Lord, how is it?
Such was the question that had arisen in the heart of Judas, not Iscariot.
To him there was an element of mystery in what the Lord had just told them. He believed, but did not understand. Hence, the inquiry: Lord, how is it?
Jesus had spoken words of comfort to them with a view to His departure from them. He was going to the house of many mansions, His Father’s house, and He would prepare a place for them there. And He would come again, when the place was prepared, to take them with Him, that they also might be where He would be. And in the meantime He would not leave them orphans. He would come to them. A little while yet and He would depart out of this world into the world of heavenly and unseen things, hid from the carnal eyes of the world. Then the world would see Him no more. But they, His disciples, would see Him, for He lives and they would live also.
To them, therefore, He would manifest Himself, while the world would not see Him!
Upon this Judas, not Iscariot, pondered.
He would fain grasp this truth. He felt that here was comfort indeed. Vaguely he realized that this was some other form of manifestation, of fellowship of the Lord with them, that would more than comfort them for the present departure of their beloved Master.
But still the thing was strange, new, mysterious, beyond his comprehension.
Hence, the eager query: Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us and not unto the world? How shall these things be?
God in Christ will make His abode, with us!
That is the answer to Judas’ question. This dwelling of God with us in Christ is the new form of manifestation of Christ, in which the world cannot share, which is for them only that love Him and are beloved of the Father!
We will come unto him and make our abode with him! Glorious blessing!
There is a figure of speech in these words. It is the figure of home life. God will dwell with us, will make His home with us, will receive us into the intimacy of His own divine family life! That is the meaning of His making His abode with us.
A home is more than a mere house. Let a man possess ever so splendid a house, situated in the loveliest beauty-spot on this earth, surrounded by all the glorious loveliness nature can furnish, where murmuring brooks meander through sunny lowlands and shady woods, where flowers bloom in rich variety of colors and birds chirp and warble sweetly in the early morning; let his house be decorated with all the splendor modern art can create and be supplied with all the conveniences of modern invention; let his estate surpass in splendor that which the Fourteenth of the Louis’s established for himself in Versailles; let him be surrounded by a veritable army of servants that move at his bidding,—yet, if he have nothing more, he cannot boast of possessing a home!
He has a mere house, beautiful yet cold, splendid yet bare, glorious to behold yet without attraction. . . .
But enter now the simple dwelling of the poor where love unites the hearts of the family that make their abode there. There is no splendor here. Everything you see testifies that they who dwell here must be satisfied with the merest necessities of existence.
The house is crowded in between similar dwellings in the street, the rooms are small, the walls are bare, the furniture is simple. But here dwell father and mother with their children in the intimacy of love. Here you find peace, mutual confidence, friendship, fellowship, delight in one another’s presence, a seeking of one another’s well-being, hearts united in the harmony of love!
Home, sweet home!
Such is the figure!
Not, indeed, as if Father’s house, when all things shall be ready and the place shall fully be prepared, and the heavenly tabernacle of God shall forever be with man, and He shall have made all things new, shall not also be beautiful. It shall surpass all the glory that man can ever create, it shall be far superior to whatsoever eye hath seen or ear hath heard or hath entered into the heart of man. Every earthly figure is inadequate to represent the heavenly glory of that house!
But this external beauty, though it properly belongs to the realization of Father’s dwelling place with His people, is not its essence!
This essence of the house is in the perfect realization of the idea of the home! We will come unto him and make our abode with him! God’s home with us! It means that the glorious, infinite, ever-blessed God will receive us into the sphere of His own blessed family-life; that He will love us and make us taste His love in heavenly perfection; that He will establish that relation of intimacy between Himself and us in which He will open all His heart and mind to us and make Himself known to us according to the utmost capacity of the created that bears His image; that He will have no secrets for us and we will have no secrets for Him; that He will put all our confidence in Him and He will trust us; that He will make us taste the blessedness of His own glorious life; that we will see Him face to face and know Him even as we are known; that He will walk with us, call us evermore His sons and daughters, speak to us face to face as a friend with his friend; that He will always make us say: “O, my God! Abba, Father!”
Thus it will be in eternal, heavenly perfection!
And thus it is, in spiritual principle even now!
The new manifestation, which is not for the world, but for them that love Him!
For, even now He came unto us and made His abode with us, according to the promise of Christ. He came to us, sinners, guilty, damnable in ourselves, to us, who would not come to Him, who foolishly hated Him, fled away from Him, hid ourselves, our all, from Him! He came as the God of our salvation, in all the beauty of His holiness and righteousness and mercy and grace. He came to us with the forgiveness of sins, with the gift of perfect righteousness, his own righteousness, with the grace of adoption unto children, with the beginning of eternal life. . . .
And we received Him! O, yes, we received Him, when He made us the objects of His wonderful grace!
O, wonder of grace, we opened our hearts to Him, because He made us!
And we hid nothing from Him anymore!
No, nothing! Even our sins, our foolishness, our wickedness, our transgressions we confessed!
And we confess them daily, because we have our delight in Him, are truly sorry after God, and are eager to please Him!
And always He forgives!
And always He clothes us anew with His own righteousness!
And always He calls us His sons!
God’s abode with us!
Our God in Christ!
He it is that will come, that did now come to make His abode with us.
For, notice, that the Lord says: We will come and make our abode with him. And this “we” evidently refers to the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
And this coming and abiding with us of the Father and Christ constitutes the new manifestation of our Lord, of which He had been speaking, which is only for them that love Him and keep His Word, and cannot be for the world. For the world loves Him not and keepeth not His commandments!
But how must we conceive of this coming of the Father and of Christ to us?
How shall they make their abode with us? Are there, then, two that will come to dwell with us? And who is the Father? What is the relation between this Father and our Lord Jesus Christ? Is it, then, the meaning of these words of the Savior, that the Father, as the First Person of the holy and blessed Trinity, and the Son, as the Second Person of the glorious Threeness, will make their abode with us? But how could this be? And where, then, would be the blessed Spirit as the Third Person of the divine family?
Clearly, this cannot be the meaning.
Rather must we understand the Father to be the Triune God, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who for His sake is also our God and Father. He it is that will come to us and make His home with us and spread His tabernacle over us and receive us into His own blessed family life. But He will do so through Jesus Christ, our Lord. When the Lord says: “We will come and make our abode with Him,” the meaning is, that Christ will come unto us and will dwell with us and in us, and in Him and through Him it will be the ever blessed God, as the God of our salvation that will establish that blessed relation of covenant friendship with us, in which we shall know Him even as we are known.
For, Christ is the revelation of the Father!
Outside of Christ there is no manifestation of the ever blessed God as our Father and Friend, in Whom we may confide, with Whom we may have fellowship, to Whom we may flee for refuge, Whom we would seek.
For, God is a consuming fire for guilty sinners such as we. Him we do not seek, but flee far from Him. To Him we do not open our hearts, but from Him we would hide ourselves, even though the rocks must fall upon us and the mountains cover us. . . .
But Christ is the manifestation of the God of our salvation! In Christ the Father came to us! For, He is the eternal son, the express image of the Father, the effulgence of the Father’s glory, God of God, blessed forever! And He came to us, sent by the Father, according to His eternal purpose, in the likeness of sinful flesh, in the form of a servant, like unto His brethren in all things, sin excepted. He came to us, reaching out for us, in our sin and darkness and death, through the awful cross, where He took upon Himself our sins and our iniquities, and with them stood in the place of judgment in the terrible “hour,” that He might bear our transgressions away forever. And then He departed again, went away from us, through the resurrection from the dead, into the glory of the heavens, in the bosom of the Father, receiving the glory which He had with the Father, before the world was. But He went away with the right to take us with Him, to come to us again, that He might abide with us forever. And He did come again. For, He received the promise of the Spirit. And in that Spirit He came and manifested Himself to us, and not unto the world, and made His abode with us. . . .
And that coming was the promise fulfilled: “we will come and make our abode with him”!
God, the Father, through Christ Jesus our Lord!
The Christ of the Scriptures!
For that Christ of the Scriptures is the full and only manifestation of the Father as the God of our salvation!
In Him we know the Father!
In His face we see the God of our salvation from whom, we have no secrets, and with Whom we may have the blessed covenant fellowship of friendship.
That is why there is no knowledge of Him, as long is we are in this world, and no experience of His abode with us, except through the Scriptures.
Until earthly things shall pass away.
Then, we shall be like Him.
And see Him as He is!
How is it, Lord?
How shall it be, that Thou wilt manifest Thyself unto us, and not unto the world?
And the answer: this manifestation is possible only in the sphere of the light of love!
If a man love me, he will keep my words, and the Father will love him. If a man love me not, he will not keep my sayings, and my Word is the Father’s Word, and if a man keep not the Fathers’ Word, He will not love him and cannot make His abode with him!
Yes, such is love!
If a man love me, he will keep my words!
Love is not a vague, sentimental feeling, a matter of the emotions, expressing itself in smile or tear, vanishing under stress as the fleecy morning-clouds before the rising sun. It is a matter of the deep heart, a matter of the mind and of the will, expressing itself in delight in the words of Christ, in keeping His commandments, in walking in His way, in hatred of and sorrow over sin, in true repentance, in an earnest desire and endeavor to walk, not only according to some, but according to all His precepts. . . .
O, say not that you love Him when you walk in darkness!
For, “he that loveth Me keepeth My words!”
And say not, that the Father in Christ came to you and made His abode with you, if you do not walk in that active love! If you do, you are a liar. For, “if a man love me and keep my words, then the Father will love him and we will come unto him and make our abode with him!”
But, what then?
How shall these things be? Must we, then, love Him first, in order that we may make ourselves worthy of His love, or receptive unto His love? Must we first prepare our hearts as a suitable abode for Him, before He will come and receive us into His home? God forbid! Love is always of God! He loves us first! Our love is but the return to Him of His own love! He loved us in the blood of the cross, while we were still enemies!
Yet, the sphere of love, created within us by Himself in our hearts, is the only sphere in which He will dwell with us!
And in the way of keeping His Word we taste His blessed fellowship!
Here in small beginning!
Soon in heavenly fulness!