1 Corinthians 15:12-19
DMcI It will be evident from these Scriptures that the thought of resurrection has come before me. I think there are certain things in Christianity which we perhaps accept as fact, and do not fully appreciate how they are to be worked out in our lives, and I think for myself that resurrection is one of these things.
There was a difficulty about resurrection in Corinth. Paul refers at the start of this chapter to the many who witnessed to the resurrection of Christ, and to the fact that finally He appeared to Paul (v8). So there is an adequate witness that Christ was raised from among the dead. I do not think the Corinthians had any problem with the resurrection of Christ. Indeed, if anybody has difficulty with that, then they cannot really be a Christian, because, as Paul points out in Romans 10:9, “if thou shalt confess with thy mouth Jesus as Lord, and shalt believe in thine heart that God has raised Him from among the dead, thou shalt be saved.” So the resurrection of Christ is a key point in Christianity. But Paul then goes on to show them here that if they had a difficulty about the resurrection of the saints that had died, then they must have a difficulty about the resurrection of Christ, because it is the same power that raised Christ from the dead that will bring those who love Him out of death. Paul really has to shock them into this here, because he says, “If Christ be not raised, … ye are yet in your sins” (v17). He is seeking to bring the truth of this before them, and I just thought we might begin with an impression of how important it is, but then see how this is going to be worked out in our lives.
At the end of Romans 4, he says, “Jesus our Lord, Who has been delivered for our offences and has been raised for our justification” (vv24‑25). It may be, brethren, that we are stuck on Christ being delivered for our offences. I think His being “raised for our justification” helps me into the enjoyment of things now. We do not have to wait until we get to glory to enter into the purpose of God! So I challenge my own heart, and the hearts of all here – are we in the good of justification? For Christ has been raised for our justification.
And so he goes on in chapter 6, continuing his arguments as he does in the letter. He says, “We have been buried … with Him … in order that, even as Christ has been raised up from among the dead by the glory of the Father, so we also should walk in newness of life” (v4). This is the working out of resurrection in the believer – the understanding that what I am according to flesh is finished in the death of Christ. And so I no longer walk in the flesh, but I walk in the Spirit (Gal 5:16), Who is the power to walk in newness of life.
And then in Ephesians it is the power in which God has “wrought in the Christ in raising Him from among the dead.” That is the power that is to work in the believer’s life to bring him into the enjoyment of the purpose of God – that tremendous power that God used in bringing Christ out of death. I know David speaks of the power of God in creation, and how immense that was, but this is the greatest power of God, in bringing Christ out of death. This is the power that is to work in the saints.
Finally, in Colossians it is not an “if” of doubt, it is an “if” of fact. We have died with Christ, we have been raised with Christ – that is the position of the believer. But Paul says, ‘If this is true of you, then you will truly seek the things that are above, where the Christ is.’ Perhaps we could get help together.
DJB Yes, I believe what you are speaking of is of practical importance, moving on from the simple doctrines of the faith, which are vital, but putting them into practice. I have often wondered about that verse at the end of Romans 4, “raised for our justification.” The apostle does not exactly explain why he says that. Why does he say that?
DMcI There are others here who could probably explain that. It has been likened to a receipt for a transaction: when you make a purchase, you receive a receipt to say that it has been paid for and you are clear, there is no debt in respect of it. And that is really like the raising of Christ – what He did for me in removing my sins: He was delivered up for my offences. The fact that He was raised means that I am completely clear, and that God is entirely satisfied with the finished work of Jesus. He is raised, then, for our justification. And justification means that God views me as if I had never sinned at all, and that is something to lay hold of.
MJC Is the thought of justification linked with the new man?
DMcI Well, the old order is never justified. It cannot be; the old order – what I am according to flesh – is finished at the cross. That is what I need to lay hold of. God is not looking for anything from that man – it is finished. But “if any one be in Christ, there is a new creation” (2 Cor 5:17). This is what we should be exercised to come into the good of.
DJB Was it important, then, that the Lord was raised from the dead, and seen here on earth again? Would that be an important confirmation in the fact that the Lord said to His disciples, “Peace be to you” (John 20:19)? This would give the assurance that everything was now clear for them to enjoy His company, and to have liberty with God Himself, do you think?
DMcI Yes; really, Christianity properly commences with the matter of His death. It is impossible for the natural mind to lay hold of that. When Paul spoke to the Athenians about resurrection, some of them mocked (Acts 17:32). But He moved in and out among His own for forty days (Acts 1:3), as it has been said, to accustom them to a Man in resurrection. Our link with Christ is only through resurrection – we never knew Him according to flesh. And he goes on to show them that “if in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are the most miserable of all men.”
DJB The Lord Himself affirmed His death to be the commencement, because He said, “Except the grain of wheat falling into the ground die, it abides alone” (John 12:24). Until He had passed that way, He was alone. The fruit is the fruit of His death.
DMcI That is right, yes. And we have to understand that in His death the Lord laid down an order of manhood that He never took again. “The things concerning Me have an end,” He says (Luke 22:37). So He laid that life down, and He comes out of death in a new condition. “A spirit has not flesh and bones as ye see Me having” (Luke 24:39).
BED Is the resurrection so important that God allowed hundreds of witnesses to it?
DMcI Yes, I think that is what our brother is thinking, that there was adequate witness – five hundred brethren at one time (1 Cor 15:6). First it was Peter, according to Paul; also Mary (Mark 16:9), and then so many witnesses to the resurrection of Christ. There was a lie spread at the time, which was believed by many, that the disciples had stolen Him away (Matt 28:13‑15). The fact that Christianity is thriving – maybe not in Britain, but in many countries of the world – is proof that Christ is alive.
AJB The replacement for Judas had to be one who would be a witness to His resurrection (Acts 1:22).
DMcI That is a good point – one who had assembled with them and who had seen Jesus. Paul goes over that to the Corinthians who were doubting his apostleship – he says, “Have I not seen Jesus?” (1 Cor 9:1). He fitted that criterion as well.
MJC Has it become for us a real matter of faith? We can accept dying – we can see that. But when we come on to resurrection ground, as we speak, it is entirely faith, is it not?
DMcI We must understand that the natural mind has no entrance into this at all. Men have got all kinds of ideas about reincarnation and so on. But we have been given faith to believe in Christ.
KEGB We are used to non-believers questioning the resurrection. But in the first verse we read, verse 12, it says, “Some among you [say] that there is not a resurrection.” Have you any comment on that? This was the Christian company at Corinth.
DMcI Well, I think it was relating more to those who had gone before – believers who had died. I think that was their difficulty. I do not think they had a difficulty about Christ being raised personally. But what do you think yourself?
KEGB All I was thinking was that there is a parallel in our day, because some in the Christian profession question the resurrection. I was reading some years ago that there was a bishop commenting, mockingly, on the resurrection, and referring to it as ‘God juggling with bones.’ And that was by a bishop!
DMcI Well, there is a lot of blasphemy around concerning the Person of Christ. Some say He did not actually die, that He took His life again and did not actually die – there is terrible blasphemy and error around as to the Person of Christ. And it is sad that it should come into a Christian company, as you say. I mean, such is Christ’s victory over death that no person will remain in death eternally! Death is a vanquished foe, and those who have accepted Christ will be raised to be with Him, and those who refuse will be raised for judgement.
DJB Is there an echo in these verses of what Paul took up with the saints in Thessalonica? He said, “We do not wish you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them that are fallen asleep.” And then he says that “if we believe that Jesus has died and has risen again, so also God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep through Jesus” (1 Thess 4:13‑14). He gives an assurance, for all who need it, that the resurrection is for all.
DMcI That is right. I do not know if there was unbelief in Thessalonica, rather that they were just concerned about something. Perhaps somebody had brought in error, but he assures them there that they were not to be concerned. He goes on here to say in verse 23, “The first-fruits, Christ; then those that are the Christ’s at His coming.” It is a wonderful comfort to those who have lost loved ones, that, if they are believers in the Lord Jesus, they are with Christ now, and they will be raised when He comes.
MSB Do you think what our brother has just spoken about with regard to the resurrection shows the importance of going over these things and being established in the truth of it?
DMcI Absolutely. The truth needs to be gone over. We should never assume that the truth is understood. It needs to be gone over regularly, and we need to be grounded in it. And I think Romans is a book that we should read, and read, and read again, because it establishes us in the truth of Christianity.
MSB So the resurrection is a fact, but it is to have an impact and bearing upon the Christian’s life.
DMcI That is my exercise. I do not put it on anybody else, but I take it to myself.
GKB Paul had come a long way, had he not? I was thinking of the verse after the ones you read, “But now Christ is raised from among the dead.” The arguments are over – it is a fact; Paul believed it one hundred per cent. And, as we have said, the way that we live has to reflect that.
DMcI Paul was really an exponent of that. He could say that “Christ lives in me” (Gal 2:20). So there was an evidence there. Festus said, “Whom Paul affirmed to be living” (Acts 25:19). That was one thing that he got from Paul.
DO I was thinking about two examples that can also prove the resurrection: when the Lord Jesus appeared to Saul when he went to persecute the Christians, on the way to Damascus; and the second one, when Stephen was stoned, and he saw the Son of God standing at the right hand of God (Acts 7:55). Is that another proof of resurrection?
DMcI That is good. Paul was affected by the stoning of Stephen. There was something that happened in him, in the witness that Stephen rendered at that point – he saw the heavens opened, and Jesus standing. Proof, as you say, that He was alive. And there was something begun in Saul’s soul at that point. And then, as you say, He appeared to Saul – “Jesus that appeared to thee in the way” (Acts 9:17), “I am Jesus, Whom thou persecutest” (Acts 9:5). What a revelation that was!
MJC Could you say something in relation to resurrection and the new order of manhood? I am just impressed with what we are saying, that the Lord was raised into a new condition. Resurrection is not the old being made alive, it is to a new order, is it not? And, if we have a sense of that in our souls, it is new creation. It is something that was not there, or it did not exist in that condition, before. Is that how you see it?
DMcI Yes, exactly. So there is a work begun in the soul when a person accepts Christ as their Saviour. That work will be completed, and my exercise would be that I should not be a hindrance to that work going on. We have to understand that, even though we accept Christ as Saviour, we still have the flesh, and we still have to deal with the flesh. We are given power to do so, but we are not to give way. I think that is what comes out in Romans 6 – Paul is saying, ‘There is all this provision being made. Are you going to continue the way you were before? Are you going to understand the way that you are viewed from heaven? Is there going to be an answer in your life to that?’
DJB I trust that any real believer would accept that they ought not to go on with the sinful life that they had before. But Paul is saying something rather more than that here – he is speaking about walking in newness of life. How would you know if you were walking in newness of life?
DMcI I think the Spirit within you is the key to this. The believer has a life, as Paul says to the Colossians, that is hidden (Col 3:3), a source of joy that is hidden. I think it is walking here and being pleasing to God. There should be some reflection of that life of Christ, which was so delightful to Heaven, coming out in my life. You know more about it than me!
DJB No, in all honesty I do not. I am very greatly challenged as to what difference being a Christian makes to me, and to my fellow believers, now. Perhaps that is your concern as well.
DMcI Exactly. The Spirit wants to form Christ in me, and if He is allowed to do that it will become evident that I am walking in newness of life. So I am not walking in the way that people generally are walking in the world – there is a difference. Naturally, we like to conform, do we not? And it is hard for the young ones, and I understand that, at school. You want to be the same as the rest. But if you have got Christ in your heart you are different. And we do not want to cover that up, do we?
PJC I was looking again at verse 19 of 1 Cor 15, and I have pondered that verse for a long time, but I find more and more in it. “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are the most miserable of all men.” I love to think of it the other way round, that if we know something of the newness of life, and of resurrection, we should be just the opposite, the most happy of men!
DMcI Exactly, but it involves, do you think, Christ where He is now? If I am to know something of walking in newness of life, that is, if there is to be something reflected of the life of Christ in my life, it is not by studying Him where He was, it is by being occupied with Him where He is. And there is a crucial difference between these. I really admire the life of Christ, but I have no power within myself to walk as He walked.
DJB But I would like you to pursue this, because I entirely agree with what you have just said, but I think many might find it rather puzzling, because while we are down here, what we need is a reflection of Christ as He was here. Now, how does that link with being engaged with Him where He now is? Do you follow me?
DMcI Well, again, the Spirit is the key to this, because the Spirit comes from a place where Christ is exalted – that is where He comes from. And He brings to me, as a believer, impressions from Christ and of Christ. And it is only as Christ is formed in me by the Spirit that I find the power to walk as Christ walked, otherwise the flesh will try and glory in keeping the law, and doing what we can, and all that line of things that is abhorrent to God.
PJW Is that what it means in Romans 8:11, “But if the Spirit of Him that has raised up Jesus from among the dead dwell in you?” It is by that power that we shall be quickened.
DMcI That is right. The Spirit is vital in all this. He speaks in Romans 5:5 of the love of God being “shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit.” And so the Spirit is vital to the working out of this in my life.
PKL Do you think there will be a greater result to God as a result of us being blessed in our mortal bodies? When we believe, we could be given our glorified bodies here and now, and be completely different from other men. But we are the same, outwardly. And we are left with the bodies which we have, to work out these things, and are tempted by evil, and all that. But is greater glory going to be accrued to God as a result of that?
DMcI I think there is a real triumph in this. Paul says to the Corinthians, “We have this treasure in earthen vessels” (2 Cor 4:7). We will have bodies of glory, but we are enabled – there is divine power to help us – to walk here, in our mortal bodies, pleasing to God. We are left here for testimony, are we not? We are not immune to the trials of men, but we have got a tremendous resource in Christ as our High Priest. And that in itself should be a testimony to others to bring them to Christ.
PKL So the Lord was not, as we have said, seen publicly by men, but He was seen by those who loved Him. He will be manifested, and we shall be manifested in our glorified bodies.
DMcI That is what he is touching on in Colossians, “Then shall ye also be manifested with Him in glory” (ch3:4). Well, we have got much to look forward to, but I think that we should be exercised to enter into these things now. Think of the place that Christ will have in the day to come! Does He have that place in my heart now?
MSB In line with your exercise, do you think we should ask ourselves these questions that Paul asks here in chapter 6?
DMcI I think we would do well to do that.
MSB Romans 6 is the beginning of deep exercise in the Christian’s heart, is it not?
DMcI It is. He is saying, ‘This is what has happened to you. If you are a believer in Jesus, this is true of you. Do you understand it? Or do you just continue as if nothing has happened?’ You cannot be like that, can you? We are not to continue the way that we were before. John says, “Every one begotten of God does not sin” (1 John 5:18)! How do we get on with that?
DMcI It would be abnormal for a believer to sin wilfully. I think it is a very poor thing if my appreciation of what my Saviour has done for me in removing my offences has not grown to the extent that I still trivialise sin.
MJC The work of God in our souls cannot sin, because it is of God.
DMcI That is right. That is the point, I think, that John is making.
DJB Do you think verse 13 of chapter 6 would be an important one? “Yield yourselves to God as alive from among the dead, and your members instruments of righteousness to God.” The believer would normally be drawn to God; drawn to the Lord, certainly, but the believer’s life now has God as its centre rather than himself.
DMcI That is good. And you cannot yield yourself to God unless you are conscious of having died to sin, because it is only what is of Christ that is acceptable, is it not? So before that, he says, “Reckon yourselves dead to sin” (v11). It has been likened to Ruth, that committal she made to Naomi, out of affection for her – “Thy people shall be my people,” and “Where thou diest will I die, and there will I be buried” (Ruth 1:16‑17). She is reckoning herself dead to Moab and all that line of things, and she is committing herself to Naomi. Now, is love for Christ sufficient to make me do this?
Perhaps we should go on to Ephesians. I certainly could not begin to expound these verses, but Paul is setting out the purpose of God and all that He desires to bring us into. What struck me about this is Paul’s prayer here that they would come into the good of it practically, now, and that the power to help us to do that is the same power that raised Christ from among the dead.
MJC We need divine power for these things, do we not? They are not at all possible in the human effort.
DMcI And there is much set against us moving in to the purpose of God.
MJC Satan immediately is against the believer who desires to enter the purpose of God. He cannot stop us, having been saved, from remaining saved, but he can try to hinder us enjoying the inheritance.
DMcI And the sobering thing is that we find opposition in ourselves to moving in to the purpose of God.
AND Many around us today worship and pray to a god that cannot save. But I was just thinking, later in that chapter we read, “I tell you a mystery: We shall not all fall asleep, but we shall all be changed, in an instant, in the twinkling of an eye” (1 Cor 15:51‑52). Would that be a prospect before the believer that focuses our minds on the greatness of what God will do, because Christ has already been raised?
DMcI Yes, it is on the basis of what Christ has done, in having been raised, that we shall have bodies of glory like unto His. When we see Him, “we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3:2). That is a prospect that it is good to look forward to, but it is good also to understand that there is preparation going on now. The Spirit is the Earnest of our inheritance, and so we have the capability now, in the Spirit, to enter in to the purpose of God, and this is riches. People are seeking to heap up riches for themselves, but this is riches – this is the riches that God has.
MJC As to the matter of change – do you think the apostle enlarges on it in 2 Corinthians 3:18? “We all, looking on the glory of the Lord, with unveiled face, are transformed.” Would that help us change now?
DMcI That is a wonderful Scripture, is it not? If you are in the presence of Christ, you are changed. Moses did not know that his face shone, but it has that effect, “even as by the Lord the Spirit.” We should covet to enjoy the company of Christ.
WRT I was thinking of the Lord’s word about new wine in new skins (Matt 9:17). It is completely different, everything is made new. Indeed, “there is a new creation.”
DMcI Yes. In Ephesians 2:1 you are “dead in your offences” – “dead.” There is no recovery from that position, you are dead. God began again in “new creation.” That is what He did in raising Christ from the dead, and He has begun something in every believer that will be for His glory eternally.
DJB Would you say something about verses 19 and 20? I think we would understand that there was an expression of God’s might as He raised Christ from among the dead, but according to verse 19 it is that same power which God applies to the saints today. Is that how you see it?
DMcI Yes. I think we need to lay hold of this power, and we need to allow it, allow Him, to work in us. This is the power to overcome what would hinder me from moving in to the purpose of God. It is a sorrowful thing to find it in your own heart, that you have a right desire to go in for the Lord’s things, but all kinds of things come in – legitimate things – to prevent you. It may be work, it may be things at home, it may be pressures. Satan will put all kinds of things in your way to stop you going in to the purpose of God. But there is a tremendous power here to help us.
MLF Do you think the apostle John in the isle of Patmos is an example of one who was walking in newness of life? He was exiled, and you get the impression that there was no one for him to talk to even, and yet he “became in the Spirit on the Lord’s day” (Rev 1:10).
DMcI That is a good reference. He was enjoying communing with Christ, was he not? He was there “for the testimony of Jesus” (Rev 1:9), and then he “became in the Spirit on the Lord’s day.” There is a man on his own. Think of John – all that contemplation that he had had of Christ, and how it had changed him. John’s writings bring life in, because they bring Christ in. There is no one that had such a personal appreciation of the glory of Christ as John had. It comes out in his Gospel and it comes out in his Epistles. And, as you say, he is on his own. He is exiled, but he is enjoying something in the presence of Christ.
DJB There is a word that comes into these chapters, you will certainly find it in chapter 2, and that is being “quickened.” What does that word add to what we are speaking about?
DMcI ‘Made to live,’ and the Spirit is engaged in that – we are quickened by the Spirit (John 6:63). So we are made to live to Christ. I think it is exactly what we are speaking of, that the power to walk in newness of life is the result of the Spirit’s quickening power.
DJB Yes. What we have been speaking about in Romans 6 is largely an appeal to our responsibility to respond to the love of Christ shown in His death. But when we come to quickening, it is what God graciously does from His side.
DMcI And you would not want to hinder that, would you?
DEM I was just wondering whether Rebecca is an example of that, in that she is led to one that the Spirit, in type, calls His “Master.” The immediate response is to take the veil and cover herself (Gen 24:65). It is the cutting off of what had gone before, and a commitment to the one to whom she was to become the bride.
DMcI That is very good. “Wilt thou go with this man?” “I will go” (Gen 24:58). The family wanted to hinder her, to know she was ready to go. And yet the servant wanted to go. And what their conversations must have been as that journey unfolded! What the servant must have told her about Isaac! And she is ready. As you say, she takes the veil – she is to be exclusively for him – and she springs off the camel. There is tremendous energy there, and she is really an answer to the heart of Christ. We need to see that side of it, that the pleasure of God is involved in this. It was the pleasure of God to bring Christ out of death. Think of the glory of the Father involved in that – bringing Christ out of that area – and His delight in doing so! And it is His delight to bring us into these great thoughts even now.
PJC Can you say something about “the might of His strength?” Because it is more than just raising Christ from among the dead. I was thinking about how He has “set Him down at His right hand in the heavenlies, above every principality, and authority.” It is almost as if God, in His glory, has not only raised Him, but has given Him this position. And it is something for us to lay hold of, that that power is towards us so that we might come into that relationship with the Man Whom God has set at His right hand.
DMcI Yes. This is necessary for Christ: “Wherefore also,” Paul says to the Philippians, “God highly exalted Him” (Phil 2:9). There is an added reason. Was He not great before? Of course He was! But that greatness was expressed in manhood, and therefore “also God highly exalted Him, and granted Him a name.” This is the counsel of God for Christ, but the power that brought Him out of death is to work in me. It is a wonderful thing to lay hold of.
MJC This section ends with Christ being given “to be Head over all things to the assembly.” Do you have some thought on that?
DMcI Well, how is that worked out? What place does Christ have? He is Head of the assembly – there is no argument as to that. That is the place He has, and the assembly derives everything from Christ as the Head. I am part of that wonderful vessel. But, practically, what does Christ mean to me?
I think that takes us on to Colossians. This is actually a bit further on than walking in newness of life. That is a wonderful thing, to walk in newness of life here. But this is seeking Christ where He is. This takes me off the earth. The Colossian saints are viewed as on the earth; the Ephesian saints are viewed as sat down in the heavenlies in Christ (Eph 2:6). But this is another aspect of the saints where they are, and they are viewed here as on the earth but seeking Christ where He is.
CPB Say what you understand by the things which are above. “Seek the things which are above, where the Christ is” (v1).
DMcI I think it involves the purpose of God: the purpose of God in relation to the place that Christ has, as the Son, and the purpose of God in view of the blessing that comes to us through Christ. I think we need the Spirit’s help to go through the first chapter of Ephesians and just see the extent of that blessing, because how much do we lay hold of it? The Spirit is ready to open these blessings up to us. They all come in the glad tidings. I do not think any of us appreciate the extent of the blessing that came to us the day we accepted Christ.
AND I would like some help on the magnificence of that scene where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. That is what we are to focus on, is it not? The resurrection was, in a sense, the mightiest display of God’s power. Is this a wonderful description of Christ in His glory and majesty, sitting at the right hand?
DMcI This is Christ as Man, Christ exalted as Man, as a Man in heaven. It is wonderful, that. We are to be occupied with the glory of that Man where He is. If you want to see the glory of Christ you have to go into the Father’s presence. That is where you see the glory. You do not see it in the world – Christ is rejected here. It was only as the people of God turned away from Egypt towards the wilderness that the glory appeared. This world is full of man’s glory, and the Lord Himself says to the Father, that they “may be with Me, that they may behold My glory” (John 17:24). We need to get into the presence of the Father to understand what the glory of Christ truly is.
KEGB Can you say something about verse 2, “the things that are above?” We spoke of the hope of His calling, which we had in Ephesians, but what else?
DMcI Inheritance among those sanctified by faith in Christ (Acts 26:18). The reality of sonship. Everything that God has in mind to bring us into in that day, when we shall be glorified with Christ – these are the things that we are to seek to understand now. You could say more, I am sure.
KEGB No, we have been wondering about it recently. What you say is very good and confirmatory.
PKL I wondered whether Philippians 4:8 gave us a list of things that we are to have our minds on – “For the rest, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are noble, … just, … pure, … amiable,” etc. Those would link with the things above, would they not? Would it be helpful for young believers if, instead of worrying about what we are and what we find in ourselves, we just turn to the Lord and have some impression of Christ? And then we get on to what is positive.
DMcI Yes, you do not want to dwell upon what is negative. Paul goes over things here that we should not do – “Put to death therefore” this, and that, and the other (Col 3:5) – and we need to have regard to that; but then, “Put on therefore” (Col 3:12) – there is a positive side to this – “as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, long-suffering,” and so on – the features, if you like, of Christ in manhood. Now, our minds wander – if Mr. Darby could write about his wandering mind (hymn 51), where does that leave me?
MJC Do you think the hymn we sometimes sing encapsulates this?
God’s secret things, long treasured up in heav’n,
In Christ are shown;
Peace, sonship, joy, the Holy Spirit giv’n,
Through Him are known.
Those are just some of them, are they not?
DMcI That is good, and there is a unique satisfaction you can find in the soul from going in for this. We have disappointments in life – all of us. Things do not work out the way we thought they should work out. We have to learn the Lord’s way with us in these things. But in turning to Him where He is I find this satisfaction, it is above everything here. Is that not wonderful?
MJC It is. We have had great help in this area reading the Book of Joshua, and it has given us to see some of the aspects of the inheritance that we have in Christ.
DMcI And the way in, of course, is over the Jordan, which the young ones will remember is our death with Christ. The Red Sea is Christ’s death for us, but the Jordan is our death with Christ. And it means that I understand that what I was according to flesh was finished in the death of Christ. I go through the Jordan and I come out on the other side, and I move into the land. Now, when the people of God moved into the land, the manna finished, and the old corn of the land was taken up, which is Christ glorified. But we have to fulfil both spheres – the wilderness and the land.
DEM I wonder if it helps, perhaps, to look at the way he uses the word “things” in this section. What we are speaking of is not just ideas, not a pretty picture. It is something that is in front of us, and that we should be grasping now, making our own.
DMcI The Spirit would make these things real to us, because He is the Spirit of sonship. I can understand what it means that I am a son and that I am brought into the liberty and joy of sonship. I will enjoy it eternally. We touch it on the Lord’s day morning. I think the supper occasion, and what flows out of it, is vital for the Christian.
MJC These things are real, and I think what is being said is very helpful, but they are spiritual. They are not to be confused with material blessings, are they?
DMcI Well, he deals with that in verses 20 onwards of the previous chapter – “the elements of the world” and things that the flesh delights in. Harsh treatment of the flesh, and all that line of things that the flesh would delight in – that is finished, and it is obnoxious to God.
PKL Does Hebrews help us on this? “Faith is the substantiating of things … not seen” (Heb 11:1). They are far more real and firm than this building!
DMcI Well, it is because our faith is in a risen Christ. That is why it is a vital, living thing; that is what will keep us here while we wait His return, the fact that Christ is alive and He wants to have this relationship with us. As we set out in the day, we need to begin by speaking to the Lord. It is a practical thing, it is a simple thing, but it is vital. If I truly believe that Christ is raised and He is in glory, and He is there ever living to intercede for me, then I should have a personal daily relationship with Him where He is.
CPB Are the things above and the things on the earth exclusive of each other? We cannot have both, can we?
DMcI No, that is right. We can all say how far on we are in this line, but the more I am occupied with Christ where He is, the less the things here will have an appeal to me. And I think Paul is an example of that – we have spoken about John on Patmos, but there was Paul in a Roman jail writing to the Philippians, and he was bubbling over with joy. And why was that? Because his hope was in Christ, and he was enjoying that relationship. If you think of the things here, he had lost everything, had he not?
JB He says, “For me to live is Christ” (Phil 1:21). Do you think there is an active going after these things – seeking is an active thing, is it not? Do you think that ought to cover our lives more?
DMcI I think so. I think probably most of us are quite well off materially; but maybe that is a hindrance to us. Paul had lost everything. Everything that he had he counted loss (Phil 3:7) – not only was it loss, it was a negative balance, was it not? “That I may gain Christ;” “The excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord” (Phil 3:8) – that was enough for Paul. What a challenge that is!
DHB He knew that the things above were realities to him.
DMcI That is right. He was living in them. And he is seeking to bring these saints into that. His prayer in Ephesians was to bring the saints into that. And there are two sides to his ministry. One is to meet what came in at Corinth, and what came in in Galatia. But the other side was to bring the saints into the purpose of God.
DO I like what you say about relationships, because these things are real for us. I was thinking that in verse 4 it says, “When the Christ is manifested Who is our life.” So He is our life, He is real; the things that are above, they are real. And His life is not exactly in us, because He is our life.
DMcI That is right, yes. And the features of Christ are then to come out. There is the hidden side of the believer’s life. Why are you always happy? Why is that? Do people ask you that? You have got a resource that is sustained from above – that is why. Now, does my life raise questions with people – do they ask? Peter says, “[Be ready] to give an account of the hope that is in you” (1 Pet 3:15). Well, does anybody ask you about your hope?
DO When they ask about why I am happy, why I am so excited, they would not understand about the things which are above. It is just for the new creation, as you said.
DMcI That is right, but it may stir up exercise with them, because it begins with coming to Christ. That is where it begins – this whole line of things begins in the heart by surrendering to Christ.
MSB Can you say more as to the purpose of God? You have mentioned it a few times – have you got something to say about it?
DMcI I think it is all that it is His pleasure to bring us into. We are not saved just for our own good, we are saved for the pleasure of God. And that is another thing that we need to understand. If I think that I am saved for my own good, then I am happy that Christ was delivered for my offences, that I am saved; and that is fine. But that is not what God wants to bring me into. I am saved for His pleasure, therefore I am to be here in testimony, and also for response to God. So there is to be an answer in my heart. And I think the purpose of God involves His pleasure, what He wants to bring us into.
MSB God’s word to Moses was, “Let My son go, that he may serve Me” (Ex 4:23).
DMcI Exactly. So the escape from Egypt was not just to get away from the Egyptians, it was in view of an answer to the heart of God. And there will be an increased answer from hearts that take this line.
DO I was wondering if God’s pleasure is to make us happy, as a father would make his children happy.
DMcI Well, we shall not find happiness in things here, shall we? Any achievement here is so fleeting. True happiness is to be found in Christ – “I count myself happy, king Agrippa” (Acts 26:2).
MJC Happiness in Luke 15 was found in the father’s house, was it not?
DMcI It was just there.
29 September 2012