Acts 4: 10-12
2 Corinthians 5: 17-18 (to “Jesus Christ”)
Hebrews 13: 10-15
1 Thessalonians 4: 16-18
I have an impression as to what is achieved by faith in “the name”, what it is to be “in Christ”, to “go forth to him without the camp”, and then to be with Him.
Our brother has referred to the Lord having been victorious over the power of death. He is exalted. In this passage in the Acts He has been made Lord and Christ, but He has acted down here and He is in the testimony, “And, by faith in his name, his name has made this man strong”, Acts 3: 16. He deals with persons in whom sin has been active, and affected them in mind, body, soul and spirit. and He heals them. This man is healed. He stands before them a testimony, “by him”, that is by the Lord Jesus Christ. That is the Man who has come into all our lives. It is “by him” that we stand here tonight, “sound in body”. We are here together, “sound in body”, morally sound, spiritually sound, persons who have the gift of the Holy Spirit; and we are able to be here for God and for Christ, having proven what salvation is. “And salvation is in none other” - that is none other person - “for neither is there another name under heaven which is given among men by which we must be saved”. That is an appeal you can still make in the glad tidings, and that is an appeal that has affected every one of us here tonight. We have been saved by the power of that blessed Name.
In 2 Corinthians 5 you find out after your conversion that something else has taken place in you - “So if any one be in Christ, there is a new creation”. How do you become “in Christ”? Well, you become “in Christ” by trusting Christ as your Saviour. If you trust Christ as your Saviour you come in for the blessings He has secured. Reconciliation was effected on the cross apart from us, while we were enemies; the scripture says, “we have been reconciled to God through the death of his Son”, Rom 5: 10. So you come into that blessing and God regards you now as “in Christ”; no longer in Adam but “in Christ”, and “if anyone be in Christ, there is a new creation”. It is a real matter, conversion, a real thing. It means the work of God has begun in the soul of a person and there is something there that is called new creation. “The new man” is spoken about, “which according to God is created in truthful righteousness and holiness”, Eph 4: 24. That is true of every believer when they come to Christ as Saviour. The work of God in you and me will be true to itself if we make way for it. That is true of every believer, so that it says here, “So if any one be in Christ, there is a new creation; the old things have passed away; behold all things have become new: and all things are of the God who has reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ” - that is what I was speaking about: “reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ”. What a joy to God to receive repenting sinners. The young man, the prodigal, in Luke 15 came back reconciled. It does not say that in Luke 15, but that is the truth, he came back reconciled, he came back in another Man; that is why the Father could run and greet him. “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before thee; I am no longer worthy to be called thy son” (Luke 15: 21), but he was worthy because of the work of reconciliation. Then you can say, ’Well, there is a work of God in me and it is called new creation’. That is “in Christ”.
Then I want to come briefly to Hebrews 13. “We have an altar of which they have no right to eat who serve the tabernacle”. The scripture says in chapter 10: 9, “He takes away the first that he may establish the second”. The first that is taken away is Judaism and what He has established is Christianity; so now the Jews have no priority. In the Old Testament times they had a priority amongst the nations because God recognised them as His people, but now they have no priority. Christianity is established by God and Judaism is set aside; so “We have an altar of which they have no right to eat who serve the tabernacle”. Then it speaks of the Lord Jesus having “suffered without the gate” and it says, “let us go forth to him without the camp”. When you are converted and you come to Christ and come into the gain of the truth of reconciliation, you need to go “to him”. Where is He to be found? Well, we live in a world which is religious in the main in various ways throughout the world. Man is a religious creature. Go forth to Christ without the camp. What does that mean? Well, it involves for us, in this part of the world anyway, that Christendom exists all around us. The name of the Lord is there in various ways amongst men, and there is public breakdown in the church. Persons, true believers are going on with things like the clergy - which sets aside the Spirit of God - sacraments and orders and services. That is all related to the camp. If you want to find Christ you have to go forth to Him without that camp. He is speaking in Jewish terms here because the writer is writing to the Jews in Jerusalem that they might flee before the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus, and he is telling them to “go forth to him without the camp, bearing his reproach”. It would be a reproach to leave Jerusalem at that time. It is a reproach for us to find Christ outside the systems of men. Many believers are caught up in the systems of men. We need to be thankful for the light of the assembly, we really need to be thankful for that, but you only find it by going forth to Him. If we go forth to Christ we find a few believers like we have tonight “without the camp” yet “bearing his reproach”. It is a reproachful situation. In the city of Edinburgh, it is a reproach to be identified such as we are together in relation to naming the Name of the Lord (2 Tim 2: 19) because we are apart from all that marks Christendom. What are sacraments, orders, vests, crowns, robes? What does that mean to Christ? Nothing. It is a reproach to Him. It is the reproach of Egypt. What does it mean to us? What does it mean to be identified with such things? It would deprive us of the living character of the word of God, dear brethren, to be identified with such systems. The clergy sets aside the presence of the Holy Spirit acting in the body of Christ. It says in Hebrews 10, “For by one offering he has perfected in perpetuity the sanctified”, v 14. That is a company of persons (all the saints) secured by one offering, “perfected in perpetuity the sanctified”. Does a sanctified person need robes and gowns and crowns and cathedral windows and cathedral domes? He does not need any of such things; it is a reproach. What he needs is Christ. So “let us go forth to him without the camp, bearing his reproach”, and we will find one another on that basis as going forth to Christ without the camp. “By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise continually to God, that is, the fruit of the lips confessing his name”. That is not confessing Christ’s name in reproach, as I understand it; that is confessing Christ’s name in the presence of God. It says, “By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise continually to God, that is, the fruit of the lips confessing his name”. I am not saying the other thing does not come into it, but as far as I can see confessing His name in that situation is confessing in the presence of God. What a delight to God to hear persons confessing the name of Christ, offering the sacrifice of praise continually to God!
And then finally, to be with Him is the final hope of the believer. The triumph of Christ in going through the Jordan is to have us with Him. It was at that time to have the people with Him in the land of promise, the land of Canaan, in the heavenly land. Here it is to be with Him finally, having bodies of glory like unto His own body of glory, Phil 3: 21. So it says, “for the Lord himself, with an assembling shout, with archangel’s voice and with trump of God, shall descend from heaven; ... then we, the living who remain, shall be caught up together with them” - that is the believers who are raised from the dead - “to meet the Lord in the air; and thus we shall be always with the Lord”. That is the final thing, “with the Lord”. That is the great triumphant final rallying point, the trump of God sounds, the saints taken to be with Christ to come out, as we sang in our song when “Israel’s race shall then behold Him” (Hymn 291), not alone, but He will have his saints with Him.
May the Lord encourage our hearts with these few thoughts.
For His Name’s sake.
17th March 2009