holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling" (Hebrews
we are become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the
beginning of our confidence firm unto the end" (Hebrews
first thing to do is to consider briefly the one word
which is going to stand over all our meditations. It is
the word which occurs in each of the verses above cited:
the word 'partakers'. The Greek word so translated occurs
some five times in this Letter to the Hebrews: 1:9;
3:1,14; 6:4; 12:8. In Luke 5:7 it is translated
'partners', and other translations are 'fellows',
'companions'. There are also other variations of the same
original word or root.
looked carefully into the original meaning I have come to
the conclusion that its truest and deepest meaning is
'companions'. Therefore I have taken this to define and
govern all that we shall consider in these chapters.
'Companions of Christ': 'Companions of a heavenly
idea of 'companions' runs right through the Bible as
being the ultimate thought of God concerning man, and
man's relationship to Him. Behind everything that is
official in relationships to the Lord there is always a
personal element. Think of Abraham! Abraham was a great
servant of the Lord and he served Him very faithfully.
But the deepest thing about Abraham was that he was God's
friend. God spoke of him as "My friend"
(Isaiah 41:8). That carries with it this idea of a
'companion of God'.
was a great servant of the Lord, and the Lord often spoke
of him as 'Moses my servant'. But we know that there was
something deeper in it than that - "The Lord
spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his
friend" (Exodus 33:11). There was a very
intimate relationship between God and Moses and Moses and
God. In reality Moses was a 'companion of the Lord'.
about David? There are many things said about him, but
the greatest was that God said he was a man
"after my heart" (Acts 13:22). That is the
meaning of a companion of the Lord.
Lord Jesus came on to this earth He chose His disciples
and apostles on the basis of companionship. Call them
'disciples', if you like - those who had to enter the
school of Christ and be taught. Call them 'apostles' -
those who were to be sent forth by Him. But the deepest
thing in their relationship to Him was that they were His
companions. Toward the end of their time He said: "Ye
are they which have continued with me in my
temptations" (Luke 22:28). They were His
companions in life and His companions in suffering. He
said: "Ye are my friends" (John
come to the Church, it is not some official,
ecclesiastical institution. That is very cold, very
formal and very distant. But when the Lord speaks about
His Church it is always in terms of love: "The
church of God which he purchased with his own
blood" (Acts 20:28) - "Christ also
loved the church, and gave himself up for it" (Ephesians
5:25). Perhaps we have to recover this idea about the Church:
it is called to be the 'companion of Christ'. Its deepest
relationship with Him is a heart relationship - just to
be His companions in life, in work, in suffering and in
said a word about the idea of companions, let us go on to
think of the purpose of companions. The Bible is a
book of one purpose, and that one purpose lies behind all
its stages and phases. It lies behind creation, behind
divine foreknowledge, behind election, behind the persons
whom God chose, behind all the movements of God through
the Bible, behind all the figures and all the types and
behind the three main sections of the Old Testament - the
section of priesthood, followed by the section on
kingship and then followed by the section of the
prophets. Those three sections comprise the Old Testament
and this one purpose lies behind everything in the Old
Testament. God is revealed in the Bible as a God of
purpose, and every movement in His sovereignty is
governed by this one purpose.
this one purpose in and through all? It is centred in
God's Son. In all things God had His Son alone in view.
The 'all things' is a very comprehensive term, but all is
comprehended in God's Son. As we are going to dwell very
much in this Letter to the Hebrews, take note of this
very factor at the beginning of it.
first great statement is concerning all God's past ways
and methods. In times past God moved by this means and
that means, in this way and that way, but at the end of
those times He concentrates all in His Son. He gathers
all that up together and focuses it in His Son. The Son
of God comprehends the whole of the Old Testament and all
God's ways in the Old Testament. To emphasize that, this
Letter goes on through the first two chapters to bring
the greatness of God's Son into view. You know the
wonderful things said about God's Son in the first
chapter. Here is the One who is above all others, who
comprehends all else in the thought of God.
interest in His Son is brought before us right at the
beginning, and the declaration is that God's purposes are
all centred in His Son. That Son is now known unto men as
Jesus Christ. But the point here is this: Having
introduced and presented the Son, and having magnified
Him, the Holy Spirit, through the writer, goes on in this
way (and there ought to be no break in chapters here)
'Wherefore - for this reason, because of this, because of
God's purpose concerning His Son, because of the infinite
greatness of the Son, greater than all others and all
else - holy brethren, you are called into companionship
with God's Son and companionship in the heavenly calling
of God's Son.'
to our third point in this connection. There are two
principles related to divine purpose throughout the
Bible. The first is what we have just pointed out: God
works ever and always and only in relation to His
purpose. The statement of the Apostle Paul about God is:
"(He) worketh all things after the counsel of his
will" (Ephesians 1:11), and that will is
centred in His Son. He therefore works ever, always and
only in relation to His Son.
Bible contains almost uncountable things. What a great
mass of things there are in the Bible! Things
which God created and things which God used. And then
what a lot of persons there are that God laid His hand
upon! A whole multitude of them. And then how many are
the different ways that God went to realize His purpose!
The ways of God are very many. The means that He employed
- the Bible is just full of these things. And then we
have God's blessings. God is very often found blessing
people and blessing things. On the other hand, there are
the judgments of God. He is a God of judgment and the
Bible contains many of the judgments. But when we have
said all that (and, of course, we could never really
comprehend all that - this Book is always far, far too
big for us!), not one of these things, persons, means
used, blessings or judgments or anything else is a thing
in itself. If God is the God of creation, if He chooses
men, if He uses things, if He blesses or judges, He
always does so with one object in view. He created all
things for His Son. That is a definite Bible statement.
He took hold of these persons with His Son in view. It
was so with Abraham, and through Abraham we come to God's
Son, 'after the flesh'.
let us be content with making the statement. If God
blessed, it was because that thing stood right in line
with His Son's interests. If we want the blessing of the
Lord we must get alongside of the Lord Jesus and be
wholly committed to Him. The Father never sees us apart
from the Lord Jesus, and it is in Him that the
blessing of God is to be found. If the Bible has much to
say about divine judgments - and how much is said by the
prophets about the judgments of God! - it is
because things then were contrary to His interests in His
Son. God always keeps His eye focused upon His one object
and that object is His Son. God wastes nothing. He is not
just interested in little things as such. The little
things become very big things with God when they are
related to His Son. Are you a very little person? Very
unimportant? If you are vitally related to His Son God
looks upon you as very important. But it is not your
importance, nor mine. It is the importance of His Son.
true about any faithful school-teacher. I suppose all of
us have been to school and have had our schoolteachers,
and some of us in our school-days did want to stand well
with our teachers. We tried to please them because we
wanted to be happy with our teachers and we wanted to get
all that the teachers could do for us. But my
recollection of school-masters is this: They did not have
me in view. The only thing they had in view where
I was concerned was how their object was going to be
realized. They had to have good scholars who passed
examinations and came out top, and everything that they
thought of related to that end. Sometimes they would be
very pleasant to me, and then I thought 'What a good boy
am I!' Sometimes it was the other way and I knew
something about the judgments of school-teachers! Now
this was not because they liked me or disliked me. What
they really did like was the end when the examinations
came, and everything about me was looked at in the light
of the one object.
do not like to call God a school-master, the principle is
the same. He is looking at us in the light of His Son:
'How does that man or that woman answer to My thought
about My Son? How much of My Son is there in that man or
in that woman?' Later we shall see how God works on that
ground; but note: this is a principle in God's purpose.
That leads us to the second principle.
God is a God of purpose, ever moving in relation to that
purpose, going on, no matter what happens, with His
purpose, working on the ground of His own sovereign
lordship, no man being able to prevent Him, He is going
to reach His end. That is why He has given us the Book of
the Revelation. Before we reach the end He has told us
what it is going to be like. His purpose is going to be
realized. Nevertheless, He keeps to this other principle
- He always retains man in a place of responsibility. He
never lets man off from responsibility. Why is that?
Because His purpose in His Son is to be realized in man,
the great, corporate man in which Christ is to have His
fullness. Christ is not going to realize God's purpose
alone. He will not be in glory just as one isolated unit.
So we come back to our verse: "Holy brethren, companions
of a heavenly calling... we are become companions of
Christ, if we hold fast....."
says that the Church is "the fullness of him that
filleth all in all" (Ephesians 1:23). Hence
there is a responsibility resting upon man, and no book
in the Bible emphasizes that more than the Letter to the
Hebrews. In that connection this Letter is one of the
most terrible Letters in the Bible. On the one side it is
the most glorious thing, and on the other side it is the
most terrible thing. We shall be seeing that more fully
as we go on.
point it is very important for us to recognize another
matter, and this is what comes out in this Letter.
Indeed, it is going to be the thing which governs all our
consideration through these days. If God takes up a
vessel in relation to His purpose - it may be
individuals, or it may be a company of people, like
Israel, or like the men whom God took up in the Bible -
and that vessel does not respond to God's will, God will
pass by that vessel and find another. He will call in
others to take its place.
greatest instance of this is seen in Israel. God chose
Israel to be the vessel through which He would bring in
His Son. Israel was called and chosen of God in relation
to His Son and His purpose in His Son. And what did
Israel do with God's Son? They refused Him, and therefore
they refused God's purpose, so God put them aside and
passed on. Jesus said: "The kingdom of God shall
be taken away from you, and shall be given to a nation
bringing forth the fruits thereof" (Matthew
the very meaning of the Letter to the Hebrews, as we
shall see. No one can say of Israel now: 'They are the
companions of Christ.' Israel was once the companion of
God, but the companion of God failed God.
lot of light this throws upon the fact that the Lord
Jesus called Judas amongst the twelve! He was one of the
twelve, called to be a companion, and he betrayed his
Lord. Israel was called to be the companion of God and
and Christ, and Israel betrayed the Son of God - a
companion set aside, rejected, while God goes on with His
purpose and brings in others to take Israel's place.
explains the wonderful Letter to the Hebrews. It is the
Letter of the place and of the greatness of Jesus Christ.
It sets forth the wonder of being called to be a
companion of Christ, and then it makes it so clear what a
terrible thing it is for those who are called to be
companions to fail the Lord. It says: "How shall
we escape, if we neglect so great salvation?"
(Hebrews 2:3). You can never understand that phrase
'so great salvation' until you understand what it means
to be a companion of Christ. Is there anything greater
than being a companion of Jesus Christ? When you think of
who He is, and of all that God has purposed concerning
Him - and then to think that you and I are called to be
companions of that Son of God! That is indeed a very
great salvation! It is the 'so great salvation'.
spent our time just going round this one word
'companion'. The New Testament is built around that one
word and around the one idea of companions of Christ.
Christ is first seen choosing His companions, and then He
is seen teaching them by word and by deed. Then He is
seen testing and sifting them. Are they true companions?
Or are they only associated with Him for what they are
going to get from Him? You can have plenty of companions
if you give them everything and if they can get all that
they want from you. But what about the day when you can
give them nothing but suffering? And persecution, and
everything that is against their natural interests? You
can only offer them a place in the Father's house! So He
sifted them, He tested them, on more than one occasion it
is said "... many of his disciples went back, and
walked no more with him" (John 6:66).
Companionship is something which is tested and sifted
through adversity. So if you have an extra lot of testing
and of suffering in your relationship with Christ,
remember that He is seeking to have us as His closest
companions, in fellowship with Himself, not only in His
glory, but in His sufferings.
relationship with Christ is on the basis of fellowship.
Oneness in life, in purpose, in experience, in
discipline, in death, burial and resurrection, in
anointing and then, at last, oneness with Him in His
realize that Jesus is repeating Himself in a spiritual
way in this dispensation. When Luke wrote the book of the
Acts, he commenced with these words: "All that
Jesus began both to do and to teach" (Acts
1:1). His implication was: 'I am now going to write what
He is going on doing and teaching. It is the same Jesus.
He is doing the same work and doing the same things - but
there is a difference. Before it was by illustration in a
temporal way. Now it is the meaning of those things in a
spiritual way. The meaning that was in the things then is
now in what He is doing with us in a spiritual way. Did
He open physically blind eyes? He is now opening
spiritually blind eyes, and that is much more important.'
same Jesus is going on with the same work in meaning now
with you and with me. He is repeating His earthly life in
a spiritual way. He is more on the line of meaning than
of acts now.
we say that? Well, when we were children we used to sing
a hymn (and I think when we are grown up we often feel
think when I read that sweet story of old,
When Jesus was here among men,
How He called little children as lambs to His fold:
I should like to have been with them then!"
feel that you would have liked to have lived with Him
then, on the earth? Is that the best thing that you can
think about? Let me tell you that you have something far
better than that now! That same Jesus is with us, but,
oh! on a much more wonderful basis than He was then. And
we are called now to be companions of Christ and
companions of the heavenly calling. His dealings with us,
perhaps, are far more real because they are spiritual and
eternal, while His dealings when He was on earth were
only physical, and for the time being. It is a good thing
to look after people's bodies and to help them in this
life, but there is something very much more than that. It
is that heavenly calling, that which is eternal, that
which will not pass as our life work when time is no more
- "Wherefore, holy brethren, companions of a
heavenly calling... we are become companions of Christ if
we hold fast".
is only by way of laying a foundation. As the Lord helps
we shall build on that foundation.