The subject before us this evening is "Part with me." It is not that I seek to get to the extent of it, but to know the beginning of it. We have considered "Christ formed in you" - "not I, but Christ liveth in me" - and the more you enter into the reality of this, the more you necessarily know that you are in a new range of thoughts, tastes, interests, everything. Here Christ is going away, and He says to His disciples, Unless I wash your feet, passing through this world of defilement, you will not have part with me. If you look at the history of grace in John it is very interesting, because you get Christ living in you morally. When you come to "I know my sheep, and am known of mine," there is now an intimacy subsisting between Christ and His own of the same character, I do not say measure, as that between the Father and the Son. That is where grace ends with relation to us. If you have not this intimacy, you cannot know a shade of reserve.
Are defilements necessary in passing through the world?
Because of our natural susceptibility they are unavoidable. A very small thing will divert you from the Lord. You have entered on His line of things. It is not your duties, or business. The very air you breathe is not a help to you.
Is it moral darkness that we come in contact with? Yes. You are often not aware how the defilement occurred. He knows; He washes your feet. It is plain to any one who knows that Christ lives in him that then you like to be in the range of His ways and pleasure.
It would not be possible to have part with Him unless He washed our feet?
No; not possible.
Do you mean by part with Him intimacy with Him where He is?
Exactly; and I propose to touch the first step in it. One might say, Why not have the wilderness first? Because I believe you are better prepared to understand the wilderness path if you know what Christ is to you. I have before me now the book of Hebrews, first, that you have part with Christ touching the infirmities which press on you while here; and, secondly, part with Him as to His place in the assembly, on the earth.
Is it that which makes this scene a wilderness?
The teaching of Hebrews is, that Christ, the Person, who is not here, is so necessary to you that you are drawn away from this place unto Him, and the consequence is that Christ endears Himself so much to you that you run to Him - that is the race. It is not the place in Hebrews, but the Person - I run to Him. How does He bear you above the pressure here? By His sympathy. How do I find Him here on earth? In the assembly. The two lines are outside of man. I do not want to go farther than that now - outside of man. I do not say outside of the world. I am only touching upon "Part with me."
Do you mean you must be outside man to have part with Him? Yes.
Where shall I get sympathy from Him?
Where is He? Not here.
Very well, you must go to Him where He is. There is a great deal in that. He is not only an Advocate, but our Priest. A priest is to maintain you with God. Christendom has placed the priest between the congregation and God. You want to know that Christ would so maintain you above the pressure of circumstances, that you can come boldly to the throne of grace. Let us look at Hebrews 2. The first point is, that "both He that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause He is not ashamed to call them brethren." Now follow up the subject we had last evening - He lives in me. Therefore you are of another order of being. "He is not ashamed to call them brethren." If you do not start there you cannot know sympathy. The general thought about sympathy is that the Lord will shew you consideration. "He stayeth His rough wind in the day of the east wind." That is not sympathy. The sympathy in Hebrews is, that Christ is out of the pressure, and if you are with Him who is out of it, you are borne above it; but if you part company with Him you are under the pressure again. While you are with Him He so absorbs your heart that you are above the pressure.
Is that by associating you with Himself where He is?
Yes; in His company you are borne above the pressure.
Does He not reach down His hand to me?
He draws you to Himself; He brings you into association with Himself He is ministering to one of His brethren.
Is the sympathy of Christ the same as His support?
It becomes support because you are with Him. Mary of Bethany gives you a good idea of it. Martha got relief from the pressure, but no sympathy. Mary discovered during that walk with the Lord more than she knew before. While she was mourning for the loss of Lazarus, she found out that she had a Friend that sticketh closer than a brother, and I believe that He so endeared Himself to her then that when she heard He was going to die she anointed Him. What was anything to her if He died? "Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her." I am not sure that it is in terms preached. It is not only that Christ loves the sinner, but He makes the sinner love Him.
In addition to His support you have One who can enter into your pressure. "In all their affliction He was afflicted." You know He feels with you, but He is out of it, and He so soothes you by His company that you N are more occupied with your gain in Him than with your bereavement. With Him you are borne above it, and you can come boldly to the throne of grace to obtain mercy and find grace. Paul and Silas are a good example. They were in suffering, but they were most wonderfully supported above it. They were borne above it first, then mercy was vouchsafed. There was a great earthquake, and every one's bands were loosed.
That is, He changes us morally?
Exactly. But it is by Himself. If you expect sympathy, you don't look for anything else. This is because you know the solace He can be to you.
When I lose the support and sympathy, how am I restored?
By finding Him again. One great difficulty in dealing with divine things is, that some put a human interpretation on the word of God. They call kindness and consideration sympathy.
Do I understand that you are using Hebrews to lead up to what "part with me" is in John?
I am using it as the first step. There are two steps scripturally concurrent. I am relieved of the pressure by being in company with Christ, and I find Him in His place here, that is, the assembly.
Do you come to the throne of grace because you have got sympathy or to get it?
Because you have got it. You are not distracted. There are three kinds of pressure -
2. bad health, and
If you are so overwhelmed by pressure that you cannot pray, you cannot enjoy your place in the assembly.
You will be occupied with your pressure?
Quite so. I believe the great practical difficulty is to come to Christ's side.
That is the object of Hebrews?
Yes, you see the teaching most popular is that which sets forth Christ as He was down here; but the moment you press that you are to join Him where He is; people say, "Oh! that is too high."
But it is Christianity.
It is where Christianity is known.
Do I ever get to His side until I have known Him with me?
Certainly not; but you have come to that if you can say, "Not I, but Christ liveth in me." Isaac has His right place. You cannot have sympathy unless you are of His brethren - unless you are in His company.
Then "all of one" you take to be of one stock?
Exactly. But if you add a noun to it you limit it.
Do you take this to be an advance upon the other?
I take it to be the fruition of the other - the very first step of one who knows that Christ is formed in him. I am presenting how you are really drawn away from this place by knowing all Christ will be to you where He is.
Strictly, the saint in John is not a wilderness man at all. True, he has a power outside of it; but as to position, we are in the wilderness. In Hebrews you don't get to heaven; but Christ, who is not here, is indispensable to you. If you get with Him when under pressure, He so absorbs you that for the time you are borne above the pressure.
Would you say that is the intention of the pressure?
Sometimes it may be sent for that very purpose.
When we speak of the Lord coming to us in our circumstances - "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee" - we are in wilderness circumstances.
Yes. You are to be content with such things as ye have. That is wilderness circumstances.
Then the other side is that we are out of wilderness circumstances when we have part with Him where He is.
I know nothing more difficult than to take our proper place in the wilderness, because the wilderness is Marah. How do you get out of Egypt? Through death, What do you get then? Experimental death. That is Marah. I don't mean practical death, I mean moral death. You are not out of the wilderness yet.
The 3rd of John brings us to the end of the wilderness, does it not?
You come out in a new way before you leave it.
Well, I hope now that we all understand sympathy. You cannot know Christ as Priest unless you have known Him as your Saviour first - your salvation must be a settled thing.
That is, the priest's work is not in connection with sins?
Yes; not with sins, it is with respect to infirmity. Infirmity may degenerate into sin, but it is not the same thing.
But He makes propitiation?
He now maintains you in the virtue of all He has effected. "This He did once, when He offered up Himself." The testament is of no force while the testator liveth.
If I bring myself under pressure through sin, do I get sympathy?
You must first come to the Advocate. You must judge yourself. If you do not judge yourself God judges you. A great deal of discipline is because a man has not judged himself for sin, and God is judging him for it. "Our God is a consuming fire."
What are infirmities generally?
There are three kinds. Pressure of circumstances. A man might be too rich, or too poor. He might suffer from ill health, a very great pressure like a ship waterlogged. Then there is bereavement, the greatest of all, because there is no repairing it. It is that which makes it such a terrible thing.
Then the present state in which we are is one of weakness?
We are liable to these things, and in ourselves we have no resource. The disciples immediately turned to the Lord to remove the storm, and He did remove it. But if you want His sympathy you say, No, I come to the Lord, and He will bear me up to where He is Himself. It is a wonderfully practical question, how far we have got to that. It is not only that He bears you above the circumstances, but He is a great Priest over the house of God, and He maintains you in the place where He is, in the holiest of all.
There could not be much complaining if He were known in this way?
You must begin where we were last night - with Christ living in you. Suppose tomorrow you find you are under pressure, and you say, How can I be maintained with God under this pressure? If Christ is your life, if Christ lives in you, you have part with Him - you get sympathy - you are borne above the pressure.
Is it not a great hindrance to getting sympathy that we have unbroken wills?
Oh! Then Christ is not living in you - your old man is not crucified.
Do you want us to learn that it is better to be in pressure than to be relieved of it?
I do. If you are relieved, this place is more attractive. If you get sympathy, Christ is endeared to you; and instead of looking for anything in this place you are drawn to Christ, who is not here - He becomes more and more indispensable to you. In Paul you get infirmity of the highest order; and yet he says, I count it all joy.
The disciples lost something by awakening the Lord to calm the storm.
Of course. I have often asked the Lord to remove a storm, but I should have known Him better if it had remained.
Still, it is better to turn to the Lord in that way than not at all?
Oh, yes! but it is for relief. I think the Lord does sometimes vouchsafe relief to young believers to encourage them. Mr. Wigram used to say, if he wanted a thing done in a hurry he would ask a young believer to pray for it. . . . Now we come to another thing. I am trying to trace our course historically. The first step is that He bears you above the pressure, and you are so undistracted that you pray. But that is not all. He is a great High Priest over the house of God. Now we come to the step which every true heart would like to know. You would like to know where the Lord will be found on earth. A great deal of the weakness of souls is because they have not taken this step. I do not say that they have not sought fellowship, but they have not come to where the Lord is. "Disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, precious." First, you know Him as bearing you above the pressure here; next you join Him in His place on earth.
You cannot know Him in the second place if you do not in the first?
I agree, I do not think you can. The first is with reference to the pressure here, the second is the only place for the heart. If you know the first you will not stop there. Both are outside of man. The Lord came to His disciples on the water. Peter from affection says, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. And He said, Come." I do not put it before the young believer (but he has not "part" with Christ if he has not taken that step), but I put before him the affection which would join the Lord where He is. You cannot join Him except outside of man - where there is nothing for man at all. To walk on water was no path for a man. Nothing save affection can induce you to take this step; it is the only true way to enter the assembly.
I must expect to find Him in an outside place?
Exactly. It is in that connection in Matthew 14 John the Baptist is beheaded.
You say this is the true way to enter the assembly?
If you have tasted that the Lord is gracious you are converted. Now there is another step - "To whom coming."
"To whom coming," then, is not a sinner coming to Christ?
No. "To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, precious." You must come to Him outside of man. You say, Oh, I came to the room. What did you find? Well, there was a very poor meeting. You do not know what the step is. It was not the Lord you went to. I believe when you are gathered to the person of Christ you get more from His presence than from the nicest speaking. Thus in 2 Cor. 3 "Beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord," we "are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord." You are transformed. This is morally the same to the Gentile as Hebrews 10 is to the Jew - the holiest of all.
But you would not have us insensible to the bad condition that produces a bad meeting?
No. On the contrary, we have known instances of saints who were not able to hear, being conscious of the Lord's presence. And they could tell you whether it was a good meeting or a bad one.
If they are near the Lord, they know where He is?
Exactly. I think Christians are not set for joining the Lord outside of man. I say, the difference between me and Peter is that I have the power and Peter had the affection. Peter had not the power, but everyone who has the Holy Ghost has the power. But you have not used your power. Still, it is a great thing to know where the Lord is.
If Christ lives in me, shall not I necessarily find out where Christ is on earth?
Of course, but you will find that you are borne above the pressure before you can find Him in His place, which is the assembly,
Do you say it is only in the assembly that a soul can behold the glory of the Lord?
Not exactly. I believe an individual can behold the Lord's glory, but it would only affect him in his individual path; but in the assembly he beholds the Lord's glory in relation to His own affairs. Some say, I had the Lord with me at home. No doubt; but He was only in relation to yourself. He is helping you. No doubt, you need it. But if you come into the assembly, it is like the Queen of Sheba coming to Solomon. She got into his house and into his circle.
Might a person find this out without learning that he is a member of the body?
I think he might. I do not think there is anything here about the unity of the body. There was nothing about it in Acts 2. It had not been revealed. The Lord has got a place upon earth - it is really His house. The first thing a truly converted soul thinks about is - Where shall I worship? You get it in Exodus 15. It necessarily follows that if you are relieved of judgment, you want to know - has God got a place here?
I was going to ask how would you connect the "beholding the Lord's glory" with the priesthood of Christ?
Where did Aaron and his sons go when they were consecrated?
Into the Holy Place.
Very well. Then if there is no veil, where are they?
In the Holiest.
Very well, that is where you are. The Holiest is the glory of the Lord. To a Gentile it is beholding the Lord's glory. To a Jew it is, that a Man has met all that was typified by the ark. The antitype is Christ Himself.
Why is it Son over His own house, and great priest over the house of God?
Because one is His right - Son over God's house.
In a word, What do we learn from the high priest over the house of God in Hebrews 10?
That not only you come into the presence of Himself in glory, but He maintains you there. Aaron's sons went in with him. You come into the Holiest so that you find Him in His glory. You have not yet come to the Father, but to the place where the Father is. You cannot come to the Father unless you come to the place where He is.
But you do not get inside in Hebrews 10?
You get the right to go in. It is not going in and out at all. I do not say you may not soil your feet and lose it.
Then "Let us draw near" is once for all?
Once for all. We have always the right to go in, but if you soil your feet you have to judge yourself. There is no new consecration. Practically speaking at the Lord's supper we are remembering the preliminary to consecration. The consecration did not take place until all the offerings had been offered up. Hebrews 2 takes you up at the twenty-second verse of Psalm 22, but the first twenty-one verses must have been fulfilled.
Is responsibility connected with "to whom coming"?
It is calling more than responsibility. I would not press the Lord's supper on a young believer; but I should say, Would you like to join the Lord? Would you like to be where the Lord is? Yes. Well, the Lord is outside of man. The truer a heart is the less will anything satisfy it, except His presence.
Would the effect then be that the assembly would become our absorbing interest here?
Certainly you are brought into His interests. Hence the Holy Ghost is known to you in a different way from what He is in John 4 and 7 He is first for yourself. In John 14 He is called "the Comforter," because He takes the place of Christ; but if you do not take the place of a servant, you do not know the Comforter.
All this supposes that the will is not at work.
Of course we start with "I am crucified with Christ." You must keep Galatians 2:20 in your mind.
This is all leading up to "part with me" in John?
It is the beginning of it. What we arrive at eventually is that He is Head over everything, and you are united to Him.
We are only at the beginning now.
May I ask what the ship was?
It was what suited water. The Jewish system if you like. You are outside of what suits man. Nothing has enfeebled us so much as what people call joining the brethren - not understanding the ground of the assembly. I put before a young believer nothing but affection for Christ.
You do not expect him to see that the Lord is in one place and nowhere else?
No, I do not. I want him to join the Lord. You get an illustration of it in the young birds in the autumn. The parent birds want their young ones to know that they can fly. They go about two feet above them, and the young ones try to get to the parents, and then they find they can fly.
I believe many a Christian, if he really wanted to join the Lord, would find out he had wings - the power. J. B. Stoney.