The Testimony in the World

(extract)

J. Collie-Smith

1 Timothy 3:16; John 1:32,33, 8:42, 10:36, 17:23

The ark, dear brethren, is a specific type of our Lord Jesus, and would recall what He Himself states, "No one knows the Son but the Father", Matthew 11:27.  The inscrutability of the Person of our Lord Jesus must be cherished in every heart that knows Him.  But this should not deter us in facing the true facts as set out in Scripture in regard of the sonship of our Lord; and in coming to the Scriptures to look into this great matter we must do so as not having been formed in our minds by teaching, however orthodox, and by that teaching to so warp and bias our minds that we are unable to benefit from what the Lord Jesus would personally undertake to serve us in; that is, in opening out this truth to our hearts as He Himself opens out the truth of the Father to us.  For at the outset I would like to make it clear that Scripture, as I understand it, when it speaks of Jesus as the Son of God, speaks of a relationship which was not true of Him prior to incarnation.

Before I say more about that let me add that at no moment in the history of the truth since the days of recovery, at no stage, has the Deity of our Lord ever been questioned amongst those walking in the truth.  There has never been a moment when there was the slightest misgiving in the minds of the brethren as to that, for He is "over all, God blessed for ever", Romans 9:5.  That is cherished, guarded as it were, but when Scripture speaks of Jesus as coming into this scene, He is ushered into this world as a Babe, touching, as another has said, humanity at its weakest point.  What a contemplation for our hearts!  Jesus, a Babe in swaddling clothes, and Luke would give us to understand that "that holy thing" born of Mary, "shall be called Son of God", Luke 1:35.  God says, "This day have I begotten thee", Psalm 2:7.  This expression can only refer to Christ subsequent to incarnation, and to carry the idea back prior to that, where the Godhead is seen subsisting in its own blessedness, and to speak of those Persons in relative terms of Father and Son would mean confusion.  Can you think of one of those divine Persons turning to the other, or thinking of the other as Father?  Can you believe that one of those Persons would address the other, or think of the other in the Godhead as Son?  No, dear brethren, it may be orthodox to speak thus, but it is not divine teaching; it is not the truth as presented in the holy writings.  When Jesus was seen here by John, and borne witness to as the Son of God, it was a relationship which had never been true of Jesus prior to His coming into flesh.  It was a relationship in which He stood as the result of incarnation, a relationship entered into in time, which did not belong to the past eternity.  If you will carefully read John's gospel, you will find, that the Lord Jesus when referring to His coming from heaven, speaks of what He does of His own volition; that is, He comes down from heaven, and He came forth from God.

I would like for the sake of the young to make that point clearer, because I believe all the difficulty relative to the subject on hand lies in a misapprehension of the difference between Christ as coming from heaven, and Christ as sent into the world.  If you will read the passages in John's gospel referring to Son you will not get one solitary instance where it speaks of Him being sent from heaven.  You will get several instances where He speaks of coming from heaven; He comes down from heaven, and as having come here, the Word become flesh tabernacling amongst us, God manifest in flesh is seen.  He says, "I came forth from God", which refers to the incarnation, and then He adds, "and am come".  That is, now He is present amongst us as the result of incarnation, but with an added thought that He is now appearing publicly amongst men as the full expression of God, and He says, "for neither am I come of myself, but he has sent me", John 8:42.

Now, as to coming from heaven, I do not think He would say that, but as here in testimony, He would show us that He is here as having been sent into the world; that is, sent is subsequent to incarnation.  I am delaying a little at this point, because I believe with many it is the real crux of the difficulty as to the apprehension and acceptance of the truth of our Lord's sonship being entered upon here in time.  It has been concluded by many that when Jesus speaks of Himself as He so frequently does in John's gospel, as being sent by the Father, He is referring to the Father sending Him down from heaven.  That is a misconstruction of the truth, and I believe it leads to confusion and it obscures the apprehension of the sonship of Christ.

The third passage from which I read would show how the Lord in answer to the hostility of the crowd, particularly the Jewish leaders, meets the situation by referring to the way in which those to whom the word of God had come were spoken of as gods, and that the Scripture cannot be broken.  Then He goes on to say, "Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified and sent into the world", John 10:36.  You will notice the order "sanctified and sent", and I would like to dwell on that, because if you will take notice of this order it will, I believe, help to clear our vision.  The light of God would shine upon our minds, and how ready the Holy Spirit is to serve us in this connection, so that we may have no misconception as to this great matter.  The Spirit is waiting upon us to serve us so that right ideas, right feelings, right affections, right regard, reverential regard indeed, may be formed in our hearts for Christ, the Son of God.

The Spirit has placed the word sanctified before the word sent.  If the word sent referred to His being sent from heaven, you could not think of the idea of Christ being sanctified in the Godhead, therefore the Spirit has been careful to place this word sent as following upon the word sanctified, or set apart.  Although we may rightly regard our Lord Jesus from the very moment He entered this scene as a Babe, sanctified, or set apart, yet I believe the public position would relate to what John records, when the Holy Spirit came down publicly and sealed Him, and sanctified Him in that way, set Him apart, and from that point I believe we get the idea of His being "sent into the world".  From that point Jesus is sent forth by God, sent forth by the Father; and as thus sent He reveals the Father.  He declares God in the most perfect way, and He reveals the Father, bringing to light every feeling that lay in the heart of the blessed God, manifesting here all those divine and heavenly features which came out in all their fulness and grandeur, and the manifestation of the Father was so perfect in every detail, that in answer to Philip's question He would say, "Have I been so long time with you, and yet thou hast not known me, Philip?  He that hath seen me hath seen the Father", John 14:9.  What they had seen in Him was identical with what the Father was.  Every trait, every quality, all that came out in Jesus here, can be perfectly identified with the Father, that is, the Father is seen in Him. . .

From The Mystery, by J. Collie-Smith, pages 105-108.


The Testimony in the World