“BRINGING MANY SONS TO GLORY”
Romans 8: 28-30
Hebrews 2: 5-10
Philippians 3: 20-21
JL I wonder if we all fully appreciate one of the most marvellous things that is taking place on the earth at the present time, and that is that God is bringing many sons to glory! He is preparing sons for glory, and that is my thought for today. Despite the conditions in the world, the concept arose in the divine mind before creation existed and the climax of its results will subsist for all eternity. It is a very marvellous thing! That does not detract from the great conception of the assembly because it runs entirely parallel with it. What the assembly is femininely will answer in a full way to the affections of the Lord Jesus, but as a vessel of divine praise the personnel of that vessel are sons who will be entirely in accord with the coming glory. I have an interest to enquire about glory. Why is God bringing sons to glory? Is glory a condition? Or is glory a place? Why does God not transfer us instantly into that sphere of glory if His interest is so great in it? These are things for us to enquire into. It is very clear that God is pursuing, without deviation, His great intent to bring His sons into conformity to Christ, and to fit us for that eternal sphere of His own happiness.
In Romans, it might be of interest to note that it is somewhat put in the past tense; “whom he has justified, these also he has glorified”. In the epistle to the Hebrews it is something that is taking place currently; he is “bringing many sons to glory”. And in the epistle to the Philippians it is something that has yet to take place; He “shall transform our body of humiliation into conformity to his body of glory”. It is clear that all these things have a bearing upon the sons of God and they are all connected with glory, which I believe to be a divine necessity in view of the satisfaction of God. God will not dwell in circumstances anything less than glory.
RT The passage you began with says, “has foreknown”; that is where we start, is it?
JL Yes indeed, and that takes us back before creation. It takes us back into the purpose of God, does it not? I have this very precious impression that it is a divine conception that arose before time began. To me it is a most marvellous thing. The world around us is in turmoil, that is plainly obvious, but God is pursuing something that arose in His own mind by way of purpose, and according to His counsel it is being worked out now in view of the culmination in glory, is it not?
DCW Does the Lord’s prayer in John 17 have a distinct bearing on all of this? The Lord spoke of the glory that He had with the Father before the world was (v 5), but then He says, “the glory which thou hast given me I have given them”, v 22.
JL That is very helpful and a good reference to bring in. It is true to say, is it not that we shall behold those glories of His that we are able to take account of, and our hearts will be held in adoration because of it, but we too have to be participators in glory, have we not? What do you say about that?
DCW So part of His desire was that we might see His glory, v 24!
JL We will! We will see those glories of Christ that we will be able to take account of. I am sure we all acknowledge that the creature will never penetrate into the essential glory of Deity, but we will behold these glories of Christ as Man and the glories that God has given Him too. But then my thought is that we shall be transformed and brought into suitability because God will eternally dwell in glory.
NJH “His Son” will determine our relationship, will He not?
JL Yes, I agree with you.
NJH It says, “conformed to the image of his Son”. There is reference to the sons of God being active when the glory of creation came in before them, (Job 38: 7) but that was no link with “his Son”; our sonship relates to “his Son”: is that right?
JL Yes. There will be nothing less in the thought of sonship for the saints of the present family than conformity to Christ in glory. I think for us to be failing in interest in regard of this subject would almost be like an insult to the Father’s love. It is such a prime thought in the Father’s affections that it must be delightful to heaven for us to be occupied today in looking into it, do you not think?
NJH In the parable it is “at last he sent to them his son, saying, They will have respect for my son”, (Matt 21: 37), but this is a further thought in the divine mind, that we appreciate the relationship of sons.
JL Appreciate it, and grasp the thought that we shall be brought into conformity with all that God has in mind in glory.
RG Is there something to learn from the fact that in 2 Corinthians 3 we are “transformed … from glory to glory”, (v 18), but here we are “conformed to the image of his Son”. Transformation is almost immediate it would appear but conformation takes time, does it not?
JL It takes time, and has the added thought that it brings in finality, is that right?
RG Yes. I wondered about this being in the section where the Spirit is made much of. Does it not only direct our minds to the presence of the Spirit down through the dispensation but also through our spiritual lives, so that there should be a result becoming obvious and evident in us, that we are being conformed to the image of His Son, and therefore being prepared for glory.
JL Very good. My understanding is that the saints are glorified through the gift of the Holy Spirit. What does God clothe with glory? Certainly not flesh! He clothes His own work with glory, and the witness to that is the gift of the Holy Spirit. I would like to arouse the interest of the brethren in relation to the several references to what was covered with gold in the Old Testament both in the time of Moses and in the time of Solomon, because I think these things will give us further suggestions to show that God is intent on dwelling amidst glory. There were four woods that were overlaid with gold. They all speak of Christ in some way, and of what is of Christ formed in the saints. That stands connected with your thought about the gift of the Holy Spirit, does it not?
NJH The wood and the gold are to be considered together. The woods speak of an order of man that could be overlaid with gold.
JL I also have this thought that the wood was not overlaid with gold to cover up what was unsuitable below, but it was because of God’s appreciation of what these various woods spoke of, as making manifest features of Christ. It seemed delightful to His heart, and resulted in them being clothed with glory in view of His dwelling place.
GBG The word “image” is used and also in 2 Corinthians 3; does that include likeness? “Conformed to the image of his Son” takes time, as was said, but image would be a complete, full thought. If a thing is like enough, does that equate with image?
JL Yes. There may be at times just the thought of representation, but it is more than that here. Likeness involves some correspondence, and that is what is in your mind, is it? There is some correspondence to what is of Christ, and that is what is formed in the saints and is clothed with glory. The gift of the Holy Spirit is given to us in order that He might reside in our hearts in relation to that work of God that is already in our souls; “but whom he has justified, these also he has glorified”.
RT These are the lessons learned in Romans. They are steps of majesty, are they not? Does that go along with glory, it is majestic? Everything must give way to it, and bow.
JL I like that thought! What characterises this world is degradation, but what marks the work of God is increasing steps in glory. It brings to my mind a reference in Mr Raven’s ministry where he made mention of the section in Revelation 21 where God says, “Behold, I make all things new”, v 5. Mr Raven said, ‘I cannot pretend to say what He makes, but I have no doubt there is an ascending scale of blessing’, vol 19 p592. That is just like Romans here, is it not; an ascending scale of glory?
RT It was at the beginning of Abraham’s history that the God of glory appeared to him, Acts 7: 2. It would leave some impression upon him, on his spirit, that nothing was going to stand in the way of that. I would encourage our young brethren to get some impression of this to begin with early in their history, as Romans contemplates.
JL That is a good thought. Nothing can stand in the way of it. I have carried this impression all week, that since the Spirit of God has been here there never has been a day when the work of God has been left in temporary suspension! That may seem an abnormal thing to say but it is a valuable thing because, while there are burdens and difficulties amongst the saints, the Spirit of God has not ceased to work on account of that. The work of God is progressively going on all the time in an ascending way in view of final glory. God cannot be hindered, can He?
JCG Do you understand that the conformity to His Son involves the greatness of what has shone out? Our brother has referred to the image, and that comes out in Hebrews 1, as to the effulgence of His glory, what was expressed in Christ, v 3. But there is the moral side in John’s gospel where the Lord did certain signs and manifested forth His glory; is the model that we follow what was seen, and shone out, in Christ?
JL Yes, I am sure that is part of the fruit of the Spirit’s present work that these features of moral glory should be formed in the saints. I asked the question at the beginning, ‘Why does God not instantly transfer the saints from earth to glory?’. Why do you think that is?
JCG I think you have got something in your mind about it, but it involves the moral process to arrive at what is spiritual and heavenly, does it not?
JL That is just the whole point. It reflects the wisdom of God that He forms the vessels through all kinds of circumstances, sometimes through discipline in our bodies, and there are saints here who know something about that. God passes us through a variety of circumstances, and sometimes difficult ways in our workplaces or in our families, but all that enters into the bringing of sons to glory, does it not? It is all part of God’s way in forming the vessels in view of bringing them into finality and glory.
DJH Mr Raven said, ‘I could not be too thankful that I was not taken to heaven when I was first converted’, FER vol 5 p202. That is really what you are filling out, is it not? We are not taken immediately after conversion because of this process that is going on.
JL Yes. God is well able to do that if He should so wish, and He did it with one of the malefactors we refer to, but it has been according to His wisdom mostly to pass the saints through times of discipline and exercise in view of forming vessels that are suited to sonship’s place, forming features that make manifest conformity to Christ and ultimately to His body of glory.
GAB According to Hebrews 12, the proof that they are sons is that they are chastened, v 7. Is that part of this process of bringing sons to glory?
JL Well, say more about that.
GAB It seems to fill out what you are raising as to why we are not taken to heaven immediately. There is something to be wrought formatively in us and that is by chastening. That is why we need chastening, so that we will be suitable for the place of glory which divine purpose has in mind for us.
JL That is very good, and brings about substantiality in the vessels. When the holy city comes down out of heaven, having the glory of God (Rev 21: 10), there will be nothing shallow or empty or in any way insubstantial about it. It will bear the greatest evidence of the fulness of divine workmanship, and that is wherein the glory shines, is it not? It has no part in Deity, and never will, for it is a creature vessel, but it will come down out of heaven having the glory of God. It will express the excellence of divine workmanship, formed through these means that we are referring to.
DCW So Romans 9 refers to “vessels of mercy … prepared for glory”, v 23. So these tribulations and tests all go towards being prepared.
JL Some have lived a much longer time in the testimony than others, but that is all part of God’s wise ways in fitting us as vessels of mercy in view of having participation substantially in final glory.
DCW Yes, and of course we all feel there is much else to be done with us and in us, do we not? I was thinking of what John says “and we have contemplated his glory, a glory as of an only-begotten with a father”, John 1: 14.
JL That is a very precious thought. Contemplation of the glory is part of the way that transformation is brought about: it is through occupation with the Lord Jesus.
RT Could you say some more about that? Is that not where God has intervened, and come near to us in a Person?
JL Yes, very good; and by the Holy Spirit established a link between ourselves and that blessed Person in glory. So that that transforming work cannot proceed apart from the Spirit’s work either. Maybe you can help us more about it.
RT It is wonderful that such a thing has been demonstrated to us in a Man down here, in lowliness and grace. The world all against Him, Satan against Him, but He “has been raised up from among the dead by the glory of the Father”, Rom 6: 4. There is a Man gone through in triumph, the great Model, and Leader of our salvation.
JL We have to be fitted and formed in view of becoming suitable to have part in that sphere of eternal glory, but Christ in all His excellence could immediately be glorified, and given that place of distinction and honour. He was worthy of it. God would keep Him before our view I am sure.
RGr When Moses spoke about the ark in Deuteronomy, God said to Him, “make thee an ark of wood”, chap 10: 1. Do you think there is some sense in which as we appreciate the glory we learn to appreciate the Vessel as carrying the glory?
JL That is very good; that is one of the woods, the acacia wood. The ark was made of that wood, and covered over in every part with gold. The staves were made of that wood and were covered over with gold. What does that mean?
RGr Well, I have heard it suggested that the staves would represent the four gospels, but what is your thought?
JL The staves were to permit the ark to be carried. It shows that when what is of Christ is formed in our hearts we become suited vessels to carry these impressions of His glory and to be occupied with Him, do you not think? They were of acacia wood, and they were overlaid with gold.
RGr Is it interesting that in the tabernacle system it was the wood that was worked on; the gold then covered what had been made? It would bring out the side of the Lord’s pathway here and the way in which He went through everything for the will of God.
JL Yes; that is a good thought, and bears on the work of God in the saints as well, forming vessels that can be clothed with glory. In the King James’s Version, Isaiah 11: 10 reads “his rest shall be glorious”; that is fine and indicates that the condition governing God’s rest will be glorious. But Mr Darby translates it as, “his resting-place shall be glory”. That is finality! It is more than a condition, it is the completed work and that is where God rests, “his resting-place shall be glory”. I carry a definite impression about that, because God will not rest, nor will His work cease, until finality in glory is brought about for His satisfaction.
RGr So it says as to the sabbath God “rested, and was refreshed”, Exod 31: 17. When things were completed He found His own joy in that, do you think?
JL Men may sometimes have to rest in the sense of drawing things to a conclusion when the best for the moment has been done; that is not like the work of God. God carries His purpose through to completion, and the answer is glory.
TDB You referred to the sufferings of the saints. It says in 2 Corinthians “our momentary and light affliction works for us in surpassing measure an eternal weight of glory”, chap 4: 17. Paul is speaking as one found in that condition.
JL Well, he is clearly drawing a valuable comparison, is he not? I suppose many of us here might not always feel it appears so light when we are passing through these things, but it remains a fact, scripturally borne out, that by comparison with the eternal weight of glory in the final answer, they are just momentary and light. It seems to emphasise the blessedness of what will subsist throughout eternity. I like to use that word ‘subsist’; it suggests what bears no need of further change, and what will not deteriorate, but will forever continue for God’s satisfaction, do you not think?
RG It says of the Lord that he was raised by the glory of the Father. Is that not explaining to us a little bit the power of His love, and the place that is our eternal portion? We will be living in the atmosphere of the power of that same love, the love of the Father for the Son, and we will be able to appreciate it as having been conformed to the image of His Son and respond to it eternally.
JL I am glad of your link with love. It is not merely an evidence of the wonderful wisdom and power of God that the climax will be glory, but the whole purpose that initiated it sprang from the love of God. His resting-place being glory involves love in complacency, having its full answer for God’s eternal rest.
PAG You remarked more than once on the fact that God does not take us immediately to glory. Is He Himself glorified in that He brings glory out of adversity? He could have brought it out by command alone, but He brings it out of adversity, and that in itself glorifies God.
JL That is an interesting thought. The saints are glorified because there is need of change and transformation, and the work of God brings that about. When we speak about God being glorified it is not for that reason but it is because, just as God says Himself, “I will glorify myself”, Isa 49: 3. It is the fruit of His own work that glorifies His majesty, is it not?
TWL Would it help to refer to Stephen, and how he ended, because it says, “he saw the glory of God, and Jesus”, Acts 7: 55. He ends with that fine testimony to what had been wrought in him in relation to seeking mercy for the persons who had treated him in such a manner. There was adversity in the extreme, but it was because he had seen “the glory of God, and Jesus” that he could so intercede for them.
JL I find that passage interesting because in once sense the glory of God shines in the face of Jesus; that is where the expression of divine glory is, “in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor 4: 6), but it says there he saw “the glory of God, and Jesus”; what do you make of that?
TWL It has come into expression in a Man. That Man, speaking carefully, is the perfect exponent of what God is Himself. Reference was made to the Son “being the effulgence of his glory”, Heb 1: 3; He was the complete expression of what God is Himself. God’s dwelling place, and what He creates and forms, are absolutely in accord with Himself. Would that be right?
JL Yes, that is very good. It is a very precious thought that what can be known of God has been declared and made known by a blessed Man. Clearly there must be an eternal link between the glory of God and Christ the blessed Man in whose presence we shall be eternally and through whom we shall enjoy such favour.
JCG So that believers “were first called Christians in Antioch”, Acts 11: 26. Now that is a challenge for us, is it not? What features of the glory of Christ do I carry as I move about in testimony? Quite clearly they were seen to be persons who were like Christ, a Man in the glory, and that would be the work of the Spirit, I suppose.
JL That is a very searching thing. I am quite frequently asked by persons, ‘so you are a Christian, are you?’ I normally say, ‘Well, I am a believer and I love the Lord Jesus’. I trust in some way I exhibit features proper to Christianity, but I am slow to claim that. Christ is Himself so glorious we are measured in the degree in which we are formed after Him, are we not?
JCG I did not mean to imply that we should claim it, but we should act and be like the One in whom God finds so much delight, in heaven, so that men can see a testimony of that.
JL Yes, I understand your thought, and that is just exactly what came out amongst those that you have referred to at Antioch, and it is what we see among saints here, is it not? The work of God is here; that is what God clothes with glory, is it not? The work of God in His saints is indestructible. Exercises may bring about difficulty, and may test us too in our relations with one another, but the enemy cannot destroy God’s work in the saints; and therefore we need to value it while we are working things out.
DCW So Peter uses the term “Christian”; “but if as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but glorify God in this name”, 1 Pet 4: 16. And then it says a little before that, “the Spirit of glory and the Spirit of God rests upon you”, v 14.
JL I have the impression that that passage involves not only Christ-like features, but a spirit such as marked the Lord Jesus, suffering as a Christian. It is coming out in some measure in the spirit that marked the Lord.
DCW I was thinking that Paul speaks about filling up “the tribulations of Christ”, Col 1: 24.
JL Yes, he does.
MC The Lord took the three up to the mount of transfiguration, and they saw His glory; “the fashion of his countenance became different and his raiment white and effulgent”, Luke 9: 29. I was thinking that this would have an effect in our souls, to bring about growth and an appreciation of who He was. I wondered if it is worked out in Peter, because we know how Peter describes it later when he speaks about “being with Him on the holy mount”, 2 Pet 1: 18. So the substantiality was something that was wrought in him as a result.
JL That is excellent. If Moses did not have the privilege of going into the land with the people, he had the privilege of reappearing on the mount with Christ in glory; what an answer to his faith and interest. O that we had the energy of faith to look more brightly towards the climax of these things and pursue them. We need to keep our eye on the glory, do we not?
PAG We have referred more than once to the verse in Hebrews 1 as to Christ being “the effulgence of his glory and the expression of his substance”. I am enquiring genuinely whether that is complete representation?
JL I think my answer is yes, but I am hesitating in this respect that Christ is not only like God, He is God. That passage goes beyond likeness in that respect, since being the expression of His substance would remind us that He is no less in His Person than God and therefore fully capacitated to give expression to all that God is. Do you follow my thought?
PAG I do, and I was asking because I had in my mind the fact that Christ goes beyond us in every sense because of who He is. Nonetheless, I wondered whether as to us there ought to be not only the image of God, for man is made in God’s image, but the thought of some expression of who God is, ought to come out in us; but Christ is and was and ever will be God.
JL Yes, I think we must seek to protect that, because He remains an Object of worship for our souls, and is clearly pointed out to be so in Hebrews 1, is He not?
RT Would sonship not be worked out in the saints and be the answer to all that? Through love and mercy, and in His ways, He has brought about persons who are sons, having the glory of God resting upon them.
JL That is exactly right! That is one of the thoughts I have been enjoying much. To me it is a wonderful thing that God is proceeding with that now, bringing sons to glory. That is a marvellous thought, is it not? Who knows about that in the world around? It is a secret work of the Holy Spirit that is incessantly going on.
RT They are already glorious in sonship, are they not? But then they are brought into the position of glory in bringing many sons to glory?
JL Perhaps you can help us then about one of my earlier enquiries: is glory a condition or is it a place? What is your thought about that?
RT I think it is a condition, and it is a place as well!
JL That was my thought, it is both.
RT I thought about that. Men put Christ upon the cross, but God placed Him at His right hand in glory. Christ was glorious, but He was brought into the position where glory is at home, at the right hand of God!
AB I wondered if in Exodus 25, where the staves were to be overlaid with gold, and the ark was to be overlaid with pure gold, there is a sense of what belongs to Christ personally, do you think?
JL Yes. The Spirit of God always serves in protecting the uniqueness of the Lord Jesus. I am sure we never err in seeking to protect that amongst ourselves. We shall be brought into conformity to Christ in glory, but He will ever be unique and distinctive. But the Father’s thought is no less than that we should be expressive of Christ before Him. Everything in that scene of glory will reflect Christ.
RT Well, it is a place, but it is a home, is it not?
JL Yes, it is a home! And while it is the Father’s resting place it will be the home of glory for the saints of the heavenly family to which we belong, will it not? That is greater than Israel’s portion.
JP In Chronicles, when the ark was brought into its resting place, it says “the glory of Jehovah had filled the house of God”, 2 Chron 5: 14. Would that happen today?
JL Glory filling the house?
JP Yes. In Chronicles it says, “the priests could not stand to do their service because of the cloud; for the glory of Jehovah had filled the house of God”.
JL Do you not think we sometimes have impressions of that? We sing, ‘Glory, glory, glory’, hymn 420. I am sure the saints are brought into a foretaste of eternal glory. We feel we are brought into conditions characterised by glory and a foretaste of the home of the resting place where God’s love will find all that answers to Himself. The whole of that scene in Chronicles was overlaid with gold, the floor, the walls, the cherubim, the ark, the altar; the whole scene was glorious, nothing to detract from it.
JAB You have just answered the question I was going to ask about Hebrews 2 verse 10. You commented at the beginning that this is going on now and God is bringing many sons; now I am interested in what you have said. That is going on now, but the ‘to glory’ is not just glory by and by, is it? What you have said about what we touch now is a foretaste of what we shall enjoy, but it is the substantial thing itself, even although maybe only glimpsed. But it is still the substantial thing; is that right?
JL Yes, I am sure the saints are brought into present enjoyment of that. I have said this before, and I believe it to be true, that the work of God in us is not yet complete otherwise we would not be here, we would be taken to be with Christ in glory, but at every stage that work is perfect, because I cannot attach imperfection to the work of God. It may not be fully complete, but it is perfect at the point it has reached, and that bears on your enquiry just now, because even as we are being brought along the way we are touching what is holy and perfect according to God’s own mind through the service of the blessed Holy Spirit, are we not?
JAB You spoke about these steps in this ascent, and we have spoken about the moral process that is involved in what we are speaking about, but it is not just the moral exercises of the pathway, is it also an accumulation of experience of glory which is, as it were, built in us. That which we speak of as the work of God in us, is something that is being accumulated under the Spirit’s touch, and will then be complete. Is that right?
JL Yes, I think that is true. It may be difficult for us to express some of these thoughts but I believe that the substantiality that will find its display in the city will not just be something instantaneously wrought, but it will be the product of so much that has entered into the experience and formation of the personnel who compose the vessel.
RG So that from time to time we have the blessed experience of that fact that the hymn writer spoke of:
O the sight in heav’n is glorious!
Man in righteousness is there;
Once the Victim, now victorious,
Jesus lives in glory fair!
Each Lord’s day morning that is something that we should experience, is it not? And that affects you, forms you for the week that is to follow in your responsible life, as true enjoyers of where glory is and that we have been privileged to have part in it, do you think?
JL That is a very precious thing, and a very real enjoyment that we touch. We do not gather in glory; we gather in the wilderness. That is where we gather in order to celebrate the Lord’s supper, but the worship of God proceeds in the realm of glory, and that is what we are brought into.
WMP You made reference earlier to the holy city: “the length and the breadth and height of it are equal”; that is what the Spirit records, Rev 21: 16. Does that confirm your thought that what is worked out in the time period is actually equal to what God had in His mind, what was in His eternal purpose for us. There is a working out that is in accord with that, which is very glorious, is there not?
JL It has been described as a cube; it has equal length and breadth and height; that is the substantiality of what God is working out in glory. And, while figuratively it is presented as a city, we have to bear in mind that it is representative of the personnel who are sons brought to glory.
DCB We sometimes speak about moral glory. Is that what is worked out and displayed at present, moral glory, which is going in due course to be displayed in the glory that is seen in the city?
JL Yes, I think that is something that is very fine. I quite often reflect over that expression ‘moral glory’, and the brethren will pardon me if I have said this in the hearing of some before. When I was a teenager, I was in a reading when a brother asked what the expression ‘moral glory’ meant, and the answer given was that it has to do with good and evil. But there was an older brother there who said, ‘Yes, quite so, except if you are speaking of the moral glory of the Lord Jesus then I would prefer to say perfect good in the presence of all evil’. That stuck to me, because when we are speaking of the moral glory of the Lord Jesus, it is not just vaguely something to do with good and evil; it is the perfection of all that God found in that blessed Man in the midst of all that was so unsuitable. That is God’s standard, and it is conformity to that blessed Man that is being brought about in the saints, finally through the closing act and the salvation of our bodies, but now by the process of bringing the sons to glory, do you not think?
DCB I was thinking that if you look at Stephen, as has been referred to, from a human point of view there was not any glory; it was a disaster. You have got to see what is the divine view of glory, and that in the present scene is moral glory. In due course there is going to be a body of glory for each one of us that conforms to what there is formed in substance that has been delightful to God.
JL Is Stephen not said to be a witness, Acts 22: 20? Was he not in some way bearing testimony here, in those closing moments, to what his eye was fixed upon in glory above? It may be to a casual observer it was an outward disaster, and the man lost his life, that is true, one of the martyrs, but the work of God was there in such a marvellous way! It bears on my thought that, in the midst of all the circumstances down here that seem to be characterised by turmoil all around, what is morally glorious is being formed in the saints for God’s delight.
TWL Would it be right in relation to this to say that God is not exactly bringing things about to arrive at glory, but the things of God subsist in glory?
JL The two thoughts run parallel. The conception is glorious in itself and the things of God subsist in glory, but He also operates to bring it about through His own work, does He not?
TWL Yes, I was just thinking that. He is working in saints to bring them into accord with what already exists.
JL In that respect we come back to the divine standard set out in Christ Himself, and we are brought into conformity to that and we are transformed as occupied with Him. These two expressions ‘transformation’ and ‘conformity’ both indicate that there is a process being worked out, but it is in accord with the divine standard of perfection, set out in the Object of God’s love.
TWL Yes. So, going back to the references we had earlier in relation to the service of God, is it important for us to understand that the service of God subsists in glory.
JL Yes; say more about that for it is an interesting thought.
TWL Well, you made mention that we break bread in the wilderness, which is true, but then we have a change of scene; we have movement, and we move in relation to what subsists in glory.
JL In that sense we are in the sanctuary, under the touch of the minister of the sanctuary.
TWL Yes, exactly. So in your affections when you touch that, you are not touching something that has been in any way intruded upon by what is contrary to God, but you are moving in relation to what subsists in what God is Himself.
JL Yes; someone may then say to me, ‘Where is the sanctuary?’. It is the presence of God known, is it not? Essentially there must be glory there, where God dwells.
GAB Aaron’s sons had garments for glory and for ornament; Aaron’s garments for glory and ornament were of course unique to him, Exod 28: 2, 40. I was just thinking of the fact that there is One wearing these garments of glory and beauty and ornament in heaven, but there is something down here that corresponds with that.
JL Yes, that is interesting. I am glad of your reference to that, because these garments were not merely functional, they indicated that God had something glorious in mind in relation to His service under the hand of Aaron, the high priest. It bears on the enquiry that has been raised as to the sphere in which the service of God proceeds, does it not?
RT In the midst of being reproached it says, “for the Spirit of glory and the Spirit of God rests upon you”, 1 Pet 4: 14. The Spirit having been with us has really brought the atmosphere, and the quickening really brings us into a touch of glory, does it not?
JL Very good, and is that part of the significance of the passage in Romans 8 “these also he has glorified”?
RT I thought that. I wondered if we are missing part of it, the Spirit coming here having brought everything with Him, and the saints as accepting the reproach of the Christ, the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you; “on their part he is blasphemed, but on your part he is glorified”. We are brought into a condition through the Spirit working in us, made room for in us; we touch these final conditions.
DCW The incoming of the Spirit depended on the Lord’s having been glorified. “The Spirit was not yet, because Jesus had not yet been glorified”, John 7: 39.
JL That is true; say more about the significance of that.
DCW I was just thinking that it is from that realm that the Holy Spirit has come.
JL Yes, and as if to indicate too that the standard and the perfection of all that God had in His mind is set out there in Christ above, and the Spirit has come to bear witness to that; and indwells the saints, in order that we might be formed in accord with it, do you think?
DCW Yes, so that it was a consequence of the Lord’s being glorified. I would take it that He is glorified as Man for one thing on account of what He has done?
JL Yes, that would be right to say, because as God He is the possessor of glory; as Man He has been given glory.
NJH He already has a body of glory.
JL Yes. We do not know much about that. What we do know, and it is sufficient for the moment, is that our bodies will be brought into accord with that body of glory. What characterises Christ at present, according to 1 John 3, we have not yet seen, have we? But the very thought of it is something that exercises us, and bears on our enquiry today, that we should be found increasingly in moral accord and readiness for entrance into the final conditions.
RT Is that not brought about on account of His Spirit which dwells in you?
JL Yes, very good; you are bringing us back again to the importance of the gift of the Holy Spirit.
RT Everything depends upon it, and Him being made room for. He does not glorify the flesh, but He quickens, and He gives us a touch of what is final as He is made room for. The question was, “Wilt thou go with this man?”, and she went on the journey, and she was soon at home with Isaac, Gen 24.
JL I am glad of these references.
DS Does the message given to Mary in John 20 show that the Lord was going into glory and was leaving a company here who would understand, and be able to receive, something of that One. “I ascend”, He says, John 20: 17. Was a company being left here who were able to appreciate the One who was going there?
JL Yes, very good: He is presented at that point as the ascending Man. Later in the Acts we are told of the actual ascension of the Lord Jesus; He ascended up into glory (chap 1:9), but in John 20 He is the One who is ascending, and it shows that that upward movement into glory was immediately before Him, and His worthiness to be in that sphere.
RG Can I ask at this stage what effect this reading is meant to have on us?
JL Preparation for glory!
RG And bearing testimony to the God of glory?
JL Yes, no doubt that would be a consequence, but if there is anything that has been in my heart for today it is that we might become increasingly prepared in view of entrance into final glory. I do not think the time of that entrance is far away. It would be shame upon us if we were not prepared and ready for entrance into the coming glory. Scripture rather seems to indicate that the final thing that has to be carried out is the transformation of our bodies, as if the preparatory work and the formative work wrought by the Holy Spirit has already been brought about, and it just remains for this final act to be carried out. How far have we progressed? If I am occupied with worldly things I cannot very well read that verse in Philippians “our commonwealth has its existence in the heavens” (chap 3: 20): I am not there and not living in it. But if I am, then I am occupied with the things of glory that belong to this sphere where Christ is, do you not think?
RG Paul was taken up as far as the third heaven and into paradise (2 Cor 12: 1-4); you might have said that must be glory, but he was not allowed to remain there, he had to come back again. Why? Because, as he explains to us at the end of Corinthians, it was necessary for their sakes. That was why I was really asking, because I thoroughly believe the time is short, as you have said. How are we going to utilise our time that is left? Some of us have much less than others even in the normal course of things, but if there is going to be anything from our appreciation and experience of the glory, and the greatness of the One who bears the glory, it should be that there is a testimony rendered so that the saints, like those at Corinth, would be brought into conformity.
JL I think that is a good word for us. If the Father is bringing sons to glory, I would not like to be going in the opposite direction. I would like to be in harmony with the Father’s activities in love, and the Spirit’s operations now, and the transforming effect of being occupied with Christ, who is already there, the glorious Man in God’s presence.
7th February 2015