by A.T. Jones
We are still studying what we have in Christ. We must [not] forget that the Lord has raised us up and set us in Christ at His own right in the heavenly existence. And thank the Lord that that is where we abide, in His glorious kingdom. We are still studying what we have in Him where He is and what the privileges and the riches are that belong to us in Him.
We will begin this lesson this evening with Eph. 2:11, 12, 19:
Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called uncircumcision by that which is called the circumcision in the flesh made by hands; that at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world.
Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and of the household of God.
Well, I am glad of that. Our place is altogether changed, our condition is changed. And all this is accomplished in Christ; this change is wrought in us in Him, for "he is our peace."
But now, in Christ Jesus, ye who sometime were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one [God and us, one], and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; having abolished in his flesh the enmity...for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace....For through him we both [those that are far off and those that are nigh] have access by one Spirit unto the Father. Now therefore [for this reason, because we have access unto the Father in him--for this reason] we are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints.
The German gives another turn to the words in the nineteenth verse, thus, "So are ye now no more guests and strangers, but citizens." The force of that will be seen more clearly when I mention that in Leviticus where our Bible reads "strangers and sojourners with thee," the German gives it, "The guest and the stranger that is with thee." So in Christ we are no more strangers and foreigners; we are not even guests. We are closer than that.
Eph. 2:19 again:
Ye are no more guests and strangers but fellow-citizens and of the household of God.
A guest is not one of the household; he is one who is welcome but he merely comes and goes. But the one who belongs to the household comes and stays. The German word where our word "household" is used will help us to see the real relationship signified. The word is Hausgenossen and is a derivation of essen, which means, "to eat." Housgenossen is one that eats in the house and lives there. He is at home, and when he comes in, he does not come in as a guest. He comes in because he belongs there.
That text shows the contrast thus far between what we were and what we are, but there are other texts that bring us still nearer than that. Turn to the fourth chapter of Galatians, beginning with the first verse and get the full contrast:
Now I say, That the heir [one who is in prospect of the inheritance], as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all; but is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father. Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world; but when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his son into your hearts, crying Abba, Father. Wherefore thou art no more a servant.
We are not in the house as a servant--no more a servant. We are servants of the Lord, that is true, and our service is due to the Lord, but what we are studying now is our relationship to the Lord and the place He gives us in the family.
This shows that the Lord gives us a closer relationship to Himself than that of a servant in the household. We are not in that heavenly family as servants but as children.
"Wherefore thou art no more servant but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ." The view given us here is of the child, who may be the only child; all the property of the parents will fall to him in the regular course of heirship, but he is a child yet, and he is under tutors and governors and is trained and guided in the way that the father wishes until he becomes of such an age that the father will call him into closer relationship to himself in the family affairs and in the business and all the affairs of the estate. While the boy is a child, he does not know anything about the business affairs of the estate. He has something else to learn before he is taken into that closer relationship, even to his father, but when he has received the training that his father intended him to have and has reached the proper age, then the father takes him into a closer relationship with himself. He will tell him all about his business affairs. He may give him a partnership in the business and let him have an oversight of it equally with himself.
Now turn to John 15:13-15. It is Christ who is speaking. "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. Henceforth I call you not servants." "The servant abideth not in the house forever: but the Son abideth ever." There is a good reason why Jesus does not call us servants any more. We are to abide in the house forever. We belong there; our home is there. "I call you not servants," I call you sons, because the son abideth in the house forever. We were strangers and foreigners before; he brought us closer than even a guest, much less a stranger. And he brought us closer than even a servant who would think of living in the house as long as he lives. He brought us closer than the child who has not yet reached the state of manhood. He brings us beyond all that, into the estate of friends and sons in possession, to be taken into the councils of Him who is head and owner of all the property.
Read the rest of this verse. "Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends." He does not call us servants, because the servant does not know what his lord does. He calls us friends, because he is not going to keep anything back from us. Jesus says, "I call you not servants; for the servant does not know what his lord is doing." I take you closer than that. I call you friends. Why? "I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you."
You see, then, that He proposes to take us right into His home councils. He has no secrets to keep back from us. He does not propose to keep anything back. This is not to say that He is going to tell it all in a day. He cannot do that, because we are not large enough to grasp it all, if He were to try, but the fact is He says to us, All things I have heard of my Father I make known to you. You are welcome to a knowledge of it. But He gives us time so that we can get His truth. How much time does He give us? Eternal life, eternity. So we say, "Lord, go ahead; take your time. Tell it. Tell us your own will. We will wait to learn."
Now look at Ephesians again. There is a word which, taken with the German, illustrates this yet more fully. Eph. 1:3-7:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ. [The German reads, "Heavenly possession," heavenly goods.]: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy without blame before him in love: having predestinated us into the adoption of children [we are coming to the same point we had a moment ago] by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of his glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved: in whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace, wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself.
"Made known unto us the mystery of his will"; the German word for "mystery" here is geheimnis. Geheimnis, in German, is, of course, the same as our word here "mystery." It is secret. But we want to go back to the root of that word and then we will see the secret that we are after here. Now it is true that geheimnis is a secret thing or something that is mysterious, concealed, or covered. Now secretly, in the German is heimlich. Joseph of Arimathaea was a disciple of the Lord, but heimlich--for fear of the Jews; that is, secretly for fear of the Jews. But what does that heimlich signify? Heim is home. Geheimnis is the private home affairs, or more literally, home secrets. In every family there are what are known as family secrets. They belong of right only to the family. A stranger cannot come into these. A guest may come and go, but he has no right ever to become acquainted with any of these family secrets. They are not made known to him. Now that word "secrecy,"--the sacred secrecy of the family affairs, between husband and wife and children--those things that pertain particularly to the family, to the home interests, and the secret counsels of the family--that is the idea of the German word for "secret" or "mystery." So now Jesus has taken us into his home and makes known to us the geheimnis of his will--the home secrets of the heavenly family. The Lord takes us into such intimate relationship to himself that the secret things of the family--even the very home family secrets-- are not kept from us. He says so.
There is another verse that we can read. Now note: there are affairs of this divine family, there are secrets of this family, that date from away back yonder, long before the time when we ever entered the family. We were strangers to the family. We had no connection with the family at all. But the Lord called and we came, and now He has adopted us into the family and brings us into that close relationship to Himself in which He proposes to make known to us all the family secrets. In order to do that, as we found awhile ago, we need a long time in which to be there, and He needs a long time to do it, any way, because our capacity is so small in comparison with the great wealth of this, that it will take a great while for Him to do it.
More than that: we need one to tell us this who is thoroughly acquainted with all the family affairs from the beginning. Is there any one in the family that is acquainted with all the family affairs from the beginning and who will undertake to show us around and tell to us what we are to know? Turn to Proverbs 8, beginning with verse 22:
The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was. When there were no depths, I was brought forth; when there were no fountains abounding with water. Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth; while as yet he had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the highest part of the dust of the world. When he had prepared the heavens, I was there: when he set a compass upon the face of the depth: when he established the clouds above: when he strengthened the fountains of the deep: when he gave to the sea his decree, that the waters should not pass his commandment: when he appointed the foundations of the earth: then I was by him, as one brought up with him.
Now He is the one who has said to you and me, I call you not servants, but friends, for the servant does not know what the Lord doeth, but all things that the Father has made known to me, I make known to you. And He is there as one brought up with Him from the days of eternity He was there. Now He says, I call you friends, because all that the Father hath told me, I tell you. He not only gives us time in which to have Him tell it, but He is one who is qualified to tell it, because He has been there from the beginning. He knows all these affairs and He says that nothing does He propose to keep back from you. Well, brethren, that shows that He has a great deal of confidence in us. I will read a word that came in the last mail from Australia and you will recognise the voice:
Not only is man forgiven through the atoning sacrifice, but through faith he is accepted through the Beloved. Returning to his loyalty to God, whose law he has transgressed, he is not merely tolerated but he is honoured as a son of God, a member of the heavenly family. He is an heir of God and a joint heir with Jesus Christ.
But it is so natural to think of ourselves that He does only tolerate us when we believe in Jesus; to think that by forcing Himself to do so He can bear our ways a little longer, if by any means we can make ourselves good enough so that He can like us well enough to have confidence in us. I say, It is so natural to put ourselves in that position. And Satan is so ready to talk to us like that and to get us to put ourselves in that position.
But the Lord does not want us to stand hesitating and doubting as to our standing before Him. No, sir. He says, "When you have believed in me, when you have accepted me, you are accepted in me, and I do not propose to tolerate you merely to try to get along with you. I propose to put confidence in you as in a friend and take you into the councils of my will and give you a part in all the affairs of the inheritance. There is nothing that I propose to keep back from you. That is confidence.
I have heard people say that they were thankful for the confidence they had in the Lord. I have no objection to that, but I do not think it is a very great accomplishment or a thing worthy of any very great commendation that I should have confidence in such a being as the Lord, considering who I am and who He is. I do not think it a very great draft upon me to have confidence in the Lord. But it is an astonishment that He should have confidence in me. That is where the wonder comes. Seeing who He is and what I was, then that He should take me up and tell me in plain words what He proposes to do with me and how close He takes me to Himself and what confidence He puts in me--that is wonderful. Looking at it in any way whatever, I say, it is an astonishing thing to me all the time and something that draws upon my thanksgiving that God has confidence in me. That He should have any confidence at all in us, that is a great thing, but the truth is that there is no limit to His confidence in us.
From the texts that we have read you can see that there is no limit to His confidence in us. Is there any limit to a man's confidence in a friend whom he takes into his household, makes one of the family, and takes right into his own family and home secrets? You know that it is the very last point that a human being can reach in confidence and friendship among human beings, that the family secrets should be laid open to him and he should be welcomed to them. When a man takes another into his own home affairs and his own family secrets, that demonstrates that that man has no limit at all to his confidence in the other man. Yet that is precisely the way the Lord treats the believer in Jesus.
That other man may betray the sacred confidences that this man has placed in him, but that does not alter the fact that this confidence was put upon him. So we may fail in our appreciation of the confidence which God has put in us and men may indeed betray the sacred trust, but the point is that God does not ask whether we are going to do that or not. He does not take us upon suspicion nor does He merely tolerate us. He says, "Come unto me." You are accepted in the Beloved. I put confidence in you. Come, let us be friends. Come into the house, you belong here. Sit down at the table and eat there. You are henceforth one of the family, equally with those who have always been here. He is not going to treat you as a servant, but he will treat you as a king and make known to you all there is to know.
Brethren, shall not that draw on our gratitude and friendliness to the Lord? Shall we not treat Him more as He treats us? Shall we not let that confidence draw upon us and cause us to yield to Him and prove ourselves worthy of that confidence? As a matter of fact, there is nothing which so draws upon a man's manliness anyway, as to show confidence in Him. Suspicion never helps Him.
Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.
Now the sixteenth chapter and the twelfth verse: "I have yet many things to say unto you." To whom? Let us not put this away back there to those disciples. It is to you and me, here and now. Has He not raised us up from the dead? Has He not given us life with Jesus Christ? And "along with him" has He not raised us up and seated us "along with him" at His own right hand in heaven? "I have yet many things to say unto you." Who has? Jesus. "But ye cannot bear them now." Very good. Eternity will give me room to grow in knowledge and understanding, so that I can bear them. We need not be in a hurry.
"Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for [that is, because] he shall not speak of himself." That is, He shall not speak from Himself. It is not that He shall not talk about Himself; that is not the thought. It is true He will not talk about Himself; but the thought here is that He will not speak as from Himself. He does not set Himself forth and propose to tell something as from Himself, just as He, when He came to the world, did not speak from Himself. For He said, "The words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself." "The Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment what I should say and what I should speak." John 12:49. And just as Jesus set not himself forth to tell something as from Himself, but what He heard from the Father, that He spoke; so the Holy Spirit speaks not from Himself; but what the Spirit of God hears, that He speaks.
He shall not speak of himself: but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak; and he will show you things to come.
Very good. Here we are of the heavenly family. Jesus is the one who has been in the family from the beginning and to Him is given charge of us and He is the one who is to tell us all these things. And it is written, you know, that "they follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth." Good! He has something to tell us, He has something to show us and he gives the Holy Spirit as His personal representative, bringing His personal presence to us, that by this means He can reveal these things to us, that by Him He can speak to us what He has to tell.
He will show you things to come. He shall glorify me; for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you.
Now why did Jesus say that the Holy Spirit shall take of mine and show it unto you? Because "all things that the Father hath are mine: therefore, said I, that he shall take of mine and shall show it unto you." How many things are there that the Holy Spirit is to show to us? All things. All things of whom? All things that the Father hath. There is nothing to be kept back.
Now turn to 1 Cor. 2:9-12:
As it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.
We are heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus Christ, and God has appointed Him "Heir of all thing." "All things," then, that the universe contains He has prepared for them that love Him. All things that the Father hath, he has prepared for them that love Him. That, of itself, should draw us to love Him. But as eye has not seen nor ear heard, nor have ever entered into the heart of man, these great things, how, then, can we know them? Ah! "God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God."
Why does He search the deep things of God? to bring them forth to us. They are too deep for us. If the Lord should open them up to us and say, Enter there and find out all you can, we could not find them out. They are too deep, but He does not leave us thus. He proposes to reveal them to us, therefore He puts all into the hands of Jesus, who has been brought up with Him and who is one of us and Jesus Christ reveals them unto us by His Spirit.
For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? Even so the things of God knoweth no man but the Spirit of God.
Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God.
What does he say? We have received it. Let us thank Him that we have received it. Why, I saw the other day a line from the Testimony of Jesus, that some are looking for the time to come when the Holy Spirit is to be poured out. It says that the time is "now," and that we are to ask and receive now.
The descent of the Holy Spirit upon the church is looked forward to as being in the future; but it is the privilege of the church to have it now. Seek for it, pray for it, believe for it.
He says, "Receive ye the Holy Ghost." "As my Father hath sent me, even so send I you." "Now we have received...the spirit which is of God." Have we not surrendered to Him? Have we not given ourselves completely to Him? Have we not opened our hearts to receive the mind of Jesus Christ, that we may know Him that is true and be in Him that which is true, even in His Son Jesus Christ? And this is the true God and eternal life. That being so, then "because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts." He hath sent it forth; He says so. Therefore thank Him that He has and "receive ye the Holy Ghost." Receive Him with thanksgiving and let the Spirit use us, instead of waiting and longing to receive some wonderful outward demonstration that will give us such a feeling that we think, Now I have the Spirit of God. O, now I can do great things. It will never come to you in that way. If the Holy Spirit were to be poured out upon us tonight as it was on Pentecost, the man that had that idea of it would not receive any of it.
But I say, We must revolutionise our thoughts concerning this and get them off from any outward demonstration that we can see with our eyes or that will give us a tangible feeling by which we shall know that we have the Spirit of God and that we shall be able to do great things.
God has spoken the word; He has made the promise. He has raised us up and seated us at His own right hand in Jesus Christ and now He says, Everything is open to you and the Spirit is there to show you everything and tell you everything that there is to know. What more can we ask then? What more can we ask of Him, to show His mind and His willingness that we shall have the Spirit of God now?
Heaven is waiting to bestow it; what is required to receive it? Seek for it, pray for it, believe for it. When that is done there is nothing that keeps Him back; when that is done, then all that He asks us to do is to "receive the Holy Spirit." He tells us how to receive it; it is to seek for it, pray for it, believe for it. And he that believeth has received. If we ask according to His will, He hears us, and if we know He hears us, we know we have the petition that we desired of Him.
The Spirit of God is leading us. The Lord has led us into His truth thus. He has raised us up unto heights by His truth that we have never known before. What has He raised us up there for? He has shown us what is essential. It is to give up the world and everything but God only, to all eternity. Surrender all plans, all prospects, everything you ever had your mind upon. Drop out self and the world and everything and receive God and be bound to nothing but God. Then we are in Jesus Christ at the right hand of God and all the universe to all eternity is open to us and the Spirit of God is given to us to teach us all these things and to make known the mysteries of God to all who believe.
Now we have received, not the spirit of the world but the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.
Therefore, let us all now take this text as our text of thanksgiving, our prayer, to which we shall say, Amen. Eph. 3:14-21.
For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ [What do you say?], of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named....That Christ may dwell in our hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth and length and depth and height.
What is all this for? So that we may know what that is which He has given us, that we may comprehend and hold and grasp and enjoy forever all that He has so freely given us in Christ.
And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God. Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.
And let all the people, forever, say, Amen and Amen.