Reading: John 14:19-31.
You will see that this portion
of the Word bears quite directly upon what the Lord has already been saying to
us concerning knowing God in Christ. "After a little while the world will no
longer see Me, but you will see Me; because I live, you will also live...
("Because I live" points on to the resurrection) In that day (when I
live, and you live, in that new way, on resurrection ground, with all that it
means) you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you".
The relationship of the Son with the Father, and of His own with Himself, will
be of an altogether new order and nature in that day, the day of resurrection;
and as to that relationship, there will be a new kind of knowledge. It will be a
resurrection knowledge, or a living knowledge.
So we come back again to the
matter of the knowledge of God in Christ.
There are two things of a
general character, but which are very important, to be said at the outset.
Firstly (and we only mention
it, though much more needs to be said about it), the prospective element or
nature of all Christ's teaching. It is a matter which can hardly be
overlooked, that in all His teaching, in all His utterances, the Lord Jesus was
looking onwards, pointing to a future time. Nothing at that moment was complete,
and the comprehension of what He was saying was only partial. He was looking for
a day when what He was saying then would be understood, seen and apprehended in
its fuller significance. So, about everything in His life at that time, there
was this prospective element. The phrase so often escaped His lips, "In that
day...". When we come to the time of His resurrection, which was "that
day", we find at least the beginning of the fulfilment of that expectation
and promise, "Then remembered they His words"; then they understood and
entered into it.
We are in "that day",
the day when the fuller and more perfect knowledge of the meaning of Christ is
available to us, is for us. We are in the day of the resurrection illumination,
and we are not looking now particularly for a coming day when we may have that
knowledge; it is for us now. We say that because, while Paul is still right when
he says, "Now we see through a glass darkly, but then face to face; now I know
in part, but then shall I know even as I have been known", a great many of the
Lord's people content themselves with a smaller knowledge of the Lord than they
ought to have.
Secondly, and closely related
to that, this knowing of God in Christ is a primary factor in that maturity
which constitutes the governing body for the coming age. Let us break that
There is to be a governing body
in the age to come, a company who are to be with Christ in His Throne in
government. All believers will not be in that governing Body. They go by
different designations. They are sometimes called "the overcomers". Whatever
title may be given to them, the fact is that there is a governing body going to
fellowship with Christ in the coming age for governmental purposes.
The primary thing which
constitutes such a governing body is a particular knowledge of the Lord; not a
knowledge which is reserved for them, but a knowledge which is available to all
the Lord's children, but to which only certain come. Hence the importance of
this matter of knowing the Lord, knowing God in Christ, because this knowledge
leads to maturity. What is spiritual maturity? The answer is in a simple phrase.
It is knowing the Lord, perhaps in a way in which the majority do not know the
Lord. You know a mature Christian by this very characteristic. You have to say,
'That one knows the Lord'; and when you say it like that you are singling them out
from amongst the mass. You are speaking of maturity, and it will be such in that
specific sense who form the governing body; a mature company to be entrusted
with particular responsibility in relation to Him in the age to come. It is not
a matter of election or of selection. It is a matter of spiritual growth, growth
in the knowledge of the Lord.
Those two things need to be
recognised, and we can come simply to the Word that is here in this portion,
which presents to us the law of this growing knowledge of the Lord.
The Progressive Revelation of
the Lord to the Heart
What is that law? Judas (not
Iscariot) put this question to the Lord: "What has happened that You are
going to disclose [manifest] Yourself to us and not to the world?" 'You have
manifested Yourself to the world. You have been here so that all men could see
You, but now You say that is not going to be so, that You are going to manifest
Yourself only to us and not to the world. What has happened? What does that
mean? What has come to pass that there should be this change?' Really Judas was
asking, 'What is the law, what is the secret, what is the law, what is it that
governs this change of situation? On what ground will You reveal Yourself to us,
so that the world is apart from that manifestation and it shall be ours and
bound up with us? How shall we receive that greater manifestation of which You
are speaking, which will be peculiarly ours as something apart?'
It looks almost as though the
Lord Jesus sidesteps the question, or at least it does not appear as though He
directly and immediately answers it. But if the Lord Jesus did not answer the
question in its form, He answered it in its substance, and this answer goes
right to the heart of the question of Judas. What is the governing law of an
enlarged, a progressive revelation of God in Christ to the believer? "He who
loves Me and keeps My words". You can have nothing simpler than that. You
say, 'Oh, but I thought some educational advantages must lie somewhere behind
this matter. I thought that I should have to be someone with certain abilities
above the average to be able to understand, to know, to grasp the great things
of the Lord. I thought I should have to be someone of special capacity for this
progressive revelation of which you speak, and I have given up any hope of ever
attaining unto these things, they are too vast for me, I am just a simple
believer, and I shall never be anything else.' Listen! "What has happened
that You are going to disclose [manifest] Yourself to us and not to the world?"
'What is the basis, the nature of this great revelation which You say is coming
in that day? How can we have it? How can we have the thing which the world can
never have?' "He who loves Me and keeps My words". How is it that the
world cannot have it? Well, 'He that loves Me not and keeps not My words is
excluded from the revelation of the manifestation'. Love issuing in obedience is
the law of the full manifestation of the Lord to the heart in a progressive way.
That is all.
It is not capacity or ability
in the human sense inherited or cultivated, but a question of heart. Revelation
on the part of God presupposes a disposition on the part of man; that is, it
requires a disposition. What disposition is that? It is the disposition which
does not question, does not doubt, does not hesitate, does not hold back
debating and wondering, but the disposition to trust in Love and do. After all,
that is the basis of the whole life with the Lord; it is so simple that we are
almost offended at its simplicity when we have thought that all these other
things were important. If we are going on unto the knowledge of the Lord we are
destined to make this discovery, either to our joy or to our sorrow. It is so
possible to build up a mighty structure of wonderful truth, and get into the
place where we think we know, and then discover after years of that sort of
thing that in our heart we do not know. A calamity overtakes us, some sort of
trial, and we pass into the depths of adversity, and make the discovery that
really in our hearts we have not got the quiet, simple, confident rest and trust
in the Lord that we thought we had, and we go all to pieces. There is nothing
more tragic than someone who has stood in a great range of truth, of doctrine,
in the place of much knowledge like that, going to pieces in the day of
adversity. On the other hand we may make this discovery to our great joy; it is
not our Bible knowledge, be it small or great; it is not our teaching or all
that which accompanies the things of Christian life. It is a matter of our heart
relationship with the Lord expressed in a disposition to trust Him, to believe
Him, to obey Him.
Do not think of an overcomer as
some wonderful creature. I do not believe that the New Testament in all its
address to what we may call "overcomers" was intended to get people to be
something extraordinary in themselves, but it was intended to get them from
being less than the Lord wanted them to be. The whole tendency in New Testament
times and ever since is retrogression, is decline, falling short of what the
Lord had presented. It was not to be something extra to the Lord's revelation
that that word was given, but it was to be something extra to that poor
expression of the Lord which was found everywhere; something extra to the
normal. It was to be just all that the Lord wanted. How can we be that? How can
we know all that the Lord wants us to know in order that we may grow in grace
and in the knowledge of the Lord? This is the law, "He who loves Me and keeps
My words, I will make My abode in him and will manifest Myself to him".
Though that is not the actual statement of the Lord, it is the direct answer to
the question of Judas. 'Judas, you ask Me how I will manifest Myself to you and
not to the world. My answer is this, He who loves Me and keeps My words.'
That is the basis of the manifestation. It is a disposition to trust the Lord in
love and obedience.
When you come to look into it,
it is perhaps not so simple as it sounds to trust the Lord. It is that that
makes it a matter of the heart and not of the mind. When we talk about trusting
the Lord it sounds so simple, and when the Lord puts us into the dark and shuts
us away from anything that could call for trust, and calls us to trust Himself
and gets us down to bedrock, we find things are not so simple. So often the Lord
needs to gets us to the place where we trust Him for Himself, where we say,
'Lord, You are perfect in wisdom, in love, in mercy, in truth, in righteousness.
If there is any failure, I take the blame for all the failure. You cannot fail.
Because of what You are, You must eventually show Yourself faithful.' We come
through the dark time simply clinging, not to what the Lord is doing or not
doing, but to the fact of what He is Himself. Is not that the essence of Love?
See it in relation to your own in this world whom you love. What is the essence
of your love? Very often amongst believers there is the necessity to take a
course with another which is open to misunderstanding, becoming involved in a
situation where they have to do things which they cannot explain at all, and
they seem strange things, all contrary to what might be expected, all contrary
to good faith. Other people look on and say that they were failing, they were
sacrificing confidence and trust, but the one who loves takes this attitude and
says, 'I love them, and I trust them too well to believe that they are doing
anything wrong or mean or false, and although I do not understand at the moment
why they should do that, I believe in the end I shall find there was no breach,
there was no fault, and I just go on trusting.' It has to be like that amongst
brethren. It is a poor kind of relationship when we have to get down on our
knees and explain every action, and beg them to understand that we are doing the
right thing, although they do not see it. It is a far grander thing to know that
you can go on, and, although you cannot be understood for the moment, you are
If that is noble amongst men,
has not God the right to expect something like that? Has not Christ the right to
look for that attitude? At best we may fail and be wrong after all, but He
never. "He who loves me and keeps My words". 'It is the expression of an
implicit faith in Me for what I am. That gives Me the opportunity of revealing
Myself, making Myself manifest.' The progressive knowledge of God in Christ is
to the heart that trusts and the heart which has a disposition to obey the Lord.
Be careful about the word
"obey". So often we mentally have a kind of catalogue of things about which we
think obedience is required, and we reduce the whole matter of obedience to some
of these things, and when we hear a word spoken about being obedient to the Lord
we either think of some ordinance that we have got to obey, or some outstanding
thing that has been a matter of reservation; some question or some fear. Let us
remember that this kind of obedience the Lord speaks of is all-round obedience.
It is not just the public obedience to the Lord in outstanding things. It is
obedience in secret. Very often we are found out in the matter of obedience away
back in the secret place where no one else in all the world knows anything about
that particular thing, and the Lord has just mentioned that to us. Sometimes it
is in our domestic life. The Lord has said something about a thing that wants
attending to, something that is not to His glory, and obedience touches there.
It might be in our business life. It may be anywhere, just something that is not
according to the mind of the Lord, and if only we were to allow ourselves to
reflect upon it we should know that that is not glorifying to the Lord.
Obedience touches that, and remember that whatever may be the amount of teaching
that you get in conferences or in meetings, this resurrection
manifestation of the Lord to your heart can never come where there is not the
obedience of love in every realm of your being. Lack of obedience shuts the door
to revelation to the heart if there is not this disposition to see to things
about which the Lord speaks, whatever they may mean.
That is a simple word, but it
is foundational, and it goes a long way. We can link the statements in the New
Testament with this without hesitation. Take Paul's great cry in Philippians
3:10: "That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection". It is the
same knowledge as this. It is the knowledge of Him. What is the basis of that
knowledge? For Paul it was this: The Lord must have me altogether in heart. That
is Philippians 3, the Lord having the man absolutely. Leaving the things which
are behind, counting all other things but loss, dross, refuse, "I
press on". It is not some extra kind of knowledge; it is simply the
knowledge of the Lord. It may be a fuller, a more advanced point of that
knowledge, but it is knowledge which will go right on for all of us, and the one
law governs from beginning to end, the first expression and the final expression
of Christ, our Lord. "He who loves Me and keeps My words".
"Judas, because the world never
loved Me, nor keeps My word, I shall not manifest Myself unto it. If you and
your fellows here love Me and keep My word, I will manifest Myself, I will come
unto you, I will make My abode." It is the same word as He uses at the beginning
of John 14: "In my Father's house are many resting places". We have our
resting place in the Father's house. He has His resting place in the loving
heart. His word is, 'We will come and find Our resting place, just as you hope
to find your resting place in the Father's house'.
Let us remember it is not
something wonderful or something technical, it is a matter of the heart being
disposed to love and trust and obey the Lord. He, finding that disposition and
that expression and that response to Himself, will manifest Himself unto us, and
these will be the mature and the governing people.
We would say to all those
self-designated "simple souls", who think they can never attain unto anything:
it is just that which is the ground of your claim. If only you will love the
Lord, and obey Him, and trust Him at all times, you will come through to a high
and glorious place. That is the way.
The Lord teach us in our hearts