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One sees in the life of a man like Paul, the exceeding joy given to a man in communion with God. Christ said, “If ye loved me ye would rejoice because I said I go to the Father.” Is it ever enough for you that Christ is happy? Do you ever get rest to your heart in the thought of the One who has done and suffered everything for you, having got His rest? What a mark of the standing of a disciple now, during Christ’s absence, to be occupied with the thought that Christ is at home, looking at Him as one who has got back into His own joy, and who is looking down at him and telling him to rejoice with Him! Are your hearts filled with this heavenly joy. and getting their rest in the present joy of Christ?
Christ’s only purpose in everything down here was to do the will of God, and He did it most entirely. He was one bright unwavering testimony to God, and nothing but God; and the more strength there was in that purpose. the more suffering there would be in such a world as this. But whether the Lord would in obedience go down so low as the death of the cross, was the question. He did so, and the wrath of God broke over Him; that was essentially His cross, such as ours could not be.
I have not the thought of what we shall do in glory; my thought is, Christ will be there. I shall be in the place where everything is ruled by the mind of Christ. Have you known down here the calming effect of realising His presence, hearing Him breathing out like oil on the waters, “it is I!” What will it be to be in a world where all is subject to Him who gives such peace even here! What will heaven be, when all that He is, all His perfect grace, will come out to us in the Father’s house! What will it be where everything will be attuned to the name of Jesus! The full stream of His affections will flow over and spread blessing everywhere, “His fulness” poured forth to fill every heart, and every heart perfectly filled and satisfied with it.
How could Christ be in company with such a creature as the woman of Samaria? As a Saviour, beautifully, because she knew herself to be a poor worthless creature — and it was the worthless and the lost that He came to save.
As a Christian, I have to know the Lord Jesus Christ in heaven, and to walk worthy of Him during the night, as a bird of the day and not of the night. The light of Christ’s eye is coming right down upon me; if there is one corner of my heart covered over, I am uncomfortable under it. I could not sit in the Father’s house and have His eye meet one corner of my heart not brought out. I don’t want one corner in it to be covered by the thinnest veil possible. It is a solemn but blessed thing to the soul, to have the eye of God coming right down into it. It is a very blessed thing that the One who has washed you in His own blood, and has undertaken to conduct you to heaven, has an eye that sees down into all the recesses of the heart; and it can detect the least budding of evil. When you have been doing what you thought good, He may have seen evil lurking, and Satan near you; and He has discovered it to you and enabled you to judge it in the light, so that it will not have to be judged hereafter. He will go through all hereafter, if we don’t do it now. He will talk to His people about their walk, and the effect will be perfect blessed confidence between your soul and the Lord. If I commit any sin now, the discovery of it in the light is attended with conflict and agony: then He will tell me how He met me and probed me, that I might have every thought brought out.
It is a solemn and blessed thought that God expects you to walk as one in His presence. A person’s life may be perfectly blameless, yet that person may have to say, “Ah, but I want more of the power of Christ’s life.” He is the Head — it is not the question of a spot or blemish here and there, but I want more of the volume of the life of Christ and of His affections to be displayed in me, so that I may be practically witnessing down here for Him up there. Nothing should satisfy us but the power and testimony which tells that Christ, our Head, is at God’s right hand. What a difference between the testimony of one who, like Paul, has Christ in his heart, and counts everything else but dung and dross, who puts his foot wherever Christ left a footprint, to follow hard after Him, and the testimony of a man who is living after this world’s course who is on the foundation, but who is building on it wood, hay, stubble, instead of gold, silver, precious stones. Immense difference between Abraham and Lot, in this life and in the next too — though Lot will be perfectly saved. “How beautiful!” I shall exclaim, when I see one like Paul manifested in the golden city; one who when down here could say, “To me to live is Christ.” Ah, there will be a recompense for works which are the fruit of grace and faith.
Paul knew his acceptance to be so perfect that he could look right up with an eagle eye into the light of God’s presence, and say to all down here, “You have seen me dwelling in the light, and have seen the light shining out of me; everything in the very bottom of my heart has been made manifest in the light.”
A strange thing it must have been to angels to see the Son of God tabernacling down here as man: but all the fulness of the Godhead was in that man. Never man spake like Him. Perfectly of God’s mind. Able to communicate life eternal. Working all miracles. A man, but different from all other men. Never anything but perfection in Him. Directly we see Christ, we ought to bless God that we see Him as the One who met the mind of God from first to last.
The perfectness of Christ is my condemnation, unless I have it instead of what I am, and there all God’s thoughts about me come out. He has set that Christ at His right hand, to be righteousness for me, and that changes everything in connection with what I am. If God has found for me in Christ, strength, wisdom, righteousness, everything, — I can thank God that there has been such a person on earth as the Lord Jesus Christ. Not only can I say that Christ is on the Father’s throne, but I can say “that is the Blessed One who has loved me and given Himself for me. He is happy in the Father’s love, and my heart (set free by redemption) is happy because His heart is so. If He is the eternal life of my soul, I cannot but be happy.” He says, “You are a debtor to Me, and I can let you into My joy with My Father.” And I can say, “I rejoice, O Lord. that Thou hast Thy heart’s delight, resting with the Father, for I do love Thee.”
I can say, “My fellowship is with the Father and the Son.” Fellowship is not a future thing, but a thing we have possession of while in these earthen vessels. It is up on the throne with Christ that we have it — it cannot vary. What a position! Christ in heaven in perfect light, and I, brought there by Him, everything in myself contrasted with what He is, to have discovered at once, all darkness in myself and all light in Him!
I do not get rid of sin till Christ changes this vile body, but sin has no longer dominion over me. In being made a new creature in Christ, the body is not changed, but a new nature is communicated, and we are brought into the light; and while walking in the light, we have a good conscience. The root of sin is there still, but the heart occupied with Christ does not go out to see sin, But if a saint leaves that place, and gets occupied with things down here, he will lose the power which, being in the light, gives the heart to detect everything contrary to it. If I get out of that blessed place to which the Father brought me when He sought me out, I am back where evil reigns, I get where every one has likes and dislikes, then sorrow comes, and chastisement.
Christ on earth was perfect light — and everything was discovered by it. “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.” We are made partakers of His life. We are up there in spirit, down here in body. If the body is to be kept subject, it must be so by communion with the Father and the Son. Practical failure there will be; but never say that we must fail, though we do fail. Paul failed as a matter of fact. It is not “When any man but “If any man sin, there is an Advocate” — there is the fountain. I believe that the advocacy of the Lord Jesus is little thought of as it ought to be. Not the sacrifice for sin; that question is settled for ever when we believe. We have never to go to Him, as our Advocate, as to personal acceptance. It is when the accepted one sins: and there is not one single blot, one practical failure, but it has all been in the light, His eye has detected it.
Saints forget often that Christ is a great deal more watchful than they are. He said to Peter before he failed, “I have prayed for thee.” Directly the heart of a believer recognises sin, it ought to recognise Christ praying for him. This blessed Lord is not only the restorer of our souls, but the One who continually renews the flow of affection between the Father and the wandering child.
The Father has all delight in Christ as the perfect expression of His love — of all that He is; and we enter into His delight. What a God! Not contented to be Himself light and love, in His own glory, but He has presented light and love and glory to us in His Son. Has the delight and the blessedness of fellowship with Him up there, discovered to us the poverty of all down here. Are we a heavenly people? Have we heavenly stores laid up in Christ? Why put off the joy of heaven for a future day? Why not begin now to live in heaven? God calls us to rejoicing and joy in Christ now.
Can I connect all the sorrows of the wilderness with Christ’s glory? Have I set up as my banner, “To me to live is Christ”? Do I devote myself and all I have to Christ’s glory, turning everything into an occasion for magnifying Him?
If my heart is breaking, what matters it, if I have Christ? — He loves a broken heart. His heart cares for me, as no mother cares for her child. Every throb of your heart is known to Him, and He beautifully knows how to show you how all — able He is to give you rest and a peace that passes all understanding. And if you are broken down bit by bit, it is only to fit you for the place He has prepared for you. There is, for the heart that is resting in Christ’s love, a perfect repose, a Divine peace, that Satan cannot shake. You will be wondering at your peace, you will be able to say of things that destroy the dearest hopes of your heart, “I thank God.”
In the Person with whom I have to do, I have the word of God, the blessed Lord, the glory of whose person is set forth in the revelation. And if I am in that Christ of God, in whom was never a waver in doing God’s will, it will bring me down to the very bottom of self. If He does know individually everything in me, He knows it by the perfect contrast it is of all in Himself. Have you cultivated an acquaintance with the heart-searching Word, who looks down into the very bottom of your heart, who discovers the first budding of everything wrong, and puts His hand to stop it? If He has to do with a redeemed people, how far does He find each one a vessel fitted for Him to dwell in?
If there is a corner of my heart that Christ has not searched down to the very bottom, I am undone. Would I have a blind Christ, one whom I should not like to search out every part of my heart? Ah! I would rather have Christ pointing out everything, than friends praising. I adore God that gave Him to me. Who am I, that my Lord should so condescend to search me? And where there is evil in me, that is just where God lets His streams flow into me. He sees everything that hinders and chokes — would I stay His hand?
The reason of little growth in practical holiness and unearthliness, is that the heart is not abiding in the light of the searching eye of Christ in heaven, and making the whole value of it come right down to the very bottom of everything. There can be no power of blessing save that which begins with Christ, that which throws us (in the light) upon the heart of Jesus, upon the love that knows how to give sympathy in everything — the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord, that love from which nothing can separate us. All the Divine glory beams down on us in the face of Jesus Christ; we are in Him, and have such fellowship with Him that what is true of the Head, as to God’s delight being in Him, is true of the members. The great thing that gives liberty to the heart is the knowing its connection with a risen and ascended Lord, and so being able to stand, counting on the love of God in Him. There is in the heart of the Lord Jesus the full throbbing of that love, as He looks upon us as those given Him of the Father — a Divine savour and fulness in it, because of its being the love of God: a perfectly Divine love, which lays hold of each individual as one given Him of the Father; a love which never changes, and from which nothing in heaven or earth can separate.
Christ tells it out in our hearts that in Him is the yea and amen to all the promises. We shall find immense strength in that thought in a cloudy day like the present when (we are like water spilt on the ground) we get clouded and troubled by the world on every side; but turn to Him, and all in Him is “yea and amen.” He makes good all the promises. The bringing light out of a promise, the making any bit of truth come with power and freshness to the heart, all is His doing.
Why are the thoughts of many stirring with the question, “Where is the Church of the living God?” It is because Christ has not forgotten it. Why is the thought of His coming thrilling in so many hearts? Because He has not forgotten it.
No saint ever finds true rest in the thought of glory and heaven, save as he realizes that everything is centred in the Person of Christ. If I walked round heaven and found no Christ there, however bright and beautiful all might be, I should say, “It won’t do without Christ.” The Lord Himself must have a vividness in the soul, a living place there, if the renewed affections are to be satisfied.
What! this One, this smitten Rock, through which the river of life flows – this One, who knows all the secrets of the Father’s heart! do I know that He loves me? Did He die for me? I had my sins, and nothing but my sins, when He looked upon me. Was His blood competent to take out all their crimson dye? and is God satisfied? Will God find fault with that work as inadequate? Oh no! He looked upon me, the chief of sinners, and I am to be a specimen of the cleansing power of that blood. How blessed a thought! Oh what love that is of His! How aggressive, how mighty in its power against all that is contrary to it, as it flows into the heart of a saint! How it enables one to look up and say, “I know Thee, Lord Jesus up there, as the One who loved me in all my misery, who didst interpose Thyself between me and my sins, and hast obtained and. given me a title to be a kingly priest to God and Thy Father, and hast made me to know it now. How is it that there is so little praise? Because there is so little appreciation of Christ and of the work of Christ, of how that blood has cleansed us and given us a place in glory. Why is there not willingness in saints to strip themselves for Christ, as Jonathan did for David? Why is there not that impulsive power of love flowing out in praise, as it did in John, when His heart welled forth, “To Him who loved us”? Whenever a saint gets into close connection with Christ Himself, and sees the living streams flow down, he will have no thought of self. When I think of myself in the glory, and Christ saying, “That is a man whom I washed from his sins in My own blood,” I shall not want any glory for myself, but all for Him; and to be standing now as a testimony of His love in the world, to speak of His glory, to His praise.
Are you occupied with the person of Christ alone? You cannot have Him as the object of your life unless you are occupied with Him Himself. There is nothing so blessed to the heart as realizing the person of Christ, that One who is to come and receive us to Himself — He, the centre of all the Divine glory.
We shall know nothing about beauty of walk till we come to compare our walk with the walk of Christ on earth.
I believe many Christians don’t know anything about a living Christ in heaven, occupied with them and they with Him — don’t know Him as One who calls upon them to apprehend that for which He has apprehended them. How many thoughts have you had today, telling that you know Christ has apprehended exactly what you are to be in the glory? The heart cannot have strength to apprehend it all, but can you say that He has shown you bits of it, and that you follow after to apprehend more of it? Is it the formative power to your heart? Do you connect it with your walk in the wilderness down here? Oh how clear, how distinct in the mind of Christ is that for which he has apprehended you. I may follow after Him, finding more and more of the heights and depths of His love, and yet have to say, “I have not apprehended, but I press on.”
How can one walk in communion with Christ in heaven and not come in collision with the world? Do I walk as one who is in present, living intercourse with the heart of Christ, having my heart formed and fashioned by the constant apprehension of His glory? And if so, how can I be conformed to the world? Do you believe that Christ is not ashamed to confess your name to the Father, as one whom He has apprehended for glory? Oh, is there no divine fulness, nothing unsearchable, connected with the love that says, “How are you walking? is it as one who is reaching forth, and pressing on for the mark?” If I am called upon to give up certain things, to be separate from certain things, is it sorrow to me or joy, under the eye of Christ who is leading me on into glory with Himself?
A heavenly life will never be found save in one who is in present communion with Christ about the place to which He is leading us. And a heart can never be abidingly in communion with the heart of Christ and be identified with the world that does not know Him. The Holy Ghost bids us keep our eye fixed on Christ, as He is conducting us on to the glory, for oh! He has apprehended us for it. Paul wanted the full manifestation of Christ in glory, his eye was up watching Him in heaven, looking for His coming. That is what tomorrow is for Christ: what, is it to us? Is His coming our tomorrow? Paul had discarded everything that came between him and a risen Christ upon the throne. Paul was going up hill, looking straight up to heaven, living upon the hope of that Christ’s coming. Do you and I live in the light of the Lord Jesus Christ’s coming at any moment? Is that the hope that sheds light on everything? It is of immense practical comfort, as well as power. If it were always the present object of the heart, how would it be possible to be overcome by the trials and difficulties we have to pass through? He maybe coming tonight, or we might have years of trial or of persecution in the wilderness, but in the thought of His coming to fetch us, and His hand under us, can we not forget this body of humiliation, and these trials until then? If I can calculate on His love all the way, I shall be able to meet every difficulty. The love that makes Him come forth to fetch me will shine forth then, and I can count on its shining forth today. Does any one say, “I know that Christ will come at last to fetch me, but He forgets me in my difficulties now”? Any not walking with Him might say it. Could we?
The grand expression of His love is that He will come Himself to fetch us to bring us to His Father’s house. No other tomorrow is given us by the Spirit but Christ in heaven coming to take us up there.
The thoughts of God and of Christ in heaven, as they flow into us, make manifest to us an awful contrast between them and what we find in ourselves. But how sweetly, in all that reminds us of what even these bodies of ours are, we are also reminded of the love which, before we are taken up, will change and fashion them according to His own glorious body! In what dress am I to appear in His presence? In one fashioned like His own. The thought of power given, for a human body to become an immortal and incorruptible body, is feeble compared with this being fashioned like His own glorious body. He might have given incorruptibility, but not this, the being like Him when we see Him as He is. What a thought! This Christ soon coming to make me like Himself! Do I love Him, and am I a citizen of heaven, because of being hid in God with Him, until the time when His glory will be shown out fully? What think you of having bodies like His? How it brings the heart to heaven where that body is — a human, though a glorious body. How sweet the association, with Him and like Him,” when we see Him as He is. Till He comes it is a blessed thing to be able to say we have nought to think of and to seek for but heavenly things: “Ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” All worldliness consists in some plan for self, something to see attractiveness in for self down here; but is our plan looking for Christ to come? The attractiveness of that Christ should make all things of the world drop off, and be judged. When He comes as the man honoured of God, it will be not only to lead us into heaven, but to come with subduing power into things which cause sensible groaning. He has poured life into my soul, but this body has got death in it still, and He will change it according to the working of that power whereby He is able to subdue all things to Himself. Are we walking as lovers of the cross of that Christ? When He who died on it came down from heaven, a glory shone out of Him, the glory as of the only-begotten of the Father. and His life was a perfect expression of what our life ought to be. Look to that Christ for power to walk, and do not be looking down here for something to lean on. Don’t let forgetfulness of your wilderness portion creep into your soul. Be good soldiers of the Cross.
Strange that I am not ever looking up, if I expect to see the door of heaven open, and the One I love coming out. Oh! what a scene, when He comes forth to change these vile bodies, fashioning them like to His own glorious body!
Don’t let there be such a thought as that He who saved you out of Egypt wants you to wander in the wilderness, as if He had no proper place prepared for you. He wants you to be walking as those for whom the place is prepared. A place where He will have all His own around Him in all His own beauty, all overflowing with all His own joy; when He shall have put out for over every root that troubled us in the wilderness. The pilgrims and soldiers of the Cross shall be changed after such a fashion that nothing down here could be good enough for them; nothing short of heaven will do. (Don’t you be satisfied with anything less.) Christ never had a home down here, it was a wilderness to Him, it did not bear the stamp of His Father’s heart. If there is a strange place to me, it ought to be the place where my Lord was crucified.
There is no joy in this life like the joy of walking with God, like the joy of picking out my footsteps after my Lord, and His eye upon me following my steps all through the wilderness.
How sad for any one to be called to go, with a quantity of things to settle! Blessed to be able to say, “What little bit of work the Lord gave me to do, is done, and I am ready at any moment to go up to the Father’s house.” Would you like your coming Lord to take you by surprise?
Excerpted from G.V. Wigram, “Gleanings, Volume 1,” found here: http://www.stempublishing.com/authors/wigram/GLEAN1.html