John 5: 17; 10: 14, 15, 27-31; 14: 1-3; 17: 14-26
I desire to say a little as to the knowledge of the Father, and to relate it to what we have had in these two days of meetings about fruitfulness. Fruit for us in the area in which God is working would lead us to the source, the holy Person of the Father Himself.
In these scriptures we will see that divine work is co-ordinated, and while divine Persons are distinguished and they have their unique glory in relation to the place they have taken in the economy of love, yet they are One. They are united in what they are doing, and what they are doing is very great indeed; in fact nothing is greater than God Himself, and nothing done is greater than what God does.
“Let us make man” (Gen 1: 26) is not to be obscure to us. Contemplated in “us” is plurality; the word used, Elohim. It is linked later with, “Jehovah Elohim” (Gen 2: 4), speaking of God desiring a relationship with man, and man has been set up by God to have that relationship. Even the human family would be an index as to what God has in mind for His family.
If we look, then, at Abel, there is a marked contrast between the offerings he brought from the firstlings of his flock and that brought by Cain. It speaks of the process of time: “And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock, and of their fat”, Gen 4: 4. “In process of time it came to pass that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering to Jehovah”, Gen 4: 3. Immediately there is a line of demarcation which separates what really is in the mind and heart of God; something that would speak to Him of Christ. It was a burnt-offering that Abel brought, and even though a sin-offering lay at the door for Cain (v 7), it was a burnt-offering that Abel brought.
Then there are the wonderful expressions found in the life of Abraham. If we look at it in Genesis 22, “My son, God will provide himself with the sheep for a burnt-offering” (v 8), and it says very affectingly, “And they went both of them together”, v 8. How wonderful that is. They went to Jehovah-jireh, the mount of Jehovah, “God will provide”. The ram was caught in the thicket. Isaac was spared, although Abraham, typical of a man of faith (and the father of it), thought to slay Isaac, but God would not have that He would have the type end at that point; but, for the ram caught in the thicket, there was no escape: “God will provide himself with the sheep for a burnt-offering”, v 12, 13. Beloved, all the way through the scriptures something can be seen of, “My Father worketh hitherto and I work”; surely the Father was indicating what was pleasurable to His heart in the burnt-offering.
Now, the systems of types and shadows have been replaced by a system of light and love, and the anti-type of everything that we read about - whether it pertains to types, the families before Israel, Israel itself or the families that may be formed in the tribulation - lead back to the source, and speak to God of Christ. The assembly is a very great concept -
The concept and the consummation thine!
Mr Wigram, another minister of the truth, expressed that idea as well in hymn 92.
How wonderful it is then to see that the assembly is Christ continued, Christ testimonially. Christ does not end. As long as Jesus lives there will be something to speak to God of Christ, even in testimony. What a wonderful vessel, composed of personnel who love Christ, who are like Christ, who will be for Christ, who enquire in the temple, who have life in His body. Christ lives in His body, and the bride is for Himself as a Man. (All this light belongs to the assembly). The Spirit came on the day of Pentecost to form the body and the bride, that which would speak to heaven of Christ and be for Him. How wonderful it is to have part in this. The sovereign love of God has made it all possible. It is through the death of Christ that we enter into it morally. How wonderful.
The ministry of the Lord Jesus, in blood and flesh condition here, related to the Father; the Lord spoke of the Spirit too because He would be concerned in His absence as to how the saints would get on (and honour the Father). There were others after Christ who would be concerned with how the saints got on. Are you concerned?
It is the Spirit - and nearness to the Spirit and the Lord - and nearness to the Father that lead us to a true knowledge of God, and it is through Christ and by one Spirit that we approach the Father; we know that from the Holy Scriptures. How wonderful that is.
The Father has something in mind for His own heart, and as we approach the Lord’s day we would be imbued in our spirits as to the knowledge of the Father, “My Father worketh hitherto and I work”. Think of the Lord linking on in that way (as a workman). How wonderful! The great Workman Himself, the Servant we read about in Mark’s gospel; all leads to Him, the great workman who says, “My Father worketh hitherto and I work”. Think of David, and think of yourself. God’s mercy has laid hold of you, a sinner of the Gentiles.
David was a sinner, and had to be recovered, which is evident when he named his son, "Solomon". The offspring of David is a type of the manhood of Christ and His glorified. "He called his name Solomon; and Jehovah loved him”, 2 Sam 12: 24. Then the prophetic word comes by the hand of Nathan the prophet, “and he called his name Jedidiah (meaning beloved of Jehovah), for Jehovah’s sake”, 2 Sam 12: 25. It is Christ typically, and speaks of love for the Son.
The scriptures speak of Christ; the interpretation of the scriptures was not made good (for understanding) until the Lord spoke with the two on the way to Emmaus, “Was not our heart burning in us as he spoke to us on the way”, Luke 24: 32. The Interpreter was there, interpreting all the things concerning Himself. It all leads to Him, and the Lord Jesus in His ministry desires for us to be free before the Father, and to know Him.
Do we have knowledge of the Father? It is beyond one address, but I was struck by Mr Coates’s hymn -–
His hand, His house, His heart are free
- for help in setting on the address and drawing attention to the Person of the Father. These features of the Father are made available as is the Father’s work and word.
There is something of the consideration of the Lord’s hand in John 10, as His activity is spoken of in John 5, “My Father worketh hitherto and I work”. He links on with the Father’s work therein (John 5: 17) and with securing the family in John 10, where He speaks of His hand, and then the Father’s hand. I think it is to bring us into family conditions, and maintain us there, to be available for the service of God - in their hands for this purpose - across the Jordan, in family conditions, not occupied with our sins or the sins of others, but occupied with what is on the other side of the Jordan, the land.
Family conditions are very important in the breaking of bread. The breaking of bread is an expression of fellowship. It is in remembrance of the Lord Jesus in the breaking of bread, and must involve the brethren, the divine family.
When they broke bread in Acts they were set to the work; they wanted others to know about the Lord Jesus. They knew that the Lord would add to the assembly, that God Himself, in sovereign mercy and love, would manifest the elect through the preaching; man is relieved but more, as brought into the assembly. Generally (in the western world where profession exists), we do not preach to the heathen; we preach to persons who are in the profession, and they need the light of these things. They need the light of the Person of the Father; they need the light of receiving the Holy Spirit. They need the light of coming into an atmosphere of love where Christ can be seen by heaven in testimony. That is what persons need. That is what we need constantly. That is what we desire in our readings, to bring this out and get the gain of what has been formed in the divine nature in the souls of the brethren. Do you know why we have love for all the saints? It is because the divine nature is being formed. That is why we have love for all the saints. They had love for all the saints in Philemon’s house, in the assembly which was in Philemon’s house. Ephesian and Colossian light is seen in that house, v 5. We have love for all the saints, and we express that in the breaking of bread. We go out from the breaking of bread, and come back for the preaching of the word of God so that the seed can land on good ground and bear fruit. It is; not just for numbers to be added in localities, which is wonderful, but, as stimulating as that is - and may there be more added - there is to be something for God, something available to the Spirit which would be added to the assembly for divine pleasure and for praise and worship.
We have the Father’s hand, we have the Lord’s hand; they hold us for the service of God, and they are not going to let us go. The end of the dispensation may not see a large recovery in numbers; there is not going to be revival of Pentecostal days because the profession publicly ends when spued out, as it has been morally judged historically in Laodicea already, Rev 3: 16. But the quality of things goes through undisturbed from heaven’s abstract view because the Spirit is here. The Spirit bears witness, and He has certain things in mind. Would you not like to be with the Spirit in what He has in mind? That requires being restful in the hand of the Lord Jesus, and restful in the hand of the Father.
There are great matters to be approached tomorrow as we seek to be free for the Lord Jesus in the Supper. We want to announce His death until He comes into His own rights publicly, in the day to come. Does He have His rights in you, young brother and sister? Does He have His rights in your affections? Has He laid His claim upon you for the breaking of bread, and have you thrown in your lot with the brethren? Commit yourself to the truth and you will enjoy fellowship. Christ is the truth objectively, and the Spirit is the truth in you. The Spirit, the water and the blood bear witness, "and the three agree in one", 1 John 5: 8; Christ came into death, and would draw you to Himself. There is nothing here for you to find resource in. We are thankful for mercy, thankful for the human family, we will be thankful to be in the saints’ homes tonight, but in the final analysis all is to be for God, and we remain in His hand. What great things He has in mind.
That brings us to His house in John 14, “In my Father’s house”. The abodes are prepared because that is where the Lord is personally. But, He is here testimonially, characteristically; Christ and only Christ, Christ above and Christ below. The Father has a house above where the indigenous character of the land comes to light as the saints respond, based upon their knowledge of the Father, as learned from Christ.
The assembly is essential to Christ in the Father’s house; it is for Christ’s use in testimony, but is essential for Christ’s use in the service of God. There is nothing greater than this, young brother or sister. Committing ourselves to it is a very great thing, and we know when we are not in it because the Spirit will bear witness that we are not in it. Have you asked for the Spirit, or are you afraid to ask for the Spirit because it will require drastic change? As having the Spirit, you begin to behold, not your own glory or the selfish glory of man, but the glory of the Lord; with unveiled face we all do that. Therefore, there is a change, a transformation, “But we all, looking on the glory of the Lord, with unveiled face, are transformed according to the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Lord the Spirit”, 2 Cor 3: 18. We have the Spirit, and I would like to know more of the Spirit; even the knowledge of the Father is known in its clarity as we are with the Spirit near the Father.
Thus, the Father’s house is accessible. We know that what follows the Supper is the proper privilege of the assembly. The Supper opens up that privilege. We want a touch of the Lord, so that we can behold His glory, “transformed … from glory to glory”, so that we can be for Him as available to Him.
The Lord is in the midst after the Supper, not exactly just of a locality, and our minds are capable (as having the Spirit) of taking account of the whole assembly, and His place in “the midst”. They are capable of having whole thoughts, because that is what the Lord has in mind.
The Lord will take account of us in our smallness in the locality, He will come into the meetings with us, He will help us in the way of teaching, as our Lord and Teacher, as we make way for the Spirit, but He has in mind the whole assembly, as in the letter to Philadelphia, “thou hast a little power, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name”, Rev 3: 8. Have you kept His word, young brother, and young sister: are you breaking bread? I am not going to talk you into this, you have to have the Spirit, but it is a way to prove your love for Christ and for the brethren, and to remember the Lord Jesus in the breaking of bread because it opens up great privilege for you. Maybe to give out a hymn, if you are a brother, and to have the glory of Christ resting on your spirit if you are a nine year old or a ten year old sister, or an older sister. The Spirit of Christ is there resting on your own spirit, and you are providing that quiet support in affection for Christ as coming to light through the mouthpiece of the assembly given to one or another of the brothers there, acting as the mouthpiece of the assembly. You may be stimulated by something that a brother says, or by a hymn that is given out; if so, a brother does not wait, nor is he rolling something over in his mind exactly, but he stands up and gives expression. Christ is the Head of that expression, He is the Leader of the praises, and He leads us into the Father’s house above.
Earthly language ceases as we progress in the service Godward; it is not exactly “this morning” (or words that may tend to link us with a place on earth). We are not thinking about what we were last week; it is what we are in the Father’s hand and in Christ’s hand as being in the Father’s house where the Lord Jesus has already gone to prepare a place. We will enter there actually (literally) in a day to come, but we can be there now in Spirit for the service of praise. Do you know of anything greater than this?
What could open up after we know the Headship of God as all in all? I do not understand how there could be something more. It may be so, but is there not a wonderful sense of power at the end of the meeting when God is all in all? Do you not feel it sometimes? We long for more. Then, we go forth into whatever we must, but with the savour of the experience.
The Father’s house is where responses - the intelligent affectionate responses of the brethren - are to be heard, "the calves of our lips" (Hos 14: 2), five words, fifteen words, whatever it is; and concurrently, the sisters providing pious support as loving Christ, loving what they are hearing, and loving what they are experiencing.
When we come to John 17, the great Priest is speaking to the Father. He is the great Priest, and how wonderful it is that the Lord Jesus shares things with His own. There is a sense in which He shares His priesthood with us. We read in John 15 about asking, as under the headship of Christ; asking the Father. That kind of asking is beyond what might occupy us most of the time in the way of care, and has to do with the testimony and these great things. We ask the Father and the Son to help us in the testimony, to help us impart something of Christ as we are near to the Spirit. We do not try to do this by trying but as something that has laid hold of us; so that "in that I now live in flesh, I live by faith, the faith of the Son of God who has loved me and given himself for me", Gal 2: 20. Have you got over to the life of Christ, and do you speak to the Father? Do you see yourself as the Father sees you? Do I see myself that way as in the life of Christ?
Our lives, as we speak of them, are subsumed by the wonderful life that speaks to heaven of Christ characteristically in the saints. How is this possible? It is not possible unless you have His Spirit. "As He is, so are we also are in the world", 1 John 4: 17. Is that imitating Christ? Not exactly (although we follow Him and the truth sets us free); it is having His Spirit. You could not be like Christ without His Spirit. What wonderful potential there is in having the Spirit of Christ. It is to be like Christ, and that is why we have His Spirit, to be like Him, as He is, so are we in this world.
This is a very great meditation, John 17. Keep in mind that this great Priest, in speaking to the Father, is the One who has declared God, “No one has seen God at any time; the only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him”, John 1: 18. The Father is prominent in that expression, no doubt it includes the Son as well, but from the place of affection which the Lord Jesus has He declares the Father.
Life was not known in the way that God meant it to be known until Christ was seen here in manhood - “In him was life, and the life was the light of men”, John 1: 4. What was that life all about? Bringing out the Father in declaration, a public matter, whoever took account of it, and there were those who did. There were those who went to be with the Lord the tenth hour of the day to get something of that touch, see John 1: 39.
Another scripture, affecting for you little ones and those of us who are babes in Christ is Matthew 11: 25. It is after the Lord Jesus had been to various places where most of His works of power were seen, yet the works and the power rejected because He was rejected. There was an issue in Capernaum. There were those who thought His saying was hard, and they "went away back", John 6: 60-66. Do you know a young brother or sister who has done that, or gone a way back? Yet, in grace, you account them according to them for their best days as among the brethren. What sorrow this is for younger ones, or any, to turn aside or go away back! The Lord came from that atmosphere of unbelief and it affected Him, as seen in Matthew 11 and in John 6. But, there were those like Peter who said, "to whom shall we go", v 68? Will you go off into the world, or will you ask the Lord where you shall go? I have been there (in the world); I am not preaching at you. You cannot go there and expect the true knowledge of the Father to fill your soul, for Christ is not going there with you, although He may go a way only to bring you back to the locality, Luke 24: 28 -33. You cannot take these precious things into the world. He speaks of the world in John 17, and He speaks of being hated there too. We may be in the world but not of it, and should not bear the moral character of what does not care for Him. When you sit down for the breaking of bread, do you contemplate that Christ was murdered here? Our link is with Him and we reverse that judgment; we are saying, ’He has put His claim in on me, sovereign love has laid hold of me, and I now have life in another Man and in the assembly, and I want His Spirit so that life can be expressed for the joy of heaven’.
He could say, coming from Capernaum, “I praise thee, Father, Lord of the heaven and of the earth, that thou hast hid these things from wise and prudent, and hast revealed them to babes: yea, Father, for thus has it been well-pleasing in thy sight … no one knows who the Son is but the Father, and who the Father is but the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son is pleased to reveal him”, Luke 10: 21, 22. The Father is the subject of revelation, the knowledge of Christ as the great instrument of God and the mediator between God and men, the great redemptive work of the Lord Jesus making the way for men to come into relationship with God. It is all made possible through Christ, but the truth leads to the Father as the subject of revelation. He speaks to the Father in John 17, and He speaks of the Father’s word, another aspect of the knowledge of the Father - His work, His hand, His house, His word. That is what the Lord says, “I have given them thy word”. No doubt that speaks specifically of giving the Father’s word to the apostles, but then He speaks of those who had believed based on their (the apostles’) word. It is the Father’s word as source of all. It is the Father’s work coordinated with the Son and the Spirit; they are all One, in one direction, one thought, one counsel, one purpose. This is true abiding.
So, He speaks of the Father’s word, and then goes on to say, “They are not of the world, as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by the truth: thy word is truth”. He is speaking to the Father. The Father desires separation more than you and I do. We might take it up legally, which would not be exactly correct, because true sanctification is by the Spirit. The Lord no doubt had in mind the Father’s word and what would continue here in the Lord’s absence, involving the Spirit coming here as well. The Spirit sanctifies us. The Spirit sets us apart for holy things, the things of the Father and the things of Jesus Christ. The Lord could address the Father as ‘Holy Father’ and ‘Righteous Father’, and had in mind the enjoyment of sonship (for us) through sanctification of the Spirit. I believe the ministry speaks of sonship severally. It takes the great vessel of the assembly for sonship to come out and be expressed severally, JT vol 73 p254. Christ brings many sons to glory; into the area and atmosphere of the Father’s house, (spiritually accessed now).
What I wanted to end with is the Father’s heart. Mr Coates mentions that in His hymn –
His hand, His house, His heart are free ...
Therefore, I read these verses where the glory of sonship comes to light. Also, “God has sent out the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, Abba, Father”, Gal 4: 6. What nearness to the Father! Think of the words of the Lord Jesus, “Abba Father, all things are possible to thee: take away this cup from me; but not what I will, but what thou wilt”, Mark 14: 36. He took the cup in view of the knowledge of the Father being appropriated by us, appreciated by us, enjoyed by us, and the Father’s heart is in this. It says, “…and that thou hast loved them as thou hast loved me”. The Father’s love and the enjoyment of the Father’s love prepare us, young brethren, for deliverance in detail. Mr. Coates also said he did not have time for these things (of the world) any more, vol 31 p333. The Father’s love had captured his heart, to be loved as Christ is loved. Have we taken that into our souls and have we responded? We will have an opportunity to respond in the service of praise tomorrow.
Then He says, “…that the love with which thou hast loved me may be in them and I in them” - that is the Father’s heart again but I think it is so that we can love the Lord Jesus similarly to the way the Father loves Him. That is a very great thought.
The standard of everything that God sets forth in the area of fruitfulness is very high, it is His own work as coming to light to honour and glorify Himself. I would like to be in it and I am sure that each one of us in this room, as we have the Spirit, would be stimulated to go in for the knowledge of the Father. May God bless the Word.
3rd July 2010