By George H. Warnock
But now hath He obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also He is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises" (Heb. 8:6).
Right now there is a Man reigning on the greatest and most powerful throne in all of God's universe. And He is there to subdue all His enemies under His feet--and build a glorious Temple in the earth.
"Even He shall build the temple of the LORD; and He shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon His throne; and He shall be a priest upon His throne" (Zech. 6:13).
Who is this One? He is "the Man whose name is the Branch" (vs. 12). He is the Lord Jesus Himself. But He is One who "grows" up out of His place. He is a "Root out of a dry ground" (Isa. 53:2). He grows--and becomes a Vine. In that Vine there are other branches, that are joined unto Him, and who become one with Him. With Him they will be priests on the throne; for they are made to be "Kings and priests unto God" (Rev. 1:6). But there are not two institutions: a kingdom, and then a priesthood. I know God made this distinction in the Old Testament, when Israel failed as a nation to become "a kingdom of priests" (Ex. 19:6). But man's failure does not frustrate God's plan and purpose; and after the resurrection of Christ He did what He had planned and declared to Moses. He brought forth "a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light" (1 Pet. 2:9). God wants a priestly people who will "reign in life"-a people who are "vessels of mercy"--who will have kingly authority to minister life to others, because of His ministration from the throne. We have many volunteers for the throne--men who are looking for opportunities to take over earth's resources, earth's governments, and so forth. But God's crowns are for those who qualify as priests. And the only crown of authority on their brow will be a priestly crown of oil.
"For the crown of the anointing oil of his God is upon him" (Lev. 21:12).
"The LORD hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek" (Ps. 110:4).
"Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even Thy God, hath anointed Thee with the oil of gladness above Thy fellows" (Heb. 1:9; from Ps. 45:6, 7).
He earned the crown of power by wearing on His brow the crown of thorns.
He earned the crown of oil, because He "loved righteousness and hated iniquity".
He received the scepter of righteousness because He took from the Roman soldier the flimsy reed that was placed in His hand, and suffered the ignominy of a mock coronation. All this became the first chapter in His coronation as King.
The second chapter took place at His ascension. It was there that God "set" His King on Zion, and made Him to be King of kings and Lord of lords. He was "set" there to be a Priest on the throne. His ministry on earth was finished. Now He would begin His Messianic ministry in the heavens. The Kingdom of God was not postponed because they slew their King. It was the slaying of the King that became the first chapter of His coronation in the heavens. The long expected Messiah was to reign upon a throne that would be far, far superior to the one His people had planned for Him. It would be far above any earthly throne.
All this was very distressing to the people who were expecting Him to set up a kingdom there in Jerusalem. But after His ascension it gradually became clear to them. He was given a more glorious throne than they had ever imagined possible. David was dead and buried, and his sepulchre was there in their midst, for all to see. But David himself, to whom God had promised an eternal kingdom--foresaw a little of what God had in store for the King who would come from David's line. David was a prophet, and like all the other prophets, he foresaw the Messiah ruling on the exalted throne in the heavens: "Being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, He would raise up Christ to sit on his throne... he seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ" (Acts 2:30, 31). And because He now sits on the throne of David in the heavens, Peter declares: "Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, He hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear" (vs. 33). It was because Jesus was enthroned as the King that was promised to his father David, that He was able to begin pouring forth unto His people the blessings of His Messianic ministry in the earth. Salvation from sin and the pouring out of the Holy Spirit upon His people is the first and foremost of the blessings bestowed by the exalted Messiah. The promise was to Israel, "The promise is unto you, and to your children..."--and went further to embrace all nations--"and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call" (vs. 39). And Peter further declares that the blessing of Abraham was the blessing of salvation from sin: "Saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed. Unto you first God, having raised up His Son Jesus, sent Him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities" (Acts 3:25, 26). When Jesus died on the Cross He broke down the "wall of partition" between Jew and Gentile, opening the way for all men to become partakers of "the commonwealth of Israel"..."no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God". Jew and Gentile now redeemed by the same Cross, are no longer two peoples at enmity one with the other; but together in Christ they become "one new man". (See Eph. 2:12-19). I know the enmity is still there in the hearts of both nations, and will continue on--but when they both bow at the foot of the Cross, the enmity is gone--and suddenly they become a part of God's one "holy nation", and are partakers together of the Covenant of Abraham. Christ became a curse to make this happen: "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ... (And what is the blessing of Abraham?) ...That we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith" (Eph. 3:13, 14). God's message to Israel, and to all nations, is strong and clear--Stop trying to erect the wall that God tore down at the awful cost of the Cross. God sees "no difference" in nations and peoples of the earth, "for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:23).
"The promise of the Spirit" is the blessing of Abraham. Let us never forget that! There may be lesser benefits included in the promise, but they all fade away in our eyes if like Abraham we "look for the City which hath foundations, whose Builder and Maker is God" (Heb. 11:10, 16). And it is the work of the Holy Spirit to bring forth in the earth this holy City, this heavenly Jerusalem, this Mount Zion, this Church of the living God--and to bring her to fulness, to completion, to perfection. (See Heb. 12:22, 23; Eph. 4:8-16).
Having understood these things, after much perplexity and bewilderment, the disciples were able to understand why it was "expedient" for Jesus to go to the heavenly throne. His going away would not mean that they would lack anything, or that His promises concerning the Kingdom would fail. It was only in going away, that He could come to them again in such an indwelling of His presence that He who was with them could now be in them. And it would be there from the heavenly throne that He would have all power and authority to rule over all nations, as well as over all the heavens.
I know He comes again in kingly power and dominion. But it is not to begin the Kingdom. He came the first time to do that, and He went away to continue doing that. And He remains there till the "precious fruit of the earth" is to be harvested. Then He comes to cut down the fruitless trees, to root out the tares, to burn up the chaff, to consume the stubble, to bring to total devastation all the works of man: and "to gather the wheat" into His storehouse (See Matt. 13:24-31). He comes to consume all that is corrupt--socially, politically, economically, religiously, environmentally. He comes "to gather out of His Kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; and shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the Kingdom of their Father" (Matt. 13:41-43). He comes to reap the harvest of the Kingdom, not to start a new one.
We only "see through a glass darkly" concerning these things. But when His fiery judgments have been finished God has this exhortation for the nations:
"Be still and know that I am God". For He is bringing the nations to devastation that He might be glorified. (See Ps. 46:8-10).
Like the disciples of Jesus, many of God's people are trying to pressure Jesus to get involved with the politics of the Kingdom, while He is concerned only about "righteousness". They would pressure Him to show them the way to the throne, the way to the presidency, how to get the right men in the supreme court--whereas He would seek to show them the way to the Cross. They want to know the steps of glory that would lead to Solomon's throne of ivory; but He wants us to follow in His steps to Golgotha. He would have us to continue praying: "Lord, Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven".
A New and Better Covenant
The whole burden of the New Testament, and especially of the epistles--which came as a result of His ministration from the heavenly throne--is that the heavenly ministry of the Messiah is "more excellent" than any earthly ministry could ever be.
The "heavenly sanctuary" is better than the earthly one. The heavenly Mediator is better than the earthly one.
The Melchizedek priesthood is better than the Levitical one.
The New Covenant is better than the old one, which was "weak through the flesh".
The blood of the New Covenant is better than the blood of bulls and goats.
The Old Covenant was written on tables of stone; the new one on "fleshly tables of the heart".
The blood of bulls and goats merely covered sin for a season--they could never take them away. In the New Covenant, sins are done away, never to be remembered in Heaven, and never again to defile the conscience of a people that have been purged from dead works to serve the living God.
The application of the blood of Christ to our hearts and minds so erases sin and its scars that we see them no more, even as God sees them no more.
Everything about the ministration of the New Covenant from Messiah's heavenly throne, is better, better, better...
This is the Kingdom that Christ is now establishing in the hearts of men in the earth. And our prayer continues to be, "Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done in earth, as it is in Heaven". He has "all power in heaven and in earth" to make it happen. He has a priestly people walking in union with Him, who continue to pray that it will happen. Creation continues to cry out for "the manifestation of the sons of God" (Rom. 8:19). And be assured, the lesser brethren of Christ are not going to be manifested in any other way than the way their Elder Brother was manifested. Jesus did not suddenly drop down from Heaven wrapped in glory and manifested in the earth as the Son of God with power. Nor will His younger brothers. Jesus was born into our humanity, and God was manifested through Him in the weakness of His humanity. He grew up under discipline, and learned obedience through the things that He suffered. He carried His cross daily--not just the one time when He carried it to Golgotha. All through His life He walked under the shadow of the Cross. His lesser brethren will certainly be "manifested" in the same way, for Jesus said "I am the Way". They too must know rejection, suffering, learn obedience as He did, and become disciples who count all things but loss, "for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus their Lord". Only as they "suffer with Him" will they be manifested as His sons, and "reign with Him" (Rom. 8:17).
God's first and Special Son was "manifested" in weakness, in poverty, in rejection, in suffering--long before He was manifested as the Son of God in resurrection glory. So will it be with His younger brethren: they will not be manifested as the sons of God with power and glory until they have been manifested in the earth as followers of the Lamb, and showing forth the love and mercy and virtues of their Master in the midst of weakness and mortality. How foolish to think that they are above their Master, and that one day they will just drop down from Heaven to earth as glorified "sons" to deliver creation from her bondage!
The Husbandman Waiteth, Be Ye also Patient!
I recognize that many things I have mentioned concerning the New Covenant are not to be seen to any great extent in God's people. This does not alter the Covenant. It simply explains why the Holy Spirit is still in the earth, why Jesus has not come back yet, and why the Husbandman continues to wait "for the precious fruit of the earth". God's precious Covenant, ratified by the blood of Jesus, must yet come to ultimate fulness in His people. The Son must yet receive the reward of His sacrifice. The Father will continue to prepare a Holy Bride for His Son who is worthy of the very best that God's grace and the power of the Creator can bring forth. The Holy Spirit will be faithful in His work in the hearts of men to bring forth a Bride that is worthy of His Son, through the merits of "precious Blood". When He presents this spotless Virgin to Christ He will not have to apologize something like this: "Here is the Bride you wanted Me to procure for your Son--still full of faults and blemishes I know,--but it's the best I could do". He has all power and authority to bring forth the perfect Church, the perfect fruit, the perfect Bride that God authorized Him to prepare.
In Jesus' prayer for His chosen ones, just prior to His going away, we have a beautiful preview of His "more excellent ministry" in the heavens. He speaks as though He were already glorified and enthroned at God's right hand. He speaks as One who has already fulfilled His earthly ministry, because His face is firmly set for the Cross that lay before Him. He knows He has overcome the world. But He prays while yet in the earth in the presence of His distraught disciples, that He might give them comfort and assurance concerning the purpose of His going away. If ever you find yourself wondering what the New Covenant is all about, and doubting whether or not it will be fulfilled in your life--just read this chapter slowly and prayerfully, and be renewed in your spirit concerning the hope of His calling, and the faithfulness of your great High Priest in the heavens to complete the work there, as truly as He finished the work that God gave Him to do here in the earth. We want to read the whole chapter, and consider each verse in some detail:
Vs. 1. "Father, the hour is come; glorify Thy Son, that Thy Son also may glorify Thee". The Father is seen as holding the hand of the Son, that the Son might have all power to fulfill the Covenant in His people. In reality, He is Himself that Covenant. Our High Priest in the heavens "shall not fail nor be discouraged, till He have set judgment in the earth... I the LORD have called Thee in righteousness, and will hold Thine hand, and will keep Thee, and give Thee for a covenant to the people" (Isa. 42:4-6).
Now Jesus prays to the Father that He might be "glorified" in order that He might fulfill the Covenant. God has declared, "My glory will I not give to another" (Isa. 42:8). And yet here Jesus is asking for it. Because He knows that He was manifested in the earth, not to steal God's glory, but to be that vessel in the earth who would truly radiate and shine forth God's glory in the earth. "We beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father" (Jn. 1:14). He came to reveal not Himself, the Son, but to show forth the Father. The Son was the shining forth of the Father. And because He was faithful as a man to live and work in the earth in total dependence upon the Father, He triumphed where the first Adam had failed. Therefore He became, as God intended Adam to become, the very "glory of God" in the earth (See 1 Cor. 11:7).
When God gives His glory and we retain it, we are stealing the Glory of God! Man was made to glorify God. Angels and all the celestial hosts were made to glorify God. When Lucifer said, "I will exalt my throne above the stars of God"--this shining one (as his name means) lost his brightness and became darkness. (See Isa. 14:13). "The anointed cherub that covereth" was appointed to fulfill that kind of ministry: to "cover" as it were, to protect, to defend the glory of God (See Ezek. 28:14). The only way man or angel can protect God's glory is to ensure that he retains none of it for himself. But in all that he does, in whatever capacity he may minister--it is to give honour and praise to God, and seek to bring others of His creatures into that same spirit of worship--that they too might give all honour and praise to Him. Like the living creatures that surround the throne, we too are to "give glory and honour and thanks to Him that sits on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever" (Rev. 4:9).
Now the Son of God was "glorified" in the earth, because in all that He did, the glory that the Father had bestowed upon Him returned to the Father in praise and exultation. When He preached, it was God that was glorified. When He healed, it was God who was glorified in the Son. (Jn. 11:4; 13:31).
And now the time had come for Him to leave the world, and begin a heavenly ministry; and He prays that He might be "glorified" in the heavenly ministration, as truly as He was when He ministered on earth. Once again the Father would be glorified in the Son on the throne, as He was here in the earth,.
"Glorify Thy Son, that Thy Son also may glorify Thee". In all of our teaching about God's purposes in His "sons" we are finding it necessary to emphasize this, because some are getting the notion that we are teaching equality with Christ. Accusations of this kind are perhaps inevitable, because we are teaching vital union with the Son. And Jesus Himself was accused of "making Himself equal with God" for insisting that He was one with the Father. In His humanity Jesus took a place lower than Deity, lower than the Father. He said, "My Father is greater than I". We are less than Christ, much weaker than Christ, totally helpless and undone apart from Christ. It is only as we partake of His anointing, as we grow up into Him, as we abide in Him, that we are able to partake of the same anointing and the same glory. God does not glorify apostles and prophets and teachers, and other ministries. God did not even glorify the Apostle, or the Prophet, or the Teacher--as He walked on earth. But God "glorified" the Son--because it is only a disciplined son that can truly glorify the Father.
Vs. 2. "As Thou hast given Him power over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as Thou hast given Him". His priestly ministry is for the Covenant people. He has "power over all flesh" to bring His Covenant people into life. He has power and authority to "subdue all His enemies under His feet"--and one day He shall "put down all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign, till He hath put all enemies under His feet" (1 Cor. 15:24, 25). We do not press too deeply into an understanding of His future Kingdom, and the glory and the power that will be revealed in that Day. But clearly, He is reigning on His Messianic throne now. If God's people know so very little about His present reign over the earth, and His workings in His people here and now, it is certain that God is not going to give any depth of revelation about things that pertain to the next age--or concerning the ages to come.
Right now He is enthroned with "power over all flesh" to fulfill the New Covenant in His people. He has committed Himself to bring life to a people chosen of the Father and given to the Son as a gift. They are a people who walk in total obedience to His will, even as Jesus did. We try and fail many times because we fail to realize that the obedience God requires is the obedience He provides. It is by "the obedience of One" that we are made righteous (Rom. 5:19). God wants to assure us that it is not our obedience, but His--and that whatever He may require of us, be it great or small--we can only please Him by acknowledging our helplessness, and walking in the obedience of Christ. This spirit of obedience He supplies as we simply take off our shoes, like Joshua of old--and walk in His.
His purpose is to give "eternal life"--and that is what His priestly ministry is all about. And what is eternal life?
Vs. 3. "And this is life eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou has sent". It is good when we are able to step out of the puddle of doctrinal positions, and flow with Christ in the living streams of truth. You can hardly define your doctrines as well as you flow in the Stream, but it is more pure. I mean--theology must always define truth within boundaries, otherwise how is one to keep a hold on it? But a river, the River of Life, though lacking in definitive boundaries, will carry you with its healing streams onward and still onward to the very heart of God. What then, is the doctrine of eternal life? It is not merely eternal existence in Heaven. It is knowing God! This is life eternal, "That they might know Thee". It begins when we receive Him--or rather, when He receives us; but it flows on eternally. We know Him when we first discover Him, like you know the ocean when you wade into the waters along the shore. But you do not really know Him until you begin to explore "the lengths, and the breadths, and the heights, and the depths" of His Being. You do not find Him in books, but in walking with Him. (And if books do not help you to walk more closely with Him--better that you do not read them).
Now the Spirit of God comes into our lives to help us explore the vastness of His Being: "For the Spirit searcheth all things, yea the deeps things (the depths) of God" (1 Cor. 2:10). Do not boast that you know God just because you met Him one time. It is good that you met Him. But we only know Him as we become lost in the oceans of His Being. And God will not rest--and Jesus will not have completed His ministry in the heavens--until His people "know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge" and are "filled with (or, unto) all the fulness of God" (Eph. 3:19). (Not denying, of course, that it will take eternity to fully comprehend what we are talking about).
Vs. 4, 5. "I have glorified Thee on the earth: I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do. And now, O Father, glorify Thou Me with Thine own self with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was". He finished the work of redemption on earth. Now He is about to begin a work in the heavens. He was glorified by the Father for the earthly task. Now He asks for further glorification for the heavenly task, that He might complete that work also. On earth He was the very shining forth of the Father's glory. "And we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth" (Jn. 1:14). But now in Heaven He is so immersed in the Glory, as One absorbed back into the Father from whom He came, that He is seen as the very Ancient of Days Himself, of one and the same substance and likeness:
John saw Him this way: "His head and His hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and His eyes were as a flame of fire; and His feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and His voice as the sound of many waters" (Rev. 1:14, 15). Who was He?
Daniel saw the same One, whom he called "the Ancient of days"--
"And the Ancient of Days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of His head like pure wool: His throne was like the fiery flame, and His wheels as burning fire" (Dan. 7:9).
Vs. 6-8. "I have manifested Thy name unto the men which Thou gavest Me out of the world: Thine they were, and Thou gavest them Me; and they have kept Thy word. Now they have known that all things whatsoever Thou hast given Me are of Thee. For I have given unto them the words which Thou gavest Me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from Thee, and they have believed that Thou didst send Me". It was the Father's name that Jesus came to reveal. He never went about explaining all the various names of Jehovah-God and what they meant. But He did reveal the Name, the nature, the character of all that the great Jehovah-God IS. For He was the revelation, the outshining of the glory of the Father. In all that He did, in all that He said--it was the Father's name and nature and character that He was making known.
Vs. 9. "I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which Thou hast given Me, for they are thine". God's objective is certainly to reach the world with the knowledge of His great salvation; for Christ died "that the world through Him might be saved". And so the churches have recognized God's objective, and are trying their best to fulfill God's objective--but they are slow to walk in God's way. God's way to cause the world to believe is through a people who come into union with Himself--not by organizing a Christian outreach. Christ's more excellent ministry in the heavens is to prepare disciples who will become His representatives in the earth. And so our Lord Jesus prays for His own, not for the world. When He is truly glorified in His own, then of course they will pray for the world into which the Lord sends them. And because of their union with Him they will have a vital, living testimony of the resurrected Lord.
Vs. 10. "And all mine are Thine, and Thine are Mine; and I am glorified in them." We have already observed that the Father was "glorified in the Son". And now as our High Priest in the heavens He prays that He might be glorified in His people. If there is one thing that is emphasized in John's writings, it is that we are to have the same kind of relationship with the Son through the Holy Spirit, that He had with the Father. "I am glorified in them", Jesus said. The Father had no fear that if He took Christ to a heavenly throne, His work on earth would be interrupted or hindered in any way. For as truly as the Father was glorified in the Son, so now the Son would be glorified in His people in the earth.
Vs. 11. "And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to Thee. Holy Father, keep through Thine own name those whom Thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are". How can we miss what the Lord is saying? How can we so pervert His intention as to make it mean He just wants His people to forget their differences and get together in large congregations and prove to the world that we are one? It is a total perversion of truth to equate "the unity of the Spirit" with ecumenicism, and dialogue between church leaders--with our theologians getting together and seeking out areas of consensus in order to eliminate the divisions in the Church. The unity of the Spirit has nothing to do with that. It is just what it says--becoming one with the Spirit. "That they may be one, as we are".
One with Jesus, as He is one with the Father.
Bearing His glory, as He bore the glory of the Father.
Walking with the Son, as He walked with the Father.
Obeying the Son, as He obeyed the Father.
Loving righteousness, as Jesus loved righteousness.
Hating iniquity, as Jesus hated iniquity.
Anointed with the "oil of gladness"
--the same oil that was poured on the head of the Son,
and flows down upon His body.
Speaking the words of the Son, as He spoke the words of the Father.
Doing the works of the Son, as He did the works of the Father.
Vs. 12-16. "While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Thy name: those that Thou gavest Me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled. And now come I to Thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have My joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them Thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that Thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that Thou shouldest keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world." The people of God have nothing in common with the world system. That is why they are hated. They cannot cooperate with earth's plans. They are just passing through as "strangers and pilgrims", for they are looking for a different kind of City. They are foreigners to this one, and they disdain earthly entanglements. This in itself may not cause too much trouble; but while here they are ambassadors from another Country. And it is this witness that causes all the problems. We are here to reprove, to reproach, and to convict those about us of their iniquity--as the Holy Spirit gives forth that clear witness through us. It is this that produces enmity from a world that hates God--a world that may profess that they want God, but they want their idols too. For covetousness is idolatry, according to the apostle Paul (Col. 3:5). And covetousness is not only rampant out there in the world, but is preached and promoted by those who promise wealth, happiness and prosperity to a people who will join the Church, and go along with their worldly systems.
Our present day Christianity is very much a part of the world system. Too often we have "made a covenant" with the inhabitants of the land, rather than destroying their idols--like Israel of old. We grow up from infancy in a society that we consider to be our very own. In many countries where Christianity has flourished it is even taught they are God's specially chosen nation. It is difficult for most Christians to accept the fact that we are at war with this world system. "The whole armour of God" is something we read and teach about; but where is the conflict with the god of this world? The attitude seems to be, "World, leave us alone, and we will leave you alone--let us dwell together in beautiful co-existence". And so the world tolerates us now because we are pretty well one with them. It will be much different when we begin to walk according to the principles of the Kingdom of Heaven. Be assured, people of God, when the Spirit of truth is given His Lordship in our midst, He is going to "reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment"--for this is what He came to do. And the world will hate us for it.
Vs. 17-19. "Sanctify them through Thy truth: Thy word is truth. As Thou hast sent Me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth." Jesus is praying for us in the heavenly Sanctuary, that we might be made holy, set apart, consecrated unto Him by the truth. Too often "sanctification" has been made to mean a certain experience you get--and then are apt to lose. Then after seeking God you get "it" again. Now Christ is made unto us "sanctification"--just as He is our "wisdom" and "righteousness" and our "redemption" (1 Cor. 1:30). We are wholly sanctified when Christ is in control of our lives--when He lives and walks in us by His Spirit. It became our heritage when Jesus died on the Cross, once-for-all. (Heb. 10:10). And it is an ongoing work of grace in our hearts "by the washing of water by the word" (Eph. 5:26)--and we in turn "sanctify the Lord God in our hearts" (1 Pet. 3:15). Only as we give Him His lordship in our hearts do we live the sanctified life, the life that is totally consecrated unto God. And so Jesus for our sakes has "sanctified" Himself. Did He have to clean up His life from filthiness of the flesh? No! But He who was always pure and clean went still further, and "sanctified Himself". That is, He set Himself apart totally unto the will of the Father.
"Even so have I also sent them into the world". Many churches and mission boards are sending forth their representatives into the world; and we know God is doing a certain work, according to the calling each one has. But when God has prepared for Himself a "sanctified" people--totally separated unto God, and He sends them forth, they will make the same kind of impact upon the world that Jesus did when He was sent from the Father--like His disciples did when they were sent by the Son.
Vs. 20, 21. "Neither pray I for these alone, but for them which shall believe on Me through their word; that they all may be one; as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me".
And so we are included in His high-priestly prayer. And the prayer is very explicit: "That they also may be one in us". It has nothing to do with the slogans we see advertised in great conventions: THAT THEY ALL MAY BE ONE. The only "oneness" that delights the heart of God is oneness with Jesus, oneness with the heart and mind of God--having the same kind of union with the Son that He has with the Father.
Let us take notice: this is God's witness to the world that Jesus is the Son of God. This God's way. And when all of man's efforts to reach the world through mass evangelism and through the facilities of mass-media have failed, God is going to send forth His witnesses to the ends of the earth--so that all the world will know that a Lamb is reigning on the throne of glory. How do I know? Because when God's judgments fall in the earth, the inhabitants of the earth are going to cry to the mountains and rocks to hide them from the wrath of the Lamb. They are going to know that the Lamb has arisen to judge the nations:
"Fall on us, and hide us from the face of Him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb". I wonder if God could pour out the full measure of His wrath before there is that pure and holy witness of the Lamb who reigns on the throne.
Vs. 22, 23. "And the glory which Thou gavest Me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that Thou hast sent Me, and hast loved them, as Thou hast loved Me."
God's people are not made one by ecumenical conclaves, or by large Charismatic conventions, presided over by powerful apostles and prophets. They are made one by the glory of God, by the glory that He placed upon Christ--for this is the glory that He places upon His people. Conferences, dialogues, open communication between Church leaders, getting together in "love" and "praise" and "worship" and trying to solve controversial issues--This has nothing to do with it. It is by God's glory coming to abide in His Temple--the very same glory that took up His habitation in the Lord Jesus, making Him to be the very Temple of God in the earth--making Him to be God's mouthpiece, God's voice, God's revelation of Himself to the hearts of men. But now it is no longer "the fulness of God" in His Son in the earth, but the fulness of God in His "many brethren"--His only begotten always having the preeminence in all things, both now and evermore. Amen!
Made perfect in ONE....
Coming to fulness in ONE....
Coming to completeness in ONE....
Coming to maturity in ONE....
This is what the ministry from the throne is for. And if "ministry" does not bring this about in the earth, God's purpose in bringing it forth has fallen short of His intention. For the Son of God, exalted at God's right hand in the heavens, is there to bring about this kind of ministry in the earth--
"For the perfecting of the saints,
For the work of the ministry,
For the edifying of the body of Christ:
Till we all come in the unity of the faith,
And of the knowledge of the Son of God,
Unto a perfect MAN,
Unto the measure of the stature
Of the fulness of Christ"
(Eph. 4:12, 13).
This is God's revelation of Himself to the world. This is God's witness to the world that the Son was sent from the Father, to redeem the world--and that Jesus now reigns as King of kings and Lord of lords over all things.
Impossible, you say! I know, it is totally impossible with men. That is why God chooses to do it this way, that He alone might be glorified.
Vs. 24. "Father, I will that they also, whom Thou hast given Me, be with Me where I am; that they may behold My glory, which Thou hast given Me; for Thou lovedst Me before the foundation of the world."
We do not deny God's ultimates, just because we emphasize His present workings; and He wants us to be with Him in a very real way--here and now. We anticipate being with Him in future glory; but He also wants us to abide in Him now. "If that which ye have heard shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father" (1 Jn. 2:24). He wants us to abide with Him now--that we might also abide with Him then. Never let us think that if we find our home in God now, that Heaven will have less meaning to us then. The opposite is the truth. It is because the Son of Man dwelt in Heaven while He walked on earth that He was able to pray effectually: "Father, glorify Thou Me with Thine own self, with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was" (Jn. 17:5; see Jn. 3:13).
The future glory of our inheritance will depend upon our appropriation of that glory here and now in this life. There will be degrees of glory over there, for Paul tells us: "There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead" (1 Cor. 15:41, 42). But let us know for sure, that our attainment of the "prize" that Paul talks about is not determined by how much knowledge we have concerning "the high calling of God in Christ Jesus". Rather it is determined by whether or not we have walked in His Way, and have identified with His sufferings.
Vs. 25, 26. "O righteous Father, the world hath not known Thee: but I have known Thee, and these have known that Thou hast sent Me. And I have declared unto them Thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith Thou hast loved Me may be in them, and I in them."
What is the end pursuit, the end hope and longing, the supreme desire of the heart of our great High Priest on the throne?
It is that the same love that the Father had for Christ, and was manifested through Christ, might be in us. And that is why He is so concerned that we walk in His truth. That is why He reveals to us the heart, the mind, the name--the very nature and character of the Father. It is so that in knowing the Father, we might partake of His love in a greater and greater abiding fulness.
Foolish man says, "Forget all those far-out teachings, and let's just love one another". You do not just reach out and lay hold on love as you would on some earthly, tangible thing. You do not grab it out of thin air! You cannot know love until you know God, for God is love. You cannot find love without walking close to Him, learning of Him--learning obedience, taking up your cross, following the Lamb whithersoever He goeth. This is why we must minister the truth and walk in truth. God wants to bring us to Himself, to bring us into His love. You can't just reach out and grasp it like you would a butterfly flitting across your pathway, or like a blade of grass floating on the water. Love is rather the wind itself--the very atmosphere of Heaven which we were born to breathe. Love is the ocean itself, into whose depths we must plunge--and in which we must live--if we are to become a people that are filled with the fulness of God's love.
We have to be re-created in order to become creatures of His love. And the end purpose of Christ abiding in our hearts--as we walk in faith, in obedience, in hope, in patience--is that He might bring us into the fulness of His love. He wants to bring forth a corporate people in the earth, that will be able to comprehend, to apprehend,--to lay hold upon and become lost in the fulness of His love:
"That ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend (lay hold upon) with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with (unto) all the fulness of God." (Eph. 3:17-19).
Don't say, "Let's just have love, and forget the truth"--Don't say, "Let's just have the Temple, and forget the foundation"--
Don't say, "Let's just reap the harvest, and forget the time of sowing"--
Don't say, "Let's just have the apples, and forget the watering, the pruning, the leaves, and the flowers."
It takes the infinite and patient watchcare of the Husband-man in our lives, and the great intercessory work of our High Priest in the heavens, to bring forth in the earth a people who will manifest the very same love that was in Jesus. And our Lord continues to ask the Father to bring forth this kind of people in the earth. For Jesus knows, and He wants us to know, that God's answer to that prayer is God's answer to every human need.
The Urim and Thummim has come to glorious fulness in our High Priest on the throne of glory, and it will yet come to glorious and triumphant fulness in His chosen ones in the earth. The Urim (the lights, the glories, the fires) that encompass the throne and radiate from His face, must yet shine forth in the Thummim (the perfections, the fulness, the completeness of Divine revelation in the earth). Because the Spirit of God is here in the earth to take the excellencies of Christ from the heart of God, and reveal Him to us. And because He is not only URIM in His nature--He is also THUMMIM in His workings. He is not only Light and Fire and Brightness in Heaven--He is also THUMMIM: He brings to fulness, He brings to perfection, He brings to completion the New Covenant that our High Priest mediates before the throne. "For we are His workmanship"--or as one has translated it--"we are His masterpiece", that God has decreed to be the wonder and the glory of His wisdom, not only here in earth, but in the heavens as well. (Eph. 2:10; 3:10).
Perhaps never in her history has the Church become more sterile, more worldly, more captivated by worldly principles, more embellished with earth's adornment, as she is today--and yet so devoid of the Glory of God.
Never has she been so well-equipped with earth's resources; and yet never has she been so weak in her witness, so confused in her speech, so idolatrous in her worship, as she is today.
Ten thousand voices cry out from the air-waves, and beam down from the satellites above us--but where is that clear, pure authoritative voice from the heart of God?
All this is going to change; and I think the trumpets of God are beginning to sound. Once again in this day of great apostasy, as in other days of apostasy, God is going to bring forth a pure word from the throne, a sure and certain word from Urim and Thummim, and men will know--this is the Word of the Lord. God could have decreed that Jesus stay in the earth, but He enthroned Him in Heaven. Can we not recognize that God's plan is the very best? And that God's plan was that the Spirit of God would come to take up His habitation in His chosen ones in the earth, to fulfill in them the Covenant that Christ is mediating in the heavens?
Let us be assured that the Holy Spirit can be trusted to complete the work that God has given Him to do in the world and in the Church. We are prone to exalt His gifts; or to exalt His ministers. But the purpose of the gift and the purpose of the ministry is to exalt the Christ. And Christ is only truly glorified when His people come into a living relationship with Him. Jesus said, "I am glorified in them". The ultimate end and purpose of the gift is to bring forth a people who are walking in fellowship with Christ--a people who have learned to "walk in the Spirit". "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God" (Rom. 8:14).
The Holy Spirit is a Guide who is to be trusted. We will never fall into deception if we stay close to Jesus, and walk in the Spirit.
God in ages past committed the seething chaos of a world still unformed to the brooding watchcare of His Spirit, who--as the poet said--"Sat dove-like on the vast abyss, and madest it pregnant".
He it is who scattered the galaxies in the heavens, and who orders their every movement throughout the uncharted reaches of the universe.
He gives the spirit of life to every living creature, ordering their way from the time of birth unto the time of death.
He gives wisdom to the eagle to build her nest in the craggy heights; and to the coney to make her home in the rocks.
He gives wisdom to the ant, to store up her food in the summer, for the day of winter which she does not even know is coming.
He sends forth the locusts in battle, yet they have no king or ruler.
But God's people, since the days of Saul, have been reluctant to put their trust in God, saying, "Give us a king to tell us what to do--to lead us out--and to bring us in."
Man, redeemed by marvelous grace, and washed and cleansed by precious blood, and endowed with the Holy Spirit who comes to abide in our hearts in the fulness of His presence--
Redeemed man, enriched with grace immeasurable, and with the very wisdom of God--yet fears to make the Holy Spirit of God to be his Guide and Interpreter as he walks through the uncharted wilderness of life. He fears to let the Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus become the motivating, energizing principle by which he lives. He chooses rather to let the law of some church system, some minister, some apostle or prophet--become the rule by which he lives, and by which he walks.
What are these ministries for? To bring us into this kind of life in the Spirit, that we might walk with God. And if they are not doing that, they are failing to fulfill the function for which God ordained them and set them in the Body of Christ. Their purpose is to feed God's people with truth, that they might simply walk with God in the freedom of the Spirit.
You will not be free from deception--nor will you come to a knowledge of the truth, by studying all the different books on deception that abound in the Church these days. You will only know the truth, and walk in the truth, as you make the Lord Jesus to be Lord of your life, and learn to trust in His Spirit to lead and guide you into all truth. He is a faithful Guide, and one that is to be trusted.
-- George H. Warnock --