The Closing Testimony

An Address on the Coming Again of the Lord Jesus

"I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and Morning Star. And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come; and whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely" (Revelation 22:16-17).

I have good news for you, my friends, the best of news — the One who loves us and who died for us is coming back again. This is not good news to everybody. A very religious young lady once said to me: "The doctrine of the second advent seems to give you pleasure; it fills me with horror." Ah, but that was because she did not know the One who is coming. If she had known Him as He speaks of Himself here, she would not have been afraid. He says, "I JESUS," and there are no terrors in that Name to those who believe. The New Testament begins with Jesus. It is the book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham, and in the first chapter of it in our authorized version, this precious name occurs in capital letters. It is the title of the Book. "Thou shalt call His Name JESUS, for He shall save His people from their sins." And it is the same Person whose first coming is recorded for us in the beginning of the Testament, who tells us of His coming again at the end of it.

His name, given at His birth, means Saviour. It is the most precious and glorious of all names, but He had to make good His title to it if He was to bear it for ever, and this He has done, not by His words of grace and works of compassion, though these could only have been uttered and wrought by Him, but by His death upon the cross. The reason for His death had to be declared, the charge against Him had to be written, and so we read, "And when they were come unto a place called Golgotha, that is to say, a place of a skull . . . they crucified Him . . . and set up over His head His accusation written, THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS." And then they reviled Him, wagging their heads, and saying, "If Thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross." And the chief priests and leaders of the people joined in this mockery, and said, "He saved others; Himself He cannot save. If He be the King of Israel, let Him come down from the cross, and we will believe on Him." They did not understand the meaning of His Name. Because He was Jesus He could not come down from the cross, for if He had done so He must have relinquished His Name, He must have denied Himself, for He could not have been Jesus any more. How blind were these foes of His, their hatred of Him had so darkened their minds that they could not understand that He could not save Himself because of the Name He bore. If the Name of Jesus was to be set above every Name, and if He was to carry it up to the throne of God and bear it for ever as the sweetest name our ears have ever heard, then He must die, for only by His death could He be the Saviour of those who lay under death's power.

He could not save Himself and His apparent weakness became the jest of the Pharisees. "He cannot save Himself," scoffed they, and their jest passed from lip to lip in Jerusalem, and the mocking crowd laughed long and loud. But no malice or mockery could turn Him from His purpose. His love was stronger than their bitter hatred; He had come to be the Saviour, and so He did not, He could not, save Himself.

"Himself He could not save,
  Love's stream too deeply flowed,
In love Himself He gave
  To pay the debt we owed.
Obedience to His Father's will
And love to us did all fulfil."

But God hath raised Him from the dead, and made this same Jesus both Lord and Christ "that at the Name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth: and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of the Father" (Phil. 2). But whether lying in the manger, or impaled upon the cross, or exalted to the throne, it is the same Jesus.

"I, JESUS HAVE SENT MINE ANGEL."

Yes, Jesus is the Lord of the angels, they obey His will and do His bidding. This Angel was so great and glorious that John the Apostle had thought him divine, and would have rendered divine honours to him (chaps. 19:10; 22:8), but he had restrained him, saying, "I am thy fellow-servant." John and he served one Master, and that Master was Jesus. He says to the angels, "Go! and they go." They are under His command, who died for us. Consider, I pray you, my friends, the greatness of our Saviour, He is supreme in heaven, all obey Him there, and soon He will be supreme on earth, for He says:

"I AM THE ROOT AND THE OFFSPRING OF DAVID."

This title means that He is the divine, incarnate King, that all power and majesty and dominion on earth belong to Him. The Old Testament glows with many prophecies and promises as to peace and blessing upon earth, and every one of them shall be fulfilled when He reigns in righteousness. He is the One who made the promises, for He is the root of David, and He is the One who will fulfil every promise He has made, for He is David's Son. It was of Him that David thought when he sang: "David the son of Jesse said, and the man who was raised up on high, the anointed of the God of Jacob, and the sweet psalmist of Israel said, The Spirit of the Lord spoke by me, and His word was in my tongue The God of Israel said, The Rock of Israel speaks unto me, He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God. And He shall be as the light of the morning, when the sun riseth, even a morning without clouds; as the tender grass springing out of the earth after rain. Although my house be not so with God, yet hath He made with me an everlasting Covenant ordered in all things, and sure, for this is all my salvation, and all my desire, although He maketh it not to grow" (2 Sam 23).

In this title divine and human glories unite. JESUS IS DAVID'S LORD AND DAVID'S SON. And this is the great test for every man, for no man has a right to the name of Christian who denies either one or the other. You will remember that this was the test that the Lord put to the Pharisees when He was on earth. "What think ye of Christ? Whose son is He?" They said, "He is the son of David." He saith unto them, How then doth David in spirit call Him Lord, saying, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit Thou on My right hand, till I make thine enemies Thy footstool? If David then call Him Lord, how is He his son? They were dumb and had no answer to this great mystery. It is a mystery to us also, for we cannot explain it. But what we cannot explain we can believe, and in the Person of Jesus we see God and Man, the Root and the Offspring of David.

David was a foreshadowing of our Lord Jesus Christ. He was the warrior king and established his kingdom by power, and so it will be when the Lord comes to reign, as the 19th chapter of this book clearly shows. We are all acquainted with David's story, than which none more enthralling was ever told. When Goliath of Gath tyrannized over Israel, and when no man was found who dared to fight with him, David stood forth and made short work of him, he closed his boastful mouth, and laid his huge carcase dead in the dust. He delivered Israel from the great foe and proved himself to be God's anointed and the true king of Israel. But his rights were not acknowledged by the people, for Saul, the man of flesh, held the throne, and David was forced into exile, a king indeed, but a king rejected, and his rights refused. But there were some who joined themselves to him during the time of his exile. They were a motley crowd. Some were in debt, others were in distress and all were discontented, but David became captain over them, and moulded and fashioned them according to his own will; and they became David's men. They knew that be was the rightful king, and so they threw in their lot with him, that wherever he was whether in life or in death, there they would be.

This is the time of the true King's rejection. The world has said of Jesus, "We will not have this Man to reign over us." But we have believed on Him as our Saviour, and know that He gained a great victory for us over the power of the devil and death when He died for us, and we have owned Him as the rightful King, while the world rejects Him we confess Him as Lord. We may have been as strange a people as were David's men when first they came to him. Indeed, we were debtors, with nothing to pay, and we were distressed, for our sins lay like a heavy load upon our souls and we were afraid of God and judgment to come, and we were discontented, for the world had failed to fill our hearts, but when we came to Jesus we found that He was able to meet all our needs. He eased our distress, and He frankly forgave our debts, satisfied our hearts, and so we sing to Him: —

"Now none but Christ can satisfy,
  None other Name for me;
There's love and life and lasting joy,
  Lord Jesus, found in Thee."

He has done much for us and what has been our response? Have we, like David's men, thrown in our lot with Him? And are we ready to suffer with Him if need's be, and to be scorned and rejected for His dear Name's sake? If that be so we shall have the opportunity of rejoicing that we are counted worthy to suffer shame for His Name, like the apostles in Acts 5.

Now David's men looked forward to the crowning day, and they did not look in vain, it came at last, and when he went up to Hebron, and was acknowledged as king by the men of Judah, we are told, "And his men that were with him did David bring up, every man with his household" (2 Samuel 2). We also may look forward to the crowning day, when our Lord shall have His rights, and shall be universally owned. This is a hope that maketh not ashamed, it will not disappoint us. "For yet a little while, and He that shall come will come, and will not tarry." What a thrill it gives us as we think of the day of His glory, that in the very world where He was dishonoured and execrated He shall receive homage and praise. In that day He will not forget those who have been loyal to Him in the time of His rejection, for "it is a faithful saying, If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him." But before He shines forth as the Sun of righteousness with healing in His wings, before all the world beholds the splendour of His majesty, He will reveal Himself to His redeemed and watching church. He is the root and the offspring of David, and as such He has title to universal dominion, and will take up all that He has title to. But He is more than that. He is

THE BRIGHT AND MORNING STAR.

He will bring in the day of glory, but before the dawn of it He shines as the bright star of the morning, and as such we shell see Him. May we not say that even now He has shone into our hearts, and we are looking with an eager expectation for Him? Let us not fear the darkness of the night, more dense than ever, it may be, but the day is coming, and before it comes, the morning star will shine forth for us. "For the Lord Himself, shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and the trump of God, and the dead in Christ shall rise first, then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air, and so shall we ever be with the Lord."

THE SPIRIT AND THE BRIDE SAY, COME.

Could it be otherwise? The Spirit ever desires His glory and his labouring ceaselessly with that in view, but the blood-bought bride desires it too. And another desire fills her heart, she longs to see Him whom she has not yet seen, for His love has won her heart, and to see Him as He is, and to be with Him, before His glory shines for the deliverance of this groaning creation, this is her hope and desire, and it shall be fulfilled. But what a triumph of God is this, that the hearts of His ransomed pilgrims should be brought into such complete consonance with His own heart, that the Spirit's cry and theirs is one. Yet we can sing —

Shine forth, O Lord, Thou bright and morning Star!
Come, quickly come! Thy people waiting are
To see Thy light dispel the deepening gloom:
Waiting the power that vanquishes the tomb

Shine forth, O Lord, and drive away out fears,
Fulfil our hopes, and give us joy for tears,
Shout, shout the word that bids Thy dead arise,
And calls Thy saints to meet Thee in the skies.

Shine forth, O Lord, come soon for Thy redeemed,
For those on whom Thy tender love has beamed;
Thy pilgrim saints oft weary in the way
Cry out for Thee — Star of the coming day!

Shine forth, O Lord, by sorrow oft baptized,
We quit the world, and all things by it prized,
Shake ourselves free from every earthly care,
And onward press to meet Thee in the air.

Shine forth, O Lord, and claim Thy blood-bought bride,
Put forth Thy power and raise her to Thy side.
We wait the hour when our glad shout shall be —
That death is swallowed up in victory.

Shine forth, O Lord, and bring to pass the day
When every clime shall own Thy rightful sway,
When all mankind before Thy throne shall fall,
And heaven and earth shall crown Thee Lord of all.

AND LET HIM THAT HEARETH SAY, COME.

Let no heart be silent. If any amongst us have been sleeping, like the virgins in the parable, let us awake, for, "Behold, the Bridegroom cometh!" Many are praying for revival. This is the revival we need, a revival of fervent love for Christ that shall make us long for His coming, and cry out for it. No heart is right that is not right here, to be indifferent to this is to have left our first love. Nothing can make up for the lack of this, nothing will satisfy the heart of Christ but this, and from this it is always Satan's endeavour to seduce the saints. Awake, sleeping Christian! Hear the word. You have been espoused to one husband, that you might be presented as a chaste virgin to Christ. His coming draweth near, He says to you, I am the bright, and morning Star. Oh, hear His voice, and as you hear unite your voice with that of the Spirit, and cry, Come.

AND LET HIM THAT IS ATHIRST COME. AND WHOSOEVER WILL, LET HIM TAKE OF THE WATER OF LIFE FREELY.

If our hearts are right Christward they will be right manward, if they are full of affection for Him they will be full of compassion for the weary and thirsty world. The glorious hope of the Lord's Second Coming will not make us mere mystics, shutting ourselves off from the needs of the world as though they were no concern of ours No, as our hope grows our activities will increase, and, thank God, we have good news for thirsting men. It is that the water of life is free. God's offer goes out in its fullness and freeness to whosoever will take it. It is His last offer, His last appeal. How wonderful it is that in the closing words of this Book of judgments there should ring out this silver gospel note, so clear, so blessed. God grant that it may be more continually upon our lips

The Book closes with the last words of our Lord to His church on earth. "Surely I come quickly, Amen." Then comes the response of the church to that last word. "Even so, Come, Lord Jesus." Then the Holy Ghost gathers up all the thoughts of God's heart for us in this present time into one comprehensive benediction, "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with all the saints." Nothing more can be added to that. The glory shines before us, but until we enter into it and are satisfied with Jesus for ever, His grace — the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ — will be upon and with us all. Amen.