The Secret Ministry of Christ
Although advanced in years, Mr. John Bramhall of Charlotte, North Carolina, continues to keep busy with both his preaching and writing ministries.
The last, tender, and sympathetic words of Jesus were spoken to His disciples in the quietness of the upper room as recorded in John, chapters 14 to 16. They are filled with consolation, instruction, and warning, as His great heart breathed out His concern and His provision for them in view of His departure to the Father’s house. Though few in number, these disciples were “His own” (John 13:1) and He loved them with unending love! Likewise, His love remains as faithful to us upon the earth known to Him as “His own,” for we need the same tender ministry of His heart too. The Saviour reveals five precious secrets for us to learn in the oft repeated phrase—“These things have I spoken unto you” - by which five priceless lessons are taught us for our profit and His glory. Let us meditate prayerfully upon each of them.
The Secret of Communion
“These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you” (John 14:25). These words refer to the previous consolations He had spoken, closing with the revelation of true fellowship and communion with Him which will be manifested in two ways: (a) Love to His Person: “He that loveth Me… I will manifest Myself to him” (John 14:21). He offers a perfect revelation of His glorious Person, but subject to a moral and spiritual qualification—a well- attested love for Himself! “If a man love Me…We will come unto him” (John 14:23). Love for Christ and His Person will draw the love of the Father to the believer, for the Father regards with special affection all who honor and obey His Son! (b) Obedience to His Word: “If a man love Me, he will keep My words” (John 14:23). The two are inseparable—Love and Obedience! Love is placed first, but its evidence is the second—obedience! This is the secret of true communion with Christ. Do I love Him? Do I obey Him? Does My soul know this secret of communion in blessed experience?
The Secret of Joy
“These things have I spoken unto you, that My joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full” (John 15:11). The similitude of the Vine is recorded in John 15:1-3; Christian fruit-bearing in verses 4 to 8; the Fathers love to Christ and Christ’s love to the believers in verses 9 to 11. Thus the lesson of abiding is taught by the Saviour, which produces fruit for the Father’s glory. In thus obeying His Word we continue to abide in His love (verses 9, 10). It is this way we learn the secret of His Joy! What was His joy? It was abiding (verse 10) and if in obedience we also keep the Word of God it will produce the Saviour’s desire—“that My Joy might remain in you.” Not the joy we may derive from Him; not the joy we may experience on His account, but rather the joy He experiences in the conscious possession of the Father’s love! Abide in Me! bear fruit for the Father’s glory! and the secret of MY JOY will be yours! Does my soul know this secret of joy?
The Secret of Steadfastness
“These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended” or “not be made to stumble” (John 16:1). The section from chapter 15, verses 18 through 27 of the Lord’s discourse, is regarding ‘The Hatred of the World.” Its certainty is declared in verses 18 and 19. Its intensity is revealed in verse 20: “They will persecute you.” Its reason: “ye are not of the world.” etc. (verse 19). It also hated Christ (verse 18). Its guilt (verse 22). All this hatred springs from the world’s antipathy against God (verse 23), manifesting antagonism also against “His own,” but He ministers His consolation: (a) It would be fellowship with Him (verse 18). (b) It would prove their separation from the world (verse 19). (c) They would have tokens of success and blessing nevertheless (verse 20b). (d) They would suffer not as evil doers, but as Christians ( 1 Peter 4:16), though the world’s hatred of them, as in His case, would be without cause (verse 22). (e) They would not lack the aid of the Spirit of God (verse 26). (1) Neither would the world’s hatred prevent them from accomplishing their mission (verse 27). These facts reveal the secret of steadfastness! Is my soul in the experiential knowledge of this?
The Secret of Prayer
“These things have I spoken unto you in proverbs” or “parables” (John 16:25). In verses 23 through 27 in this chapter, the Lord touches upon the Christian’s prayer life, a most essential secret to learn, to know the wonderful liberty we have in prayer to come unto the Father.
“Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in My name, He will give it you” (verse 23). This is our liberty in prayer—we may ask of the Father anything. There is success in prayer, guaranteed by three things: (a) The precious name of Christ (verses 24, 26). (b) The Saviour’s intercession—this is expected naturally (verse 26) but (c) “The Father Himself loveth you, because ye have loved Me,” etc. Thus the Father grants their requests. Have I learned the secret of receiving from the Father the answers to my prayers? What a lesson! so necessary to know that I must be enjoying the Father’s love to assure me of the answers to my humble petitions asked for the glory of God! Has my soul entered into this?
The Secret of Peace and Victory
“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the would ye shall have tribulation; but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). “Love’s farewell” could be given over the closing words of the Saviour’s discourse from verse 28 through 33. He gives four fundamental facts of Christianity: (a) His Pre-existance—“I came out from the Father.” (b) His Incarnation—“I am come into the world.” (c) His Death—“Again, I leave the world.” (d) His Exaltation—“I go unto the Father” (verse 28). Faith’s confession of Christ is made by His disciples in verse 30, after which Jesus answers them saying, “Do ye now believe?” Then He gently admonishes them in verse 32—“Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is now come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave Me alone; and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me.” Would their faith, though real, be capable of enduring the test that was soon to be put upon them? Obviously—No!—yet, the Father would still be with Him. Nevertheless, He leaves them with a cheering prediction:
1. The Blessing of His Peace, verse 33.
It was His parting bequest—“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27). What a priceless legacy for His own in a troubled world. The peace which He Himself possessed! His spirit was never ruffled or fretted by the external circumstances of His lot; by the privations He endured; the labors He performed; the reproaches He encountered; the sufferings He experienced, and not even the death that He died! In the midst of all He was in “perfect peace” and this same peace He offers His own! Do I possess this in my own soul? Do I know the secret of this peace?
2. A Comforting Consolation
His victory over the world! He had overcome the world for Himself, so that His ability to support and succor them need not be doubted or questioned. He had overcome the world for them also. If they continued on with Him, they also in Him and through Him would prove victorious over all the tribulation they might suffer in the world for Him! “We are more than conquerors through Him that loved us” (Romans 8:37). This is the secret of victory which He reveals to His own. Am I enjoying this in my daily life?
Five wonderful and vital secrets of ministry from the blessed heart of our Lord for His own; given in the quietness of that upper room alone with them, in order that they may fully know His provision for their pilgrim pathway in this world. until He comes to take His own to “the Father’s House” above! Have you and I learned these secrets? May the Holy Spirit help us to do so!