John 17: 6 - 17
1 John 3: 1 - 3; 2: 14 (second sentence) - 17
Luke 15: 15 - 23
I desire, with the Lord’s help and, I trust, by the Spirit, to continue what we have had before us in the reading and to speak of the way in which what we have had as to the Father’s love may affect us in our practical life here. There is that which is wonderfully before us in relation to our portion in glory, which is touched upon in the scripture that I read in John’s epistle, “we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is“. It is wonderful that John was so full of Christ that he does not actually mention Him by name in that chapter. Indeed, elsewhere also we find that John does not actually mention the Lord Jesus by name, but we know of whom he is speaking, he is so full of Him. Is that how we are in relation to the One who has loved us and given Himself for us? Is He really to us our life? And is our life really with Him above? “Your life is hid with the Christ in God”, Col 3: 3. How great these things are! One cannot explain them or expand on them to any degree, but simply let us ponder the words of scripture. “When the Christ is manifested who is our life, then shall ye also be manifested with him in glory“, Col 3: 4. Does it not attract our hearts? How glorious He is, and He is concerned about us at the present time!
Before He went to where He is, He committed us to the Father. That is why I read in John 17. This wonderful - is it right to say? - mutuality of which we were speaking earlier comes in again here: “They were thine, and thou gavest them me” and yet they did not cease to be the Father’s as He says, “concerning those whom thou hast given me, for they are thine, (and all that is mine is thine, and all that is thine mine,) and I am glorified in them”. How wonderful it is that He commits them then to the Father, “And I am no longer in the world, and these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep them in thy name which thou hast given me, that they may be one as we”. Among other things - and others could say more as to what that would mean - it would be that we are one in affection, one in affection for the Father, one in the enjoyment of the Father’s love. What wonderful things these are: “that they may be one as we“! And then He says that He kept them: “When I was with them I kept them in thy name” and how He preserved them! “And now I come to thee. And these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in them”. What a joy it was, His relationships with the Father! We read in Matthew 11 but if we had read the corresponding scripture in Luke, it says there, “In the same hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit and said, I praise thee Father”, chap. 10: 21. What a joy He had in His relationships with the Father! What a joy He had in the Father‘s love! How wonderful! And then He says, “I have given them thy word, and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, as I am not of the world”. He says it again later, “They are not of the world, as I am not of the world“, v 16.
There is something which I felt needs to be laid upon us that we are not of the world, even as Christ is not of the world. There is no question in our minds as to Christ that He is not of the world, but as we shall see in the other scripture I read in John’s epistle, that there are two matters which are mutually exclusive, we may say, completely incompatible: one is the love of the world and the other is the love of the Father. But the Lord Jesus emphasises here, “They are not of the world”. Beloved brother and sister, younger brethren, older brethren, we are not of the world. There is that in you and in me, God’s sovereign work, His operations of which we were speaking in the reading, which has no connection whatsoever with the world morally. We are in the world, as the Lord Jesus says; they are in the world, but we are no more of the world than He is, and I believe that is something we need to hold to, beloved. And if we are to be in the full enjoyment of the Father‘s love, if we are to have Christ’s joy in His enjoyment of the Father’s love without reserve, it is to be as we are true to that which is in us which is not of the world. The Holy Spirit does not relate Himself in any way to that which is of the world. What He relates Himself to is that which is not of the world, and there is that in you and that in me which is not of the world, but is of the Father, the fruit of those operations of which we have been speaking. How full that subject is, as we have found, and so much more in it to be explored than we could speak of together! I trust it may lead us to some contemplation and private enquiry into this great matter of the Father’s operations in view of Christ having His place with us. But there is that there which is not of the world, and that is what is to be given place to. And the Holy Spirit (who is ever faithful to Christ and who has come from with the Father) would ever help us as we seek to make way for that in us which is not of the world: that is, the work of God in its indestructible character which is going through for the Father’s pleasure into eternity.
And so I read in John’s epistle: “See what love the Father has given to us, that we should be called the children of God”. It is not the children of the Father or the sons of the Father, but the children of God. I believe it would relate to our position here in testimony in the world, that we are called the children of God, brought into the divine family. We were speaking about the families, and the Father of every family, “the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom every family in the heavens and on earth is named”, Eph 3: 15, and we have been brought into this wonderful family at the present time, and the Father’s love is behind it: “See what love the Father has given to us”. We were speaking also of what the Father has given, what finds its source in the Father’s love and here he says, “See what love the Father has given to us, that we should be called the children of God”.
Then it says, “For this reason the world knows us not, because it knew him not”. As I say, here he is referring to what follows in relation to Christ. It knew Him not. There was nothing here which was in any way suited to Him in the world around. He could say as to Himself, “They are not of the world, as I am not of the world” and yet He was here in the world but “now“, as he says in chapter 17, “I come to thee”. But here John says,” For this reason the world knows us not, because it knew him not”. How evident that is that the world knew Him not!
Man the cross to Him awarded,
Man the Saviour crucified
That was how He was regarded in the world here: the world knew Him not. Consider the wonder of it - see how the Lord Jesus Himself could say as to that son who was sent into the vineyard, “perhaps when they see him they will respect him”, Luke 20: 13. And again it speaks of the way in which He was rejected here: “which none of the princes of this age knew, (for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory)”, 1 Cor 2: 8. But they knew not and the world knew Him not. There is something in the believer, if we are true to it, as I have been saying, which means that the world will not know us. Do we find our associations, our friendships, in any way in the world? Thank God there is what is in His care for us. He makes a way through for us, and we are able to go through as living here “providing things honest before all men“ (Rom 12: 17), but nevertheless not as of the world. The way in which we touch things here is different from the way in which those who are of the world will touch things. We have instructions in the epistles as to the various relationships in which we may be found, whether it be children or husbands or wives or masters or servants. All these things are governed by the fact that we are not of the world, and there is that in us which is to find its expression as we are left here in testimony.
But now what a hope is before us! “Beloved, now are we children of God, and what we shall be has not yet been manifested; we know that if it is manifested we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is“. What a hope! What a hope! “We shall see him”, that blessed, glorious Saviour who gave Himself for us, who loved us and gave Himself for us. He has given so much to secure us. What a Saviour He is! And we shall be like Him! What joy the Father will have then when He is surrounded by the many sons, not then, in that sense, as spoken of here, as “children of God”, but sons of God; and yet that is our position now as it says, “God’s sons by faith in Christ Jesus”, Gal 3: 26. That is by faith in that blessed Man who is there, because that is where our place is, “raised us up together, and has made us sit down together in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus”, Eph 2: 6. How wonderful these things are, beloved, but “we shall be like him”. Then sonship in actuality in all its fulness will be seen in those who at the present time are not of the world.
And then it says, “And every one that has this hope in him purifies himself, even as he is pure”. So what we have been speaking of is to have what we speak of as a moral effect upon us. It is not just to be something that we can enjoy (whether personally or together) as facts - and they are glorious facts, glorious realities! That came into the reading, that these things are real at the present time. They are blessed and glorious realities, all established through the work of our Lord Jesus Christ, through His death, burial, resurrection and glory, and the presence here of the Holy Spirit; glorious realities, which relate to us each one as not of the world. But then these are to have a moral effect upon us. So it says, “And every one that has this hope in him“, not ‘should purify himself‘, but “purifies himself“. Now, that is a question, beloved, as to how much this hope is in us. How much does the Holy Spirit quicken in us in such a way that our affections become uncluttered with what is of the world, so that we almost automatically purify ourselves? Because everything here around us which is of the world is completely incompatible with the glory of this blessed hope which is before us, when we shall see Him and be like Him forever? And so he says, “And every one that has this hope in him”. Is this hope in you, dear brother? Is this hope in you, dear sister? Is it really alive? He has “begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ”, 1 Pet 1: 3. Is that hope so living in you that you are purifying yourself and keeping yourself apart from all that is completely incompatible with it, all that is of the world and not of the Father?
So I read in chapter 2 because it shows the danger. These are not the little children that are being addressed here. He says, “I write to you, little children, because ye have known the Father”. It is taken for granted that they knew the Father if they were young men or if they were fathers. Indeed of the fathers it says, “ye have known him that is from the beginning“, but in any case here is the word to these young men, that they have overcome the wicked one: “I have written to you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one“. Earlier he says, “I write to you, young men, because ye have overcome the wicked one”, v 13. You might say, well, they would be all right. They would be safe. But then they are in the world and the Lord Jesus has committed them, as He says also in chapter 17 of the gospel, “And I do not demand for these only, but also for those who believe on me through their word” (v 20), and we are among them, and we may have overcome the wicked one in that sense. We may have overcome in relation to what the enemy would do in relation to spoiling what is of God in us, but even so, he says, “Love not the world”. “If any one love the world, the love of the Father is not in him; because all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world”. So it shows, beloved, the danger, but the answer to it is not being occupied with those things and saying we have to judge this and we have to judge that, but the answer to it is the enjoyment of the love of the Father. It is what we have been speaking of, and I trust what we have had together in the reading may help us all in the love of the Father, the recognition of the love which the Father has for us, that there might be a fuller answer in us to that love. Then all these other things will find their own place. We shall reject them because there is no room for them in relation to the love of the Father with which they are completely incompatible. How much do I enjoy the love of the Father?
I read in Luke 15 because the Lord Jesus brought in these homely illustrations that help us as to the truth. Here is a young man who had really indulged himself in the things of the world, but he came to realise that there was nothing in them, and he found that there was an area where there was much that would be for his satisfaction and he got back to it. And the first thing that affected him when he came back was in the terms of what we have been speaking of, the love of the Father. That is what affected him, and what the Father provided for him: “Bring out the best robe and clothe him in it”. Oh, dear brother and sister, just think of what we have been clothed in at the present time as children of God, but awaiting His glorious manifestation when we shall be like Him, the redemption of the body. These are the hopes that we have been speaking of, that the scripture speaks of, “every one that has this hope in him”. What wonderful things these are that we have from the Father, and all related to that glorious Man, our Lord Jesus Christ, clothed with the best robe. So what does He see when He looks upon us? He sees that which is not of the world; He sees Christ. How wonderful! That is the way the father would look upon the son. And then the ring on his hand, eternal love, love known now in these present circumstances in which we are, but to be known and enjoyed eternally, that My joy may be in them. How wonderful! And then he says, “sandals on his feet“, the liberty of the house! This young man was brought into great things! And then he says, “bring the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and make merry”. What an appreciation this young man would have of the fatted calf! It is what Christ was to the Father, what He is to the Father, His appreciation of Christ, and all that He has effected for Him. How wonderful these blessed and holy relationships, and how wonderful that he would share them with this one who had come back, and with you and me, who had no right to anything ourselves, yet are brought in to share Christ with the Father. How wonderful that is! What food for us, that we might feed upon Him and all that He is to the Father, not only feeding on Him as we need Him here, the manna, as we go through the wilderness -
Christ, once humbled here
- but feeding upon Him, the old corn of the land, the One who is indigenous to heaven; and all that He is to the Father, and we can feed upon Him and the Father would share Him with us. How wonderful! “And let us eat and make merry“, nothing to interfere, but going forward in this, as has often been said, there is no suggestion that this rejoicing ever came to an end and it never will, beloved. The Father’s delight in Christ will never come to an end and we are to share in it.
And then the simple question comes: do you think this young man would ever have gone back to “the husks which the swine were eating”, v 16? It is a question for us. We are brought into these wonderful things. Do we go back to these things, that which is of the world? Or does the love of the Father, and all that He provides for us, and all that we enjoy of it, and all that we enjoy with Him, all that we enjoy of Christ, does it not satisfy us to such a degree that all that is of the world, and all that is passing, and its lusts and all that we would desire after it, is all nothing to us because we are enjoying the Father’s love? How preservative it is, beloved! I just feel that it is right to bring this to bear upon us, the moral effect of the enjoyment of the Father’s love. It is not a question that we must not do this and we must not do that and so on, but in the enjoyment of the Father’s love you do not even think about these things because what you are enjoying of Christ with the Father fills your heart and satisfies you where nothing else can. Would that I knew more of it for myself, and may we all know more of it that the Father Himself may be satisfied in what He finds in us! Surely it would move our hearts to worship as we have a sense of His greatness and the way He has reached out to us and provided for us. May Christ have a greater place in our hearts as the Father would share Him with us! And surely the Holy Spirit who has come forth from with the Father would help us in this as we just open our hearts to Him. Well, may the Lord bless the word!
31st March 2007