Christ In Heaven, And The Holy Spirit Sent Down

Acts 2:22-36

This passage brings very definitely before us (Christ having been exalted as man by, and to, the right hand of God) how consequently the disciples received the Holy Ghost on the day of Pentecost. This runs through all the instruction given here. The place of Christ, having finished redemption, is to sit now at the right hand of God, “expecting till his enemies be made his footstool,” Heb. 10:13. He has not yet taken His own throne at all; He is seated on the Father’s throne. “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne,” Rev. 3:21. Thence He will “come again,” as He says in John 14, and receive us unto Himself.

Christianity is not the accomplishment of promise. Of the earthly part the Jews were the centre. But God meanwhile “hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ”; and then, till Christ comes again, He is sitting on the throne of the Father, and has sent the Holy Ghost down.

The Christian is one in whom the Holy Ghost dwells between the accomplishment of redemption and His coming again. The thought and purpose of God about us is that we should “be conformed to the image of his Son.” The Holy Ghost is given to dwell in us meanwhile, to dwell in us individually— collectively too, but I speak now individually. That is what the Christian is: Christ is his life, his righteousness: it is a ministration of righteousness and of the Spirit. “If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his” (Rom. 8:9); it does not say, “If he is not converted,” though that would be true, of course. You see so many saints everywhere who are not settled in their relationship with God; the present power for this is the Holy Ghost come down.

The coming of the Lord Jesus is not simply a little bit of knowledge which we may add to the rest, but it is the hope of the Christian. If we die we go to Him, but what is held out to us is that the Christian is waiting for Christ. “So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many, and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation,” Heb. 9:28. If we die we go up to Him, and blessed truth it is too; but that Christ shall come, this is the hope of the Christian, the only full hope. “To depart and to be with Christ which is far better,” true this is not the purpose of God for us; the purpose of God is that we shall be like Christ. I do not want to be like Christ with my body in the grave, and my spirit in paradise: the expectation of the Lord’s coming makes the person of Christ to be so much before the soul. I am going to see Him and to be like Him. Scripture does not talk of going to heaven; “Absent from the body, present with the Lord,” 2 Cor. 5:8. “To depart and be with Christ which is far better” (Phil. 1:23), always the thought is going to Christ. That is what we all want personally, that Christ should have a larger place in the heart: “Rooted and built up in him”; “To know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge.” “Christ is all,” and He is “in all “as the power of life; having become our life, He is before our souls to fill them.

Christ is the motive for the Christian for whatever he does, whether he eats or drinks; and his desires are never satisfied, and never can be, till he be with and like Christ. Therefore he is always waiting for Him. The Thessalonians were converted “to wait for his Son from heaven,” 1 Thess. 1:10. The coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, instead of being a little bit of prophetic knowledge, is interwoven with all the thoughts and condition of the Christian. Grace has appeared teaching us (Titus 2:11, 12), and the grace that has appeared is the grace that saves. When the Lord went up on high the Holy Ghost came down, and through the Holy Ghost we have not only the knowledge but the fruits of the place He has given us. The seal of the Holy Ghost is put upon us: the presence of the Holy Ghost is that which gives the full knowledge of our place and blessedness. Redemption, which brings us to God, is finished; we are exercised afterwards—all that goes on, but our relationship is never in question. I believe the government of God is most important when we are children; “He with-draweth not his eyes from the righteous,” Job 36:7. This is most important and blessed in its place; but the great thing is first of all to get into the place where God has put us.

The very names of God go along with this. To the patriarchs He was “God Almighty,” when they were strangers and pilgrims; to Abraham He said, “I am thy shield, and thine exceeding great reward” (Gen. 15); to Israel He had given promises, and He takes the name of Jehovah, the name of One who, having given promises, never rests until they are fulfilled. Then in the Revelation He speaks of Himself as the One “who is, and who was, and who is to come,” Rev. 1:8. All that was concerned in a certain sense with this world; but it is not so with us. We are called to suffer with Christ, because Christ has been rejected, and this with the full knowledge of redemption. “And I have declared unto them thy name and will declare it, that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them,” John 17:26. God has another name, “Most High.” You never find the name “Father” from Psalm 1 to 150. “And this is life eternal that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent,” John 17:3. “Life and incorruptibility” have been brought “to light through the gospel,” 2 Tim. 1:10. The name “Almighty” does not carry eternal life. “Jehovah” fulfils promises, but does not give eternal life, but the Father sent the Son, “that we might live through him,” 1 John 4:9. “For the life was manifested and we have it, and bear witness and shew unto you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested unto us,” 1 John 1:2. “And this is the record that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in the Son,” 1 John 5:11. When we receive the Son, we get into the place of children; it is the force of the expression in John’s Gospel. “But as many as received him to them gave he right to be called children of God,” John 1:12. The Son is there, and we are associated with Him completely and fully. In Matthew 3 the Holy Ghost comes down upon Him, and the Father’s voice says, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” There the full revelation of the Trinity is Christianity: we have the Son as man, the Holy Ghost coming down in bodily shape like a dove, and the Father’s voice, in that wondrous scene of Christ taking His place publicly as man. “I saw and bare record that this is the Son of God,” John 1:34. The Old Testament saints were quickened surely; but if you take Galatians 4, you find they were not in the condition of sons. “The heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all,” chap. 4:1. “And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father” (v. 6). That had not been the case before; they were ordered to do this and that under the law.

“Verily, verily I say unto you, except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone, but if it die it bringeth forth much fruit,” John 12:24. He was totally alone, a true man in His relationship with God; even when He declared His Father’s name to His disciples, they did not understand a bit of it. Then you see redemption brings us into this place.

Let me turn back to the basis of all this. Here am I a child of Adam, with an evil nature and sins; Christ bore my sins, and that is all perfectly settled for ever—if it is not, it never can be; but it is “once for all, for ever”; there is no other application as regards the putting away of my sins in God’s sight. He does not impute them for the simple blessed reason that Christ has borne them, and He is sitting at the right hand of God, because it is done. Many a true honest soul sees only past sins put away, but what about sinning afterwards? Go to Calvin, and he will send you back to your baptism, while the evangelicals go back to the blood. “For the law, having a shadow of good things to come… can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect,” Heb. 10:1. “In which were offered both gifts and sacrifices that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience,” Heb. 9:9. If I go into God’s presence, I have not the most distant thought that He imputes anything to me as guilt: that is what is wanting to so many souls. “Because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins,” Heb. 10:2. He does not say sin: the old stock is there. “But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year,” Heb. 10:3. I go into the presence of God now, and I see Christ sitting, because by one offering He has settled everything. “And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices which can never take away sins; but this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins, for ever sat down on the right hand of God, from henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool,” Heb. 10:11-13. He sits at God’s right hand, because He has finished that work perfectly. “For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified” (v. 14). He has set them apart to God, and He has perfected for ever their consciences.

“The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing,” Heb. 9:8. Now we have “boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus.” The thing is done; it was prophesied of before, but now it is done. “For ever” here means never interrupted. If I come to God, Christ is always there, and my conscience is always perfect. I may go and humble myself in the dust if I have dishonoured Christ: it is in the holiest that I learn how bad sin is. I could not be before God in the light until the veil was rent, but “by one offering “Christ has perfected my conscience. When I go to God I find Christ, who bore my sins, sitting at the right hand of God because He has done it. This will make me see sin a great deal more than anything else. I have got a new nature, and I am in the light as God is m the light.

This turns the question from righteousness to holiness. So long as I am connecting it with a question of acceptance, it is righteousness that I want: suppose righteousness is settled, then I abhor the sin because it is sin, for itself. “Well but,” you say, “without holiness, no man shall see the Lord.” That is quite true, but you are looking for righteousness, not holiness. The clearance in that way is absolute; but there is another thing which gives my soul its place before God. Not only Christ died for my sins, but I died with Christ; the tree is bad, not only the fruit: then I reckon myself dead. In the first part of Romans we get nothing about experience. Suppose I owed £100 and that it was paid for me, no experience would be in question; but suppose I say to you, “You are dead to sin,” perhaps you would say, “Indeed I am not, it was working in me this morning.” Till you are clear about that, you are not settled in your place. The old tree has been cut down, and grafted with Christ. In Romans 6 I reckon myself dead: “Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin” (chap. 6:11); in Colossians 3:3 we get, “For ye are dead”; and in 2 Corinthians 4:10, “Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus.” We find God’s estimate and faith’s estimate; and in Galatians 2:19 we have the summary of the whole thing, “For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God.” When I find a nature working in me contrary to Christ, I say it has been crucified with Christ, and I do not own it. “What the law could not do … God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh,” Rom. 8. He has forgiven the sins and condemned the tree that produced them, but the tree that was condemned has died in Christ.

I have to learn thus, by the power of the Spirit of God, not merely that what the old tree produced has been blotted out, but that Christ is my life; “ I am crucified with Christ,” and sin in the flesh has been condemned. Where? Where you died with Christ: when Christ was there for sin, sin in the flesh was condemned, not forgiven; it died, for faith, where it was condemned. “O wretched. man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord,” Rom. 7:24, 25. Looked at as in that old man, I died in Christ. The moment we believe in the work of the Lord Jesus Christ, then we get the sealing of God. Because the blood of Christ is upon me, then the Holy Ghost comes and dwells in me. They received the Holy Ghost on believing the forgiveness of their sins. In Acts 10 we find the same thing: faith received the forgiveness of their sins in the work of the Lord Jesus Christ, and then the Holy Ghost came on them. As in the figure in the Old Testament, we are washed, sprinkled with blood, and then anointed with oil. The Holy Ghost comes, then I know where I am, that my standing is in Christ: “There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus,” Rom. 8:1. “In Christ” is my standing before God; the Holy Ghost is the present power of it all; the work is Christ’s.

I get the other point, knowledge of salvation, and knowledge that I am not a child of Adam but a child of God. “To give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins,” Luke 1:77. “Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world. The same is he which baptiseth with the Holy Ghost,” John 1:29, 33. He could not baptise with the Holy Ghost till He had died, and was risen and glorified. I know the place I have got into: the treasure is in an earthen vessel, but I have got the knowledge of salvation. “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty,” 2 Cor. 3:17. It is that which enables me to say with truth, “I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live.” There I get first the accomplishment of redemption; and Christ sitting on His right hand; and the purpose of God, as the blood on the lintel and door-posts made the Israelites free, and they were brought from Egypt to the Red Sea, out of an old place into a new, so that Moses could sing, “Thou hast guided them in thy strength unto thy holy habitation,” Exod. 15:18. “Thou shalt bring them in” (v. 17). I get these two things, complete redemption is one; the other I have not got yet; Christ has entered as our Forerunner, I have not entered yet, but the Holy Ghost is “the earnest of the inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession.” Christ “endured the cross, and despised the shame,” and He is set down as man at the right hand of God. We rejoice in hope of the glory of God. “Therefore being justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand,” Rom. 5:1, 2. I know by the Holy Ghost that I am in divine favour. We have these three things.

1. We are justified, and have peace with God.

2. We stand in present grace, in divine favour.

3. When Christ comes again, we shall be in glory with Him. “That the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them as thou hast loved me,” John 17:23. It is “That the world may know” not believe: this ought to be now, but it is very far from it. When it sees us in glory, it cannot help knowing; when we appear in the same glory with Christ, people will think, “Why these people that we trampled under foot are in the same glory with Christ!” We do not wait for that: the world will know when we are in the same glory with Christ, but now we know by the Holy Ghost, “That the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them and I in them,” John 17:24. Beloved friends, just think of that: your hearts ought to have the consciousness that He loved you as He loved Jesus! A child might say, “I am a foolish child, I think little about my mother”; but he has no uncertainty about his mother’s love to him. We never apprehend all God’s love to us; still we know we are children and sons. It is no uncertain place: I know I am loved as Christ is loved; we have poor wretched hearts, that is quite true. A true child does not measure its mother’s love; I am sure it could not, but it knows and is in it.

We have got “the adoption of sons.” “Because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying Abba Father.” I have got the consciousness of it; I know my place. We know God as our Father. The soul that has the Spirit of God dwelling in him knows not only the clearing of the sins of the old man, but that he is in the second Man, and knowing it, he cries, “Abba, Father.” “For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified, are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren,” Heb. 2:11. They are “all of one,” one set, as it were. What is my life? Christ. What is my righteousness? Christ. He is not one with the unconverted world; there is no union in incarnation. He stood for us in the cross, but He has united us with Him in glory. If I take the Father’s relationship with Christ as man, He is not ashamed to call us brethren. In Psalm 22 He says, “Thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns. I will declare thy name unto my brethren.” His work was finished: as soon as that was done, He comes out in resurrection, past the power of death and of Satan, and He sends this message to His disciples: “I ascend unto my Father and your Father: and to my God and your God,” John 20:17. He had never said that before, though He called them “sister” and “mother” and “brother” in a general way. Beloved brethren, what we want is to see how Christ has united us to Himself, to see the way God has brought us into the place of the second Man, as sin brought us into the place of the first man. One point more, our connection with Christ: “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter.” “At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you.” Ah, it is a terrible thing that saints are so far from scriptural ground as to say we cannot know! We are in Christ, “accepted in the Beloved,” and we have the Spirit of adoption. One thing more, besides the point I am on: Christ is in us. You cannot live on in sin, you are dead; that is where the Christian’s responsibility is, not in connection with his acceptance (“By one man’s obedience many shall be made righteous”). I know He is in me, having bought me at all cost, and there I see responsibility. I get the two things in Romans 8. “No condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus,” and “If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” You have been delivered, you have redemption in Christ, and you have been sealed with the Holy Ghost. I own nothing as life in the Christian but Christ: the whole of our lives should be the expression of Christ and nothing else, our “speech always with grace, seasoned with salt.” Only one other thing, beloved friends; God is love, and the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts: therefore we get in the Epistle of John, “He that dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God, and God in him.” We have the Person of the Holy Ghost dwelling in us, so our bodies are temples: God is there in the perfection of His own nature; we have to watch not to grieve such a guest. It is through the Holy Ghost that the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts; that is the key to everything. “And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also” (Rom. 5:3); it is the key to everything; I want it, and He sent it. Christ is sitting at the right hand of God, and the Holy Ghost comes down giving us the consciousness of the present relationship in which we are to walk.

“Be ye therefore imitators of God as dear children,” Eph. 5:17. How are we to imitate God? Was not Christ God? I earnestly desire that all our hearts may get hold, through the power of the Spirit of God, of the place we are brought into, that we may have the consciousness of this, the knowledge of it through the Holy Ghost until we go to be with Him. The Lord give you to have this consciousness. Why, beloved, to think of the Father’s love at work, and the Son of God having gone down to death for you, it is not much to expect!

The Lord give us to feel what we owe Him, that our whole desire may be to glorify Him.