Fellowship With the Father and the Son

1 John 1
1 John 1
The great purpose of God, in all His dealings in grace is to bring us—and to bring us individually too—into fellowship with Himself. "Truly our fellowship is with the Father."—Thus we have the full knowledge of God, as far as it can be known out of Him, and that in full communion with Himself: not in the way of creation—that is, not merely as creatures, but in "union;" and we are made partakers of' the Holy Ghost that there may be power; " we dwell in Him and He in us." There cannot be anything more intimate.
It is not knowledge or science that has anything to do with this; for if it be but the human mind working on the things of God, it is but that " high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God." Babes in Christ have possession of these things, they have not to seek for them, they are in possession of them, though of course they have to ripen in acquaintance with them. Knowledge itself, mere knowledge, puffs up; but being brought low, the Spirit of God can act upon the soul and give knowledge in communion and in fellowship with God.
Although the Epistle of John is very abstract, yet it is abstract about things that the very feeblest saint knows in Christ. God is brought down to our nature, for God can come down to us in our weakness, in Christ. The difference between the writings of Paul and John is this, that Paul unfolds to us the counsels of God in creation—the counsels of God towards the Jews; (there are various developments of Christ's person, as in Hebrews and Colossians;) but John may be called more abstract, because he speaks of the nature of God Himself. The purpose and object of God is to bring us into full fellowship with Himself.
There are three things, I would here notice. First, the work of God by which we can stand in His presence perfectly free from any question of sin, so that we can enjoy all that God is. Second, justification by faith and acceptance in the Beloved—the perfect cleansing of the conscience, knowing we are accepted so as to be able to be before Him in perfect peace. Third, the new birth, commonly called regeneration. There must be a new nature capable of affections towards God. An orphan who never knew a father, has the affections of a child, is capable of loving a father, and is often very unhappy because without the object towards whom those affections would naturally flow. So the capacity to love God is that which we get by being partakers of the divine nature. The Holy Ghost is that which gives us competency to enjoy these things. We have an unction from the Holy One given to us, to enable us to enjoy what God has given to us. There must be our standing in the presence of God without our conscience being at work at all; a nature capable of enjoying God-a new nature; and power to walk in that new nature, which is by the Holy Ghost dwelling in us.
The thing brought especially before us is what that is we are to enjoy: the nature of the things brought down to the understanding of a poor sinner; and that tries the conscience, just as it moves the affections. God is light, and if I am brought into the blessedness of what God is, it must put the conscience to the test; and I ask, am I standing in it? If I am capable of it, then I enjoy all the blessedness of standing in the light, and am in a position to test all that pretends to possess this character. " God is light." He is bringing this home to the hearts of the saints. And this must be by presenting Christ Himself. There was, at the time this Epistle was written, a great deal made of development, and He wants to bring them back to the truth. Science, so called, had got in. The character of apostolic teaching was to bring them back, "earnestly to contend for the faith once delivered to the saints." " But continue thou in the things which thou halt learned." "That which was from the beginning." My soul ought to know Christ better every day. The moment I get "God manifest in the flesh," I cannot know anything out of that, but that which is false. The question of knowledge is to give place to Christ. If I get there nothing can shake me. I am in Christ. " These things write we unto you that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God." Do you believe on the Son? then rest there.
1st verse.—First, it was from the beginning; second, it was a real, substantial person they had known familiarly, not a doctrine; that is the blessed secret of all. If they have Christ, then they have all that the Father has, all that is revealed of Him: and they cannot go from that without being wrong. They have got eternal life, the perfect revelation of God—the power of life in Christ. This is what is presented to us as the full enjoyment and the safeguard of the saint. It is ours, though that which was with the Father, yet was so near to us; (not union;) but so near to us that nothing could be so near as Christ Himself. Instead of wanting anything between myself and Christ, it is revealed to me, so that nothing could be so near to me as Christ Himself. This is the eternal life that was with the Father. And it is as we study the Lord Jesus Christ that we shall have affections established towards Him, which nothing can break. The poor woman who was a sinner had that confidence in Him that she had come to Him, and loved Heim; but the secret of our joy is to know the love of Christ to us; and then we have confidence in Him, understanding that God has come so near as to reveal Himself, and inspire confidence. The more we go out and study Christ-the more we penetrate into His ways-the more we learn the depth of all these riches in Him, the more is His divine fullness revealed to us. If it is His taking little children up in His arms, I see in it what God's character is. " He that has seen me, has seen the Father." Having truth thus revealed in a person, I get it for the humblest, lowest, poorest sinner, because it is a personal act of our Lord Jesus Christ. " That which was from the beginning." And now mark this "word of life," while it shows what God was in Christ, shows it communicated to us; and everything, true or false, is tested by this. So he asks, "Is there love?" No. Then it is not of God. "He that loveth not knoweth not God." That is now what he teaches. He brings me up to the object—what God was. "That which we have seen with our eyes;" "God is light;" "the blood of Jesus Christ his Son, cleanseth us from all sin;" the communication of life in the Christian; the height of the source of the life communicated to us. But in the gospel of John you will find, "of his fullness have all we received, and grace for grace,"—"which thing is true in him and in you." "An old commandment which was from the beginning;" now a new commandment, become true in Him and in you. He called it a new commandment, though an old one—a simple truth that Christ Himself is become our life. " That the life of Christ might be manifest in our mortal bodies." If a poor sinner is converted, he has the life communicated from Jesus up there, and yet it comes down to the lowest need in us; and yet how high it rises!
This gospel begins before creation; Genesis begins with creation, and gives the scene in which all is to be acted; but John gives Him who created, and having stated the pre-existence of God,—"Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth," "thou art the same,"—we get Christ before the creation, and then in creation. "The word was made flesh, and dwelt among us," and became the source of life; and we receive our life from Him who existed, before all worlds, from everlasting. We receive our new nature from Him, and are united to Him who was before the world, and who created the world. This has a double effect, (if right with God,) lifting our hearts up in ten thousand, thousand thanks, if it does manifest the life of Jesus. The least thing manifests the life of Jesus. Whatever does not manifest Him is of the world; whatever is not the manifestation of the life of Christ in our souls, that is sin; and do not think that a hardship. No; rejoice in it. I would have your hearts enlarged; as the apostle says, "be ye also enlarged." Oh to have Christ so before the eye as to be able to judge everything in His light! Do not think it is great learning; no: there may be the lust of the mind as well as the lust of the flesh; but if in communion with God, it discerns all things.
I call your minds back to see the way we received the life; it was in the humblest and simplest way. He who came into the world to save sinners, He has made us vessels of His fullness. Thus we have fellowship with the Father and with the Son, and display it. "Truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ." The effect is, we have the Father and the Son, and we have nothing more to seek. I have the Father and the Son. Can I get truth out of the Father and the Son? I may have more to learn. If a man is on the ocean, there may be a great deal he has to discover of it, but he has not to get there; he says, I am there. So I am in the truth. I have got a great deal to learn; but I am in the Father and the Son, and I am in the truth. I do not want to seek it if I am in it. I have the very eternal God in whom I dwell-I have come to the Father. When there is a consciousness of this, oh, what comfort! what peace! It not only guards us from evils without, but it gives spiritual rest within. If I am striving to get something, I have no communion. If I want to get to the sovereign, when I am in his presence already, I have no communion; and if I am not brought up there, I cannot have the sense of what the conscience ought to be in God's presence. True joy is, that our fellowship is with the Father, and not that of getting there.
" These things write we unto you that your joy may be full." There is where God brings the saint if there is humbleness. And if there is not humbleness, we shall slip. When we lose the sense of God's presence, the sense of it, I say, (because we are always in His presence in truth,) we are at the point to sin. My natural character or flesh will show itself if I am out of His presence. There is such a thing as the saint's dwelling in the conscious presence of God without fear. If there is anything between me and God, my conscience will be at work; but when the Spirit is not grieved, the soul is in the presence of God for joy; learning holiness, it is true, but in joy, because occupied in communion instead of in detection; and that is a great thing. There is such a thing as being in His presence without the conscience having to be exercised, and in perfect joy. " My peace I give unto you." What was that peace?
There were no vagabond affections-there could not be, and so there was full peace of heart with God. He was divinely perfect—all His affections always in tune with God. Now, through the grace and power of God, we may be brought to that, Christ having been revealed to the soul, the world is cast out, and Christ is everything, and there is perfect joy. This is often what our experience is after conversion, but afterward the love to Christ grows less fervent-the world creeps in little by little, and we have less joy.
There are three things which characterize a Christian. 1st, " He is in the light as God is in the light." Now God had said to Israel, " I will dwell in the thick darkness;" and at Sinai told them to keep off; "for if so much as a beast touch the mountain it shall be stoned." There was a great deal of good there, but He was in His pavilion of darkness, not seen. God acted towards Israel, but did not show Himself. Now the veil is rent from top to bottom, and all is light. It is the very nature of the truth we are in that God is now manifestly revealed, and He that is come in through the rent veil stands in the light of God's holiness, perfect purity in itself, and it shows everything that is not so. 2nd, " Fellowship one with another." We are there together, and all have fellowship by the same Holy Ghost dwelling in all. 3rd, We can be there because " the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all sin." The more thoroughly in the light, the more it is seen that there is no spot on us through that blood. This could not be said of a Jew; but now the righteousness of God is set forth, and we are brought into the light as He is in the light. Is this a thing that makes you unhappy, or gives you joy of heart? If we are true of heart, we shall be glad of the light to detect the darkness in us. " Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." We do not want to escape from the light, but to be searched by it—not with a pretension that we have no sin, but the consciousness that the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all sin. For the effect of being in the light is, that we confess our sins. " In whose spirit there is no guile." There are two things there, the confession and the love.
From the 1st to the end of the 4th verse is that there may be no deception. Then in the 5th verse, "This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all." Now that is the test,—when Christ is known in the presence of God there is no question about sin—How came I there? I came through the blood—then I have got peace. If I am reasoning about God, that is another thing; but if we have got there, we got there through the blood, and that gives peace, a peace which is never lost. There is a peace which may be lost: happy at first, while fresh from conversion, and all is easy and smooth with us, our hearts attracted by the grace of Christ; but if failure comes in, conscience is awakened, sin alarms, and we lose our peace, so that we do not know where we are. Until we have apprehended that we are brought to God—where we never could be brought if there remained a spot of sin upon us—we cannot know settled peace in our souls, as spoken of in Hebrews, " no more conscience of sin"—and that is enduring peace. The power of the affections of the new nature forms a link of fellowship with God; and only as we keep in the light, shall we know the practical enjoyment of it. We must be in the light that evil thoughts may be shut out, so that we may have fellowship with God. In how many things, in our intercourse with one another, or with the world, self comes in, and is not judged by us. There is a practical consciousness in the Christian that he cannot go on without God, and he judges, waits, and confesses, trusting in God, and thus his heart is kept calm and in peace.
There are two things—1st, The manifestation of the eternal life—for it has been manifested to us; -2nd, we are partakers of it, I have fellowship with the Father and Son. He has communicated to us that nature, so that we can delight in His fellowship. The Lord give us to keep ourselves in the love of God—in His presence, in the light, detecting everything that is not of Him, judging it, and thus to be in the enjoyment of His love.