"The Work of the Ministry" - Messages given at
Honor Oak - Volume 2.
things spake Jesus; and lifting up his eyes to heaven, he
said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that the
Son may glorify thee" (John 17:1).
ye are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are ye;
because THE SPIRIT OF GLORY and the Spirit of God resteth
upon you" (1 Peter 4:14).
Spirit is the Spirit of glory. All the Holy Spirit's
interests and concerns and activities have glory as their
object and have nothing else in view by which to satisfy
Him. Glory is the object and the end of all God's works
and ways - numerous, various and largely unsearchable and
inexplicable as they are. His object in everything is
glory - and moreover that glory has to do with us. The
Scripture precisely states that we are 'called into His
kingdom and glory' (1 Thess. 2:12); and many other like
statements affirm the same thing - that God's concern for
us is glory.
The Source and Ground of Glory
look first of all at the source and the ground of glory,
the glory, which concerns us and with which, through the
grace of God, we are concerned. The source and the ground
of the glory can be simply stated as being Christ
glorified. Christ glorified is the source of glory for us
and the ground of glory for us.
was here on the earth He was not here in glory. He was
here in humiliation, and humiliation for Him meant
voluntary self-emptying. "He emptied himself"
(Phil. 2:7). In this very chapter in John's Gospel we
have that wonderful utterance of His: "Father,
glorify thou me... with the glory which I had with thee
before the world was" (John 17:5). Humiliation meant
voluntary self-emptying. It meant no self-fullness.
"I can of myself do nothing" (John 5:30). It
meant voluntarily accepting a life of complete
dependence. The fact of the Holy Spirit coming upon Him
and taking charge, immediately leading Him into the
wilderness, and all the way through to the end, when He
"through the eternal Spirit offered himself"
(Heb. 9:14), means that He was dependent, He
became dependent; there was no self-sufficiency.
voluntary self-weakness. We are told that He was
"crucified through weakness" (2 Cor. 13:4). He
accepted that weakness - which meant that He drew every
bit of strength from another source. There was no
it meant voluntary acceptance of shame and dishonour -
and what shame, what dishonour! They degraded Him
according to their own mind. No self-glory, no
self-esteem. "He humbled himself" (Phil. 2:8),
He was not here then in glory. For one brief moment on
the Mount of Transfiguration He was glorified. But it
passed. John says: "Jesus was not yet
glorified" (John 7:39).
that He lived such a life of prayer is the proof, the
inclusive mark, of all this. He had to draw everything
from outside Himself. These opening words of John 17 are
very remarkable words, far too profound for our
fathoming, altogether beyond us; they would take us
completely out of our depths. He was God, very God, and
He is praying to God. Something has happened, for God
does not pray to God, God does not ask God for things.
You see the point. It does not mean that He was other
than the Divine Son, the Son of God, very God: but He had
for the time being taken a place in which all that was
God raised Him and took Him back, He reversed all that.
When Jesus was glorified, it was in every respect just
the opposite of His humiliation. That is, He is now no
longer emptied - He is full. God has filled Him with all
things. Paul speaks of God's "riches in glory"
which are "in Christ Jesus" for us (Phil.
4:19). He is filled with all the riches of glory for His
own people; full, sufficient - yes, self-sufficient; all
sufficiency is in Him. Paul says that in the Colossian
letter. He, being filled with all things, has all
sufficiency, and we are made sufficient in Him. He is
made powerful - "the ruler of the kings of the
earth" (Rev. 1:5). No longer weak, but mighty with
all the might of Heaven and God. And no longer in shame
and dishonour and reproach, but in Heaven "crowned
with glory and honour", says the Word (Heb. 2:9).
God gave Him honour and glory (2 Pet. 1:17). This is the
Scripture. He gave Him "the name which is above
every name" (Phil. 2:9). Jesus glorified is the
source of glory, the basis of glory.
Glory for us on the Basis of His Completed Work
what does that mean? What does this circuit from the
glory to the shame, and back to the glory, mean for us?
It means that glory for us is upon the basis of His
completed work. The glory springs spontaneously out of
His glorification, and His glorification is because of
the completeness of the work which He did. That means
that He has put away everything that is not glorious and
that cannot be glorified, in order to make glory for us
possible and actual. His completed work is embodied in
His own glorified person.
probably noted in this rich seventeenth chapter of John
how frequently He makes the affirmation - "I
have...", "I have...". The 'I haves' of
John 17 are the basis of glory. "I glorified thee on
the earth" (vs. 4).
has never been another man on this earth who has
glorified God in this way, who has satisfied the
requirements of the glory of God as He did. In man-form
He has glorified God perfectly. "I glorified thee...
having accomplished the work which thou hast given me to
do" (vs. 4). "I manifested thy name unto the
men whom thou gavest me" (vs. 6). "I manifested
thy name". Not merely 'I spoke Thy name', 'I
mentioned Thy name', 'I gave them a title for God', but
"I manifested thy name" - quite a different
thing. To manifest the Name, make manifest what God is -
that was His life.
words which thou gavest me I have given unto them"
(vs. 8), and "I have given them thy word" (vs.
14); and they live for ever because He gave them the Word
and the words of God, just as we do. "Man shall not
live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth
out of the mouth of God" (Matt. 4:4). "I have
given them thy word". We live by the Word of God. If
we do not lay hold of the Word of God and believe it, if
we do not have faith in the promises of God, we die very
quickly. It is one thing or the other. Those words are
going to be our life or they are not, according to our
attitude toward them. He gave them the foundation of life
with God in giving His words and His Word. "The
glory which thou hast given me I have given unto
them" (John 17:22). All these "I haves" -
if we got inside of them, opened them up, analysed them,
we should find that they are the perfect basis of glory.
inclusively they mean that the basis of glory is His full
mediatorial work - His work as Mediator between God and
man. That is inclusive. First of all, His work in
relation to SIN. Sin is the thing which makes
glory impossible . Sin is the thing which covers the
glory. We know it. The glory fades where there is sin.
God can never be glorified or give glory where there is
sin. But, blessed be God, the Word is full of the
affirmation that God intends that there shall be glory,
and that He has secured His intention by what His Son has
done in relation to the thing that is in the way of the
glory. Sin is dealt with - has been dealt with completely
and utterly. Then SELF is always in the way
of the glory; we know that. What we are in ourselves -
that is always hindering the glory, spoiling the glory,
driving out or shutting out the glory. Christ has dealt
with it. He has taken us, as to what we are in ourselves,
and put us out of God's sight. And more, it is the works
of the DEVIL that have covered the glory in this
world, got in the way of the glory; but He was
"manifested, that he might destroy the works of the
devil" (1 John 3:8), and Satan's works were taken up
by Him and destroyed. Blessed be God!
human helplessness was compassed by that helplessness
which He voluntarily accepted. Yes, I know there are two
sides to the whole story. He is laying down His life and
no man is taking it from Him (John 10:18). He is
perfectly deliberate in what He is doing. He is
fulfilling the predetermined counsels of God when He goes
to the Cross. Nevertheless, in a certain sense He is in
the hands of those men. There is weakness, helplessness.
"He was crucified through weakness" (2 Cor.
13:4). They appeal to Him to come down, and they deride
Him. "He saved others; himself he cannot save"
(Matt. 27:42). How true those words were. He could not
save Himself because He was saving the whole world. It is
a law. You will never save anybody if you try to save
yourself. But that was so in His case in a deeper sense.
All human helplessness was compassed in the weakness of
that beloved Man. All this human helplessness of ours is
in the way of the glory. You know it well enough. If you
begin to sink down into your own weakness and
helplessness, into what you are, in that way, and say, 'I
cannot', where is the glory? It departs. While conscious
always of dependence and emptiness and weakness in
ourselves, there is another attitude which we may take,
which lets in the glory.
crowns the Mercy-seat' - that is the point; and spell
Mercy-seat with a capital M, for it is the Lord Jesus.
'Glory crowns the Mercy-seat'. Go back to the Old
Testament again. It was there in the Most Holy Place, at
the Mercy-seat, that the glory had its focal point. They
were called the "cherubim of glory" (Heb. 9:5)
as they overshadowed the Mercy-seat. It is the place of
glory. But what is the Mercy-seat? It is the Throne of
grace, the blood-sprinkled meeting-place between God and
man. Look at what Israel were in themselves: what a story
of everything dishonourable, as to all that they were in
themselves. But this perfect God meets them in His
Mediator at the Mercy-seat - 'and glory', not shame,
'crowns the Mercy-seat'. His work accomplished, in all
these respects and much more, is the basis of all glory
for us. We need to get a firmer hold on it and keep our
hold on it, or else the glory will go out. The measure of
our faith-hold on Christ glorified is the measure of the
glory in our lives. No matter how much we may believe and
hold to the doctrines of our redemption, atonement,
justification, and all the rest, unless we have an inward
hold on the truth of Christ glorified, the doctrine
counts for nothing so far as the glory is concerned.
The Mediator of the Glory
come nearer. The Mediator of the glory. "The Spirit
of glory... resteth upon you" (1 Pet. 4:14). The
Holy Spirit has come as the Spirit of the glorified
Christ. "The Spirit was not yet given: because Jesus
was not yet glorified" (John 7:39). Putting that
round the other way, we might say, 'Well, the Holy Spirit
could only come on the ground of Jesus being glorified,
and Jesus could only be glorified when He had finished
His work: so the Spirit comes on the ground of Christ
glorified, in virtue of the perfected work of our
redemption, of our sanctification, and of our
glorification.' He has come as the Spirit of Christ in
glory, as the Mediator of all that it means that Christ
is in glory; and let us remember that glory is not a
place but a state. When we receive the Holy Spirit, as we
do when we are born from above, we receive the Spirit of
glory. He is called "the Spirit of glory"; that
is the capacity in which He has come: so that we receive
Him as that, and if we live and abide in the Spirit, the
Spirit of glory rests upon us. If we get out of the
Spirit, the glory gets out of us. Any of us, at any time,
getting out of the Spirit, gets out of the glory. When we
are out of the glory, in some way or other, for any
reason, we have got out of the Spirit. We know that to be
the case all too well. When we are in the Spirit there is
turn to our friend John Bunyan. 'After these things the
Interpreter takes them apart again and has them first
into a room where was a man that could look no way but
downwards with a muck-rake in his hand. There stood one
over his head with a celestial crown in his hand and
proffered him that crown for his muck-rake, but the man
did neither look up nor regard but raked to himself the
straws, the small sticks, the dust of the floors.' Oh,
our muck-raking amongst the rubbish and filth and
pollution of what we are in ourselves, turning it over
and sorting it out, looking no way, but downward! Where
is the glory? There is no glory in that.
regard the statements of the New Testament seriously and
in a practical way. He has 'borne our sins in His own
body on the tree' (1 Pet. 2:24). We were "crucified
with Christ" (Gal. 2:20). God has "raised us up
with him, and made us to sit with him" (Eph. 2:6),
has given us to share His place in heaven. He has
"called (us) unto his eternal glory" (1 Pet.
5:10). We are "sanctified in Christ Jesus" (1
Cor. 1:2). It is all there as accomplished fact. It is
the way of the glory, the only ground of the glory. No
one muck-raking in human depravity, can ever be in the
Holy Spirit. That is a solemn and serious thing to say.
You are not in the Spirit if you are muck-raking. The
Holy Spirit takes away the muck-rake and gives you a
crown of glory in its place - not hereafter, but now. He
is against all muck-raking.
remember that whatever the Holy Spirit ministers is
intended for glory. A ministry by the Holy Spirit is a
ministry which ministers glory. We may have to preach
Romans 6 and preach Romans 6 forcibly. We were crucified
with Christ. But that truth was never intended to bring
us under condemnation and depression. It was intended to
bring us to glory. The ministry of any one truth,
unbalanced and unrelated, will bring a heavy burden upon
us, will weigh us down and make us depressed people. Such
is not Holy Ghost ministry. There are times for us to be
convicted of wrong, but the Spirit would lead us at once
to the place where the wrong is put right in the Cross of
the Lord Jesus, to get it out of the way to make room for
the glory. Yes, solemn words, serious words, if
necessary: the Lord will make real to us what fallen
human nature is, but always and only to get it all
out of the way and to lead at once to the glory.
The Pathway to the Glory
a final thing to remember. The pathway of glory is the
pathway of suffering. Look at Peter's letters, and you
have three outstanding things. What are they? The Holy
Spirit, suffering and glory. John 17 is just that. The
pathway to the glory is suffering. "If ye are
reproached for the name of Christ" - then you ought
to be as miserable as possible? - no, "blessed are
ye; because the Spirit of glory and the Spirit of God
resteth upon you" (1 Peter 4:14).
give us grace to keep our eyes on the positive side of
all His dealings. It is our attitude toward His dealings
that makes so much difference. There will be suffering -
yes; but the attitude toward the suffering determines
whether it is going to be shame or glory, darkness or
light. Our attitude of faith toward our sufferings will
let in the glory. That is a very practical matter with
the Lord and for us. We are so often asking the Lord to
change things, to deal with things which stand in the way
of glory. If only the Lord would just deal with this and
that, change it, move it out of the way, then we could
glorify Him. It would be so much more to His glory if He
says. 'No, not that way.' This glory is something very
much more than being cheerful in happy circumstances.
This glory is born out of the utmost depths of agony and
suffering. This is real glory, which is much more than
the glory of this world and the glory of favourable
circumstances. The Lord says, 'You get into the place
where there is glory in your sufferings and your
adversities, and if I think it good, then I will change
circumstances. I am waiting for you to climb on top: let
the glory in, amidst your adversities, and then perhaps
we will see about other things.'
very practical. We get down under our troubles and
sufferings and begin to get depressed and to complain to
the Lord; we want the Lord to do something about it. But
we do not get anywhere along that line at all. Sooner or
later the Lord comes and says, 'Real glory shows itself
against a dark background: when the glory is there,
whatever I see fit to do in the situation I will do; but
first of all glorify Me in the fires.'
give us grace!
First published in "A Witness and A Testimony" magazine, May-Jun 1954, Vol 32-3.