Companions of Christ and the Heavenly Calling
Chapter 1 - The Purpose of Companions
Shall we proceed with our special line of meditation. May I just say
a word about the nature of this ministry because the one object in
view is the glory of the Lord Jesus; that stands over everything.
But as to the method of the ministry, this is not strictly a time
for preaching; it is a time especially for instruction in
the things of the Lord. That means that there is a work side to it;
it is something that we have to apply ourselves, and work in the
Word of God. But when we have said that, of course, it is a time for
exhortation and a time for encouragement in the spiritual life.
Having said that, let us come to the Word.
In the letter to the Hebrews, chapter 3, verse 1: "Wherefore, holy
brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling..."
Verse 14, "We are becoming partakers of Christ if we hold fast the
beginning of our confidence firm unto the end."
Now, in accordance with what I said just now about working, we are
going to work for a minute or two with one word. In the two verses
which we have read, this one word occurs. In this translation it is
the word "partakers": "partakers of a heavenly calling," "partakers
with Christ". That one Greek word is translated into a number of
other words in our New Testament, as here it is partakers and in two
other places in this letter to the Hebrews it is so translated;
chapter 6 and verse 4, and chapter 12 and verse 8. I'm not going to
read all these verses or we should do nothing else for all the
In Luke's gospel chapter 5 and verse 7 the same word is translated
"partners". In the first chapter of Hebrews again, and verse 9, it
is translated "fellows", "God hath anointed thee... above thy
fellows". It is the same word: "above thy partakers, thy partners,
thy fellows" and in other forms the word occurs quite a number of
times in the New Testament. In Hebrews 2:14 it is "take part of". A
number of times in the first letter to the Corinthians it is "be
partakers of". Today in Hebrews 7:13 it is "pertain unto". You will
see that in every case it refers to a relationship.
I have looked very carefully into this word and I have found that
its true and deepest meaning is not given us in many of these
translations. It ought to be translated into the word: "companions".
So that what we ought to read is this: "holy brethren, companions
of a heavenly calling... we are becoming companions of
Christ if we hold fast". So, putting these two verses together, we
are going, in these days, to be occupied with Companions of Christ
and the Heavenly Calling.
Companions of Christ and Companions of the
This idea of companions runs right through the Bible. Behind
everything that is official in relationship to the Lord, there is
always a personal element. Remember Abraham, Abraham was a great
servant of the Lord and he served the Lord very faithfully, but the
deepest thing about Abraham was that he was God's friend. God spoke
of Abraham as, "My friend". That carries with it this idea of
companions of God.
Moses was a great servant of the Lord. The Lord often spoke of Moses
as "Moses My servant," but we know that there was something deeper
in it than that. God spoke with Abraham [should be
Moses] as "a friend speaketh to his friend". There was a
very intimate relationship between God and Moses, and Moses and God.
In reality Moses was a companion of the Lord.
And what about David? We can say many things about David, but the
greatest thing ever said was "he's a man after My own heart". And
that is the meaning of a companion of the Lord.
Now, when the Lord Jesus came onto this earth, He chose His
disciples and apostles on the basis of companionship. Call them
disciples if you like - those who had got to enter the school of
Christ and be taught; call them apostles if you like - those who
were to be sent forth by Him. But the deepest thing in their
relationship to Him was that they were His companions. Toward the
end of their time He said, "Ye are they which hath continued with Me
in My tribulation" - companions in life, and companions in
When we come to the church it is not some official, ecclesiastical
institution; that's very cold, that is very formal, that is very
distant. But when the Lord speaks about His church, He always speaks
of it in terms of love, "the church of God which He purchased with
His own blood... Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it".
Perhaps we have got to recover this idea about the church, it is
called to be the companion of Christ. Its deepest
relationship with Him is a
heart relationship - just to be His companion in life, in
work, in suffering, and in glory.
Now, having said a word about the idea of companions, let us
go on in the second place to think of:
The Purpose of Companions.
The Bible is a book of one purpose. That one purpose lies behind all
its stages and all its phases. That one purpose lies behind
creation. It lies behind Divine foreknowledge. It lies behind
election. It lies behind the person whom God chose. It lies behind
all the movements of God through the Bible. It lies behind all the
figures and all the types. It lies behind the three main sections of
the Old Testament: the section of priesthood, followed by the
section of kingship, and then followed by the section of the
prophets. Those three sections comprise the Old Testament. Behind
everything in the Old Testament lies one purpose. In the
Bible God is revealed as a God of purpose; ever moving in His
sovereignty as governed by this one purpose.
What is this one purpose in and through all? It is centred in God's
Son. In all things God has His Son alone in view. The "all things"
is a very comprehensive term, but all is comprehended by God's Son.
As we are going to dwell very much in this letter to the Hebrews,
take note of this very factor at the beginning of this letter. The
first great statement is concerning all God's past ways and methods:
in time past God moved by this means and by that means, in this way
and in that way, but at the end of those times He concentrates in
His Son - He gathers all that up together and focuses it in
The Son of God comprehends the whole of the Old Testament
and all of God's ways in the Old Testament. And then to emphasise
that, this letter goes on through the first two chapters to bring
the greatness of God's son into view. You know the wonderful things
said about God's Son in the first chapter, here is the One who is
above all others, who comprehends all else in the thought of God.
So, God's interest in His Son is brought before us right at the
beginning and the declaration is that God's purposes all centre in
His Son. That Son is now known unto man as Jesus Christ, but
the point here is this: having introduced and presented the Son, and
having magnified the Son, the Holy Spirit through the writer goes on
in this way (and there ought to be no break in chapters here), "Wherefore
for this reason, because of this, because of God's purpose in
sending His Son, because of the infinite greatness of the Son,
greater than all others and all else, for that reason, holy
brethren, you are called into companionship, companionship
with God's Son and companionship in the heavenly calling of God's
Now we come to our third point in this connection. There are two
principles related to Divine purpose throughout the Bible. The first
is what we have just pointed out: God works ever, and always,
and only in relation to His purpose. The statement of the
apostle Paul is, about God, that "He worketh all things
after the counsel of His Divine will", and that will is centred in
His Son. He therefore works ever, always and only in relation to His
The Bible contains almost uncountable things... what a great mass of
things there are in the Bible! Things which God created, and
things which God used. And then what a lot of persons there
are that God laid His hand upon; a whole multitude of persons. And
then how many are the different ways that God used to
realise His purpose - the ways of God are very many! The means that
He employs... the Bible is just full of these things. Then we have
blessings; God is very often found blessing people and
On the other hand, there are the judgments of God, here are
God's judgments and the Bible contains many of the judgments of God.
But when we have said all that, (and of course we can never really
comprehend all that, this book is always far, far too big for us)
but when we have said all that, not one of these things: persons,
means used, blessings, or judgments, or anything else, is a thing in
itself. If God is a God of creation, if God chooses men, if God uses
things, if God blesses, or God judges, He always does so
with one object in view: He created all things for His Son. That is
a definite Bible statement. He took hold of these persons with His
Son in view
- so in Abraham and through Abraham, we see God's Son. Well, let us
be content with making the statement.
If God blessed, it was because that thing stood right in line with
His Son's interests. If you want the blessing of the Lord, get
alongside of the Lord Jesus, be wholly committed to the Lord Jesus.
The Father never sees us apart from the Lord Jesus, it is in Him
that the blessing of God is to be found. If the Bible has much to
say about Divine judgments (and how much is said by the prophets
about the judgments of God!) it is because things then were contrary
to His interests in His Son. God always keeps His eye focused upon
His one object; that "object" is His Son.
God wastes nothing. He is not just interested in little things as
such, the little things become very big things with God when they're
related to His Son. Are you a very little person, very unimportant?
If you are vitally related to His Son, God looks upon you as very
important. But it is not your importance, nor mine, it is the
importance of His Son. You see this is true about any, any faithful
school teacher. I suppose all of us have been to school and we have
had our school teachers, and some of us in our school days we did
want to stand well with our teacher. We tried to please them because
we wanted to be happy with our teacher and we wanted to get all that
the teacher could do for us. But my recollection of school masters
is this: they did not have me in view! The only thing that
they had in view where I was concerned was how their object was
going to be realised: they had got to have good scholars who passed
examinations and came out tops, and everything that they thought of
related to that end. Sometimes they would be very pleasant to me,
and then I thought, "What a good boy am I!" and sometimes it was the
other way and I knew something about the judgment that the school
could give! Now, this was not because they liked me or disliked me,
what they really did like was the end when the examination came. So
everything about me was looked at in the light of the one object.
Now, I don't like to call God a schoolmaster, but the principle is
the same: He is looking at us in the light of His Son, "How does
that man or that woman answer to My thought in My Son? How much of
My Son is there in that man or that woman?" Later on we shall see
how God works on that ground, but know this is a principle in God's
purpose that leads us to the second principle.
While God is a God of purpose, ever moving in relation to that
purpose, going on no matter what happens, going on with His Son,
working on the ground of His own sovereign Lordship and no man can
prevent Him, He is going to reach His end. That is why He has given
us the book of the Revelation. Before we reach the end He has told
us what it's going to be like, His purpose is going to be realised;
nevertheless, He keeps to this other principle, He always:
Retains Man in a Place of Responsibility.
He never lets man off from
responsibility. Why is that? Because His purpose in His Son is to be
realised in man - the great corporate Man in which Christ is to have
Christ is not going to realise God's purpose alone. He will not be
in glory as just one isolated unit. So we come back to our verse,
"Holy brethren, companions of the heavenly calling..." we
are made companions of Christ if we will hold fast. Paul
says that "the church is the fullness of Him that filleth all in
all". Hence there is a responsibility resting upon man, and there is
no book in the Bible which emphasises that more than the letter to
the Hebrews. In that connection this letter is one of the most
terrible letters in the Bible. [Brief loss of audio at this point.]
...Come about in this letter it is going to be the thing which
governs all our consideration through these things.
If God takes up a vessel in relation to His purpose, it may be
individuals, or it may be a company of people like Israel, or like
the men who God took up in the Bible; if God takes up a vessel in
relation to His purpose and that vessel does not respond to God's
will, God will pass by that vessel and find another. He will call in
others to take his place. This is, in the greatest instance, what we
have regarding Israel. God chose Israel to be the vessel through
which He would bring in His Son. Israel was called and chosen of God
in relation to His Son and His purpose in His Son. And what did
Israel do with His Son? They refused the Son and therefore they
refused God's purpose and God put them aside and passed on. Jesus
said, "Therefore shall the kingdom of heaven be taken from you and
given to a nation bringing forth the fruit thereof." Now, this is
the very meaning of this letter to the Hebrews as we shall see. No
one can say of Israel now, "They are the companions of God". Israel
was once the companion of God and the companion of God failed God.
What a lot of light this throws upon the Lord Jesus calling Judas
amongst the twelve. Judas was one of the twelve, called to be a
companion and the companion betrayed His Lord. Israel was called to
be the companion of God and Christ, Israel betrayed the Son of God,
and Israel has suffered the doom of Judas: a companion set aside,
rejected, while God's going on with His purpose and bringing in
others to take their place.
So this explains this one little letter to the Hebrews, the letter
of the place and the greatness of Jesus Christ. It sets forth the
wonder of being called to be a companion of Christ and then it makes
it so clear what a terrible thing it is for those who are called to
be companions, to fail the Lord. It says, "How shall we escape if we
neglect so great salvation". You can never understand that phrase
"so great salvation" until you understand the meaning of being a
companion of Christ. Is there anything greater than being a
companion of Jesus Christ? When you think of Who He is and when you
think of all that God has purposed concerning His Son, and then to
think that you and I are called to be companions of that Son of
God... that is indeed a very great salvation! It is the "so great"
Well now, this morning we have spent our time just going round this
one word, "companion". The New Testament is built around that one
word, around the one idea of companions of Christ. Christ is first
seen choosing His companions, and then He is seen teaching them by
word and by deed, and then He is seen testing and sifting them....
Are they true companions? Or are they only associated with Him for
what they are going to get from Him? You can have plenty of
companions if you give them everything, if they can get all that
they want from you, but what about the day when you can give them
nothing but suffering and persecution, and everything that is
against their natural interests? You can only offer them a place in
the Father's house. So He sifted them, He tested them, and on more
than one occasion it is said, "They walked no more with Him... from
that day many of His disciples went away".
Companionship is something tested and sifted through adversity. If
you have an extra lot of testing, an extra lot of suffering in your
relationship with Christ, try to do this thing which we all find the
most difficult thing to do: that is, He is seeking to have us as His
closest companions in fellowship with Him not only in His glory, but
in His suffering. So the relationship with Christ and in the gospels
is on the basis of fellowship: oneness in life, oneness in purpose,
oneness in experience, and oneness in discipline. Oneness in death,
burial and resurrection. Oneness in His anointing; and then at last,
oneness with Him in His heavenly glory.
I close this morning with this important word: we must
realise that Jesus is repeating Himself in a spiritual way in this
dispensation. When Luke wrote the book of the Acts he
commenced with these words, "What Jesus began to do and to
teach..." and Luke's implication is, "I am now going to write what
He is going on doing and teaching". It is the same Jesus, He
is doing the same work, and teaching the same things, but there is a
difference; then it was by illustration in a temporal way, now it is
the meaning of those things in a spiritual way. The
meaning that was in the things then, is now in what He is
doing with us in a spiritual way. If He opened physically blind
eyes, He is now opening spiritually blind eyes and that's very much
more important! Well, that's just an indication of what I mean, this
same Jesus is going on with the same work in meaning now in you
and in me! He is repeating His earthly life in a spiritual way. He
is more on the line of meaning than of acts now.
Why do we say that? Well, when we were children we used to sing the
hymn (and I think when we're grown up we often feel the same) we
used to sing, "I think when I read that sweet story of old, when
Jesus was here among men..." and then it finishes, "I should like to
have been with Him then". Do you feel you would like to have
lived with Him then on the earth? Is that the best thing that you
can think about? Let me tell you: you have got something far better
than that now! May I say Jesus is with us, but oh, on a much more
wonderful basis than then.
We are called now to be
companions of Christ, companions of the heavenly calling and His
dealings with us perhaps are far more real because His
dealings with us are spiritual and eternal, while His dealings then
were only physical and for the time being. It is a good thing to
look after people's bodies and to help them in this life, but there
is something very much more than that, it is that heavenly calling,
that which is eternal, that which will not pass as our life work
when time is no more.
"Wherefore holy brethren, companions of a heavenly calling... we are
made companions of Christ if we hold fast". All that is only by way
of laying the foundation. As the Lord helps in these coming days, we
shall build on that foundation.
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