Luke 17:11-19

Col 1:12-15

1 Pet 1:3-9

Eph 1:3-8

DEMcP  In reading these Scriptures, brethren, I had the thought in mind to ask myself, and, I trust, my brethren, ‘How appreciative are we of the blessings that have come to us?’ We need hardly say that we live in a day which is marked by unthankfulness, indeed it is one of the features that is mentioned in Romans (ch 1:21). Man away from God is unthankful. But that should not mark the believer in our Lord Jesus Christ. He has got much to give thanks for.

The blessings that have come to us in Christ are absolutely wonderful! They have come in the operation of divine love, and surely they would stimulate a responsive appreciation in every one of our hearts for the way God has richly blessed us. Indeed, just before coming out I was looking in one of the magazines, and there is a quotation there from Isaac Watts’s hymn:

Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all!
(Hymn 272).

We began by reading in Luke’s Gospel chapter 17, where the Lord Jesus had cleansed the ten leprous men, but it says that only one came back, and the Lord Himself comments on it, to “give glory to God” – to give thanks, to give glory to God. And the Lord says there, ‘Where are the nine?’ Brethren, we do not want to be numbered amongst the nine! We want to be those who appreciate the blessings, we might say, basically, of the gospel. It does not stop there, but the blessings of the gospel are so glorious and rich that they should have an echoing response of appreciation in every heart that has been touched by the love of the Saviour. And so the Lord says, ‘Where are the nine?’ And He singles out one who returned to give glory to God.

When we come to where we read in Colossians, it is “giving thanks to the Father” Who has wrought in such a wonderful way, “Who has made us fit,” made us competent if you like, “for sharing the portion of the saints in light.” “Delivered us from the authority of darkness” – think of the transformation there! – “into the kingdom of the Son of His love.” What blessings could be greater? “The Son of His love” speaks of Christ. What an infinite blessing! And it is the Father that has caused that – to make us fit, to make us competent, to bring us into a sphere of blessing and love, that there might be thanksgiving and response to Himself.

And so these are surely challenges – I feel my own heart challenged. Do we appreciate the blessings that have come to us in this way? Do we understand what the Father can do? Think of the Father’s love – the way the Father would bring us to know it. No doubt John’s Epistle might come to mind; the sphere of family affection is to be known by us as brought into the Father’s sphere of blessing.

And then, in 1 Peter, our hearts can join in with what the apostle has written, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,  Who … has begotten us again to a living hope.” Someone once said that hope was one of the scarcest commodities in this world today. And that is true, absolutely true! But, brethren, we have got a wonderful hope, we have got a living hope, and it takes its character and origin and power from a blessed Man Who is beyond death. Thank God that we have a living hope! And, as in that living hope, we can exult; we can be sustained in sorest trials as these brethren, no doubt, were. Moreover, although not seeing our Lord Jesus Christ, we can exult with joy unspeakable and filled with the glory, the glory of a blessed Man. Surely that lifts us above the sad horizons of this poor world, and gives us a hope in that sphere where He fills all for the pleasure of God!

Ephesians 1 is well known to the brethren. Paul begins there, very significantly, before he mentions the blessings, by being filled to overflowing with the glory of the One Who has blessed us. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who has blessed us” – these blessings are eternal, they are in Christ, they are centred where Christ is. They involve the glory of a divine relationship that we are brought into, the glory of sonship. In each of these cases that we have looked at – and, no doubt, there are many more that may come to the minds of the brethren – there is a thankful appreciation; first of all, in testimony, but also in praise to the blessed God.

KJP   It is a great thing to get hold of the wonderful blessings that we have come into. But is it even greater to be occupied with the One Who is the Source of those blessings?

DEMcP  It is. We should trace the blessings to Him. Paul comes to that in to Ephesians 1, “the praise of the glory of His grace.” We sang about divine grace (Hymn 335). We have been the objects of it. I wonder whether the younger ones here today value the blessings that are available to them in Christ – the preciousness of the gospel. Think of the Lord Jesus cleansing ten leprous men. Leprosy was a dire condition in those days. But think of the results of the Lord’s actions, no longer having to stand afar off, but as having proved power and blessing from the Lord Jesus, able to return with two desires – to give glory to God, and to give thanks at the feet of the Lord Jesus.

JMW  In the light of the fullness of these blessings, the Lord expected the nine to come as well. It is a sad thing when divine Persons are deprived of what rightly belongs to them by way of response, is it not?

DEMcP  It is. The way in which the Lord says, ‘Where are the nine?’ shows that He expected this. These are the words of the Lord Jesus. These are the words of the One Who had blessed them.  These are the words of the One Who has given Himself for us. He is the One Who shed His precious blood that we might be redeemed. He has secured us; we have been “bought with a price.” “Ye are not your own” (1 Cor 6:19‑20). There is to be a response – a willing response, surely – from hearts that are touched by the love of the Lord Jesus.

PKL  The nine complied with what the Lord directed them to do, and they complied with the law. But do you think the Lord wanted something further than that? There was a work in this man’s soul, was there not – a real work of God?

DEMcP  There was. “Go, shew yourselves to the priests.” The Lord was, no doubt, demonstrating the fulfilment of what was prescribed in the Old Testament. “The law was given by Moses” (John 1:17), but something far greater, something glorious, has come in with the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace and truth were there! And the law was not set aside – it was made honourable (Isa 42:21), fulfilled by Him. But how do I fare?

PKL  Do these represent the Jews?

DEMcP  No doubt.

PKL  Those in the old dispensation, as we speak of it, who walked with God, they had a relationship that really went beyond their dispensation, do you think? I am thinking of David, and others.

DEMcP  Yes, that is right, because they came into a distinctive knowledge of God – no doubt the Spirit of God was working in persons. But think of the dispensation of grace! Think of the present time! Think of your blessings, think of my blessings!

PJC  All ten had asked the Lord to have compassion on them, but it seems that only one recognised that he did not really deserve that compassion. Is that where we all are, do you think – undeserving of it, but having received it through grace?

DEMcP  That is absolutely right. It is interesting to see that he was a Samaritan. He was an unworthy object, beyond the official pale of divine grace, according to the legalities of things. But think of Joseph’s branches, as it were, going over the wall (Gen 49:22). And that is where grace has met you, and met me, and therefore, it having reached us, there should be something from our hearts for the Lord Himself.

BED  What impression have you got as to the special touch this man gets – “Rise up and go thy way: thy faith has made thee well?” The others did not get that, did they?

DEMcP  No, they did not. In one sense, this man became superior to the circumstances. He was cured! He would say, after the Lord had to do with him, ‘No more trouble from that source!’

GKB  It has been said that Jesus bore in His spirit what He took away in His power (JND CW7:172), and I just wondered, if we thought around that a little more, whether we would not be more concerned to give God thanks for what He has done for us.

DEMcP  That is interesting, what you say. The Lord felt things in His spirit. It was a deep-felt cry! The Lord says here, ‘Where are the nine?’ And the Lord expressed His feelings. We often think of how He expressed them in Gethsemane, knowing what He was going to take away in His power on the Cross. The Lord truly feels things, and He feels it when any who have proved blessing from Him do not return with a response. How richly He gave that blessing! He did not withhold any answer to the lepers’ cry to have compassion on them, and therefore He felt the lack of response. Oh, what it has cost Him that we might be blessed! May each one of us never cease to appreciate this.

MJC  Does it show how easy it is to be deeply thankful for the salvation of our souls, but perhaps not always give the greatest thanks to the One Who has done it?

DEMcP  Well, I think that is a challenge. What result is there? Is there an appreciation of the One Who has blessed us? How does it show itself? Do I find my heart still attracted to Him? Do I find it has an effect on my footsteps? Does it have any effect on how I would desire to be here for Him? No longer fulfilling, perhaps, what I would want, but more considering for what His will might be, and how I might be here pleasing to the One Who has brought me from the dunghill. He has set us among nobles (Ps 113:7‑8). He has brought us into wonderful dignity and blessing, and we should be ever thankful for it.

AWGS  Is there something in that he fell at His feet?

DEMcP  That is the place where we can learn deep blessings. “Fell … at His feet” – it might suggest that there was some appreciation of those blessed feet, of where they would take Him. We need to realise that that is our place, at the feet of the Lord. It is not only a place we would take as appreciating Him, but we learn in that place too. Mary sat at His feet, listening to His word (Luke 10:39). She chose the good part. Her heart had found something in Christ. She had found what He could do for her, but He became greater and greater to her. She found that there was something in that glorious Person Himself that she could learn from, and as a result not only did she learn from Him, but she was able to act appreciatively for Him.

SML  Thankfulness is not just words, is it? This man is told to go his way. Do you see something in that?

DEMcP  I do indeed. We might say that it is not just perfunctory thanks, but I think there would be something evident. And there ought to be with you and me, some evidence that we have been blessed by the Lord Jesus. We speak of conversion – it is not just a form of words. Saul of Tarsus – ‘the chief of sinners’ – on the Damascus road came into contact with Christ, but there was a fundamental difference in that man’s life – “Mercy was shewn me” (1 Tim 1:15‑16).

SML  You see it coming out particularly with Paul, do you not?

DEMcP  You do.

SML  The sense that he had of the Lord’s mercy, and the grace that had met him, and the wonderful privileges he was brought into – it affected, in a way, everything that he did, did it not? It affected his love for the saints, and affected him as a preacher; it affected everything.

DEMcP  Yes, and you see him sum things up at certain times when he writes. Take Philippians, for example. He writes up, you might say, the excellence of his CV, and then he casts it aside. What for? “The excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord” (Phil 3:4‑8). I say that to my younger brethren here today: there is no one that has blessed you like Jesus, there is no one that can still bless you like Jesus, and if He has won your heart, He wants to win it evermore, and He wants you to be here for His praise and His pleasure.

DO  Can we speak here about a second touch from the Lord Jesus? I am thinking about Paul when he went on the way to Damascus, and the Lord Jesus appeared to him, and he was sent to one man in the city, and the Lord Jesus healed him (Acts 9:18) – the second touch.

DEMcP  He was brought down on the Damascus road. But then he had to learn certain things, had he not? He had to learn that the very persons that he was going to Damascus to haul away, no doubt, as prisoners to Jerusalem, to their sad death, belonged to Christ. He had to learn through Ananias. Saul was, no doubt, intent on taking Ananias, and those like him, off to Jerusalem. But he had to learn that Ananias was sent to him. I think it is the only time we ever find him used or named in the Scriptures, for service. He was sent along with a greeting, “Saul, brother.” He had to get a touch, for he certainly had to realise the preciousness of what was in the Christian circle – what belonged to Christ – in Damascus. He had to receive his sight, and then he was with the brethren; he had to learn what that was. Grace flooded into his soul, and gave him an impression of how precious these persons, who belonged to Christ, were to their blessed Master.

DJB  You referred earlier to conversion. Being cleansed is only one element in being converted, is it not?

DEMcP  Well, tell us more!

DJB  Well, a man or woman or child who is converted has changed direction completely. The middle chapters of the Epistle to the Romans are about the effect in the soul of being converted, leading up to being “to Another” (Rom 7:4), do you think?

DEMcP  Yes, being to Another, and bearing fruit to God. So it raises exercises – “As many as have been baptised … have been baptised unto His death” (Rom 6:3). The blessings of the gospel, and what the Lord has done, have a marked effect on our whole perspective in life. It turns persons, as we see with Saul of Tarsus, upside down, you might say, and he found that he was setting aside the objectives that he once had, because he had another goal, he had another Man before him.

MJC  That comes out particularly, does it not, in that he was straightway in the synagogue preaching (Acts 9:20)?

DEMcP  That Jesus is the Son of God. What does that mean? It means that there is a Man Who not only fills that place of glory above, at the right hand of God, but was filling the heart of the one who had been an arch persecutor and was now a glorious lover of the Lord. He speaks of the Son of God in Galatians, “the Son of God, Who has loved me and given Himself for me” (Gal 2:20).

TF  We sometimes sing that hymn,
What a wonderful change in my life has been wrought
Since Jesus came into my heart!
This is what this man experienced here – it was as he was going that he saw he was cured. What wonderful blessing! He recognised the blessing, and the Blesser, did he not?

DEMcP  Yes. Well, that is a good theme to keep in our hearts. These are simple thoughts, you might say. But we expand into an infinity of blessing as we set ourselves, and seek help from the Spirit of God, to be engaged with the glory of the One Who has richly blessed us.

In Colossians, the apostle writes, “Giving thanks to the Father, Who has made us fit for sharing the portion of the saints in light.” Think of the appreciation he had of the sphere into which he had been brought – “saints in light.” The light, I think, is the light of divine blessing, the light of divine calling. I think the fact that it comes into Colossians 1 would mean it includes the light of the glory of Christ. And he says there, “Who has delivered us from the authority of darkness.” Think of the authority of darkness. The apostle realised the tremendous change – we were speaking about conversion a minute ago – “From the authority of darkness, and translated us into the kingdom of the Son of His love.” There could be no greater blessing, in one sense: you think of the authority of darkness, the power of it, but the kingdom of the Son of His love – that is another sphere of authority, but it is a sphere of authority with blessing in love.

MJC  It is a collective thought, too, is it not?

DEMcP  Yes, it is “the portion of the saints” – plural – “in light.” So we are brought into blessing, and it is the Father that has done it. You might say the causative effect of the Father’s love has brought us into this wonderful sphere of divine blessing. “The Son of His love.” No doubt it speaks of Solomon, who was Jedidiah [beloved of Jehovah], was he not (2 Sam 12:24‑25)? The Lord was the true Jedidiah. Think of the rich blessing – a sphere of liberty. That is not uncontrolled licence in any sense – it is the kingdom. But it is the kingdom of the Son of His love.

KJP  It makes it very attractive to see the way that the Father has brought us into it. It is not what we have done, it is entirely of the Father.

DEMcP  Yes, and the Lord Jesus loved to speak of His Father, did He not? What the Father did. He speaks of what the Father has done – “Those whom Thou hast given Me” (John 17:9), and other wonderful expressions of what the Father has done. And “giving thanks to the Father” suggests a sphere of divine blessing. There is no arbitrary nature about it at all. It is not uncontrolled; that is not the thought at all: it is a sphere of divine authority, but in love and blessing. That is why I said that it is John’s Epistle which speaks of the family of God – “See what love the Father has given to us, that we should be called the children of God” (1 John 3:1). It is what we are brought into, as our brother said. It is wonderful! We are not there as individual units, exactly – we are experiencing blessing that is “sharing the portion of the saints in light.” These are blessings! But Paul says we are giving thanks for it!

MJC  Could you open up to us the thought of the portion, please?

DEMcP  Well, what does it say there? There is a note to that.

AWGS  It is an inheritance.

DEMcP  Acts 26:18, is it not? An “inheritance among them that are sanctified by faith in Me.” Yes, that suggests the wealth of it, does it not? An inheritance among them: it is something that is to be enjoyed; it is shared with others. But you will never get an inheritance in the world like this inheritance!

MJC  It helps us to see, does it not, that the gospel and the forgiveness of our sins is the making of us fit, but the purpose is the enjoyment of the inheritance?

DEMcP  It is. Paul opens that up to them in Acts 26. The gospel was to do certain things, and then he speaks of an inheritance among all them that are sanctified by faith in Christ. So the gospel, in that sense, is not an end in itself, if you understand me. God has in mind – JND used that expression –
To make the fallen creature
The vessel of Thy praise!
(The Man of Sorrows).

It was a Samaritan who was blessed in Luke 17, and also in John 4. The woman in John 4, some might say, was not a worthy object of the Lord’s attention, but through His grace she became a wonderful testimony to Christ. “Come, see a Man” – she was full of the blessing! Like the man in Luke 17:15‑16, she really gives glory to God.

DJB  Why do you think the apostle calls attention to the Father in this context, when the dominant thought in this Epistle is the glory of Christ personally?

DEMcP  Well, I think he is appreciating, first of all, the Father’s actions in drawing us to Christ, and the fullness of blessing that is conveyed in the sphere of affection, the inheritance, a sphere of blessing, a sphere where divine affections and love are known. The Father is really the source of that, is He not, and the One Who would convey that to us? What do you think?

DJB  Well, I was just struck with how very specific the apostle is. It is the Father Who has made us fit; it is the Father Who has delivered us; the Father Who has translated us. Those all seem remarkable thoughts in regard of the Father, do you think?

DEMcP  It would suggest to us the supremacy that He has in the arrangements of divine love. The apostle, I believe, is so full of Christ in chapter 1 that he traces things back somewhat, and sees the glory of the One Who is there, the Father, and His actions.

SGP  Is there something by way of firstfruits of the Father’s love and His provision for us? There were the firstfruits that were seen in the one that returned to give thanks, were there not, but who is to say what will be achieved through the other nine in a day to come?

DEMcP  Well, that is true; there is no saying what God can do. I think that the day to come will declare every aspect of divine work. I mean, God will secure wonderful results: He will secure results from this dispensation; He will secure results from Israel and from the nations – wonderful results. But the question for our concern, surely, is what is He getting from us now, as those who appreciate these blessings? And it is a wonderful thing, just as our brother has said, to think of the activity of the Father – the Father, you might say, in His supremacy, acting in divine grace to bring us into a sphere of blessing. He is the Father of every family. What a result that will be! But then, today – where is “the portion of the saints in light” to be known today?

AND  When we praise God and give Him thanks, are we entering into something of the atmosphere of praise in that day to come? I am just thinking about the glory of the kingdom of the Son of His love. Do we get a touch of being in that kingdom when we are praising and worshipping Him?

DEMcP  Yes. We are in a sphere of divine liberty. We can – thank God we can – antedate the chorus, as the hymn-writer says, of universal praise (Hymn 327). But I think “the portion of the saints in light” is enjoyed today in the assembly. It is enjoyed amongst others who appreciate the inheritance.

JPW  Would it be a young man’s prayer to ask the God of Israel to richly bless him?

DEMcP  You are thinking of Jabez in 1 Chronicles 4:10. Yes. Well – and what does it say after that? He asks that God would enlarge his border, and then it says, I think, a few words later, “And God brought about what he had requested.” Well, would it not be a wonderful thing today! Not just the young ones, because most of us here are not in the first verges of youth, but it is something that can come from every heart, that God would enlarge our borders.

JPW  In the assembly.

DEMcP  Yes. It needs exercise, of course, that that might be so in practical terms. It means that we need to understand that we must give ourselves to the Lord’s authority and make way for the Holy Spirit.

PJC  I was wondering if you had any further thoughts as to what is involved in giving thanks. We have mentioned praise, we have mentioned prayer, and perhaps those are the first two things that might spring to mind. But are there other ways in which we can be thankful to the Father?

DEMcP  Well, I think we can acknowledge His goodness. I am just thinking of how, in the simplicity of things, we sit down at our meals, our food, and simply acknowledge God’s goodness. Prayer and thanksgiving go together – they are put together in the Scriptures (Phil 4:6; Col 4:2; 1 Tim 2:1) – so that it should be a characteristic, I think. The extent to which we may express it might depend on the extent of what we are giving thanks for.

AWGS  It says, “Giving thanks at all times for all things” (Eph 5:20).

DEMcP  Yes – “At all times.” “To Him Who is God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

AWGS  And it is “to … the Father” there.

DEMcP  Yes. Well, I think we recognise the Father in His supremacy in that way. We know the position taken up in divine arrangements. As to “giving thanks … for all things” – sometimes we should give thanks more often for simpler things.

DJB  “Giving thanks” expresses that you are grateful. You cannot separate the two, to speak of “giving thanks” if you are not actually grateful, can you?

DEMcP  I do not think so! There has to be something there. And  when giving thanks, you give thanks to someone. You do not do it to a block of wood, you do it to a person, and here it is to the Father.

PKL  Does it start with a need? Feeling you have a need, and it is when God then supplies something that you are very thankful. If we were all a bit nearer the breadline, we might be more thankful for our meals, for example.

DEMcP  Well, that is possibly very true. But we have much we can give thanks for – not only divine faithfulness that is seen in our food, and so on, but much more as we think of the extent of the richness of the blessings that have come to us from God Himself.

MJC  Do we trace the thought of the Father back to the Lord in resurrection? For He says, “I ascend to My Father and your Father” (John 20:17). Does that help us to see the wonderful place the Father is to have in relationship in the present day?

DEMcP  It is one of the great distinctions of the present dispensation, that we know that His Father is our Father. That relationship has been secured as a result of what He has accomplished in His death, and His burial, and Resurrection. It is not characteristic of the Jewish dispensation; it is characteristic, I believe, of the present dispensation.

JMW  Were you thinking, then, that as we increase in our appreciation of the Father, it would help us to be more enriched in our responses in His service as we gather on a Lord’s Day morning, for example? Maybe we express a lot about the blessings that have come to us, but then the Father is the source of those blessings, and it is Himself and His love that should really engage our affections.

DEMcP  Yes, I think the whole point would be that, as our knowledge of that blessed Person is increased, our worship is enhanced. I am sure it is.

The brethren Peter wrote to were sojourners of the Dispersion. They were scattered – you can see that, from the opening verses. He writes that the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ “according to His great mercy, has begotten us again to a living hope through the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from among the dead.” The inheritance is here referred to as “incorruptible and undefiled and unfading.” These were Jewish believers, and the apostle Peter does not speak of the inheritance being in any land here, but he says, “Reserved in the heavens for you.” I think the way in which he speaks of these blessings brings them to a point where they are really rejoicing in the richness of what they have been brought into – not as far as things here are concerned, but what has been secured for them in God’s wonderful thoughts. And what comes out here, I believe, is the testimony that shines out from these believers.

MJC  The thought of the inheritance here is more future, is it not?

DEMcP  Well, it is presented as a living hope; there is nothing dead about it. It is incorruptible, undefiled, unfading, and it is “reserved in the heavens for you.” They did not have much; we might say, in simple language, they were having a difficult and hard time. But what is seen in them here is a bright and glorious testimony that was rising above the circumstances in which they were, and that was centred around the living hope that had been secured for them by that blessed Man Who had come out of death. As a result, “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” was getting a note of responsive appreciation.

DJB  Could you say a practical word about continuing in thankfulness while “put to grief by various trials?” 1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, “In everything give thanks.” It does not say “For everything,” but “In everything.” What do you say about remaining thankful at all times?

DEMcP  Well, I think that would be a very testing thing – “various trials.” But it is clear that what sustained these brethren here was the proving of their faith. Their faith was real. And, also, the fact that the One that was filling their hearts was Jesus Christ, “Whom, having not seen, ye love; on Whom though not now looking, but believing, ye exult with joy unspeakable and filled with the glory.” The impression I have is that the trials were very, very real. Some of the trials that our brethren face today are very, very real, and we should be active in prayer and consideration as a result. But there is a value put here on their faith, and there is something commented on as to the joy they had in appreciating the unspeakable glory that was in our Lord Jesus Christ. I believe that that was what lifted them above these very sore circumstances. It gave them a vista of things that could not be altered, of that blessed One at the right hand of God. The “living hope” – where is it centred? Where is their inheritance now centred? It is centred in a sphere that takes character from being the place where the Lord Jesus is. As a result they were lifted above the very real circumstances of testing and fear that they had to pass through.

Peter writes of “joy unspeakable,” and being “filled with the glory.” “Whom, having not seen, ye love.” Peter clearly had some sense of the glory of Christ, especially in his maturity. I believe that is what sustained him, and what will sustain us now. The testing is severe, but our faith is precious – “The proving of your faith, much more precious than of gold which perishes.” We can think of how gold is refined: it comes through the furnace, and it may be that there are many dear saints passing through the furnace of affliction and testing, but their faith is much more precious, because it is eternal in character, and it is in a living Man at the right hand of God. So they are sustained above the trial.

JPW  “Blessed they who have not seen and have believed” (John 20:29).

DEMcP  How true that is, and it would speak for all who have not seen the Lord Jesus, “Whom, having not seen, ye love,” and further, as it says, “On Whom though not now looking, but believing, ye exult with joy unspeakable and filled with the glory, receiving the end of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” I think this has been linked, brethren, with Paul and Silas in the jail at Philippi. They had received the stripes; they were in the inner prison; it was midnight; but they were praising God with singing. The proving of their faith was very real. It was totally unrighteous that they were there in the first place – it was a result of the action of what was against the testimony. But they were sustained above that, and I think the help of the Lord Jesus and the Spirit is what sustains saints of God. No doubt we could think of examples down through the testimony, down through the times of the martyrs and others, of the proving of their faith. What filled them? The circumstances? No, the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

AWGS  The Lord says to those in Smyrna, “I know thy tribulation and thy poverty,” and it goes on to say, “But thou art rich” (Rev 2:9). I was thinking there of the blessings that we have been referring to throughout our time together. But “tribulation” can cover a very wide spectrum of matters, can it not?

DEMcP  It can. But Peter brings these brethren with him into an ascription of thankfulness and praise – and blessing: “Blessed be the God and Father.” And I think it takes character, first of all, from the living hope, and the rich blessings that have been secured for us in Christ risen.

SJB  I suppose you have an example in Noah. He had gone through the whole experience of the flood, and the first thing he did as having come through was build an altar to Jehovah (Gen 8:20).

DEMcP  Yes, and I gather it was a burnt-offering that he offered – something of Christ, something of the fragrance of Christ. And we very often see, and we know it too from experience, that some of the sweetest and most precious impressions of Christ that we have ever heard of, or read about, or known about in any sense, have come from those who have been passing through the gravest of trials and afflictions. It is because they have been sustained in the living hope. “On Whom though not now looking, but believing, ye exult with joy unspeakable.” Well, I think that would be a great test to me! The Lord Jesus is the One Who can sustain us. Who went through sorer trials and testing and sorrows than our blessed Saviour, and that like none other?

JMW  I am just thinking about the Lord in that setting. In the face of the greatest departure from the works of power that He had accomplished in those cities, He says, “I praise Thee, Father, Lord of the heaven and of the earth” (Matt 11:25). It is a beautiful resource that He had, is it not, in His Father? Despite all the persecution and the rejection that He faced, “I praise Thee, Father.”

DEMcP  That is a very fine example. He had recourse – as rejection was keenly felt by Him – into the Father’s presence. Well, as Christians, as believers in the Lord Jesus, we have recourse to a sphere of blessing, salvation, and power, which is totally unknown to those who have no link with Christ. That should make us thankful that we have that precious outlet. It has been said, has it not, that in prayer we have access to the greatest power – the throne of God – and we should remember that in private prayer and in collective prayer.

MJC  From the divine side, too, nothing can hinder or diminish or detract from the inheritance.

DEMcP  How true that is! We have been brought into it, and, as we are told elsewhere, God will give us the earnest of that inheritance (2 Cor 5:5) to enjoy now by the Spirit. That is a fine foretaste – really that is what it means.

Ephesians 1 is well known, but just think of the extent of the blessings. We often use this in the service of God, and rightly so – the greatness of the blessings we have been brought into. It is “every spiritual blessing.” He has “chosen us in [Christ] before the world’s foundation.” We cannot say how far back it goes – we do not know.

Father, ‘twas Thy love that knew us
Earth’s foundation long before;
That same love to Jesus drew us
By its sweet constraining power
(Hymn 2).

Well, as we read these verses, “taken … into favour in the Beloved,” they should stir, dear brethren, in the very depths of our hearts an appreciative note of worship to the blessed God Who has brought us into such rich blessing. These blessings are eternal blessings! These blessings can never be touched! These blessings are in sonship in Christ, and have been secured as a result of what Christ has done, and here (v6) it is “to the praise of the glory of His grace.” Later on you get “to the praise of His glory” (v12) – how precious! But, brethren, let it be a stimulus to our hearts, so that we are found here in testimony to Christ, and in His will as we gather, but especially for the service of God, that the One Who has so richly blessed us may have a greater note of enriched praise and worship from every heart.


2 March 2013