WE BEHELD HIS GLORY
by T. Austin-Sparks
meditations in John's Gospel
Take John's three great words: life, light, love. These are the great words of John, all as in the Lord Jesus, bound up in His own Person. They are the great strong notes that run through this Gospel. Now you can have light, but if you have not love and life you are unbalanced and you have not got the Testimony. You cannot have the life without the light. The Lord Jesus combining all three means that in spiritual fellowship with Him, and possessing of Him, you should have these things in equal measure, in balance; life, light, love. The Testimony of Jesus is not only carrying on the light, it is just as much carrying on the life and the love. It is possible to take up a system of truth that is undoubtedly NT doctrine to the full, but being without the life and the love you have not the Testimony of Jesus. The Testimony of Jesus is Himself. Life, Light ,Love, that is the Testimony of Jesus.
To bring that all back to one application, the answer to everything is our possessing of the Lord, or in other words, our vital union with Him. We can explain everything of failure and breakdown by the absence of that, whether in ourselves or in others. We may have the tradition, and we may have the doctrine; we may have the truth, and yet there may be the most appalling inconsistencies, contradictions and breakdown because we have not got the life and the love in the same proportions. What we need is not more light, it is life commensurate with the light, and love in equal proportion to the light. So many who have a lot of light are so loveless, as it is true that many have a lot of light without much life. "FULL OF GRACE AND TRUTH."
He was manifested thus; the Church is elected eternally to be in union with Him for the purpose of carrying on His Testimony, and the Testimony the Church has to carry on is not something about Christ, but to carry Christ on. Our business in this world as the Lord's people is to carry on Christ, full of grace and truth.
All that has to be seen through this Gospel in its own respective connection. That is a basic statement for our thought. Our need is more of the Lord Jesus. That is a very simple statement, but it goes to the root of everything. You say: "I want more light." No, you need more of the Lord. You say: "I want more love." You need more of the Lord. It is not things, it is HIMSELF; that is the Testimony with which we are entrusted.
This, of course, will smite our hearts if we are at all sensitive spiritually. It will at once set up a standard by which to judge everything. It will mean we have to go to the secret place with the Lord and say; "Now, Lord, life and love must be commensurate with the light." It is this that the Apostle means when he uses that particular phrase; "as truth is in Jesus." It means truth is not something to be had intellectually. You need the PERSON and then you get the truth. This carries with it its own challenge, and it is intended to be an introductory word for these meditations. We are not seeking to get a great deal more light as such; we are seeking to get more of the Lord, to see the Lord, to know the Lord, and unless the issue of these meditations is that our union with the Lord is deeper and stronger and fuller, then we have spoken in vain, our work is all to no purpose. Oh that all our messages might have that issue, more of Himself! We want to meet the Lord, and when it comes to a personal matter the result of the study ought to be that more of the Lord in the fullness of grace and truth should be met in us by others. You notice what the Apostle here says:
"For of his fullness we all received, and grace for grace [or, grace upon grace]."
That must be the result of our meditation together, even of this introductory word. The only justifying reason for our consideration is that in us others should meet more of the Lord in grace and truth. We should not be a people known as having a good deal of light alone, but that it might be said always that with the light there is life, and with the life there is love: that it is the light of those tender tones which are seen in Christ incarnate.
That is the meaning of the Incarnation. God, to be seen nakedly, would mean destruction: but God manifest in Christ means that something has come between the blazing light to break it up in its components and give us the effect of a prism, so that the white ray is now seen in all its manifold hues. The body of Christ was like a prism, breaking up for us the rays of infinite holiness, and we are able to see what God is, in Christ. That is what we are to be in turn, as members of the Church; a prism that others shall see God.
The all terrible God, the intolerable God? No, God full of grace and truth. God Who is life, God Who is light, God Who is love. Let us pray that here may be more of Him in Christ seen and known in us. We must make that a real quest before Him; Christ more to us; Christ more to others through us.
If you want the solution to all your problems it is there. You want to know more? Do not think of knowing more in the matter of truth, as truth. It is a personal knowledge of our union with the Lord Jesus that goes to the root of everything, answers every question, and solves every problem. "That I may know Him". Not this and that and something else. Having Him we have everything. It will be a blessed thing if we can say after these hours together." Of his fullness we all received, and grace upon grace."