John 6: 35-39
Matthew 11: 25 - 29; 16: 13 - 17
Colossians 1: 12, 13
Ephesians 3: 14-19
DJH No doubt other scriptures will come to mind as we proceed together, but one is concerned that we might enquire into the activities of the Father. I have been impressed over some time, that Christ is the great Operator in the economy, as we are often reminded, but perhaps, if I may speak for myself, I have not sufficiently taken account of the activities of the Father; and yet each one of us personally has been the subject of the Father’s operations. This would surely give us some appreciation of the Father and would give Him a greater place in our affections. I read in John because this is very much John’s line. In John’s gospel the Lord Jesus is so much concerned in His ministry with making the Father known. We have here in this chapter, “All that the Father gives me shall come to me”. This is referred to also in chapter 17. It is wonderful that each one of us should have been given by the Father to Jesus. And then again, later, “No one can come to me except the Father who has sent me draw him”. Each one of us has been the subject of the Father’s drawing to Jesus. Then, “Everyone that has heard from the Father himself, and has learned of him, comes to me”. I just felt that we could speak together as to our experience in relation to these things.
In Matthew we have the reference to the Father being well pleased to reveal these things to babes. In our simplicity, we have been affected by the Father’s pleasure in revealing things to us. I am reminded that in John’s epistle he says to the little children that they have "known the Father", 1 John 2: 13. It is not exactly something that is advanced in our spiritual experience, but, as little children, we have known the Father. Then how wonderful that the revelation to Peter came from the Father, the Father had revealed it. I just wondered whether we could dwell on that side of that scripture. Perhaps we do not touch that side so much, the personal interest of the Father in revealing it, and, as it were, laying the foundation on which the Lord Jesus could say “I will build my assembly”. Colossians brings us in collectively, "translated us into the kingdom of the Son of his love", we are made fit, and Ephesians goes right on, the Father strengthening us, the Spirit involved, showing how He is available, we might say reverently and carefully, under the Father’s hand in view of strengthening the saints, just as the Lord Jesus is available to the Father in making Himself known. I wondered if we could speak of these things together.
JCG It is very helpful. What you are saying brings before us the side of affection, which the name ‘Father’ brings to us in Christianity, but also the fact that we are derived from the One who is supreme in that economy in which God has made Himself known. Please help us more as to this matter that you started with, “All that the Father gives me shall come to me”. It is very elevating to consider who the Father is. Is that what is in your mind?
DJH Yes. It is wonderful that in His sovereignty the Father would take account of persons such as we are, as Matthew 11 refers to as babes. You might say there is nothing in us that is outstanding. He has revealed these things to babes, but He would give such persons to Christ, “All that the Father gives me”. The note says 'whatever', so it is very wide. “All that the Father gives me shall come to me, and him that comes to me I will not at all cast out”. That is how the Lord Jesus values those that the Father gives to Him: “I will not at all cast out”. Could you say more as to it? It is a wonderful thing to think about. It is just affecting me. I trust it may leave a fresh impression with us, that such a One, the Father, supreme, as we often say, in this wonderful economy in which God is known to us, that He should take account of us, each one of us, and give us to Christ. As the hymn says,
Thou gav'st us, Father, in Thy love,
To Christ to bring us home to Thee,
Suited to Thine own thoughts above,
As sons like Him, with Him to be
JCG Yes, that is helpful. The reference to the Father giving, and then “No one can come to me except the Father who has sent me draw him”, brings out the supremacy of that Person, but it is in view of being attached to Christ eventually, the Father being the source. I think it is all very helpful for us.
DJH I am glad you bring in that touch as to drawing to Christ because I think we can see that in each of these references in which the Father is presented as active, Christ is in view. I think we can see that in each setting. The great point with the Father is that Christ might be magnified and brought before us in different ways as we go through. It is wonderful to see the way that that is so, no doubt bearing on the fact that the only references in the scriptures to sonship in relation to the Father, as far as I am aware, are in relation to Christ, as John says in his epistle, "the Son of the Father", 2 John 3. It gives us some impression of what Christ is to the Father in that relationship as the "only-begotten" and therefore in all His activities He has that Person before Him.
DAS I was thinking of what the Lord says Himself, that “my Father is greater than I” (John 14: 28) and also that “My Father ... is greater than all", John 10: 29. It says earlier too, "I am come in my Father's name", John 5: 43. It shows what His relation was with His Father, do you think?
DJH Yes. He says later, “He that has seen me has seen the Father”, John 14: 9. This brings out Their oneness. The Lord Jesus says to the Father, “as we are one” (John 17: 22), and yet operating distinctively, the Father operating and acting distinctively in the scriptures we have read, and yet having Christ in view. It is good as you say to be reminded that the Lord said, “My Father … is greater than all”. When He refers to “my Father”, He is speaking distinctly as to the relationship into which He has come as man. But in John 10, where the Lord says “My Father ... is greater than all”, He adds “I and the Father are one” (v 30), which relates to their place together in deity.
JAG The Father is operating here from the point of view of His purpose and counsel. It is very blessed to see that in this great system of affection the Father’s love is drawing persons to Christ, whom He loves.
DJH It is wonderful, and how far back it goes! We have the reference to “he has chosen us in him before the world's foundation”, Eph 1: 4. The “in him” shows that His coming into manhood was ever in mind. That peculiar place that He has as man and in view of what He has effected for the Father’s affections, would come out in “on this account the Father loves me”, John 10: 17.
JTB Do you think the prominence of the Father is what makes John’s gospel so attractive? It begins with “the only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him” (John 1: 18), and it finishes with “my Father and your Father, ... my God and your God”, John 20: 17. These things are wonderful to contemplate, are they not?
DJH Yes. I was thinking that it gives us an impression that in the economy in which God is known to us, the Father is the source of all, it all flows from Him, “the only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him”. Then as to the Spirit coming, it says, He "goes forth from with the Father", John 15: 26. Everything comes from the Father. I have felt that we do not sufficiently recognise the place the Father has in the wonder of divine operations.
RG. I was wondering if these operations of divine love in the Father had in view that there might be a company of persons who could take their place alongside Christ and say “Abba, Father”, see Rom 8: 14; Gal 4: 6. The fulness of our intimate knowledge of and relationship with the Father which enables us to say that comes from the operations of the Father in the way that they are set out here, do you think?
DJH Just so, so that He has "sent out the Spirit of His Son" crying “Abba, Father”, see Gal 4: 6. It shows the wonder of the way in which God is known to us in the Father and in the Son and in the Holy Spirit, and the wonderful relationship into which Christ came in order to effect the purpose of God according to His counsels. It is wonderful that it means so much to the Father that He is going to be surrounded by many sons. He has "taken us into favour in the Beloved", Eph 1: 6. We are taken on by adoption.
JDG There is absolute certainty in what the Father does. It says in verse 37, “All that the Father gives me shall come to me”. There is no uncertainty about that.
DJH That is good. What makes it so certain?
JDG There must be a divine operation that causes a person to move to Christ.
DJH That is what I was thinking as to everything coming from the Father. We could say in one sense, and rightly so, that everything in us begins with new birth, that is, the operation of the Spirit. But then here the Lord says that all that the Father gives to Him would come to Him. That means that you cannot exactly separate the operations of divine Persons. You can make certain distinctions: we can speak of new birth as the operation of the Spirit; we can speak of the work of Christ, of course, as it says in the scripture that we read in Ephesians, "in whom we have redemption" (ch 1: 7); but then there is the Father, would it be right to say, behind it all?
JDG I was thinking that. It is going to be complete right from the beginning from the Father’s point of view. But the answer comes in persons who move to Christ.
WL In Matthew the Lord personally says, “Come to me". I wonder if you could say something about, “no one can come to me unless it be given to him from the Father”, John 6: 65? Does that show the co-ordination between divine Persons? You spoke earlier of attraction. That is a principle, is it not? We have been taught too that the children of Israel were chased out of Egypt but they crossed over Jordan on the principle of attraction. Would that be involved?
DJH Yes. I am thankful for that because it all emphasises what we are saying that you cannot exactly separate these things. We come to Christ; well, why do we come to Him? It is really, as you say, on the principle of attraction; but then the Father, by the Spirit who has come from with the Father, and who knows so perfectly the blessedness of the affections that there are between the Father and the Son, would make the Son attractive to us so that we would be drawn to Him. Is that what you are thinking?
JS The Father has found an adequate Object for his affections in Christ in manhood. Do you think that in drawing us to Christ He wants Christ to fill our affections?
DJH Yes, it is good to put it that way. His affections are fully satisfied in Christ in that respect. But I believe Mr Lyon said that "bring the fatted calf" (Luke 15: 23) shows that He delights to share Christ with us. Christ is so much to Him that He would have us to give Him that place in our hearts and, as it were, share His delight in that blessed One.
JS It is a wonderful privilege for men to be drawn by the Father, to share something of His appreciation of Christ.
DJH We can speak of these scriptures together, and that in a way would be "that the Christ may dwell, through faith, in your hearts", do you think?
GCMcK Would the Father sending Christ be a great matter in His operations? I notice in verse 44 the Lord says, “No one can come to me except the Father who has sent me draw him”. There is both the sending of Christ and the drawing to Christ. I was thinking of the way that divine Persons are operating, especially the Father, all the affection and the thoughts that entered into the sending of Christ, and then how attractive He is as the sent One.
DJH We cannot separate from this the operations of the Spirit, can we? “All that the Father gives me shall come to me, and him that comes to me I will not at all cast out”. We come to Him as drawn to Him, but that would be as the Spirit has operated in us to bring about that attractiveness. As to what is natural, it says “there is no beauty that we should desire him” (Isa 53: 2) but the Holy Spirit has come from with the Father and He would make Christ attractive to us so that we would come to Him. I wondered whether there was something of that in mind in Matthew 11, in the way that He invites us to come to Him. It is in that setting of His own blessed personal relations with the Father: “At that time, Jesus answering said, I praise thee, Father, Lord of the heaven and of the earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them to babes”. He goes on to say, “Come to me, all ye who labour and are burdened”. This really goes beyond what is providential, does it not? We speak of and know the Father in a providential way but there is something on a higher level than that that I wondered if we might get help as to. It is those who are labouring and burdened as Christ was in relation to the testimony here that He invites to come to Him. While we are glad to apply it as we have our burdens physically lifted, it really relates to our part here in the testimony, does it not?
GCMcK When He says “Come to me, all ye who labour and are burdened”, He adds “and I will give you rest”. I understand that that involves the disclosure of the Father to us, so that we might know something of the Father. He is the One who reveals the Father.
DJH I thought that was the setting of it really. He found His rest in the Father’s love and in His knowledge of the Father; and He would invite us to the Father. The Father has drawn us to Him, but you can see the wonderful mutuality of operation between the Father and the Son.
CKR Can you say a word on revelation? It says that the Father has "revealed" these things to babes. And again revelation comes into Matthew 16. It is obviously the Father’s sovereign operation, but directed specifically to certain objects of that activity.
DJH I wondered whether we might get help as to that together. I felt in chapter 16 particularly there is a specific revelation: "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answering said to him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona, for flesh and blood has not revealed it to thee, but my Father who is in the heavens". I was thinking of the way in which the Lord Jesus would take such delight in the fact of the Father revealing this matter, and thus, would it be right to say, providing a basis on which there would be this great matter which is the focal point of this period in which we are, the assembly; that it should be built, as He says, on this rock, that is, the confession of Jesus as "the Christ, the Son of the living God": "on this rock I will build my assembly". Think of what that means to Christ, as we have often been reminded, that He could say "my assembly". What it must have meant to Him that there should be this revelation in view of the establishment of that immutable basis on which He was going to work in relation to the glory of that vessel which would be His counterpart.
CKR The Lord seems to be in the secret of the Father’s operations in revelation. In Matthew 11, He says that the Father has revealed them to babes, and in chapter 16 He says that the Father has revealed it to Peter. It is as though there is a beautiful harmony, as ever, between the Father and the Son, but the Father’s operations are specific, are they not, regarding individuals?
DJH Exactly. It really comes back to “I and the Father are one”. Yet there is a distinction. I remember Mr McCallum used the expression once ‘the indivisibility of the Godhead’. He said, ‘we cannot separate but we can distinguish’. That is really what we are saying, that there is a certain distinction in operation, is there not? But then, They are one in Their operations.
WL Why does the Lord say here in Matthew 11, “No one knows the Son but the Father” when He is revealed to Peter in chapter 16? This is an absolute statement also.
DJH This would relate to the place that He has in Godhead, would it not, as a divine Person? There is that which is beyond us to penetrate, and would make us, even in our conversation as we are together now, take our shoes from off our feet because we are really on holy ground. It is good to be reminded of that.
WL In Ephesians 4, it says “until we all arrive at the …. knowledge of the Son of God”, v 13. That would be the Lord known in manhood. It does not refer to His deity exactly, does it?
DJH No. Here in Matthew 11 it is “the Son”. It does not say ‘No one knows the Son of God’; but “No one knows the Son”. It is the only way we can identify Him, as it were, although we could not say that He was in that relationship as in that place before the incarnation.
JDG Does the Father reveal where there is a receptive state in the persons, the babes? There must be a receptive state there. There was not such a state with the wise and prudent but there was with the babes.
DJH Yes, it is good to be reminded of the receptive state that there is with the babes. It is similar to the way we have been helped in what Peter says, “as newborn babes desire earnestly the pure mental milk of the word", 1 Pet 2: 2. It is just that receptiveness there. It is the same idea. It is not exactly babes in growth, but however far on we are in the pathway, we are to be in that way receptive, as newborn babes, desiring earnestly. As has been said, a babe will not be satisfied until it gets its milk, and so it is "the pure mental milk of the word". I think it is good what you say to remind us of why it refers to them as babes here.
JDG Divine operations are particular.
DJH We were saying that coming along in conversation, that there is nothing arbitrary about divine operations; they are particular.
RG Revelation is private and individual. Declaration is public and universal. For revelation, there has to be a state within the person, and that is a private and individual matter, in which the Lord finds infinite delight and in which the Father finds pleasure also.
DJH That is something I feel for myself I need to get hold of, that for each one of us, it is intensely individual. We cannot compass the greatness of the Father, who He is as to His Person, "Lord of the heaven and of the earth", and yet He has revealed things to babes. You could not think of a greater contrast between One who is the "Lord of the heaven and of the earth" and a babe. Yet this is intensely individual. Do I really believe that such a glorious Person should be interested in me? It comes back to that.
RG “For the Father himself has affection for you, because ye have had affection for me”, John 16: 27. There you get it in a nutshell, do you not?
DJH That is right, and that bears on what our brother said too, that divine Persons are specific in their operations.
JAG Coming to Christ would prove reality in persons, and is that how we learn sonship and the liberty and glory of it for the Father’s pleasure, so that we are ready for revelation?
DJH Yes. So in that sense, would it be right to say that we continue to receive revelation? There is what is basic, but then there is what is coming all the time.
JAG The Lord says in John 6 that He was here to do the will of Him that sent Him, v 38. He is the Man of God’s purpose and He is opening up to us in this gospel the greatness and glory of divine purpose, and what sonship is in Himself personally, and the liberty that He has is to be known by us, and that liberty and joy and relationship is to be appreciated.
DJH I think what is coming out is making things clearer to me. All this has in view the place that Christ should have in our affections.
JAB Could you say a little more about the line that has come in in these last few remarks? It would be a good thing if, as a result of our conversation, we were to realise that the Father is working. Is it your impression that we need to be conscious in ourselves of His operations because the Father’s name is a name of relationship, is it not?
DJH Yes. It is a Name of relationship, but how much do I appreciate that? This was really what lay behind my exercise in bringing these scriptures forward, that we might realise that this is intensely personal. What a result it would have with us if we were really to appreciate that such a One as the Father has had to do with us individually. Although He is interested in all in one sense - it says there is “one God and Father of all, who is over all, and through all, and in us all” (Eph 4:6), which is beyond me to explain - He has taken up each one, and there are thousands out there that He has not taken up in the same way. Well, why has He taken me up? All this should affect us.
JAB That is what I feel and the need to understand that the Father is operating in this reading in relation to each one of us here this afternoon. We have come here because we are interested, to some extent or another, in what is going to come before us; but then we must see beyond that, that the Father is actually operating this afternoon. It is not at some other time or some other place in relation to something else, but towards us, now. That is a very precious thing to get into our hearts.
DJH I am thankful for what you say because this is something I have felt for a long time for myself, that I do not appreciate enough the operation of the Father at such a time as this, as having an interest in the company, but having an interest in each one. These are great things.
JCG It is a very interesting enquiry. I was thinking further that in the scripture in Matthew 11, the revelation to the babes brings out the Father’s pleasure, His delight. It says, “for thus has it been well-pleasing in thy sight”. In John 6 the references to giving and drawing are related to the will of the Father, but here there is some result that seems to bring out the Father’s pleasure. That would surely be something that we should enter into with Christ, and enjoy, do you think?
DJH The two are brought together again in Ephesians 1: “the good pleasure of his will”, v 5. It all enters into His pleasure; the exercise of His will enters into His pleasure. "Pleased to reveal him", it says.
JCG It brings out the delight that the Father sees in giving things and drawing persons; it also says we have heard from the Father, and now this result in the babes to whom it has been revealed seems to draw out particularly the Father’s pleasure. There is no doubt that the Lord and the Spirit would also have pleasure in this, but the Lord is drawing particular attention to the Father’s pleasure.
DJH Yes. It is wonderful that the Lord draws attention to the Father’s pleasure, and the Father draws attention to Christ, and behind it all is the operation of the Holy Spirit.
WL How would Ephesians 1: 17 apply? Paul prays “that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, would give you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the full knowledge of him”? Could you comment on that?
DJH I wish someone else would. It is a scripture I have often thought about. To my mind it simply conveys that there is no reserve in the mind and heart of God. In one sense, we will never arrive at the full knowledge of God because He is beyond us, “dwelling in unapproachable light; whom no man has seen, nor is able to see”, 1 Tim 6: 16. But all I can say as to my own impression is that it is to indicate that, as it says elsewhere in scripture, He will withhold no good thing from those that love Him - “no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly”, Ps 84: 11. It shows the unreserved character of the way in which God has come out.
WL It gives us an appetite to enter into this "full knowledge of him". Where can we find that? It is a big challenge. You will only find it where divine Persons are active. You would not find it in the world or the systems of the world, however religious they might be. Paul’s prayers were to that end, do you think?
DJH We are encouraged to feel after these things. We never come to the limit. We know that the limit is there, but we never reach the limit.
GBG If the Father is operating sovereignly, can He do just as He pleases? If He is operating on the basis of His sovereignty, as He has done, He does as He pleases, does He not? Therefore there is no limit to the height of blessing that He bestows upon us, is there?
DJH That is right. There is no limit on His side. The question is on our side, as to our receptiveness. We have referred to the babes. It is a question of the receptiveness on our side.
GBG What I was meaning as well was that He has not given us an earthly portion. He has given us a heavenly one. That is obviously from His side. We could not give ourselves a heavenly portion, could we? And in itself that draws out our affections towards Him, does it not?
DJH Surely. Other scriptures come to mind. “Who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies in Christ”, Eph 1: 3. Can you tell me what they are? It is so full, what has come to us in that way. Is that something of what you have in mind?
DCB The Son and the Spirit have descended. The Father has never descended, but He works. Could you say something about that?
DJH I wondered whether perhaps we could look on to Ephesians 3 in that regard. Paul is bowing his knees there to the Father "of whom every family in the heavens and on earth is named, in order that he may give you according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with power by his Spirit in the inner man". Here the Father is giving us to be strengthened, but it is by His Spirit. I wondered whether that applies to these other matters also, that in what the Father is doing, He remains as He is, not having descended, as you say, but behind it all is the operation of the Spirit. We have been saying that the Father and the Son cannot be separated, and that is so of the Spirit also. It is really God who is operating, but we see certain distinctions as to whether it is the Father, the Son or the Spirit. Do you think that would be?
DCB So that really the blessings are elevated to the Father's sphere, which the Father has remained in.
DJH Yes, that is another impression that I was hoping would come forward. I am glad you say that. All this line of things elevates things. We were saying elsewhere that the same thing applies in relation to the truth of the body. We think much of the truth of the body in the Corinthian setting of it, that is in our relations together in sympathy, "And if one member suffer, all the members suffer with it" (1 Cor 12: 26); but then there is the Ephesian level in which it is building itself up and every member working in that regard, see Eph 4: 16. I think the same applies in relation to the Father. That was really my exercise in reading these scriptures. There is what is providential and the Father in relation to our circumstances here, but I am glad of what you say because that was really what I was hoping might come forward, that this is beyond that; this is beyond what is providential; this is lifting everything up to that level to which you refer. Is that what you are thinking?
DCB So He is even presented here as "the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ". In chapter 1 it is "the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory", v 17. So there is the distinctiveness of the Father, yet He is the One who is being addressed in these prayers.
RT Is it all a love matter? You say it is not providential, but it is love, is it not?
Father, Thy love, the source of all,
Sweeter than all it gives (Hymn 26).
DJH Thou gav'st us, Father, in Thy love,
To Christ ... (Hymn 88).
Father, Thine own unbounded love
Has reached us through Thy Son…
Suited to Thine own thoughts above...
It is all a love matter. Say more as to that. I am glad you mention that.
RT So that it brings new feelings into our hearts, does it not, of sentiment and all these things? The Father would impart His own feelings to us, would He not, His own nature as well?
DJH I was thinking that when you referred to His own nature. It is really the way in which the nature of God has come into expression towards us, but with a view to an answer in us towards Himself.
JCG The reference to the families is therefore important, is it not? In Matthew 11 the Lord is showing the supremacy of the Father, "Lord of the heaven and of the earth", but here there are relationships of love coming to light between the Father and the families. The families would suggest that, do you think, that there is a responsive answer in the heavens and on earth, showing that the supremacy is maintained but it is in families in love, is it not?
DJH Yes, it is a wonderful expression. The note to it says, 'There is a distinct connection between the Greek words for Father and family'. It is what you say: it is wonderful the way in which it will be extended. At the present time this unique family, because indwelt by the Spirit of His Son, is being formed, the assembly, but every family will have some touch, some impression, some experience of the Father's love.
WL Would "to be strengthened with power by his Spirit in the inner man" be an assembly matter? I think this passage brings out the uniqueness of the assembly, "the inner man". I doubt if you could use this as to any other family, do you think? It just brings out the uniqueness of the assembly in the divine mind. Wonderful thought! And it is not 'the Spirit' but "his Spirit", the Spirit of the Father.
DJH It is wonderful the way the Holy Spirit has come in in that way. He goes forth from with the Father. That would be His Spirit.
JAG Can you say something about "the riches of his [the Father's] glory"? It is what strengthens us. That is the level of the strengthening.
DJH I could not say anything as to it but it is a thing that has affected me, and it is the level on which the Father operates, and in which the apostle always had Him before him. Even providentially he said, "But my God shall abundantly supply all your need according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus", Phil 4: 19. It is not according to what you think you need, but these are wonderful expressions, are they not? The divine wealth that is available under the Father's hand, whether it be in view of the assembly or whether it even be as to our needs providentially, the wealth is limitless. Is that in your mind?
JAG Yes, "that the Christ may dwell, through faith, in your hearts". We have that outlook on the whole universe, you might say. "The riches of his glory" is a wonderful statement.
JAB Is that rather summed up in the phrase in chapter 1, "taken us into favour in the Beloved", v 6. The note there to "favour" is 'grace and favour' and all that that implies. It is a very rich and full thought, is it not? It is the Father that has done that.
DJH So it relates to the love which the Father has for Christ.
JSp Would "the inner man" involve that we have capacity to enter into these things? I was thinking that the initial operations of God lead to this in new birth. It leads us into developing in capacity and the divine nature to enter into these great eternal thoughts of God.
DJH It is good to think of that because again we need to realise there are things which may be obvious, and much of what we have said is here in the scriptures. If it is not in the scriptures, let us forget it! When we really start to think about these things and the reality of them, do I realise that there is something in me and something in you and something in each one of us which is only there because of divine operation? This "inner man", there is something there which is real and it is going through. I may fail. Please God that I shall not, but if I fail, nevertheless there is that there which is indestructible. Is that really what you are thinking that there is something very real in each one? As I say, these are simple things in a way - I am not able for much - but we need to realise the reality of things which perhaps we speak of quite freely together, but how real are these things to us?
JSp Well, I am just impressed as the reading is proceeding with the greatness of this dispensation, that when the fulness of things is really brought out, this dispensation is really the greatest of all dispensations. We have capacity to enter into the great eternal thoughts of God. Is that right?
DJH Yes, thinking of that, I often wonder what they were saying. It says at the beginning of Acts they heard them speaking "the great things of God", chap. 2: 11. You say this is a day of small things, but it is not in that respect. "The great things of God" are not small and they never will be, and they have not diminished, have they? Perhaps that is what we are speaking about, "the great things of God".
GCMcK So there is a glory attached to this in a special way, the Father's operations. We alluded to "the riches of his glory": He is the Father of glory. We get the glory of His grace. So is there a special elevation in glory attaching to the Father's operations?
DJH It is amazing, is it not? Say more because it certainly is an expression, "the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory", chap. 1: 17. It seems as though all glory in a sense has its source in Himself. Is it right to say that?
GCMcK And I thought, therefore, it would enter into His operations and there is a touch of glory in His grace, for example. I wondered if it would just enter into the whole matter, what the Father is in Himself as the Father of glory.
DJH Surely it would.
JAG It certainly entered into the raising of Christ "by the glory of the Father", Rom 6: 4.
DJH Wonderful that! Glory is a word which has a different meaning in the spiritual vocabulary to what it has in the world. I have often thought of that reference - we might just touch on Colossians. Before what we read, it speaks of "strengthened with all power according to the might of his glory", v 11. It was the "might of his glory" that raised Christ from the dead, but then what Paul says in that prayer is that it is towards you who believe. Do I believe that?
RG I was just going to link it back to what was said about love because His glory is the power of His love. "Raised ... by the glory of the Father" was raised by the power of His love, and if He is the Father of glory we see the greatness and the extensiveness of His love, operating powerfully towards securing something in the assembly that will be for Himself, do you think?
DJH Surely, so that would be why it has been said that love is the greatest power in the universe. You could think of no greater power, not only that it raised Christ from the dead, but the way it is expressed, "in which he wrought in the Christ in raising him from among the dead", Eph 1: 20. It is a tremendous expression of power. I have often said as to that that it seems almost as though the apostle runs out of words, "the working of the might of his strength, in which he wrought in the Christ". You cannot get beyond that, can you? But it is good, as you say, as to the power of His love.
RT It is very comforting that when the Father moves, everything else has to give way. Even Christ says the Father has reserved certain things for His own authority, even governmentally and so on. The Father is over all these things, is He not? And He has operated in our hearts to bring all His purposes to fruition.
DJH Amazing, is it not? Well, let us make way for Him! Do you think we make way for Him in that way?
RT These scriptures would encourage us. He has power; He has strength; and everything else has to give way.
DJH And He has love - well, I would not say, He has love: He is love. It is His very nature. Well, I just wondered whether something could be said as to Colossians, "giving thanks to the Father, who has made us fit for sharing the portion of the saints in light, who has delivered us from the authority of darkness, and translated us into the kingdom of the Son of his love; in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins".
TCM I was going to ask about this matter of "giving thanks to the Father". Should this be a constant attitude of our hearts towards the Father because of the completeness of what He has done? He has "made us fit" and "delivered us" and "translated us". It is a complete matter as has already been mentioned.
DJH I think that is good that it is a constant matter. It is not just that we acquiesce to the fact that the Father has done it, as it were, but we should never cease to be thankful for the place into which we have been brought, and then to recognise the glory of the Person who has effected it. But I would like to understand this. How has He made us fit? When did He do that?
JCG It would have its origin in the death of Christ, would it not? We had to be fit morally before we could answer spiritually. Do you think that this matter of giving thanks to the Father, while it is general and would help us in our individual and family exercises, it would help in elevating the prayer meeting particularly in relation to our prayers at the golden altar. It would bear on that, would it not?
DJH I think it would. Do you have the prayer meeting here announced as a meeting for prayer and thanksgiving? I suppose this is the level of the thanksgivings. Is that what you were thinking?
DJH There is much that we can be thankful for. As I say, we so much limit ourselves to the providential side of things, even in the prayer meeting, do we not? Perhaps you do not here, but we do in other places, but I think what you say would help. It is more the side of golden altar prayers and thanksgivings. Would that be right to say?
JCG There has been a general exercise that our prayers should be elevated. There is need to be concerned about, and other local exercises and so on, and illnesses; but we should be concerned as to what is for the Father as well. It is in the context here of being "strengthened with all power according to the might of his glory unto all endurance and longsuffering with joy", so quite clearly it is in a testimonial setting.
RG Do you think that, if the woman in John 4 read these verses in the epistle to Colossians, she would think, 'Oh, yes "the Father seeks such as his worshippers" (John 4: 23) and here I am in this verse: "who has delivered us from the authority of darkness, and translated us into the kingdom of the Son of his love"'? What do you think?
DJH That is very good. I think we can learn a lot in relation to that chapter, but I am glad you touched on that point too because that is really the great end in view that in all these operations we are speaking of, the Father is seeking worshippers. There should be an answer in love to Himself in relation to all He has secured at such cost to Himself.
JAG Does all this relate to the Father's name: "I will declare thy name to my brethren", Heb 2: 12? It seems to me to be very expansive and consequently the answer is, "in the midst of the assembly will I sing thy praises", Heb 2: 12. It is an exceptionally happy and joyful matter.
DJH "And will make it known", John 6: 26.
31st March 2007