We have now reached so far on
in our consideration as to make wise and profitable a brief
review before we take the next specific steps.
We began these meditations by
noting that the Bible focuses everything upon a primal rift and
rupture in Heaven and then on earth, or, before the present
created order and after.
The cause of that universal
rupture is shown to be insubordination to the will of God;
independent action, issuing from a desire for superiority,
ascendency, and power. This is the evil brood of pride: arrogance
While there may be no specific
statement to this effect or conclusion, there is much in
Scripture to lead us to conclude that it was the 'appointment' of
God's Son as "heir of all things" that were to be
created that inspired this jealous revolt, and resulted in the
long-term bitter enmity of Satan against that Son, and, since He
could not be seduced, ultimately led to His murder.
We have defined all this as the
fall out from God. Whereas, originally, there was but one realm,
the realm of God, through the rupture there became two realms,
and these in perpetual hostility to each other.
God, the Father, had horizoned
everything by His Son, and, henceforth, everything of God was to
have the Son as its sphere. So, the Son would be the measure,
range, scope, nature, and constitution of all that is of God.
When we have recognized the
eternal fact we have the key to the Bible, to history, and to
There follows the twofold work
of God "concerning his Son".
(a) The judgment, discipline,
and undoing of the infected and disordered creation, particularly
(b) The reconstruction,
reconstituting, and conforming of men of faith to the image of
This is foreshadowed in God's
sovereign choice of, and dealings with, Israel - the seed of
Abraham. Israel was elected as the channel through which God
would eventually bring His Son into this world, and - through
redemption - ultimately 'reunite all things in Christ'. Mark you
it is only in Christ that this will be effected, and the Bible
shows that the ultimate "all things" will be
exclusively those who have re-entered Christ by faith, not force.
Thus "when the fulness of the time came, God sent forth his
Son", and He as transfigured and glorified was to be, and
now is, the full embodiment of all that is to be universal when
the last vestige of revolt and revolters has been banished.
Having followed this horizoning
of Christ up to His Transfiguration, we take up the matter at
The Transfiguration followed
closely upon the plain and unequivocal statement by Jesus
regarding His death at Jerusalem, and the shattering effect of
that statement on the disciples. The Cross and the
Transfiguration go together hand in hand. Both in the
announcement made to them, and in the conversation of Moses and
Elijah on the mount, this is seen to be the case. They are
mutually interpretive. The Cross is the way to the glory. The
glory will justify the Cross.
In, and by, the Transfiguration
the ultimate destiny of redeemed man is horizoned by "the
Son of man" as such.
At the time it was but the act
without any teaching or explanation. The disciples were still men
in the flesh, as the Lord's so-recent rebuke to Peter shows, the
mystery of ultimate destiny and glory would be one of those
things referred to by the Lord when He said, "I have many
things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now". Not
only would it be impossible for the natural man to understand the
deep things of God, to speak of them to such would be to put them
under too big a responsibility. These things need more than
natural wisdom to 'discern', and to 'bear'.
Paul makes this very plain at
the beginning of his first Corinthian letter. Only when there are
"spiritual men" to 'judge spiritual things' can the
Lord speak freely and fully. So, it was but the act of
Transfiguration and not the meaning. But the act left an abiding
and unforgettable impression, as seen in Peter's letter so long
When the Spirit had come, and
there were men born of the Spirit - a "new creation in
Christ" (2 Cor. 5:17), then the meaning of the
Transfiguration could be disclosed. The Spirit then 'takes the
things of Christ and shows them', so that in 1 Corinthians 15 we
have this meaning given. There it is revealed that Christ risen
and glorified is the Horizon of redeemed men - in body as well as
in spirit - in transfiguration. In his second letter to Corinth,
chapter 3 verse 18, Paul follows this up with an application to
believers. "Like unto his glorious body" is the key to
the Transfiguration, so far as we are concerned.
We are not forgetting the
so-vital aspect of the Transfiguration to Jesus Himself. That it
marked a climax in His life and ministry here, we have seen. For
Himself and His personal relationship with His Father everything
was "well-pleasing" - "In whom I am well
pleased". The Father's satisfaction with His Son personally
was perfect, and the glory was His personal right and due
then and there. But, if He had gone through to glory then He
would not have been the Horizon of the redeemed, for redemption
was not yet accomplished. It has been pointed out that the words
"Who, for the joy that was set before him, endured the
cross, despising shame" can be rightly translated "Who instead
of the joy set before him [as His own right] endured..."
Jesus had not to go to the Cross to get His own glory, but
to get ours, and to become our Horizon in glory.
There is this touch of finality
in the Transfiguration. Nothing had been made perfect - complete
- up till then. That is the meaning of the appearance of Moses
and Elijah with Him in the mount. They respectively represent the
Law and the Prophets, a term which is used to embrace the whole
of the Old Testament. They made nothing perfect, and their own
perfecting awaited the coming, the Cross, and the resurrection of
Christ - "apart from us they should not be made
perfect" (Hebrews 11:40).
Perhaps it would be giving too
much play to imagination to try to define the ecstasy of Moses
and Elijah on that mount. They must have felt - 'This is what we
have waited for for so long. This is the crown of all our hopes,
labours, sufferings, and the vindication of our faith.'
Glory was certainly at hand for
our Lord as His personal right, but what of the "many sons"?
The servant-spirit must again triumph, and so, He goes down from
the mountain to the Cross. Not for Himself but for the sake of
others were the Cross and the shame, but through that the way is
opened to the still greater glory.
Horizon of the Resurrection
This is a vast and
comprehensive matter, with limitless prospects. These, in detail,
it is not our intention to consider; we keep to the one
all-comprehending reality - the Son of God as God's universal
The Resurrection brings that
into view in a supreme way. There are three aspects of this.
(1) The changed condition and
position of Christ by resurrection.
(2) The essential meaning and
nature of the Church.
(3) The representation of man
as he will be in the full meaning of the resurrection in the
(1) The changed condition
and position of Christ.
Resurrection is not
resuscitation. There is an essential difference from what He was
before. This difference is too manifest in His appearances to
He has a body, real and
touchable, yet with capacities and abilities beyond anything
known in our material world. Walls and doors; miles and time have
no significance to this body. His knowledge is not by
surmise, guess, or information, but, like true spiritual
knowledge, it is intuitive. To try to describe it would only be
to become more mystified. The theophanies of the Old Testament
help in the matter of reality, but we are left to prove that
reality by a knowing in spirit how truly He is alive now. He
is the same, but different, and the difference is the great
blessing of all believers in every part of the world.
The life given by Him is a
deathless and indestructible life. It is a supernaturally
intelligent life, i.e. a life which gives an intelligence which
the profoundest scholarship cannot attain unto. It is a life
which supports through superhuman adversities and sufferings.
(2) The essential meaning
and nature of the Church.
Speaking of the
Church, let us at once make it clear that we refer to the Church
which was born on the Day of Pentecost and is the Church of the
New Testament. To describe this is to make distinctions clear.
The Church takes its character
from Christ risen. It is referred to as that which is 'risen
together with Christ'. It is as truly a miracle as was His
resurrection. It is a supernatural entity.
If Christ in resurrection can
only be known spiritually, i.e., in a spiritual way by the Holy
Spirit's revelation, that is also true of the true Church. It is
inscrutable, it is a "mystery". Although it may have
embodiment in human life it is not a temporal thing. If we had
lived in the first days of the Church we should not have been
able to identify it by special buildings, dress, ritual, liturgy,
or such externals. While certain language and ways of life may
have characterized it, the thing that marked it out most clearly
was its life. This was a living entity. There was a life in it
which was a spiritual power, a spiritual beauty, a spiritual joy,
a spiritual influence. This was a self-propagating and
The one impression registered
upon people who came into contact with it was this livingness,
and triumphant livingness. If asked to explain it, the answer
would invariably and exultingly be 'Jesus lives, and He lives
within us and in the midst of us.'
If Christ was raised by the
power of God, so the Church survived the most terrible ordeals of
persecution and manifold suffering, went on its way overcoming
immense difficulties, by reason of that same power. It was the
embodiment of "the power of his resurrection".
Again, if in resurrection
Christ was released from merely local and geographical
limitations, the very life and progress of the Church had to be
universal. Local testimonies and representations there would be,
but only of the universality of Christ. The local is never the
horizon in the New Testament. Christ risen, ascended, and
reigning was the Horizon, and the Holy Spirit saw to it that when
He was really in charge, the vision and passion was to the
fullest compass of Christ. In the thought of God, nothing was to
be smaller than Christ.
These are but a few statements
of facts. A very big volume would be required in which to do
justice to the true nature of the Church.
(3) The representation of
man in his ultimate resurrection body.
The Apostle Paul states
precisely that the body of the believer in whom Christ dwells
will be changed, and the new body will be "like unto his
glorious body" or "body of glory". The
Resurrection links with the Transfiguration. "This
corruptible must put on incorruption" (1 Cor. 15:53).
Christ in resurrection is the
norm of what will be true of all born-anew children of God when
redemption is consummated. This is the issue of all the travail
in the groaning creation, the adoption of sons, the redemption of
our bodies (Rom. 8:22,23).
All this resolves itself into
certain very obvious things.
If the Resurrection of Christ
is the supreme demonstration of Divine power, as the Word says it
is, namely, "the exceeding greatness of his power"
(Eph. 1:19), then the very great power of sin, Satan, and the
world against the Church is transcended by the risen Christ who
dwells within. If the death of Christ is the expression of the
great people are gathered together, the kings of the power of sin
and evil, His resurrection is in power "exceeding".
On one side of human history,
death is the most powerful force in creation. The unceasing and
unrelenting battle in man and in nature is with death.
The testimony of Jesus raised
from the dead is that this most powerful force has been destroyed
in Him personally. The Church is the elect Body in which that
testimony is meant to be deposited and demonstrated; "Glory
in the church by Christ Jesus" (Eph. 3:21). The Resurrection
was - and is - the release of that mighty life which, until then,
had been in Him alone, and its transmission to, and residence in,
the Church which is His Body, a life shared with Him organically
and corporately. The vocation of the Church is to be, in itself,
a testimony to the power of that life, and a vehicle through
which the life is passed on to others. Thus, Christ as "the
Living one", in the power of resurrection, is the Horizon of
all things in the energies and activities of the Holy Spirit, the
Spirit of Life.
The next peak is very near,
indeed it is joined to this one by a very narrow neck. It is the
Ascension and Exaltation.
There are some twenty-five
references to this in the New Testament. This is the climax of
the cycle from emptying to filling, from humbling to glorifying.
It is also a climax in His mission and work.
Keeping in view the inclusive
truth of Christ as the Horizon of all things we can see some of
the major "all things" in this particular connection.
Out of these all else will issue.
Inclusively, the Horizon is
enthroned, and is therefore all-governing. We have mentioned that
the characteristic definition of Christianity - "In
Christ" - is finally a governing definition. That means that
it governs everything.
Here then we see
Psalm 24 is the psalm of the
ascended triumphant Lord; it celebrates His re-entry into glory.
Verse 7 describes this King of Glory as "the Lord mighty in
battle". Therefore, His enthronement is the enthronement of
victory in battle. Here, then, the Horizon is seen in all its
There is the far-back view
reaching to the revolt in Heaven and then on earth, and all the
following entail of rebellion. There is the far-round view,
earthly and cosmic - 'the heathen rage, the earth take counsel'
(Ps. 2:1,2; Acts 4:25,26); 'principalities, and powers;
world-rulers of this darkness; hosts of wicked spirits in the
heavenlies' (Eph. 6:12). There is the far-on look, unto the day
when "he shall come whose right it is, and it shall be given
unto him" (Ezek. 21:27), when He is present as "King of
kings and Lord of lords". That universal triumph is with Him
as "by the right hand of God exalted" (Acts 2:33).
Here is the counterpart of the
Transfiguration. The symbol covering this is 'the Lamb in the
midst of the Throne'.
Christ enthroned means:-
(a) Redemption from the authority of darkness - 'He led His
captivity captive' (Ps. 118:18; Eph. 4:8).
(b) Redemption from all
iniquity. This (as, the root-meaning of the word 'iniquity'
means) is redemption from complicity with, and involvement in,
(c) Redemption 'unto God' (Rev.
It is the return into God as
the true environment and life.
is Man's Perfection Enthroned
He was made "perfect
through sufferings" (Heb. 2:10), and presented to God
"without blemish" (Heb. 9:14). He was the Priest and
the Sacrifice, sinless and perfect, spotless and complete. As
Priest in Heaven - "...a priest upon his throne" (Zech.
6:13) - He makes intercession prevailingly because of His own
He is where He is
representatively of all 'whom He sanctifies'. He is the
Firstfruits of our perfection.
We are to be "glorified
with him" if "we suffer with him" (Rom. 8:17). He,
the Son, is "bringing many sons unto glory"
(Heb. 2:10). His glorification is the guarantee of ours.
Thus, Christ exalted and
enthroned is not just an objective truth, but the Horizon within
which the Holy Spirit is at work to bring us to "reign
together with him" (2 Timothy 2:12).