You see, about every fresh case of revelation there is a sense in which everything is quite new, as though the thing revealed had never been before, and no one else in all God's universe had ever heard or seen it. When you really come to have that experience, that knowledge by revelation of the Lord Jesus may be very imperfect, it may be only one thing about Him, but it is the revelation of the Lord Jesus in some particular way, at some particular point, some particular significance; and when you come in this way of revelation into possession of that it is to you as though it is something that has just come out of heaven newborn, and no one else in all the world has ever had it before. That is the effect of it. You want to tell it to other people, and older believers who have known it for years and years have become your pupils. You begin to teach them something they know about as though they knew nothing of it at all. That is the effect of it. Of course, they do not let on; they do not smile benignly, and say, Poor creature! Inwardly they may smile, but it is a smile of gratification. They know that is how it ought to be with you. But they know quite well exactly what has happened. It is just like that. Some of us know that, when we did, by the grace of God and the operation of the Holy Spirit, leap clear of all that we had known in that other way, that traditional way, into the knowledge of the same thing in a living way by revelation, then we began to talk about it, and it did not matter to us at all that there had been people saying the same thing for years, or that it could be found in a good many books. To us it was as though they knew nothing about it at all. We were the only ones who knew anything about it! That is quite pardonable. If it really is of the first-hand order, there is something which is quite new and quite fresh, as though it had just come for the first time out of heaven. That is sonship!
Oh, if we lived there right up to date all the time, how different things would be. I mean, how much of our knowledge is, after all, what we have got through men, or of a man. And Paul is saying, Now, I could have got it all from the elders and apostles at Jerusalem and become a good Christian and an apostle, a servant of Jesus Christ like that. But no - "Paul an apostle (not from men, neither through a man, but through Jesus Christ, and God the Father, Who raised Him from the dead)."
Revelation Makes for Stability
Now we want to see how this connects with the whole object of the Letter to the Galatians. These Galatians had, as the apostle said, started well, and for a little while they had run well, and then they had stopped because the traditionalists, the Judaizers, had come in and bewitched them, and their going on had been arrested; they had proved unstable. "I marvel," says the Apostle, "that you are so quickly removing from Him that called you in the grace of Christ unto another gospel' (1:6). I marvel! "O foolish Galatians, who did bewitch you ... having begun in the Spirit, are ye now perfected in the flesh?" (3:1, 3). They had proved to be fickle, unstable, unreliable: and such features are not the features of sonship. They are just the opposite; they are the contradiction of sonship.
Now what is implied, if it is not directly stated, by the Holy Spirit through the Apostle is this, that when it is after this kind - "God revealed His Son in me" - when it is first-hand, immediate, direct, personal, the revelation of God's Son in us, it makes for stability, it makes for assurance, it rules out all fickleness. Immediately you get on to second-hand ground, you get on to dangerous ground, so far as your stability is concerned. Presently a storm will arise, the rains will come, the winds will blow and beat upon that house, and it will fall: and great will be the fall of it, because it was build upon the sand. You remember what our Lord said: "He that heareth these sayings of Mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sane." it implies something that is NOT rooted in experience, not rooted in ourselves, something we have heard and that is as far as it got. We have got it second-hand. The Galatians met the adverse winds and rains of the Judaizing assaults and cashed. Paul then, says, by implication, Stability, assurance, trustworthiness in the spiritual life, demand that we shall have this first-hand knowledge by revelation of the Lord; and if it is a demand, it is a possibility, it is meant for us; and it is just that freshness of things by first-hand knowledge and revelation which brings the element of wonderful freshness and life into every case concerned.
There is all the difference, you see, between that Christian life which is a laboring under the burden of an imposed Christian order and system, requirement and demand, and the free life of a son in whom the joy of the Lord is the strength. I cannot help asking this question of you, Is your Christian life a burden? Are you under a strain because you belong to the Lord? Have you come into a realm - you may use phraseology and call it "the testimony" or something of the kind - into a realm which has brought you into a strain and you ever wear a look of strain on your face, and go about as though you were carrying a great burden: this testimony is something so exacting and you have to be so careful? Has your Christian life become anything like that, a strenuous burden - something which takes the real joy out of your life, and people feel that you are all the time trying to live up to something, to keep up a standard, to maintain something? That is all wrong, every bit of it is wrong! That is NOT sonship; that is slavery. That is what Galatians deals with, the great difference between the son and the slave. Sonship carries with it in the heart always the sense of wonder, of freshness of life. It does not mean you have no burdens and trials, but it does mean that your relationship to the Lord is a thing which is so real, so first-hand, and your knowledge of the Lord is so fresh, that you know that you are on the borders of a land of far distances. You know in your own heart what these words mean - "Thine eyes shall see the king in his beauty: they shall behold the land of far distances" (Isaiah 33:17). I am not exaggerating and I am not straining to make this mean something. To some of us it is just like that. For us we know that we have come to the land of far distances. That can be put in other words. We are seeing so much, sensing so much, that we realize quite well we will never get through it, and never be able to give it out or even to exhaust it, though we were to go on here for many a lifetime. It is like that.
Is it like that with you, or are you living on the last crumb, hardly knowing how to make ends meet spiritually? It is the difference in sonship, you see. Sonship implies an open heaven, sonship does bring in this element of wonder. Oh, friends, it is very true; and I would not say that to you if it were not true in my own case. I know this tremendous difference. Life is cut in two for some of us. On the one side of life, there was that strain to get something, to meet the demand, working hard to get some fresh idea, buying the latest books in order to try and keep fresh in our preaching, getting new ideas. People who were the most suggestive or provocative of thought and idea were our favorite authors. Then came the dividing of life with death and resurrection, with the Cross, and the other half of life, the growing revelation of the Lord Jesus that, no matter how long you go on, you feel that you have not started, but are still right at the beginning. It is a wonderful thing to feel you have the land of far distances, and are seeing the King in His beauty. That is the inheritance of sons. Christ is the land of far distances, He is the King in His beauty; and the land is our inheritance; we are brought into the land. It is a wonderful land.
(continued with # 3 - "Revelation Leads to Loneliness")