The Father: a Study for the Heart

 •  9 min. read  •  grade level: 11
With what touching pathos said the Lord Jesus, in closing His valedictory discourse to the little group of eleven true-hearted disciples who clung around Him on the night of His betrayal, " The time cometh, when I shall no more speak unto you in proverbs, but I shall show you plainly of the Father." (John 16:2525These things have I spoken unto you in proverbs: but the time cometh, when I shall no more speak unto you in proverbs, but I shall show you plainly of the Father. (John 16:25)) How calculated was this to inspire their sorrowful hearts with the faith and fortitude needed to meet the looming desolation! We have a kindred passage in chap. 27:1: "Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee." The former was spoken to the disciples on earth for their comfort; the latter was addressed in communion with His Father when His tearful eyes were uplifted to heaven. In each case (as chap. 16: 26 seems to indicate) the Lord was anticipating the moment when He should have assumed His new place and status in glory as Son of man, and was anticipating too that new order of blessing for us of which His exaltation should be at once the prelude and the pledge.
The period, then future, of which the Lord spoke as " that day," is now present, being this singular, this unique day, in which, to the indulgence of His own heart, He is engaged as blessedly for the Father in glorifying Him, as for us in plainly showing Him before the eyes and hearts of our understanding and our faith. Is it not fitting that we should challenge ourselves, ever and anon, as to how far we have practically verified the Lord's word as to the ministration of the Father to our souls? It is the common heritage of saints now to be the children of God, and to have received the Spirit of sonship, whereby we address Him in the filial love that " Abba " expresses, and have to say to Him as the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
But is this all? Is the knowledge of the Father the same thing as the knowing that He is our Father? May we not say that there may be, and in many cases there is, the latter where the former is unknown? Let us, however, first observe with what obvious satisfaction the Lord looked forward to the enfranchisement of their faith. How evident, too, that He was hampered and restrained, bound in spirit as it were, because of their inability to apprehend that revelation of the Father which was nearest to His heart. And thus He anticipated, as one element in the joy set before Him, the approaching time when He should show them plainly of the Father. No more would He resort to mere parabolic teaching as the only way in which He could vividly impress their souls; for the weighty truths which He had already spoken, and the rich disclosures made, should spring into life and significance and potency in that unequaled day.
How little of the Father they knew as yet He proved for the last time in this closing hour. For, telling them of their Father's love, and seeking to connect their hearts thus directly with Him, He added, " I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world; again I leave the world, and go to the Father." On which, so ready and so explicit was their answer, as might have seemed to indicate that at length they had learned something of the Father; but, alas! their concluding words-" by this we believe that thou earnest forth from God"-show but too plainly that the simple lesson of verse 28 must for the present be postponed, to be resumed when He should teach it them afresh from the scene of glory; yea, from that Father's house and that Father's throne. Does it not also show that all real knowledge of the Father follows the gift of the Holy Ghost, by which we are brought into the sense of relationship to Him? But that wonderful time was nigh at hand when also should be fulfilled the word, " At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you " (chap. 14: 20); the time of His own open showing of the Father to His newborn children. Three things may be noted here. This precious revelation of the Father was throughout Old Testament times a profound secret, impenetrable even to faith. During the gospel history (the days of the Lord's ministry) it was a parabolic subject on which He loved to discourse. But since Pentecost we have it in its plain and perfect solution. May we not say it was the uppermost thought of the Lord's heart throughout His earthly course? How early did He exclaim, " Wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?" Unwonted words on boyhood lips! And in the days of His ministry how clearly is the moral and spiritual necessity for that ministry marked by His further words, "Neither knoweth any man the Father save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him." Herein we find what the Father's business which so claimed Him was, even that revelation of Him to the babes, which should bring them into fellowship " with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ."
This brings us back to our thesis-that the Lord's desire was to show us of the Father. The longed-for time for this arrived when the Holy Ghost, "the promise of the Father," was sent down by Him from the new place of His assumption, that of the Father's throne, which He had acquired as the fruit and the guerdon of His having finished that Father's business here.
Is it, then, enough that we can say we have the Holy Ghost, the Spirit of adoption, and can lisp, "Abba, Father "? On the contrary, it is this which qualifies for that. It is my possession of the Holy Ghost which fits me for acquiring and enjoying that knowledge of the Father which is indispensable for fellowship with Him. First, I know He is my Father. This is what His grace accords me in the gift of the Holy Ghost, whereby I enter upon the conscious and increasing blessedness of realized relationship, the greatest boon to my new-born nature. But just as it is possible for me to know the fact of my natural relationship to one whom I might be very far from really knowing, in which case I should be without the comfort it should afford me, so also as a child of God I may have hold of the truth as to relationship, without having any adequate apprehension or enjoyment in unction and power, of the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, as plainly or openly made known by Him who has eternally dwelt in His bosom. Yet without this how can there be fellowship with the Father and with the Son of His love? Fellowship between those who know not each other's objects and interests, each other's joys and delights, each other's feelings and emotions, each other's purposes and ways, each other's aims and desires, is a name, but not a reality. And how could we have true fellowship but by the eternal Son of the Father introducing us through the word into the secrets of that Father's heart, and conducting us into the well-spring of His affections, that under His own tender tutoring we may attain in growing measure that knowledge of the Father which Himself alone immeasurably possesses? What a problem to study; what a subject to learn-the eternal Father What a Master who teaches-the eternal Son What an unction and power for acquiring-the eternal Spirit! Happy learners who matriculate in such a school, and thrice happy students who graduate under such a Teacher, and take degrees in such a subject! Surely this only could adequately meet the Lord's word to His Father, " That thy Son also may glorify thee." In the work of His grace, carried on from that glory in which He is constituted Lord and Christ, He undoubtedly glorifies that Father who sent His Son to be the Savior of the world (1 John 4:1414And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world. (1 John 4:14)); but how much more when in patient assiduity of loving service He tutors the hearts of those that grace has won, in ever-growing knowledge of, and ever-deepening love to, Him who, as Father, is bringing His many sons to glory!
And lastly, what answer do we render to the precious grace of Him who hath called us into the fellowship of His Son Jesus Christ? How can we have fellowship with the Son but as we have His thoughts of the Father? And how have His thoughts of the Father, but as we receive into our hearts as a coveted and cherished deposit those blessed unfoldings of what is in the word touching the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which the Son of His love, with the fond delight which encircles such a subject, unremittingly ministers by the Holy Ghost? Have we ever taken our place at His feet in the spirit and attitude of true discipleship-like David sitting before the Lord-that He might impart to us something of the Father as yet unlearned; some sweet outpouring, as He sits at the well, from that deep, divine fount of infinite bliss of which Himself has eternally drank? Or have we tacitly assumed that all being contained in the words of Scripture so familiar to us all, there is nothing left for Him to tell or for us to learn, and thus have deprived ourselves of the highest blessing within our reach? What would conduce so much to brighten after a heavenly fashion the pathway of our heart's experience as flashes of light and love struck by the Holy Ghost from the heart of our Father? What would tend more to illuminate with heavenly sunlight that future which to many a saint is but a dim perspective of neutral tint, converting it into an enchanting prospect bright with every glorious hue, than to catch, through the ministration of Christ concerning the Father, a divinely-wrought impression of the real character and undying blessedness of the Father's presence in the Father's house? Ought we not, then, to ask ourselves to what extent the Father is a leading factor in the heart-history of His saints, the sons He is bringing to glory?
W. R. D.
Do not hide your face from any difficulty. Look at it in the face; but see it in the light of the face of Christ.
People complain that there is so little outward power in their walk. Ah that is because they are receiving so little from Christ.
G. V. W.