An address by W T Turpin on John 1:14-17, 28-43.
In order that we might truly and really know God and the Father, there was a twofold kind of revelation necessary — not only one kind, but two kinds. That is to say, we needed a revelation of God, as really as we needed a revelation from God. We need both. A revelation from God we have in all its precious blessedness in the written word, which we call the scriptures; but the revelation of God we have in the incarnate Word, the Lord Jesus Christ. And therefore it is that no one can really know God or the Father except in the Son. To be without the Son is to be without the Father. (See 1 John 2:23.) And that is a very solemn reflection for our hearts, an immense thing in a certain way, because it meets at once all the ideas in the minds of men, who would speak of the knowledge of God or the understanding of God, without Christ.
It is a very striking, precious, searching word, too, that the Spirit of God writes in the second epistle, when He says, "He that abideth not in the doctrine of Christ hath not God." (2 John 9.) There is no question of human reasoning about it; it is a simple divine statement of fact — he that hath not, he that refuses, the Christ, the anointed One of God, God's own beloved Son, has not God. Very solemn! And my object in bringing this scripture before you for a few moments is this, that what we have here, is the first subject that I desire to interest your hearts in; no subject more blessed, more soul invigorating, none more full of deep and holy joy for the heart that knows His love, than this precious revelation of God in Christ.
There were communications from God previously, there were words from God, assuredly there was a communication of His mind in the manner in which it was conveyed before from God. There were Moses and the prophets, there were the writings of Moses and the writings of the prophets; "holy men of old spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost;" but there never had been previously a revelation of God in One who, whilst He became a Man, was ever and always God, until Christ came. And hence, we have that blessed simple utterance of the Holy Ghost in the verse that we began to read from, here this evening, "The Word was made flesh:" mark! "the Word," that blessed Word of whom He speaks in the first verse of the chapter; "In the beginning the Word was, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God;" that is to say, He was in His existence eternal, in His nature divine, in His Person distinct, and lest there should be any mistake about it, it is said, "the same was in the beginning with God," and also He "was God." Now that blessed Word, who ever existed — for we are carried into eternity here in the gospel, just as we are brought into time in the epistle — became a man; "the Word was made flesh." What a thought for adoring hearts to bow down and worship and adore, as they dwell upon it!
It is of great moment and interest too, that we should rightly understand the value of the words "in the beginning" and "from the beginning." "In the beginning" in the gospel connects us, as we have seen, with eternity; "from the beginning" in the epistle, brings us into time. But then, whilst it is so, the connection is most precious, beloved friends, for our souls; for He who was "from the beginning" in time, was also "in the beginning;" the One that was "from the beginning" was "in the beginning." And that brings us at once to that fourteenth verse, "The Word was made flesh." Now we have got into time. "In the beginning" in the first verse we are before time, we are in eternity. In verse 14 He has come down and become a man, He who was the Word and with God has become a Man; "The Word was made flesh, and dwelt [tabernacled] amongst us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of an only-begotten with a Father, full of grace and truth" — the fulness of grace, and truth.
Well now, how blessed, beloved friends, to have all this as food for our souls, because it is a subject really for our souls; it is not a subject for our minds or our intellects, it is a theme specially for our consciences and hearts. What a blessed thing if you think of it, and just dwell upon it for a moment, that God should be pleased to come down and reveal Himself in the Person of His own Son, the Lord Jesus Christ; that He should come so near to us, that He should come to where we were; He Himself, apart in the intrinsic nature of His holiness and perfection, from everything, yet as truly did He come down to where we were. And hence it is, that we read in that verse, so full of comfort as well as so precious in itself, suited in every way to comfort our poor hearts within us, and raise our thoughts to the height and blessedness of God's own love. "The life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and show unto you that eternal life which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us."
Now mark that verse well, and connect with it the first verse of the same chapter — "That which was from the beginning;" that is, from the date of His manifestation in time as a Man down here. "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon," or contemplated, because, observe, it was not a passing sight, so to speak, just as we would say that we saw something in a passing way; it is most blessed to think of how they dwelt upon Him in contemplation; they looked upon Him, "which we have contemplated." And, be assured, there is a great difference, beloved friends, between merely looking at something, that is most blessed and wonderful in itself, and the soul being so entirely detained, engrossed, occupied with that precious Object that is worthy to engage it. "We have contemplated Him," we have dwelt upon Him. How blessed to think of that; and all this is, through grace, just what we are privileged to enjoy and know now to-day. It is not a mere passing look at Christ, a mere passing glance at Christ, but it is a fixed contemplation, the whole soul detained, and engaged, and engrossed, and filled by a Person who is entirely worthy to satisfy it, an object that has so perfectly satisfied and delighted the heart of God the Father, that His good pleasure is to turn our poor eyes to rest where His alone could find rest.
How blessed to think of that. And, moreover, here, beloved friends, I am persuaded is the need, the pressing need, of the present moment, even that Christ, before all other sights and sounds in this world, and apart from all the things that relate to Him, that relate even to His blessed interests, that Christ Himself should be before our souls; the very revelation of God in His own blessed Person down here, that that blessed One should fill every gaze of our souls, and that continually. What a wonderful reality it is when you think of it, the attractive power and spiritual delight that is in it, and in addition to all, the expulsive power of the affection that springs from it! How entirely carried outside of, as well as, above everything the affections are, when Christ really fills the vision of the soul! And that which promotes it, is set forth here in the first chapter of the Epistle of John — they contemplated, they looked upon, they dwelt upon the glory of His Person; the intrinsic worth of that blessed One was the object that riveted every power of their souls. "Our hands have handled of the word of life." Think of Him coming down to earth to be the revelation of God in His own blessed Person as a Man among men; not loving, as has been said, at a distance, but coming down to us where we were, so that poor eyes like yours and mine looked on Him, and poor ears heard Him, and poor hands touched Him and handled Him.
Oh, the blessed grace of the Lord Jesus Christ as the revelation of God, to come down into this poor world, and to place Himself at the disposal, so to speak, of poor, wretched things like you and me, that we might really see in His very Person, "God manifest in flesh." "The Word was made flesh;" and it does not say visited us, but lived and dwelt amongst us, tabernacled amongst us, took a tent as a passing stranger, if we may use a familiar expression, yet being as no one ever was, a stranger all through the scene here, yet taking for the time being a temporary resting-place; and in no sense was He a visitor; "He dwelt amongst us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of an only-begotten with a Father, full [the fulness] of grace and truth."
Well, now, in speaking of this revelation of God, for a moment, there was a double character in it, as it presents itself to me, and I would simply touch the points, leaving you to fill up the details, as the Lord may help each of us, for our own hearts' comfort, and edification too. There was a double character, if I may so convey myself, in this revelation of God. God was revealed, in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ here, in a twofold way: He was revealed as light, and as love, the two things that God is said to be in His own nature. He is light: "God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all." And, beloved friends, it is very important for our souls to take in that "message" heard of God, because, not only was He revealed in the Lord Jesus Christ as light and love, but that is the order, the divine order, in which the conscience and heart are made acquainted with that revelation, and that is a deeply important point for every one of us, the divine order in which the revelation reaches us — the revelation of God I am speaking of now. Let us dwell for a little on the order of that revelation, as it reaches our hearts through our consciences. Ponder well this order, that "God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all:" that is our first acquaintance with truth and with Christ, who is the truth; and, moreover, it is our first acquaintance with God, who is revealed in the Person of His own Son down here in this world. We first of all have to do with God, who is light, through our consciences, and it is in this way that our affections come into play because it is through the conscience that the affection is reached. Well, when our consciences are brought up, as it were, and acted upon by this blessed revelation, it is in all the convicting power of light. And that is very blessed, because there is then, not merely the exposing of all that we are in our nature — for we were sometime darkness, not merely in darkness. Remember that word, "Ye were once darkness." Quite true, we were in darkness, but we were darkness itself: "Ye were sometime" — not in darkness, but "darkness (skotos), but now are ye light (phos) in the Lord; walk as children of light." And then He goes on to speak, not exactly of the fruit of the Spirit, but the fruit of light; but we were darkness.
Well now, being darkness in ourselves, yet, coming in contact, through our consciences, with God, who is light, then you get everything judged, and that is the blessedness of it; you find the whole man detected, the whole history is manifested, the whole course comes out, just as introducing light into a dark room brings out everything that is contrary to the nature of light. "God is light." Oh, beloved friends, what a reality it is for our souls to know Him in that way, to have to do with God in that character, that God in whom is no darkness at all, and therefore everything that is contrary to God's nature all brought into open day, as it were. For we were the perfect contrast in our nature to what God is in His nature. "God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all;" and we were darkness, and not a bit of light in us, in our nature. Observe the marvellous effect of the conscience coming into contact with this great revelation of God, which the Lord Jesus Christ was Himself, because He was "the Light of the world." And you will find Him bringing that out in this Gospel of John. Look at chapter 8, and you will see the subject all through, is, that Christ, as Light, was the manifestation of God down here in this world. He brings out everything, He exposes everything, He detects everything; and nothing ever came out truly, and really, and clearly in its own nature, until Christ Himself was here. Christ was Himself the great manifestation, not only of God, but of everything of man and of the world, that was contrary to God. The law did not do that. The law did not manifest what man really was; it declared what he had done, but it did not manifest what he was. It showed, in the breach of its requirements, the shortness and failure of man as a creature subject to the claims of God, the Law-giver; as a creature under responsibility, it brought him in guilty, it exhibited him as short of the holy requirements of God, but it never brought out into the light and manifested either what God was, or what man was. The Lord Jesus Christ did; Christ was the great manifester of man, because He brought out what was in man, "He needed not that any should testify of man, for he knew what was in man."
And in the second chapter of John, which ends in that way, you have Him bringing it out, exposing man. How solemn the words, "did not commit Himself unto them." He exposed man, but He was the revelation of God. He revealed God in His own blessed nature and character, and He exposed man in his vileness and corruption. And this it is that makes those verses so exceedingly important — the last few verses of the second chapter, and the opening verses of the third chapter of John; for, whilst in the end of the second chapter, though there were those "in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast day," that gave credence to His words, and believed on Him, when they saw the miracles — for man, as man, may be affected by miracles — something outward, that addresses itself to his senses, yet, the Lord did not commit Himself to the people that so believed on His name, in the feast-day at Jerusalem. "He needed not that any should testify of man, for He knew what was in man."
Then the third chapter begins with this: there must be a new birth, another order of man; "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." There must be a new order and generation altogether. But then Christ was the One who brought all that out. I desire earnestly to speak now of that first great revelation of God in His own Person, and that is, that "God is light." And, oh! what an immense thing it is for our souls to have to do with a God that is light. And this is a real want in every one of us, even a break-down of conscience before God. That is a present, pressing want, and every day makes the necessity plainer, it is the great want of the hour. It is the light of God, as displayed in Christ, entering into the conscience that is the immense power for bringing us into the presence of God.
It is deeply important for us all to ponder solemnly, one most arresting fact — the Lord give us to weigh it. The proof of the conscience not being reached by the light, is, that the mind is active in judging and reasoning. When the mind is thus employed, or the reason is at work, conscience is not in exercise, it is not reached. When the conscience is reached — and it is only light that can reach it — the whole man is judged. There is a very great difference between those two things, between a man judging in his mind and reasoning in his intellect, and God, in His, own light, shining into the conscience, so that the man is judged, and is down in his true place before God, and thus an avenue is made through his conscience to his affections. And, no doubt, the reason why there is so little real divine affection for the Lord Jesus Christ, is, because the conscience is so little in exercise, beloved friends.
We often say to one another that there is a want of more devotedness to Christ. You will never find it where conscience is not reached; because conscience is the avenue to the affections, and the true way by which an opening is made to the soul, and it is in that way that the depths of the affections and the soul are acted upon.
Now, the Lord helping me, let me endeavour to show how the second revelation comes in here; because if the light which Christ Himself was in His own blessed Person, and which God was — when that light detects us, judges us, as it does, when it reveals things as God sees them, not as we see them, or others see them, the light of God thus entering into the conscience, morally compels me to take cognisance of the thing as before God, then the way is prepared for the other revelation; and remember, not only is God light, "but God is love," and Christ is the great revelation of that. Just as He was the revelation of God who is light, He was also the revelation of God who is love. And look at the blessedness of it. When the bottom of the soul is got at through the conscience — and oh! what wounds and smarting, for there are no wounds like those of conscience, there is no sorrow like the sorrow of conscience, that real "godly sorrow which worketh repentance unto salvation, not to be repented of" — when there is all that, when the man is thus subdued and broken down, the full sense of his condition seen in the light of God, not mere surface work, but what is at the root, as it were, the thing that is really down deep there, unseen by all but One, unmeasured by all but One; then look how blessedly the other revelation comes in; because the revelation of love is the revelation of that which can remove and put away everything that the light has manifested. And thus it is they work together. The one makes manifest the unsuitability of man as he is, to God; the other makes manifest the divine love which ever was in the heart of God, but which awaited the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ, to righteously gratify itself in removing all that His light detects. And Christ came for this purpose. Thus we have the two parts of His blessed life.
We see in His life down here upon earth, in His public ministry amongst men, a testing of all that man was. Hence a living Christ was a testing Christ: man was thus exposed as far from God, alienated and an enemy in his mind by wicked works. True, that in His life, there was a most perfect manifestation of God in His own Person, yet at the same time there was a detection and exposing of all that was in man's heart towards God, as well as towards Christ. But a dead Christ is One who has wrought atonement, and from whose riven side, as dead, the blood came, to remove everything that the light reveals as unsuitable to Him; and thus it is we see both things in His blessed life, very vividly set before us in this way. We have God manifested in His own Person down here as a Man, and we have man exposed in all his vileness before God; when the conscience is reached through that light, then there is for it the revelation of God in His own character, as love. And, oh! what a revelation of it we have in Christ, the Christ of God, the Son of the Father, the Son of the bosom; how blessed thus to wait on His glories! And thus it is we have in this very Gospel, "The only-begotten Son, who is in the Father's bosom," not "who was in the Father's bosom," for He never left it. "The only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared him" — declared Him in all the affection, in all the love, in all the heat, in all the very truth of that bosom; Christ, the Son of the bosom, revealed and manifested the Father in all that pertained to Him in that relationship. Now these are two great things that meet us in these verses from the fourteenth verse of the first of John.
And now let me pause, and ask all our hearts, — How far do we know God in these characters? How far really have you and I been made acquainted with God in the Lord Jesus Christ, as light and love down here in this world? In what character do we know Him? Have we been brought to Him, so that we can say, we do know Him in that way? Can you say that the bottom of your soul has been reached by the light? And, observe, it does not refer merely to the first moment of conversion, when that light reached us as poor wretched sinners, but refers as much to what comes afterwards, in all our course as Christians down here in this world; we are brought into the light, that is to say, we are brought into this full manifestation of God. That is our Christian place, our Christian position before God. We are in the light. It is not a question of walking according to the light; of course, we ought; that is perfectly true; but we are brought into the light, we are set in a distinct position before God, which is expressed in these words, "in the light;" that is, we are before the eyes of God, and our walk should be before the eyes of God, enlightened by the full revelation of what He is.
Now you will judge what a solemn thing that is; it is a most blessed position to be in the light, but it is a most solemn one: and, remember, if we are in the light, then everything about us must be suitable to that light. The position we are in, defines the character of the conduct that suits it. Thus it is we are led to discover all kinds of things, and if the conscience is really sensitive as before God, (and the Lord give us to have sensitive consciences about everything) if the light of truth by the Word is making it sensitive, then is the judgment according to God, of all that will not suit the light. If it were a mere question of our getting through the world, or picking our steps through the ruin of the church the best way we could, we might perhaps get on and make a miserable kind of pass through; but if it be the genuine desire to be suitable to God, and suitable to the light that we are brought into, and that everything about us is to be sustained according to the character of the position His grace has set us in, it is a very solemn and searching matter, and thus it is that we are kept in continual exercise of conscience and soul. I cannot believe there is any real, true progress of soul, unless it is so. I quite admit there may be a great deal of sentiment, and that, alas! is abounding on every side, a vast amount of sentiment, but very little conscience.
Now what is the value of sentiment? The sentiment of the truth is not the truth; there is a great difference between these two things. The sentiment of the truth can tolerate, and in fact, does tolerate, that which at best is merely the honey of nature; but salt is truth, in power. It is the preservative element, and is applied to us, even to our conscience; and the conscience in a healthy state takes cognisance as a witness. Truth is that power which acts upon the conscience; and when it is so acted upon by the truth, then it is a truthful witness for God, and for all that is suitable to God there; but if the conscience is not in this state, then it is the most blinding, dangerous thing that can be. And, hence, you may often hear the remark, "Oh! I have done nothing against my conscience." Well, that is all well so far, but what is acting on your conscience? How solemn to remember that Saul of Tarsus persecuted Jesus in the glory, thinking in himself that he ought to do so: "I verily thought with myself that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth." Therefore, it is vain for any to plead in a wrong cause, "My conscience does not reprove me;" the reply is, if you were walking in the light, that is, if you were walking before God's eyes, enlightened by the full revelation of what He is, your conscience would undoubtedly accuse you.
It is an easy matter for any one to assert, "My conscience does not reprove me, or convict me," or, "I have got a clear conscience;" but the whole question is, What is the rule of your conscience? Is it the Word of God, or is it the blinding influence of your own will? Is it the truth of God that is acting upon it? Is it the light that is upon it? If it be, then the soul is before God in His judgment and estimate of the matter. If it be not this light, then it is the blinding power of self; and there is nothing amongst men so blinding and deceiving as that. Conscience without truth upon it and without light acting upon it, is one of the most dangerous tools of Satan: thus it is the adversary gets hold of souls, and deceives them, and blinds them, turning their conscience into weapons to his hand. I do not know anything worse than this, that men should exalt the conscience into the place of scripture; it is thus the conscience becomes enslaved and degraded; it appears to rule and guide, but is in reality, enslaved and ruled by the will of the flesh. No; there must be the truth of God, there must be the light of God shining upon the conscience, working upon the conscience; thus it is in healthy exercise, but before God; and His Word, operative and active as light upon it, in divine power, so that it gives a true witness according to God and according to His truth. It is no guide at all; it never was intended to be a guide; God never gave to man a conscience as a guide in any sense. That conscience was to be in him as a witness, to be illuminated by the truth, and to be manifested by light and the Word of God shining in upon it, is true; the Word of God, that blessed Word, which reveals things according to God and according to God's thoughts. And, beloved friends, how very solemn it is to think how little any of us thus submit ourselves to this action of the living Word of our God.
And then let me say one word further as to this; it is of great importance to note it, that when the conscience, thus illuminated by light (for I have only spoken of light as yet), when the conscience bears its witness as the result of the light and truth of God acting upon it, when it gives its verdict, its testimony, and if there has been departure, as light would measure and mark it — "for God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all" — it matters not in how small a measure the departure may be, departure is departure, failure is failure, turning aside is turning aside; granted, it may be but in the measure of a hair's breadth; still, let us ever hold fast it is a hair's breadth of turning aside; there is on our side but one way back, beloved friends, and that is by confession; only one way of restoration, really and happily, and that is by confession — a thing that is greatly dreaded in these days, greatly shunned, and greatly avoided. Oh, what a comfort for the soul that loves light! Suppose I have missed the heavenly road; it matters not, as I have said, how little it is, still, I have missed it. Well, who could over-estimate the blessed comfort for the soul, to be able, with the light shining upon the conscience, to go right to God, and to have the whole thing out with Him. It is the true way of getting back — in fact there is no other way. And it is what we shall find increasingly in our own souls, that the way of getting back is by that path which makes little of us, and that is the very thing we do not like that is what we try to avoid, that is what we, alas! dread. It reminds us of the word of Saul to Samuel, "Honour me now before my people." Alas! poor wretched, small man. It is the littleness of our nature that is humiliating, and it is the littleness of these wretched hearts of ours: "Honour me now before my people." Oh, how often have these words been repeated in our ways! Be assured, it is only true greatness, the effect of the light of God upon the soul, that can afford to go down, and take its true place before God or man: Saul could not. And that is exactly what we may often observe. And I cannot believe that any person that has ever missed any part of the path — I care not what it is — I am assured that man never can be happy in his own soul and conscience, until he owns the thing before God. I could not be persuaded to the contrary. I believe that there is a want, a vacuum, in that man's soul, well expressed too in the words of the poet, in the hymn: —
"What peaceful hours I once enjoy'd,
How sweet their memory still;
But they have left an aching void,
The world can never fill."
Oh, how true that is of a soul, in the pressure which confession can alone remove, there is a gnawing and a dis-satisfaction, not to speak of the reserve and distance, which must be felt, and almost intolerable, until confession disperse the dark cloud. "When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long. For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me, my moisture is turned into the drought of summer. Selah. I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgression unto the Lord."
The Lord give our hearts a true sense of this wonderful revelation of God in Christ. This first great part of it I have spoken of tonight — the light. "God is light." Christ is the great exposition, the great manifestation of it. Then there is the other part of the revelation, namely, that "God is love." The delight of that blessed love is to remove all that the light manifests. And oh, the comfort of that for our souls! God is love, and therefore He says, I will remove everything from you that the light detects; everything that the light exposes, I will remove it all. I will reveal it as light, but I will remove it as love: how wonderful the comfort for our souls. I will not leave a stain or a spot or a sign of it upon you; and not merely judicially — most blessed to see the judicial removal of it in the death of the cross, the blood-shedding of the Lamb of God, the atoning efficacy of His work to remove the sin judicially — but it is removed practically as well. And this makes that thirteenth chapter of John so exceedingly precious. Because, look at the manifestation of that love, practically, in that chapter, and the practical removal by feet washing; it was not in any sense, judicial dealing with it; it was the manifestation of the Lord's unchanging love in the removal of moral distance by the water, the application of the Word of God. Mark how it opens: "Having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them unto the end." I love you so well, that I will not have a stain upon you; I will not have a soil between you and myself in that bright scene I am about to enter. Oh, blessed love, blessed grace of Christ! and this all made known by Himself to them, as that hour was just upon them. Permit me to ask you, if your hearts have taken in, or been taken in, by such a blessed kind of love as this? It was on the cross the work was finished, here it is the practical application, by the Lord Himself, of the Word to the feet of His poor disciples. Well, I must leave the details of it with you, to go over them in His own blessed presence and company.
I come now to one other subject here, which I desire to dwell upon to-night, and reserve what follows, if the Lord will, to another time. Now that one other subject brought out in this first chapter of John, is the two parts of Christ's great work. We have had before us the revelation of God as light and love, and then we have the two parts of the Saviour's great work; those two parts are expressed in the twenty-ninth and following verses. "The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world. This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me. And I knew him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptising with water. And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him. And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptise with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending and remaining on him, the same is he which baptiseth with the Holy Ghost."
Now here are the two great parts of the work of the Lord Jesus Christ. Just as in the other part, we have the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ, in His double manifestation of God as light and love — the Word made flesh, and dwelling among us — so here you have the parts of the work of Him who was the Word made flesh. And the first part was that He was the Lamb of God; that is, He was the One who came from God's side to restore the foundations of the world's relations with God. He is set forth here not as Messiah, but according to the whole extent of His work. He was the Lamb of God to take away the sin of the world. It sets the work before us in its fullest and widest extent. He was God's own Lamb, the One whom God alone could furnish; He was for God, and in every respect according to His mind. It is not here, how we get the good of the work. We do not learn, from this verse in John, how a poor sinner can lay hold upon Christ. Here it is the unfolding of the precious work that he can get the good of. But let us ever distinguish what God distinguishes. There is a great difference between the work that was done, and how we get the good of it.
Now, as to how we get the good of it, we have most plainly set forth in scripture; but here is the great work that was done, unfolded too in its divine worth. And what was that great work? That He taketh away the sin of the world — observe it well, sin — in its widest and largest sense, so much so, that there will be new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness will dwell. It is very blessed to dwell on this glory of Christ set forth in that way. He was God's Lamb; He came from God, He offered Himself without spot to God through the eternal Spirit, the Lamb without blemish and without spot, to restore the foundations of the relations of the world with God; sin had entered into the world, and death by sin. He was God's Lamb to do this work; but the work by which He did it, was that blessed work of the cross, and He did it by giving Himself up, upon the cross, bearing the whole judgment of God there; Himself made sin, He who knew no sin, on that cross; bearing the whole of God's righteous judgment against sin, becoming the sacrifice for sin, so as to accomplish, and that perfectly, that work; and so He was glorified according to all the blessed appreciation of God, and according to God's own infinite estimate of the value and fulness of that work. God was glorified by that work of Christ, and the effect of that work is boundless in all its blessed application.
But there is the other part of it, which I can but merely glance at this evening, in the lateness of the hour. The other part of the work of the Lord Jesus Christ is set forth in the words, "baptiseth with the Holy Ghost;" this was consequent on His having gone up into the heaven as the ascended, glorified Man. God come down in flesh, He was; but Man gone up in righteousness and ascension glory, He is; in incarnation, it was God come down in flesh; in ascension glory, it is Man gone up in righteousness: and having gone up in righteousness, and being as man, exalted to the right hand of the Majesty in the heavens, He sends down the Holy Ghost; He is the One who baptises with the Holy Ghost. And this baptising with the Holy Ghost implies not merely a negative blessing, but it implies an entirely new thing, it is characteristic of an entirely new heavenly status and position before God. It is not merely the negative clearing away of our guilt, but it is the introduction into the entirely new blessings and privileges of the heavenly position before God, of which the Holy Ghost is the seal and witness. Oh, how blessed it is to think of it! How blessed to be made acquainted with the negative and positive sides of this work of the Lord Jesus Christ, to know how perfectly and completely and for ever, He has cleared everything away as God's Lamb, for God; so that for you and me to-night the whole thing is settled, once for all. As Christians, all our sins are gone in virtue of that work, which He did as the Lamb. Our souls have known the application of it to our individual needs and wants, to the circumstances of our cases; thank God, we can say, Our sins are gone in virtue of that work of "the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world." It does not say the sins of the world, but the sin of the world.
But you and I can say, as we adoringly behold that precious aspect, that of the work of His cross, we can say, all our sins are gone in virtue of that work; individually we can say, that it was the purgation of our sins; and more than that, the Lord Jesus Christ in accomplishing that work, bore His people's sins "in His own body on the tree," and therefore they are all gone — our sins are for ever buried and gone. But then, thank God, we have more than that. We have been baptised with the Holy Ghost, that is to say, we have been brought, not merely out of darkness, not merely out of the distance we were in, but we have been brought into a new positive position in all its blessedness before God, in the Christ who shed His blood; we are set in this position by redemption, and the Holy Ghost is the characteristic seal and pledge. So that it is a totally new thing; it is a heavenly position, because we are in a heavenly Christ. We are not standing in Christ as He was incarnate, we are standing in Christ as He is in ascended glory in the heavens; that is our position before God; we are in the ascended, glorified Christ before God, in all the fragrance and in all the acceptability and blessedness of that Christ who is before Him. And the Holy Ghost, who dwells in our bodies for Christ was the baptiser with the Holy Ghost — the Holy Ghost dwelling in our bodies is the seal and witness of that new magnificent status that God has set us in, in that risen and glorified Christ. Oh, the blessedness of these glories! What a thing it is, to be assured from God of the blessed footing He has set us on, and that He has set us there according to all His own thoughts, having shown Himself to us as light and love, in Christ. He Himself has done it, and He Himself has brought us — through that which has perfectly glorified Him, and met as well the need of our consciences — He has brought us through that, to stand in all the perfection of this wonderful footing, on which He has set us in that blessed One before Himself; in the acceptability and fragrance of that precious, blessed One who is in His presence.
The Lord give our hearts to enter into it more! and better still, the Lord grant that it may enter into us, and then we shall truly enter into it; sure I am that is the truth of the whole matter; when it enters into us, and His blessed Spirit can give it an entrance into us — then, and then alone it is, that we enter into it. The Lord grant it may be so, through His own Word this evening. I feel assured none ever have so much the sense of their poverty, as when they are seeking divinely to set forth the truth of God. Any other theme is, as it were, within our reach naturally, but oh! this is so immensely beyond us, and yet so blessedly for us so infinitely above us, and yet so perfectly and divinely suited to us in all its parts. The Lord suit it to us to-night, giving us, by His Spirit in His grace, such receptiveness as will take in what He Himself would place there, and keep there, through Jesus Christ our Lord.