John 14

John 14  •  13 min. read  •  grade level: 6
Two things enter specially into the Gospel in our relationship to God, and both of them are needful. First, to have our conscience set at rest, by being in the light; and, secondly, to have the knowledge of God's thoughts and feelings towards us, as both are made known in Christ. The one purges our conscience, i.e. Christ's work for us; the other assures our hearts of God's love towards us. "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up." "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son." Both these we must learn in God's presence. The 'whole secret of a soul being brought to God is, that it is brought into the light, for " whatsoever doth make manifest is light." And the word of God, which is the expression of what God is, is a " discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart, neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight." We are brought into the light where everything is made manifest according to the holiness of God. Light is perfectly pure in itself, and manifests everything on which it shines, as "all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light." "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." If we walk in the light, as he is in the light," &c. This makes the indispensable necessity of our being absolutely and perfectly purified-for without that the light could only condemn. This is not deadness of conscience, for it is said, " awake thou that sleepest," &c. In God's presence we are made guilty and are cleansed. This gives us to know the perfectness and the eternal character of that peace-for everything is brought into His presence, and we stand in that presence in eternal redemption. Being brought into the presence of God, He must either put us out of His sight forever, or the sin. As regards the revelation of this, it did not come out until the veil was rent by the death of Christ. " But now we all with open (unveiled) face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord,"-are not condemned by it—nor is sin imputed by it—but "are changed into the same image from glory to glory." There can be no true peace until the conscience, is finally and perfectly purged, otherwise, the presence of God, which reveals the sin, would only be distress and trouble to the Spirit. And here it is that many have not peace. They may have the affections drawn towards God, and get happiness from that-for where the soul is attracted by Christ, and goes to Him, and rests on the graciousness of Christ, it has peace; though at other times, when the soul has not the consciousness of that it becomes troubled and distressed, but whenever the conscience comes to be exercised, then there is trouble of soul, because God has not brought that soul into the full blaze of light, that it may discover its own vileness, and that all has been done to meet it, and that forever. There may be such a thing as believing our past sins to be forgiven, yet when we stand in the presence of God, to be uneasy because we have discovered evil in ourselves. Adam had to say not merely " I have eaten of the forbidden fruit," but " I am naked." And so the soul in the presence of God has to feel that the sin is there, and that in God's presence it cannot be hid. Now it is often the case even where the soul knows the truth of forgiveness, through the blood of Christ, that in the presence of God, it is not at ease; it cannot say, if this moment before God," ALL IS RIGHT," because it has never been properly there. How comes it that it has never been there? Job says, " I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear; but now mine eye seeth thee, wherefore I ABHOR MYSELF." He felt what he was in the presence of God, when there. Thus in mercy the soul is brought into the presence of God to settle that now, instead of in the day of judgment, and is brought to discern the new nature-and it is only in the new nature we can discern the depravity of the old, in the presence of God. For the want of this you may often see a soul thoroughly upset; and if the law has been dwelt on, it must be so; because there is the thought of something to do. But if I know of a certainty that there is nothing good in me, I shall not think of that; for if I know the tree itself is bad, I know also the fruit is bad. If left under law, it is that I may discover that; and inasmuch as we are partakers of the new nature we shall be able to see the utter impossibility for the old nature to stand in the presence of God. This shows us the need of the conscience being perfectly purged. God, therefore, by bringing us into His presence, shows us the blood of Christ, as that which has put away sin perfectly, according to His holiness, and the conscience is freed forever. God, who knows the sin, has put it away, according to His own estimate of sin, forever, by the blood of Christ. When it was a work entirely between Christ and God, " he put away sin by the sacrifice of himself." " Once in the end of the world, he has put away sin," and " the worshipper once purged has no more conscience of sins." "He has perfected forever them that are sanctified," through the eternal redemption he has obtained for us, according to the infinite value of His work, done in the presence of God, according to the eternal nature of God, and therefore of everlasting efficacy. Thus the conscience is set at rest.
Then there is another thing, a settled confidence of heart. For Christ says, not only " peace I give unto you," but "my peace;" and it is very important to see the solid peace God would have you possess. When He says, "my peace," it is not simply peace, but His peace-the peace He has in God. The Father would you should have in His presence, Christ's peace. What was it? Was there ever the slightest cloud between His soul and God? " I know thou hearest me always." He had the consciousness of the Father's eternal favor resting on Him, as also witnessed to at His baptism by John; and He rested in the Father's eternal delight in Him. It flowed from the nature of what God was; so that His soul could rest in it eternally, in abiding peace that never could change. The spring of divine love itself was bound up in Him who was to be the vessel to bear it forever. Now He puts us in the same place of relationship as Himself, as He says, " My Father and your Father, my God and your God;" and there was the constant revelation of the interest He Himself had in assuring the heart of what was in His heart towards them, so that the soul should not sink; and also of His readiness to succor and sustain them in all their trials and perplexities. Was there ever anything came from His lips that could break down their spirit? Never. To break down the heart there was plenty, that He might show mercy. The thief upon the cross said, " Lord remember me, WHEN THOU COMEST IN THY KINGDOM." He said, no; "To-DAY thou shalt be with me in paradise." The Syrophenician woman, who came as a dog, asked but for the crumbs; and He gave crumbs to dogs, thus lifting up her heart and leading her on. To the adultress He said, " Neither do I condemn thee: go and sin no more." To Peter, "who cursed and swore and said he knew not the man," He said, " I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not." This was that his confidence in Christ's love should not be shaken, though it was needful that Peter's self-confidence should be broken up. But then there was restoring grace in it, as He adds, "when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren." He would have Peter to trust in Him, not only according to His unfailing love, but as having learned also that truth-" where sin abounded grace did much more abound." And if they even said, as in the case of Jairus's daughter, Thy daughter is dead-why troublest thou the Master any further?" His reply is instantly, "Be not afraid, only believe." A bad conscience cannot trust. He must therefore bring down the conscience into the sense of sin, that we may not trust in ourselves, but in Him. What does the misery all around tell us, but not to trust in man. "Cursed be the man that trusteth in man." Nay, we must not trust in the saints either, for no man can be a stay to his brother. God would not have us trust even an angel; but it is that He may come in Himself and sanctify the heart to Himself, because He is love. He is perfect love, and is so even in the midst of our sins, that we might be able to trust Him in all things, and say, "If God be for us, who can be against us?" Thus the soul is brought to trust in Himself.
" My peace I give unto you." Having wrought peace for us, He sets us in the presence of God with not the less certainty of divine favor than Himself. If it were not so, if but the least doubt rested on us, the more we thought of being in His presence, the more miserable should we be. "My peace I give unto you." " Let not your heart be troubled, you believe in God" (that the Father has proved His love to you in the gift of His Son, so that you can rest in it, not in the sense of anything of your own, but in Him and what He is,) " believe also in me." "I go to prepare a place for you." His love to His disciples not only put them into the same peace, but would put them into the same place, that we might rest in His love who could not be happy without having us with Him. In the Lord's Supper he says, " with desire (not they, but) I have desired to eat this passover with you." He looked to enjoy this last supper for His own happiness, and to have the latest opportunity to be with them, to eat with them before He suffered. His love for them made it His own happiness to express that love, and so to be with them. The same thought is in the parable of the lost piece of money and the prodigal son. As in the prodigal son, many a one is pressed and uneasy to know how the Father would receive him. Why it was the Father's joy (God's joy is spoken of) shown out in the character, and dealings, and ways of the Father towards the Son. The spring of love and joy was in the Father's heart. That is where the soul gets peace. " Perfect love casteth out fear." If you have the least fear, you must have torment. Your heart is not at rest; it has not peace such as Christ speaks of-" my peace." The first dealing of Christ with us is as sinners when we are convicted of the sin; and He does not leave us till He has brought the soul into His own peace. He was going away, and His disciples might have said, "If we had but Christ here always, to tell us to go there, and to do this we should be happy." But it could not be, because it was God's thought to bring them into the joy of the Father's house. However, it was to be no mere process of soul going on, in which they would be occupied about Him down here, but He says, " I am going away to be occupied about you" -" I go to prepare a place for ye"-" and will come again and receive you unto myself." He will never rest until He brings us into full joy and glory with Himself. He has given us His peace, (it is not peace here in the world-He had anything but peace in the world.) And His conscience had nothing to say. He was always perfect, and His heart could always rest in the perfect love of His Father and that is His peace. He gives us His peace-a peace fit for Christ-and is gone " to prepare a place for us;" as the necessary result and consequence of the love that gave us His peace. His heart is in it. He must have us with Himself. "Father, I will that they whom thou hast given me be with me where I am." His heart cannot rest until He has done the thing fitting in the matter, as Naomi told Ruth concerning Boaz.
Now, let me ask, why so much toil and trouble, if we have Christ's own peace? And why can trial exercise? Do not you find many things distract, many things attaching themselves to the heart? But why? Because the affections of our hearts are not brought up so that we might " grow up to Him in all things, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ." He does not say, your hearts shall not be troubled, but " Let them not." There is a needs be for trouble to break down that which clouds the heart. But we have the Spirit of God feeding us, as taking the things of Christ and showing them unto us, and the hand of God breaking down everything of the flesh, so that Paul could say, " I glory in tribulation." But why is this? Because it is profitable; for it is the means of his judging that in his flesh which was hindering his joy and blessing. It is not merely when we have known peace some time, but from the first beginning that we have learned the peace of Christ, that we may trust Christ. The confidence is perfect in Christ; and if I cannot say, " I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me," yet at least I can say, I know "it is true." One thing more. The Holy Ghost is given that we may enjoy this-the love of God. The joy of it is connected with the path of the Spirit. We must be brought to the conviction that there is sin, and that there is grace in the presence of it all to put it away. There is such a thing as the government of God as a Father in His family, and the favor of the Father must always necessarily be according to the ways of the child. " If a man keep my commandments, he shall abide in my love, as I also have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love." Now when speaking of His grace to us as sinners, it is, " Herein is love, not that we loved him." In the path of the Spirit, we shall know what this love of God is. " I kept my Father's commandments, and abode in his love; if ye keep my commandments, ye shall also abide in my love."