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Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know. Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
In these verses, there are two outstanding truths emphasized: first, that of the Father’s house, and second, our Lord’s personal return for His own. We are all familiar with the fact, I presume, that the Bible was not written in chapters and verses. These breaks in the text were put in by editors, and that in rather recent years, some of them as late as the time of the Protestant Reformation. And sometimes the chapter breaks seem to come at rather unfortunate places, and I think it is the case here. Who, for instance, beginning to read the first verse of chapter 14 connects it in his mind with our Lord’s words to the apostle Peter at the close of chapter 13? And yet, there is a very real connection, as we have seen. The Lord Jesus had been giving His last messages to His disciples. He had intimated that soon they would forsake Him and flee. He had told them that He was going away and for the present they could not come where He was to go. He was going home to God by way of the cross and resurrection, and told questioning Peter that he could not follow immediately. But the Lord says, “Thou shalt follow me afterwards” (13:36). Peter did not understand that, and said: “Lord, why cannot I follow thee now? I will lay down my life for thy sake. Jesus answered him, Wilt thou lay down thy life for my sake? Verily, verily, I say unto thee, The cock shall not crow, till thou hast denied me thrice” (vv. 37-38). And then he immediately adds: “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me” (14:1).
You see, the Lord Jesus is addressing these words, of course, to all His disciples, but directly to the disciple who was to deny Him in so short a time. And this is surely very comforting for our hearts. Peter was to fail the Lord-Jesus knew he would fail-but deep in Peter’s heart there was a fervent love for the Lord Jesus. And when he said, “I will lay down my life for thy sake,” he meant every word of it. But he did not realize how untrustworthy his own heart was. It was a case of the spirit being willing, but the flesh weak. And Jesus knew the fearful discouragement that would roll over the soul of Peter when he awoke to the realization of the fact that he had been so utterly faithless in the hour of His Master’s need. In the very time that Jesus needed someone to stand up for Him and to say boldly, “Yes, I am one of His, and I can bear witness to the purity of His life and to the goodness of His ways,” at that time Peter, frightened by the soldiers gathered about, denied any knowledge of his Savior.
Oh, the days and nights that would follow as he would feel that surely he must be utterly cast off, surely the Lord could never put any trust in him again! But if he remembered the words of our text, what a comfort they must have brought to his poor aching heart! For Jesus is practically saying, “I know all about it, Peter. I know how you are going to fail, but I want you to know that in My Father’s house are many mansions, and you are going to share one of those mansions with Me some day. I am not going to permit you, Peter, to be utterly overcome. I am not going to permit you to go into complete apostasy. You will fall, but you will be lifted up again, and you will share with Me a place in the many mansions.”
When He says, “Let not your heart be troubled,” He does not mean, “Do not be exercised about your failure,” for He Himself sought to exercise the heart of Peter, and in a wonderful way restored him by the Sea of Galilee later on. But He means this: “Do not be cast down. Do not allow the enemy of your soul to make you feel there is no further hope, there is no opportunity for you.”
I wonder if some who read this have failed, perhaps, as Peter failed. Under the stress of circumstances you, too, have denied your Lord, denied Him in acts if not in words, and the adversary of your soul is saying to you now, “It is all up with you. Your case is hopeless. You knew Christ once, but you have failed so miserably, He would never own you again.” Oh, let me assure you His interest in you is just as deep as it ever was. If you truly trusted Him as your Savior, the fact that you failed so grievously, and the fact that you mourn over it, only emphasizes the truth that you belong to Him. Still He says, “ [Return], O backsliding children [unto me], saith the LORD; for I am married unto you” (Jeremiah 3:14)- not, “I am divorced from you.” And therefore He waits for you to come back and confess your failure and your sin, and He has promised complete restoration, for, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). And some day for you, too, there will be a place in the Father’s house.
“Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me” (John 14:1). In the days gone by before Jesus came to them at all, the people of Israel did have faith in the one true and living God. Now they had never seen Him, and Jesus is saying to His disciples, “You have believed in God when you could not see Him. Now I am going away in a little while, and you will not be able to see Me, but I want you to trust Me just the same as when I was here. Just as you have believed in the unseen God through the years, I want you to put your faith in Me, the unseen Christ, after I have gone back to the Father.” Do we have that implicit trust and confidence in Him, realizing that He is deeply interested in every detail of our lives? The Word says, “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you” (1 Peter 5:7). There is absolutely nothing that concerns His people that He Himself is not concerned about. And therefore He would have us put away all the stress and all the anxiety. He says, “Be [not anxious about anything], but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God” (Philippians 4:6). “Ye believe in God, believe also in me.”
And then He adds, “In My Father’s house are many mansions” (John 14:2a). “My Father’s house,” and by that, of course, He means heaven, and He is speaking of a place to which He was going, a place into which some day He will take all His own. I often hear people say, “Heaven is a condition rather than a place.” Heaven is both a place and a condition. It is true we do not read a great deal about heaven in the Bible. Somebody has said, “Heaven is the land of no more. “We have more in the Bible about what will not be in heaven than about what will be there. Remember in the book of Revelation we read that there will be no more sin, there will be no more tears, there will be no more pain, there will be no more sorrow, there will be no more curse, there will be no more darkness, there will be no more distress of any kind in the Father’s house. The Father’s house is the place where Christ is, and that is the place to which the redeemed are going.
Some may have thought the expression here, “In My Father’s house are many mansions” is rather peculiar. Somehow or other, the word mansion to most of us has an accustomed meaning that it did not have originally. When we see a great building we call it a “mansion.” But the word as originally used had rather the meaning of an apartment, as we use that word today, a splendid apartment. So one building might have many mansions in it. And Jesus is telling us, “In My Father’s house are many apartments, many resting places.” There is a place, an individual place, for every one of His own, all in that Father’s house.
“If it were not so, I would have told you” (v. 2b). The Jews believed in a heaven of bliss after death, and Jesus said, “If you had been wrong in that, I would have corrected you.” But because He did not correct it but rather affirmed it, we know that it is true, that there is a glorious home beyond the skies for the redeemed that we shall share with Him by-and-by.
He adds, “I go to prepare a place for you” (v. 2c). You see the mansions are different from what they were before He went back there. Before He returned to the Father’s house, the sin question had never been settled. Before He went back to the Father’s house, the veil not been rent, the blood had not been sprinkled on the mercy seat. So the saints of old went to Paradise on credit. They did not have the same blessed access into the immediate presence of God that the saints have now. We read in the epistle to the Hebrews that we have now come “to the spirits of just men made perfect” (Hebrews 12:23). They were the spirits of just men of all the centuries before the cross. God had saved them and taken them to Paradise, but they were not yet made perfect. They could not be until the precious blood of Jesus was shed on the cross. Now, having settled the sin question. He entered into the holiest with His own blood in antitypical fashion, sprinkled His own blood on the mercy seat above, and now a place is prepared in the holiest for all of His own. The spirits of just men of the past have been perfected, and we who believe now are perfected forever. So we are all suited to that place to which we are going. “I go to prepare a place for you.”
And then He said, “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (v. 3). A great many people think this passage relates to death, and of course, when a believer dies that believer goes to be with Christ. But we are never told in Scripture that in the hour of death Christ comes for His people. If we may draw an analogy from something our Lord said when He was here on earth, we gather that this is hardly true. We are told that a dear child of God was dying-he was a beggar, it is true. He was an outcast, lying at the rich man’s gate, but he was a real son of Abraham. He had faith in the God of all grace. And the beggar died, we are told, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom. Angels carried the poor beggar-poor no longer-into Paradise. What I gather from that is, that the last ministry of angels, who are ever keeping watch over the people of God, will be to usher them into the presence of God. He is yonder in the Father’s house, and His angels usher His saints into His presence.
But He is speaking of something different here. Death is the believer going to be with Christ. That is what the Scripture tells us-“absent from the body,… present with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8), “to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better” (Philippians 1:23). But a believer going home to be with Christ is spoken of as being unclothed, having laid his body aside. He is there in the presence of the Lord a glorified spirit, but he is there waiting for his redeemed body. When the Lord Jesus fulfills that which is spoken here in the fourteenth chapter of John, then believers will receive their glorified bodies and will be altogether like Him. This coming, referred to here, is developed for us more fully in the fourth chapter of 1 Thessalonians. There we read in verse 13: “I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep”-that is, saints whose bodies are sleeping in the graves but whose spirits are with Christ.
I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. (1 Thessalonians 4:13-52.4.17)
This is the coming our Savior refers to when He says: “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself.” It is at that coming that the expectation of our completed redemption will be fulfilled. In Romans 8:0 the apostle Paul tells us: “For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God… For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body” (vv. 19, 22-23). What does he mean by that?
Our spirits have already been redeemed. We have already received the salvation of our souls, but we are waiting for the complete salvation of the body, the redemption of the body at the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.
For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope. (Romans 8:24)
What hope is it then? The hope of the coming of our Lord. And to this He refers again in the third chapter of the epistle to the Philippians, where we read inverses 20-21:
For our conversation [really citizenship] is in heaven; whence also we wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ: who shall fashion anew the body of our humiliation, that it may be conformed to the body of His glory, according to the working whereby He is able even, to subject all things unto Himself. (RV)
This is the glorious event that will take place when the Lord comes back again, when He comes back for us.
There is the widest difference, you see, between this and the time when He is manifested as the Son of Man to deal in judgment with the godless world and eventually to set up His kingdom. This was a secret the Lord was revealing to these apostles that night in the Upper Room. In the three Synoptic Gospels it was not mentioned. It was the apostle Paul who was the chosen instrument to develop it. But it seems that the Lord Jesus, just before He went away, had a secret welling up in His heart as it were, which He could not hold back any longer and He must tell them a little about it, so He says, “I am going away, but I am going to prepare a place for you. But if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you”-not, “I will send the death angel for you,” or any other angel. But he says, “I will come again, and receive you unto myself, that where I am, there ye may be also.”
You see, He will never be satisfied until every one of His redeemed people is with Him in the glory in the Father’s house. His heart is yearning for that.
Now a word about the Father’s house. Notice it is the Father’s house, and the Father’s house is for all the Father’s children. We fear a great many strange things these days. Some people would try to tell us that it is only the deeply spiritual people of God that will be caught up with the Lord Jesus at His coming. When people talk like that, how little understanding they have of the Father’s heart!
Think of a normal father and mother here on earth, with say, eight or ten children. That is quite a family, is it not? The father’s house is open to all the children. I pity the home, and pity the children, where the father or the mother makes distinctions among their children. I think it is a sad thing when out of a number of children one perhaps occupies a special place in the heart of the father and the others are held at a distance. “Oh,” but you say, “maybe one or two are naughty children. Of course the father could not love naughty children as much as he loves the good children.” Is that true? Why even the naughty children before so dear to the father’s heart that they give him many sleepless nights as he thinks about their naughtiness. He loves them and truly longs to see them all that they ought to be. There is always a welcome for them at the father’s house.
We need to remember, too, that in the Father’s house above there is no distinction. People often say to me, “Oh, if I can just get into heaven and get a seat behind the door, I can be satisfied. I know I don’t deserve anything better.”
My dear friend, you don’t deserve to get there at all. I don’t deserve to go there. But I am not going there because I deserve to go, but I am going to heaven because I have been born again and the Lord Jesus Christ is preparing a place for me. The Father’s house is for all the Father’s children.
Another thing is this: There are no seats behind the door over yonder! I wish everybody would realize this. There are no distinctions in the welcome that believers will have in the Father’s house. I repeat, the Father’s house has the same welcome for all the Father’s children.
You say, “Well, but doesn’t the Bible indicate some will have greater rewards than others?” Oh, yes, but rewards have nothing to do with the welcome into the Father’s house. The rewards specially have to do with the coming glorious kingdom, of course given in heaven, given at the judgment seat of Christ, but the differences are in the kingdom. For instance, look at 2 Peter: “So an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into-” Into what? Into heaven? No, it is not true that some people will get an abundant entrance into heaven and other folk will not have anything like so warm and cordial a welcome. What does it mean? It says that some people have an entrance ministered unto them abundantly. Yes, but into what? “Into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:11). Don’t confuse, don’t confound in your thinking the Father’s house with the everlasting kingdom. The Father’s house is the home of the saints; the everlasting kingdom is the sphere of service and rewards where through all eternity, first in the millennium and then in the ages to come, we shall be serving our blessed Lord who has prepared a place for us in the Father’s house.
Will you allow me to use an old illustration? Suppose here is a good old-fashioned family with ten or a dozen children. Now the children are scattered all over. Christmas is drawing near, and there is going to be a home gathering. The invitations have gone out to all the children to come home for Christmas, and the family is gathering. Very well, they are all coming in. Some are coming by automobile, some by Pullman coach, some by airplane, some by bus, and perhaps one is even obliged to come on foot. But there they come from all over, coming home to the father’s house for Christmas.
I can just imagine the great table loaded with all the wonderful dainties kind hands have been preparing. I can imagine father and mother coming in for a last look to see if everything is right. There is mother’s place and father’s place. Here is where the great big platter will be with a couple of big fifteen-pound turkeys, and all the rest of the good things that have been prepared are there on the table. Father and mother come in, and mother says, “Now father, I have put Bob right beside you.”
Bob is out in the world. He is a senator and has made a great place for himself, but he is just Bob at home.
“And here is the place for Mary.”
I think Mary is the president of a woman’s college or something like that. You know, she is very dignified when she gets on her cap and gown, but at home she is just Mary, that’s all.
“Then here is the place for Tom.”
Let’s see, who is Tom? I think Tom is an officer in the army, but he is just Tom at home.
“And here is a place for Anna.”
Anna? Who is Anna? Perhaps she is a physician, and very distinguished in her profession. She is Dr. Anna outside, but she is just Anna at home, you know.
And so down the line she goes. And mother says, “I put a place right here by my right hand for Jim.”
Who is Jim? Well, Jim is the ne’er-do-well of the family. Poor Jim! He has tried a number of things.
I generally think of Jim as an inventor. He has invented so many different things, but there is always something that doesn’t work right. If he could only get things going, there would be millions in it, but he has used up everything he had and everything he could borrow, and still he gets nowhere. Poor Jim!
He wouldn’t be home at all if mother hadn’t slipped in a twenty-dollar bill to get an extra suit of clothes so he would be presentable enough to come. And I can imagine one of the brothers saying, “You know, mother, there’s Jim-I don’t know whether we had better let Jim sit at the table with the rest of us. Our family has done so well, and Jim has failed so miserably. Wouldn’t it be better to put Jim in the kitchen? He could eat with the servants out in the kitchen.”
And mother flares up: “What is that? Jim shall have the very best we can give him! I want him to know if there is any place on earth where he is welcome it is his father’s and mother’s house.”
You see, at home in the father’s house, they are all welcome and are all treated as well as the father and mother can treat them.
But by-and-by the big day is over and they are separating. Mary goes back to the college, and Bob goes back to Washington to the senate. Anna goes back to her practice in the big city, and Tom goes back to the army, and so on. By-and-by poor Jim goes back to his little room yonder in the city. But I see the mother giving him a last good-bye kiss, and what is that she is slipping into his hand? It is a fifty-dollar bill. And off he goes, with such happy memories of the father’s house!
That is only a very human illustration, but perhaps it will show what I mean when I say that the Father’s house is one thing and the kingdom is another. The Father’s house is the home of all the Father’s children. But we make our own places in the kingdom by our own devotedness to the Lord Jesus Christ. Do you get the difference? So there is a place for all in the Father’s house.
About the way there. Will everybody get to the Father’s house? I wish that they would. But alas, alas, many persist in rebellion against God and so that prayer can never be answered! There is only one way to the Father’s house. And what is that way? I have had people say to me so many times, “We are traveling different roads, but we will all get to heaven at last.” No, no, I don’t find that in my Bible. My Bible says, “There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Proverbs 14:12). It warns me against taking the broad way that leads to destruction and tells me to take the narrow way that leads to life.
And so here Jesus says, “And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know. Thomas saith unto him-” (John l4:4-5a). Thomas was honest and he was never afraid just to blurt out all the truth. He said, “We do not know what You are talking about. We have to confess we are ignorant, and we don’t know where You are going. And how can we know the way?’“ (v. 5b).
Jesus said unto him, and, oh, dear friends, do get what He said, for it is for you as well as for Thomas. “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by me” (v. 6).
Oh, do not talk about many ways. There is only one-Jesus is the only way. “There is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12), but the name of Jesus. Have you come to Him? Are you trusting Him? If you are, you are on the way to the Father’s house. Now you can wait with equal glad expectation for the hour of His return, for He said, “If I go,… I will come again and receive you unto myself.” When will He come? We cannot tell that, but we are waiting for Him day by day.
I know not when the Lord will come
Or at what hour He may appear,
Whether at midnight or at morn,
Or at what season of the year.
I only know that He is near,
And that His voice I soon shall hear.
I only know that He is near,
And that His voice I soon shall hear.
WHAT IS OUR BLESSED HOPE?
As we thoughtfully read the words of our Lord Jesus recorded in the early verses of John 14:0 and as we consider the teaching given in the pauline epistles in regard to the hope of the church, it becomes increasingly evident that there is not the least hint that believers of this dispensation were to look _forward to a long series of events preceding the return of the Lord Jesus to raise the dead in Christ and change the living and take them to Himself in the Father's house. This blessed hope is always presented as imminent, which it could not be if one had to suppose that the destruction and revival of the Roman empire, the rise of the antichrist, and the great tribulation, must precede that glorious event. Yet there are other scriptures that distinctly show, as we have seen, that there will be saints on the earth when these conditions prevail. But I trust it has already been made clear that they will not belong to the church, the body of Christ.
There are in fact two distinct stages of our Lord's return presented in the New Testament. He is coming for His saints; this is the rapture that precedes the great tribulation. And He is going to be manifested with all His saints when he descends to exercise judgement on those who have persisted in rejecting His grace; this is when He will establish His glorious kingdom to reign in righteousness over this world. In other words, while the Old Testament and the four gospels, together with other scriptures, plainly predict Christ's second coming to establish His kingdom on this earth, it is part of the mystery hidden from past ages that when He comes He will have with Him a bride to share His throne, as well as a host of other redeemed saints from all past dispensations in His train. This is looked on as a visionary interpretation by many, and the attempt has been made again and again to show that this view, which is often called the futurist theory, was originated by Spanish Jesuits in order to turn away opprobrium from Rome. But the fact of the matter is that the Jesuit writers in question, Alchzar and Ribera, simply set forth what was taught with more or less clearness by some of the church fathers in the first three centuries of the Christian era, and was lost sight of later.
Others again have tried to put the stigma of demonism on the precious truth that the Lord may return at any time to take His saints to be with Himself preceding the great tribulation, endeavouring to link this with certain theories taught by the late Edward Irving and his followers in the early part of the nineteenth century. But anyone at all acquainted with Irving's teaching can see how truly false this is. From the time when long- neglected prophetic truth came again into prominence there was a great deal of confusion regarding the two aspects of the Lord's return mentioned above. But eminent Bible teachers who weighed all the scriptures carefully and prayerfully before God were led to see the distinction between the church as the body of Christ and the saints of a coming age. These saints would be witnesses for the Lord in the time of the tribulation and would share with Him in the manifested kingdom. The more carefully these views have been examined by men of God dependent on the teaching of the Holy Spirit through the word, the more they have been seen to be distinctly in harmony with divine revelation.
In recent years, particularly following World War I, there has been a recrudescence of posttribulationism, brought about largely by the fact that so many stirring events have taken place which seem to foreshadow the actual conditions that will prevail during the time of Jacob's trouble. Already the Roman empire seems in process of revival. The rise of dictatorship gives us to understand how readily the great world ruler of the coming day will forge his way to the front and be acclaimed as the very representative of God himself. The return of thousands of Jews to Palestine, involving the rehabilitation of that land, is certainly preparing the way for the very events depicted in the prophets and by our Lord Himself, which are to take place in the last days. All of these things and many others that might be added, seem to have swept some dear brethren away from their moorings. Losing sight of that blessed Hope, they are now fixing their attention on events, rather than on the Person Who is coming. The effect of this is not a healthy thing. It results in occupying the heart and mind with earthly things instead of with the coming Saviour. It has led many to think that perhaps we are entering even now into the great tribulation - perhaps we are actually through the greater part of it and are just waiting for the revelation of the antichrist and then the Lord's actual descent to the Mount of Olives and the establishment of the kingdom.
But the very fact that we see conditions shaping themselves for tribulation times should only lead us to realize the nearness of our hope. At any moment now the Lord may descend from heaven to raise the dead and change the living, and then will come the dark days predicted in both Testaments for apostate Israel and apostate Christendom.
Another view that has clouded the faith of many is what is commonly known as the partial or firstfruits rapture. This, however, is in plain contradiction to the testimony of the Holy Spirit given through the apostle Paul and our blessed Lord Himself. The Saviour made no distinction among His heavenly people when he said, "If I go...I will come again and receive you unto Myself." He had just foretold the defection of Peter, but He did not even hint that unless Peter is restored he will have no part in the heavenly Father's house. In fact, our Lord addressed Himself particularly to Peter when He said, "Let not your heart be troubled." He of course had made provision for the restoration of the soul of his disciples, as He does for all of us; but He gave no suggestion that any would be left behind when He would return for His own. In the epistles the rapture is seen to be all- embracing. We read: "They that are Christ's at His coming." We do not read that they are eminently faithful, nor that they speak with tongues, but simply that "they that are Christ's." And again, in 1 Thessalonians, we have the statement, "We which are alive and remain shall be caught up together." There are no distinctions made between mature and immature Christians in these words. If other scriptures are cited which seem to indicate that some will not be ready when the Lord comes, a careful examination of the context will show that in each instance the reference is to the coming of the Son of man at the end of the great tribulation, and not to the descent of the Lord to the aid to receive the saints of this dispensation and past ages to be with Himself in the Father's house.
Therefore it may be confidently affirmed that neither posttribulationism nor partial rapture theories are taught in the word of God. It seems perfectly evident that the blessed Hope is intended to be the daily expectation of the believers, which could not be if certain events had to take place before its fulfillment.
Moreover, it I put anything in my thinking between the present moment and the return of the Lord, I am losing what is of infinite value in connection with my personal walk and Christian experience. "Every man that hath this Hope in him purifieth himself even as he is pure." I know of nothing that is so effectual in controlling the heart and mind of the believer, so that his one aim and object will be to walk in holy separation to the Lord Himself, as the thought that at any moment He Who has redeemed us may return and take us to the Father's house. One may hold certain intellectual views of the second coming of Christ, even the view of the pretribulation rapture, and not be practically sanctified thereby. But if this hope holds me, it cannot but result in increased personal piety.
Then too we need to remember that it is at the return of the Lord for His saints that He will go over our record as servants when we stand before the judgement seat of Christ. At that time, we are to be rewarded according to the deeds done in the body, and our place in the coming kingdom indicated. It is then that the crowns of reward are to be distributed, and in this connection it is significant to note that in the book of Revelation, we see the twenty-four elders crowned and enthroned around the central throne of God and of the Lamb (Revelation 4:0 and 5), before the solemn judgements begin to fall on the earth. Almost all futurist interpreters are agreed that in chapters 6-19 of Revelation, we have the great tribulation period. It is then that the wrath of the Lamb and the wrath of God will be poured on the habitable earth, and Satan will be cast down from the heavenlies, having great wrath, knowing that his time is short.
These are the circumstances of the great tribulation. We are looking for Christ as our deliverer from the wrath to come. Whatever view we may take of the symbolic elders, whether we think of them as twenty-four individuals, or as representing the entire heavenly priesthood, which to me is clearly the true interpretation, there is this to bear in mind;they are seen crowned in heaven before the judgements begin. Consider these facts: the tribulation period does not begin until the Lamb receives the seven-sealed book and breaks the seals. But the Lamb does not receive the book until crowned saints are seen in heaven. No saints have yet received their crowns, nor will there be crowned saints in heaven until the judgement seat of Christ is past. The apostle Paul declares definitely that the crown of righteousness will be given to him and to all who love Christ's appearing in that day; this is the day of the manifestation following our Lord's return for His saints. Therefore it seems plainly evident that the great tribulation cannot possibly begin until after the rapture of the church.
There is much more that might be said, but I leave the matter here, commending the entire subject to the spiritual judgement of the people of God, feeling assured that the more carefully this matter is weighed, the clearer it will be that the church, the body of Christ, is not to look forward to a time when the wrath of God will be poured out on this world, but is to live in daily expectation of the Lord's return to take us to be with Himself before the time of grief begins.
May it be our privilege to search the scriptures daily concerning the truth of these things, and to live in the power of that blessed Hope.
Praise God for our blessed Hope, Jesus Christ.
If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him. Philip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us. Jesus saith unto him, 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; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father? Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works’ sake. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.
There are seven things that this portion suggests, and the first is this: the Father is only known through the Son. Notice verse 7: “If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him.” Now it is perfectly true that God may be known through creation. We are told that in the first chapter of the epistle to the Romans. There we read that “the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse” (v. 20). So men who deny God, who refuse to believe in a God, who live as if there were no God are without excuse.
We are often asked, “Will God condemn the poor heathen because they have not had the gospel?” No, but He will condemn us because they have not heard the gospel. We are responsible to get it to them. We have been so selfish and content to enjoy our morsel alone. We have paid so little attention to the Lord’s command, “Go ye into all the world” (Mark 16:15). We have quibbled so much about whether the command belongs to our dispensation or to another, and have professed to have so much light and knowledge, so we have sat at home and let the heathen die in their sins. We shall have to answer to God for it some day. The heathen are lost, that is why they need a Savior. That is why you and I needed a Savior. “The Son of Man [came] to seek and to save that which was lost” (Matthew 18:11; Luke 19:10). If the heathen were not lost they would not need a Savior, but they are lost because they did not want to keep God in their knowledge. They are condemned by their own consciences because of the sins of which they are guilty.
They will not be charged for the sin of rejecting Christ of whom they never heard but for the sins that they have actually committed. As they look into the heavens they must know there is a God. As they see the wonderful things He has prepared for man, as they consider their own bodies and all their marvelous functions they cannot help but realize that back of all this there must be a Creator to whom men are responsible. So His eternal power and Godhead are known through creation. “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth his handiwork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night showeth knowledge” (Psalms 19:1-19.19.2). But the Fatherhood of God could only be revealed through the Lord Jesus Christ. Nature tells me there is a God, that He must be infinite in wisdom and power, but it does not tell me He has a Father’s heart. I would not know that except from the revelation He has given in His blessed Son. How thoughtless we are about that revelation sometimes.
I remember a lady with whom I was speaking at one time. If there is any one on earth who ought to thank God for the Christian revelation, it is the women of the world, for how marvelously their status has been changed in all lands where the gospel is known. But this lady said to me, with a toss of her pretty head, “I am not interested in the gospel. I never read the Bible. It is enough for me to know that God is love.” I said, “Do you know that?” “Why, certainly,” she said. “You really know that God is love?” “Why, of course I do.” “Well,” I inquired, “pardon me, madam, but how did you find that out?” “Why, everybody knows that God is love.”
Oh, no, everybody does not know it. They do not know it in India, in Africa, in lands where the gospel has not yet gone. They did not know it in the Islands of the Sea in the old cannibal days. No one knew that until Jesus came to declare the heart of God to needy men. And it is the Holy Spirit who told us God is love, and the evidence He gave of it was this, “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10). Oh, we could have known that God was great, that God was powerful, that God was wise. We might even have known or gathered from the abundant provision He has made for His creatures that He is good, but we would never have known that He is love if Jesus had not come to reveal the Father. “The Word [became] flesh, and [tabernacled] among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). And so I repeat, we would never have known the Fatherhood of God apart from the revelation given us in our Lord Jesus Christ.
Then in the second place I would like to remind you of this, Christ is the exact expression of the Father. Do you say to yourself sometimes, “Oh, I wish I understood God better. I wish I could know just how God the Father looks at things, and how He feels about things, and what His attitude is toward men in general, and His people in particular.” Well, all you need to do is read the four Gospels and get better acquainted with the Lord Jesus Christ, for He has made the Father known in all His fullness.
I love those verses with which the epistle to the Hebrews opens: “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds [or ages]; who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high” (1:1-3). Those words, “the express image of his person” might well be rendered the “exact expression of his character.”
He is speaking about Jesus who is the exact expression of the Fathers character. So if you want to know what God, the Father, is like, just get better acquainted with the Lord Jesus Christ. The better you know Him, the better you know the Father. Everything in the character of Christ tells out that which is in the heart of God: His love for holiness, His delight in righteousness, His interest in men-even unconverted men. His deep tender affection for His own as evidenced by His love for that little company of disciples who walked with Him three-and-a-half years, of whom we read, “Having loved His own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end” (John 13:1). His sweet gracious interest in the little children, His love for the girls and boys, so that they delighted to come to Him and sit upon His knee. He took them in His arms and put His hands on them in blessing. All this tells us of God the Father’s love for the children.
Then on the other hand, the scorn of Jesus for sins such as hypocrisy, deceit, disobedience, and so forth, expresses the scorn of the Father Himself for everything unreal and consequently unholy. And then the glorious anger of Jesus! “Oh,” you say, “I don’t like to think that Jesus ever became angry.” There are some people who insist that we should not get angry about anything. But Scripture says, “Be ye angry, and sin not” (Ephesians 4:26). Think of the anger of Jesus as He stood in the temple with flashing eyes and said, “It is written, My house is the house of prayer: but ye have made it a den of thieves” (Luke 19:46).
And remember that day in the synagogue in Capernaum when that poor woman, nearly bent double with her misery, came. The Scribes and the Pharisees were watching. They were saying, “Will He dare to heal her on the sabbath day?” Jesus said, “Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath days, or to do evil? to save life, or to kill?” (Mark 3:4; Luke 14:3). He looked round about upon them with anger, as He asked, “Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fallen into a pit, and will not straightway pull him out on the sabbath day?” (Luke 14:5). And He said, “Ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the sabbath day?” (Luke 13:16).
Glorious indignation! Glorious anger! And the anger of Jesus is the anger of God. How is it that we are afraid of the wrath of God and yet we don’t like to think of our Lord Jesus ever being angry? There is a time coming when men shall flee to the rocks and the mountains and shall cry to the rocks and the hills, “Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb” (Revelation 6:16)-the wrath of the Lord Jesus Christ! Yes, the Lamb’s indignation with men who have spurned His grace, refused His mercy, turned down every opportunity of salvation. I repeat, the anger of Jesus is the anger of God. If you want to know God just get better acquainted with Jesus.
Philip came to Him and said, “Show us the Father, and it sufficeth us” (John 14:8). You see, it was a new thing to Philip. Jesus talked so quietly and with such full knowledge of the Father. Philip says, “Well, what do You mean, Lord? Show us the Father, and it sufficeth us.” And Jesus said, “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” (v. 9). That is, you see, the Father’s character was fully told out in Jesus.
But now this involves the third thing I want to emphasize, and that is the unity of the Father and the Son. The unity of the Father and the Son does not involve the thought that Father and Son were exactly the same person. They were two persons, and yet one in the unity of Deity with the Holy Spirit-the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Joseph Cook used to say, “The Father without the Son and the Holy Spirit would not be God in His fullness. The Son without the Father and the Holy Spirit would not be God. The Spirit without the Father and the Son would not be God. But the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit together are one God in three blessed, adorable persons.” So Jesus was here on earth, the Man, Christ Jesus, and yet He was the Son of the Father. The Father was in the heavens and, of course, omnipresent in the whole universe. Jesus said, “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father… Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me?” (vv. 9-10a). The union is an indissoluble one. “I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works” (v. 10b). Everything that Jesus did as Man here in this world He did in fellowship with the Father. That is why He could say that the Son could do nothing of Himself but whatsoever He seeth the Father do. It was not possible that He, as the Son of the Father, should do anything that was not in harmony with the will of the Father: two persons and yet one in Deity.
Then notice in the fourth place that the works that He did were a testimony to this truth. Verse 11 reads, “Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works’ sake.” It is as though He challenged them, saying, “If you are not prepared to take My declaration of My oneness with the Father, if there is still a question in your mind, see what I have done. Did any man ever do the works that I have done? Has any man ever been able to accomplish what I have accomplished? Be convinced by these works that God the Father is working through Me.” If any other man had touched the leper he would have been defiled, but when Jesus touched him, He said, “Be thou clean” (Matthew 8:3; Mark 1:41; Luke 5:13). His hands were not defiled. His hands healed the leprosy instead of the defilement of leprosy cleaving to Him. No mere man ever had power over the tempest, but Jesus could turn to the wind and the waves and say, “Peace, be still” (Mark 4:39). Man sows the seed and cultivates the ground, and eventually through the mercy of God, whose sunshine and rain falls on it and whose chemical action takes place beneath the sod, the earth brings forth the grain from which he can make his bread. But Jesus took five loaves and a few fish, and after giving thanks, produced food for over five thousand people. Why did He do these things? Not that people might look on with amazement or to attract attention to Himself, but in order that He might manifest the heart of God.
So the miracles of Jesus are a challenge to us. We see in them the evidence that He is the Eternal Son of the Father.
But now He was going away, and in the fifth place we notice a wonderful promise He makes to us which He would fulfill in His absence. Verse 12 reads, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.” Now there are some people who say that He makes a promise here that He never fulfilled. They declare that no man has ever done greater works than these miracles. But He was not speaking of miracles. His chief work was not performing miracles but revealing the Father, bringing knowledge of the Father. It is that of which He was speaking.
As a result of His three-and-a-half years of ministry, when He left this scene He said good-bye to a group of about five hundred disciples. There were, doubtless, a few more scattered about but not very many. Very few saw in Him the revelation of the Father. But go on a few days-fifty days later. Ah, then Peter and the rest of the Eleven stand up on the day of Pentecost and the third person of the Trinity comes upon them in power, and they are prepared to witness for Him. They preached a crucified and risen Christ, and what happened? Three thousand believed! Probably more in that one day than in all the three-and-a-half years of our Lord’s ministry. Oh, it is not miracles of which He is speaking. If it were miracles, what was the greatest? Of the miracles concerning the body, was it not when He went to that tomb at Bethany and stood and cried, “Lazarus, come forth” (11:43), and he that was dead came forth-the man of whom his sister said, “Lord,… he hath been dead four days” (v. 39). That was Jesus’ greatest work in regard to the body. Has anyone excelled that?
What was greatest in regard to the powers of nature? Was it turning the water into wine or multiplying the loaves and fishes? Or was it not perhaps in controlling the wind and the waves? No one else has been able to do that.
But His greatest work of all was to reveal the Father. When you realize that when Jesus left this scene, committing His gospel to a little group of eleven men in order that they might carry it to the ends of the earth, at that time the whole world with the exception of a few in Israel, was lost in the darkness of heathenism. But in three hundred years Christianity closed nearly all the temples of the heathen Roman Empire, and numbered its converts by millions. These were the greater works, and down through the centuries He still carries on this ministry.
In the sixth place, notice His promise to hear the prayers of His servants. “Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do” (John 14:13). “[If] ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.” Now somebody speaks up and says, “Well, I asked God for something in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ, and He did not do it.” Oh, but that was not necessarily asking in His name. To ask in His name is to ask by His authority, that is, to pray in accordance with His revealed will. It is as though He said to us, “Whatever you ask by My authority, I will do.” And so what you and I need is to be sure that we understand His will and that we have His authority for the requests that we make.
The seventh thing is this: our Lord’s one purpose. The last part of verse 13 reads, “That the Father may be glorified in the Son.” It was the delight of the Lord Jesus, while here on earth, to glorify the Father, and now it is the joy of His heart to see His people carry on the mission He has given. Every time a soul is saved, it is to the glory of the Father and this is the joy of the Son. Every thing we do in loving obedience to His Word is that the Father may be glorified.
If ye love me, keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also. At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you. He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world? Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me. These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you. But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
There is such richness and fullness in this particular section of John’s gospel that I hesitate to try to take it up in one address, and yet it is all so intimately linked together that I feel as though it would be doing violence to it if divided.
There are a number of things that require to be emphasized. First of all, we have the promise of the Comforter. That word Comforter is interesting. It is used to translate a Greek word, Parakletos, which is a compound word meaning one who comes to the side of another that is a helper in time of need. In 1 John 2:1 we have advocate, which is exactly the same word in the original.
There is a sweetness and preciousness about that word Comforter that appeals to the heart. After all, we cannot use any other word in our language that would so adequately represent the Greek word, for the Paraclete is in very truth the Comforter. Our English word Comforter is also a compound. “Comforter” comes from two Latin words-con, and fortis, the one meaning “to be in company with,” and the other “to strengthen,” so that actually the Comforter is one who strengthens by companionship. That is one of the great ministries of the Holy Spirit. The Paraclete is one who comes to your side to help, to give aid, and so the word is properly used. An attorney-at-law, or an advocate, is one who comes to help you in your legal difficulties, and the Holy Spirit is all this. He has come from heaven, as promised by our blessed Lord, to assist us in every crisis, in every time of difficulty that may arise in our Christian lives-He strengthens by His companionship.
Let us notice how definitely the Lord Jesus points out, or insists upon, the personality of the Comforter, the Holy Spirit. Consider the last part of verse 17: “But ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.” And again, the previous verse, “And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever.”
Our Lord would never have used this masculine pronoun if He did not mean us to understand that just as God the Father is a person, and God the Son is a person, so God the Holy Spirit is a person-three persons in one God. I emphasize this because I am afraid many real Christians, otherwise sound and orthodox enough, have very imperfect thoughts in regard to the Holy Spirit. So often we hear people speaking of the Holy Spirit as “It,” and it is perfectly true that in Romans 8:0 we read: “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God” (v. 16). But that is because in Greek the word for “Spirit” is in the neuter, and, therefore, a neuter pronoun goes with it. But in conveying it exactly in English it might have been rendered: “The Spirit Himself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.”
What the Lord Jesus teaches is that the Holy Spirit is not an impersonal influence, and above all, the Holy Spirit is not simply a wave of emotion pouring through the heart and mind of a man, but the Holy Spirit is a divine person. Just as God the Father sent the Son, and the Son had a certain ministry to perform for thirty-three wonderful years in this world, so now the Father and the Son have sent the Holy Spirit. He has been performing His ministry for something like nineteen hundred marvelous years, in which the gospel of the grace of God has been going out into all the world, working miracles and transforming the lives of men and women everywhere it has been received in faith.
Then, notice the dispensational distinction that the Lord makes here in regard to the Spirit’s ministry. He says, “I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you” (v. 17).
Note that expression: “He dwelleth with you.” That was true all through the centuries before that wonderful day of Pentecost when the Spirit of God came down to form the church of the new dispensation and to indwell all believers. In all past centuries the Holy Spirit was working in the world and He dwelt with believers. The apostle Peter tells us how Noah preached by the Spirit while preparing the ark. The Holy Spirit was with the patriarchs in their particular dispensation. The Holy Spirit was with the people of God in the wilderness in the days of Moses, and all through the legal dispensation He was with the saints on earth. David prayed, “Take not thy holy spirit from me” (Psalms 51:11)-a prayer very appropriate for the age and dispensation in which he lived, but not an appropriate prayer for Christians today, for Jesus said, “When He is come He will ‘abide with you for ever.’“ But in the Old Testament dispensation the Holy Spirit came and abode upon people, wrought in and through them, and with them. “He has been with you.” That was true particularly when Jesus was here on earth because the Holy Spirit was given without measure to Him.
Now Jesus looks forward into the new age, the new dispensation, which was to begin at Pentecost, and He says, “He… shall be in you.” And this is the glorious distinctive truth of the dispensation in which we live. The Holy Spirit in this age dwells in every believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. Upon your believing, “ye were sealed with that holy spirit of promise” (Ephesians 1:13). It can now be said, “If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his” (Romans 8:9). That does not mean that if any man have not the disposition of Christ he is none of His, but the apostle there is speaking of the person, the Holy Spirit. Therefore, in this age of grace we do not need to go to God and ask Him to give us the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit dwells within us. He has sealed us as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. What we do need, and need very much, is to recognize the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and allow Him to have His way in our hearts and lives that we may be filled with the Spirit and controlled by Him.
Then, notice that the Holy Spirit dwelling within makes Christ real to us. The Lord Jesus Christ was going away, but He said, “I will not leave you comfortless [orphans]: I will come to you” (John 14:18). He was coming Himself in the Spirit to dwell in the believer. “Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me” (v. 19). They would see Him by faith. They would recognize His presence by faith. We are told that Christ may dwell in our hearts by faith, and “at that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you” (v. 20).
Notice the intimate union of believers with the members of the Godhead-“Ye in me, and I in you.” As we walk in obedience to Him He says He will manifest Himself to us in a precious and wonderful way. “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him” (v. 21).
Judas, not Iscariot, but Judas the faithful apostle, did not understand this, and he inquired, “Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world?” (v. 22). Jesus replied, “If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him” (v. 23). In other words, the obedient believer enjoys communion with the Father and the Son in the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit.
“He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings [that is, the disobedient one]: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me” (v. 24). Notice two things dwelt on here. I go back to verse 15: “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” Now verse 23 again: “If a man love me, he will keep my words.” What is the difference between keeping Christ’s commandments and keeping His words? Well, there are a great many things concerning which our Lord has spoken very definitely, either personally or by the Holy Spirit, a great many things in which He has revealed His will very clearly, showing us just exactly what He would have us do and how to live. Take, for instance, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world… For all that is in the world … is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever” (1 John 2:15-62.2.17).
A Christian cannot go after the things of the world and love the world without going into the path of disobedience, because there is a very definite command concerning this from the Spirit of God. Or again: “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14). There you have a very distinct command of the Spirit of God.
Now Jesus says, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” So as we search our Bibles, we see where the Lord has expressed His will, either personally, as in the Gospels, or by the Spirit, as in other parts of the New Testament, and the obedient believer gladly walks in accord with what is there written. When he gets a direct command from the Lord he says, “It is not for me to argue nor to reason about it. As a Christian, for me it is to do what my Master tells me.”
But the Lord Jesus goes even farther than this. “If a man love me, he will keep my words.” What does He mean by that? This is more than just keeping a direct commandment. I will try to illustrate. Here is a young girl whom we will call Mary, a loved daughter of a widowed mother. She is attending school, and the mother is considerate. She knows that Mary has a lot of heavy lessons and responsibilities, and so tries not to put upon her any more work at home than is necessary. But as a wise mother she realizes that her daughter should have certain duties to perform, so she says, “Daughter, you can look after your own room and hang up your own clothes.” (You know some daughters do not.) “And I will expect you to do thus-and-so.”
Mary loves her mother, so she obeys her. She is about to leave her room for school one morning and notices that things are in an untidy state. “Mother says I must always make up my room before I leave. I may be late, but I shall have to fix up my room.” She must keep her mother’s command in order to be an obedient girl. So she tidies up her room and then runs off to school with a light heart.
One day Mary has her heart set on going out for a game of tennis in the afternoon as soon as she returns from school, so she hurries home. Entering the house she hears her mother talking to a neighbor and happens to hear her say, “Oh, dear, I feel so badly. I have company coming this evening. I’ve had such a sick headache all day and have the dinner all to prepare, and I’m hardly able to do it.” Then Mary says, “What is it, Mother? You have the dinner to get, and you’re not feeling well? Mother, you go and lie down. I’ll peel the potatoes, put the meat on, and get everything ready.” But mother says, “You had planned to meet your friends and play tennis this afternoon. Don’t let me keep you from it.” But Mary answers, “Why, Mother, I wouldn’t be happy playing tennis knowing that you are sick with all this work to do. It’s because you need me that I want to do this for you.”
Do you see the difference? In the morning Mary kept her mother’s commandment, now she is keeping her word. She realizes, from what her mother said, how glad she would be to have somebody help, and says, “It’s my privilege. I would rather help my mother than spend my time in pleasure.” And so off comes the coat and on goes the apron, and Mary is in the kitchen keeping her mother’s word.
With the Christian it is not always a matter of getting a definite command. He reads his Bible, and as he reads he sees that God has expressed His mind in such a way that the obedient Christian can discern what the will of the Lord is. So he is glad to keep His word and thus render devoted service.
The last thing I want to dwell on is found in verse 26. The blessed Holy Spirit is the power for all this, the revealer of God’s truth, and through Him the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts. The Holy Spirit is now the teacher, for Jesus said, “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.”
That is His special ministry to the people of God as they go through this scene. It means far more to sit down over the Bible and have the Holy Spirit open up its precious truths, than to have some kind of an ecstatic thrill in an exciting meeting. There are many Christians who spend a lot of time looking for thrills. They think when they become excited or stirred up in a meeting that such an experience is a special manifestation of the ministry of the Holy Spirit. The fact of the matter is that the great ministry of the Spirit is to take of the things of Christ and reveal them to us, to open up His truth, to make His holy Word clear and plain and real to our souls. The more we read this Word in dependence on the teaching of the Holy Spirit, the more it will be opened up to us and the more precious it will become.
Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I. And now I have told you before it come to pass, that, when it is come to pass, ye might believe. Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me. But that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do. Arise, let us go hence.
It was possibly at this point that our blessed Lord and His disciples rose from the supper table where they had been observing the Passover, followed by the institution of that most sacred of all feasts of the church, called the Lord’s Supper. He had washed their feet, told them of His coming again, of the Father’s love, and of the coming of the Comforter. And now they rose up together and started on the way to Gethsemane where the blessed Lord was to enter into that hour of sorrow before going on to the judgment hall and the cross.
His words have peculiar force as we think of the circumstances under which they were spoken. “Peace,” He says, “I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (v. 27). When He came to earth, He was presented to man as the One who was to bring peace. The prophet Isaiah, seven hundred years before the birth of Christ, the Savior, had predicted that His name should “be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” (9:6). Angels sang at His birth, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2:14). And yet the sad thing that cannot but occupy our hearts today is this, that after nineteen centuries-nineteen centuries of gospel preaching-this world knows less of peace than it has ever known.
Our Lord indicated that such would be the case before He went away, and the reason He gave was this, “Because thou knowest not the time of thy visitation and the things that belong to thy peace” (see Luke 19:42; Luke 19:44Luke 19:44). “He came unto his own, and his own received him not” (John 1:11). He presented Himself to them as their King and they said, “We will not have this man to reign over us” (Luke 19:14). In Pilate’s judgment hall He was rejected in this specific character-that of king. Pilate asked, “[What!] Shall I crucify your King?” And the Jews replied, “We have no king but Caesar” (John 19:15). Oh, how they have suffered under the “Caesars” since! And all because of that dreadful mistake. The Savior said before He went away, “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword” (Matthew 10:34). That is, if man did not receive Him and the truth He brought that was to make them free, then they must still remain in bondage to sin with all its dreadful consequences.
He foresaw all these scenes of strife and bloodshed. When they asked Him, “What shall be the sign of thy coming?” (Matthew 24:3), He replied, “And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: … but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom” (vv. 6-7).
The little children sang as He rode into Jerusalem that last time, “Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest” (Luke 19:38). Notice the difference. The angels said, “Peace on earth,” and the children, divinely taught, sang, “Peace in heaven,” for He was going back to heaven, taking with Him the peace that He would so gladly have shared with the people of the world. And now He sits at the right hand of God-the Man of peace. And before He went away He said to His disciples, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled” (John 14:27).
I take it we have two distinct characters of peace in that verse: First, the peace that Jesus left-“Peace I leave with you.” That, I believe, has to do with the question of sin. There could be no peace between God and man as long as sin came in as a barrier. Twice in Isaiah we read this, “There is no peace, saith [Jehovah], unto the wicked” (Isaiah 48:22; Isaiah 57:21Isaiah 57:21). First it follows Jehovah’s controversy with idols. There is no peace to those who put something else in place of the one true and living God.
And in the second place, Isaiah pictures the coming into the world of the Savior, Jehovah’s Servant, our Lord Jesus Christ, and he says, “He [was] despised and rejected of men… He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:3; Isaiah 53:5Isaiah 53:5). He told how God’s blessed Son was to be rejected by His own people. He ended up that section of prophecy with these words, “There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked”-no peace for those who reject the Lord Jesus Christ who alone can give peace. But though the rejected One, He went to the cross to make atonement for sin, and there was fulfilled the prophecy concerning the chastisement by which our peace is made. So in Colossians 1:0 we read, “Having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself” (v. 20).
I think that is what He was referring to when He said, “Peace I leave with you.” He did not go back to heaven until He had settled the sin question and made it possible for man to be at peace with God, and that on a righteous basis. Remember, there cannot be peace with God apart from righteousness. “The work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever” (Isaiah 32:17). Jesus is “an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec. For this Melchisedec, king of Salem” (Hebrews 6:20; Hebrews 7:1Hebrews 7:1). Melchisedec means “king of righteousness.” Salem means “peace.” And the Spirit of God says, “First being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace” (7:2)-no peace apart from righteousness. For that reason, you and I as sinners could never make our peace with God.
Away back in the Old Testament God challenged man to make peace with Him, but no one could ever do it. Why cannot I make peace with God? Because I have no ability to put away my sin. No efforts of mine could make satisfaction for sins.
But the Lord Jesus Christ, as our representative, went to the cross and made peace-made peace by blood of His cross. In Zechariah 6:13 we read, “He shall be a priest upon his throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both.” That is, the covenant of peace is made between the Father and the Son. The Son took our place, settled the sin question, and so made peace for poor guilty men. Everyone who will may come to God as repentant sinners, and the moment we trust Him, we can say, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1).
At the close of the war between the States, we are told that a troop of Federal cavalry were riding along a road between Richmond and Washington. Suddenly they saw a poor wretch clothed in the ragged remnants of a Confederate uniform come out of the bush. He hailed the Captain who drew rein and waited for him. He gasped out, “I am starving to death. Can you help me? Can you give me some food?” The Captain said, “Starving to death! Why don’t you go into Richmond and get what you need?” The other answered, “I dare not, for if I did I would be arrested. Three weeks ago I became utterly disheartened and deserted from the Confederate army. I have been hiding in the woods ever since waiting for an opportunity to get through the lines to the north, for I knew if I were arrested I would be shot for deserting in time of war.” The Captain looked at him in amazement and said, “Haven’t you heard the news?” “What news?” the poor fellow gasped. “Why, the war is over. Peace has been made. General Lee surrendered to General Grant at Appomattox two weeks ago. The Confederacy is ended.” “What!” he said, “peace has been made for two weeks, and I have been starving in the woods because I did not know it?” Oh, that was the gospel of peace to him.
Sinner, listen to me! Peace was made nineteen hundred years ago, and millions today are dying in their sins because they do not know it. You do not have to make your peace with God. You do not have to atone for your sins. You could not do it, but Jesus has done it all. You may come to God in His name. All that He accomplished at Calvary will be put down to your account. The One who died on the cross to make propitiation for your sins has been raised again and sits today at God’s right hand speaking peace to all who turn to Him, who trust in Him as their Redeemer.
Peace with God is Christ in glory,
God is light and God is love;
Jesus died to tell the story,
Foes to bring to God above.
So Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you.” Have you availed yourself of it? Can you say, “I thank God I am justified by faith and have peace with God through the Lord Jesus Christ”?
But that is only one side of it. There is another aspect of peace. “My peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you.” Now Jesus says, “I am going to give you a peace that will keep you from heart trouble.” We are living in such strenuous days and times. There is a heart trouble which may cause great sorrow and distress even though the physical heart may be in very good condition. That is when one has to endure pain because of bereavement, financial trouble, family trials, and perhaps saddest of all, church troubles. I think sometimes the greatest sorrow people have to endure is trouble among Christians who do not trust each other or love one another anymore. Who instead of being helpers to one another are really hinderers of one another’s progress. And yet how often we come up against that very thing. Some time ago a brother came and began telling another an unkind thing about a third Christian brother. “Wait a minute,” said the person addressed, “are you telling me this because you love this man?”
Then there are the sorrows we have to endure out in the world. There are indeed things going on everywhere that are enough to break a sensitive heart. Yet Jesus says, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you.” He speaks rest to troubled hearts.
“My peace I give unto you!” He could say, “Reproach hath broken my heart” (Psalms 69:20). and yet His spirit was in perfect peace, and the same peace that possessed the heart of the Son of God, He desires to impart to us. How may we obtain it? We read in Isaiah 26:3, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.” There is the secret-trust and confidence in a God of love, a God of infinite power who works all things in accordance with His will. We are bidden to come to Him as He says, “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-50.4.7). The real meaning of that passage is this: the peace of God shall “garrison” your heart, or “keep” your heart, or “protect” your heart. This is the peace which Jesus would share with His own.
Oh, the peace my Saviour gives,
Peace I never knew before,
And the way has brighter grown
Since I’ve learned to trust Him more.
In verses 28-31, with which this chapter concludes, we see how our blessed Lord was kept in peace in the face of the most adverse circumstances. He said, “Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I” (v. 28). “If ye loved me, ye would rejoice!” Is there not a word of comfort there for those of us who have lost dear ones down here? He said, “I told you I am going away. You should be so glad that I am going to the Father.” Oh, these loved ones in Christ who have left us. Where have they gone? They have gone to the Father. Surely it should rejoice our hearts that they have entered into the Father’s house. “My Father is greater than I.” Remember, He who is God, the Son, became Man, and as Man on earth, He takes the place of subjection. He says, “My Father is greater than I.” As the Eternal Son, He is one with the Father and the Spirit. “Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:6-50.2.8). He took the place of recognized subjection to the Father.
“And now I have told you before it come to pass, that, when it is come to pass, ye might believe” (John 14:29). This might be applied to many things going on in the world today. If we did not have the witness of Holy Scripture as to the conditions that were to prevail in the world, we might become discouraged. Nineteen hundred years of gospel preaching, and such dreadful things going on that we might say the gospel is a failure. Oh, no, it is not failure. People will not receive the gospel. Someone said, “Don’t you think that Christianity has failed miserably?” The other answered, “Christianity has not failed. It has never been tried.” You see, God has shown us beforehand the conditions that will prevail until the return of the Lord. So you see, all is known to Him, and He will overrule all for good.
“Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me” (v. 30). Neither you nor I could say that. I have been a Christian for fifty years, but I would not dare say that. The prince of this world is the Devil, and there is still something in me that responds to the prince of the world. But Jesus had nothing like that in Him. He knew no sin. So when the prince of the world came to Him, there was no traitor inside waiting to throw open the door. I have to be on guard against Satan’s wiles, but there was no such thing in His case. He was ever the sinless, spotless, unblemished Son of God.
But that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do. Arise, let us go hence. (John 14:31)
“Arise, let us go hence.” Go where? To Gethsemane, out to Golgotha. What for? “That the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do.” This is the burnt offering aspect of the work of Christ. He died, not only to put away sin, but to glorify the Father. God had been so dishonored in this world by man’s wickedness and disobedience, and then the Son of God became Man and was obedient even to the death of the cross. He has glorified the Father in such a way that God has received more glory through that sacrifice than He ever lost by all of man’s sin. It is of this that the burnt offering speaks. Christ offered Himself, a sacrifice and a sweet-smelling savor to God.
But then God’s glory and our salvation are linked up together and now since God has been glorified in the work of the cross, He can be just and the Justifier of all who believe in Jesus.
I hear the words of love,
I gaze upon the blood;
I see the mighty Sacrifice,
And I have peace with God.’
Tis everlasting peace,
Sure as Jehovah’s name;’
Tis stable as His steadfast throne,
For evermore the same.
The clouds may go and come,
And storms may sweep the sky,
This blood-sealed friendship changes not,
The cross is ever nigh.
I change, He changes not,
The Christ can never die;
His love, not mine, the resting-place,
His truth, not mine, the tie.
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Ironside, H. A. "Commentary on John 14". Ironside's Notes on Selected Books. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany