DJB I realise, dear brethren, that the link between these passages of Scripture may not be immediately obvious, but in considering what we might speak of together, I have been concerned that we might get further gain from considering the Lord Jesus as our Teacher. At the beginning of the Acts this same servant, Luke, said that he put this Gospel together “concerning all things which Jesus began both to do and to teach.” There was clearly a great emphasis in his mind, led of the Holy Spirit, to set out the teaching the Lord Jesus gave when He was here.
The disciples quite often addressed Him as Teacher or Rabbi, and on that memorable morning when Mary met Him at the sepulchre she addressed Him as Rabboni (my Teacher), which is how she thought of Him, the One Who had taught her all the time that she had been with Him.
I thought it might therefore be good for us to speak together of the Lord Jesus as our Teacher, because we need to learn from Him, and to reconsider some of what His teachings have been. There is no possible way in which, in a meeting of this kind, we could consider everything that the Lord Jesus ever taught! It fills four Gospels and it underlies the ministry of the apostles. But I thought we might call attention to certain particular features of what the Lord Jesus had to say.
In the first passage in Luke’s Gospel (chapter 10), the Lord Jesus, as He so often did, sought to cause those who seek to serve Him to consider their heavenly calling, as opposed to anything that they might do for Him here on earth.
In the second passage I think we are right to say that, even at that last time of gathering with His disciples before His death, He was still teaching them, and particularly in regard of what He Himself called “the new covenant in My blood.” He was teaching them the basis on which God draws near to man and on which man can draw near to God.
The third passage, in the Gospel of John – although, as always, it is expressed in John’s simple words – is much beyond us to interpret or perhaps understand very much. The Lord Jesus, I think, is calling attention here to the way in which the believer actually enters upon the things which God has prepared for those that love Him. We shall come back to that, I expect. I thought we might keep that in mind: the Lord’s emphasis on what is heavenly as opposed to what is earthly. He presents the means whereby, through His death, we believers in Him have a link with God Himself, and the way in which we make the things of God our own.
I just say a little more as to Luke 10. We do not hear much about these seventy: it is only Luke who has anything to say about them. But they were sent out, and it would seem that their service was prospered. It may even be – we are not here to criticise them – that they were rather pleased with the way in which their service was prospered. That is what they said: “Lord, even the demons are subject to us through Thy name.” And the Lord gives thanks for that. He says, “I beheld Satan as lightning falling out of heaven.” We know from the Book of Revelation that the time for that is yet to come, but the Lord was able to take account of the power that there was to subdue Satan, and He provided them with all the power they needed for it.
Then He says, “Yet in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subjected to you, but rejoice that your names are written in the heavens.” I just commend to us all, and, I trust, to my own spirit as well, that that is the true basis of rejoicing, and that it would remind us that the Lord Jesus came out from heaven, came from God and was going to God, and was concerned to bring about for God, and for man, a heavenly company that would enjoy heaven, already in spirit now, but more fully in a day to come. That, as I understand it from the Lord’s own words, is the firm basis for joy. Not prosperity of service here, nor, indeed, any sacrifice we make on this account. But we rejoice in what God has done from His side, which is no merit of ours but is full blessing.
I just commend these thoughts to us, in the hope that the brethren’s contribution will fill them out.
AWGS Yes, teaching forms a very large part of the Lord’s ministry, does it not? We find it, too, under Paul in the Epistles. But is it not important for every Christian to come under teaching, so that he is instructed? And not only instructed, but brought into the joy you have mentioned which is in the heavens?
DJB Yes. The Lord’s teaching was not meant to fill the heads of His hearers with information, it was intended to have a moral effect as they allowed what He said to sink in – He says, “Do ye let these words sink into your ears” (Luke 9:44). That is, He had the mind of God and He was conveying it in all that He said. Our blessing is in seeking to make it our own. Some of what He said is, shall we say, simple to understand; though not, usually, easy to put into practice – it is demanding, very demanding. But then there are other things which are profound and bear a good deal of reflection. But we are not to shy away from the truth of Scripture or the Lord’s words, it is all there. And we do well to enquire – bring our hard questions to the Lord – and we may find that He has answers for us that we were not expecting.
AWGS So frequently we find in the Gospels that somebody may come and ask a question, but the Lord sometimes does not answer the question, He answers the person himself as to his moral state.
DJB Yes, indeed.
AWGS And is that the object of instruction for ourselves – to get the gain of that character of teaching?
DJB Yes. And so I may bring my enquiries to the Lord Jesus and find that He has something rather different to say to me in reply. But it will always be moral in its bearing upon my heart and, it may indeed be, my conscience. It will usually also draw me towards where He now is. As John 6 says a little after the passage we read, He has ascended “up where He was before” (v62). That is His rightful place, and one of His great desires is to attract our hearts to where He is.
MJC Would it bring stability into our hearts to realise our names are written in heaven?
DJB I think so. It has nothing to do with any merit of ours, and thus it has nothing to do with any failure of ours. We cannot have our names deleted. Moses once went so far in love for the people as to say, “Blot me, I pray Thee, out of Thy book that Thou hast written” (Exodus 32:32). But it could never be, it could not be! It just is a measure of the extremity of Moses’ love. But it is security, and it reminds us that that is where we belong. As to being heavenly in outlook while we are still here, I think that is a challenge to me and perhaps to us all. I think it also gives us a different view of life and of death. We grieve over the loss of one and another, and Scripture speaks very soberly about it. But it is also the way by which, until the Lord comes, believers enter fully upon their heavenly place. I think we do well to see life and death and eternity as a prospect. Do you think that?
MJC Yes, I do, because, really, their service here was only for time and belonged to earth, but the thought of the names being in heaven has an eternal aspect, does it not?
DJB Yes, it does. We perhaps should not just combine Scriptures, but there are other references to the Lamb’s book of life, a number of places where God has a book and those who belong to Him are entered there and they are never going to be deleted, and that was what the Lord Jesus wanted the seventy to really focus upon. They were serving Him here, and that was right. But that was not their security; their security and their favour before God lay in His thoughts, not in what they could do for Him.
AWGS God’s thoughts are what is greater.
DJB Yes. And we may deceive ourselves into thinking that service down here, and even life among our fellow believers down here, is what matters. Well, it does matter. But our links together are in Christ, and He is not here, He is in heaven, and that is where believers in the Lord Jesus belong.
AWGS Is that what the Lord is seeking in His prayer to the Father in John 17, “that … they also may be with Me, that they may behold My glory” (v24)?
DJB Yes. And it is a happy thing if we touch that somewhat now. But it gives point and direction to the life of the believer that that is our hope, to be actually with Him – the place of greatest possible favour. And we shall see His glory fully, and as He would have us to see it. We know that while we are here, we see through a glass darkly, we know in part, and so on, but the apostle says, “But then face to face” (1 Corinthians 13:12).
JS I was just thinking the Lord is the heavenly Man. What helps us to become more heavenly in character?
DJB Well, the underlying thing, I think, is to be attracted to Him and to desire, then, to be like Him. His outlook was a heavenly one, even when He was here, and I think He would desire us to be heavenly in outlook as well. It is not just an abstract idea, it affects the way of life of the Christian while still in this world, does it not? Your hopes and aspirations are different. The spirit in which we may seek to serve in any way – that will all be coloured by a heavenly outlook. What do you think?
JS Yes. Apparently some Christians have got an earthly outlook, but our inheritance is a heavenly one, is it not? The Jews’ inheritance is connected with earth. Is that right?
JS But our inheritance is connected with the Man in the glory.
DJB Yes, indeed. And Scripture is quite clear and emphatic about it. In the Epistle to the Ephesians, the first three chapters are about that very thing, that all our favours are in heavenly places. Indeed, the apostle speaks of us as seated there. I do not want to discourage anyone, because we are all finding our way. The most we can say is that it is a plain statement of Scripture. In this chapter it is a plain statement of the Lord Jesus. I must, if I am to have His mind, seek to make it my own. I may touch it very feebly, but it does give colour and direction to my life!
We might look at chapter 22. I have felt rather drawn to these verses for a little while, dear brethren, because I feel that what the Lord spoke of as the new covenant is something we need to understand, and to make it our own, too. All the covenants in Scripture, I think – all the right ones, all the ones that God has made – are made from His side and He sets out their terms. But there is still the need for us to enter into them and make them our own, and in particular this new covenant is one that we need to make our own. The beloved disciples may not have understood very well what the Lord Jesus meant. They knew about the old covenant, and I am sure that they all knew that they had not been able to maintain it. And they would have known, too, that the prophet Jeremiah had something to say about a new covenant that was to come. I expect they thought of that as something that was still quite a long way off. The Lord Jesus says, ‘It is here, now.’ They, of course, had lived under the old covenant, so this was a new covenant for them; I do not want to get involved in words. But this new covenant is plainly stated to be “in My blood.” I just think it is very attractive – very attractive, and sobering too – to think that the terms on which God can have a people now, and on which we can draw near to God, rest in the blood-shedding and death of His beloved Son. Do you think that?
AWGS I think so, and I think the new covenant is a thought of Scripture which is very important to the believer because, although it is not made with the Christian, he comes into the full appreciation of it. And there is teaching, to go back to your primary thought, involved in it because it is the teaching of love, is it not?
DJB Yes it is, and the Lord Jesus, I believe, intends that we should understand it and enter into it. The fact that it is of God’s providing does not in any way detract from the need – if I am to enjoy it and take advantage of it – to make it my own and be committed to it from my side as well.
AWGS Say more, then, as to your thought as to “in My blood.” It is a scriptural fact, but the Lord had something in mind, did He not, in bringing it to bear upon those to whom He is talking here before His blood had even been shed?
DJB Well, we could go back to Exodus 24, where there was a covenant made: “And Moses took the blood, and sprinkled it on the people, and said, Behold the blood of the covenant that Jehovah has made with you concerning all these words” (v8). That is what was said, and what sealed the covenant, in regard of the ten words and what followed from them. Here, the Lord Jesus says that it is not on the basis of law, right as that was in its place; what He says is, God is now ready to be on fresh and happy terms with those who are redeemed by the blood of His beloved Son. And, no doubt, keeping up this memorial on a Lord’s Day morning is a powerful reminder of that, but the covenant stands in its own right. The covenant is not actually in the cup which we drink – that brings it before us, but the covenant is in the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. And that has required that He should die and that He should come out of the grave, and, indeed, that He should ascend up where He was before to the place which is rightly His, which reinforces the fact that our calling is a heavenly one.
JPW In Hebrews, where it speaks of what we have come to, it says, “And to Jesus, Mediator of a new covenant; and to the blood of sprinkling” (Hebrews 12:24).
DJB The Epistle to the Hebrews gives us a strong sense of the blessing which the writer, and the Jewish converts, could enjoy as having known something of the old covenant as well as this blessing of the new and heavenly one.
JPW The heavenly Jerusalem.
DJB Indeed. All those callings in Hebrews 12 are heavenly ones, are they not? And we are said to have already come to it. And, of course, the apostle Paul – he had sat under the old covenant – in 2 Corinthians 3, says we are on new ground: he and those with him were “ministers of the new covenant” (v6). And that tests us. We do not set ourselves up as ministers, exactly, but what does it mean to be a minister of the new covenant? It means that I am in the spirit of it, does it not?
JPW And in regard of what is heavenly in contrast to what is of earth, Paul says that “none of the princes of this age knew,” speaking of His glory (1 Corinthians 2:8).
DJB Yes, indeed, and that is still the spirit of the world, and sadly, we might have to say, even of the religious world. I do not want to engage in finding fault with others, but rather to see that the Lord’s great purpose was to draw us from earth to heaven.
SJB In the passage in Jeremiah 31 that speaks about the new covenant, the passage finishes, “Their sin will I remember no more” (v34). Why, as Christians, do we find that so difficult to grasp?
DJB “Their sins and their lawlessnesses I will never remember any more” (Hebrews 8:12, 10:17).
SJB We are often afflicted by guilt, a lack of conviction about the power of the blood of Jesus, are we not?
DJB Well, this is something which came up in the local reading last night, here. The brethren here are reading the First Epistle of John, and I think we cannot do better than to look at what the Spirit led the apostle to say there. 1 John 1 and, first of all, verse 7: “But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.” But then I might have to say that I have been conscious of not walking in the light, so then I need verse 9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Well, those are the promises of God, what He will do, and I need to rely on those, do I not? What do you think?
SJB Yes. We have the great example of the apostle Paul, who had tremendous guilt naturally, but was clear of it because he valued the blood of the Lord Jesus – its efficacious power to deal with everything without exception.
DJB Without that there is no gospel! If the work of Christ only avails for some of my sins and I have to sort the rest out for myself, I never will – I cannot. The blood of Jesus Christ avails for everything. There is a hymn that puts it just like that – ‘His blood availed for me.’ That is wonderful! But I know what you mean – I think we have all encountered souls who actually have not got peace with God. This may seem rather basic, but then it is basic – without it there is no security. I have to trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, and my peace with God is through Him. That is the message of the whole of the New Testament.
MJC Is this in any way the difference between the Passover and the new covenant? We are reading about both in Luke 22.
DJB Well, I think it is, but you might do well to say what you are thinking!
MJC I was thinking of what has just been asked. The Passover was deliverance on earth from the power of the enemy and from the people’s sins, but the new covenant for us brings us right into the presence of God, does it not?
DJB Yes, it does. So the Passover was a very, very merciful provision, but they still had great difficulties to face along the way. And, indeed, from one point of view, so have we. But the new covenant is without qualification, there are no ifs or buts, it is “the new covenant in My blood.” Those are the terms on which God draws near to His people and desires that they should draw near to Him. Are we saying what is right?
FAC I am enjoying what is being said. It would give us a greater appreciation of the blood, would it not? I was thinking of Peter’s reference to our being redeemed by “precious blood.” It then goes on to say, “Foreknown indeed before the foundation of the world” (1 Pet 1:18‑20). I wondered if that adds something that would encourage us a little and show us the importance of it.
DJB It tells us that there are no accidents, but that God was fully prepared for all that has come into the history of man here. We know that God did not intend that man should sin, and that He put him in the most favourable circumstances. But he has sinned, and we have sinned – all have sinned. And God has made His own provision, and one great gain has come from that, and that is that we are redeemed and therefore belong to God and to the Lord Jesus in a way that we otherwise would not. Mr Coates sums it up:
Thou hast brought again to Him
More than by man He lost
I think it is very good for Christians to realise that their place of favour in Christ is the best it could possibly be – much better than Adam’s was before he sinned.
APDR I was thinking about the Passover. It gave rest of heart from the fact that they would not come under judgement. And that is a very important thing, is it not, for the believer to know, that the judgment is passed over? But the new covenant brings us into the understanding of the love of God and the presence of God. The blood was taken right in, was it not? The way was opened not only into heaven, but into the heart of God Himself.
DJB Yes, and in that sense there is nothing to be added to it. What remained was for the Holy Spirit to be given so that the love of God should be shed abroad in our hearts. That gift was very necessary. But it rests on the work of Christ. The Spirit could not come until Jesus was glorified.
APDR The oil was always on the blood.
DJB I think you would do well to explain that.
APDR Well, in the cleansing of the leper, on the ear and the thumb of the right hand and the great toe, that is where the oil was put – on top of the blood (Lev 14:17,28). It is interesting to note that it also says that the remainder of the oil was put on the head. There is a certain sense, is there not, in which not only is every claim met, but the believer has been anointed and brought into the full blessing and understanding of God’s love and favour. It is a wonderful thing, I think, to think of that.
DJB Well, it is. We may feel that our understanding is very small, but there is room for enjoyment alongside understanding, and what we enjoy we will want to pursue and understand a little better.
AJB My thoughts were going back to our reading last Wednesday where we read, “Having therefore, brethren, boldness for entering into the holy of holies by the blood of Jesus” (Heb 10:19). Is that not really the ultimate place where our heavenly portion is to be known?
DJB Yes, but that is a boldness that we can exercise now.
AJB It is a wonderful privilege, is it not?
DJB It is.
AJB It signifies the completeness of what Christ has secured in His blood for us.
DJB Yes. I feel that I do not know very much about heaven!
AJB Well, the question was asked on Wednesday, what is it to go into the holy of holies? I do not know whether we very adequately answered it, but it is open to us at any time.
DJB Yes. I think it is consciously to enter into the presence of God and enjoy what God is enjoying, which is the presence of the Lord Jesus with Him. And if we are assured of our place of favour in Christ, I think we shall enjoy the holiest rather more.
AJB Is that not something of the practical working out of new covenant blessing, really?
DJB Yes. I feel that, in speaking of heaven, we are not intended to make these things glorious impossibilities that have no relation to our actual life down here. You cannot put these things into compartments, but it is rather that our way of life and approach to life, and approach to the things of God, are coloured by the knowledge of where God is, where the Lord Jesus is, and what His mind for His people is. That is just my feeling about it.
DTH You really could not go in without the blood, could you? It is our approach to God.
DJB Yes. It would be very dangerous to go in taking my sins in with me. I think it is a most remarkable thing that, just in the hours leading up to the Crucifixion, the Lord would use this opportunity to impress the new covenant upon His disciples so that, if they did not understand it very well then, once the Spirit came they would understand it, and minister in the spirit of it – they would become competent new covenant ministers.
SGP To what extent do you think the teachings are written or spoken? They are, obviously, both, but He says He is going to write the law in their hearts (Jer 31:33), and, “Their sins and their lawlessnesses I will never remember any more.” I was wondering because, as to the old commandments, the old covenant was written down, was it not?
DJB Yes. Well, the ministry of the new covenant is written on the heart. We have the teachings of the Lord Jesus which are graciously recorded for us. Only a little of what He ever said or did is here, but it is on record so that we might be rightly and accurately informed about it. But then, the writing is on the heart: 2 Corinthians 3:3 is very emphatic about that, because the stone tables – well, they got broken, but the heart is meant to be soft and impressionable, and to take on what the Lord has given and be affected by it; and not just in passing, but to stay affected. “We all, looking on the glory of the Lord, with unveiled face, are transformed” (2 Cor 3:18). I do not think we should be changed one minute and back to what we were the next. It should be a lasting change, should it not?
APDR This covenant is an eternal one. It says, “In the power of the blood of the eternal covenant” (Hebrews 13:20). It is a very, very important thing. The fact that the Lord brought it in and, in a sense, passed it – I was going to say – into the joys of the assembly, is a very important principle, is it not – that God’s attitude is never going to change, because it is resting on the perfection of what Jesus has done?
DJB Yes. I think it bears on the question that was raised. We do not need to be in any doubt about God’s favour, and we should not be in any doubt, because that is really to doubt His love. Of course, if we begin to look at circumstances and the difficulties of the way, we may say, ‘Well, why has God brought us this way?’ and discouragement comes in. But what do I fall back on when times are hard? Have I got real security that God loves me; loves all His people; loved us sufficiently to give His beloved Son to die for us? Do I believe that He is exalted? Do I actually believe that all power has been given to Him in heaven and on earth (Matt 28:18)? Do I believe that “the Father loves the Son, and has given all things to be in His hand” (John 3:35)? All of this flows out of a solid relationship with God.
SJB In this Scripture here the Lord speaks about remembrance. When Paul speaks about it in 1 Corinthians 11, he also talks about announcing His death until He shall come (v26). Why do you think he adds that thought?
DJB Well, I can only make suggestions as to that. One is that it is the truth that in calling the Lord to mind in a public way, we show our commitment to the Lord. That is one important aspect, and that is why I venture to emphasise that, though the covenant is from God’s side, the believer, the saints, need to stay committed to it. In the Old Testament they said, “All that Jehovah has spoken will we do!” (Exodus 19:8). They were not able for that, but the spirit of that is that I will take up God’s covenant and promises and seek to make them my own and live by them. It does not change the covenant if I come short, but that is the way to get the gain of it. The other thing, of course, is that in 1 Corinthians 11 the saints were not rightly representing the death of the Lord. And what the apostle says to them, among other things, was to sober them. “Ye announce the death of the Lord, until He come.” That raises the question, ‘Am I committed to the death of the Lord?’ What a solemn thing to be committed to! And we make it public that we are committed to the death of the Lord until He come, when, as has often been said, it will not be needed any more, as He will be there. But I think the full extent of what is in 1 Corinthians 11 is important for us as seeking to maintain what is due to the Lord.
JPW Would the last day be when He comes?
DJB Which reference to the last day were you referring to?
JPW There are two in your Scripture: in verses 44 and 54 of John 6. Is that when the Lord comes for us?
DJB If we go back as far as verse 39, “I should … raise it up in the last day,” any reference to being raised up must be to when the Lord comes for us. Of course, in John’s Gospel the last day is only spoken of very generally. We do not have the order of the last things set out here. Martha knew about the last day (John 11:24). It was something carried forward from the Old Testament, and the Lord linked on with that. As to certain aspects of the last day, Mr Raven said that it refers to God’s day, and the millennium (FER vol 5 pp96‑97,111). I think as to being raised up in the last day, that is actual, when the saints will be raised.
MJC So, for the present, we drink of a cup of blessing, and that brings us, in the power of the Spirit, into the fullness of these things.
DJB Yes, and speaking for myself, I feel I need to take the Lord’s Supper more deeply and more soberly in my spirit, lest it become, shall we say, a routine.
MJC Because, in the actual doing of it, participating in the emblems, we are announcing the death of the Lord.
DJB Yes, and at a very practical level, anyone would be entitled to ask, ‘What is it you are committed to?’ And if I say I am committed to the death of the Lord, well, that should be showing in my life, should it not?
SJB Although we are set together, and remember the Lord together, remembrance of the Lord is intensely personal.
DJB Yes, it is. In grace we are brought together to do it, but each participating saint does so as personally recommitted.
MJC It is both collective and individual.
DJB Yes, the two go together.
Well, our attention has been called to John 6, and I just proposed reading these verses as pointing the way into the enjoyment, in the sense of what we have been speaking about. I suggested we begin to read where we did for two particular reasons. First of all, “No one can come to Me except the Father Who has sent Me draw him” which, of course, is a profound statement of the truth of God’s sovereignty. But it is a very happy thing, as a believer, to know that God was sufficiently interested in me, and every other believer, to draw us to Christ. But then, the Lord, for good reasons no doubt, called attention to a word from the prophets, “And they shall be all taught of God.” And so, what He has to say here has full divine authority. The way that the Father draws us to Christ is that “every one that has heard from the Father Himself, and has learned of Him, comes to Me.” It is a very wonderful favour to be taught by God!
AWGS As you well know, this chapter is very simple to read, as you said earlier, but possibly the most difficult to understand in the whole of the Lord’s teaching. Because we see there the Jews stumbling on what He had to say. So we need the Spirit given to appreciate and understand what the Lord is as our Food. Because eternal life is in view, is it not?
DJB Indeed it is. The Lord refers to it repeatedly, “He that believes on Me has life eternal.” And, we will notice, “This is the bread which comes down out of heaven” (v50). That is where this life comes from.
GNP We were talking about the blood a bit earlier on, and I could not help remembering the hymn we used to sing as children, ‘The blood of Jesus whispers peace within.’
DJB Yes. Well, thank God for every one who has made it their own and who has got real peace with God.
GNP It is a great encouragement.
DJB Because, just speaking of that for a moment, Romans 5 then goes on to speak about various trials that come in along the way. If I have not got peace with God, then I cannot begin to be ready for the trials of life.
KJP I was just looking at that quotation that has been brought forward from Isaiah.
DJB Isaiah 54:13.
KJP It says there, “Great shall be the peace of thy children.” Thinking of what our brother has said, that peace is something to be known and appreciated.
DJB It is a chapter, of course, that follows immediately on from chapter 53. The atoning work of Christ lays the basis for the appeal in chapter 54.
SJB So much of John 6 speaks about living, does it not? Life. I was thinking about that at the beginning: we were speaking about names written in heaven, and in Revelation, to those in Sardis, it was the book of life (Rev 3:5). It is not just a book that is away on a shelf, it is the book of life. What is this matter that John is trying to convey, about the Christian being alive?
DJB Well, over what is now most of a lifetime I have sought to have a better understanding of what life according to God is. I think it is good to see that it was first set out in the Lord Jesus Himself. We had that in 1 John 1 last night, “The eternal life, which was with the Father, and has been manifested to us” (v2). The apostles saw something different in Christ from what they had ever seen among their teachers or ever knew in their own hearts. And He desired to impart it to them. And He did not only set out to impart it to those who were well instructed or leading a good life. John 4 has the Lord imparting eternal life to a very unlikely, poor sinner. So it is available to all. I think it is life in relation to God. It is eternal because it has to do with God. We need the word “eternal” because we are here where there is a natural life, and eternal life stands in contrast with that. This is a life that is never exhausted and will continue. But, truly, I would be glad to hear from any brother here who can tell us more about eternal life and their enjoyment of it.
APDR I was thinking about eating the Lord’s flesh and drinking His blood. We can in measure understand – only partially – what to eat the manna really means: Christ once humbled here. That of itself is a most wonderful contemplation – Christ once humbled here – Who He was and what He became. But say something about eating His flesh and drinking His blood. The Lord says unless you do that you have no life in yourselves (v53). So we cannot talk about eternal life unless we know something about eating His flesh and drinking His blood.
DJB Well, it is a very solemn view of the death of the Lord. That, as I understand it, is what it is about. Mr Raven warns us against being literal in our use of Scripture (FER vol 5 p119). It is meant to draw our attention and our hearts to the death of Christ. And that should make me ask myself, ‘Why did He go that way?’ and, ‘Has it any bearing upon the way that I need to go?’ I am not called upon – unless a martyr – actually to pass through death on His account, but do I believe in the truth of baptism, for example? What am I committed to in baptism? How do I make the death of the Lord my own? What do you think?
APDR I think there are the two sides: there is the Lord’s death for me, but my death with Christ.
DJB Just so.
APDR In some ways it is a great blessing, is it not, to know that the offensive sinner has gone totally? We are gone in His death, we are submerged in it and we are gone. I think it is a great blessing, because souls can be deeply troubled by all the things that are in us. We know about that, we do not need to talk about that. But it is a great blessing that it has gone – I have died with Him. I am very tested about that as to a practical expression in my life. It is what you are saying, the manifestation of our life; what is it? Paul says, “Ye have died, and your life is hid with the Christ in God. When the Christ is manifested Who is our life, then shall ye also be manifested with Him in glory” (Col 3:3‑4). It is the same life.
DJB Well, there are several aspects there.
APDR There are indeed.
DJB Where is my real life? Well, it is hid with Christ in God.
SGP Is there an inextricable link between the believer and his Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ? His death is my death, His life is my life. He makes the promise here: “He that believes on Me has life eternal … and I will raise him up at the last day” (vv47,54). It is as if, as a consequence of having believed, these things will take place.
DJB Well, there are the promises here of what the Lord will yet do. But there is then this question that is before us as to how we live now and how taking the death of the Lord up for ourselves will change our lives here. There is this life which is hid with the Christ in God. There is also the impact on my life here, which, I think, has to do with what other Scriptures speak of as the “new man.”
APDR Do you think it connects with the newness of life that Paul speaks of in Romans 6:4? The Lord Jesus was here in resurrection for 40 days and came in and went out amongst them (Acts 1:21). Do you think, in those 40 days, they got an impression of what newness of life, and life lived towards God, must have been in Jesus, in a totally different way, in a sense, from what they had seen before He was crucified?
DJB Yes, He had a relationship with His own that He had not had before.
APDR That is true.
DJB So He was at home with them and, I think we can say, they with Him. And then they were left without Him, and He warned them that to represent Him here they would need the Spirit, “Do ye remain in the city till ye be clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:49). And they waited for the coming of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is, of course, the power of life.
AWGS I was thinking of that verse 56, “He that eats My flesh and drinks My blood” – the appropriation of the Lord’s death – “dwells in Me.” I was thinking of that word ‘dwelling.’ Because, if we are dwelling in Christ, as we have been saying, there would be that expression of Him, because He goes on to add, “And I in him.”
DJB Yes, it can be read alongside what we have in John 14, “If any one love Me, he will keep My word, and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him” (v23). This is as close a relationship as there could possibly be, and I need to make way for the Lord in my heart. I know that I have a place in His heart; I need to make way for Him in my heart, and in the needs and tests of life I shall find out how well I know the Lord and what effect my knowledge of Him – whatever it is – has in my approach to the tests and trials of life. The apostles Paul, Peter and, indeed, John too go into that in some detail; their spirits were all changed by having to do with the Lord. We cannot forget that John once had to be rebuked for wanting to call down fire (Luke 9:54‑55). He was a man who was changed through having to do with the Lord.
MJC Whilst we would not in any way limit these verses, that we are reading and considering, to the Lord’s Supper, does it help us, as we come together to remember the Lord, to have opportunity to consider His death and what it means to me?
DJB Yes. Better still, of course, to do so beforehand, “But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat” (1 Cor 11:28 AV), otherwise I may get rather distracted. But what you say is clearly right. We should find our hearts subdued but lifted in the presence of this memorial. It is a very sobering one: you have a witness to a death, a unique death, the death of the Lord, and it is before us on the table.
AWGS John 6 is not the Supper, is it?
DJB No, it is not. It has a bearing on the spirit in which we take the Supper but, as Mr Darby once said, if v53 were the condition, anyone who had not partaken of it would be lost (CW vol. 20 p283)!
5 October 2013