Colossians 1: 12-13
Romans 8: 31-32
Ephesians 3: 14-17
1 John 2: mid 14-15
I felt on Lord’s day, dear brethren, some impression as to the Father’s activities in the dispensation. These scriptures have come to me since. You get Paul bowing his knees to the Father. How his heart must have been full; and there is a need for us to be increasingly affected, I think, by what the Father has done. Perhaps especially in our thanksgiving to the Father, there is a danger of formality, and of repetition. We all feel that. That is because we do not know Him well enough if that is the case. If you know a person there will always be freshness in your conversation.
And Paul here writing to the Colossians is “giving thanks to the Father”. How dear the Father had made Himself to him by His activities. He is the great final Operator in the economy. Operations are in the hand of Christ as Lord, but the Father is over all; you see that in these scriptures that we have read. And Paul is saying here, ’He has delivered us’. That is where He started. That was not where we were first in His mind, but it is where He started. He delivered us, found us where we were, and delivered us from the authority of darkness. What it must have cost the Father to do that.
Romans tells us that: He “has not spared his own Son”. Scripture is very touching. He could just have said, He ‘has not spared his Son’, but He “has not spared his own Son”. What Christ was to the Father, we read in the gospels. He opened the heavens upon Him. But what He was in those early thirty years, too, what it must have been. The Lord says, “did ye not know that I ought to be occupied in my Father’s business?”, Luke 2: 49. I think I have said before that Mr J Bellett quotes,
There has one object been disclosed on earth
That might commend the place; but now ’tis gone:
Jesus is with the Father.
What those years must have been. I often think of that, reading about Palestine today. What a favoured land it was. The footsteps of Jesus left their own impress; lepers were cleansed, dead were raised. What a time it must have been. There was a Man on this earth in whom heaven found its infinite delight. But God delivered us by giving His own Son. What that must have meant to the Father, seeing His Son ridiculed by Pilate. All forsook Him and fled: how the Father must have felt it. But He did not come in in judgment. He might well have done so, but that is not the Father. God is the judge of all, but the Father judges no one; the name of love and grace in its fulness is “the Father”. As I said, there was not a voice of sympathy or pity from men. The disciples fled - Jesus was alone. There He was. But the Father was there active in it. Then, those hours of darkness on the cross, what they must have been to heaven. He “has not spared his own Son, but delivered him up for us all” that He might bring us into a place of favour. Think of the Father’s feelings and activities in that He “has not spared his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not also with him grant us all things?” You see why He did it: that He might grant us all things.
Romans is full of the “all things” - forgiveness of sins, justification, reconciliation, sonship. All these things, they would never have been known had He spared His own Son. But He says, “how shall he not also with him...”. What a matter it was. He raised Christ by His glory - the Father’s activities in doing that. Mr A J Gardiner used to speak so often about it. He said that God passed over every other man that was dead, Alexander the Great, and all the heroes, He passed by them all; and ‘He raised up Jesus from among the dead and left all the rest in the grave’. He raised Him up, the only One that was worthy to be raised, but He raised Him up that He might grant us all things. They are worthwhile going in for, dear brethren. Know what it is to be justified; it settles a great lot of questions. Mr James Taylor suggests you will never try to vindicate yourself if you are enjoying justification in your heart, see vol 37 p327. And a great many sorrows are through trying to justify ourselves, putting our opinion, what we think: you are not able to vindicate yourself. God has done it. If you are enjoying that God has justified you who can condemn? The Father has done it; granted us justification, reconciliation - He has brought us into the house to enjoy the merriment and the dancing. The Father has done it that He might grant us all things. Oh, it would be fine to write them down. Just spend time writing down the “all things”. We used to be told to do that:
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.
It is very true; what the Lord has done. He has justified us, reconciled us, He has brought us into sonship and He has given us the Spirit to enjoy it.
That is what Ephesians tells us, that the Father chose us in Christ before the world’s foundation, chap 1: 4. That was before there was ever anything in us. Chapter 1, and chapter 3, are full of the blessings of the Father, and Paul bows his knees in worship. It is fine to hear some touches like that in our response to “the Father ... of whom every family in the heavens and on earth is named”. That is another thing that the Father is doing. He is going to put His own impress upon every family. And there will be the impress of sonship in all its glory upon the saints of this dispensation. Every family will be in sonship; but there is a special touch, I believe, of the saints in this dispensation enjoying sonship now. The Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom every family is named, wants to give you the riches of His glory, and He is doing it by strengthening us with power by His Spirit in the inner man. Think of the Father doing that, dear brethren. Strengthening us “with power by his spirit in the inner man; that the Christ may dwell, through faith, in your hearts”. See the objective that the Father has in mind for us: “rooted and founded in love”, not easily moved, not blown about by every wind of doctrine, but it says here what He may give you, “strengthened with power by his Spirit.” That is another thing that the Father has done. He has sent the Spirit, sent Him in the name of Christ. I said already the world must have been attractive when Christ was here; now, today, the Spirit is here. The whole economy is active. But “strengthened with power by his Spirit in the inner man … being rooted and founded in love” brings you to stability. Amid all the winds that are blowing, the roots are tested, but the tree remains rooted and founded in love.
The Father’s love, the source of all,
Sweeter than all it gives,
Shines on us now without recall,
And lasts while Jesus lives.
(Spiritual Songs, p68)
- the Father’s love.
Well, the verse in John is just to encourage us as to the love of the Father and how we come into it. John says, “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. Love not the world.” There is the danger, dear brethren. You know, that was the prodigal: he loved the world. He did not go out expecting to finish up feeding on swine’s meat. But he loved the world. He did not think what would happen, but that is what does happen. It says, “If anyone love the world.” Let us be watchful, dear brethren, that we do not allow things that spoil us enjoying the love of the Father. It says here “the love of the Father is not in him.” We would like to have the love of the Father in us, would we not? We would like to be in simple relationships with the Father - “the love of the Father.” The prodigal came into it; he got the best robe. There is the love of the Father: he got that robe on. Do you think he would go back into the world? That robe could not go back into the world, dear brethren. If we are enjoying the robe and the ring and the sandals, they are not just for mentioning on Lord’s day morning, you know. The robe, the ring and the sandals are for wearing through a wilderness path; and the triumph of an Enoch, ‘walking with God’, in happy relationships with Him.
May we be expanded and exercised in our thoughts, that the Father may have a greater response of wealth by the Spirit’s grace and power working in us for His glory and praise. For His Name’s sake.