By G.V. Wigram
We can turn to Christ and say, "There is One whom we can trace from the manger to the cross, and never find, save on two occasions, the expression of His own will, and each time that expression was perfect. The first was when anticipating the cup which the Father had given Him to drink, and it would not have been perfect otherwise. Was it nothing to that holy undefiled One to think of being a Sin-bearer, and of bearing all the wrath of God for sin? He would not take the cup from man's hand, but from the Father. The second expression of His will is in John 18, 'Father, I will that they whom Thou has given me be with me where I am that they may behold My glory," What a blessed expression if perfect satisfaction in these poor things! He wouldn't be alone in glory, He would have them sharers of it. You and I have wills that are constantly working. We must have our wills judged by the contrast between them and Christ yet the beauty of His coming down without any will, saying, "Lo, I come to do Thy will, O God!" Paul had a will: he would go to Jerusalem, and had to go to Rome. But Christ said, "I shall go with you." No one will-less save Him whose only will was to be the perfect servant of God, and nothing else. And there He is in the glory now, still in the same character. How little our hearts think of it!
Paul thought a great deal of Him. Where could he get water enough to turn that wheel? Water enough to keep his heart fresher and fresher as he went on? Ah! it was from the fountain! It was Christ revealing Himself to him. That and that only, kept Paul's heart fresh.
What a thought that He is the eternal lover of souls! All that I have is in Him, and all given me by the Father, and He will keep it. The Holy Ghost sent down by Him seals it upon our hearts. God would have a people with all the freshness of the heart of Christ for them.
If God is working, there is no distance between the potter and the vessel; it is in the potter's hand fashioning it, and his hand is very close to the clay. It is very blessed to be a temple of the Holy Ghost, but we must take care to remember that it is God who is moulding us and working in us, as He did in Paul.
There is nothing I may be doing that is bright to me now, which will continue to look bright in heaven unless Christ be the object of it. It is the expression of the life of Christ that you have to make manifest. One believer may be in bed sick, another may be running over the earth preaching; another in prison; each will be, no matter where, or in what circumstances, just where the life of Christ is to break forth in him, and shine the most brightly. If a believer had to take to his bed for six weeks, and came to Jesus saying, "Lord, fill this chamber with Thyself," what brightness there would be! Unhappily we don't find with many now that Christ is first, Christ second, and Christ third: that He is the rock whence all supplies are drawn. All is not handed up to Him as the One who is teaching His children to read. You don't find likeness to Christ coming out. Let Christ be inside (in the affections) and Christ will shine out. You will know that joy is when He can shine out.
If you see any beauty in Christ, and say, "I desire to have that," God will work it in you.
We are so horridly selfish -- it is always, Where am I? What have I got? "I" starts up first, and that is the "old man." In the Father's house will it be "I"? What! is there nothing for the heart to be interested in, save things connected with self? Or will you there find Christ so completely the centre of that scene, He so completely filling it up, and His love so precious, that you, cannot have the least thought about self, being so wrapt up in that Lord Christ Jesus, in the very light of His presence, that you can find no place for the I, the self, that fills up so much of the thoughts now?
Have you the thought of that, sinless unspotted One which carries the mind off from every thought of self, as its utter contrast? Oh what a blessed mercy for me is the thought of that sinless One! Do I prize it? Oh, I could not do without it. I prize it unutterably as the contrast to me, every imagination of whose heart is only evil continually. How, then, do I prize Him whom faith sees up there as the One who from that eternal glory was the giver of life to me a poor sinner! It is a precious thing to feel that one could not do without Him.
There is no place where a wearied creature can find a bit of light save in Christ, looking up and finding it nowhere else.
When we come to look at the work of Christ, it is the person who did it that gives it all its value. He in whom dwelt all the fulness of the Godhead alone could have done it.
The Lord Jesus Christ at God's right hand is the Rest of our hearts now. Can you say, just where you, are, "Christ is to be magnified in my body, whether by life or death"? Can you spread out all the details of your life, day by day, showing in everything that the present desire of Christ's heart is that which guides you?
If you have only a little ray of light, show out distinctly that you are for Him.
If I read scripture, faith sees and adores that One in whom is all perfection; from whose life given to me I derive all adoration and all power for living to Him. It is not only that life gushes from Him the smitten One, but I can look up and adore Him as the display of that life.
When the whole work which He has undertaken is finished, and His people are taken up in bodies of glory, then will it be seen that all the springs of God are in Him; and all the fresh eternal fulness of the life that was with the Father will be manifested. But it has been manifested on this earth. There was the display of that life in the whole history of Christ as man down here -- He, the only holy, undefiled One, the One in whom was no spot, but spiritual divine purity.
I find that people's minds slide over the thought of that life having been a thing displayed in the Son of God on earth. In every part of that life here He won adoration and worship.
People often overlook that the effect of having the life of Christ is, that everything contrary to it must come into judgment, and faith casts the burden of this on Him, as He is the only One who, having given that life, can carry it on in our souls. He alone can carry us through the wilderness, the time-state, to the hour when "this mortal shall put on immortality."
When God had brought Israel over the Red Sea, and said to them, "You are my chosen people, do you choose and are you prepared to walk with me?" they did not do it. It is too often just the same with people now.
His plans for us are surpassingly wonderful -- and if Christ says, "I am in the Father, and you in me, and I in you," and if this is a fact, how can one who believes it turn to anything of the flesh, and bring in a thought of the creature? If I did so, I could not walk as one who realized oneness with Christ. While I am realizing that I am in Christ, and am living Christ, all the affections of my heart will be set on Him, and I shall have competency to do things which I should not be able even to think of apart from Him. Oh! He has given me His own life, He tells me that I am in and He in me. And if any one really knows something about the love of God, it is because of having a right view of the place into which it has brought us.
God could never forget what is due to His holiness and glory. A ruined sinner could never have appeared in the light in His presence, if that living Man, the Lord Jesus Christ were not on the throne of God -- that One who, before He took that place, went to the cross and bore the whole ruin which sin brought. And now a stream of life flows down from that risen Man to me; I am brought into fellowship with the Father, and can stand in the light in God's presence, rejoicing with ever fresh delight at the blessedness of His having given that Son to bear all my ruin.
The revelation of Father goes far beyond that of God. As a son, I am brought where I can have fellowship with the thoughts of the Father and of the Son -- "I in them, and thou in me." Is that true of you individually? you, in your littleness, put into Christ; all that Christ is, giving you value before God. It makes one feel one's exceeding littleness -- a zero, a thing utterly valueless, made by the figure put before it, to be of exceeding value.
I should like to see in saints a larger sense of the grace of God in having taken them up; so that they should be more bowed down in the thought of it. It is one thing to be crippled in the sense of what poor creatures we are, and quite another thing to be bowed down in the thought of that grace which met us where we were, and put us where we are. We were dead in trespasses and sins, when He picked us up and gave us life and fellowship with the body of Christ: and I should like to see that thought bowing down your hearts.
In Revelation 5, I see the Lamb in the midst of the throne, as the connecting link between that throne and a poor feeble disciple; and I say, if I have got that Lamb as my connecting link with the throne of God in heaven, how can there be a thought of anything but an acceptance as perfect as that of Christ? But there is another thing: What sort of walk ought mine to be? Do I begin where God begins? Are God and His Christ the two first thoughts in my mind? If walking with God and the Lamb in heaven, what sort of person shall I be, doing everything in the light of God and the Lamb?
If I know the love of God, it gives day by day a certain strength to lift one's feet out of the sand of the desert; it is something I rest in. There is no rest in looking within or around, it must be upwards and onwards. Take many Christians of the present day, and you will find them always looking within or around: it must be upwards and onwards.
John, the beloved disciple, first delivers his thread of messages to the seven churches; but the moment he gets to Jesus Christ, that name causes a vibration in his heart (Rev. 1: 2); and we cannot hear that name without a movement in our souls, the result of God's having shown us that we have in that Lord Jesus Christ an answer to everything in Himself and in man. If Adam's rest was broken up, there was a place belonging to Christ, and John knew that place of rest, and joy, and peace, as his own; and the name of this Christ vibrated in the springs of John's heart as being all his own. Just where he was, Christ had stepped in as Redeemer, and John could not utter His name without there being a thrill in his heart -- a burst of praise on his lips.
Oh to know that the only answer to the deceitfulness of these hearts of ours and the hypocrisy of human nature, is, that we have got that One, that faithful and unchangeable One who is with His people all the way through the wilderness till He gets them into the Father's house.
Have you tasted the sweetness of the cry, "Abba, Father, in your heart, and the blessedness of Christ in heaven being in you, and you in Him? And is it, think you, strange that He should take notice of your walk, and want you to walk as a child of the Father? Is it a strange thing that He should be the One to watch over you? No! and it is a blessed thing to know that he does do it. He never supposed that we could get through this life and get into glory without His leading and watching over us Himself; no such thought was ever in His mind.
We want reality; not a name, but the eternal life in the soul so practically our own, that it is seen by the way it works in us, and the things that flow forth from it. Wonderful is the effect of "doing truth"! Look at Paul -- what were all those sufferings and all that self-denial of his, but an immensely strong argument for all that people heard from his lips? seeing him act out the truth gave immense power to it. People might challenge him, but if they did he could say, "whether I have done it well or ill, I have been trying all my life to carry out practically the life that Christ has put in me. I may have failed, but my sole desire and aim has been to live Christ."
My whole view of anything depends on my standpoint; if in a high place I get the whole compass. Paul could say, "My stand-point is Christ in heaven." From being in Christ, he had the power of Christ causing him to lot the whole stream of life flow out in service. The result was a very different thing from gleaning a straw here and there.
It was quite right, John, Peter, Paul, that when the world looked on you and saw you were like your Master -- it rejected you as it rejected Him; and could not know you because it did not know Him. I ask believers now, Are you walking so like Christ that the same world which did not know Christ, or John, or Paul, does not know you? Even an infidel will tell you the points of difference between you and Christ. In Paul the world saw a man who, in everything he did, had
Christ's glory as the end in view. Could any who had been watching me the last 30 years, say the same of me? Not like Paul indeed; but whether it were the bell-bearer of the flock, or the feeblest lamb in it, the life ought to have the same character. If it is true that I have that life, am I walking in accordance with it? Are you? Do you say that I want to put you in bondage? I wish I could put you into bondage by binding your heart so close to Christ that all which is in Him should flow out of you. Let each one ask himself, "Can I say I am a member of Christ and He looks down on me and sees the life I have in Him flowing out through me? Is all the responsibility I am under that of pleasing the Christ who has loved me, and who, notwithstanding all that I am, is not ashamed to confess me?" If you do not find that answer to His love which you long to find in yourself, go to the Father and tell Him you do not, and see what He will do. Calling sons, was His thought. Go to the great Physician, and you will find plenty of balm in Gilead.
If you do not walk as a son and as a child with God, you will find that you will not have strength to withstand all that is fast coming on the world: but if walking with Him you will find Him for you, and the deeper the trial, the more your joy will be.
If we look at the millennium, we see on one side the glory of Zechariah 8: 3, and on the other side the bride: but there is something higher in the title of sons of God, Christ taking them into the Father's house, bringing many sons to glory; that is the highest glory -- being sons with Christ, the only-begotten Son in heaven, in whom the Father has all delight, and having life in Him, the Father's love shines down on them freely. If I know that love of the Father to Him who is the centre of this new system, and am conscious that through Christ I have that love shed abroad in my heart, will it drive out all of the flesh in me? No; but the outgoings of the life of Christ in me will be seen. The flesh is indeed still in me, but I have power to reckon myself dead unto sin and alive unto God through Jesus Christ; and all who are blessed in Christ ought to be using this power.
Take John and Paul -- the power of life in them was not according to their thought of it, but according to the Father's measure of it in Christ. When battling with circumstances saying "I must, and I must not," do you find that you have the victory over self and the world? No; but if you get a happy train of thought about what Christ is, then just where you found all was failure, it becomes the scene into which He comes. He meets all the failure of His people, and all His grace comes in to meet me just where I fail.
If God's grace acts in you as a ruined creature, He says, "Christ is your hiding-place, you are accepted in Him, and I delight in all who are in Him;" and if so, everything that is unlike that Blessed One will be what you will hate, and you will like to take up all things that are according to His mind -- purifying yourself even as He is pure.
Can we understand God's book? With the Holy Ghost we can -- He will teach us. Have I found in it that if I am a son, I have life in Christ -- life that connects me with the very being of the Son of God! He has given me the Spirit, and brought life home to me, not like Paul in the forefront of the battle, but in my own little corner. I get all the glory of Christ there. Ah, it is in our own littleness that all the divine glory comes out; we look for something great and majestic, but God takes little things to show it out; "base things and things that are not."
God claims those who are Christ's as His children, His dwelling place, and that makes the responsibility of a child's walk. Many there are who do not choose to recognize their responsibility to walk with God in their practical ways. Do you believe that God dwells in you? and if He does how are you walking?
Do you find a single occasion in which Christ ever acted independently of God? If you walk in the same path it will be sweet to you to feel your entire dependency, finding in all difficulties the everlasting arms underneath.
We have to see what the large-heartedness of Christ is, and what the blessed grace of God is, desiring to have His children walking with Him, and of His word coming to them as a word of rebuke if they are not. separate from the world -- settled down in Sodom perhaps: and God, in order to show His grace towards you, may have to send you sorrow and trouble to teach you where you are. God does not want you to say that you have become religious, He wants you to know that you are one with that Nazarene whom men spit upon, and to confess Him as the One in whom He delights, the One who is set on high as the giver of eternal life. He wants you to be able to say, "That eternal life is mine." Is He and are you in Him? then there is power to make manifest the mind of Christ.
I would press two things, there is a difference between them -- the manifestation of life in the soul, on our part; and, on His part, the light always streaming down from Christ: if Paul deviated in his course, no shadow was cast on the heart of Christ, but Paul would have to be corrected for it.
Do you know the glory of God to be your portion, rejoicing in the hope of it? Do you see the bright light shining in the distance? The things we meet with on the road may be trying: Jacob's head lay on a stone pillow whilst he was enjoying the heavenly vision. The deep sands and sharp stones may make the wilderness road very uncomfortable to walk along, but God uses it for the breaking away of all that will not do for the glory; and by it is teaching me the patience of Christ, and putting that part of God's character before my soul. Is it long, this waiting-time? but will any who are weary now make a murmur when standing in the glory, at the length of the way they had to pass? We should even glory in tribulation because it works patience. (Rom. 5: 3.) Patience is not indifference. A patient man takes all that tries him and bears it in the presence of God; and in the presence of God he finds the Spirit of God shedding abroad in. his heart the love of God. (Rom. 5: 5.)
"Now is the Son of Man glorified." (John 13) There is a difference between this and the glory of the Son of Man in Daniel: there it is visible outward glory, here it is the moral glory of a person whom every one was despising: One whom man did not think worthy of a slave's price -- and why? Because He was so entirely God's servant, and had so entirely the mind of God. Such a mind was out of fashion amongst a people who all had wills of their own, whilst He said, "Lo I come to do thy will, O God," He the only one perfectly able to meet Satan, able to meet powers of every kind, because He came in this will-less way, obedient even unto death in doing the will of God, taking everything from the hand of God.
What we want is the character of a little child. What do I know? Nothing: but I believe and am sure, because God has told me, that I have eternal life. Does God say it? Yes! "This is the promise that he has promised us, even eternal" John 2: 25); and all who believe possess says it, whose judgment is alone worth hearing, He who alone has a right to speak, says it; and I bless Him that He is able to speak such large words about me. It is the simplicity of a child believing just what God says, that is lacking; and that is the reason why Christians do not walk (as they ought) as children of the Father. How can they, if they do not believe that they are children!
Put yourselves among the Jerusalem saints after Pentecost, and ask yourselves if you are walking as they did. Have we that Nazarite position outside everything connected with the world? And "all that is of the world is not of the Father." Can we say of any when going into their house, "That person brings me Christ?" If one had paid a visit to Paul, would one not have come away with a fresh taste of Christ? I have often come out of the house of a poor bedridden creature, feeling, Oh how I wish my soul were like that! -- Oh, that that pulse of Christ were throbbing in every part of the body. How I want, how I long, to see it so in all who are His!
We do not live in heaven and then we complain of earth. If walking as men on earth, we shall have bitter experience. As it is, we get a quantity of experience for which we have to thank self. Enoch, in a day when there was no scripture, walked with God. 300 years he walked according to the mind of God. Such a walk as that is a little thing as to making a noise in the world. What would be the world's judgment of any one of whom God could say, "That man and I know each other, and he walks with me." It was a very quiet, very unostentatious, walk. It was simply saying at every step, "Whereabouts is God in this step?" Did the people of that day before they put their foot to take a step, ask first, "Is God in it?" No: it appears that Enoch walked alone with God. He had a set of thoughts and ways peculiar to himself, but the same as God's; and he must have known himself as one who could boldly say, "I am walking with God." I would ask as in the presence of God, with the measure of light given to us, can we say, not to man, nor to one another, but to God, "Father, Thou knowest I walk so with Thee, that as the end was to Enoch, so will be my end?" What is true of faith at one time, is true at all times. These things that came out in Enoch are as a touchstone for the people of God from those days to the present time, by which to test themselves. Can you say, "I know God's judgment is coming on that which professes to be His church on earth, but where faith calls me there will I be found in separation with God Himself. The wide world may have gone aside and left me standing alone, but there I am with God?"
"Except a corn of wheat die, it abideth alone but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit." It was a strange way of not abiding alone -- Christ dying, by death to bring many sons to glory! And what does it tell a person now? that this man, God's chosen One, was of the world or not of the world? Let us see where this Casket, the holder of all grace and blessing, is now, and who He is; it is Christ, at the right hand of God. If Enoch could have seen a man in heaven in the central place -- the throne of God -- and had known himself to be connected with Him (as we can say we are) would he not have said, "Ah, that is a man who has done with the world, so done with it that He is up there clean out of it; and I, being quickened, and raised up with Him, have done with it too?" People may say they hardly know how to walk with God -- but quietly take up the details of your walk, and see how far God is in everything in it, begin by looking for Him in every step you take. It is a matter of progress; if any have not yet learnt to walk with Him, they will make many mistakes, but they must not be discouraged: it will be the blessedness of seeking to walk with God in a worse day than Enoch's, which you will enjoy.
We never find that the mere thought of the glory to come enables the mind to look forward to it; we want something more. When it came to John at Patmos, he felt, "I am an outcast now:" but the thought his heart laid hold of was, "He has loved me and washed me from my sins in his own blood."
What so sweet as the thought of the worship that will be rendered to God and to the Lamb in presence of the glory! Christ will be the guide of it, and its object too: that is the sweetest thought of all. (God and the Lamb are the light of the holy city.) If I take Christ as the light, the rays of light that stream forth from Him will shine through the city and the golden street: we being the medium through which the light shines down upon the earth; not seeing it stained as now with sin, but the people looking up to the glory which shines down through the city -- but never mistaking the bride for the light. As you may see a cloud bearing light, coloured by the sun, so we see the city lighted by God and the Lamb. If Christ were not God, the light could not shine out. We shall be brought into the closest association with God. Most blessed to find a Man on the throne of God, all the universe owning Him as God, but we shall reign with Him; He has a throne of His own, on which we shall sit with Him and reign with Him. The bride will see Him as God, having the glory of God, in a place of which God and the Lamb are the light, and it shines through her. But there is something else, much lower down, connected with the human heart; the first Adam in Paradise had all blessing. Ah! but if he had had no help-meet for him, no one with whom to share his thoughts, and feelings, would he have been happy? And Christ, the last Adam, is in heaven as Son of God connected with worship and government; but as Son of Man, as the One on whose bosom John lay, the One who wept at the grave of Lazarus, has He no need of human affections? Yes, all will be as perfect on the human as on the divine side. Yes, He will have the human family gathered round Him. Eve, sitting in the garden of Eden, shared all with Adam, she was the complement of Adam's happiness, set there for him by God.
It is not government, not the throne, not the giving of light, that the last chapter of Revelation ends with: -- it ends with a sort of converse, in which the heart's affections are seen. The heart of Christ responds, as one man might speak to another, when He is invited to come. "The Spirit and the bride say, Come!" and the Lord Jesus answers, "Behold I come quickly!" And again the heart of the bride replies, "Even so, come, Lord Jesus!" How blessed all this! If God has set you apart for Christ, you are His. As Solomon sent down into Egypt for a stranger to make her his wife, so God has chosen me, the believer may say, taken me out of the world, and set me apart as part of the bride; and the moment Christ takes the glory, I shall meet Himself.
The heart God has formed for the Lord Jesus, can never speak to another, but can turn to Him only, asking Him to come. Could God propose to your heart anything more blessed than the being set apart for Him who is the object of His own delight? Has He formed your heart for that Son in whom is all His own heart's delight?
It is blessed to be in the wilderness, if there is any little thing Christ can give us to do, but more blessed still to have something put into our hearts that enables us to say to Christ, "Come, Lord Jesus!" It is too so sweet that in reference to this hope and those who know it, nothing can come in between the heart and it; whilst you judge your practical inconsistency, you can allow nothing to come between. The Lord says, in the midst of all failure and inconsistency, "I come quickly; surely I come quickly," and the heart answers in the midst of it all, "Even so, come, Lord Jesus."
Does that Lord see many a one, here and there, whose heart is formed by the thought of His coming, as a thought that has power to form and fashion it entirely anew? Are His thoughts first about the deep sands and difficulties we are in down here? No! His first thought is that there is a response to His own heart in the hearts of a people here, that they desire what He desires, that they are waiting with Himself. Take this thought simply: suppose a mother were told that her son had been walking up and down the street for an hour expecting to see her; what a stir it would cause in the heart of that mother, all her feelings would be stirred up and occupied with the thought of this child waiting for her. Just so with the Lord, in the blessed way He has formed the hearts of His people to wait for Him till He comes. I might bring the report to a mother of her child wait for her, but I need not report it to our Lord; He has so formed my heart that I feel I must see Him. He needs no report, He sees the waking up of my heart morning by morning -- sees that its first thought is that I am waiting for Him; that it is not with my perplexities and difficulties that I am occupied, but with His coming.
I believe that if I get near the Lord Jesus Christ, I shall find in His heart a speciality of affection about a people down here who are waiting for Him; not waiting for glory, but for Him, which is quite a different thing. Do I love Him? Do I not know He was my Substitute? and do I not want to see Him? Has He not taken from my mind everything that harassed and perplexed me? and do not I want to see Him? Do I know that for eighteen hundred years He has been sitting at the right hand of God, with everything His own, but with a craving in His heart that will never be satisfied till He has got us -- till He has got me home with Himself; do I know this? and can I be satisfied till I see Him face to face in the glory of all divine uncreated light?
I do not so much think of the glory we shall enter into, but what my heart recognizes is the sweet truth that it is the Lord and myself that are to he in companionship together. Our going and His coming, though different things, are both connected with the deep consciousness formed in the heart that we are to be in Christ's own individual presence -- not till then, not till there -- satisfied.
There is fixity of purpose in Christ's heart, to come, but there is the patience of hope in Him, and I am to have it. The tomorrow of the believer is formed on the yesterday of the believer; and today, where does the heart get its rest? By going inside the veil where the Lord is -- perfected for ever in Him. Because of your connection by faith with what He did who is at the right hand of God, you are before God without sin, accepted in Him, that is our anchoring ground: not only brought inside the veil, but in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself as He is in heaven, you are accepted, even in the Lamb upon the throne. That is the yesterday of faith. We have the entree of the house with no veil on the light; and the love that brought us there tells its tale out in all that we pass through in the wilderness. Suppose that I have not learnt this love as I ought down here, yet I can look up and say that that Lamb on the throne is not only the measure of what my guiltlessness is before God, but that that Lamb on the throne has also undertaken to come and fetch home the children whom God has given Him.
What does my faith begin with? the belief that God took me from Satan and gave me fitness to be in His presence by being washed in the blood of His dear Son; and He will keep me to the end. Yesterday and today I have had the continual proof of His faithfulness -- tomorrow and for ever it will be the same Christ.
1 Thessalonians 1: 9, 10. There are two marks of faith: first, serving the living and true God; second, watching for His Son from heaven. There can be nothing more important than works to a believer. If you are the Lord's children, what are you to be but channels for that living water? Is God to dig a channel, and no water flow through it after all? What are we if not channels for that water to flow through? Bought at such a price, can we think it of no importance to serve the living and true God? He does not -- and high as He is, with everything in His hand -- He is not too great to look into the little attic where I am, to see if I am serving Him. How the greatness of the living God comes out in this! Everything concerning the soul is, in the greatness of His love, settled for eternity, yet He can come down quietly to a poor thing in the wilderness, saying, "I am looking at your works" -- a poor bed-ridden cripple, one obliged to be kept in a dark room, and the living God coming to see how one so feeble as to be hardly up to the smallest quota of service, is serving Him! How wonderful a God to accept it! saying, "I know what every child is about; I am expecting service because I have given you my Son, and when I say 'Give me something,' I am endearing you to that Son, for He must give you grace and intelligence that you may have power to give." Is it not wondrous grace for the living God to say to poor things like you and me, "Give?" Do you say "What can I give?" Ah, He will accept even a cup of cold water. There are a number of little things in which the heart can go out to the living God in service to Him.
The First Epistle to the Corinthians begins with the church of God, endowed and enriched with all blessings in Jesus Christ; the Second, with God as the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation, conducting through sorrow, trial, and trouble, hearts that are close to Himself, knowing Him as the God of the wilderness; they can have one ceaseless flow of comfort and consolation all through their course. God saying to them, "My bosom is the fountain teeming with mercies; I want my people to hear my voice ever speaking to them, and their hearts to hang on me throughout all their course."
Mary came and anointed the feet of the Lord, in the power of love, and the house was filled with the sweet savour of the ointment. There was something very peculiar about the time and hour of her doing it. Her habit had been to sit at His feet, Martha's to be full of active bustling service. Mary takes her wonted place, and anoints His feet. Judas thinks "What a quantity of money has slipped through my hands!" The disciples too are thinking about the bag. But Jesus turns to them, saying, "Let her alone, against the day of my burying hath she kept this. She is in the current of my Father's mind and knows my Father's secrets."
The two leading thoughts of the mind of God are the humiliation and the glory of Christ. Yes: they are the only two points -- the two pillars on which the whole of Christianity rests. Can you say they are the only key of all your thoughts?
1 John 4: 17. We want love of such a kind as to give us boldness in the day of judgment. How could you like everything about you to be brought out before the judgment-seat of Christ if your foot was on a bit of sandy ground? But if on the Rock, with Christ your only dependence, you can say, "The Judge is the Person who bore my sins. I was thoroughly ruined, and found that that love had given the Son of His love to become Son of man, in order to bear my sins in His own body on the cross, and that is the love which gives me boldness in the day of judgment."
We must all appear in the light which makes manifest. People now may wrap up things, and cover over where there is a bit of themselves mixed up with that which is of Christ, but all must come out in that light; still, you can say, "If I have got Christ, He cannot fail me; He, the propitiation for my sins, the accepted sacrifice in the presence of God, cannot fail me." There is no time when the confidence in His love will be stronger than then.
"Behold the Lamb of God!" Man would account a lamb to be but a very weak thing, but what a contrast here in this Lamb of God! In John's thought, This one without form or comeliness to the eye of man, is the One who is to be the bringer-in of the new earth, the remover of every spot and mark of sin. Who is the bringer-in of this? Who? That lowly Man - that Jesus, unknown in His own universe, save to the eye of faith!
As soon as John gets a view of Him, the adoration and affection of his heart are so kindled that he drops out a few broken words, and those who heard them have their hearts set on fire; they feel the attractive power of the Person of that Lamb, and immediately go after Him.
Where is that Lamb now? and what have you and I to do with Him? The throne of God became the mercy-seat when He ascended: "In the midst of the throne is the Lamb" -- still in the servant character, hymned, praised, and worshipped, by the elders and angels, but in action as the Servant, opening the book. In the end of the book of Revelation, He is presented as the One in whom all the glory of God is displayed, and Himself displaying His glory in the church. Revelation 21: 22, 23, are unspeakably blessed in connection with this: "And I saw no temple therein, for the Lord God almighty and the Lamb are the temple thereof; and the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof." God and the Lamb are its temple; everything connected with worship will find its full expression in God and the Lamb; as even now we can adore and wonder and worship, just as we have God and the Lamb as our power of worship.
In that city there is no need of the sun or moon, "the glory of God and of the Lamb is the light thereof." What will it be to be in a scene where there will be the whole outshining of the Lamb, a scene where everything will be seen through Him, as the medium! To see things down here now through Him, is nothing but anguish to the heart that loves Him, but then to see a world in which nothing will be out of order, nothing but what is divine -- all the glory of God displayed through Him. Oh, what will it be to have Him as the medium through which to see everything.
"And he showed me a pure river of water of life clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb." Is there no thought of blessing in that? The Lord told the woman of Samaria that if she had asked, He would have given her living water. Had this woman ever so little an eyelet of that water, heaven was on its surface, for Christ was there. And again, the Lord says, "he that believeth on me, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water." How hindered here by the flesh, but up there with full unhindered joy in Christ, the pouring out of the gushing streams, the welling over of the waters that come forth from God and the Lamb, and everyone eternally filled, when
"By the Spirit all pervading,
Hosts unnumbered round the Lamb,
Crowned with light and joy unfading,
Hail Him as the great 'I AM.'"
What will it be to dwell in a sphere where all that God delights in will be expressed in the gushing forth of that flowing well of water in every heart!
Is there nothing to delight the heart now in the thought, "Whose will be the glory?" God and the Lamb. Whose the plan? God and the Lamb. Who the light and the temple? Ah, that God and the Lamb! Whence flows the river of life? From God and the Lamb. O the blessedness of finding that the glory of God and the Lamb is to be there fully displayed; that then and there all the yearnings of the redeemed nature will be fully met and satisfied. Are you on your way to that scene of glory, to that city built by God Himself; on your way there as a stone that He has dug from the quarry and fitted for it? You will find in each part, that which fits a ruined sinner for the glory. And in that which puts him there it is God and the Lamb all through.
If you and I are to meet Christ with joy when He comes, we must make quite sure that our consciences are up to the mark with Him where He is in God's presence; able to be in identification with Him up there in the light: if not, you will not be able to meet His face with joy.
What a difference between poor cowardly Lot, afraid of destruction after having been dragged out of Sodom, and Abraham on the mount with God!
Practically, God sees nothing you could not give up for the Lord Jesus Christ's sake; and, depend upon it, He will not be in your debt; it will all be brought out in bright daylight when Christ comes, and meantime rays from His face will be playing on your hearts the whole way.
God does not see His people apart from Christ. You are in Christ and in God.
Everything in the Levitical service showed the danger of a creature in his sins approaching God. Now, through the cross, the veil is rent, all is open, and the creature is brought into God's presence, and can look up and say nothing else than "I am perfected for ever by the blood of thy Son, O God!"
How is it as to the inward convictions of your state before God? Is the thing that satisfies God, the thing that satisfies you, and that enables you to draw nigh to Him in perfect peace? God saying "There is the Lamb in the midst of the throne, cannot bring any charge against Him. To bring a charge against a believer, would be to bring a charge against my Son."
To one I said, "Suppose you were going home tonight?" "I should tremble," he answered. To another, who said that to know the forgiveness of his sins was the indefeasible birthright of the believer, "Suppose, I said, you were to fall off that chair dead this moment" -- "God forbid," cried he, in alarm. If not ready at any moment to be called into His presence, you are not on the ground that God is on, as to the perfect justification of a sinner. It is the blood of His Son that fits you to be in His presence. Are you satisfied with it?
Christ is in heaven as the accepted sacrifice; everything in the eternal mind is rolling round Him. God will not allow of any low thoughts about that blood, He will not allow His children to have a slight estimate of its value. You must get by yourself with God, to test whether the value which you set on that blood corresponds with His.
I believe that many of God's children would hesitate to say of themselves what God can say, that is, that they have a perfect conscience, a conscience that cannot be improved. (They do not clearly distinguish between conscience, and consciousness, of sin.) But a purged conscience is a conscience which Christ has washed in His own blood, and He did it perfectly. If any know that they have that conscience, it is because they know the value of the blood of the Lamb on the throne, that. blood making them as white as snow, and because it is ever in their mind as that which makes. them perfectly fit for the presence of God.
I believe there are many Christians whose intelligence does not enable them to realize that they are in the position of Ephesians 2: 5, "quickened and raised up together with Christ." When the people of Israel were brought through the Red Sea there would have been no difficulty in finding borderers, trying to blend the two things, Egypt and Canaan, together. If you do not believe that God sees you dead, buried, and risen with Christ, it is no wonder if you are a borderer; but if through God's grace you see your standing before God as identified with the death and resurrection of Christ, I defy you to be a borderer.
When Moses came down from the mount, it was not only the ten words on the two tables of stone which the people saw, but the face of Moses which shone with such brightness with the reflection of the glory, that man could not look on it, and Moses put a veil over it. God uses that as a type of the veil on the hearts of people until taken away by Christ; then all the thoughts of God flow out to us, and we "with open face beholding as, in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image, from glory to glory." Paul looking up sees Christ in glory with unveiled face, and as he Walked the light shone; he was the reflector of his Lord in his walk; in bodily presence weak, yet he could say "to me to live is Christ."
How much of the world creeps in, even in what is called devotedness, and people find on a deathbed that they have been occupied with things in the world, and have not been walking as heavenly men with Christ.