By G.V. Wigram
What would one do if instead of looking at Christ, one looked at all the billows and vanities down here, around or within? Here all conflict, up there all peace. Oh, the sweetness of that! and "Behold he cometh."
To know that I am Christ's, and bound up in one bundle of life with Him, is one thing; to say am a poor weak servant of His, is another thing, and it is yet another to be used by Christ as a messenger to His people; not only able to stand fast with little strength, but also to have direct messages from His heart of love to His people.
What shall we take into heaven? A glorified body, fit for the presence of Christ: but we have to keep ourselves unspotted down here too. We have to walk through the world as men who are clad in white robes -- robes that ought not to have a spot on them. A person walking with defiled robes, will not care if they become more defiled; but one who has on a spotless robe will walk carefully and not allow it to get the least spot or mark to defile its purity.
Philippians 4: 17, 18. The Apostle Paul wanted every tree in the Lord's garden to bring forth much fruit, and he could rejoice in even such a thing as a little money being sent. He calls it "an odour of a sweet smell, acceptable to God." Turn to Ephesians 5: 2, where it is written that Christ's giving Himself for us, was a sweet-smelling savour to God: and He has so made us one with Himself, He so fills everything connected with His people, that even a little money sent for His sake is called an odour of a sweet smell. The fragrance of the divine love of the Lord Jesus, led their hearts out in love one to another, saying, "The Lord having loved us and given Himself for us, how shall we express our love?" It is a beautiful thing when passing over a clover field to inhale the sweetness of the odour it gives forth, but here was "an odour of a sweet smell" fit for God: not merely the contribution, but the blessed root from which it grew.
We are too little to carry home the thoughts of Christ. Some poor thing might say, "Ah, I have never done a thing for Christ!" but Christ may reply, "I have not forgotten that cup of cold water which you gave." There was no costliness in it, but His name was connected with it.
Even an expression of love to Christ, comes from the heart with a full savour of a sweet smell, acceptable and well pleasing to God.
Do you find yourself constantly praying for the church of God? Has it as large a place in your prayers as your own trials and difficulties? Do you say, "I know that all is working together for good as to my troubles, but how can I help praying for that which is so precious, so beautiful to Christ? I cannot give it a secondary place in my thought. I am going to live for it, in the same way that Paul did."
It is marvellous if you and I are walking in the power of the eternal life, what a quick scent it gives. If anyone goes into a dark room with a lantern he sees everything in that room which could not be seen without the light. Believers are vessels to carry the light of the glory of God which shines in them from the face of Jesus Christ, in dark places.
How blessed to be able to say that the world has turned you out because it turned Christ out. If you are treading under foot all that is of the world and of the flesh, there will be abounding joy in every service. When the child of God is walking in the power of that life, there can be only one thought, one object, to be occupied with; saying, "There is Christ, and His whole heart is set on me; and here I am with a heart that is very little, but it is a very great thing to have that heart of mine occupied and filled entirely with Him, the eternal lover of my soul."
God says, "I have marked out a path for you, and if you do not walk in it, I am so near to you that my hand will be upon you." When Israel would not walk with God, He got a people to come against them and break them to pieces.
Did you never taste what the poor prodigal did when his father's arms were round him? The flowing of God's mercy to your soul, is not from any suitability in yourself to receive it, but from the strange marvellous ways of God. When His mercy reaches the soul, it comes with the revelation of the character of God in love.
We ever see the heart of man in nature seeking blessing through the law, but the heart of God seeking blessing for man through Christ. If after receiving the Spirit, man would add something of His own to that which is the mind of God for him, the whole is spoilt; let the smallest thing be brought in, all is spoilt in God's mind.
All were exposed to the curse of a broken law, till Christ was marked out as holy by the very law which cursed all besides. In Romans 6, we see all that Christ has given us, in contrast with the law. If it comes to me to do anything it is only this, how to get faith in that blessed Lord Jesus. Having got that faith, the poor sinner can say, "I have died and have been raised up together with Christ, and God has got Him at His own right hand for me, and what can disturb or destroy my peace when God has said, 'I have found a hiding-place for you; you are raised up together with Christ, and your life is hid with Him in me.'" (Col. 3: 3.)
A man in Christ stands on other ground, on a new principle altogether, from that of the natural man. He is before God without guilt. Looking up where Christ is, can you see your sins? No. What takes them away? Christ's having left them in. the grave, and God having raised Him to His own right hand, and you with Him: He the Head, we the members; one life with Him. This gives unity: Christ is the source of it. God has made us one Spirit with Him, and I am required to be like Christ in everything -- an epistle of Christ. But what presses most on my heart is unity, not outward unity of the flesh, but unity of heart and spirit, one with the other, of those who are one in Christ. Ought not my heart to feel united to every believer, because I am one with him in our risen Lord? When I see that God has raised Him and made Him my Head, ought I not to realize unity among the members? United by one Spirit, to the Son, there is nothing between Him and us.
You cannot have eternal life without the responsibility of walking according to it. If I have it in Christ and in God, I must act on it, it must be seen in my practice. Oh, I would urge with power the earnest desire that the walk of all who have this eternal life be worthy of it: each one saying in his walk, "I am a living member of Christ, and I am going to live as one who has eternal life." Think of the effect! your walk would be like Christ's walk, following in His footprints, bringing everything into the light of that eternal life, to see how it will look there. It is entire freedom. I am as free as the eternal life is free; but if I have this life in Christ, I am a servant of Christ, and must walk according to the mind of Him who has given it to me.
It ennobles a Christian immensely to know and to feel that he is a channel through which the life of Christ is to flow out.
All is perishing and fading down here, but I know a living and unchangeable Christ above.
Paul could say, "I not only know that I have eternal life in Christ, but I know Christ Himself as a living Person before me." Do you know that living Christ as a Man in heaven with all affections in His heart? I do know in whom I have believed; I know His ability to keep me. I could not keep myself for a day. Ah, but there is that Christ. Were He to leave me, I should perish, or fear to turn out a hypocrite some day. But He will keep me. He is my Trustee -- a Trustee that cannot change.
If Christ were to save me from the world and from Satan, and not from self, what should I do? I have a self-will of my own. Christ must save us from self, and that is why we often get falls. Peter had a good opinion of himself, and the Lord let him alone. David was allowed to go down into the depths of evil, that he might learn how unlike he was to David's Lord. If anyone knows Christ, he will know Christ's willingness to save from self; he will be able to say, "Ah, there is One up there who if He has to break my heart to pieces in order to break self, will yet keep me unto that day."
Your body may be perishing, and all about you be broken up; well, never mind, you can say, "Eternal life is mine." Say it to yourself again and again, and walk in the power of it.
There were certain reasons why Peter and John walked on earth with Christ -- God manifest in flesh: they had the blessed privilege of it, but every vessel is made for its particular purpose, and He who made them could use one where He could not use another; the living water filling each in, readiness to be used, because He had made that vessel for that particular purpose. In Peter, John, and Paul, you get vessels through whom God gave the truth.
It is sweet to have communion with saints in the truth; but after all the heart has to live with God.
The great thing is, beginning and ending with Christ -- the same Christ that first quickens the soul, renews it unto the end.
One reason why Christians go so weakly, is that they are not occupied enough with Christ: if we want to be strong we must be full of Christ -- going through no service without remembering that we have a living Christ with all power and with all capacity to enter into every feeling of our minds, and every movement of our hearts as we pass along.
The path of sorrow may be yours, but you cannot say that you are" The Man of sorrows." You may be in depths that you cannot lie in -- "poured out like water" -- but He, the Man of sorrows, has a heart to meet you in everything! He entered Himself into every sorrow -- His experience makes all ours beggarly. If one looks at the experience of Abraham and others, we find His infinitely larger. His sorrow was without sin. Sin falsifies it in us in a measure. In trial, I am a sinner, and I shall be sure to give way to the flesh in some point or other; but there was not the smallest particle of dross to mar the perfection of that Man of sorrows; not a particle was there to come out in Him, as it does in us, of the flesh or of fleshly evil.
We could not fully know what the flesh and the world were, save as in contrast to Christ; He is the touchstone of everything, and He filled this scene, as He passed through it, with the beautiful manifestation of the character of God. If I could not go to Him when I find sin working in me, what refuge should I have? Ah, blessed Lord I cannot I count on Thee to come in, if I find hypocrisy or anything else? Amid all the strange things that come up in this heart of mine my soul needs to be where (with the sense of everything being against me in connection with the flesh, the devil and the world) I am yet able to say God is for me, and if He be for me, who against me!
People have often a much clearer view of the, work of Christ than they have of what it is to walk with Christ, as a living person ever occupied with them; and until they get this, they will not walk with Him. We cannot walk with Christ in that vivacity of joy, and power of the Holy Ghost, which the early Christians had, unless we know Christ as a living person with His eyes over fixed upon us.
We love Christ because He first loved us. We find that love expressed in John 14; He took us up at the hand of God, and loved us on that ground -- "The men which thou gavest me." "Thine they were, and thou gavest them me." He puts forth His love to us as a divine thing in Himself, entirely irrespective of what we are. He, might have to say to Peter, "You have faith in your own love to me, yet before the cock crow, thou wilt deny me thrice;" nevertheless He could say to him, as to them all, "Let not your heart be troubled, I shall go away [and 1800 years would pass], but I shall come and fetch you, that you may be with me for ever." See when He says three times to Peter, "Lovest thou me?" how He is bringing off Peter from resting on his own love, to rest with implicit confidence in the love of Him who knew all things.
Everything is ours in Him. Having given Him to us, how shall God not with Him freely give us all things? What will He keep back?
The love of God is a love that gathers us into the presence of God Himself; a love that communicates the life of His Son to those dead in trespasses and sins; and they possess a life that is locked up in the Son, never to be touched. Is it true that you can turn to God and say that is the manner of life you possess? Life hid with Christ in God! If Christ Himself, up there, is my life, it links me up with Him in whom is the whole bundle of life. If the head could not say to the feeblest member passing through the difficulties and sorrows of the wilderness down here, "I have no need of thee," why is it? Because of being bound up in one bundle of life, that life being communicated by the Father, and being so in us that Christ cannot say He has no need of us. Did you ever look up in the face of the Lord Jesus Christ, with the consciousness of having one life with Him? If so, you cannot entertain a single question about the place you are in before God. If you have the eternal life that is in the only-begotten Son, you cannot look up without seeing that you are in a new place altogether before God.
Looking round Eden, man might have said, What a large giver God is! But what can we say, as those to whom this life has been given? Truly our fellowship is with the Father and with the Son!
If you possess that life, you have found and will be finding out, till you go to Him, or till He comes to take you to Himself in a glorified body, what a contrast you are to Him; but it is not a question of what you are, but of the portion that has flowed to you from the Father.
If I begin with self, there is nothing but ruin. Is there anything to be got out of the ruin? any want felt there of God? Impossible that there could be! I begin with God, not with self. If God uses my sin to show out the virtues of the blood of His Son, am I to be occupied with Him, or to be saying, "My leanness, my leanness!" Your leanness! how came you to be calculating on your anything in yourself? If you bring an empty vessel, you can keep it full to overflowing if you put it into a cistern of water, even if there be a crack or flaw in the vessel.
The proper expression of a redeemed soul is thanksgiving, that such a manifestation of the divine will should have come out -- the deepest, highest, brightest, fullest, most blessed counsels of God having their expression in Him who said, "Lo, I come to do thy will."
Who was that babe laid there in a manger? What could it mean, those angels saying, "Glory to God on high"? God could look down, on that babe, and see there the perfect expression of His glory. All God's glory came out in connection with the person of Him who said "No one knoweth the Father but the Son and he who hath seen the Son, hath seen the Father."
After all the self-denial of Christ for me, is there to be none from me for Him? When He says, "I bought you with my own blood, I charged myself with all your guilt," am I never to say, "Anything that is not for the glory of Christ I will renounce?"
How beautiful to be on those terms with God, that we find in the word certain individuals were on with Him!
By intercourse with Christ in heaven, you get the perfect answer to every question: Christ in heaven is, God's answer to everything.
"Blessed with all spiritual blessings in Christ." What are those spiritual blessings? Not the golden city, but we find that we are brought so near to Christ that everything we want we get in Him. That, God can look on us with the same delight as on Christ, because we are hidden in Him. He cannot stop the flow of His affection and delight in Christ and so it all flows on us. We are before God in the completeness of Christ's work in the removal of everything He had against us. Christ charged Himself with everything, and all God's delight is in the work of that Son of His love. All the perfection of what He is and of what He has, He gives to us; we are blessed with all spiritual blessings in Him; amongst them we are quickened, raised up, seated in heavenly places in Him. All the blessings connected with the place where He is sitting are ours. Are you realizing that you are before God as one dead, buried, and risen, with Christ? People find it so difficult to believe that God sees them without spot or wrinkle, in Christ.
If you and I knew a little more about Christ's ways, we should get a great deal more communion when we come together; we should speak more of those things which we possess in Christ as our portion.
I never get near Christ as an individual without the consciousness that the Holy Ghost is mine, so also I never get near Christ without the consciousness of having power to do what He wants. He has the power, and I have only to go forward with Him and I shall never fail.
If I were to say "All is wreck and ruin, and all I can do is to sit down like Lot in Sodom," I should not find Christ uncovering His glory there. But if I say, "This state of things will not do, I must be holy, I must be separate from all that is not in character with Christ, then He could say that that is like Himself, and that if I am not going to forget the Holy One, He will not forget me.
What an unspeakable comfort it is that there is a glory of Christ connected with individuals! He might shut the door and put you aside -- would you find no sweetness in being able to say, "Christ has shut the door"? Which is best, the door being shut by Christ, or opened by man? In a hundred ways He may shut the door: I must not struggle like a naughty child because He has shut it. He cannot deal in full blessing with a soul till it can say, "Thy will be done." If I sit down quietly, because He would have me sit down, then He can say, "Rise up and go out; whether you sit down or go out, you are acting as the expression of my will."
To me it is a more real thing knowing Christ as a man in heaven, than seeing Him as His followers did when down here. God has let the reality of His being there into my heart, and the light of that reality shines forth in rays that come to me right down from heaven. I call this faith in living exercise; but I may have faith, and yet may not be dwelling on the reality of a living Christ in heaven. My heart may not be up there, with all its feelings gathered up to Him.
Salvation has a divine as well as a human side. Nothing that God had created could satisfy Him, save to have Christ as man sitting on His throne. Ah! His ways are not as our ways. God's glory in redemption was to show how low He could let the Son of His love stoop -- in letting Him go down to the death of the cross -- break His heart in woe -- and then to set Him as the centre of a new system as the Lamb slain. Would that be according to man's thought of glory? But God would have His own way, and all His glory shone forth in redemption. His glory is to have heaven filled with poor sinners, brands plucked from the burning. And His Christ finds Himself sitting patiently waiting 1800 years for heaven to be so filled
Can you say, "Ah, that Lord Christ has washed me from my sins, yes, washed me after a fashion which none but He could have had the least idea of; and He is waiting now, but soon He will rise up -- and may such an one as I go up and be accepted? Yes. Why? Because the whole place is filled with the fragrance of the work done by the One in whom I am accepted."
I was for years endeavouring to find God, but like a bull in a net struggling and striving to do something first for myself, not knowing that God had done something for me; till I looked into heaven (thus an earthen vessel gets turned up to the light) and there I saw the very thing to suit a poor sinner -- a God of grace, in Christ; in a place where there is not a single element of the place I am in now. And I am brought into the light shining there, the light that makes everything here easy to be read and gathered up.
If you ask, me to measure sin, there is no measure for it but the cross. There alone can you form any idea of what the intolerancy of God is to sin. If looking up by faith to the One crucified there, the cross will be your mark by which to measure everything in you.
There is no charge against me, for Christ has met it all, and perfected me for ever. The blood shed for sinners, ever pleads in the presence of God, and not only can I be perfectly free from guilt there, but God delights to give me all that Christ has and is.
If God has cast seed into a heart, ruined thing by nature though it be, He expects something to come forth for Himself out of that seed. His eye is looking down on Christians, and ah! must He not say they are not like what they were on the day of Pentecost Do any say, Circumstances are not what they were then? Ah! He will not measure you by what circumstances are, but by Himself. He comes forth to Laodicea as the true and faithful witness. That is the character in which He tests and tries everything. Are those eyes fixed on me? fixed in searching power, fixed with unwavering purpose, on me, the eyes of that One who has responsibility to keep me, because of my being part of the bride down here? Thank God they are!
Can you say that the One who never had a thought apart from the Father's will, and who knows no blessing apart from that will, is occupied with you, and that He regulates all your blessing in accordance with that will?
Does it suit you to be in the place where the light comes down on you to bring out your ways and walk as an individual? Once you and I did not like the light What! everything to be brought out? if everything is to be brought out at the judgment-seat of Christ, what think you of Christ's eye being on you now, reading in the light everything in you that is practically inconsistent with it? He must act in thorough consistency with Himself; if He finds anything of death allowed to work in me, He must say, "I did not take you up for that, but for life to work in you. I do not forget that you are mine, and I am watching you as one predestined to be conformed to my image." If you have to say, "There is no one who loves me enough to find fault with me, not enough to couple me with Christ so as to find out in me all that is contrary to Christ and tell me of it, there is one who does; Christ Himself!
Up to the last moment He says, "I stand at door and knock;" up to the last, "If any man hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to him and I will sup with him and he with me." Can you say that He who is Jehovah's fellow has been occupied with you, calling upon you to hear His voice? Ah! it is only wonderful that He should have gone on so long. What a mark of His grace! The professing thing, as a whole, set aside, and He calling on individual saints, saying, to each individually, "If you have heard my voice and open the door," etc., bringing you into companionship with Himself, putting you on terms of mutuality -- that is His heart. Judgment is coming on the mass, but He is saying, "Do you come out, and sup with me." The heart that has got hold of the gospel, knows the force of that expression, "I will sup with him," knows what companionship with Him is.
Are we in the wilderness down here, labouring through the sand and clay? And never was the labour more heavy for those who are not of this world, than in this our day; but Christ says, "Weigh all that I shall give to him that overcometh." Contrast it with all your toil and suffering below, and what are your difficulties? Will the having passed through them be a strange thing to you at the end? No! Though the horizon of difficulties, like the horizon as one mounts to the top of a hill, appears to be higher and higher, the farther you get, yet Christ sets against them all, "To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame and am set down with my Father in His throne."
It is amazing to be able to look back at the cross and say in God's presence, "Blessed Son of God and Son of Man, Thou didst bear the whole of God's wrath for me, and now Thou art at God's right hand for me." Amazing thing that I should be able to look up there and know Thee in the glory as the One who bore my sin! Thine eye coming right down on me, saying, There is one with whom I can have intercourse in the power of that light which shines down from me into his heart." Think of that Lord Christ looking down at any of you and saying, "Where is that poor sinner whom I saved from wrath? I must have him up here, he must come and sit down with me in my throne." Ah! blessed Lord, what manner of love is thine? How could such love flow on the ground of my deserving it? Never! It would shock any mind if a poor sinner were to say, "I have a right to shine in glory."
If I am a quickened soul, raised up with Christ and brought to God, knowing Him as the living and true God, do I owe nothing to the God who has done it? Should I like it to be proved that God has not an open hand to receive anything from me? Should I not be unutterably sad if my heart, standing in such blessing, could find no God to render its little bit of service to? Having brought us where we are, is it not unutterably blessed that He would have us there rendering up the fruit of our lips for what He has done? It is from the continual realization of what He has done, that praise flows forth; and oh! how it brings out the exceeding magnificence of God in His greatness, that can take notice of the very smallest things. What a little breath, breathed forth in a few words of praise, an "acceptable sacrifice!" One can understand Christ's sacrifice being acceptable -- that one sacrifice by which we are perfected for ever. But does the same Spirit, after telling us of that, turn round to you and to me, saying, "I look to you to offer sacrifice?" What! can God accept as sacrifice a little breath, embodying to my soul the thought of what He has done? Yes! and I am to offer it to Him continually as the fruit of the lips giving thanks to His name.
There is a poor thing on a sick bed, lisping praises, and God having an ear to listen to and accept that sacrifice of praise. I was with a dying one who was full of uncertainty as to what would be her end; I said, "Would it not be better to use up the little time remaining to His glory?" "What!" she answered, "I, gasping here, able to do anything for His glory?" "Yes, if you take all you are suffering from His hand, saying to it all, Even so, Father, for so it seemeth good in thy sight, He will settle with His Son all about your end, on the one hand; and on the other hand, be listening for your sacrifice of praise." All love on one hand, and all magnificence on the other.
The great secret of getting to the sunny side of sorrow is to get to its divine side. Who can say they are able to give thanks in all things? It is very happy when one can, then one will not be on the world's side, but will see God in everything; and that is the divine side, where the soul gets perfect rest in God, seeing all ordered by Him.
It is what is within, that forms what comes from us. If you do not know that you are saved, you will be asking God to fill the void in you, not knowing how things stand between your soul and God; but if you know that you are saved, your soul will be bursting out in praise. With John at Patmos it was not O that He might love me!" but seeing Christ, the first thought of his quickened heart was, "Oh that is He who loves me!" and his soul at once wants to express something of its rapture. "Unto Him." Who? Ah, a well-known One, that One who has washed us from our sins in His own blood. That first thing must ever be before the mind. If the heart is not settled in peace, by knowing the personal love of the Lord Jesus in having washed us from our sins, every day will bring something to startle us and prevent our do one thing for Him.
Do I know that Christ has brought me near to God? then I cannot go on a step without feeling a spiritual want to praise and worship God.
Ah, shall I not say when I see the worthy One in the very highest place in heaven, "He is the only worthy One?" And if suffering for Him down here, will not the going forth of my heart be all praise?
No one but the Lamb slain is recognized in heaven as worthy to receive power, riches, wisdom, strength, honour, glory, and blessing, in the place where God is, all laid down before the Lamb.
If we look at Him now, with all the glory of that place given to Him who is to have all things, and say, "But are not man's misery and sin to shut him out of that place?" The answer is that we have absolutely nothing to bring to Him except our sin and misery, but the love which met it all has given us a claim to be there. And just because of that misery and that love, we can say, There is a house of mercy where crimson and scarlet stains can be washed white, and He who leads all the redeemed people before God in heaven, is the only One to be praised. Who shall be praised save He who for deep crimson stains gives robes of white? Only that One is worthy; not only washing you and bringing you there, but the thought of reward in His heart towards you! He will not forget the least thing done with an eye to Him -- every cup of cold water marked. "Lord, when saw we thee an hungered or thirsty?" Ah, it is His own way, "ye did it unto me." When we shall hear Him praise His people, the deep feeling of our hearts will be, "Ah, it is like Himself, and He alone deserves all the praise!"
Can you take your place before God with the thought of all His light breaking in on you to show nothing but rags and tatters, nothing whatever in you to fit you for His presence, but that same light showing you what He is for you there, and that He has given you His Christ as your fitness?
If you are in the enjoyment of settled peace with God, you will be standing in it with the conviction that the only thing worth living for is to please Christ. If you have not that peace, self will be at work to obtain it: "My house is not so with God, I am not this, or that."
It was God's thought to connect you in life with Christ, and you must not for a moment look at yourself apart from that Christ. God connects you eternally with Him. You are bound up for eternity in the same "bundle of life" with Him. Ah, if eternal life in Christ is yours, you can take that as a girdle to gird up the loins. The body may be perishing, all about you broken up; well, never mind (may you say), eternal life is mine. Say it to yourself again and again, and walk in the power of it.
Can you say I know Him who is life -- light, so that I have got light about myself and about God. About myself as a ruined creature, about God as having given me rest in Christ; being able to be in His presence and in the presence of the Lord Jesus in the light, conscious of there being no condemnation for me. If I see if I am in the light, I am not like a blind man groping for a wall. All things stand out in the plain light of life that shines out from Christ with all the brilliancy and transparency that He who expresses the whole mind of God can give it. Where do I see the light of eternal life? In the face of the Lord Jesus Christ. I see it in the Person of Him who is presented as the light of the world.
What was Christ's character in the world? He was "full of grace and truth." So full, so overflowing as a fountain, that every empty vessel brought to it He would fill -- the waters flowing over to all, in all circumstances. A man might have looked up to heaven and said, "Why, there, up there, is the Man I spit upon, and He is saying 'If you call upon me, you shall be saved.'" A poor puny worm having treated God like that, and He saying "You are in an awful position, yet look up to me here, I can give the Holy Ghost to any who call upon me." So with Saul of Tarsus; the eternal light and life was stronger than man's darkness. Saul left his darkness and death, to go in the power of that life, and be a servant of the Lord Christ who had looked down upon him.
Do you know the Being who has a life that never had a beginning? You had no being before you were born: compare the life you have with that of a Being who never had a beginning.
God had a plan for the glory of His Son, and that plan was to show the perfection of the Son's obedience, and that perfection of obedience to be followed by His being raised up to the perfection of glory at the right hand of God, the Father of glory.
In Revelation 4, 5, I see the glory of the place He is in. A certain Lamb is there in the midst of the throne. Co-equal with the Lord God Almighty as the object of worship, the place of glory that that Lamb is in, is as complete as it possibly could be. It is the place of perfect light. The believer can go right up to the throne of God, because the Lamb is in it.
This blessed One was raised up and planted by God at His own right hand to be the centre of all and of every heart. Oh, have we got self as our. centre, or this One who is the centre of all God's dealings, and is all His delight. A living Man in heaven, making all new. If you were to pick out the best down here to be a centre, you would only find in him the first Adam. What a different centre to bind things round is this Christ of God! If He made Himself the centre round which to bind a man like Paul, everything of sorrow and difficulty which Paul went through, became the means of binding him more and more closely round Christ.
Do you ever, like Peter, find your heart searched by Christ's "Lovest thou me?" and followed by some such sweet little word as "Feed my lambs?" You may have been very weak, very inconsistent, but still able to say to that blessed Searcher of hearts, "Thou knowest all things, and thou knowest that I love thee, and could not do without thee, now and at all times."
What broke in upon the heart of Saul was the beauty of the eternal Son of God, who had come to Calvary and shed His blood, and gone back to heaven; and there that Son of God had a heart to look round the earth and appropriate to Himself one who had been a blasphemer and an enemy, and to make of him a model man.
Look at the glory of that One who was with God, and was God, from all eternity, saying, "Lo, I come to do thy will;" and then, having come and perfectly accomplished that will, going back into His own eternity, that all the riches of God's grace might be read in Him in the very dwelling-place of God, in the light no man approacheth unto. He alone could say, He alone had a right to say, "Lo, I come to do thy will." None but the eternal God in His own eternity could have said it. He, in eternal glory, knew the mind of God. He alone could do the will of God -- carrying out all His plans and counsels. He knew that what was nearest to the heart of God was the removal of the barrier between man and God, and He said, "Lo I come to do thy will, even to the death of the cross, in order to remove it, and to connect believers with Himself in relationship with God, so that He could say 'My Father and your Father, my God and your God.'"
He has no more to do, there is no more offering for sin; but through His work we have boldness to enter into the holiest. We have perfection of access into God's presence by the blood; We are brought there now in spirit, through faith, but soon He will come and take us as the fruits of redeeming love, in bodies fashioned like His own, radiant with glory.
"I know thy poverty, but thou art rich." What did the Lord mean by "rich?" To the divine mind the most beautiful works are of the character marked here: "but thou art rich." If Christ said to the Syro-phenician, "Oh, woman, great is thy faith, to His mind she was the richest person in the world. It was the expression of His own work in her, but she showed a character of faith that Her could not but commend. He treasures her faith. It is not a little thing in a day like the present, to, have faith.
What a difference when things are looked at on the heavenly side! How different Paul saying, "Take away the thorn," and the Lord saying, "No, I shall not, you shall keep it, because I want you to have an excuse for leaning on me." What a poor thing was Paul's "take it, take it, take it away" -- the poverty of the vessel comes out.
One has had a bitter cup, and has been able to say, "Father, I will drink it:" ah, but to put the cup down to be filled again and again, as fast as one could drink it -- the Father giving it as the greatest possible expression of His love. And when one has passed through it, seeing it to have been so.
The address to the church of Smyrna begins with a divine title, "the First and the Last." If you get into eternity, you find that this Son of God never had a beginning. He was with God, and was God, in the beginning. The thought of eternity to come is more easy for the human mind to grasp, than the thought of eternity behind, without beginning. I have in the eternal life given to me a new order of being. If I drop the body, the life goes up to Him who gave it. There are many spirits absent from the body up there. Paul and Peter are there, with no hindrance, walking about where all is bright and beautiful. Who secures the joy and perfection of it? Who came down, went to the grave, and rose again? Who drops that side of the curtain, save the One who stood and held open the other side? The blessed Lord who became dead, and He lives. They killed the Prince of Life, but before He became man He was the eternal God. That Man spoke of Himself as the First and the Last.
In the persecution raised by Satan against those whom he hates because they are Christ's, what a difference if you look at being cast into prison by the devil, with the thought of his having got his own way at last, or if you say "God told me before I was put into the furnace, that He would put me there to be tried, in order that, as a specimen of His own handiwork, I might shine in it." It is important to take everything from the Father's hand; important to look at the trials of others in the same way -- saying to a tried Christian, "If not a sparrow falls without the Father, how could you be in this trial without the Father?" What a difference when things are looked at on the heavenly side, feeling that whatever comes of suffering or difficulty, we have got the sunny side with Christ.