be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according
to His great mercy begat us again unto a living hope by the
resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, unto an
inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not
away, reserved in heaven for you, who by the power of God are
guarded through faith..." (1 Pet. 1:3-5).
rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and fill up on my part
that which is lacking of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh
for His body's sake, which is the church; whereof I was made a
minister, according to the dispensation of God which was given
to you-ward, to fulfil the word of God, even the mystery which
has been hid from all ages and generations, but now has it
been manifested to his saints, to whom God was pleased to make
known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among
the nations (Gentiles), which is Christ in you, the hope
of glory; whom we proclaim, admonishing every man and
teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every
man perfect in Christ" (Col. 1:24-28).
living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ...". "This
mystery which is Christ in you, the hope of glory". A living
hope - the hope of glory.
have to put these two fragments together in order to understand
the real meaning of the 'hope' referred to. For Peter, the
resurrection of the Lord Jesus was an experience which opened up
for him an entirely new prospect. The context of that, 'a living
hope', gives us just a little of the prospect that the
resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead had brought to Peter.
"An inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, that doesn't fade
away" - that is what opened up for him with the resurrection of
Christ. To Paul, the resurrection of Christ was the very heart
of the mystery which had been hid from all generations, but was
Peter as Representative
look first at Peter in this connection. As Peter sits down to
write this letter to the "elect scattered throughout Pontus,
Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia" he finds himself
caught up at once in a doxology: "Blessed be the God and
Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath begotten us again
unto a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from
the dead." And perhaps Peter, of all men, had cause for
a doxology over the resurrection of Jesus!
we take Peter as representative of all those who had become
followers of the Lord Jesus in the days of His flesh; not only
of the twelve, but evidently quite a large number beyond the
twelve. There were the seventy and, beyond the seventy, many
more who followed Jesus, and had some attachment to Him. Peter
can be taken as, in a very real sense, representative of them
We are thinking at this moment
particularly of the effect of the Cross upon him, and
upon them all; the utter devastation, and then the despair,
that the Cross of the Lord Jesus brought upon them. We are
told they were "all scattered abroad"; and we know how, even
before the Cross became an actuality, any reference to it
brought a terrible reaction. From time to time the Lord did
just make some mention of His coming death, and, as He did so,
many went away (John 6:66). Then again, others said, "This
is a hard saying; who can hear it?" (John 6:60).
Apparently off they went as well. The very thought and
prospect of the Cross was impossible of acceptance. When it
came, Peter, as the very centre of that whole company, is
found most vehemently denying with a terrible denial, any
association with Christ, just because of the cross; and they
all shared that, even if not in word and in the same form of
expression, for we are told that "all the disciples
forsook Him and fled" (Matt. 26:56). And He had said to
them: "You will all leave Me" (John 16:32) and
it became true.
we meet them after His crucifixion. We meet those two on the
Emmaus road, the very embodiment of despair. For them,
everything had gone and was shattered. All their hopes, and
their hope, were eclipsed - "We had trusted..." (Luke
24:21), or "We had hoped that it had been He that should
redeem Israel." Now, everything was gone, and the hope
laid in His grave.
time to time we meet Thomas, and we know what Thomas thought
about the Cross. He again was in the grip of an awful despair
and hopelessness: loss of faith and loss of assurance. As we
move through those forty days after the resurrection, we find
the Lord repeatedly having to upbraid and rebuke them. They
believed not, it says, "because of their unbelief" (Matt.
17:20 AV). "Some doubted" (Mark 16:11,13,14). We can see what
a shock the Cross had been. I have not used too strong a word
when I have said that the Cross was nothing less than a
devastation for every follower of the Lord Jesus. And right at
the heart of them all was Peter; we could say that it was all
concentrated in him; it must have been, in view of what he had
done. Put yourself in his place, and see if you would have any
more hope for anything, or for yourself. No!
The One Supreme Essential
there were forty days of this: forty days of appearances,
disappearances; coming and going; a steady build-up of the
fact that He was risen; overcoming day by day that despair and
that unbelief, building up a new hope. But even after forty
days of all that, the most vital thing is still lacking. You
might think, 'Well, given all that, they have enough to go
on'. But no: the most vital thing, even at that point, is
still lacking. What is it? It is Christ within! Hence
the restraint: "Tarry ye in Jerusalem, until ye be endued
with power from on high" (Luke 24:49). Do not move yet.
With all that you have, you really have not yet got the vital
thing, the essential thing. And that thing is Christ IN
you, the hope of glory. Christ in you!
is why the apostles were so particular as to converts
receiving the Holy Spirit before ever they felt assurance
about their conversion. Thus, there were all the reports about
things happening in Samaria. Had not the Lord said that they
would be witnesses unto Him in Samaria (Acts 1:8)? The report
comes back of things happening, of people turning to the Lord,
real conversions taking place in large numbers. Why not be
satisfied with the report? It is a good report, and there is
surely no reason to doubt it. But no, the apostles are not
just satisfied with that. They sent down from Jerusalem, and
when they were come down, they laid their hands upon them
(Acts 8:14-17), that they might receive the Holy Spirit. Now
see again and again how that happens. For them, things were
not really settled until they were sure that Christ was on the
inside, that Christ was in them; which is the
same thing as 'receiving the Holy Spirit', the Spirit of
Jesus. That is why the Lord said, 'Tarry; do not move yet!'
And that is why the apostles were so meticulous on this matter
of 'receiving the Holy Spirit'.
too, is why the Holy Spirit gave evidences in those times,
that He had come within. We believe that this book, the book
of the Acts, is a book of fundamental principles for the
dispensation. When principles are being laid down in the first
instance, God always bears them out with mighty evidences that
they are true principles and governing things for all time.
God puts His seal upon them. So, when they received the
Spirit, there were the evidences of the Spirit. They spoke
with tongues; mighty things happened. It was clear to all
without any doubt whatever that the Spirit was on the inside,
Christ had entered in; that universal Christ transcending all
human language, that Christ of Heaven transcending all earthly
things had come in and the evidences were given.
is no mistaking that this matter of Christ within is
the fundamental essential of Christianity. You may have the
mightiest facts - the mightiest facts of His birth, of His
marvellous life, His death, His resurrection and they are the
mightiest of facts - you may have them all, and they may all
be impotent, non-potent, until He is inside! This is borne out
by this threefold truth: Tarry - do not move yet; the
essential has not taken place after all! Make sure; leave
nothing to chance; let it not be just an emotional revival in
Samaria! Whatever there may seem to be on the outside to prove
that something has happened, make sure that it has got inside!
Make sure that Christ is in, that the Holy Spirit is
in! For as we shall see as we go on, you may have so much, and
then, that vital thing being lacking, there is calamity, as
mighty hope does not merely rest just upon historic grounds -
that is, upon the ground of the historic Jesus. This mighty
hope rests upon inward reality - Christ in you! That is
super-historic! And for the full meaning, the 'mystery which
has been hid from all generations', we have to go to Paul.
The Insufficient Foundation
much for a general approach to the matter. Let us now in
greater detail consider Peter and the others whom he
then, as to the hopelessness, ultimately, of a
merely outward association with Christ, however sincere.
There is no question about the sincerity of Peter or of any of
those followers. They were sincere; there was a devotion to
Jesus; their motives could not be called into question; it was
all well-meant. They had left all and followed Him; and to
follow Jesus of Nazareth in those days had involved them in a
considerable amount of trouble, at least with the high-up
people, and the prevailing system. Their association with Him
undoubtedly meant something.
while perhaps they were not fully able to see and understand;
while they were not in the full light of who He was, the fact
of who He was was present with them.
instance, there is the fact of the incarnation: that
this One among them was God incarnate, the very Son of God,
come down from Heaven to dwell in human form. They were in
closest touch with that fact every day of their lives.
there was the fact of His Personality; and there is no
avoiding this, that that was a Personality! There was a
Presence where He was that was different, that made itself
felt, that registered. His was a very impressive Presence,
beyond that of anyone else with whom they had any association,
or of whom they had any other knowledge. There is a mystery
about this Man: you cannot fathom Him; you cannot explain Him;
you cannot comprehend Him; He is more; He is different. And
wherever He comes, His Presence has a tremendous effect. The fact
of His Personality!
then, although we do not know how far it went, there was the
fact of Mary and her secret. We do not know to how
many she told her secret; we are told that she "hid all
these things in her heart" (Luke 2:19,51). But we do
know that some knew about it. We know that she told Elisabeth
all about it; and Zachariah knew it; and John the Baptist knew
it. John the Baptist knew Mary's secret. She was there with
them all. There is the fact of Mary and her secret.
there is the fact of the miracles. Miracles in the
realm of the elements - the sea and the wind; miracles in the
realm of nature - as our hymn says: 'It was spring-time when
He took the loaves, and harvest when He brake'. In the realm
of sickness and disease and death: His healing and His raising
from the dead the son of the widow of Nain. These were facts.
And then, in the realm of the powers of evil - muzzling demons
and casting them out and delivering the demon-possessed.
These were all facts present with them. It is a
tremendous accumulation of evidence.
the fact of the teaching that, without special
education, He bewildered, confounded and defeated the
authorities of His time: all the men of information and
knowledge, the scribes, the lawyers, the best representatives
of the intellect of Jewry. They picked out on occasions their
best intellects to go and try and catch Him in His words; and
these very men had to ask the question: "Whence has this
man this, having never learned?" (John 7:15). There was
is a tremendous build-up. And yet, while being in possession
of that whole mass of mighty facts and realities about Him,
and while living in the closest association with Him, it was
possible for them to know all the havoc and the despair of the
Cross! I venture to say that you and I would probably think
that, if we had only a bit of that, we should be safe for ever
and never have any reason whatever to doubt our salvation. And
they had it all, and yet here we have them after the Cross in
abject despair. When it came to the supreme test, all that did
not save them; there was lacking the one essential to make it
all vital, to make it the very triumph in the trying hour.
The One Essential
one essential is Christ in you. So long as all that is still
objective, on the outside, though you may be in the closest
association with it all, there is something yet lacking. And
that lack may spell disaster, for it did with them.
the resurrection a new hope was born; by the resurrection a
new power came into the world and human life; by the
resurrection the way was opened for Christ to change His
position from heaven - from outside - into the inner life of
the believer. It has all got to be 'Christ in you, the
hope of glory'. This is just the essential nature of this
dispensation in which we live. In the former dispensation, the
Spirit moved from the outside upon. Jesus said: 'When
He is come, He shall be in you'. That is the change of
dispensations; that is the character of this present
dispensation - the Spirit within. What is the secret of the
church's power? What is the secret of the believer's life,
strength, persistence, endurance, triumph against all hell and
the world? What is the secret of ultimate glory? It is Christ
in you. In other words, that you have really and
definitely received the Holy Spirit.
important this is - that you and I shall know that our
Christianity, our faith, does not rest upon even the greatest
historic facts, but that we know that Christ is
inside; we know that we have received the Holy Spirit.
That is the secret of everything.
us carry this a little further, and consider the next thing: the
hopelessness of work for Christ without Christ within.
appointed the twelve, that they might be with Him, and that
He might send them forth to preach and to have authority to
cast out demons..." (Mark 3:14,15).
the seventy returned with joy, saying, Lord, even the demons
are subject unto us in Thy name"
(Luke 10:17). Tremendous! 'Heal the sick, raise the dead, cast
out demons; freely ye have received, freely give' (Matt.
10:8). And they returned with great joy: it was done; they had
seen it! And you have this picture after the cross of these same
people devastated! You say: Is that possible? Is that real? If
you know your own heart, you will know it is possible. But
what is the meaning of this?
the case of the 'twelve' and the 'seventy', we have set forth
a strange, wonderful, and almost frightening fact. It is that
- within the vast scope of the sovereign rule of God - which
is only another definition of the 'kingdom of God', many
things obtain which only express that sovereignty.
They are not of the essential and permanent essence of God
Himself as in the nature of things; they are the works
of God. Within that vast scope of His rule and His reign, God
has countless instruments of His sovereignty, be it official
or providential, which He just uses in His sovereignty in
relation to His end. There is a purpose to be served, an end
to be reached, concerning His Son, Jesus Christ: it has got to
be made known in this world that the kingdom of God has drawn
near, and that Jesus Christ is the centre of that kingdom.
And, in order to make that known, God will employ sovereignly
even the devil himself! His sovereignty gathers into it many
things which are not essentially of the nature of God.
you have been amazed sometimes, and perplexed and bewildered,
why God should use certain things or persons. You have been
inclined to say: 'It is all contrary to what I believe to be
necessary to God for His work. I see that the Bible says that
instruments have got to be according to God's mind in order to
be used.' But history does not bear that out. He has used the
devil, and the devil is not according to God's mind. There is
a sovereignty of God spread over in relation to His end.
when you have said that, it is a frightening fact when you
come to the work of God. I mean this: that we may be working
for God, and doing many mighty things as employees of the
kingdom of God, the rule of God, and then, in the end, be cast
away! In the end, we ourselves might just go to pieces. Here
it is, this strange thing, that these men went out, twelve and
seventy, with this 'delegated authority' - this delegated
authority - and exercised it, and mighty things resulted; and
then these same people are found, after the Cross, with their
faith shattered and nothing to rest upon.
The Deficiency Made Good
God, the book of the Acts transforms the whole situation!
Because the book of the Acts brings in this mighty new factor:
that Christ, who had delegated the authority, is now
indwelling as the authority Himself. And the works now are
mighty works, but they are not just works for the
Lord; they are the works of the Lord. It all goes to
prove the tremendous fact: that it is Christ in you
that is the indispensable necessity for life and for work. All
that they had in their association with Him, and then all that
they were allowed to do by His delegated authority, all fell
short of being something that could make them triumphant in
the hour of the deepest testing.
put his finger on it when he got to at Ephesus, if you
remember, when he said: "Did you receive the Holy Spirit
when you believed?" (Acts 19:2) it was ever the
apostles' question, and ever their quest. They knew
afterwards, if they knew anything at all, that nothing will
stand up to anything, but the indwelling Christ Himself.
we can, of course, take that both ways. There is the negative
side, the almost frightening possibility that there should be
all that, and then disaster at the end. But let us take it
positively. What a marvellous thing it is that we are in the
dispensation when the one thing, above all others, God will
make true, is "Christ in you"! No wonder Peter burst
forth with his doxology: "Blessed be the God and Father of
our Lord Jesus Christ, who... has begotten us again... to a
living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the
dead"! You need to be Peter to be able to speak as he
spoke; to have gone through the awful shattering, into that
unspeakable depth of despair and loss of hope, to be able to
say: "a living hope" - a living hope! And what
is it? "Christ
in you, the hope of glory".
there is no hope for us individually; there is no hope for our
companies, our churches, our assemblies; there is no hope for
Christianity unless and until the living Christ, with all the
tremendous significance of His coming into this world, of His
life here, of His Cross, of His resurrection, has come, by the
Holy Spirit, on to the inside of things, of people, and
churches; until it is "Christ in you". All the other
may be there: the creed, the teaching; you may, with all
sincerity and honesty, say: 'I believe in God the Father...'
and so on. It may all be there, and yet there may be disaster
where that thing is most frequently declared.
is the impact of Christ that matters. In those early days He
could not be present without it being known; and that is the
thing that you and I need; that is the secret of the church's
power. It is the presence of Christ on the inside of
you and me, and all of us as people together; this Mystery
among the nations, which is Christ in you. You are among the
nations, and the deepest, profoundest, most inexplicable thing
is Christ in you, as you are among the nations, "the hope
is a question of hope. It can be touched by a deep and
terrible despair; it can see disintegration and disruption.
What we need is a mighty hope, a living hope; that is, Christ,
Christ risen, Christ Himself! We need to get beyond even the
resurrection to be able to say: It is Christ present, it is
what Christ means as within us.