Fellowship With the Father and the Son

1 John 1
The special point in what we have before us here, as I may say in all the writings of John, is such a manifestation of the Father in the Son as should bring us into fellowship and, association with both. We have difficulties: there is the holy nature and character of God, and our state. He first puts this blessed thought and purpose of God, giving us fellowship with the Father and the Son, and then goes on to show where the difficulty lies.
As Christians we have a new nature and capacity of enjoying God, born of God, a, divine nature— “that which is born of the spirit is spirit;” and we have the power of the Holy Ghost. Evil nature has some special delight; and so the divine nature in us delights in divine things. If this were simply so, all would be very simple; but the flesh is there. Yet it is true for all that, that we should never have had the same kind of fellowship with the Father and the Son if we had not these exercises with other things that are not the Father and the Son. We have to go through temptation, but all this brings out the love and thoughtfulness of God about us that we never should have learned if we were not what we are. Man in Eden would be in innocence, thanking God and enjoying himself; but we have had Christ, that is, God revealing Himself fully in grace above all the sin. It was natural to God, if I may so speak, to love creation, but something more than natural, when God in sovereign grace commends His love to us when we are sinners. There I find what rises above all my thoughts of simple goodness; One absolutely holy, not merely good, but a perfectly holy nature dealing with one that is evil. That is infinite goodness, and yet it brings us in this increased knowledge of what God is to where there has been no evil at all.
This revelation makes us know God as we never could have known Him otherwise. The angels delight to look into it, but it applies to the affections of our hearts as applied to ourselves; for He does not take hold of angels but of the seed of Abraham. I get then the Lord Jesus Christ becoming a man, showing His holiness where sin was—not where sin never could enter—and then the patience and the goodness of the love, the perfect revelation, of the Father. He could say, “Have I been so long time with you and yet hast thou not known me Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father.” “No man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son which is in the bosom of the Father he hath declared him.” Even if we take the highest character of this, we have the Father's delight in the Son Himself revealed to us, and we are brought into it in Christ, the very thing that should occupy us, He puts us, by the love that sought us while sinners, into this love; we have fellowship with the Father and with His Son; it is there that we are and thus so blessedly brought in.
I see a Man (much more God over all, but still a man) the object of the Father's delight, and the one who had His delight in the Father. “As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you.” And “I have declared unto them thy name and will declare it that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.” It is all sovereign grace towards me, it is true, but redemption has brought us thus (Christ having become our life) into the apprehension of all these delights, so that, while we are brought to the dust as to ourselves, it brings us to full joy. And when God revealed Himself thus, He does not say “this is my beloved Son, you ought to love Him,” but “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased” — “I love Him.” He reveals His own affections to the Son. When we come to the death of the Lord Jesus, “now is the Son of man glorified and God is glorified in him.” I see the sinless one, in the very place of sin where He was made sin, perfect in love to His Father and perfect in obedience. I say, was there ever anything like it? This perfect One, perfect in dependence when as a victim forsaken of God, perfect in His love, perfect in obedience: everything was tested to the uttermost— “the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it.” When I see all this, my soul as taught of God adoringly delights in it, humbled to the dust as to ourselves, still looking at the perfectness of this wondrous One. I suppose the soul has had peace, sin all gone; then Christ is the blessed object of my soul, and I learn these kind of feelings I never should have otherwise known. He could say “therefore cloth my Father love me because I lay down my life,” and I say therefore do I love Him. I have got the thought of the Father about Him, It is not merely that my sins are put away; but by the Father thus revealing all His thoughts and ways in Christ as He has, my soul in looking at Christ sees all this perfectness, enough to draw out the affections of the Father because of His perfectness of love to Him and obedience. He has set Him at His own right hand in glory; I sit down to gaze at Him, I see infinite perfectness. The Father could not but delight in, and love Him; and as taught of God I have fellowship with the Father in the very most blessed object of His affections, the closest fullest object of His love. He has centered all my affections. As it is said in the epistle to the Ephesians, “that in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness towards us in Christ Jesus” even to angels and principalities and powers in the heavens.
It is there where a soul is brought, when there is peace of heart—not merely of conscience—but peace of heart through the Holy Ghost, when peace of conscience has nothing to do with it. If my affections are concentrated on the object of the Father's whole delight, I know the infiniteness of the object, and this gives peace of heart. Through sovereign grace I have my delight in Him. My affections are feeble and weak; but still if they are centered on this object, I am at the infiniteness of the source of delight. He is the Father's constant delight: His delight was to do His Father's will—His meat and drink to do the will of Him that sent Him. With Him I have all things; the object is there; with Him I know the Father. I have His Father my Father, His God my God. I have the Spirit of adoption whereby I cry, Abba Father. The affections flow out according to the new nature and the Spirit of Christ. It is not supposing that our affections are adequate: they never are even in human things, but they can be concentrated—not let out to other things. We are finite, the object is infinite; confidence grows in the apprehension of it.
We are brought then in this new nature and the power of the Holy Ghost—the Father has brought me—into the very same place and title and name that Christ is in. “Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us that we should be called the sons of God; beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” “As we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.” The soul goes on in fellowship with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ, It cannot be otherwise if you merely take the truth, because it is the Holy Ghost that is the spring of the affections and thoughts, and He cannot give us different ones from those of the Father and the Son. For though the Holy Ghost is down here and working in us, He brings down the things that belong there and communicates them to us.
When I speak of my need as a sinner, it is not fellowship; I must come as a sinner to the cross; I want to be cleansed, justified. It brings me into it; but I must come as a sinner, I must come by my conscience, though my heart may be attracted by the Lord Jesus; if my conscience is not reached, nothing is done. His holy love, not mine, attracts me; but if I come into God's presence, He is light, and my conscience is reached. If I anon with joy receive the gospel, there is no root, though there may be sincerity at the moment; where love works, it always brings light, because God is love as well as light, and the love gives me confidence to come into the light when I find I am a sinner.
You will always find these two things where a soul has to do with God; you cannot have confidence without finding out both. Why did the woman that was a sinner come into the Pharisee's house? Because the love of Christ was in her heart. It is the same with every soul. God is both light and love. He has really revealed Christ to us, and I have confidence. The righteousness of God against sin is revealed and love to the sinner. We walk in the light as God is in the light. It is the only way we can go to God; I cannot come but through the cross of Christ. Then when I am come, I find in passing through that rent veil, there is not a morsel of sin left on me in the sight of God. I am fit for the light, and then I come to enjoy God's way in it. I have this side in coming to God, I want the cross; but then when I pass through, I am reconciled to God, and begin to learn His thoughts to look on the cross from God's side. I come to Him, and there I see all the wondrous blessedness of what God is, and therefore my heart can adore, being in peace. Having come, I have fellowship with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.
First is brought out simply and absolutely that as such he that is born of God cannot sin. Christ is his life: sin cannot touch it— “he that is born of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not.”
But it gives us what our portion, our place is. If I only get a mixed condition, I cannot have God's complacency in it. It is in complacency and fellowship: our proper life is proper fellowship, and that in divine complacency. Our proper divine life is fellow. ship with the Father and with the Son. It is not a question of being able to stand before God in righteousness; that is the claim of His holiness and righteousness, not fellowship. If it be a question of righteousness, He is estimating in a judicial way what is before Him. And, Christ being before Him, it is all settled. But here it is the full joy that should be ours in this fellowship, and that by the perfect blessed revelation of the eternal life which was with the Father.
“For the life was manifested and we have seen it, and bear witness and show unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested unto us: that which we have seen and heard declare we unto you that ye also may have fellowship with us.”
We have seen all that is in the Father's heart close to ourselves in a man. (Ver. 1.) “The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father” —He was constantly before us, and we looking on Him. Here I get this blessed object before me, this eternal life come down to me in which the Father has been perfectly revealed, revealed in Him so that that which is my life reveals the Father. It is a wonderful blessedness, a truly blessed joy. That which perfectly reveals the Father and represents Him has come down here in my nature: therefore the apostle so insists on it—we have heard Him, we have seen Him with our eyes, we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life. There is what he first presents “these things write we unto you that your joy may be fully.”
Now comes the other side, the grace having been all brought out. This is that which was from the beginning (mark the word); now what does he reveal? He has a message, “that God is light,” that is, that He is absolute purity and reveals everything: this is what light does, it makes all things manifest. “God is light and in him is no darkness at all” —no mixture. “If we say that we have fellowship with him and walk in darkness, we lie and do not the truth.” It is the nature of God in its purity, applied as a test of communion. This is the message that Christ has brought, that God is light. And we walk in the light—that is, in the thorough knowledge of God. Darkness is no knowledge of God at all. If I take the world, the light shines in darkness, and the darkness comprehends it not. That is, man's heart was the very opposite of God's. “Ye were sometime darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord.” “If we walk in the light” —here it is not merely according to the light, but in the light, that is, the full revelation of God, though of course we ought to walk accordingly.
Now mark another point of importance. It is an entirely new thing that is given to us; it is that which was “from the beginning.” It is not as in the Gospel— “in the beginning;” because that is before the creation. In the beginning God created. But before this Christ was there and had no beginning: when nothing was created He was—that is where the Gospel begins. But here we have got a question of associating man with God in a new standing, that is, in grace, and this is what was from the beginning. The old man is set aside; it is a new start-point, God's Son, still a men. He is the first-born, the man of God's delight and God's counsels; others are brought into the place by grace. But the cross has come in and closed the history of man as a lost sinner, and begun the history of the accepted man—that is, of Christ. “Let that therefore abide in you which ye have heard from the beginning” —it is Christ. The law and the prophets were before Him, but are all entirely set aside for faith, and, Christ taking the place of everything, I have got that which was from the beginning. “Jehovah possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old; it was then I was by him as one brought up with him, and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him.” Therefore the angels say “glory to God in the highest, on earth peace, good pleasure in men.” (Luke 1)
Now, dealing in detail as to this fellowship with God, God is light; where therefore there is growth, if there is a thing in which the flesh is active, this comes to the light. The person with whom I have fellowship is light; the light detects if my conscience is right. I cannot have fellowship really without my conscience being brought into the light. He unfolds this both as to the nature, and as to the acting of it. We have to walk in the light as God is in the light. We could not have got it in Adam, blessed and happy and peaceful as he was; but here I have got it. Christ is the revelation of God in light; and if I am made partaker of the divine nature, it is in the last Adam. “In him was light, and the light was the life of men; and the light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehended it not.” Darkness does not comprehend light, but light that is of the same nature does.
“But if we walk in the light;” for mark here that it is not now the law. Do not call the law light. In the law I get the measure of what man ought to be, and therefore God says, “I dwell in the thick darkness.” Christ meets it for us; but when I have got this new nature, this light that comes down from heaven, it is not what a man ought to be, but what is fit to be in the light as God is. Thus you cannot go back to innocence. Here I am, a lost sinner, and now I have found God revealed in Christ, the light of the world. This brings me in through the rent veil, and I must be fit for God's presence in glory.
Thus it is in John 13 In the chapter before “The hour is come that the Son of man should be glorified.” It is the third character in which He is presented in these chapters,—as Son of man. The Greeks come up, and He says, “except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone.” Then in chapter 13, “He riseth from supper and laid aside his garment and took a towel and girded himself.” What was the meaning of that? “If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me” —I cannot sit with you as your companion: I cannot go on; I am going to My Father, and I must have you fit to be there. You are going through the world and will pick up dirt, and I cannot have it. He is showing this, that it is not now any return to a condition of man, responsible as man, but to walk in the light, even as God is in the light. If I am not fit for that, I cannot be with God at all. There is where the difficulties come in. It is not the question—can I answer to God? No, I cannot. The veil is rent now: the question is, Have you got such a new condition and standing that you can be in the light with God, where the flesh cannot be? There is where He puts us.
“If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another.” There is no selfishness there. Suppose I enjoy the love of God, do you think bringing another in makes it less? No; you enjoy the light, and it is not a bit the less for others. In human things, if I have a loaf and another comes in to share it, there is only half a loaf left for me. In divine things we have fellowship one with another, and there is no diminution.
Then I come to the third point. Here I am in the light as God is, in this blessed fellowship, “and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin.” It is not has cleansed or will cleanse, but very simply an abstract statement, just as when I say 'that medicine cures the ague,' I am talking of its nature. I have to do with God in the light as He is in the light. I have got this blessed knowledge, that the light has come out through the cross, and I am as white as snow. The thing that let out the light made me fit for it. Thus there are these three great elements of my condition—in the light as God is, the fellowship of the Spirit, and the blood of Jesus that cleanses from all sin. “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” I cannot say the flesh is not there (it is not sinning), but the existence of sin in the flesh does not give a bad conscience. My conscience is bad (I mean practically) if I let the sin, the flesh, act. The old man in its nature is always there. In the cross of Christ I have what meets the case—our old man is crucified with Him, and I have to reckon it dead; but still there it is in itself too truly.
Then I get the next step. Suppose it does act— “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
It is not “if we confess our sin” —|iI| have nothing to do with confessing sin. People will confess their sin, not their sins; for the heart is deceitful enough to excuse the sins by admitting sin in the flesh. I admit the flesh is there; but why did not you keep it down in the power of Christ so as not to let it act? Therefore it is we have to confess our sins: and mark, we have to walk with that. When he speaks of sin (ver. 8), it is the present tense; I never can say I have no sin: but when of sins it is, “if we say that we have not sinned.” (ver. 10). I ought not to be sinning; I may be thinking of the blessedness of Christ. If so, I am not sinning; my mind may be occupied with Him. But if I say that I have not sinned, I make God a liar, because He declares all have sinned and come short of the glory of God: Here I get the distinction.
It is surprising that people do not see the difference between sin and sins. Peter speaks of sinning: that is the lust that comes when the flesh is active; but when I come to Paul and John, they speak of the nature of the flesh, of sin in the flesh. “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us: if we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Observe in the Epistle to the Hebrews, it is not communion exactly which is the main object of the teaching there. Here it is, and therefore I get the Father and the Son, the highest expression of it. In Heb. 1 enter into the holiest. It is a question of whether I can approach God who is holy and righteous, and does not give up His holiness and righteousness because He is love; and there I get this, that I am perfected forever (the words “forever” meaning not merely for eternity, but what is uninterrupted). As Christ is always at the right hand of God, so we are uninterruptedly before God. There is never a moment that the believer is not the righteousness of God standing in Christ. Therefore priesthood in the Epistle to the Hebrews does not apply to sins. What it does apply to is this: I am perfected forever and He who is my righteousness, by whom I am perfected forever, has sat down at the right hand of God. But I am here Walking in this world, where I cannot take a step without mercy and grace to help. I have difficulties and trials; I go to the throne of God and get help in time of need. The thing in Hebrews is whether I can go as a mere sinner into God's presence. Yes, the veil is rent, and the person that put away my sins is sitting there. He is my witness that I am perfect” for by one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified” —a perfection that never changes, for He is sitting there for me, “expecting till his enemies be made his footstool.” He is sitting there because He has nothing more to do. There are these two points in the epistle: having by Himself purged our sins, He sat down; and being perfected forever, I am walking on this earth with temptation, but He is always getting grace to help me through this world of difficulty and contradiction of sinners. There is a daily dependence on grace to help me to walk a holy life, without a question of my being perfect before God, and the constant supply of grace through Christ who is there.
Now here the question is raised of how I can have fellowship with the light, where, if I have for a moment a thought not spiritual or charitable, it is sin. The instant I come to fellowship and communion, if I let my own thoughts come in, it is gone. The smallest thing interrupts communion, even supposing I recollect myself, yet for the moment it is gone. The holy God cannot have communion with that which is unholy. Now I get what Christ is as the Advocate: “if any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous, and he is the propitiation for our sins.” What is the ground of it? Jesus Christ the righteous. The righteous One is there, my righteousness, always there (as in the Hebrews). Thus not a question of imputation arises, but of communion. I cannot bear the thought that I should grieve the Spirit of God and turn Him into a reprover, instead of communicating the joy of God to me, the one that gives me fellowship with the Father. The moment that is all settled, Jesus Christ the righteous One is there, and He is the propitiation for my sins, I must not have one thought that is inconsistent with the place. But what makes me find it out? My Advocate has been there about it, to bring my soul back into fellowship with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ, which had been entirely interrupted; but the righteousness has not been interrupted. Therefore he says “an Advocate with the Father,” and does not talk about God in that sense, because it is a question of communion with the Father, not of righteousness.
Thus I have got grace acting, not the law; no question of imputation, but no allowance of sin at all as a matter of holiness. It does not put me back to the law, nor its righteousness; but its Christ being Advocate for me there, and the Spirit of God in me to act in my conscience, it brings me into utter humiliation before God, and restores the communion of my soul. Some chastening or other. comes. But there is not the smallest allowance of anything that hinders communion, nor the smallest imputation of it. It is the maintenance of communion practically, or the restoration of it when broken, with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ, while the righteousness and propitiation remain, so that it is advocacy, not imputation.
We must walk in the light as God is in the light. Nothing unfit for God is tolerated. There is propitiation; there is provision of grace if we sin. As to imputation, all is settled, perfected forever. But we are to walk worthily of God who has called us unto His kingdom and glory, to walk worthily of the Lord unto all pleasing, worthy of the vocation wherewith we are called. Now let me ask, do we really believe we are called to fellowship of that kind? How is it in our hearts? I am sure there is growth in this fellowship with the Father and with the Son. Is that where our souls live? It is what we are called to. It is not saying we have no sin. The sin is there, but in the power of Christ dwelling in us we are called into this fellowship. The power is there, so that I have no excuse for letting in anything that, will interrupt communion. We do, when careless about prayer or something of the sort; but there is no excuse for it. Our place is to walk in fellowship with the Father and the Son always. If we do fail, we have the Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous, and as with poor Peter, He restores us. Do you suppose that the work of Christ has not put you in the light as God is, that there is not that perfecting us forever? There is grace for you to walk aright. It is not saying I am weak: if we always said that, we should get the strength we wanted.
The Lord give us to have the blessed consciousness, that we have been reconciled to God as revealed in Christ, loved as Christ is loved, and called to walk in the sense of this, so that there is the constant dependence on. Christ, constant supply, of grace to depend on, the constant testimony to the One we are dependent on. It is not saying, I am perfected and that is all about it. You have to go through a world of temptation. When Israel was redeemed, they had to go through the wilderness: there is where all the ifs” come in. If I am in Christ, there is no “if” at all. But I am walking through the wilderness with that which keeps me constantly dependent. I have the revelation of Christ's power. We are kept by the power of God, and we are kept because we want to be kept; I need this power every moment, there is all necessity for it.
I know this power, and there ought to be this blessed dependence on God. He does not raise the question of righteousness in it, but puts me in this place, and then leaves me to go through the world to have the senses exercised to discern both good and evil. If I do fail, there is my Advocate with the Father to restore my soul. Unceasing grace and unceasing dependence are the true ground.
The Lord give us the distinct and full sense that the work of Christ has perfected us forever, and then that you are brought by it into the presence of God in light, and know every instant dependence on the grace of Christ, and constant grace to be dependent on.