The key phrase to our meditation at this time is in the twelfth
chapter of the letter to the Hebrews, and at verse 22: "But ye are
come unto mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the
heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable hosts of angels, to the
general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in
heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of just
men made perfect, and to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and
to the blood of sprinkling that speaketh better than that of Abel".
It is only the first clause of that sentence which is taken as
covering what we have to say. Although perhaps later we shall
proceed to other parts of the whole statement, the words are: "Ye
are come", and for some of the time in which we are together, I
believe it is the Lord's will that we shall be occupied with the
heritage of faith.
It is understood by all who have read and considered this
document called "the letter to the Hebrews", that it is a most
momentous document in the history of God's counsels for it sees
the taking up of all that is in the Old Testament (especially as
to Israel) and finding its full and final meaning in Christ and in
His Church. The letter (or document) covers a great deal of
ground. It covers the three great sections of the Old Testament:
from Genesis to Exodus - forming the first great section of the
Bible; from Exodus to the end of the bock of Judges - a second
great section, and from the book of Judges to the end of the Old
Testament at Malachi. All those sections are taken up and are
covered by this comparatively short document. And all that is
found in each one of them and in all of them together, is shown to
be gathered into, fulfilled, consummated, in the Person and work
of Christ and transmitted to His Church. So that in Christ
and by Christ we have this immense heritage - we
inherit all. There could hardly be a fuller and greater content in
so small a fragment of only three words: "Ye are come".
This letter (I prefer to call it a document because such it is in
very truth, a document for the Church's inheritance containing the
heritage of believers in this dispensation) this document sets us
on the Divine road with God - God from eternity on the move;
moving forward in purpose. Then it gives us a caravan of
travellers on that road: Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob,
Melchizedek, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Gideon, Barak, Samuel, David -
the priests, the kings, the prophets - they're all here in the
caravan on the road of God.
It touches upon some of the things that we find on the journey,
such as the tabernacle and its ordinances - all pointing onward.
It says that all these who were of this great Divine caravan on
the road of God from eternity to eternity were in a quest, in a
pursuit of an inheritance. They looked; they not only looked, but
they searched. They had left everything behind, they're on the
road in quest of an inheritance. The whole of the aspect of those
ages is, "Forward": seekers, pursuers, on trek with God.
And then this letter tells us that we are come to that which was
the object of their quest through all those ages. We have
the heritage for which they set out. They received not, because
God had some better thing for us, that they, without us, apart
from us, should not be complete. And what this letter says over
all that, is that all, all that is no longer future, it is
present. So far as entering into it is concerned, it is present;
it is present to our apprehension. "Ye are come" - they were
seeking, pursuing and coming! "Ye are come".
God started on His road, these men joined with Him. God has
reached the end of His road, and we are with Him at the end of the
road. It's a tremendous thing that is here in this document: "Ye
are come". We have arrived! The caravan has arrived, "Ye are
come". The whole of that heritage of faith - for these were all
men and women of faith - the whole of that heritage of faith is
now present for our entering in. "Ye are come".
Now that needs breaking up. We take the first phase of it, for in
the first place, this document corresponds to the first two
chapters of Genesis. That is quite patent. How does Genesis begin?
"In the beginning God..." How does Hebrews begin? "God, God who at
sundry times in divers manners speaking..." "In the beginning
God". God. In that particular it corresponds to Genesis. Then, in
Genesis God is revealed as the great Designer, the great
Projector, the great Worker upon His design which He has
projected, and the great Perfecter of His work - "and God saw
everything that He had made and God said 'It is good'". The letter
to the Hebrews corresponds to that in every particular. It begins
with God. It shows God as the great Designer, the great Projector,
the great Worker, and the great Perfecter. We shall see that as we
proceed, but the great point is this: God completed the
creation, God completed the creation then, having completed the
creation, He planted a garden. That was subsequent to the whole
creation. And having planted a garden, He put man into it.
Now, it does not say that God created man in the garden. It does
say that God put man into the garden. Man was a part of
the creation as a whole - the garden was subsequent to the whole
creation and to man. Man in the garden is something within the
whole. You may not see any value in that for the moment, but
you'll see before long that is not just an observation. Man was
put into, firstly, a completed work; a completed world. When
everything was done and everything was prepared, then, as a
completed thing, it was provided for man as his heritage, his
Let me repeat: man was put into a completed world to
possess it, to exploit it, to develop it, and then to build up a
family corresponding to, and suited to, the kind of world into
which he had been put. It was a heritage provided by God for man;
to be held and to be enjoyed through faith in God, through faith
in the Divine Benefactor, for man was an heir of God - not in his
own right, but by the benefaction of God.
God centred everything in man. Man was placed on a basis of
potential sonship and man was destined for glory. If you could
take all that, have it all before you in mind, and take it into
the letter to the Hebrews, what you would find is this: that what
was material and temporal and palpable in Genesis, is in every
particular present in a spiritual way in this document. We could
not have a more glorious message, a more heart-ravishing message,
than that which comes out of a contemplation of this spiritual
correspondence to God's activities in the creation. Let us look at
Everything for man's glorious destiny is first of all wrought
out by God Himself. Yes, wrought out by God in Christ. It is
an accomplished thing, a perfected work. We use the phrase
so lightly, "the finished work of Christ". The finished work and
the perfected Man... all, all established before man gets a look
in! Man has no place. He did not have any place at all in what God
was doing up to the point of God saying, "It is very good". Man
had no place and no part in it, and he never has had, and never
will have! God independently took this whole matter into His own
hands and did it Himself, and when the thing was an accomplished
fact, the creation was there in its beauty and glory and
perfection, He gave it as an inheritance to man. He put man into
that. That is, dear friends, the great message of this letter.
Indeed, it is the great message of the New Testament, but it's the
thing that is here so patently and so gloriously. In Christ God
has wholly, fully consummated the redemption, the new creation,
and you and I have no part whatever in making that, but
you and I are called to inherit it: "Ye are come"!
The whole heritage is presented to faith. Would to God that we,
the Lord's people, more thoroughly apprehended this. There's
nothing to add to it, nothing to add to it; God has done it.
Everything, (let me repeat) for man's glorious destiny, a destiny
which was determined before man was made, has been wrought out by
God in Christ before man comes on the scene. God completed this
heritage for man - glorious, perfect, potential - that is,
containing unspeakably wonderful and great possibilities, eternal,
a heritage of Light, of Life, of Rest, of Peace, of Power, of
Victory. All those things are implicit in the first creation and
then they are taken up in a spiritual way, and offered to us, to
our faith - not as something still to be done, but something done.
God did speak Light, and God has given Light. And
what is true of that is true in every other respect. I do want you
to get hold of this.
If I were to introduce a parenthesis here, by way of giving
emphasis to the importance of this matter, I should say again that
as we approach the end of the dispensation, which we are doing
most certainly and most rapidly, God will seek to come back to His
full thought concerning a people and to bring a people back to His
full thought, that He will finish the dispensation consummately.
If that is true, then a word like this is apropos of the time
that you and I, first of all, and the Lord's people wherever they
are, whosoever will, shall enter into the wonderful rest, and
peace, and assurance, and power, and victory - light and life and
liberty and glory of the fact, the simple, basic, inclusive fact
that God has in Christ compassed all that is bound up
with man's glorious destiny, and has offered it to faith - wholly
undercutting all this straining on the part of Christians to try
to add something to what God has done, to try to make effectual
what God has made effective, to try in some way to do this
thing, to make it good. We have got to get adjusted over this
matter. The matter of our responsibility comes out presently, but
it does not and will not for one moment take away from this: that
what was true in the creation of this world, that God did it all
right off His own hand independently and self-sufficiently, and
then gave it as a heritage to man simply on the basis of
faith in Him as the great Benefactor. What is true in that
connection is here in the Word shown to be exactly true in the
much higher realm than the material and the temporal, in the
spiritual and the eternal. God has done that. That is all gathered
into this, this (we dare not call it "little") phrase: "Ye are
You note the turn of everything at that point on the little word
"but". But! Oh, up to that point everything was a quest,
everything was a search, everything was a longing, an aspiration,
an effort. From the point of that "but", the whole thing turns and
says, "It's here!" all that is here present in the Person, and
work of the Lord Jesus, offered to you as a completed thing. The
whole thing is wrapped up and offered to you like an object with
all its meaning and potentiality. It is offered to us through
Man was the heir of all God's work, and this letter says
"heirs... heirs of God".
Then, what was true of the man then is spiritually true of the
believer now. The believer as the new creation man in Christ is
placed, is placed, in the heritage. "You did not choose Me, but I
chose you". I'm not going now to launch out into all that there is
in the Word to show that it was not of our choosing, or of our
running, or of our deciding at all; any decision that ever we made
regarding Christ and His work did not take its rise in ourselves.
It came from God. Faith itself is the gift of God, and if we are
the Lord's, if we are the Lord's it is not because at one time the
whole thing had its commencement in what we call "deciding for
Christ". Where did the deciding come from? That was not the
beginning. There was something behind the deciding, and we well
know it. Placed in the heritage, we may have come by
various ways and various means, the history of our coming may be
as diverse and varied as the number of people who have come, but
behind all there was the action of sovereign grace. And we have to
say today that we are not where we are because we
determined to be, because we chose, but because there was a moving
on God's part, the initiative was with Him: He
pursued us, He apprehended us, He has placed us in
His Son. It is a wonderful thing to know that God has put us into
Christ. "Created in Christ Jesus", that's the phrase:
"created in Christ Jesus. Man was placed in the heritage.
Then the garden became significant of several things. The garden
signifies firstly the defining -
The Defining of Man's Existence.
That wants explaining. What I mean is (and this is a throwback
upon what I said a little while ago about the garden being
subsequent to the whole creation) the garden represents or
signifies the narrowing down of everything to man's personal life
and responsibility. That is, man was not just a kind of general
person roaming about the world. It was not just a general idea, a
man... a kind of freelance in the creation. No, God definitely
defined something which is called a garden. In the midst of the
whole creation, He marks this out, He hedges this about, and He
puts man inside of that hedge, inside of those gates, and so defines
man's life, narrows the whole matter of man's life down to
something quite concrete, quite definite, taking it away from
generalities and putting it there right at the centre. So that
everything became immediate and personal where man was concerned.
See, all this that God had done, all this wonderful work that had
been completed by God and had God's blessing and approval upon it,
had to be made something very concrete where the man was
concerned. It's all very well to put him into that wonderful world
and let him just wander about and live out his life in some
indefinite way, in a kind of general line of things, but no, God
says, "All this must be focused, and the man must come into a
personal, definite, immediate responsibility to what I have done".
And the garden represents that something very immediate and
concrete of the relationship between the heritage and the man. Do
you grasp that?
Perhaps if we follow that on with the spiritual application, it
will become more clear. You see, what God really said when He put
man in the garden right at the centre and heart of the creation
was, "This is your personal matter. This is your personal matter,
this all has to do with you, and you have to do personally
with this whole matter". So it is, you see, with Christ and His
work. In Christ personally and by Christ vocationally or
officially, God has perfected the new creation. God has completed
everything and entered into His rest, and we know concerning His
Son, He has pronounced His verdict: "Very good". "My beloved... in
whom I am well pleased". God has reached His end and His rest, it
is all finished, but now God says, "Look here, that is not
something of a general doctrine and teaching, that's something
that relates to you personally and individually in an immediate
way. It is something that you have got to take hold of as your
The whole question of responsibility comes in there, you see. It
comes down upon the matter: "All this God has done; what have I
done with it? What attitude have I taken toward it?" Now, dear
friends, this is more meaningful and important than perhaps you
are grasping. And for the moment the point may be this: you
believe in what is called "the finished work of Christ" - that's a
phrase which lies at the very root and foundation of your
Christian faith: the finished work of Christ. You agree with all
that I have said about God independently doing this thing right
out from Himself. You agree that the new creation in Christ
personally has the approval of God upon it; the expression of His
perfect satisfaction. Then why look so miserable? Why all the time
be going about with (forgive the phrase) that "hang-dog"
expression about your salvation... whether you will ever arrive and
get through and come to glory?
I mean this: when Adam was put in that garden and looked round
and said, "Is all this for me? Does all this belong to me, is this
mine?" there was a man full of amazement, full of wonder, full of
thankfulness, full of worship! And probably the one
expression every day was, "Isn't it wonderful? Isn't it
wonderful? Just look! Look at this!" Is it less so in Christ? Is
it less so in the new creation? Is it less so in the spiritual
than in the temporal? There is something defective about our
apprehension, about our faith, about our faith. You see, this
document is the document of faith from first to last. There is
something defective about our faith's apprehension of all this.
Yes, we rebuke our hearts, we are ashamed, and well we should be.
There ought, dear friends, to be more of the wonder of it all, more
of the worship, we ought to be people who know more of the rest of
faith. So God did not leave this thing in any kind of general
terms, He reduced it, the whole new creation, He reduced to a very
practical proposition when He made or planted a garden and put man
into that and said "Now look here, this all has to do with you!
All this has to do with you and you have to do with all this".
Wonderful! So it is with Christ and His work.
That was the first significance of the garden as a garden. That's
why, after the creation, God proceeded to plant a garden.
And then to put man, not in the whole thing in general, but to
reduce it to concrete practical terms, and say, "Look here, this
is not some abstract, wide world, remote sort of thing, this is
something that comes very near to you".
The second significance of the garden was that it was to be man's
What a home it would have been if man had made it his home. He
had to be turned out; he lost his home. What is "home"? What is
home? Well, home, to justify its name, to be true to its real
meaning, means, to begin with, it's the place of rest. The place
of Rest. See, Christ is our Paradise! Christ is God's way
of making this great universe redeemed, concrete, practical,
presenting to us. And Christ is our home.
We are keeping true to the text of the letter. This whole matter
of entering into rest is one which the writer dwells upon very
strongly and very fully: entering into rest. God entered into His
rest. God entered into His rest and He put man right into the
heart of that which was His own rest and made that man's
home, or made man's home at the heart of that - rest. "Come unto
Me, all ye that labour..." to Me! "...And are heavy laden,
I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me...
and you shall find rest unto your souls". That's only saying in
other words: He's our home, we have come home. Our wanderings, our
wanderings are circumvented - he might have been a wanderer in the
great world, but he was given a home - instead of being a wanderer
he was given a home. Yes, God has done a great thing, but He has
not just left us to wander about in His great thing. He has
brought us to His Son that His Son shall be our Home in terms of
rest. He is our rest because He is God's rest.
Home, if it is what it is meant to be, true to the word, is the
place of man's pleasure. He has pleasure, he has pleasure there.
All of his pleasant thoughts are bound up with his home, his joy.
Well, these things need not take much time in their spiritual
application. If Christ has really become our home in terms of
rest, has He not become the very centre and sphere of our delight,
of our pleasure? You know how true that is in the natural when a
new home is being set up. Why, everything else, everything else is
put up with, got through as quickly as possible, in order to get
that home, make that home. The dominating thought and
pleasure is that home. Such should be, such should be our attitude
toward Christ in Person and Christ's work: our pleasure, our
delight. A home is not a lodging, a home is an abiding place.
The Lord Jesus in the days of His flesh, of course, spoke much
parabolically, and I cannot think other than when He said, "In my
Father's house are many abiding places"- 'mansions', the old
version says, He was speaking in spiritual terms. Literally
mansions don't interest some of us a little bit, but to come to
the place where we can abide forever and go no more out and find
eternal satisfaction and rest, that does appeal to us.
And where, in all God's universe will that be if it is not in
Christ? He is our abiding place, and therefore the writer does
introduce into this letter, over against the instability of these
Jewish believers, over against their variableness: "Jesus Christ
the same yesterday and today, and for ever". It's a
contrasting statement you see, for they, they were not the same.
They had professed and moved away from their profession. They had
taken a position and let it go. They had been drawn away,
persuaded away, argued away, they were not settled, but "Jesus
Christ", says the Apostle, "the same...", the same. And isn't that
something to rejoice in, that He is not moving, changing His
position, variable? He has the attributes of God with Whom there
is no variableness, "neither shadow cast by turning". What a
pregnant phrase. How many shadows come into life by the
unreliableness of people... you can never be sure of them.
"Neither shadow cast by turning". The place of abiding. More of
that comes out later as we go on.
So Christ should be all this to us, because He is all this to
God. God has come to rest. God has come to settlement and to
certainty in the Person and work of His Son. God finds all His
pleasure in Him and all His interest in Him. All that. And God has
given Him in all these terms and senses to us as a heritage. It is
a challenge to faith isn't it? Is Christ to us rest, our delight
and pleasure, our abiding place, our one absorbing interest? That
was what the garden was to Adam to begin with, all that, and it
foreshadowed Christ. He is our Paradise.
The garden next signified man's vocation.
God gave it to man as a heritage and told him to look after it, to
develop its potentialities, to realise all its possibilities - made
it his life work. The first man (now some of you, don't pat yourself
on the back) the first man was a gardener. The first vocation in
this world was gardening. It was man's life work. It was the avenue
of his self-expression. That phrase could be used perfectly safely
then in those situations at that time in unfallen man:
self-expression, because God was his one interest. It's perfectly
safe to express yourself if the Lord is everything inside to be
expressed. The way of his self-expression, the way of his own
development... for, while things were perfect as to nature, they
were not complete as to possibility, either in man or in the
creation. Perfect, yet to be perfected in the sense of brought to
full stature. And a garden was the sphere and means of man's coming
to full development himself and bringing out all that was there
potentially of the work of God.
What a field that opens, dear friends, where we and Christ are
concerned. Christ is our vocation! Christ is the occasion of our
expression of all that is in us! Christ is the means of our
enlargement, our growth, by exercise upon Christ. You see,
the principles are all there. That is what is being said here in
this letter in other language, in other ways and forms, but it is
all here in substance, and meaning, and principle. This is the
meaning of our being in Christ. He is our vocation; our vocation,
our life work, our supreme interest, our means of our own spiritual
development and enlargement.
And for the present I must close with this one other word. The
The scene and sphere and occasion of his testing and his
proving... here responsibility is introduced. But note the focal
point of responsibility; responsibility was not to do anything
for his own salvation, to provide anything to make up his
glorious heritage, it was all complete. He was put into it as a
completed, perfected thing, and then he was made
responsible. But what was the focal point of responsibility? Into
what did the whole matter of responsibility become gathered? Just
one thing: faith. Faith. Everything stood or fell as to his faith
attitude toward the great Benefactor - whether he believed God,
whether he trusted God - and trusted and believed Him so utterly
that no other voice, no other voice could turn him aside. It was
the test of his faith in the One Who had given him this heritage.
Responsibility all comes to that. Isn't that the argument of the
letter to the Hebrews from first to last? The great word of this
letter is "faith", isn't it? The great finale, the summing up of
everything at the end, is faith, faith, faith. But it has been
faith all the way through from the beginning, the great letter of
faith. Tremendous things are said in this letter about
responsibility. And when you focus this whole matter of
responsibility down and say, "Well, what does it amount to?
Believing God? Believing God? Having faith in God?" Faith of that
kind, of that kind that shuts you up and into God. It's a
very energetic thing, the faith that is in this letter, isn't it?
It's the faith that repudiates, faith that forsakes, faith that leaves
a whole world.
Look at what it says about the faith of those men on this road.
Moses alone is an example. Moses' great faith... what did it do
for him? "By faith he forsook...", he forsook. And why did he
forsake Egypt? Because God's purpose was not there, that's all.
And faith drew him in the direction of God's purpose, and he
forsook. By faith, by faith... much more. It is a tremendous thing,
this faith, but everything hangs upon that. Everything hangs upon
Responsibility, dear friends, is not that we have got in some way
to make our salvation, to save ourselves, to perfect ourselves.
Not at all. God is the author and the perfecter of faith, it says
here. But how is it going to be done? Believe God! That's what it
comes back, after all, to this. Is it, is this really true? Is this
true? Is this true, that this whole thing, right on to
glorification, is an accomplished fact so far as God is
concerned? It lies now in the perfect tense: "Whom He justified,
them He also glorified" - the perfect tense? Is it true that the
whole thing, so far as God is concerned, is finished and
offered to Him as a finished thing? Oh, if only I could grasp
that, what relief! What comfort! What relaxing of strain and
tension! What rest, what joy! What strength to go out, for that's
what follows, to "go out with Him without the camp, bearing His
reproach". You'll never be able to do it, or any of the other
things that we are bidden to do in this letter, unless, unless
you have come to that settled assurance: "It's all right! There is
no question, no hazard, no risk at all in this. It is settled and
finished! All that remains is for me by faith to take it, believe
it, grasp it, and hold on to it, and go on with it." "Let us