There are two great and evident consequences resulting from the place in which Christ has set us: one as looking towards the Father, the other as looking towards the world.
The first grand truth on which all is based is, that He places us in the same condition as and where He Himself is in. When the Lord Jesus was down here. He presented a double aspect, one towards the Father, and one towards the world: and just so is it with the saints now. What is true of Jesus is also true of those who believe in Him—His joy being fulfilled in them. He was a perfect witness for the Father, and the testimony of the saint in the world is for Him also.
The first part of the chapter shews the position of the saint before the Father, the end of it the saint’s position towards the world. A blessed and wonderful thing it is, that the saints are brought by grace into the same place and position as Himself. He by right and title had it, we by being made God’s righteousness in Him. It is testimony to the value of the redemption of Christ, and we cannot value it too highly. This exalts us not in a fleshly manner, but in the efficacy of what Christ wrought in resurrection. To His disciples He could say (John 20:17) “My Father and your Father.” If I think of the state of my conscience before God, I remember God as a judge. I love the Lord Jesus Christ when I believe something about the value of the blood; but if I love the things of Christ, I soon find much in me that is not like Christ; and if there is uprightness of heart, it is a great deal easier to get at ease as to that which is past than it is for what is at present going on. What I find in myself now is that which troubles me; and the conscience must get peace about this, because the affections are renewed.
Even as regards the details of my conscience, as a saint, I have a holy conscience judging itself before God; so the more unhappy a quickened conscience will be, till it is set at rest; for God is holy, the soul is sinful, and the Father sees sin. What does God do when coming in judgment? He put the blood on the door of the Israelite, and that being under His eye, the destroying angel cannot come in. He only sees the blood and passes over; he beholds the witness of the sin put away by the death of the lamb. There is rest for the conscience by the blood. So sentence on evil has been brought in on God’s part already. What meets His eye is the blood; a substitute has come in. God is satisfied in the execution of judgment. When there is uprightness of heart, there will never be peace till the conscience is clean before God; it can never rest till it has cleansing according to what God has wrought for it. God gave it, and God makes us know His satisfaction in His own holiness. The holy desires which God has wrought in us are not satisfied till all the demands of God are met.
Supposing the conscience to be at rest, what is God going to do with the people that He has redeemed? and what is the efficacy of this power? God has done it; He has not only put away the sin, but has brought us nigh unto Himself. The Son of .man, the second Adam, has brought us into the same position with Himself. Thus, when risen, He says, “Go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend to my Father and your Father,” etc. The first Adam did this also, bringing us down to the same condition with himself. But we are predestined to be conformed to the image of God’s Son; Rom. 8. What does this depend on? it is from the value of what His redemption wrought, and the power of His quickening life in resurrection. And the way in which it is to be known is by looking at the Lord Jesus Himself. Where has this redemption brought Him? It has placed Him, the risen Man, back in the presence of the glory where He was before as God. He humbled Himself (Phil. 2; Heb. 2); wherefore a name is given Him above every name. He is set at God’s right hand. And here I can trace the result of that redemption which the Lord Jesus wrought, and which brought Him from the bosom of the Father, in placing Him there again.
Another point of value is the life-giving power. What is this life-giving power? “Because I live, ye shall live also.” And (Col. 3:3, 4) we that have to combat with the evil in us, and to keep down the flesh, have the life of Christ in us; yet the soul daily needs the comfort of the blood. Where has God placed us? If we have not our part in the first Adam, we must have it in the second Adam—in Christ. There is no place with God for any one out of Christ. God cannot have persons out of Christ with Him, nor in a half state of glory. There is no half glory with Him. We are sanctified in Christ Jesus, accepted in the Beloved. “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature,” etc., etc. If redemption had not given believers a title to be with Him, He could not say (John 17:24), “Father, I will,” etc. It is the discovery of the ruin of man that throws us on the redemption that is in Christ. We cannot go higher or lower than that. The utter inability of man shews the efficacy of the blood. In the world Christians are poor, needy, and feeble; but Christ speaks these things in the world that they might have His joy fulfilled in them. Faith and love are superior to all circumstances, which are no hindrance, unless indeed we are in circumstances contrary to God, which is another thing. Faith has an object. There is living power in Christ. We are kept and enabled by Him to pass through all circumstances unhurt.
How does Christ set us in this place of power? (v. 15). Not taken out of the world, but kept from the evil of it. He sets us in the same position as Himself (v. 16). “They are not of the world “stands good, even as regards our path and position; Christians in the world, in the same place as Christ Himself! How was Christ not of the world? Because He derived not His life from it, but from the Father. The object of that life was the Father. All His walk testifies that the world had nothing to do with the Father. But in passing through this world as the Faithful Witness, all His ways declared that He was not of it. When He who created the world was in it, it knew Him not. “Behold what manner of love,” etc., 1 John 3. The world knows us not because it knew not Him. Our hearts would find consolation here if in conscious fellowship with Jesus. The saint has to go through this world without the support of it, in secret with the Father and sustained by Him. The world cannot know from whence we derive our life, and the saint has to pass through the world without having the power to shew from whence it springs. It is a thing unseen, from on high.
If the world could have acknowledged, We know this is the Son of God, it would have been a son of sustaining power to Jesus; so with the saints, they are not only not understood, but not acknowledged—separated because their nature comes from God. If we are willing to take this place, we must have it altogether, above and below, for the Father cannot own the world; so it is a place of trial for the saint (v. 17), not merely one act for all, but sanctified by the truth. The life of the saint down here is continued separation. We can put nothing between Christ and the soul, between the Head and the members. There is nothing between the unity of the Father and the Son, nor between the unity of the Christ and the church; but there is such a thing as growing up into the Head. “Sanctified through the truth.” There is not only negative opposition to the world on the part of the Christian, but positive opposition. We have to pass through many trials. It is blessed to fall into temptation, etc. (not sinful temptation, of course, as later in James); but there may be circumstances very humbling without sin. Self is to be subdued. In these we see and learn God, when the soul has grown able to judge itself. He is able to uproot and cut off these things as under-suckers of the old stock. The Christian is not only not of the world, as knowing the character of it, but delivered from it (v. 19). We see the position into which the saint gets. The Lord sets Himself apart, that the Spirit may take of the things of Christ and shew them unto us, that we may be more like Christ in the world. The Holy Ghost takes of these things, and comes down in living power to speak of these things to our souls—Father, Son, and Spirit, all work together. There is the Father’s love, and the Son’s and Spirit’s power given unto us. The church and the individual saint stand before the world to shew the power of the Father’s love, as the epistle of Christ. I am not speaking of what we have attained unto, but what we are designed to be—where we are set, as our place; and though we have not yet attained to it, wherever we go there is the living testimony of what the Father’s grace has made us. Israel ought to have been what the law required, but mark the difference, failure brought in condemnation to them. We want not righteousness before God; that has been done once. So Hebrews 10:14, “By one offering,” etc.; and Romans 8:4, “That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us,” etc.: also Daniel 9:24, “To bring in everlasting righteousness.” But for manifestation down here, Paul appeals to the Corinthians for the recommendation of his apostleship. Every believer is a recommendation of the grace of God, shewing what God is. Christ was the living epistle of God on earth. If He took a child in His arms, or whatever He did, He manifested God. He says to us, “Be perfect as your Father,” etc., “Love your enemies,” etc., that is, let men see in you the Spirit of your Father. We have Christ’s place before God, and in the world also—it may be in being hated or persecuted unto death. It is perfectly plain, if Christ sets us out for witnesses, that all question of our acceptance was settled. We must have union and communion with Him. If Christ had not been entirely one with His Father, He could not have represented Him. The church is put in the place of Christ, and sent into the world to tell how great things God has done for her; being on God’s behalf the Epistle of Christ written by the Holy Ghost. We are now set in blessed grace, and persons judge of what the profession of Christ is by what Christians are (I do not say always wrongly). If living in communion with God we are not thinking of ourselves. Moses did not know his face shone when every one else did. He had been looking up out of himself, and turned towards earth bearing upon him the light of heaven.
I know so little of Christ, one may say, and this may be true; but every grace that is in Christ is in every saint, though not developed. Supposing you are a babe in Christ, we may see many things in babes to admire and follow after. Where there is true lowliness of heart, I display God, as a babe manifesting Him; but if, as a babe, I am attempting to manifest Christ as a man, there will be failure. My wisdom will be, not to set myself up above that which I really am. If walking in true lowliness and manifesting that measure of Christ which is in us, there will be certain progress in us. It is in the presence of God that sin ought to be found out. I dishonour Christ if I trip in my path. If I see the secret sin in my heart, I shall be humble before God—I shall be humble before the world. If I detect pride, etc., in my heart, I shall go to God and confess it. I may not have power to prevent an unholy thought, but if I resist it, then the Spirit is not grieved thereby; but He brings the soul into communion and fellowship with Christ. This is a process of joy, though humbling. If living with Him, He shews the good in Christ to me; so in our path in this present world, we are partakers of His holiness, being “changed into the same image from glory to glory,” v. 21.
Remark also that unity is spoken of three times in this chapter, the first being absolute unity, as having the very same nature as Christ, the communion of the same divine nature, and one Holy Ghost, and the practical unity that flows from this. “Holy Father, keep them in thy name which thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.” Now the Spirit dwells in us, and makes us one—not one amongst ourselves, but altogether in the Father and the Son. All question of what the individual is, is lost sight of, and the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, have communion—we, by the fellowship of the Holy Ghost, are brought into the consciousness of this, all question of acceptance settled. Secondly, not only union, but communion. “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; that they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.” Thirdly, not merely quickened, but He adds (v. 22), glory given to us that was given to Jesus. This is not essential union as the first, nor communion as the second, but thirdly, the display— Christ displayed in the church and Christ displaying the Father. It is “I in them and thou in me”—beginning up there and coming down here—the full display of redemption, when the world will see the oneness, arid the holy angels also, and we, having glory and power from Christ, shall see the Father. The miracles at the beginning were a sample, the power of healing going forth from the church. Christ will be admired in His saints—that holy city (Rev. 21:23, 24), in the light of which the saved nations will walk. The display is, “that the world may know,” etc. Now the world does not know us, but then the world shall know that we have been loved as Christ. But are we to wait to know till the world does? No, by faith, through the revelation of the Holy Ghost, we know now what the world will know by-and-by; we believe before we see. Supposing I have the consciousness that I am loved as the Father loved Jesus, what happiness will be then! My soul filled with this grace will shew it out to others. What a spring of grace is here! The world knows it not, but if I am clothed with grace, I am armed with grace, I am living on the truth and enjoying it now. The Father’s love gave Christ for you and to you. Would the world find the same grace in you and the same love (in kind, not measure) that Christ exhibited? Are we faithful in bearing about this character of God before the world? God came down here in Christ—in man, that He might display the perfectness of divine dealing and divine tenderness in the form of man. If I am expecting something from you before I shew love, I shall be disappointed, and I shall not manifest God. I must not wait for that, I am to act in grace. It did not matter in one sense what Christ met with from others; He was always satisfied with God. He had all His joy in God. If we were perfectly satisfied with God, this would be perfection. Suppose we have no kind brother to cheer us up under trial, etc., we shall be satisfied so far as we are filled up with what God is. Were you to be left alone for two hours, if not in communion with the Lord, you would crave after a book, etc., proving that God is not enough for you.
In the early church we find the disciples were in favour with all the people. The Man Christ Jesus grew in favour with God and man. He was always the servant of every one. The first thing that struck me some years ago in reading the Gospels was, Here is a man that never did anything for Himself. What a miracle to see a man not living to himself, for He had got God for Himself! Have we realised what we are in Christ, so as to have our hearts filled with Him? God has given us Christ’s place in life, then adoption and glory. Therefore the life should shew itself more clearly. Are we seeking His place now? Is there the active energy of the Spirit in you desiring to be all this? Well, this place you have: if merely a babe, or an old man, or a young man, is it not worth having—to be bearers of the character of Christ, to be trusted with the testimony of Jesus?
Again, there is one thing more in the last verses. He sums up the result of what He had said. Not only has He put us down here one with Himself, but He must have us up there to see all His glory, to be with Him and to be like Him. He counts on our love delighting in His glory.
“O righteous Father,” v. 25. This solemn word is the everlasting separation between the world and Christ. It will never see Him again. He says, The world will not have Me: they have rejected Me. If I am to be approved, those that rejected Me, because I manifested the Father, cannot have a common portion with Me; so now, thou Father, must decide the point. Then we have God’s answer (John 12:31): “Now is the judgment of this world.” When the Holy Ghost came (John 16), it is because of the rejection of Christ. He says, I am here because Christ is there.
“I have declared thy name,” etc. The Lord Jesus sustains us in this. This is what He is doing now; communicating the knowledge of the Father to us, not only in grace, but in the fellowship of the glory. He declares it from the Father’s house and throne according to the knowledge He has of it, as with the Father. The Father, by the Spirit, shews us Jesus at the right hand of God.
“I in them,” v. 26. The blessed Jesus manifests Himself (when done with the world, in a manner it knows not) to His saints. There is a difference between good and spiritual desires and the power of the Holy Ghost taking of the things of Christ and shewing them to us. There is not merely the new nature but the power of the Spirit wanted, if true to Christ. If I take up with other things (I do not mean sins), there is failure. An idle look even will grieve the Spirit, and I have lost the power of communion. Ours ought not to be a religion of regrets, but a rejoicing of heart continually, love being shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost. God has set us here as the Epistle of Christ. Let us not seek to be satisfied with looking at ourselves or others, but up unto Him continually, growing in His likeness more and more.