Copyright © 1975, 2002
True faith always results in certainty. How wonderful to be certain in an uncertain world! Faith always homes in on the target; there are no near misses; there is no such thing as experimentation, because faith knows, like its Author, “the end from the beginning.” The men of faith walk with confidence, they keep their equilibrium, they press towards the mark, they are like the cherubim who have feet that are “straight feet… they went every one straight forward, whither the Spirit was to go, they went, and they turned not when they went” (Ezekiel 1:12).
The Certainty of
Action, Reaction, and Counteraction
There are great underlying spiritual laws that like ocean tides govern and affect the affairs of earth and men. Too often we forget that we are the battleground for the warfare, waged on a titanic scale, between good and evil. It is seen in the Garden of Eden, where the evil one, seeking to undo what God had done, commenced his defiling and destroying work on earth. It was recommenced after the Flood, being exemplified by the unclean raven and the pure dove going out, each on its mission over the earth. It was climaxed at Calvary when the everlasting victory over evil was won and sentence pronounced. The execution of the sentence was delayed, but now is drawing to its fulfillment—in our day. So we experience hopes and fears, ups and downs, crests and troughs, hills and valleys, peace and war, and shall continue to do so until the end of the way. One of these great cosmic tides, with its inevitable ebb and flow, is the universal experience of Action, Reaction, and Counteraction.
The Almighty God commences an action; the evil one always opposes with a reaction; God then brings in a counteraction. There are many illustrations of this. We will look at a few examples; however, having been introduced to this principle, you will discern many others for yourself.
The Almighty One by His commanding Word brought into existence all creation: that is action. There followed reaction, when the devil caused the Fall. Then came the great counteraction, when God promised the coming of the Messiah. The evil one always seems to have frustrated the purpose of God; but each time the Most High uses it to bring in a far higher and greater blessing than the one that has been lost. Learn this, wise reader; the knowledge will prove invaluable to you. When the Lord blesses you, hold on for the reaction and, when it comes, do not despair; it has been permitted to lift you up to a greater glory.
Here are other examples. Action—God sent His Son. Reaction—Satan caused Him to be put to death. Counteraction—God raised Him from the dead and gave Him a name above every name, so that in the name of Jesus every knee shall bow. The Lord is going to act soon, in sending the last and greatest showers of the Latter Rain in revival. The evil one will react by causing great tribulation, distress, wars, and pestilences; but the great counteraction will be the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. After that will come one of the most blessed actions of God, the millennium of peace, when through the righteous reigning of Jesus and His glorified saints the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. The evil one will be bound for this period and confined away from the earth in the bottomless pit (Revelation 20:3). Because of his imprisonment, during that blessed time there will be no need for that word of Peter, so necessary now: “Be sober, be vigilant, for your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). When he is let out, there will be a great reaction, and the nations will once more be deceived. Led by the devil, they will insurrect against the Lord and compass the camp of the saints about (Revelation 20:7-9). Then comes the great and final and everlasting counteraction—the complete and utter destruction of evil, the eternal imprisonment of the evil one, the final judgment, and new heavens and a new earth with “no more death, neither sorrow nor crying, neither…any more pain,” and God making “all things new” (Revelation 21:4,5). When God makes all things new, there will come new great tides of everlasting action, with reaction and God’s necessary counteraction gone forever.
Let us consider again this great principle, so that by the repetition of the lesson this great certainty of faith may be one of your most carefully preserved spiritual jewels. The great action of God in sending the Holy Spirit upon the small band of believing Jews at Pentecost (Acts 2) would of necessity precipitate a great reaction, because of the danger to the enemy’s kingdom now that the Spirit of power had come. The reaction came. The Jewish hierarchy was used by the devil against the early church: the “priests and the captain of the temple and the Sadducees came upon them” (Acts 4:1); and the final result of the reaction was that the first martyr, Stephen, was put to death (Acts 7) for an example of what the church could expect in the future from the devil’s wrath. Now see the Lord’s most wonderful counteraction to this. First, He sent an angel and let the apostles out of jail (Acts 5:18-21). But, most wonderful of all, He converted the chief persecutor, Saul (Acts 9), and made him also an apostle of Jesus!
A Final Example
There are so many scriptural examples of this great truth that this book would run to an inordinate length if more were given. Still, we will consider one final example—one which followed immediately after Paul’s conversion. God made an even more wonderful action than at the original Pentecost, when He sent the Holy Spirit upon Cornelius and his Gentile friends (Acts 10). The Jewish race was but a small one and their influence limited, but the Gentiles were the dominant people and had spread over all the earth. It needs no emphasis of mine to remind the reader that this outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the Gentiles would stir up the malice of Satan even more. Until this time, the enemy had used as his instrument the deceived and angry Jews with their small measure of power and their limited armed forces, which they could use, by permission of the government, against their own countrymen only. Now Satan brings up to combat against the Spirit-anointed Gentiles his greatest weapon—the iron-willed, ruthless, and unconquerable Romans, figured by that beast of Daniel’s visions, “diverse from all the others, exceeding dreadful, whose teeth were of iron, and his nails of brass, which devoured, brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with his feet” (Daniel 7:19). King Herod Agrippa at once killed James, the brother of John, with the sword. Peter also was condemned to death, put into prison, and watched over by a Roman guard (Acts 12:1-6). We can appreciate Peter’s situation better by considering these points as background:
- When the body of Jesus was put into the tomb, it was a Jewish guard that watched over His body—a guard which could be bribed to tell the lie that the disciples stole the body away whilst they slept.1
- By contrast, if a Roman soldier slept on duty, he was executed. If a Roman soldier had accepted a bribe and had allowed his prisoner to escape, he was executed. If Roman soldiers allowed, for any reason, their prisoners to escape, they were executed. For instance, when Paul and Silas were imprisoned at Philippi and suddenly there was a great earthquake and every prisoner’s bonds were loosed, the jailer would have killed himself, supposing that they had fled; but Paul cried with a loud voice, “Do thyself no harm, for we are all here” (Acts 16:27-28). Again, when Paul as a prisoner on his way to Rome on the Alexandrian corn ship (a regular sailing taking Egypt’s corn to Rome for the supply of bread for the inhabitants), a batch of prisoners was on board with him under a Roman guard. When the ship struck on the rocks of Malta, the counsel of the soldiers was to kill the prisoners. This was in order to save their own lives, for if any prisoner escaped, their lives would have been forfeited; but the centurion kept them from their purpose (Acts 27:42-43).
We have then, in this Gentile Pentecost, an entirely different reaction, for Satan brought in the most powerful force on earth to sustain his kingdom. From a human point of view, deliverance was impossible. Peter was committed to the keeping of four quaternions of soldiers. (The word in the Greek original is tetradion, a Roman military term, meaning a squad of four.) Peter was kept helpless, chained between two soldiers, while two others of the four kept watch outside the door of the cell. This watch was changed every three hours. Apart from this, there was a second guarding or ward that had to be passed before the courtyard was entered; this had great iron gates leading out into the city. Now see what comfort and peace surrounds the man of faith. See the certainty of Peter’s faith, which enables him to sleep under these impossible conditions. The Lord Jesus had once told him (John 21:18) that when he was old and blind he would be led to a martyr’s death, glorifying God. Peter was to be executed on the morrow; but he slept! Why? Just because he believed God! He was certain that he would not die—how could he?—when he was yet neither old, nor blind, and was able to gird himself! So Peter rested—the rest of faith. Then the Lord came in with a mighty counteraction: an angel put the guards to sleep, awoke Peter, dissolved his chains, opened the prison doors, and led Peter out a free man through the gates into the city (Acts 12:7-11).
Notice, please—and let this be a check to fanaticism—that Peter had to do the things that he could do, and then the angel did the things that he could not do. Peter could put his own cloak on, bind his girdle around himself, and put his own sandals on his feet. The angel could have done these things, but would not. Peter could not send the soldiers to sleep, loose his chains, or open the prison doors, so the angel did what Peter could not do. Fanaticism would have expected the angel to do everything, with the result that the angel would have done nothing. It is faith—balanced! pure! certain!—that sees God work miracles.
When the Lord raised Lazarus from the dead (John 11:38-44), He first commanded the men to remove the round stone door from the front of the tomb. He could have rolled it away at a word, but what the men could do, they must do. Then He did what they could not do: He called Lazarus alive out of the tomb. When the women came to the tomb of Jesus (Mark 16:1-4) bringing more spices to preserve His body, they were anxious, asking, “Who will roll the stone away for us?”—for the stone was very great. But because they could not do it, and it was necessary in God’s providence that it should be done, an angel was sent who rolled the stone away at a touch. Is the work of faith clear to you now? You must do what you can do, and then the Lord will do what you cannot do. The great need of the man of faith is mental and spiritual balance.
Greatest of all in God’s great counteraction—greater than Peter’s deliverance, greater than confounding the devil’s attempt, in his reaction, to crush the infant Church through his great iron monster, the Roman beast—was that the Holy Spirit spoke to the Church saying, “Separate for me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them” (Acts 13:1-4). What was the work? To take the gospel to the Gentiles throughout the whole world, and particularly to the Roman Empire. Through this divine calling, we Gentiles have come into the faith.
The Certainty of God’s Promise:
Whosoever and Whatsover
The Author of faith speaks and acts with complete certainty and utmost authority. It is His will that His children of faith should, in their measure, speak and act with a like certainty and authority. When He called the young Samuel to be His prophet, He first proved his faith by testing his obedience, and then the Lord “let none of his words fall to the ground” (1 Samuel 3:19). In other words, what Samuel said would happen did happen; God brought it to pass. If the Lord did this for one of His great servants under the Old Covenant, how much more will He do it for His sons under the New Covenant? This is what the Lord Jesus confirmed when He said to His disciples,
Whosoever… shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which He saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever He saith.
Here are two clear, unequivocal words, carefully chosen by the Lord who is the Logos, the Word. It is impossible for Him to lie. Whosoever means “anyone, without exception,” who does not doubt in his heart. Whatsoever means “anything, without exception.” Then, seeing that there is this amazing promise, why is there not more work done for God? Why? Why not more prayers answered? Why not more miracles of faith performed? Why not more backsliders restored? Why? We could ask a thousand like questions! It is because the certainties of faith are only for those who will fulfill the conditions of faith. We have devoted a chapter to the conditions of faith2, but the time has come in your patient progress through this book when the subject must be considered more deeply.
Who Qualifies as “Whosoever”?
The promise of “whosoever” is open to any believing child of the Father who will abide in the Son, through the grace and power of the indwelling Holy Spirit. This promise is for the sons and daughters of the Most High. It is for those who have been consciously brought into new birth by the Holy Spirit and who have the inevitable witness thereto: “Because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying ‘Abba, Father’” (Galatians 4:6).
This witness of the Spirit is not, most certainly not, our mental assent to a Biblical statement of doctrine; it is an inward, conscious certainty, for “the Spirit Himself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God” (Romans 8:16). (However, God will withdraw even this if we attempt to make it a substitute for faith.) There is no question, the offer of eternal life is open to all the sons of Adam. “Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely” (Revelation 22:17). Nevertheless, some have tried to put their humanly conceived, doctrinal limit upon the open, free, boundless mercy of the limitless God.
Only those who have received this gift of God and have become new creatures qualify for the truth of the “whosoever” in the great promise of Jesus. They may ask for whatsoever they will and receive it. The unsaved “whosoever” outside of the Kingdom may come in; and once he is in, he becomes part of the saved “whosoever” who may ask and believe for what he will, and receive it.
What Qualifies as “Whatsoever”?
Now let us consider the conditions of receiving the “whatsoever.” The Lord Jesus unfolded to His disciples when He spoke about Himself as being the True Vine (John 15):
If ye abide in Me and My words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will and it shall be done unto you.
He further says,
I have chosen you and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit and that your fruit should remain; that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in My name, He may give it you.
And in that day ye shall ask Me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in My name He will give it you.
The conditions are:
- that we are in the Vine;
- that we are abiding in Him;
- that we are producing fruit that remains—which means that we are mature, for only mature trees bring forth much fruit; and,
- that a time period is set—“In that day.”
It is not years of being a Christian that matter but the depth and constancy of the abiding.
So experience in Christ is necessary, and experience is the result of patient, constant abiding in Him, although it is not the years of being a Christian that matter, but the depth and constancy of the abiding. “In that day” means the day of His resurrection—His triumphant return from the dead in victory—the day of the descent of the Spirit because of this to indwell and empower His disciples; it is this present Gospel day.
The Reality of “In My Name”
There is a much misunderstood further condition: “Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in My name” (John 16:23). What does “in My name” mean? It does not mean what is so popularly believed, that if one adds the name “Jesus” to his prayers God will hear and answer and give him his request. The millions of unanswered prayers down the centuries of the existence of the Church should convince the sincere Christian that something is wrong with this interpretation.
The actual name “Jesus,” whatever affectionate regard has been built up in our minds concerning it because of the loveliness of the Person who bears it, has no potency of itself. “Jesus” was one of the most common names amongst the Israelites. We do not see this because the word “Jesus” is Greek, derived from the Hebrew “Yeshua (Joshua), both meaning “Saviour.” There is an interesting translation in the King James version of the Bible where Stephen is made to say that “Jesus” brought in the Tabernacle with the Israelites into the Promised Land. The word, of course, should be “Joshua” (Acts 7:45). Many people named their children in those days after the great national hero, Joshua. When Paul and his company landed at Cyprus, and came to Paphos, Paul denounced a false prophet named “Bar Jesus” (Acts 13:6-12), meaning “Son of Jesus” (Greek); that is, “son of Joshua” (Hebrew).
There were certain men, including seven sons of a priest named Sceva, who tried the magic of the name “Jesus” upon a demoniac. Because of the many who were so named, they even made it clear which Jesus they meant—the “Jesus whom Paul preacheth.” But it did not work. The evil spirit knew the Lord of glory, but not those who quoted His name; and these would-be exorcists had to flee from the demoniac, wounded and naked (Acts 19:13-16).
This very incident gives us the key to the truth of “in My name.” It all depends upon who says it—not upon the name quoted. He says, not that He will answer by virtue of His spoken name, but that the person asking the petition must be “in His name” when he makes his request. God has titles, but no name; all the names of God recorded in the Old Testament are descriptive titles—El, Elohim, El Shaddai, Jehovah, etc. God replied to Moses, when Moses asked for His name, “I am that I am” (Exodus 3:14). Moses knew all the titles by which God was then called, but was asking for His personal name. He has none. He is the glorious Original—the only One who has underived being. He has no need to be identified with a name, lest He be confused with other beings. A name was originally descriptive of the nature of the person bearing it. It is and will be forever impossible to condense all the many attributes of the Father, the Fount of Deity, the Most High and Eternal God, and express them in a single personal name.
- And the Lord descended in the cloud, and stood with Moses there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord.
- And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth,
- keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty.…
- Exodus 34:5-7
This is a major error of the so-called Jehovah’s Witnesses, who claim that God’s name is “Jehovah,” and of the unitarian “Jesus only” people, who claim that the name of the Father, the Eternal One, and of the Holy Spirit is “Jesus”—a name given humanly to the Son (the Logos) when He came out of eternity into time upon this earth not long ago.
So if you are in Jesus, that is, in His Person, and you are a partaker of the Divine Nature; if your old man is crucified with Him, self on the cross; if the Lord Jesus Christ is your all and your only desire; if Christ in you is the hope of glory; if you are a vessel unto honor, sanctified and fit for the Master’s use; if you are a saint, not merely in name, but in deed and in truth—then because Christ is in you and you are in Him, your prayer comes up to the Father as Christ’s own, and you shall ask what you will and it shall be done.
Such a person loves with the love of God; there is now no accusing conscience, for John says,
- Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God.
- And whatsoever we ask, we receive of Him, because we keep His commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.
- And this is His commandment, that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as He gave us commandment.
- And he that keepeth His commandments dwelleth in Him, and He in him. And hereby we know that He abideth in us, by the Spirit which He hath given us.
- 1 John 3:21-24
Such a person knows what the will of the Father is and asks only for those things that are His will.
And this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He heareth us.
1 John 5:14
The one who desires to walk only with God, in the nature and power of God, may then consider what things he should ask for, and these things he will obtain. You are now aware that a mechanical belief in the Scriptures as a book of formulas from which one may choose does not get results. It was never the intention of God that it should be so; that is not the purpose of the collection and preservation, in God’s will, of the Scriptures of Truth. The apostle Paul says, “For the kingdom of God is not in word but in power” (1 Corinthians 4:20), and, “For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance” (1 Thessalonians 1:5).
Another Certainty: The Principle of Desire
The Word of the Lord is plain and clear: “He shall have whatsoever.” He gives no list from which one may choose. Yet not only must the whatsoever be according to the Father’s will, but the one making the petition must truly desire it. There is so much in this word desire. The original word means to “ask,” but not to ask casually in the hope that the Father may perhaps grant the request. There are many thousands, nay millions of unanswered prayers. Many persons have completely forgotten the prayers that once they prayed; that is one of the major reasons why the prayers were not answered. If we desire the thing that we are asking for to the extent that we shall never be satisfied unless we get it, then we shall eventually have that request for which we are making petition. He says that we must believe that our request is granted immediately. He does not say that what we are asking for is immediately ours. The words “shall have” have a hint of futurity about them; but the promise is certain and the answer sure.
God has much to say in Scripture concerning desire. David says, “One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after” (Psalm 27:4). One thing at a time, earnestly sought from God, will get for you an answer that will be surprising if you have been used to the prayer-list type of praying. “One thing have I desired, that will I seek after.” Desire is an earnest, insatiable longing—not a whim, a wish, a fancy. The evidence of your desire is that you will seek after it. Consider a man who believes that he is thirsty; he says to his wife, “Honey, I think I feel thirsty. What shall I have to drink?” She says, “Well, there’s hot coffee, or I’ll boil some water for you and make a cup of tea (that would be in England), or there’s orange drink or cola.” He replies, “I don’t fancy any of those.” Is he really thirsty? Does he desire a drink? Consider another scene—a man, his face blackened by the sun, his lips cracked with thirst, his tongue swollen, his eyes bloodshot. He is in a wilderness of sand. Only one word ever escapes his tortured lips, only one thought engrosses his mind, only one thing is he seeking for—water! And he will seek until he drops exhausted and dies. That is desire! That is how some of us found the water of life; we felt that we would die unless we received it, and unlike the first man mentioned, we found that the Lord had said, “When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue faileth for thirst, I the Lord will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them…I will make the wilderness a pool of water” (Isaiah 41:17-18).
God always responds to desire: “Thou openest Thy hand and satisfieth the desire of every living thing” (Psalm 145:16). It is the nature of His fatherhood to do so. He is universally the Father of His creation—He is the all-provider. He creates desire and satisfies the desire of all His creatures. “These all wait upon Thee; that Thou mayest give them their meat in due season” (Psalm 104:27). He satisfies all desire.
This truth, that God gives us the desire of our hearts, is sobering. Do be careful what you ask for with desire. What a need there is for us to be holy, that our desires may be the desires of the Spirit in us. It is one thing to be so much in the center of His purposes to walk so closely with God, that His will is our will, and we can be instruments on earth of the Father’s sovereign purposes—interceding with Him to do on earth what He desires and purposes to do. It is quite another thing to see that in the creative plan of God He has willed to fulfill the desires of the creatures that He has made. What an astonishing revelation of this truth we have in the subject of tithing. The Israelite was to tithe all of his increase and take the tithe to the place that the Lord had chosen (that is, where the Tabernacle would be), and share it there with the Levites in a great annual feast unto the Lord. “If the way be too long for thee… then thou shalt turn it into money…and shalt go unto the place which the Lord thy God shall choose. And thou shalt bestow that money for whatsoever thy soul desireth, for oxen, or for sheep, or for wine, or for strong drink or for whatsoever thy soul desireth” (Deuteronomy 14:22-27). One would have thought that the Lord would at least have cut the strong drink out, but He will not revoke His great decision concerning desire.
David reminds us that the children of Israel had a perverted desire for flesh, which they preferred to angel’s food, manna (Psalm 78:25):
[They] lusted exceedingly in the wilderness and tempted God in the desert, and He gave them their request.
He rained flesh also upon them as dust, and feathered fowls like as the sand of the sea…So they did eat, and were well filled; for He gave them their own desire.
They also received, says David, “leaness in their souls,” (Psalm 106:15) and “the wrath of God came down upon them” (Psalm 78:31).
On another occasion the children of Israel wanted to be like the nations around them. They did not want the direct rule of God through one of His appointed judges; rather, they wanted to have a king of their own choosing. They were given a king whose name was Saul, and Samuel said, “Now therefore behold the king whom ye have chosen, and whom ye have desired” (1 Samuel 12:13). The history of the reign of Saul tells us the result of their wrong desire; but the desire was granted.
Even more were the Jews given their desire:
Now at the feast he [Pilate] released unto them one prisoner, whomsoever they desired.…And the multitude crying aloud began to desire him to do as he had ever done unto them.…And so Pilate, willing to content the people, released Barabbas unto them and delivered Jesus…to be crucified.
And he released unto them him that for sedition and murder was cast into prison, whom they had desired; but he delivered Jesus to their will.
This awful choice of desire is confirmed by Peter, who said,
But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you.
They chose a murderer and murder, rather than the Prince of Life and eternal life. The desire was not denied them; but has there ever been a people who have been more cruelly and ruthlessly murdered than the Jews? Be very, very careful what you thirst after, that is, what you desire.
Let Paul have the last word upon desire. He says, “We…do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that ye might walk worthy of the Lord” (Colossians 1:9,10). Amen!
The Certainty of “This Is That”
There is a great difference between dogmatism and speaking with authority as a man of God. Dogmatism is the assertion of prejudiced self-will against obvious truth; “speaking with authority” is the assurance of one in the truth, who knows the truth. Only those who love the truth and are prepared to walk in it can discern the difference. One of the greatest certainties of faith is that the man of faith will be able to say, “This is that.” At the feast of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit fell upon the waiting disciples, Peter spoke with authority and said, “This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel” (Acts 2:16ff). If he had been a modern, theological scholar, he would have said, “It appears to me that this is that,” or, “Could we not say that this is that?” or “I am almost convinced that this is that”; which would have meant that he was having quite a struggle against being convinced. He would have said alternatively, “Not to be dogmatic, I would suggest that this is that,” and would have been very scornful of anyone who said, “This is that.” Of course, he might even have rested on that comfortable, intellectual, theological cushion: “The general consensus of opinion amongst Biblical scholars is that it is possible that this is that.”
Why does Peter speak with such authority? Because he had just graduated (with dishonors) from a three-year course in God’s Bible College under the personal tuition3 of the Logos, the Everlasting Word. He had been humbled by chastisement; he had been purged from an evil heart of unbelief; his understanding had been opened so that he could understand the Scriptures; and he had been baptized in the Holy Spirit. He spoke by the inner witness of the Holy Spirit to truth.
Jesus had said, “When He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth” (John 16:13). John said, “It is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth” (1 John 5:6). Those who walk with God in truth know the meaning of the Scripture, “He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself” (1 John 5:10). The baptism of the Holy Spirit under the New Covenant is not an experience that comes and goes. It is an implanted spring of living water that has come to stay. “He shall give you another Comforter (Parakletos, Gk.—one called alongside to help), that He might abide with you for ever” (John 14:16). It is an anointing that abides. Special infillings of the Holy Spirit there will be for special service required from God; “but the anointing which ye have received of Him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in Him” (1 John 2:27). This does not mean that you have no need to be taught; if that were so, the Lord Jesus would not have ordained teachers in His Church (Ephesians 4:11). Instead, it means that no one should be called “Rabbi” (teacher or master) upon the earth” (Matthew 23:7-12); that is, you must be the disciple of no human being. If you are walking in the truth, and you hear something that purports to be the truth, the inner witness of the Spirit (if listened to) will confirm or reject it.
“This is that” is another of the great certainties of faith. “There was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Spirit was upon him” (Luke 2:25). It was revealed to this man by the Spirit that he should see the Lord’s Christ before his death (verse 26). When he saw the baby Jesus, he took Him up in his arms and said, “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace… for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation” (verses 28-35). When he saw the Christ, he knew that this is that which was foretold to him and to many other prophets. “There was one Anna, a prophetess… and she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of Him to all that looked for redemption in Jerusalem” (verses 36-38). She also knew that this is that.
We have today many contrary voices expounding prophetic interpretations; but none can say, “This is that.” They have a different note, a human one—“this is going to be that” and, like all human things, it is not reliable. At the second coming of the Lord Jesus, it will not be an appearance of glory or a physical demonstration of wound-prints that will convince His true saints; these things can be and have been imitated; rather it will be the inner witness of the abiding Comforter that “This is that” which He promised—“I will come again and receive you unto Myself” (John 14:3). This is the glorious final certainty of faith.
- Editor’s Note: Many Christians are unaware that it was a Jewish guard unit that stood watch at Jesus’ tomb. This is why Pilate, in response to the Sanhedrin’s request (Matthew 27:62-64), declares, “‘You have a watch (i.e., a group of guards); go your way, make it as secure as you can’ ” (verse 65); after which the very next verse notes, “So they went, and made the sepulcher sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch” (verse 66).To what “watch” was Pilate referring? To the same body of Temple guards we encounter in such passages as John 7:32, 44-45; Acts 4:1; and Acts 5:22-24. Pilate had washed his hands of the whole affair (literally and figuratively—Matthew 27:24), so he was not about to assign any troops under his command to what he must have thought of as a “fool’s errand.” Thus he granted a special dispensation to the Jewish leaders, allowing their Temple guards to be stationed somewhere outside the Temple. It then follows that these same guards, when terrified by the angel (Matthew 28:4), fled in haste to their superiors, that is, to the Sanhedrin (verses 11-12), and received their orders from that body. Uncertain (because the situation of using the Temple guard outside of the Temple was unusual in Roman occupation) how Pilate might respond, the Sanhedrin declared that it would intervene if Pilate got wind of their dereliction of duty (verses 13-14). They said this knowing (as Pastor Gutteridge points out) that for a Roman soldier to fall asleep during guard duty, or to abandon his post, for any reason, or to lose his prisoner, for whatever reason, would mean certain, unappealable execution (as happened in Acts 12:18-19). The council determined that it could be successfully argued that these Temple guards did not fall under the rules of Roman military jurisprudence, since they were neither Romans nor in the pay of the Roman army. ↩
- See Chapter 2, Faith’s Conditions ↩
- Tuition:In this context, the word means instruction. ↩