26 February 1957 at Tainan,
Well, dear friends, I cannot say
what brother Madsen has just said to us, for this is not my
first time with you, I am an old friend, or shall I say you are
my old friends and I am very glad to be with you again for this
little time. Now I am going to tell you something that may
surprise you. Many of your faces have been seen in England, in
America, and in Denmark. Perhaps you wonder how that can be?
Well, you know friends, when I was here last time, quite a
number of pictures were taken in this hall and I took them back
to England first of all, and I showed them on the screen to
brothers and sisters in London. The result has been that they
have been praying for you ever since they looked on your faces
and they think they know you. And every week they pray for you
there in London.
Then I took those pictures to Denmark and I showed them to a large company of about eight hundred people. So there are about eight hundred people in Denmark who have seen your faces. And after I had shown them the pictures, there was a wonderful pouring out of prayer for you and one of the results, is that our brother and sister Madsen are here. And then I took the pictures to America and the same thing happened there. So you are well known all over the world, and I hope that is not only a matter of interest, I hope that will be a great encouragement to you here.
You are in this city and perhaps you sometimes feel that you are very much apart from the world, perhaps you think of this island as one of the little islands far away from the rest of the world; but you are living your life here, you are seeking to serve the Lord here, and sometimes perhaps you feel very lonely. You may feel that you are just a few people on a little island far away. Well, as I have just said to you, and will show you, that is not true, for you are really a part of a very big family and you have many brothers and sisters all over the world praying for you. I hope that news brings some encouragement to you.
You know, sometimes when I have been travelling far away from home and things have been very difficult, I have often turned to the Lord in prayer and I have said, "Lord, there are many people praying for me, and here by faith I take the answer to their prayers." You know, so often as I pray like that, I have felt altogether different. It is just as though their prayers are answered in that very minute. When you are having a difficult time here, you just remind the Lord that those people in London, and in Denmark, and in America are praying for you, and you say that by faith you take the answer to their prayer, and I am sure that you will feel better. Now that is all by way of preparation, although it may be helpful.
We are not here to talk about what we are doing, but we are here to talk about the Lord Jesus. It is He who alone can really help us. I do not propose to give you an address this morning, but for this little time that we have together, I am just going to talk to you, and when our time is gone I will stop. I want to talk to you out of what I think is one of the most wonderful parts of the Bible. It is a part of the Bible which has so much in it, that we can never, never exhaust it.
Some of us have read this very many times, but whenever we come to it again, we always feel that we have not yet got to the bottom of it. You are wondering what it is, well let me tell you at once, it is in the gospel by John, chapter 17. I just want to tell you what it is about that chapter without turning to it. It is that wonderful prayer of our Lord Jesus to His Father. You notice how it begins:-
"These Words Spake Jesus..."
clause takes us back over the past chapters. Over all those
chapters Jesus has been speaking to His disciples. He has been
trying to pour out His heart to them, so we have these wonderful
chapters from chapter 13 to chapter 16.
All that Jesus was trying to say to His disciples, He was not finding easy. He told them that He had many things to say to them, but they could not bear it yet. He meant that there were many things in His heart, but He was unable to say them, but we are all very glad that He did say what He said. But then He came to a point where He felt He could say no more, and now He wanted to pray. I wonder if you ever feel like that when you have been ministering. You feel you have a lot of things in your heart, you want to say it, but you cannot get it out, and you say, "Well, we must pray about it..." and you find your relief in prayer.
So Jesus suddenly stopped talking to the disciples and turned to His Father and began to talk to Him. He had no difficulty there. In this prayer we have a wonderful fullness of the heart of the Lord Jesus. It will take you a very long time to just understand all the things that Jesus said in that prayer. You see, in talking with His Father, He had no difficulty at all. He could just pour out His heart. And although the disciples did not understand what He had been saying, He knew quite well that the Father understood what He was saying. It is a wonderful thing to have someone who understands, someone to whom you can just open your heart freely, and that is what is in this prayer; the Lord Jesus is talking to His Father. He knows that the Father understands, and so He can just quite freely express Himself.
Now, when we look at this prayer, we want to find what is the very heart of it. Is there some little part of this prayer which is the key to everything else? I think there is. And I think the key to it all is in verse 4. You have got your Bibles before you, you will find the key to this whole prayer in that verse, "I have glorified Thee on the earth; I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do." And so we ask a question, but before this you see that statement has two halves to it. How did Jesus glorify the Father on the earth? And then we ask another question: what was the work that Jesus was given by the Father and that He finished? The answers to those questions could be a very great help to us if we understand them.
How Did Jesus Glorify the Father on the Earth?
What do you think would most glorify God? Of course, that is a big question. I can't expect you to answer that right at the moment. The answer to that question covers such a lot of ground. We have to look right at the beginning of the Bible to find the beginning of the answer there. We are told of how God created man and the Bible tells us why God created man.
I wonder if you know why God created man? Well, there is one little, simple, answer. God created man for His own glory. God intended man to be a representation of Himself. This is what was said when God created man, "And God said, Let us make man in our own image and after our own likeness". Man was made to be an expression of God. So that when you looked at man, you would see what God is like and you would say that God is a wonderful God! That is how it would have been. That is what God intended when He made man; that everyone who looked on man would say, "What a wonderful God to make that kind of being!" Well, that is why God made man. But then we know what happened. Man went wrong and from that time, no one could look at man and say "God is a wonderful God." God lost that which He intended in man.
God lost the very purpose for which He created man, and therefore man did not glorify God. No glory was brought to God because of man. We know how true that is. We don't need to just read it in the Bible, we know it for ourselves. How very little there is in us that glorifies God. We would only be right in saying that there never has been a man that ever glorified God. There has never been a man who always satisfies God as to His eternal purpose except one; and that was the Lord Jesus. God had what He intended to have in man in His Son. Here is a man who wholly satisfies God. God is able to say about Him, "My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased."
Now, this Man lived in this world, He was tempted in all points as we are. He was put under every trial and temptation that comes to man. He had nothing in this world to help Him to be a good man. Everything was difficult for Him from His birth to His death. His birth was difficult, there were no helpful conditions in His birth, He was born in a stable and His cradle was a manger. And then He was brought up in a poor home where everything was difficult and there was very little money; there was just hard work together. And then He was brought up in a very difficult city. You remember that later on when someone said "We have found the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth" and the person to whom he said that pulled a face and said, "Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?" You see, Nazareth was a poor place to live. This man thought that nothing good could come out of Nazareth.
It was said, "The foxes have homes, the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head." He was born in a stable and then when He died He was buried in somebody else's tomb. The Apostle said it was true that He was despised of man, and that is not helpful to living a life that glorifies God, and yet He perfectly satisfied God as to God's idea of man, and in that way He glorifies God.
In all the temptations He never sinned, He never on any ground turned away from His Father in doubt or in unbelief. Well, God found in Him just what He wanted when He made man. I think we all agree with that. That is the first way in which He glorifies God. But you are asking, "How does that affect us?" and that is the second part of the story. "I have glorified Thee on the earth." What did God do with that Man? He took Him to heaven and He said this very wonderful thing: "All that My Son is, I will put to the account of everyone who will believe in Him." Do you see what that means?
We all agree that God could never condemn His Son. There was absolutely nothing in His life that God could condemn. Satan could never point a finger at Jesus and speak about some faults or things in Jesus; there was no condemnation. Neither God, nor Satan, could condemn; and Jesus would turn to man and say, "Which of you convicts Me of sin? Neither God nor man can bring Me to condemnation." What does God say? "If you believe the Lord Jesus, then that is what I will recognize in you. I will put all this to your account." So the Apostle said, "There is no condemnation to them that are in Jesus Christ." Isn't that a wonderful thing? Neither God will condemn us, nor will Satan be able to condemn us if we are in Jesus Christ.
The great thing that is said about Jesus after He lived His life on this earth is that He was received up into heaven. Now, I like that way of putting it. It does not say that Jesus went back to heaven, it does not say Jesus rose from the earth and went to heaven. Of course that is true, but the Bible always puts things correctly and the Bible's way of describing what happened to Him is: He was received up. The doors of heaven were wide open to Him and all in heaven said, "You can come in, You are the right kind of person to come in here, You are the person who satisfies God and therefore this is Your right place."
Jesus tells us that after His
resurrection, He ascended to His Father. I like to imagine what
happened then. If we were putting it in human language, we might
put it like this: the Father went out to meet Him and He said,
"Welcome home, My Son! I am glad to have You here, we are all
glad to have You back again." He was received... He had a great
reception. Why was that? Because He had satisfied God in this
matter of a life according to God's mind. Now, you know what the
Apostle Paul said about that where we are concerned. I think
this is a wonderful thing, he said, "And He has made us accepted
in the Beloved One."
First of all, no condemnation to them that are in Christ, and then a wonderful reception by God of those who are in Christ. You know that in the Old Testament it was not like that. Here was God in the tabernacle and there was a great court around it that man could not see over. God was behind that court and it was too high for man to look over. They could neither get near, nor see Him, and if they wanted to get near God, they could only get near to the court and offer sacrifices. And a lot of things had to be done in order to get in contact with God.
I think those people may sometimes have walked around the tabernacle and they might have said "It would be grand if only I could speak to God..." but all these things said "No! Keep out. You may not come in here where God is. If any people dare to come in here, you will die." Everything said: "You must stay out." And now something has happened. Here we are made new by the Cross of God. We have been accepted in the Beloved One. There is no one any longer who says, "May I draw near?" You see, that is how Jesus has glorified God. He has provided God with the ground for receiving all of us, and if you and I are in Christ, God will be glorified. That is, if we have faith in what Jesus is to God for us, if we by faith take this position that Jesus is my representative in the presence of God; if we have faith in the work that Jesus has done, then we say, "Jesus is my righteousness".
Well, we know what we are in ourselves, we have nothing that we can say about our righteousness or goodness. We know we have nothing of that, and Satan is all the time coming and trying to accuse us of sin and to bring us under condemnation. And you, dear friends, know as well as I do that there is no glory in that when you are occupied with yourselves; there is no glory to God in that. When we are thinking about our sinfulness, there is no glory, but if your faith takes hold of the Lord Jesus then by faith we say, "Jesus is my goodness, Jesus is all the goodness that God requires where I am concerned. Jesus has provided God with all that He wants where I am concerned." When we really make Jesus all that God has made Him for us, then there is glory.
The Work that Jesus Accomplished
You see that Jesus glorified God by providing God all that He wants; for you and for me. I think that is a wonderful thing. You try that! Now Satan comes to accuse you, then you come into condemnation of something that you are, and you don't want it to be, and Satan says, "You are a very bad lot, you are all wrong! You are a terrible sinner." And if you listen to that, all the glory goes out. Condemnation drives all the glory away. But suppose we take this position and say, "Yes, it is quite true that there is no good in me and God knows that better than I do; but God has provided Himself with all in Christ. The goodness that He wants in me, all the goodness that God wants from me, is in His Son. So by faith I take Jesus as my goodness and satisfaction to God." What happens then? The condemnation goes out and the glory comes in.
It is a wonderful thing really to have faith in the Lord Jesus. You Bible students know that Paul wrote a whole chapter to the Romans to say that. The first part of the letter is God looking for a righteous man. He is looking over all mankind for some goodness that will satisfy Him and He cannot find it in one man. The verdict upon that worldwide inquiry is: "There is no righteous man, no, not one". And then what does God do then? He said, "If I am going to have righteousness, I have to provide it Myself." And so He provided the Lord Jesus and the Lord Jesus satisfies God in His search for righteousness and goodness. Then the message of that letter is that all that is for us if we believe on the Lord Jesus. That is the work that Jesus accomplished.
I have just a few minutes left, and I would like to point out one other thing in this chapter. It is a part of the work that Jesus said He has accomplished. He said, "I manifested Thy Name unto the men whom Thou gavest Me." There is only one further fragment, "I manifested Thy name". What did Jesus mean by that? What was the name that He manifested, that He manifested unto the men whom the Father had given Him?
Now, you read all that Jesus said to those men and although God had many names, all of the names God was called in the old dispensation, and we could go through a whole list of God's names in the Old Testament, but Jesus never used one of those names from the Old Testament, but He did use the Name and only once. He was always pointing to that Name, and you know what that was, it is in this prayer and many other times also, it is the name "Father". "I have manifested Thy name unto the men whom Thou hast given Me." That means one or two things. That word "manifested" means "I have uncovered this name". This Name had been hidden. Men had never known God in this way before. This was something that had only now come to light. "It is I who have manifested this name".
Now, in the Old Testament Israel would call God "Father" sometimes, and they thought of themselves as God's children, but that was quite a different thing. Now here you are a company this morning and you might say about brother Lee, "He is our father, he is a father to us". Well, in a way that might be true because he acts like a father to you, he tries to look after your welfare, he tries to help you in your need. And you say, "Well, he is a father to us" but really he isn't your father, is he? Suppose one of you men had a little boy and that little boy heard you calling brother Lee your father, and the boy would look at him and say, "You are not the father of all these people, you are not my father." You see, people might speak of you as their father in a general way, but you are not their father. That is only used in a general way in the Old Testament. This is something altogether new. This has only come to light with the Lord Jesus. It was He, and He only who could say, "I have manifested Thy name."
The real fatherhood of God was something new when Jesus came. Jesus never spoke about the Father to the multitude. Jesus never said to the multitude that God was their Father. He never told the multitude that God was Father, it was only to His disciples that He said that. He said, "I have ascended to My God and your God, to My Father and your Father" and in that way, He manifested the Name. It was not just that Jesus spoke about the Father, He showed in His own life what the Father is like, and then He said, "My Father is your Father and that is how you may live. You are no longer strangers, you are one of the Family and you can live in this wonderful fellowship with the Name. I have brought to light the relationship that you may have with God."
Well, I leave you to go on with this wonderful prayer. As I said in the beginning, it is so full that it will never be exhausted, but just study it and see all that the Lord Jesus has brought to us by glorifying God and finishing the work which was given Him to do. All that is for us if we are in Christ.