Revelation 1:4-7; 22:16-21
I have taken these two passages which precede and come after all the prophetic part of the book, as giving us the relationships in which the saints stand to Christ, to whom the book is confided.
In these opening verses we get an address, and the answer of heart in the saints to that address; and then, when the book closes, the address of the Lord to His people as the bride, and the answer. I desire to shew the place in which the Spirit of God sets the saints, and the connection of it with their character, affections, and duties.
One abstract remark may be made. Our affections and our duties flow from the relationship in which we are set. It is clear that if we are creatures of God, our duties as such flow from our knowledge of that. So with our earthly duties and affections—they flow from our relationship one with another, whether as husband and wife, or father and child. It is a very simple remark, but of all importance, with regard to the saints’ position. But then I must be in this relationship to have these affections, and I must know what the relationship is to which those duties belong. If I had no consciousness of being a child, and happened to meet my father, I should have no sense of the duties and affections belonging to me as a child. In order to have right affections, I must be in the relationship to which the affections belong, and I must know that I am in it too. The relationship must be known as mine, in order to possess the affections belonging to it. I cannot love Christ as a Saviour, if I do not know whether He is a Saviour or not to me; I cannot love God as a Father, if I am not sure whether or not I am a child. Now the importance of this is, that a full settled knowledge of salvation is the spring and foundation of our duties to God—not only the knowledge of the fact of salvation, but of what that salvation has brought me into. It has made me a child, and I am bound to walk and feel as a child. It is so if I take Christ as He presents Himself at the end of this book: immediately the Spirit and the bride say, Come. If I do not know that I belong to the bride of Christ, how can I, when He thus presents Himself to me, say to Him, Come? It is the relationship in which I am from which all must flow, and no duties and affections are rightly founded until we know ourselves to be in this relationship to God. There may be a craving after the thing, and there will be. If I am an orphan, I would give anything to have a father; but I cannot have the affections of a child, because I have not got a father to love me. Wherever the divine nature is, there is the spring of these thoughts and feelings of love to God, and of holiness; but I cannot have them in perfection for my soul, because I have not the constant enjoyment of my relationship. A law may be imposed upon a person, but it never produces any affection. There may be a law which claims certain feelings and affections from me, but that gives no consciousness of the relationship by which these affections are produced: consequently it gives me no power. This is the real character of the law. Instead of being founded on a relationship that is existing, it promises that by keeping it I shall get life. If I keep the law without having real life, I am to get life by keeping it.
I find that principle laid down in Scripture—duty called for in order to the obtaining of life; but never does it produce the thing. Law claims from man what he ought to be, but it does not and cannot place man in any relationship with God, in which he may enjoy the blessing that belongs to God. Now it is not so with Christ. He does bring us, by the salvation which He has wrought, into relationship with God; He gives us a known settled place before God; and then our affections and duties flow from the place we are in. They are not the means of obtaining the place, but that which belongs to the place we are in. If we are the bride of Christ, we ought to have the feelings and wishes of one that is so. Throughout, when you enter into these verses, that suggests itself to the heart. In whatever way Christ is spoken of, there is at once what calls forth a response from the hearts of the saints. Whatever may be said as to His titles or offices, or what He is, the effect of speaking of Him with whom we are in relationship, is to awaken feelings in our own hearts of what He is to us. For instance, if I were to speak to a child of its father, as one who had eminently distinguished himself as a hero, or a statesman, the child’s feeling at once would be, That is my father. He would not say, That is a great conqueror. The child’s feeling would be, That great man is my father. So it would be with a wife. If she were told that such a person had greatly distinguished himself in any place, and she knew it was her husband, she would say, That is my husband; because all this glory awoke, in the mind of the child or the wife, the consciousness of the relationship in which they stood to the one to whom they belonged. Now that is the case with the church of God. You cannot speak of any glory of Christ or of God, that does not awaken in the heart of the saint the consciousness of what God and Christ are to itself. This is characteristic of the existence of such a relationship, and the affections that belong to it. You cannot speak of the person with whom others are in relationship, without awakening in their hearts the sense of what the person is to them.
The whole character of this book is one of judgment. It is not the Father communicating with the church by means of the Holy Ghost which dwells in it. And when Christ is described, it is as One whose eyes are like a flame of fire, judging in the midst of the churches, or as One coming out of heaven on a white horse, a sharp sword going out of His mouth, that with it He should smite the nations. When it is God, He is sitting on a throne from whence lightnings and thunderings proceed, and sending out preliminary or final judgments on the earth.
Now we shall find here, by the feelings that are expressed, the way in which the saint, the child of God, feels when Christ is brought forward. We shall find that, even when He is presented in judgment—that is, in an earthly character—the church has immediately awakened in her heart the place and relationship in which she stands to the one thus presented. Jesus, the Prince of the kings of the earth, is alluded to: at once the answer is, “Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood.” If the “Root and offspring of David” is named, the Spirit and the bride say, Come. It is the characteristic of the soul that lives in the conscious blessedness and enjoyment of an existing relationship with God. However Christ is presented, it is her own relationship with Him that is at once awakened in the bride. What I see in the word is not merely God visiting us as sinners, as He has done, but that when He has visited us, He has brought us into blessed connection with Himself, and having brought us there, He calls us, as in that connection, to live in the delight and in the duties that belong to it.
We do not thoroughly understand how lost we are in our natural state, because we do not look simply to our place in Christ. It is in the measure that we understand that they who are in the flesh cannot please God, and that the flesh is not subject to God and cannot be remedied, that we are cast over by faith into our place in Christ. The moment I come to know that my relationship with God depends upon what He is for me, and what He has made me by grace in Himself, and not upon what I am to Him, it is all simple. It may astonish many to see that it does not depend upon what they are to Him. They will say, Are not men judged according to their works? To be sure they are. But who among you will stand this judgment? It is not merely a truth: but what is your condition if it is a truth? We are lost. We can only say, “Enter not into judgment with thy servant; for in thy sight shall no man living be justified.” There is an end of all flesh as such. If Christ came, He came to call sinners—to seek and save that which was lost. It was all a settled thing as to man in the flesh. You and I, looked at as moral responsible beings before God, have walked in such sort, that we could not stand in the judgment—no one, not even a Christian, could. I am not talking of grace saving; but of man judged as a responsible being to God. If God deals with us on this ground, we could not, as Job says, answer Him one in a thousand. That we know to be true. There is not a single person, if it were a question of the most careless person in the world, who does not know that he cannot stand in the judgment. If he were brought to-day into the presence of God, he would do what Adam did—go and hide himself if he could; he would not dare to stand and be judged of God. The saint knows it, but the sinner knows it too. As a present thing, he has no desire to be with God. If it was offered to ever such a decent man of the world to go to heaven to-day, he would not—nor to-morrow either. When then is he to go? When he cannot help it. If he must die, he would rather go to heaven, but there is not a man of the world but would stay out of heaven as long as possible. If God reveals Himself in judgment, man will fly from Him; and when He revealed Himself in grace, what did man do? Spat upon Him, crucified Him. The story is told. Conscience tells us the one thing, and the facts of Christianity tell us the other: man would not have God. That is what we all are, and without any difference. Some may have produced more bad fruit than others, but we are all alike lost; and therefore God deals with us, consequent upon the death of Christ, on the ground that we are lost. It is of immense importance to see this fully, in order that we may fully enjoy God’s love. “For a good man some would even dare to die.” “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” That is, I learn this—that if I am bad, dreading judgment, and having no affections towards God, if God has loved me, it is according to the perfectness of His own nature. This is how grace meets a man’s case. He is brought to this conviction, that he is a poor lost sinner with no desire after God—a lost sinner after having been tried in every possible way—tried without law, tried under law, and then tried by Christ, coming in grace to meet them in all their need. And what was the result? Man was lost, hopelessly lost. “We will not have this man to reign over us.” We will have the world without being troubled with God.
Here I get God in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself; I find perfect love cognizant of what the sinner is, knowing how it would be treated, yet coming down to save. When I look at Christ’s coming to me, I get thus the knowledge, that God, in perfect love, and with the knowledge of what I am, has visited me. to save me. He did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. Having found this, I have met with God, and I know Him. I find myself perfectly evil, my heart altogether evil, but I have seen Jesus, and He loves me perfectly: I have met Him in my sin, and I know Him. That is not relationship yet, but I know what He is. If I have gone to a person that I have considered my master, and have done everything against him, and if afterwards I have met him and he has assured me of his love, I have my every doubt and anxiety taken away. I shall not then wait for the day of judgment to know what God is to me, for I have met Him in Christ when I was in my sins. But then we could not go into heaven with our sins, and the next thing I find is, that Christ takes up this very place in which I was. Was I in death? He goes into it. Was I under condemnation? He goes under it. Was I in sin before God? He is made sin for me. I find in the cross the Lord Jesus coming and putting Himself in the very place where I was before a God of judgment. Thus, taking the sinner’s place, He goes down into death. He is forsaken of God, and being made sin, He bears their burden upon the cross, and now He is risen again. The question of the dealing of God with sin has been gone through on the cross. But, that blessed One having been made sin for me, the holiness of God has been gone through, and man has been proved a lost sinner. But Christ having taken his place, the whole history of my sin is closed; it has received its reward in the Person of Christ. And He is risen, and there is another Adam, instead of the first Adam, in the presence of God. It is not merely God visiting the sinner in his sin, but One, who has taken the judgment of my sin upon Himself already, is in the presence of God in righteousness. There I get the whole dealing of God to settle the question of sin. “Christ has appeared once in the end of the world, to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.” In order to be enabled to enjoy the love of God, that is what my conscience wants. If I receive that by faith, I can stand in the presence of God, with the knowledge that God loves me perfectly, and that, as a righteous God, He receives me in Christ.
If you take these two passages, you will find in one what Christ has done for us, and the place in which He has put us, and in the next, the relationship which flows from it, and the conduct consequent upon it.
In Revelation 1:4, there is not a word about God in His character of Saviour, but in the character of Jehovah, as Almighty; and the seven Spirits that are before the throne shew that perfection of the divine Spirit in which God judges. Therefore Christ comes last, and when I come to Him, I get the statement that He is the faithful witness on the earth; then there is His resurrection—He is the first-begotten of the dead; and, lastly, He is the Prince of the kings of the earth. It passes over all that He is in heaven as the High Priest, and as my righteousness before God. But though Christ is only thus spoken of, in connection with the character of the whole book, yet what is the answer of the saints when Christ is spoken of? “Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.” It is what He is to them. Though Christ is spoken of suitably to the whole character of the book, yet the church knows Him as He is for itself. Even if He is spoken of as the Prince of the kings of the earth, I say, This is the One that loves me, that has saved me; I know Him as the One that is in heaven, consequent upon the work that He has done for me. I know what He is for myself. He has loved me and washed me from my sins in His own blood. He is the faithful witness, and the Prince of the kings of the earth; but what I know is, that He has loved me, and washed me from my sins in His own blood, and if I think of the place in which He has set me, He has made me a king and a priest to God and His Father. It is the character of Christ’s love, that all which He takes from the Father in glory and blessing as man He gives to us. If I talk of Him even as a Prince on the throne He cannot do without me, He makes me a king too. A man of the world can be generous, but he does not bring another person into his own condition. This is what Christ does. “My peace,” He says, “I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you.” I will give you the very same peace that I have Myself. So too, “The glory which thou gavest me I have given them.” And not only that, but He gives them His Father’s love— “that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.” He puts us into His own place. This is perfect love. He Himself comes, and He has washed us from our sins in His own blood. If He is a king and priest, He has made us kings and priests along with Him. It is only when I have the consciousness of being utterly lost, and look up to the love that God has shewn in the gift of His Son, that I can understand it all.
If I look at the day of judgment, I say, It is all over, it is a settled thing with me, and if God deals with me in judgment, I am ruined. It is too late to talk about being better—I am lost. But now through Christ I am saved. I have got God that has come in, dealing with this lost person and giving His Son for him. It is not merely quickening him; but besides that, when a soul is quickened and feels what sin is, and what righteousness is, and yet that he has not got it, God has given Christ as his salvation. You want deliverance out of a condition that you are in by nature, into another condition in Christ, and that is what God provides. The believer is not only born again, and sees that holiness must be, but he has found in Christ the very thing that he wants. The grace of God has brought salvation. This is another thing. I am not merely renewed, but I wanted an answer to the exercises of my soul, and that is what I have got in Christ. Would it be right for a child to be uncertain whether its father loves it or not? If it were so, I should say, That child has not right affections. We ought to be able to say, I know thoroughly well that the Father loves me—He has given His Son for me. It was a love which knew my case, and thought of it. Christ has loved me and washed me from my sins in His own blood. He has made me as clean as the value of His own blood can make a person. I am put thus before God, and then made a king and priest to God. By-and-by every one shall be blessed under his own vine and his own fig-tree; but the place that the heart of the believer finds itself in now is in Christ’s own place, consequent upon the love wherewith he has been loved.
“Behold, he cometh with clouds, and every eye shall see him.” And what is the consequence? “And all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him.” I can testify that every eye shall see Him … and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him. But am I to be wailing because He comes who has washed me from my sins in His own blood? No, I am rejoicing. My portion is one thing, my testimony another.
If we look at the last chapter, after all the prophetical details have been gone through, I am not only washed and made a king and a priest to God, but I am of the bride. And here Christ sets Himself again before the church; He always does so. In the previous part of the chapter, as a warning, He said, “Behold, I come quickly.” And now the Lord, having closed the testimony He had to give to the world, says in verse 16, “I, Jesus, have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches.” And then He gives Himself these three characters:— “I am the root and offspring of David.” He is the root of David, the spring of all the promises made to David: and He is the heir of all of them, because He was the promised seed of David. But then He gives Himself another character, and that is, “the bright and morning star.” Nothing is said about the Bridegroom here. He is the bright and morning star. What is that? It is not the day. It is what no one sees the moment the sun is up. Those who are on earth in the day of the Lord will not see that star. It is what is seen by those who during the night are watching. Then, when the Lord comes, the star is seen no longer.
“The night is far spent, the day is at hand.” That brings home our present condition urgently to the church of God. From the moment that Adam fell, it was night, it was dark. It was still deeper night, as God went on dealing with man till Christ was rejected. And now the judgment comes. But it is just there the dawn begins. Man had departed from the light. The rulers of “the darkness of this world” is the expression. Before Christ came, it was night, because the sun had not risen; and when Christ was in this world, He was rejected. There was no connecting man with Christ but by His death. He came down to man, He visited him in grace; but “except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone.” He was merciful, He might come down to others in the meeting of all their need, but He was alone except He died; and when Christ died, there was the closing of the practical judgment of all that man was, looked at as in the flesh. It was proved that no dealing of God could make the fig-tree bear figs, and God said, “Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever.” He had gone on digging and pruning, but no fruit was borne; the gardener was cast out, Christ was rejected. But “where sin abounded, grace did much more abound”; and God comes in grace and sets a man at His own right hand. And now the night is far spent, the day is at hand. The very rejection of Christ, which proved fully and completely the entire darkness in which man was lying, set a new man, another man, according to God’s counsels and heart, in glory at the right hand of God, displays this blessed One before our faith, and says, Look there and you will find life. “Because I live, ye shall live also.” You will find righteousness—everything—there.
I now know that God has come in, not merely trying man as He did for four thousand years, but doing His own work; and He has wrought that work completely, and Christ has gone up as “the second Man” that has taken His place in righteousness in the presence of God. I can say, That is my life. There is a victory over sin, there is a putting away of sin, there is an accomplishment of righteousness. There is one who has got His place there because of sin being put away, and because of accomplished righteousness; just as surely as the first Adam was turned out of paradise, the last Adam has come in. And now I can say that I can see the dawn. The Jew must wait till the High Priest comes out to know whether the offering is accepted or not. When Christ comes out again, they will look upon Him and mourn. But I do not wait for that, because the Holy Spirit has come out, and His presence gives me the blessed consciousness that Christ has been accepted before God, as my life and righteousness. My faith makes me know that I have it all in Christ. But when am I to get the fruit of this? I have got the Holy Ghost, but what is my relationship to Christ? The Holy Ghost come down gives me the knowledge of it. I have got the Spirit, and the knowledge of these two things—that Christ is my righteousness in the presence of God, and the Holy Spirit the seal of it. But, more than that, Christ is the Head, and we are the members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. And what is their character when He talks about them? It is as the bride. It is never said of Christ that He was bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh when He was down here. But now that He is at the right hand of God, we are bone of His bone and flesh of His flesh. Just as Eve was of Adam, we are of Christ—and more so—because the Spirit of Christ dwells in me and unites me to Christ. When the Sun of righteousness arises with healing in His wings, there will be judgment, treading down of the wicked, etc. But meanwhile, while Christ is hidden from the world, faith sees Him; and faith, seeing Him, has trusted and leaned on Him as its righteousness before God, and the Holy Ghost is given as the seal of that righteousness. Therefore He says, “Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us is God, who hath also sealed us, and given us the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.” He is these two; the earnest of the glory, and the present certainty of the love. I do know the love now, the Holy Ghost giving me the consciousness of perfect love; but He is also the earnest of the inheritance.
That bright and morning star is before the day rises. We know Christ before we see Him. We have not seen Him and yet have believed. “At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you.” We are associated with Him while He is not in the world. When the sun rises, I shall see Him in His glory, but we know Him behind the cloud. He is the Son that has revealed Himself to me—this One who is in the heavens, as He revealed Himself to Paul: therefore it is the gospel of the glory. I know Him as my righteousness, and as the Bridegroom to the bride. The morning star is that which will be accomplished, but which is the knowledge of Christ as known to the watching believer when He is not known to the world at all.
So, in Peter, “We have also a more sure word of prophecy, whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn and the day-star arise in your hearts.” The word of prophecy is a light shining in a dark place. The world is all dark, and prophecy comes in and tells me the end of a dark world, and of all that passes in it. It is going on down a full stream to destruction. I cannot go on with that; my affections cannot be engaged in it. But the night is far spent, and the day is at hand. We know Christ in heaven, we know Him as the morning star when the world does not see Him. We know Him above, where the church first was put in relationship with Him. It is said to the church of Thyatira, “He that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron,” etc. “And,” He adds, “I will give him the morning star”; that is, he shall be a king and shall rule; but, besides that, I will give him Myself. We shall have an inheritance, and this with Christ. But do you think supposing a person were going to be married, and said to the bride, You will have a fine estate, would that be what would most occupy her mind? Certainly not. If her affections were true and right, it would be himself and not the inheritance that she would be occupied about.
So it should be with us. All God’s word will be accomplished. We shall have the inheritance, but we shall have Christ. We get the bright and morning star. It is in that character that Christ reveals Himself here. But what is awakened in the church’s heart is the thought of her own proper relationship to Christ. He does not say, Now I am coming; it is she who says it. “I am … the bright and morning star. And the Spirit and the bride say, Come.” It is the desire of her heart. When He is named in that character, she is longing for Him to come— not to be washed. The saints already had said, He has loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood. His first coming did that. He has done it all. And when, through grace, I am brought to look up to God, and trust Him as a poor sinner, I am brought into this place by the Holy Ghost come down from heaven, because righteousness has gone up on high. The Holy Ghost comes down and seals me, because I am made the righteousness of God in Christ. And now it is not merely the thought and feeling, I wish I were the bride, but there is the consciousness of the relationship, and I say to the Bridegroom, Come. The Spirit says it because the Spirit is down upon the earth. I have got the living water and the Spirit, but I have not got the Bridegroom. The Holy Ghost, having come down, and dwelling in believers, produces the certainty of the value of what Christ did and was down here, and the longing desire to see Him. We shall reign with Christ, but to be with Himself is better. James and John said, Give us a good place in the kingdom. But what does Paul say? “That I may win Christ.” I have had Christ revealed in me, and I want Him. It is not the uncertainty of there being relationship, but the affections that belong to the relationship.
“The Spirit and the bride say, Come.” We get the whole circle of the church’s affections. When the Spirit of God is working in the saints, what will be the first affection? Christ. The Spirit and the bride turn to Him and say, Come. What is the next affection? It is the saints. Therefore it turns and bids him that heareth say, Come. If you have heard Christ, you come and join the cry. Even if you have not the consciousness of relationship, would you not be happier if you saw Him as He is? Therefore say, Come. The first affection is towards Christ Himself; but the bride would have every saint to join in these affections, and in the desire to have the Bridegroom. But does it stop with those who have heard the voice of the Lord Jesus? No. The first effect of the Spirit’s turning our eye to Christ is the desire that Christ should come; and, next, that the saint who hears His voice should have the same affection. And what next? We turn round to those who may be athirst, bidding them come, and whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely.
The saint who has the sense of the blessedness of having drunk of the living water which Christ gives, wants others to have it also. What is a thirsty man? It is a man that has got a want and no answer to it. “He that cometh to me shall never hunger, and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.” I have an affection created in me by grace, but it is satisfied. I have got what my soul wants. I have got God in all His blessedness in love, and I have got Him nearer to me than human friend could be. I have known what it is to thirst, but now I am satisfied. I have got all that my soul longed after. But if there is a thirsty soul here, you will say, If I could only feel sure that I had got this living water! This shews that you have not drunk.
You cannot enjoy Christ without knowing it. If the Spirit of God quickens a soul, it will have wants that are not satisfied, but if it has gone and drunk of Christ, it will be satisfied. The church has not yet got the Bridegroom, but it has the water of life; and therefore it can say to the world, I have got what you want: you come and try. If you are thirsty, and only drink of that water, you will never thirst again. I have got Christ in my heart; and when you possess Him in your soul, it gives you the consciousness that you have got the very same happiness that there will be in heaven. You may know Christ better, and love Him better when you get there: there will not be the hindrances of the vile body; but it is not another God, another Christ, another Holy Ghost that you will have. All the things that will make me blessed in heaven, I have now. I may be inconsistent with Christ, groaning in this wretched body, because I have so little faith to see my place. I say, What a hut I am in! The reason I do not like the hut is because I know I have got a palace. I judge my present position because of the glory that is before me. But if you want to know what makes a Christian happy in life and death, it is that the Christ he has got now is the Christ that he will have in heaven. He has got his home there, where the One he loves and knows best is already.
But more than that, if we have this living water, and people do not even thirst, still I can say, “Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” I can tell them I was just as vile as they, and God came and called me in His grace, when I was going far astray from Him. So that now I can say to others, “Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” We have got this water, we have not got to buy it. We have this relationship to Christ, and the affections that flow from it, so that we turn to those that are athirst, bidding them welcome, yea, “Whosoever will, let him take,” etc.
Thus it is that I get the whole circle of the church’s affections, from Christ Himself, down to the poor sinner far from God, because I have the consciousness of the affections that are suited to Christ. The Christian is in this world in virtue of his salvation in Christ, a witness of the love that has saved himself. And then we have to seek, remembering that the life we have is a dependent life, that this witness should be bright; “always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.”
Only remark these two things—where we are brought in faith, with the Holy Ghost dwelling in us. I see that Christ has died to put away my sin: that is what I know, looking back. And, looking forward, I see that the same Holy Ghost, who gives to my soul to possess a certain knowledge of the value of Christ’s first coming, tells me that He is coming again. “The grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, etc… looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us.” He puts us back and shews us Christ, and forward and says, That is your Bridegroom; He is gone to prepare a place for you, and will come again for you.
If I look back at Christ made sin for me, and if I look forward to His coming again to receive us unto Himself, shall I be afraid of judgment when He comes? He positively declares that He will come and receive me to Himself. Is that the way I shall stand before His judgment-seat? Yes; He will come and fetch me, and receive me to Himself. And why? Because at His first coming He had settled the whole question of my sins. The person before whom I appear in judgment is the One who died already to put away sin and who is my righteousness before God; and it is as made like to His glorified body that we appear before Him.
I would ask you, Are your souls standing in this relationship with God in Christ? Do you believe that God in mercy has thus visited you in perfect love, and that now the place you are set in is that blessed relationship itself as the bride of Christ, who is waiting till He comes to receive her to Himself? Only remember that, if you desire the affections and the walk that belong to a Christian, you must have the consciousness of being in the relationship, or you cannot have the affections that belong to it. God has given us a salvation that brings us as saved persons into relationship with Christ. But in order to be consistent, I must know what I am to be consistent with. Do I expect you to be consistent with me as my servant, or as my child, if you are not standing in those relationships to me? If we are the bride of Christ, let us seek to be consistent therewith. But we must first be consciously in the place of relationship, and then seek, though it be amid suffering, to be consistent with it.
The Lord give us, by His living grace, to be brought into the consciousness of the place in which He has set us.