy of that One who is standing at God's night hand." It changed everything to Stephen. Before, he had not such a flow of the affections of Christ, not such a taste of the living sympathy of Christ. Was Stephen the only martyr that had such a taste of Christ's love that his heart could not contain it, and that it set all his affections on fire? Was he the only man that ever had Christ's sympathy let into his heart? Could not each of us say "no"? and if I got into Stephen's company I could tell him that I too had tasted it all, though in much more humble circumstances it may be. Do we not know the effect of Christ's sympathy? know how we have tasted it in our hearts again and again?
Next, look at Paul Why persecutest thou Me? If you touch them. you touch Me." All the light of Christ's sympathy with a suffering people down here, broke into Paul's heart practically; and see him afterwards, in Acts 18: 8-10. What a difference between having a dispensation of the gospel committed to him, and being told not to be disheartened, because he had all the living sympathy of Christ's heart. It is the intelligence Paul had of the fact that the affections of the Lord's heart were flowing out to him down here.
Paul knew that there was water from that smitten Rock -- a supply always flowing out for him. He is in the presence of God, ever living to make intercession for us; but more, when He went back to heaven, He sent down another to be the Comforter and Guardian of His people; such a One as all His living sympathies could flow through, down to His people on earth.
It is a solemn thing, the Holy Ghost being present in the assembly; when He acts, what is it that He does? He realizes Christ to our souls; He shows us what this Christ is; the soul rises up to Him, and we get all that can comfort us, in connection with the affections of a Man.
It is in that very place where all the glory comes out at the Father's right hand, that Christ has proclaimed Himself head of a body: Are our lives the expression of the communion we have with Him who is our portion up there where He is sitting, until He rises to take us to Himself? One like Paul could not understand why -- if the Lord had given Himself for him -- he should not give himself up for Christ, body, soul, and spirit; to him "to live was Christ." His whole heart's desire was to lay everything down at the feet of Christ, not only his life but all.
"And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also may be sanctified by truth." He could set Himself apart, but He could not purify Himself, because He was Divine purity itself. Leprosy fled away from Him, His touch conveyed purification to others. It is not here the question of purity, but whether there is such a thing as being set apart, separated unto God. The blood separates the people of God, because they are not their own but bought with a price. Where the sprinkled blood is known as the power of separation, it is a blessed thing: but the believer is perfected for ever by the one offering. Its whole value goes to perfect those that, are separated. What could justify a poor ruined creature in saying, "I am perfected for ever," if that offering had not done it and set him down as one perfected for ever." If Christ gave Himself as a ransom, and was accepted, it is quite enough. I could not see Christ in heaven, save as a ruined creature, and it is as a ruined creature I have to worship, and I cannot see Him without my very heart melting in adoration and worship before Him.
It changes everything, the moment I get the glory of Christ shining in on my soul.
It is exceedingly important in these days to have Christ the centre of everything to us, so as to be able to say, "to me to live is Christ;" to be walking in the light of His glory shining down upon our path, in everything that glory kept uppermost; not to be allowing two lives in us, the life of the flesh and the life of the Spirit, but to be sinking the life of the flesh, and having only the life of Christ living in us.
One of the greatest blessings the soul can have is the power of entering into the refreshment the Lord Jesus Christ had whilst He was on the earth, and it is that which makes the scene between Himself and the dying thief so precious; not only that poor thing finding light through an open door, but the thought is so exceedingly precious that He who saved that thief, saw in him one of the fruits of the travail of His soul; so precious, that He should there see fruit of His travail, before he could turn and crave a blessing; and to hear Him speak of blessing to that poor thing before He cried out with a loud voice and gave up the ghost.
It is very solemn in connection with those who are members of His body and one spirit with Him, that the Lord's eye comes in to search everything in them, and that He knows all intents and thoughts. of the heart and mind. But if He did not, we could not get such a blessed thing as One ever living to make intercession for us, for if He did not, He would not know how to make it available for us. Directly He sees in us something that needs it, He pleads with God; and not only He sees it, but He makes us see it. All is discovered to us. He makes us see every infirmity, every mark of spiritual disease, that we may know His healing; and He makes us accord in character with the place we are in, in Him.
It is so blessed, the way that the Lord teaches us about Himself as a living person; and there is no place where we have Him as. a living person more than in the wilderness. We are all impatient to see Him up there, but it would not be the same thing if we had not seen and known Him in the wilderness. He is the object in whom God presents His own character, and as we pass through the turmoil of life, what can strengthen us in it; what can help us, save the seeing Him, the living Christ, for us? When He takes us into the light, and shows us that all flesh is grass, what can sustain, and settle the heart, but the thought of that One, the unchangeable One, occupied with us? Sin in us, He apart from it altogether, and yet for us. That Lord in heaven was Paul's living book.