Bible Studies

19-1895 General Conference Sermon by A.T. Jones

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    We are to begin the comparison of Heb. 2:14, 15 with Rom. 6:11-14. Read first in Hebrews:

Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them, who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.

That is what Christ did to deliver us. Now read in Romans: Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin; but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you.

Just as He also Himself likewise did that to deliver us, so we also ourselves likewise are to yield, in order to be delivered. And when we do so, we are delivered. He did that in order to deliver us, who all our lifetime were subject to bondage; we do that, and then we are free from the bondage and sin has no more dominion over us.  Thus Rom. 6:11-14 is the response of faith in the individual, to Christ's action as in Heb. 2:14, 15.

But the Lord did more for Him than to raise Him from the dead, and He has done more for us in Him than to raise us from the dead. He died. He was raised from the dead. We died with Him, and what then? Did we rise with Him?  Have we a resurrection with Him? Have we life from the dead in Him? We are crucified with Him. We died with Him. We are buried with Him, and He was raised from the dead. Then what of us? We are risen with Him. But God did more for Him than to raise Him from the dead. God did more with Him than to raise Him from the dead. He raised Him, and also seated Him at His own right hand in heaven. What of us? Do we stop short? No, sir. Are we not in Him? As we are in Him while He was alive on the earth, as we are in Him on the cross, as we are in Him in death, as we are in Him in the resurrection, so we are in Him in the ascension and we are in Him at the right hand of God.

That would follow, anyway, from what we read last night, but let us read this itself in the Scriptures and see that it is certainly so. As we have followed God's working in Him so far, shall we follow it all the way? Last night and in the lessons before, we were glad to go with Him through temptation and gain the victory. We were glad last night with Him to go to the cross and find ourselves crucified there, so that we could say in genuine faith, "I am crucified with Christ." We were glad to go into the grave with Him, into death with Him, so that it can be a genuine reckoning of faith to reckon ourselves also to be dead indeed. We are glad of all that. Let us be glad also to come forth from death with Him, in order that we may live a new life as He. And when we have come forth with Him from the dead--for "if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him" let us rise with Him as He is risen--not only from the dead, but to where He is. If God says so, if He proposes to carry us there and to carry the subject that far, shall we go? Assuredly, yes. Let us not think strange of it if He should; let us follow with Him there just as freely as we followed with Him against temptation and to the cross and into death.

Therefore take the second chapter of Ephesians, beginning with the fourth verse: God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ.

Quicken is to make alive, make us alive together with Christ. Next verse: "And hath raised us up together."  Together with whom? Christ. "And made us sit together." With whom? Christ. Where? "Made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus." The word "places" is supplied there in our version. It is also supplied in Eph.  1:2; 1:20.

In the Greek it is epouraniois, and in the verbal translation is rendered "the heavenlies." God has given us life together with Him: God has raised us up together and made us sit together with Him, wherever He sits. Where then does He sit? "He was received up into heaven and sat on the right hand of the Majesty on high." Heb. 1:3.  God "has raised us up together with him; and made us sit together with him," where He sits.

Now the German makes it plainer than our Authorized Version and plainer than this translation of the Greek even:

Da wir tot waren in den Sunden, hat er uns saint Christo [that word saint means along with. And that is the Greek word literally. The Greek means "along with" "together" and "at the same time," and so the German words give it]--hat er uns saint Christo lebendig gemacht [made alive us along with Him]...und hat uns saint ihm auferwecket  [along with Him waked up, and not simply waked up like a man that is asleep and gets his eyes open but still lies there but waked up in such a way that he gets up. So that we with Him are given life from the dead and he has waked us up in such a way that we get up and rise with Him.] und saint ihm in das himmlische Wesen gesetzt, in Christo Jesu.

I have drawn out the definition of that word Wesen in full here and it signifies essence, existence, being, manner of being, nature, character, disposition, air, demeanor, conduct; means of existence, property, estate, economy;  existing arrangement, system, concern.

So He has made us sit with Christ in heaven; in the heavenly existence; in the heavenly essence; made us sit together with Him in the heavenly being; in the heavenly manner of being; in the heavenly nature; in the heavenly character; in the heavenly disposition; in the heavenly air; in the heavenly demeanor; in the heavenly conduct; He has made us sit together with Him in the heavenly means of existence--for "our life is hid with Christ in God," our means of existence is in heaven--"Give us this day our daily bread"--the heavenly means of existence, heavenly property, estate, economy, existing arrangement, the existing order of things. We belong to heaven, to the heavenly system altogether.

That is where God has put us in Christ. So then, as we, along with Him, in the heavenly existence, essence, air,  disposition, and all, are made to sit in Christ Jesus, shall we sit there in Him?

In other words, shall we rise? What is the word? Arise, shine. Arise first and then shine. We cannot shine until we rise. But what will this truth do for us? Will it not raise us? How high? Do you not see that it takes us out of this world and puts us along with Jesus Christ in the heavenly kingdom? Is it not plain then that Jesus Christ has brought heaven to earth to Him who believes? Therefore it is written, He "hath delivered us from the power of darkness and hath translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son." The kingdom of heaven is likened unto this so and so; the kingdom of heaven is like unto so and so; the kingdom of heaven is like unto so and so; the kingdom of heaven is nigh at hand. Well, what is that kingdom of heaven? He translates us into it--has translated us into it. Shall we reside there and enjoy its blessed atmosphere and enjoy the disposition, the air, all the system and manner of existence that belong there and belong to us there?

Now we cannot raise ourselves even to this height; we are to submit to the truth and it will raise us. Look at it again. In the first chapter of Ephesians, beginning with the fifteenth verse:

Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and love unto all the saints, cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers [and this is the prayer]; that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him.

To how many? To whom? For how many is this prayer written? Will you take the prayer, then, yourself this evening? and accept the thing that is prayed for on your behalf? Whose word is it, anyway? Is it merely a prayer of a man? Is it not the word of God? Then is not the word of Jesus Christ by His Spirit expressing His will and His wish concerning us as to what we shall have? Let us accept it, then. It is His will. Read on:

The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of his power to usward [toward us] who believe.

He wants us to know what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe. And the Greek word there is the word from which comes our word "dynamite."

The exceeding greatness of His power to usward who believe, according to the working of His mighty power,  which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly [existence, in heaven].

The German is, "Seated at his right in heaven."

Now that power of God raised up Jesus Christ and set Him at His right in heaven. Every soul of us will say that,  but He wants you and me to know the working of that power in ourselves which raised up Christ and seated Him there. When we know the working of that power in us that raised up Christ and seated Him there, what will it do for us? It will raise us up and seat us there.

The second chapter of Colossians tells the same story, beginning with the twelfth verse:

Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened [made alive] together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross.

Now the first verse of the third chapter:

If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.

Then every one that is risen is to seek the things that are above. Whereabouts above? How high above? As high above as the place where Christ sits. But how can I seek the things where Christ sits unless I am near enough there to look around and seek those things and put my mind upon them? It is all in that.

If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God....for ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.

Shall we take that precisely as the Lord gives it, without any querying? I know it is wonderful; I know that to a good many it seems too good to be true, but there is nothing God does that is too good to be true, because God does it. If it were said of anybody else, it would be too good to be true, because they could not do it, but when God says anything, it is not too good to be true; it is good enough to be true, because He does it. therefore,  brethren, let us rise, and that will separate us from the world; that will put us in the place where long ago the prophet was told to look a little higher, to see those who were in the right way. But, O, shall we not drop everything and die with Him and take the death that we have in Him and let that death that has been wrought in Him work in us? And then that life which has been wrought in Him, that power which has been wrought in Him,  will do for us what it did for Him. That will take us out of Babylon; there will be none of Babylon's material about us at all. We will be so far from Babylon and all the Babylonish garments, that we will be seated at the right hand of God, clothed in heavenly apparel; and that is the only clothing that becomes the people now, for we are soon to enter in to the wedding supper, and the fine linen with which the bride and guests are clothed is the righteousness of the saints. But He supplies it all. We have it all in Him.

Let us look at this in another way. I am not particular to get away from this thought tonight, and it is good enough to dwell upon all the time we shall have this evening. Let us look at it from another side now. We have studied for several lessons the fact that He in human nature was ourselves, and He in us and we in Him met temptation and the power of Satan and conquered it all in this world, because God was with Him. God was dealing with Him. God was holding Him and keeping Him. He surrendered all and God kept Him. In Him we surrender all, and God keeps us. And the Lord's dealings with Him are the Lord's dealings with us, and that led to crucifixion; that is true--the crucifixion of His righteous, divine self, and in that it leads us to the crucifixion of our evil self, which separates from God. In Him is destroyed the enmity. So God went with Him and went with Him in human nature, all the way through this world, but God did not get done with His human nature in this world.

The Father was not done dealing with Christ in His human nature nor done dealing with human nature in Christ,  when the Son had been nailed to the cross. He had something more to do with human nature than to take it only to the cross. He took it even unto death, but He did not stop there with human nature. He took it to the cross and into death, but He did not stop there. He did not leave it there. He brought forth human nature from the tomb,  immortalized. He did all this, but He was not yet done with human nature, for He took that human nature which had been raised from the dead, immortalized, and He raised it up and set it at His own right hand, glorified with the fullness of the brightness of the glory of God--in heaven itself. So that God's mind concerning human nature,  concerning you and me, is never met, never fulfilled, until He finds us at His own right hand, glorified.

There is revivifying power in that blessed truth. In Jesus Christ, the Father has set before the universe the thought of His mind concerning mankind. O, how much, how far, a man misses every purpose, every idea, of his existence, who is content with anything less than that which God has prepared for him! Brethren, do you not see that we have been content to stay too low down? that we have been content to have our minds too far from what God has for us? That is a fact. But now, as He comes and calls us into this, let us go where He will lead us. It is faith that does it; it is not presumption; it is the only right thing to do. Every one that does not do it will be left so far behind that he will perish in a little while. Here the heavenly Shepherd is leading us. He is leading us into green pastures and by the still waters--and by those still waters, too, that flow from the throne of God, the waters of life itself. Let us drink deep and live.

Now we can look at that yet farther. I will say again that the Lord, in order to show mankind what He has prepared for us, what His purpose is concerning each man, has set before us an example, so that everyone in the world can see God's purpose concerning himself and can see it fully worked out. God's purpose concerning us in this world is to keep us from sinning in spite of all the power of sin and Satan. His purpose concerning Himself and us in this world is that God shall be manifested in sinful flesh. That is, in His power He Himself shall be manifested instead of ourselves. It is, therefore, that our wicked self shall be crucified, shall be dead and buried,  and that we shall be raised from that deadness in sin and uncircumcision of the flesh to newness of life in Jesus Christ and in God and seated at His right hand, glorified. That is the Lord's purpose concerning you and me.  Now let us read it: Rom. 8:28:

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God.

How do we know it? He not only says so but He has worked it out before our eyes; He has given a living demonstration of it. So He carries us right through that now. "We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." What purpose? Why, His eternal purpose concerning all creatures, concerning man with the rest, which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord.  That purpose from eternity is purposed in Jesus Christ, and when we are in Jesus Christ that purpose embraces us. When we yield to Christ, sinking ourselves in Him, we become a part of that eternal purpose, and then just as certainly as God's purpose is to succeed, we shall be all right, for we are a part of His purpose. Then just as certainly as Satan can do nothing against God's purpose, so certainly He can do nothing against us, for we are in that purpose. Just as certainly, then, as all that Satan does, and all that the enemies of God's truth can do,  working against God and His divine purpose, and at last all these things against us--so certainly as all this cannot defeat or cripple that eternal purpose, so certainly it cannot defeat or cripple us, because in Christ we are a fixture in that purpose. O, it is all in Him, and God has created us anew in Him.

Read on then. God tells us how we know that all things work together for good to those who are called according to God's purpose. "For"--what does that mean? It means the same here as "because"; that is, we know this because God has done something here to demonstrate it so that we can know it. What is this then by which we know it? We know it because "whom he did foreknow he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son." What is God's predestination, then? What is the design that He has fixed beforehand, that He has prepared beforehand for every man in the world? For He has foreknown all; He has called all. "Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth." Isa. 45:22.

What is the destiny that He has prepared beforehand for every one? O, it is that we should be conformed to the image of His Son. Where? While we are in this world, conformed to the image of His Son, as His Son was in this world. But He did not get done with His Son in this world; He took Him from this world. Then as certainly as His eternal purpose carried Christ beyond this world, that predestined purpose is concerning us beyond this world,  and carries us beyond this world. And as certainly as His predestined purpose is that we shall be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ in this world, as He was in this world, so certain it is that we shall be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ in that other world, as He is in that other world.

God's eternal purpose prepared beforehand for every one of us, for you, for me, is that we shall be like Jesus Christ as He is, glorified, and at the right hand of God tonight. In Christ He has demonstrated this. In Christ, from birth to the heavenly throne, He has shown that that is His purpose concerning every man. Thus He has demonstrated before the universe that such is His great purpose for human beings.

God's ideal of a man is not as man stands in this world. Take the finest figure of a man who ever stood in this world--the tallest, the most symmetrical, the best educated, the finest in every respect, the fullest, completest man in himself--is that God's ideal of man? No. you remember that we found back in one of our lessons that God's ideal of a man is God and the man joined in that new man that is made in Christ Jesus by the destruction of the enmity. That new man that is made of the union of God and man is God's ideal man.

But yet take that man as he stands in this world, in the perfect symmetry of human perfection, and unite God with him so that only God is manifested in him, that is not yet God's full ideal of a man, for the man is still in this world.  The ideal of God concerning that man is never met until that man stands at God's right hand in heaven glorified.  O, He has prepared great things for us, and I propose to enjoy them! Yes, sir, I propose to open up and let the wondrous power work and enjoy it as I go.

Read on therefore. "Whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate, to be conformed to the image of his Son,  that he might be the first-born among many brethren." O, "He is not ashamed to call them brethren." "He that sanctifieth and they that are sanctified are all of one." "Moreover, whom he did predestinate, them he also called:  and whom he called [those in whom that call meets its purpose and in whom the call is effective. He calls every soul, that is true on His part, but the call does not meet its purpose; only those who respond and meet the purpose of that call, in whom the call takes hold], them he also justified: and whom he justified [mark, not those who justify themselves, those whom he justified], them he also glorified."

Then do you not see that God's purpose concerning man is not fulfilled until man is glorified? Therefore Jesus came into the world as we do. He took our human nature as we do, by birth. He went through this world in human nature--God dealing with human nature. He went to the cross and died--God dealing with human nature on the cross and in the grave and God raising Him and setting Him at the right hand of God, glorified--that is His eternal purpose. That is God's eternal predestination. That is the plan He has arranged and fixed for you. Will you let Him carry out the plan? We cannot do it. He must. But He has shown His ability to do it. He has proven that. Nobody can dispute that. He has proven His ability to take us and fulfill His purpose concerning human nature, concerning sinful flesh as it is in this world. And I am glad of it.

But see here: "Whom he called, them he also justified; and whom he justified,"--What did He do next? He glorified them. Now a question: those whom He justifies He glorifies; He cannot glorify them until He has justified them. What means, then, this special message of justification that God has been sending these years to the church and to the world? It means that God is preparing to glorify His people. But we are glorified only at the coming of the Lord; therefore, this special message of justification which God has been sending us is to prepare us for glorification at the coming of the Lord. In this, God is giving to us the strongest sign that it is possible for Him to give, that the next thing is the coming of the Lord.

He will prepare us. We cannot prepare ourselves. We tried a long while to justify ourselves, to make ourselves just right, and thus get ready for the coming of the Lord. We have tried to do so well that we could approve ourselves and be satisfied and say, "Now I can meet the Lord." But we never were satisfied. No. It is not done that way. Whom He justified, them He glorified. Now since God justifies, it is His own work, and when He is ready for us to meet the Lord, it will be all right, because it is He Himself who prepares us to meet the Lord.  Therefore, we trust in Him, we yield to Him, and take His justification and, depending only on that, we shall be ready to meet the Lord Jesus whenever God chooses to send Him.

Thus He is preparing now to glorify us. Again I say, It is a fact that we have been content to live too far below the wondrous privileges that God has prepared for us. Let the precious truth raise us to where He wants us.

No master workman looks at a piece of work He is doing, as it is half finished, and criticizes that and begins to find fault with that. There may be faults about it, but it is not finished yet. And while He works on it to take away all the faults still He looks at it as it is in His finished purpose, in His own original plan, in His own mind.

It would be an awful thing if the wondrous Master Workman of all were to look at us as we are half finished and say, That is good for nothing. No, He doesn't do that. He looks at us as we are in His eternal purpose in Christ,  and goes on with His wondrous work. You and I may look at it and say, "I don't see how the Lord is ever going to make a Christian out of me and make me fit for heaven or anything else." That may be so as we see it. And if He looked at us as we look at ourselves and if He were as poor a workman as we, that would be all there could be of it; we could never be of any worth. But He is not such a workman as we and therefore He does not look at us as we see ourselves. No. He looks at us as we are in His finished purpose. Although we may appear all rough,  marred, and scarred now, as we are here and in ourselves, He sees us as we are yonder in Christ.

He is the Workman. And as we have confidence in Him, we will let Him carry on the work, and as He carries it on,  we will look at it as He sees it. Has He not given us an example of His workmanship? God has set before us in Christ His complete workmanship in sinful flesh. In Christ He has completed it and set it there at His right hand.  Now He says to us, "Look at that. That is what I am able to do with sinful flesh. Now you put your confidence in me and let me work and you watch and see what I am going to do. You trust my workmanship. Let me attend to the work and you trust me, and I will carry on the work." It is the Lord doing it all. It is not our task at all.

Now you can go outside of this Tabernacle and look up at that window (referring to the window at the back of the pulpit), and it looks like only a mess of melted glass thrown together, black and unsightly. But come inside and look from within, and you will see it as a beautiful piece of workmanship, and written there in clear texts:  "Justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus"; the law of God written out in full and the words, "Here are they that keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus."

Likewise you and I can look at ourselves as we too often do from the outside and all looks awry, dark, and ungainly, and appears as though it were only a tangled mass. God looks at it from the inside, as it is in Jesus.  And when we are in Jesus and look through the light that God has given us, when we look from the inside as we are in Jesus Christ we shall also see, written in clear texts by the Spirit of God, "Justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." We shall see the whole law of God written in the heart and shining in the life and the words, "Here are they that keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus." All this we shall see in the light of God as that light is reflected and shines in Jesus Christ.

Now I want you to know that this is certainly so. Way back in the Bulletin, bottom of page 182, we have this sentence, "I would that every soul who sees the evidences of the truth"--Do you see them, brethren? Are there not evidences enough here to save us? "I would that every soul who sees the evidences of the truth would accept Jesus Christ as his personal Saviour." Do you take Him now as your personal Saviour in the fullness in which He has revealed Himself where He is and ourselves in Him where He is? Do you? Then read this:

Those who thus accept Christ are looked upon by God not as they are in Adam, but as they are in Jesus Christ,  as the sons and daughters of God.

He looks at us as we are in Christ, for in Him He has perfected His plan concerning us. Are you glad of it? Let us take it in, brethren. O! it does my soul good day by day as the Lord opens up these things! It is just as good to me, as I long for it to be to you, so let us receive it in the fullness of that self-abandoned faith that Jesus Christ has brought to us. Let us take it and thank God for it day by day. Let the power of it work in us, raise us from the dead, and set us at God's right hand in the heavenly places in Jesus Christ, where He sits. Why should we not have a praise meeting for what God has done for us? It is Sabbath. Could we not enjoy it? What do you want to say?