Reading in Colossians 1 (continued)

“Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and long-suffering with joyfulness.” Patience is a wonderful thing; and it is a great thing to have patience that does not give way. You must wait until God has worked things out in people’s souls. James insists upon it: “Let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” Not that that touches the perfection of the work of grace. People fancy they reach holiness by enfeebling the work of grace. They talk about being justified, and then made meet; but you will never find that in Scripture. There are plenty of scriptures about progress, but not one of them is connected with our being meet for the inheritance of the saints in light.

Ques. Do you distinguish between justification and being made meet?

Justification is more the clearing us from the old thing. There are two things in my acceptance, like as in the fifth and the eighth of Romans. Christ was delivered for our offences, that is one thing.

Ques. In Romans 4 you get the imputation of righteousness?

Yes; in Romans 4 that is used as the same thing with forgiving sins. “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus” is the eighth, and there I have a new thing—positive acceptance—I am fit for God in the life of Christ.

Ques. Then as to sanctification?

That depends; for we are sanctified to the blood of sprinkling, in 1 Peter 1. Whenever you get sanctifying and justifying put together, the sanctifying comes first, though that is very unorthodox.

But the clearing the believer from guilt, and the putting him in the positive place of acceptance, are two things. What is the measure of my acceptance? Is it only that my sins are put away?

Ques. What about “unto obedience” in 1 Peter 1?

The obedience of Christ is the character of our obedience. Suppose my child wanted to go into the town, and I said, “No, sit down and do your lesson,” and he does; it would be very nice and right; but Christ never obeyed in that way. The proper character of Christian obedience is that the motive for doing a thing is that it is God’s will.

Ques. Does not justification include the imputation of righteousness in itself?

It is the same thing. Justification gives me title to stand in the presence of God; but it does not tell me what I am when there. There is the fact that my sins are cleared away, but I also get the acceptance of Christ Himself. I find Him sitting now at the right hand of God, and I am brought to God in all His value.

Ques. But in Romans 5 the believer is justified by faith, and has peace with God, and rejoices as well in hope of the glory of God?

Yes; you find the favour of God is towards us, but you do not get our new place before God. In the eighth chapter you do get this, and it is connected with seeing you are not in the flesh at all. Then where are you? You are in Christ. Heaps of dear people do not know that. They say they are poor sinners, and the cross of Christ just suits them; but let them put themselves before the judgment-seat, and are they sure they are perfectly saved? No, they are not. But what if I am the righteousness of God!!

It is one thing to say, I am clear from my sins as a child of Adam, and quite another thing to say, I am accepted in Christ as a child of God.

None of us values the cross as it ought to be valued by us, but the more we look at the cross, the more we shall see that every question of good and evil has been brought to an issue there.

Man in absolute wickedness, hating God come in goodness as a Man among them. The devil is there in all his power, and the rest are rejoicing in getting rid of God come in Christ. Then in Christ there is perfect Man in perfect goodness, and in perfect love and obedience towards God also. “That the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do.” There, too, I see God in righteous judgment against sin, and nowhere else, but God in perfect goodness towards the sinner. What God is, and what man is, and what the devil is, all is alike brought out at the cross!

Then as to acceptance and judgment, when I am called to give an account of myself at the judgment-seat, I am perfectly like the Judge who is sitting upon it, raised in glory!! But you will find a great many dear souls who have no idea of this. Bad teaching, and carelessness too, and going on with the world, have their sure effect; and so all is dim.

Ques. Is it not peculiar here, when it says the Father has made us meet?

Well, it is Christ, of course, who wrought the work.

Ques. Did the Israelites of old know the new place?

How could they? The brazen altar was justification from sins; and on the great day of atonement the blood was carried in to where God was. Now, in every sense, we have a totally new place.

Adam innocent had nothing at all to do with a risen Man. We are accepted in a Christ risen and glorified; we are in Him. And you must condemn Christ glorified if you are to condemn the man who is in Him.

In Romans 8 you have three characters of the same Spirit: the Spirit of God, which is in contrast with that which is of man; the Spirit of Christ, that is, as formative of what Christ was, and in whose power Christ acted and offered Himself to God; and then the Spirit of Him that raised up Christ from the dead, which includes the ultimate deliverance of the body itself.

Ques. It says in i Corinthians 2, “we have the mind of Christ.” Is that the same thing?

No; that is another thing altogether.

As to fitness, the thief was as fit to go to paradise as Christ. He went; well, but he had no time to get ready.

Ques. Is it the inheritance, or the saints, in the light?

Both are in the light. And the man that is fit, is fit for that light. There is this also now, that we walk in the light as God is in the light.

Ques. Is it saints in glory?

Yes; it goes on to that.

Ques. What is “darkness”?

The absence of the knowledge of God, and, as to that, it is not possible for any Christian to be in darkness.

As I get Christ, I get light. God is light, and if I know Him, I am not in darkness.

I could not be before God except through Christ; but He has let the light out, and has also put away my sins so that I should be as white as snow. In answer to Christ’s work, the vail was rent from top to bottom, but the rending of the vail has put me in the place of the light. I find love, too, as well as light. All God’s love is exercised in forgiving me, and I get also a position and standing before Him in Christ.

Ques. Is there not a difference between redemption and forgiveness of sins?

They are the same thing here; elsewhere, redemption may include the body, but not here.

Ques. Does not redemption imply the deliverance from the state in which I was?

Yes, in its full sense it does, but not here.

Ques. “Meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light.” Is that the Red Sea, or Jordan?

I should say it was the Red Sea, although in reality the Red Sea and Jordan coalesce.

In the Red Sea I get Christ’s death and resurrection, and in this sense all is complete; but in Jordan I get my death and resurrection with Christ, and then you find the experimental sense of things, and also Gilgal.

Colossians is not quite in the land; it is a kind of in-between thing. Ephesians views a man dead in his sins, and then there is a new creation, quickened together with Christ.

Ques. In Colossians 2:11, is that circumcision after being in the land?

Yes; you are over Jordan, but without being seated in the heavenly places. In Ephesians we are; not of course with Christ, but in Him.

In Ephesians it is gross sins, and the highest privileges.

In Colossians, every part of the life of the Christian is developed. Verses 9, 10, and 11 give the foundation. Then follows the unfolding of the greatness and the glory of Christ, through whom we get all this. He is before all things, and by Him all things consist.

Ques. In what sense is God spoken of as invisible?

He dwells in the light unapproachable.

Ques. Will that be God Himself, or only in Christ?

In Christ is not there. I do not believe a creature can see God in His essence. But it is said that the pure in heart shall see God, and “in heaven … angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.”

Ques. How, then, do we see Him, if not in His essence?

I cannot tell you; but I am not going to be in my Father’s house, and have nothing to say to Him.

Ques. If God ceased to be invisible, would not Christ cease to be His image?

Yes, of course; we should not want Him then.

You never could separate the Son from the Father, nor the Father from the Son, whatever we may see. You must distinguish between abstract names which speak of a Being, and names which express relationships.

Ques. What of the “glory of God, in the face of Jesus Christ” in 2 Corinthians 4?

It is seen there now, and it will still be. The Lord was the One who expressed this on earth, and He has not ceased to do so in heaven. He is God, and if I see Him, I see God.

Rem. “I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.”

The Lamb is a distinct object; and it was so when Stephen saw Him at the right hand of God.

But the Father was revealed in Christ, in His life here below. That is not the same thing as here in Colossians; that would confound the Father and God. There is all the difference between my speaking of someone as a man, and my speaking of him as my father. So you might see clouds and lightnings on Mount Sinai, but not the Father. John says, “If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him”; it is not the love of God there, but the love of the Father, because He has a new creation now.

Ques. “I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God.” What is that?

Well, just so; but it does not speak of seeing or not.

Ques. What is the force of James saying “likeness,” and not “image”?

No particular force that I know of.

We know the Lord as the Word, and as Christ, and as Man.

Ques. How was Adam made in the likeness of God?

There was no sin in him, and death had no power over him; and other things, too; he was a centre, and everything around him was subject to him. An angel was not made a centre of anything. Although there was no evil in Adam, he was liable to fall, of course.

The reason the Firstborn takes this place is that He created all things, they were created by Him and for Him.

Ques. “Before all things”; was this as to time?

Not merely, I think, but as having pre-eminence. As John says, “He is preferred before me, for he was before me.”

Then everything consists by Him. People talk about general laws, but I do not admit any general law without constant power exercised.

God has blown on general laws in connection with Christian faith, for resurrection is certainly no general law. Christianity is based on resurrection, yet certainly resurrection is not the natural consequence of death. The general way in nature is all well, but Christianity is not nature. So science can neither explain nor contradict Christianity.

Then there is a second headship, that of the body. And another new thing: He created everything, and then went down into death, which is below everything. “A living dog is better than a dead lion.” The first man went into death by disobedience, but the Second Man went into death in obedience. He could not be holden of it, and He rises up out of it. So the Second Man has passed death; passed sin; passed judgment; passed the power of Satan. He is a Man beyond it all. And we know Him thus, besides knowing the work of atonement. It is not like the first man, put to the test to see if he could glorify God or not, but Christ has been placed in the glory where He now is, after having glorified God, for His obedience was perfect.

God has been glorified, in His love, and majesty, and truth, and everything. This having been done, all now stands upon what is finished. As a Man, too, Christ is now Head of everything. “In him all the fulness of the Godhead was pleased to dwell”; (‘Father’ is in italics in the A. V.). He takes the first place because He has a title to it.

Ques. How is He the beginning?

Absolutely; He is the beginning of the whole thing.

Ques. It says, “head of every man” in Corinthians?

Yes, that is just the statement of the fart, as a question of order, but it does not go on to say there, why or how.

Ques. In Hebrews 1 it says, “When he bringeth in the first-begotten into the world.” When is that?


Ques. Is it “again”?

Well, not again, I think.

Ques. Is there then no reference to Bethlehem, when it is said that the angels worship Him?

No; I don’t think so.

Then follows another very precious thing: “And you… hath he reconciled.” Not only I have forgiveness, and am made fit for God, and have been translated into the kingdom of the Son of His love, but also I am reconciled to God Himself.

All is sovereign love in Christ, and therefore the Apostle says, “We love him, because he first loved us”; but we do love Him.

If I realise what is in that passage, first, that God sent His Son the propitiation for our sins; next, that God dwells in me (which is by the Holy Ghost); and then, what about the day of judgment? “We… have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.” I enter into His love; I enjoy it in my heart; and, when I think of judgment, I know I am already as He Himself is.

Ques. Why does it say, “in this world”?

Because I am in it now; I do not wait for the day of judgment to know this.

Reconciliation here means and involves relationship as well as forgiveness. I am quickened together with Him; and body and all are to be raised up. My life is up there in heaven, and my body is down here. I am identified with heaven, in a certain sense, while at the same time I am identified, in fact, with the old creation.

Ques. What does reconciliation mean as applied to sins and the world?

That every thing is brought into order before God.

Ques. How are things out of order now?

Why did the angel, in Daniel, stay three weeks on the road, when he had given him an answer to take? You do not call that in order, do you?

Ques. When it says, “the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these,” what is that?

In the tabernacle you have God’s throne where nobody went; then the other place where the priest went to the altar of incense, and so on. These figured the heavens; but Christ has passed through the heavens, and is sitting at the right hand of God. The reconciliation will be made good, and every knee shall bow to Christ, to His power and authority.

Ques. But not until after the millennium?

Not finally and fully, but as to the heavens, it will be so when Satan is cast out. Luke says, when Christ rides into Jerusalem, “Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest.” Until you get peace in heaven, Christ cannot ride in; but when peace is in heaven, you cannot hinder it.

Ques. What is the difference between “made peace,” and “you… hath he reconciled”?

He made the peace, by Him to reconcile.

There are two things, the abstract and absolute. When God sees the blood of Christ, He sees the victory which that death is over sin and Satan; but the full effect of it is not yet produced; it has to be wrought out.

Ques. Why, “in the body of his flesh”?

It was in the death of His body on the cross. His body connected Him with the creation, and made Him a responsible Man. People think of reconciliation as only something done in their own minds. Here, it is reconciling things in heaven and things on earth.

Ques. They talk of universal reconciliation?

That denies atonement; both annihilationism and universalism deny atonement entirely.

It is the state of things in heaven and earth that is referred to. Afterwards, angels will no longer be bothered and hindered by devils.

Ques. Is reconciliation, then, the state produced corresponding to the work by which the peace has been made?

Well, yes.

Ques. But surely it is persons?

Yes, of course, it includes them. “You … hath he reconciled.”

Then comes, “if ye continue in the faith,” etc.

Clearly, they are not sitting in heavenly places in Christ. If now you give up Christ, you won’t get to heaven. We are kept by the power of God, but then we are kept because we are in danger.

Ques. But a good Wesleyan would say, You may fall away?

As a professor, I am liable to fall away, but I have the positive certainty that I never shall.

Ques. What, then, is the use and force of the liability?

To make me feel my dependence every minute on Him who keeps me. I do not want to weaken one atom these “ifs.”

Ques. What does “castaway” mean?

Castaway means castaway. The thing Paul is there insisting on is, that I may preach to other people, and be a castaway myself.

I believe that “anon with joy receiving it” is a very bad sign, if people have not been exercised before.

In Hebrews, you never get people falling into sin, except it is finally, fatally; there is no restoring. Esau found no place of repentance, though he sought it, i.e., the blessing, carefully with tears.

Ques. In Hebrews 6 we read, “crucify to themselves the Son of God.” What is that?

The nation had already done it, but now if any still reject Him, they crucify Him again for themselves.

Ques. Will the sin against the Holy Ghost be a sin in the latter day?

I do not doubt it will be so, but still it was a sin in that day.

Ques. Could you take the gospel to a man who has given up Christianity?

You might; it might be a case of a man met and overcome by a cleverer man. One that has rejected Christ, as a man in humiliation, may be reached by knowing Him as a glorified Christ; but if he rejects that, there is nothing left.

God will keep to the end the one that is His own; but a man may make all sorts of profession, and he may even get his affections moved, without being converted.

To the Jews, Christ will be the crown of glory, but to us, He is the hope of glory now.

Ques. Does “perfect” here (v. 28) look on to the glory?

Here, he is looking at holiness; it is Christ revealed in my soul as the power of sanctification.