Because Ye Belong To Christ

Turn with me to the Gospel according to Mark, chap. 9. Read from verse 33 to 42. The subject announced for this meeting is taken from verse 41—“Because ye belong to Christ.” And I would at the outset inquire, What is the force of this word? What is included in this “belonging to Christ?” I would like you to look at it from three points of view. The first is, that ail who are Christ’s belong to Him as the gift of the Father; the second is that they belong to Him as the purchase of His blood; and the third is that they belong to Him, as the members of His Body, through the operation of the Holy Spirit. So that the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit have all co-operated in bringing about this result that we belong to Christ.

Now, will you look at the seventeenth chapter of the Gospel by John, the second verse —“As Thou hast given Him power over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as Thou hast given Him.” Then 6th verse— “I have manifested Thy Name unto the men which Thou gavest Me out of the world; Thine they were, and Thou gavest them Me.” 9th verse—“I pray for them; I pray not for the world, but for them which Thou hast given Me; for they are Thine.” 11th verse, middle of the verse—“Holy Father, keep through Thine own Name those whom Thou hast given Me.” 24th verse— “Father, I will that they also whom Thou hast given Me be with Me where I am.” Seven times in this chapter the Lord’s people are called “those whom the Father has given Him.”

Now look at the sixth chapter of the Gospel of John. Verse 37—“All that the Father giveth Me shall come to Me; and him that cometh unto Me I will in no wise cast out. For I came down from Heaven not to do Mine own will, but the will of Him that sent Me. And this is the Father’s will which hath sent Me, that of all which He hath given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of Him that sent Me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on Him, may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”

Here, again, we have the same aspect of the truth. All those who came to Christ, those who saw the Son, and believed on Him, are those whom the Father has given to Him. And note that remarkable word—“Him that cometh to Me, I will in no wise cast out.” It is usually brought before an unsaved person or an anxious soul, to encourage them to trust Christ; and it is blessed to use it so, but I think there is more than that in it here. Mark the force of the previous word—“All that the Father giveth Me shall come to Me.” That is His confidence, His assurance. It seemed as if He was to be totally rejected; it seemed as if no one was going to come to Him, but His confidence is this—“All that the Father giveth Me shall come to Me;” and whenever He saw a poor sinner coming to Him, believing on Him, it mattered not whether they were high or low; whether it was Nicodemus coming by night, or the poor, wretched sinner that came behind His feet, washing them with her tears, He saw in each of these one that the Father had given Him; and when they came to Him He would in no wise cast them out; or rather, He would “in no wise surrender” or “give up.” He could not give up, He could not surrender, He could not cast out, one that His own Father had given Him, given Him from eternity, given Him from before the foundation of the world, given Him in the bond of the Eternal Covenant. How could He cast them out? “Nay,” He says, “for I came down from Heaven not to do My own will, but the will of My Father.”

He came, not to make an election for Himself, but to receive the election of His Father. He came not to pick and choose for Himself, but to receive every one that the Father gave Him.

“Him that cometh unto Me, I will in no wise cast out,” is a blessed verse to give to a convicted sinner, but it is also a blessed verse for one that has come and trusted, for it tells that He will never give you up. Why? If He failed to bring those who have believed on Him to His eternal glory, He would fail to accomplish the Father’s will. “This is the Father’s will which hath sent Me, that of all which He has given Me I should lose nothing (not even a hair of their head), but should raise it up again at the last day.” But, in order to accomplish this, it behoved Him to go down to the very depths of the waves and billows of the wrath of God, and bear the curse on Calvary. “Having loved His own, who were in the world, He loved them to the end.” He loved them till He could say, “It is finished;” and He will love them until He has them in His own image, made glorious for ever, and has presented them to the Father as the fruit of His own obedience unto death.

Now I want to impress upon you this thought, that the Lord Jesus Christ ever looked upon each one who came to Him, and believed in Him, and ever does look upon such, and looks upon every one here this afternoon who has believed on Him, as one “whom the Father has given Him.”

Now, I ask, How do we value a gift? We value a gift just according to the love we bear to the giver. We will not set much value on a gift from a person we do not care for. But if it is some one that I love very much that has given me a gift, it may be a very little thing, a mere trifle, but I will set a very high value upon it. I have one or two little things in a drawer at home, that were given to me on certain occasions by my little children—little things that they had worked at and tried hard to make, keeping it a secret while they were doing it, and then, when the time came, they gave it to me. Well, they are not worth a farthing, but I value them according to the love I bear to the little ones that gave them to me, and that is the measure by which we value a gift. Now, how will the Lord Jesus Christ value those whom the Father has given Him— the Father in whose bosom He dwelt from eternity—the Father whose love He knew? Why, when He wants to convey the thought of how the Father loves me, loves you, He says, “He loves you as He loves Me.” The blessed Lord Jesus Christ could say nothing more than that. O, the Father’s love to Him! It was infinite love, and He knew it; and according to that love of the Father to Him, and that love that He bore to the Father, and which He proved by obedience unto death— according to that love He values “those whom the Father has given Him.” Now that is the first sense in which we belong to Christ. We belong to Him as the gift of the Father.

Let us now look at the second sense. Turn to Matthew, chapter 13, 45th verse— “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchantman seeking goodly pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.”

Now, will you turn to the first epistle of Peter, chapter 1, 18th verse—“Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation, received by tradition from your fathers; but with the precious Blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” “Ye are not your own; ye are bought with a price” (1 Cor. 6:19, 20).

When a thing is given to us we value it according to the love we bear to the person that gave it; but, when we buy a thing, we value it according to the price we pay for it. If I paid a very big price for it, then I set a very high value on it. What value does our Lord set upon those He has bought? He has bought us with the price of His own most precious Blood. The Church is the pearl that He sold all that He had to buy. He parted with everything, parted with His glory, parted with His kingdom and with His royal claims for the time being; laid down His life on Calvary’s Cross; He was cut off, and He had nothing! Who was so poor as He—Who, though He was rich, yet for our sakes became poor? He sold all that He had, that He might buy us—the pearl. Then, what a value does He set upon those that He has purchased with His own Blood—those that were the Father’s gift to Him! But before He could secure them for Himself, eternally to lavish all the treasures of His love upon them, He must first cancel their debt, clear them of guilt, set them down blood-washed and sanctified in the presence of God. He had to “bear their sins in His own body on the tree;” and yet such is the love He bare to us that He paid down His own life’s blood on the Cross of Calvary, in order to win us and purify us unto Himself. O, what will He not give? “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

Who has loved us to the laying down of his life? Do you know any friend that you could say of him—” I know that, if I were in trouble, he would spend his last penny for me?” I don’t think you know anybody you could say that about. Do you know of any one of whom you could say—“I know that, if it was to do me good, he would lay down his life for me?” That friend is the Lord Jesus Christ. “He loved me, He gave Himself for me,” said the Apostle Paul; and it is your privilege, and it is my privilege, thus to know that the Lord Jesus has loved us personally—not in the slump, but personally and individually; that He does at this moment love you and me with the same love that was burning in His heart when He went for us to the dark Cross of Calvary. That is the eternal, unchangeable love of Christ.

Now, let us look at another aspect of it. Turn to the first epistle to the Corinthians, chap, 12, from the 11th verse—“But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as He will.” Now, I want you to notice that this passage concerns the operation of the Holy Spirit. We have been looking at the gift of the Father, and at the purchase price paid by the Son, and now we look at the operation of the Holy Spirit.

12th verse—“For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptised into one body; whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.”

27th verse—“Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.”

Now, look at chapter6:of this same epistle, at the 15th verse — “Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ?”

19th verse—“What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price.” Now, I don’t intend to multiply passages; they are very numerous. These teach us that everyone who has believed, everyone whom the Father hath given Him, everyone included in that covenant, sealed by His own precious blood, is constituted by the operation of the Holy Spirit a member of the Body of Christ. The body would be incomplete without the smallest member. Cut off my little finger; it is an incomplete body. The Body of Christ is to be eternally complete. There will not be one member lacking, and this is the operation of the Holy Spirit. It is the mighty power of God that links the believer in a vital union with the Head—Christ Jesus—so that he continually regards His people as Himself. As we read in Ephesians 5, “No man ever yet hated his own flesh, but nourisheth it and cherisheth it even as the Lord the Church.” So that He looks upon the members of His Body just as I look upon the members of my body, and I nourish them, and I care for them, and defend them, and clothe them, and keep them warm. Why? Just because they are a part of myself; and don’t you see what folly it would be for you to say that you love, and honour, and esteem my head, and yet, forsooth, you think nothing of tramping upon my toe, as if that were not a part of myself. Don’t you see how absurd it is? We recognise that the head and the members are one, and, what is more, the head feels everything that is done to every member. In fact, it is one of the discoveries of modern science that all sensation is located in the head. Every touch is communicated from the farthest extremity to the head, it is the head that feels everything, and if one member of the body is paralysed, so that it does not feel, what is the cause of that? It is generally traceable to some defect in the brain. Everything we feel is felt by the head. All the care that is bestowed upon the body is devised by the head. When the hand goes quickly to the help of any other part of the body which is hurt, it is directed to go by the head, and if the communication between the head and the arm is not in proper working order, then the arm is a paralysed arm, and it does not obey the will of the head. Now, all this is just a spiritual allegory, an illustration divinely constructed to show us the intimate relationship between every believer and the Christ that is at God’s right hand. Now, this is a great fact, and another truth flows out of that which is very often forgotten. You will get it in Ephes. 4:25. Now, mark, it is not, “Let every man speak truth with his neighbour, because it is a sin to tell a lie.” That is true, but not what is here. It is, “Let every man speak truth with his neighbour, for what is the good of deceiving one who is a member of the same body.” What is the use of my right hand deceiving my left? What an absurd thing! Why, dear friends, if you and I looked upon one another who are believers in the Lord Jesus Christ as “members one of another,” then we would just feel one for another as one member of my body feels for another, and one member of my body will be very slow to injure another; indeed, not if I can prevent it. Ah! have we not practically denied this truth, that by being members of Christ we are members one of another? We dare not speak an evil word of a child of God; we dare not hurt a child of God; we dare only seek their blessing; we dare only seek to do them good, if we realise the truth that is here, that being members of Christ we are members one of another. And, dear friends, how plain it is that this pertains to no sect. Sects—what are they? Man sees many bodies. God sees only one. Man has them divided up into sections. Christ knows only one. The Father knows only one. The Holy Ghost knows only one. Members of Christ, and members one of another. “That they all may be one, that the world might believe that Thou hast sent Me,” was His prayer, and if all God’s saints were one, one in the mighty love of God, one in recognition of this truth, that we are one with Christ, joint-heirs with Christ, sharers of His sufferings here, and sharers of His glory to come, O what a change it would make in the aspect of the Church as presented to the world. There is not one unconverted professor in that body—not one— not one who has not been born again and washed in the precious blood of Christ; but every one—every one of those members that were written in God’s book from eternity, every one is in that body—every one are members one of another. Dear friends, our business is every hour of the day, as we come in contact with God’s children, to give the lie to sectarianism, and make it felt by love that we are one in Christ—a love that dare not speak evil, that dare not do harm to one that belongs to Christ, a love that will respect, and cherish, and seek to bless them because they belong to Christ.

Let us turn again to Mark 9:33-42, the passage we have read. There are two things prominent in the character of the Lord Jesus, viz., love and lowliness. On the only occasion on which He describes His own heart He says—“I am meek and lowly in heart.” One of the words that the Lord Jesus frequently repeated was—“He that humbleth himself shall be exalted.” The one thing that is common to mankind is pride. It is the very nature of the flesh. Pride—personal pride, party pride, purse pride. Antichrist is the man that “exalteth himself above all that is called God.” He will be just the full development of the old corrupt Adam nature. What is the Lord Jesus Christ? The One that “humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the Cross.” Now, which are you and I the likest? Do you and I, in our daily life and character, most resemble Christ or antichrist? Are we most concerned about exalting self or abasing self? The true path to exaltation is self-abasement.

What were those disciples disputing about by the way? There is a word in the book of Proverbs that we are apt to forget: “Only by pride cometh contention.” There never yet was dissension amongst saints that the root of it was not pride. There is pride lurking in some corner, if you can only find it out. The Lord Jesus knew all about it, and how it was withering their spiritual life; and so, when they came into the house, He asked, “What was it that ye disputed among yourselves by the way?” He always put questions that just brought out the very thing that was needed. “But they held their peace,” or held down their heads. Perhaps they got red up to the ears. Oh, they were ashamed that the Master—the lowly Master—should know that they had been degrading themselves by disputing about who should be the greatest.

Has the Lord Jesus Christ ever seen us, perhaps not openly, but yet secretly and practically striving who shall be the greatest. May the Lord help us to be true to ourselves about these things. “And He called the twelve, and saith unto them, If any man desire to be first the same shall be last of all and servant of all. And He took a child, and set him in the midst of them; and when He had taken him in His arms, He said unto them, Whosoever shall receive one of such children in My Name, receiveth Me; and whosoever shall receive Me, receiveth not Me, but Him that sent Me.”

Now, here is a verse upon “receiving.” Some of us have heard a good deal in our day about “receiving.” Here is a verse from the lips of the Lord Jesus Christ upon it. How did He receive that little child? He called the little child to Him, and set him in the midst—an object lesson for the twelve disciples. But He did not stop there; He did not begin to point the lesson until He had taken the little child up in His arms. Oh, look at that little child in the arms of the Lord Jesus, and his head upon His breast. That is “receiving.” Is it, that on a certain day, at a certain hour on the clock, a certain person is recognised as received into a certain assembly? Well, I say nothing against that; I leave that aside, but I say, all that may be done, and yet there may have been no Scriptural reception. What the Lord Jesus Christ loves is a heart reception of one whom the Father gave Him; one that is a member of His Body, one for whom He bled and died—reception to the heart’s affections, because they belong to Christ.

That is reception. Have we received God’s saints that way? Do we receive one another that way—not only on first entering a local assembly, but daily, hourly, as we have opportunity, to meet and to greet a child of God wherever he is, simply because he is a child of God, and because he does belong to Christ? O that God would give us to see that He cares for nothing but the whole heart’s affections. He wants to see His own love flowing out from us first to one another, and then in compassion to a guilty world.

I would like to stay and linger, looking at that picture of the little child in the arms of the Lord Jesus, and hear Him saying— “There is the way to receive the little ones that believe in Me.” Receive them to your hearts. Are there not believers received into meetings, and, perhaps, a year after you don’t know their faces! You have never once thought of inquiring about them, perhaps; took no interest in them whatever; just like a man received into a trades’ society—“Oh, the secretary will look after them.” “The elder brethren will look after them; what is that to me?” But “receiving” is “receive ye one another.” It is a practical thing. It is the receiving to the heart because they belong to Christ, and, in doing so, we are receiving Christ. He that receives one such little one— one of the feeblest, one of the most ignorant— He that receives one such little one that believes in Him, because he belongs to Christ, receives Christ.

It may be we begin by loving one another because we belong to Christ; but there is a tendency in our nature to degenerate, and by-and-by we love one another, not simply because we belong to Christ, but because we belong to the meeting. I know how much easier it is to love those that are of one mind with myself than to love those who differ from me. But God loves those that differ from us just the same as those who are amongst us. It is not that we are called to countenance evil. Nay, love will be faithful; love will speak the truth; love will seek the blessing of its object j love will do that which is right and pleasing to God. But Divine love will never do anything that will injure one that belongs to Christ.

But let us pass on. Verse 38—“And John answered Him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils [demons] in Thy Name, and he followeth not us; and we forbade him, because he followeth not us.”

Now notice, John did not merely say, “We saw one casting out demons,” but “we saw one casting out demons in Thy Name.” This was a person who knew the power of the Name of Jesus. He might have known little else, but he knew the power of the Name of Jesus, and he was casting out demons in that Name. Well, there may be men, ignorant and in many respects foolish men, and yet they may know the power of the Lord Jesus to save their own souls, and they know His power and willingness to save others.

I was going along Argyle Street, in Glasgow, one Sunday lately, and there was a crowd at the corner of one of the streets, and in that crowd was a working man—a man that could not put many words together, and there was no attempt at oratory, but he was telling them that the Lord had saved him; that he had not the sore head he had in the morning when he used to frequent the whisky shops. He said—” I am now a happy man, and the Lord Jesus Christ is both able and willing to do the same for you.” It was a simple testimony, but that man knew the power of the Name of Jesus, and he was making it known to others.

What follows? “We forbade him, because he followeth not us.”

Now, you notice in this passage there are two kinds of pride. The previous kind was personal pride—“Who should be greatest;” this is party pride—“He followeth not us.” “He does not belong to our party.” What does the Lord Jesus say? He did not say, “Go you after him;” nor did He tell them, “Go and leave Me and join his company.” No, but He said, “Forbid him not.” Why? “For there is no man that shall do a miracle in My Name that can lightly speak evil of Me.” You see the Lord Jesus reduces it to a personal matter. Is he a man that loves Me? Is he a man that would speak evil of Me? It is personal. It is not whether he follows with us, but, Does he love Me? Would he speak evil of Me?

Perhaps the Lord may give him more light by-and-by, but meantime do not hinder him. And let us take care that we do not speak evil or speak disparagingly of those who are, it may be, casting out demons in the Name of the Lord Jesus, though they don’t see what we see and don’t follow with us.

God forbid that I should fall in with the ways of some, which, however well meant, are bringing the glorious Gospel into disrepute, and this in connection with what is supposed to be the Lord’s work in these days. God forbid that I should have fellowship with such practices as young girls with their collection boxes in front of them begging from the world for collections for the work of the Gospel. I blush to think of such things being done in the Name of the Lord Jesus. But shall I speak evil of them? No; those of the so-called “Salvation Army” have been the means of casting out many a demon. I may not speak evil of them. I respect their love to Christ and their love for souls, and God has blessed them. But it is one thing to follow with such, and it is quite another thing, whilst respecting them for the good that is in them, to seek rather to help them into “the ways that be in Christ.”

The Lord Jesus does not need the coppers of unconverted people. Let us be clear about that. We need not go to the enemies of God for collections to carry on His work. But there are many who do not see that, and who think they are doing a good thing, and are denying themselves to do it. Well, do not let us speak evil of such, but pray for them that God would lead them into the light, and bless them and make them a blessing.

But let us hurry on. 40th verse—“For he that is not against us is on our part. For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in My Name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward.”

Only a cup of water! Why not a loaf of bread? Oh, well, a loaf of bread might cost fourpence; a cup of water does not cost anything. He is looking on the heart; He is looking on the love of that heart. He sees the readiness with which that heart went for the cup and drew the water, and brought it to the person; and He sees there is a special alacrity about the service, because it was done for one that belonged to Christ. It is that which gives value to our service one to another, when we do it for those who belong to Christ, because they are His, and it is this that rejoices the heart of the Lord. Why, He marks it down for a prize at the crowning day! He marks it down for a high certificate in that day of recompense to His people for their service to Him. A cup of water given to one because he belongs to Christ shall not be forgotten.

God would have us do all that we do for one another on that ground, and to love one another for no other reason than that we belong to Christ. Why, the hypocrites love those that love them. Tories love Tories; Radicals love Radicals. There is nothing in that. It is an easy matter to love one who is of the same mind as themselves; but when some dispute arises, such love quickly turns to vinegar. It is not Divine love. Divine love is like the Apostle Paul’s—“I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved.” That is the love we are called to have one to another.

Now, in conclusion, in the next verse— “And whosoever shall offend [or cause to stumble] one of these little ones that believe in Me, it were better for him that a millstone were cast about his neck, and he were cast into the sea.” What does that mean? The Lord looks with tenderest compassion and care upon those that believe in Him. His desire is that they might go along joyfully— happily in His ways and in the light of His countenance, receiving His blessing. But you and I, by our careless walk, by our hard and unloving ways, by our bitter words, by our misrepresentation of the truth, by our want of obedience to His new Commandment—you and I may be stumbling little ones that believe on Him. The Lord Jesus says—“I would rather you were at the bottom of the sea than that you should live to be a stumbling-block to a little one that believes in Me.”

Beloved friends, have our ways stumbled Christ’s little ones? Has our want of love one to another, our personal pride, our party pride, stumbled Christ’s little ones? Has our love of pleasure, and our love of being uppermost, stumbled Christ’s little ones?

Ah, has not many a one, when they came in amongst God’s people, expected to find it a very hot-house of love; but they have been chilled and repelled, and, perhaps, the first thing they got was a lot of evil stories poured into their ears. Have not the little ones been stumbled?

Perhaps there are some of us here to-day of whom the Lord might truly say—“I would rather you had been at the bottom of the sea ten years ago than that you should have lived to stumble My little ones.” Not that one who has been given by the Father, and quickened by the Holy Spirit, and washed in the Blood of Christ, could be lost; but, alas, alas! they might lose, and be eternally losers of, recompense and honour at the Judgment Seat of Christ. The reward that He would have delighted to bestow they have lost, for they were stumbling-blocks to the little ones.

Beloved friends, let us take heed how we walk. Let us seek to love one another for Christ’s sake. Let us get rid of personal ambition. Let us get rid of party pride and strife. Let us seek to know nothing among men but Jesus Christ and Him crucified, and then we will know the blessing of the Lord upon us, and there will be power in the testimony and in the Gospel such as we have not seen.