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Free Books » Bonar, Horatius » Light & Truth: The Gospels

Chapter 80 - John 16:25-28 - Christ in Heaven, the Church on Earth Light & Truth: The Gospels by Bonar, Horatius




Christ In Heaven, The Church On Earth.


     "These things have I spoken unto you in proverbs: but the time cometh, when shall no more speak unto you in proverbs, but I shall show you plainly of the Father. At that day ye shall ash en my name: and I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you: For the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God. I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go to the Father."-John 16: 25-28.



     These words seem specially to apply to the state of things, both in heaven and on earth, during the present dispensation. Christ in and from heaven speaking to us plainly of the Father, as well as acting as the High Priest with Urim and Thummim, inquiring and interceding for His own. The Church on earth listening to these revelations of the Father, and asking in his name. In the Old Testament, Messiah (for He is the speaker) spoke in types; when He was here on earth he spoke in parables, or hidden words, figures; but since Pentecost He has spoken "plainly," without a veil or figure. It is this plain revelation of the Father that we have in the Acts of the Apostles, and in the Epistles. During this dispensation, too, we have the asking in Christ's name we have Christ's intercession for us; we have the Father's special love; and we have the special reasons for that special love. Such is a sketch of the passage.

     Taking these words then as referring to the present dispensation, we see in them (1) Christ in heaven; (2) the Church on earth.

     I. Christ in heaven. He was on earth; but he has left, and is gone to the Father. It was expedient for us that he should go away, that he might send the Comforter, as if both He and the Spirit could not be spared from heaven at once. But it is not of this mission of the Comforter that he here speaks. He has gone to heaven.

     (1.) As the revealer of the Father. He came to do this; He did this while here; but chiefly in parables,-figures, dark sayings. These were a sort of veil over what he said regarding the Father, even in his last discourses. But when He went up to heaven all that dimness was gone. From the day of Pentecost there was the plain and full revelation of the Father. The Spirit whom He sent down on his apostles, enabling them to preach and to write, spoke plainly. The Epistles contain this plain revelation of the Father. There may be in them something hard to be understood, but still they are the plainest and fullest revelations of God that man has had. It is this unfolding of God and his ways and thoughts that the world so specially needed and needeth still. Acquaintanceship with God is the removal of the world's darkness, and the healing of all its wounds. We look upwards to the heaven of heavens where Jesus is; we listen to His voice, and in what He speaks we have the plain discovery of the Father.

     (2.) As the medium of communication between us and the Father. He is in heaven as Advocate, Intercessor, High Priest. As such He carries on the intercourse between us and God. Through Him we have access by one Spirit unto the Father. "I say not that I will pray (or make inquiries for you like the high priest with Urim and Thummim) the Father; for the Father himself loveth you"; that is, "I need not say that I will thus act as your High Priest, and yet this is not because the Father requires to be persuaded to love you, for He loves you already." Christ, then, is the communicator between us and God. Whatever we need, let us take it to Him; if any man lack wisdom, let us thus ask. Jesus is our High Priest. Let us deal with him.

     II. The Church on earth. Jesus leaves his saints here, yet He keeps up constant intercourse with them. Heaven and earth are brought together; as if all were nearness and not distance. In this passage we have the Church on earth.

     (1.) Receiving Christ's revelations of the Father. He speaks, and she listens. His lessons are all of the Father; and thus she learns from His lips more and more each day of the Father's character, and ways, and mind, and works. As a willing listener to what Jesus speaks of the Father, she goes upon her way here, and does the Father's work. She learns each day more fully the meaning of the marvelous words, "God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him." It is this revelation of the Father that we preach as glad tidings of great joy. This fills our hearts and imparts the unearthly peace, the unworldly joy, which, as believing men, we possess.

     (2.) Praying in Christ's name. In a sense that name had been known from the beginning. The seed of the woman, with the bruised heel, was known as he through whom all communications were made between the sinner and God. On the credit of His name prayer got its answer all along. Not one petition was accepted, except in virtue of that name. But still the name was but dimly known; and besides it was not known as the name of Jesus of Nazareth. Henceforth round that name all prayer was to cluster. In that name it was to be presented. That name was to bear it aloft. That name was to secure its success. That name was, by its own omnipotence, to make every one connected with it omnipotent too. Christ gives us this name to make use of in all our dealings with God. We need nothing else. This will secure the abundant answer. Never let us go to God without that name; and going with it, let us be confident; trusting, not distrusting; believing, not doubting. Let the virtue, the power, the efficacy of that name be ever realized. Let us not dishonour it by distrust. He who goes to God without it, dishonours it. He who professes to go with it, yet doubts whether it will avail to secure an answer for his prayers, no less dishonours it. Let the thought of that name remove all doubt on our part. That name removes all ground for refusal on the part of God. It enables him to give full vent to its infinite liberality and love.

     (3.) Enjoying the Father's love. "The Father himself loveth you." This is no doubtful thing; but as sure as it is blessed. It is this love that is the sunshine of life. The Father's love! Yes; it is written, "That the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them." He loves them as lovers of his Son. He loves them as believers in the mission of that Son to earth. What love is there like this? And what can brighten or sweeten life like this?

     (4.) Loving the Son. "Ye have loved me." The Church is the lover of Christ. In an unloving world she loves Him whom the Father loveth. This marks her out from all around. To her He is the chief among ten thousand, and altogether lovely. "My beloved" is the name she gives Him. What He desires is love, our love. What He wants is possession of our hearts. The question that He asks is "lovest thou me."

     (5.) Believing that He came out from God. This is the first thing, though here it comes last. The Father presents him to us as His beloved Son; sent from God, to do the work of God. The first way in which we honour Him is by receiving Him as the Son, the Sent of the Father. Our recognition of Him as such brings us into the circle of discipleship. Believing the Father's testimony to the Son, we ourselves become sons, and as such receive the fullness of the Father's love.

     What think ye then of Christ? Dost thou believe that He is the Son of God; that He came out from God, and has gone back to God; not only as the Father's servant to do the Father's will, but in love to us, and as the messenger of the Father's love.