Addresses on Subjects Connected with the Second Coming of the Lord,
Delivered in Jersey and Guernsey
By John S. Oliphant.
The shorthand notes of these elementary addresses, delivered in Jersey and Guernsey, on subjects connected with second coming of the Lord, have been revised and printed in accordance with my promise to those who heard the addresses in Guernsey.
My object was, not to give a learned disquisition in support of the doctrine of the pre-millennial Advent, nor to enter into much detail as to the course of events foretold in prophecy as yet unfulfilled; to present to the hearts and consciences of God's beloved people the leading truths concerning the return of the Lord Jesus to take His Church to Himself, put down His enemies and introduce His glorious kingdom.
May God in His great goodness bless the study of the subject to those who read the addresses, that they with the writer may be found with "loins girded and lamps burning," "like to men that wait for their Lord." If my reader should alas be one who is only carrying the lamp or torch of profession, may he be convinced, ere it be too late, of the danger of delay and indecision for all who continue to neglect the great salvation which God in His grace has brought so near, and turn away from Him who is still speaking from heaven in accents of love and grace, will assuredly find themselves outside when the Bridegroom comes, and the wise enter in, and the door is shut.
J. S. O. London, April, 1899.
The Midnight Cry
The Hope of the Church
The Translation of the Saints to Heaven
The Two Resurrections
The Judgment Seat of Christ, the Righteous Judge
The Return of the Jews to Their Land
The Great Tribulation, or Righteous Retribution
The Judgment of Babylon, the Beast and the Nations
The Millennium and the Disarmament of the Nations
The Eternal State, or the New Heavens and the New earth
The Midnight Cry.
Our subject to-night is "The midnight cry." The kingdom of the heavens is likened to ten virgins which took their lamps and went forth to meet the Bridegroom. We get in the passage several points of great importance, so I will try and take them in order: The kingdom of the the heavens; the profession of the virgins; their state; the midnight cry and its effect on the virgins; the coming of the Bridegroom and the shutting of the door.
There has been some confusion in the minds of Christians between the kingdom in its present form, and as it will be when established in power. The Lord Jesus was the Messiah of Israel, and had title to the throne of David, but the Jews crucified their King. Messiah was cut off and had nothing. "He came to his own and his own received him not." "He was despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows." The inscription on His cross was "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews." The Jews forfeited all the [conditional] promises by the rejection of their Messiah, and, instead of being delivered from their enemies, they were left in bondage to the Roman power, and the setting up of the kingdom on earth in power was deferred to a future day. Christianity comes in between the rejection of the Messiah, and His return to set up the kingdom and restore His earthly people.
In the prophecy of Daniel we find the four great kingdoms of the Gentiles: Babylon began with Nebuchadnezzar, then followed the Medes and Persians, then the Grecian, and finally the Roman empire. This last was in existence when Jesus was "born King of the Jews," and the Messiah was unrighteously delivered over by the Jews to be crucified by Pilate the Governor, the representative of the Roman power. The King, being rejected and seated on the Father's throne on high, is owned as Lord by Christians, and Matthew 13 gives us seven similitudes of the kingdom of the heavens. "To you," said the Lord to the disciples, "it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of the heavens."
You will remember that Nebuchadnezzar was driven from his throne and became like a beast until he learnt "that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men," and "that the heavens do rule." Christians own the rule of the heavens where the Lord is, and own His authority, though He is rejected by the world as such.
The sower in the parable in Matthew 13 sowed good seed in the field, that is the world, and the enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat. The good seed are the children of the kingdom and the tares are the children of the wicked one. Both are to grow together in the kingdom until the harvest, when the wicked shall be gathered out of the kingdom and cast into a furnace of fire, and then the righteous shall shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.
The present outward aspect of the kingdom you will find in Matthew 13, 31-33. It is like a grain of mustard seed, which grows and becomes a great tree; and like to leaven which a woman "hid in three measures of meal till the whole was leavened." The inward aspect we find in verses 44-46. A man buys a field for the sake of the treasure in it. The field is the world, bought by Christ for the sake of the people of God in it. And it is like a merchantman seeking goodly pearls, who, finding one pearl of great price, sells all that he has and buys it. This pearl is the Church as seen in its beauty and value to the eye of Christ.
The parables in Matt. 13 give us an idea of the kingdom of the heavens in mystery, while the true King is rejected by the world but acknowledged by Christians in heaven. He will sit upon His own throne by and bye, as we shall see in future lectures. The proof that He has not got His own throne yet is that He is now sitting down on His Father's throne, Rev. 3, 21, and that the kingdoms of this world have not yet become the kingdoms of our God and of His Christ, Rev. 11:15-17. But He has gone up to heaven leaving us the distinct promise that He will return, John 14:3. He will reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and of His kingdom there shall be no end. Luke 1:32-33.
We now come to the virgins. They all take their lamps and go forth to meet the Bridegroom. A Christian is one who is saved out of the world and is waiting for the Son from heaven. This was the profession of the virgins. It is the night of the world, for the light was put out when Jesus was crucified. He was "the light of the world." The life in Him was "the light of men," but the darkness comprehended it not. "The night is far spent and the day is at hand." All the virgins had the lamp in the darkness, but while the Bridegroom tarried they all slumbered and slept. They settled down in the world and forgot the return of the Bridegroom. Worldliness destroys spirituality in the Lord's people and the exercise of divine affections. There is no true light anywhere but in the Church, and all light comes from Christ.
Now we find that, though all the virgins had the lamp of profession, they are divided into two classes, wise and foolish; and it is very important to understand the difference between the two. The wise had oil in their vessels with their lamps. The foolish had no oil.
Oil is constantly used in Scripture as a type of the Spirit of God. The priests at their consecration in the Old Testament were washed with water, sprinkled with blood and then anointed with oil. — Lev. 8:23-30. In the case of the leper we get the same thing: he had to wash in water. Then the priest put the blood upon the tip of his right ear, the thumb of his right hand, and upon the great toe of his right foot. Then the oil was put upon the blood, and the priest poured out what remained on his head.
This is characteristic of what takes place in Christianity. There must be the work of the Spirit in man; he must be born again, wholly anew, in order to see and enter the kingdom of God. Out of the side of the blessed Saviour, when dead, came blood and water. The blood expiates for our guilt, and the water cleanses from all the moral defilement which is connected with the sinful nature in which we are born, and the state in which we have lived. There is no expiation from our guilt but by Christ's precious blood, and no cleansing from the impurity of our natural state but by participation in His death. Then the Spirit is given to believers as the witness to the value of the work of Christ in which they have believed. No blood was needed in the case of the blessed Lord. He was anointed with the Holy Ghost and with power. But He was the holy thing born of the Virgin, begotten of God, pure and spotless humanity, in a world of evil.
Now all the virgins slumbered and slept whilst the Bridegroom tarried.
The early Christians went out from the world that crucified their Lord. Their hearts followed Him up to heaven and, like the Thessalonians, they turned to God from idols, to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven. Is that our attitude tonight? You say we were never idolators. Well, I do not know that. Have you never had the world in your heart to the exclusion of Christ? Any thing that disputes Christ's rights over you and His title to your affections. is an idol.
But the Church soon left its first love; declension came, and loss of power; then the world and its patronage were accepted, and things went from bad to worse. At midnight all were slumbering.
And now what happens?
There is a cry made: "Behold the bridegroom; go you out to meet him." The cry awoke all from slumber, and called attention to the Bridegroom whose return they had forgotten. Sleep is, I need hardly say, a figure of a moral state. A Christian in a low spiritual state is contemplated when the apostle says in Eph. 5:14, "Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from among the dead, and Christ shall shine upon thee." The Christian is one who is awake in the night, for he belongs to the day. Then "let us not sleep as do others, but let us watch and be sober."—1 Thess. 5.
Sixty years ago the Lord revived in the Church the truth of His coming again, and it is now held by many of His people.
Have you heard the midnight cry, and are you, my dear hearer, waiting for and looking for the Lord?
Now we come to the state of the virgins. The cry makes them all look to their lamps, but the lamps or torches of the foolish were going out. The cry manifested their true state, they had no oil. The great characteristic of the true believer, the Spirit of God, was wanting.
The great and wondrous gift of this dispensation is the Spirit of God. How many present can say they have received the Spirit? The Lord Jesus in the great day of the feast at Jerusalem cried saying: "If any man thirst let him come to me and drink. He that believes on me, as the scripture has said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake be of the Spirit which they that believe on him should receive, for the Holy Ghost was not yet, because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)" The Lord did not only speak to the woman of Samaria about her sins, but about the living water which he had to give, which would be in the believer a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life. Have we all drunk of this living water and had our thirst satisfied? Do you know that you have received this wonderful gift, so that you are sealed to the day of redemption? Would you be happy, on returning home to-night, to think that the Lord might come before the morning?
But I must pass on.
While the foolish went to buy, the Bridegroom came. They that were ready, those that had the oil, went in with him to the marriage, and the door was shut. How solemn! While they were busying themselves, the Bridegroom came, and then it was too late.
Some suppose, that, when the Lord comes, only a certain number of believers will be taken to heaven. This passage does not teach the rapture of the Church, but it is perfectly clear from it that the foolish virgins do not represent true believers, but false professors for the Lord says to them "Verily I say to you I know you not." Of His sheep he says "I know my sheep and am known of mine." But the foolish virgins have only the torch of profession. They have no personal acquaintance with Christ; and this, dear friends, is the great need of the moment, personal acquaintance with Christ Himself, and knowledge of His love. Have you this personal knowledge? It is as sinners we become acquainted with the Saviour, and you want no other title but your sinnership to commend you to Him. Remember it was the lost sheep that the shepherd sought and found, the lost piece of silver that the woman found, and the prodigal that was welcomed home.
Now this midnight cry has gone forth for many years past, and it sounds still in the ears of hundreds of believers. Have you heard it, and do you understand the meaning of the words "the Spirit and the Bride say come?" If not, may you awake to-night! The gospel does not only bring forgiveness of sins to every believer, but full assurance of salvation. The object of it is not to convert the world, as some have supposed, but to gather out of the world joint heirs to reign with Christ in His kingdom. The Spirit of God is given not only that we may know that we are children of God and cry "Abba Father," but to unite believers to Christ and to one another.
Now are we going out to meet the Bridegroom? Is the world behind our backs and the hope of the glory filling our hearts? The early Christians lived as those who were waiting for their Lord; and the effect of the cry is to lead the wise virgins out to meet the Bridegroom as at the first. The one question to-day is, What is Christ to me?
All Christendom is divided into two classes, wise and foolish virgins; those who possess the Spirit and those who do not. To which class do you belong, dear hearer, at this moment? Why were the foolish virgins without oil, and why are professors without the Spirit? Because they have never bowed to the truth; they have never found out their need as sinners; they have never thirsted, and therefore they have never come to Christ. They may be members of churches and versed in theological discussions; but, if their sins have never been a burden to them, their consciences have never been reached, and until there is conviction of sin, there never will be confession, nor confidence in the One who alone can wash the sinner from his sins in His own blood.
Look at the woman of Samaria. She cared nothing about Christ or the living water when the Lord first spoke to her; but when He touched her conscience she felt He must be a prophet, and she ends with confiding in the Messiah and saying to the men of the city, "Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ."
Now the Spirit is the inward power for realizing all our blessings. Have you received it? By the Spirit we "mortify the deeds of the body," and if we walk in the Spirit we do not fulfil the lusts of the flesh. "As many as are led by the Spirit of God they are the sons of God." And "you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if so be the Spirit of God dwell in you." You plead business cares, and pressure of various kinds; all that is perfectly true, but then Christianity does not take a Christian out of his circumstances; it brings God into his circumstances, and makes him by faith superior to his circumstances, so that his heart is kept in peace in the midst of all the pressure down here.
May no one here remain in doubt as to their position. Remember they that are ready, those that are true Christians, go in, and the door will be shut. May we be watching and ready. May our loins be girded about and our lamps burning, and we ourselves like to men that wait for their Lord. If there is one that cannot rejoice at the thought of the coming of the Lord, then come to Him to-night as you are; cast yourself upon His grace, trust wholly in His precious blood, and confess Him before men as your Saviour and your Lord.
The Hope of the Church.
John 14:1-3; Rom. 8:13-25; Eph. 5:25-29; Rev. 22:16-17.
Our subject to-night is a very blessed one: the hope of the Church. When I say the Church, I mean the Church which is Christ's body, composed of all true believers; the Church which Christ loved, and for which He gave Himself. The present dispensation is a dispensation of faith, not of sight. The Christian's blessings are heavenly, and are enjoyed by faith in the power of the Spirit. The Lord is not here, but in heaven sitting on His Father's throne; and the Christian walks by faith, waiting for the incorruptible inheritance reserved in heaven till the Lord comes.
Hope is spoken of in Scripture in several different aspects. Even in this world we see how hope enters into human life. The heart of man is constantly buoyed up by hope. In all trials there is the hope that they will come to an end. Men hope that business will improve, that their position will be bettered. In this Island [Jersey] those who cultivate the vine hope for a fine crop of grapes. The warrior hopes for victory. The seaman, to reach port in safety. Many are hoping against hope that there may be peace among the nations. The criminal lives in hope for the time when his sentence shall have become a thing of the past. Hundreds are hoping for heaven. But hope in all earthly things is uncertain, and may end in disappointment. The hope we find in Scripture has no uncertainty about it, tho' alas! unbelief has introduced uncertainty into it, by hopes of mercy and of heaven at last, founded on a false basis.
In the passage in Romans 8 which I read, hope is connected with the state of the groaning creation. The Apostle, having spoken of the "glory which shall be revealed in us," shows that creation waits for its deliverance from the bondage of corruption, till the manifestation of the sons of God. The groan of creation because of the state existing through sin, will be hushed when the Lord comes. Even we who have the first fruits of the Spirit, "groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body." The Christian's body is redeemed in title, that is, it belongs to the Lord, but it is not yet changed in state. We are saved in hope, but there is no uncertainty about it. The body is a body of humiliation, a mortal body now, but it will be a glorified body and incorruptible, and we shall be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, when the Lord comes. The present state of things, in God's mercy, will not continue, and there is a good time coming; but now we groan in sympathy with the groaning creation, with which we are connected by these mortal bodies. As to what we have already become in Christ, we are "heavenly," and "as is the heavenly such are also they that are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the earthly we shall also bear the image of the heavenly."
Hope is characteristic of our present state. We have access by faith through Christ into the favour of God, and we rejoice in hope of His glory. Hope is one of the three characteristics of the Christian and of the christian church, "faith, hope, charity." The apostle, writing to the Thessalonians, remembered without ceasing their "work of faith, labour of love, and patience of hope." God is called the God of hope, for He is the source of all hope, and the certainty of hope for the Christian is wholly founded on God, and His word as to the future. So the apostle prays: "Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Ghost." And in the Epistle to the Ephesians he prayed that the Saints at Ephesus might know "the hope" of God's calling.
Jewish hopes, in accordance with the promises, are earthly, connected with the setting up of the kingdom on the earth and blessing in Jerusalem. But in these days of Gentile privileges and blessings, the hope of the saints is entirely heavenly, for they are partakers of the heavenly calling, and Christ is in them "the hope of glory." They wait for the hope of righteousness, that is glory, by faith.
Now let us look for a few moments at John 14. I can only run over the various points shortly. I want you to believe nothing because I say it, but to study your Bible, and see what Scripture says on the various truths which come before us in these addresses.
The Apostles are looked at here as part of the heavenly family on earth. The Lord is leaving them, and we have His last utterances — His parting words. He was going to His Father, and lest they might think that they would be forgotten, He tells them that in His Father's house there are many mansions, and that He was going to prepare a place for them there. There was no place for man, as he is by nature, in heaven; but the Lord was going to accomplish redemption and make a place for men there, by Himself going there as man in all the virtue and efficacy of His redeeming work.
He says to the disciples "Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in me." He sets Himself before them as an unseen object for their faith and affections; and this is what we want, dear friends, in this day of careless Christless profession.
There is too much theology and theological discussions now-a-days; too much head work and too little heart work; whereas everything for the Christian is summed up in a living Person, in whom the heart finds rest and satisfaction. The return of the Lord is a cold doctrine, if the Christian does not feel His absence from this world. Suppose, for instance, two homes in close proximity. In the one, the household all have retired to rest, no one is expected. In the others an absent one is returning, the father or mother of the family perhaps. There all is the longing of expectancy and hope. Everything is prepared and everyone is waiting, and if the return is delayed, the watching is prolonged into the night.
This now is the character of the first few verses in John. It is the living, loving Saviour, going to leave His poor troubled followers in the world that hated Him, and comforting their hearts with the hope of His return to take them into the place He was going to prepare for them. "I will come again, and receive you to myself; that where I am, there you may be also," gives us the desire of His heart to have them with Himself, and true Christian affections are the response in our hearts to what are in His.
"Oh what a home! but such His love
That He must bring us there,
To fill that home, to be with Him,
And all His glory share.
The Father's house, the Father's heart,
All that the Son is given
Made ours—the objects of His love,
And He, our joy in heaven."
Now what do you know, dear friends, of this house and this hope? Have His words tonight struck a chord in your hearts or not? If we know anything of family affections, and joys in earthly homes, and of the joy of meeting loved ones after long separation, we may think that all must be eclipsed by that love that permeates the family of God, where the divine nature is the common property of all the children, and the Father's heart is revealed in the only begotten Son who dwells in His bosom. English homes, it is said, have had a great deal to do with making England different to other countries; but all natural things fade into insignificance before the wonderful revelation that the Son of the Father has become man, that He may introduce the many sons who are being brought to glory into His Father's house, to share His portion and his glory there.
We need to picture to ourselves the desolation of the hearts of those poor disciples, about to be left in the world that hated their Master, which was no place for them, as it was no place for Him. They were disappointed that the kingdom was not to be set up on earth, according to Old Testament promise and prophecy; but this only opened up a heavenly home for them instead. And these words were to comfort the living, not the dying, to whom they are so often read, though I do not want to rob the departing of the comfort of them. But when things down here appeal to us, what I may call the bright side of things, is there something for our hearts in these words: "I will come again and receive you to myself," which makes us rise superior to attractions here, and keeps us from becoming mere dwellers on the earth?
The Lord did not say when He was coming, and He does not mean us to know. He is coming, and we are to be expecting — not death — that is not His coming, but Himself. He Himself is the hope of the Christian; the hope of the christian Church.
As I have said before, true Christianity is the answer in our hearts to what is in Christ's heart in heaven. The Holy Ghost is here to form our hearts in the truth, and what we take in by the Spirit forms us, and what is within comes out. "He that believes in me," said the Lord, "out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water." There is no effort in bearing fruit, if the Spirit is ungrieved and the heart is right with God. "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance." We need to see what it is in our state which hinders our taking in. The apostle told the Corinthians that they were so carnal that he could not feed them with meat; and, if we can only take in food for babes, we do not grow up into spiritual manhood.
Now is this hope of the Lord's return, the hope of our souls? Death is not the hope of the Christian. Death, properly speaking, does not lie ahead in the Christian's path. He has entered on a path of life, to end in glory. He has passed from death to life. Death, as the judgment of God and the power of Satan lies behind him at the Cross. The Lord Jesus settled all that for the believer, left it all behind and the believer is possessed of the life which in Him has come out of death. He may put off the earthen tabernacle; the Lord may release his spirit and take him to himself, but that is not judgment. Death is ours (1 Cor. 3:22, 23), having been annulled by the Lord Jesus, who has brought life and incorruptibility to light by the gospel.
Now has death, as the King of terrors, passed out of your horizon? The blessed Lord has passed through it, and destroyed its power. He could say in Psalm 16, "thou wilt show me the path of life," and the pathway He has made out of it is our pathway now. It is perfectly plain that the early saints were not expecting to die. They were waiting for the Son from heaven, 1 Thess. 1:10, their "Deliverer from coming wrath."
We will look now at the Church in another aspect. It is not only regarded as the family of God where the love of the Father is made known in and by the Son, but it is Christ's body and His bride. In Eph. 2:25-29 we get the speciality of the love of Christ to the Church. It is never said Christ loved the world, nor that God loved the Church. The display of what God is in His nature is world wide, but Christ is like the "merchantman seeking goodly pearls; who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it." He loved the Church, and gave Himself for it, that He might set it apart for Himself from all evil. The Church is, in this aspect, composed of all saints [during the day of grace].
People are afraid of this word "saint," and think it very humble to call themselves poor sinners. Well, no doubt on our side we were nothing else; but where God's call is in question it is not what we were, but what we are. We are now saints by divine calling. Paul writes in Romans 1 to "all that be in Rome beloved of God, saints by divine calling"; saints are separated ones, holy ones, sanctified by the will of God and the work of Christ. We must not be afraid of taking our true place as Christians, for it is a place made for us by Christ and His work, an entirely new place before God in a risen Saviour. "To as many as received Christ, to them gave he the right to take the place of children of God." Rahab was not only delivered out of Jericho when it was destroyed, but she found a new home among the earthly people of God.
The Church is Christ's special portion in the time of His rejection by the world. He has been occupied with it ever since. He died for it; He is cleansing it with the washing of water by the word, removing all impurities, and forming it morally after His own likeness.
There is always a double action in practical sanctification. The Spirit of God works in us by an object and by the written word; the object is Christ, and the word brings home to our consciences His death, which judges all evil and separates us from it. It is also the revelation of Himself, as the One who removes everything that would interrupt communion, and hinder us from being in conscious nearness to Himself where He is.
His present service is going on in what we may call the preparation day, in view of the presentation day, when He will present the Church to Himself, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing. He sees it now in its unity and beauty as the pearl of great price; but, when He presents it to Himself, the actual state will be the reflex of Himself for his own eternal satisfaction. Now He is waiting for that moment. Are we? Do we acknowledge that the hope of the Church must answer to what is in Christ's heart? The Church is His object, and He is going to present it to Himself. Then Christ Himself is the Church's hope, and to be with Him and like Him for ever.
But there must be settled peace with God to enjoy this hope, the present knowledge of Christ's love, and of all the favour of God, into which He brings us by His work and power. "Behold," says the apostle, "what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called the children of God." "Beloved, now are we the children of God." There is nothing about hoping here. It is the place of all who are born of God, and possess the divine nature.
Teachers in the Church will tell you no one can know, and thus they plunge you into uncertainty, and destroy the reality and vitality of Christian life and godliness. Scripture says "we know." The Gospel of John was written that we might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing we might have life through His name; and the Epistle of John was written that we might know that we have eternal life, who believe on the name of the Son of God.
The great need of the present moment is personal acquaintance with Christ. Nothing will satisfy the heart but knowledge of Himself and His love. We are in the midst of a mass of profession, but how much of Christ is there in it all? How much of Cain worship by persons who have never known themselves to be sinners in the sight of God, and have no real title to approach God at all?
In the last passage I read, we hear the voice of the Bridegroom in the night of His absence. He presents Himself: "I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright morning Star." He was David's son, born of a woman, and the true heir to David's throne, and He will reign over the House of Jacob for ever, and of His kingdom there shall be no end. All the promises to Abraham will be fulfilled, and made good in Him, who is also David's Lord; the root as well as the offspring of David.
He is also the morning star. The Church knows Him in the midnight in this character, for she is supposed to be awake, and to see the morning star before the dawn of day. He is the Sun of righteousness, and He will usher in the day. True, we belong to the day. We are children of the day. We are not of the night, nor of darkness. Can we all here present say this, and are we watching thro' the night? A hymn, speaking of the Bride, says:
"Thy spirit, thro' the lonely night,
From earthly joys apart,
Has sighed for One that's far away,
The Bridegroom of thy heart."
But is it so with the Church to-day? This is a question of the affections, what Christ is to our hearts. You answer, I am very dull. Well, we all know the deadening effect of present things in the world, but what is to lift you up? What you find in Him. It is never any use looking within. We only really judge ourselves aright when the eye is fixed on the Object. He says "I come quickly." He is going to take the kingdom and to have His rights. But "I am the bright morning star" touches a chord in the heart of the Bride, who is conscious of her special relationship to Himself: "The Spirit and the Bride say come." It is the invitation of the Bride to the Bridegroom, If it is joy to the heart of the Bride to hear the voice of the one to whom she is espoused, what must it be to the heart of the Bridegroom to hear the Bride saying "Come." If all the kindreds of the earth will wail because of Him, there is one who is longing for His return. Christ's own heart is set upon having His Church with Himself and like Himself, and the answer to what is in His heart is the hope of the Church.
Now all this is a matter to be known and enjoyed in the heart. You may be familiar with the doctrine of the second coming of our lord, but your heart may be as cold as a stone if the truth has not reached your conscience, and judged in yourself and your ways all that is inconsistent with Himself, and His blessed holy presence. If human relationships and the affections belonging to them satisfy the heart in this poor world, what must the affections which belong to divine relationships be, of which Christ Himself is the source and spring and the Spirit the power and realization?
The Spirit and the Bride say "Come." It is the dispensation of the Spirit. The Spirit has formed Christ's body here, the Spirit dwells in the house, and the Spirit dwells in the individual members. Like Eliezer of old who went to get a bride for Isaac and lead her to him across the desert, the Holy Ghost has come to earth to form and lead through the world the Bride of Christ. She is united to him already, but waits for the marriage supper of the Lamb to be celebrated in heaven, the place to which she properly belongs, as being of Him who loved her and gave Himself for her.
That one word "Come" is a wonderful word. Can we all take it up in reality, or do we not yet understand it? We might add many things to it: Come for thy saints, come and take the kingdom, come and bind Satan, come and hush the groaning creation; but the one word stands alone "Come;" and let him that hears say "Come," let every true Christian, whose heart gets into tune, join in the cry "Come." This is the harmony on earth pleasing to the Lord himself.
Then the Church is evangelical up to the last moment, for she has drunk at the stream of grace. "Let him that is athirst come," she says, "and whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely." Every soul in this company may get into this charmed circle, for the streams of grace are flowing, rivers of living water, as we sing:
"The river of His grace,
Through righteousness supplied,
Is flowing o'er the barren place,
Where Jesus died."
If there is one here present outside this blessed circle of divine affections, Oh come and drink! Jesus said Himself on earth, "If any man thirst let him come to me and drink;" and now it is the Church on earth, who has satisfied her own thirst, who invites poor souls to drink at the streams where she has found refreshment, in this barren land where Jesus died.
The Translation of the Saints to Heaven.
Heb. 2:5; Phil. 3:20-21; 1 Cor. 15:47-57; 1 Thess. 4:13-18.
I have read several passages to bring fully before us what Scripture teaches on this subject, so that all may rest on the word of God and not on human opinion.
In the three personages who are selected as witnesses to "faith" before the flood, we have a little picture of what would come to pass in a future day. Abel finds acceptance with God by sacrifice, and obtains testimony that he is righteous. Enoch walked with God three hundred years, in the midst of abounding iniquity ripening for judgment. He prophesied of the coming judgment, but was taken to heaven without dying before the flood came. Noah finds favour with God, and he and his family pass through the flood, and are brought out into the cleansed earth.
In the present day believers have found acceptance with God by the sacrifice of Christ, like Abel. Not only are all our sins put away to be remembered no more, but we have been brought into a place of positive blessing and favour. We are all "the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus," and we have an entirely new place before God in righteousness in a risen Christ.
If we look at the Church as a body composed of all true believers, her destiny is heaven. Like Enoch she walks with God and pleases God. She sees iniquity abounding, everything corrupted in professing Christendom and in the world, and ripening for judgment. But she knows she will be taken to the place to which she belongs, that is heaven, before the judgment comes—Rev. 3:10. When the Church has been taken to heaven, then the godly remnant of the Jews, the earthly family, will be preserved like Noah through the period of the great tribulation which is coming on all the world—Dan. 12:1; Matt. 24:21-22; Rev. 12:13-17.
What is said of Enoch in the Old Testament is that he walked with God, and was not, for God took him—Gen. 5:24. In the passage I read prominence is given to his faith; by faith he "was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God." He went to the place which suited him. His life was a testimony in separation from evil to the character of God, and God took him. His faith is connected with his translation, for he lived as one that did not belong to this world, but to another scene suited to God. And ought not all this to characterize those who are awaiting their translation to heaven at any moment? The Christian has, properly speaking, only one business here: to walk with God, to please God, to obey Him, and glorify Him in his body which belongs to God.
In Phil. 3:20, the apostle states "our citizenship is in heaven." The Christian is not of the world. He has died out of the world with Christ, and is dead to the world. His life is "hid with Christ in God." He is to be subject, as one who is in the world, to the powers that be, which are ordained of God; but he belongs to another scene where Christ is. His home is above, and he is a pilgrim below. The Church is associated with Christ in heaven during the time of His rejection by the world; and, though still in bodies of humiliation, we are looking for the Saviour from heaven to change our bodies of humiliation, that they may be fashioned like His body of glory.
The blessed Lord is a real Man in glory. When He rose from the dead, He said to His disciples: "Handle me and see, for a spirit has not flesh and bones as you see me have"; and He ate and drank with them. But it is also important to remember that we do not know Him after the flesh, but in a spiritual state and in a glorified body, head of the new creation. Nevertheless it is not another Jesus, nor has he taken another body, for he showed to the disciples His hands and His side, and said to Thomas: "Reach hither thy finger and behold my hands, and reach hither thy hand and thrust it into my side, and be not faithless but believing."
Well, are we all looking for the Saviour? He has quickened our souls by His power, but He is also going to quicken and change our mortal bodies by His power. The Christian is made partaker of the divine nature; a mighty work of God has taken place in him already. He is born of God, and there is a new spiritual being, a new creation. The Spirit of God is descriptive of his spiritual state, for he is not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if the Spirit of God dwells in him. In Rom. 8:11, it is said that God shall quicken our mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwells in us.
Now let us turn to 1 Cor. 15:47, where we get the contrast between the first man and the second man. The first man, Adam, became a living soul; the last Adam, a quickening spirit. To quicken means to make alive out of death. In John 20:22, we see Christ as the last Adam in resurrection, breathing on His disciples, imparting to them in the power of the Spirit the life in Himself in which He lived to die no more. Now we get, not only that He is a quickening spirit, but that, in contrast to the first man who was out of the earth and made of dust, He was out of heaven. Though truly born on earth of the Virgin by the power of the Holy Ghost, He, in His own person, had no beginning, and was "out of heaven." His origin was out of heaven, and, though on earth in human relationship to His mother and of David's seed according to the flesh, He was the heavenly one, in contrast to the man out of earth, who is earthy made of dust.
We go further and find: "Such as he, made of dust, such also those made of dust; and such as the heavenly one; such also the heavenly ones." That is there are two classes: the one associated with the earthy and the other with the heavenly. To which class do you belong? If truly a believer, born of God and having His Spirit, you have a new origin, and Christ's death has severed you from the earthy race. You have still the body of flesh and blood, and "flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God," but the Christian's destiny is heaven, and his origin is of heaven, because he derives from the One out of heaven, and as is the heavenly such are the heavenly. Heavenly is characteristic of the Head and of the race.
It is not merely that the Lord Jesus has washed us from our sins in His own blood. What has He made us to be? "The sanctifier and the sanctified are all of one, for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren; saying, I will declare thy name to my brethren." Now we get the wondrous consummation: "As we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly." We shall be like Him. The desire of love must be for its object to come up to its ideal, and Christ will never be satisfied till He has His saints before Him in His own image. So these bodies will be changed that we may be altogether conformed to His image. Moral conformity there is, and should be, now, for we are of Him; and, with "unveiled face, beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, we are changed into the same image from glory to glory even as by the Lord the Spirit."
What a prospect lies before us! We groan in these mortal bodies, and if the body is put off it goes to corruption. But it is redeemed and belongs to Christ; and we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment; in the twinkling of an eye, we shall have done with all that is mortal. Mortality shall be swallowed up of life. Death does not lie across the Christian's path; it is behind him.
But are we living in the path of life which death cannot cross, though the body may be put off? Funerals are times of sorrow for those who are bereaved, but for those who have gone to be with Christ, they have only left everything connected with death behind for ever, to wait in His presence for their glorified bodies: for each saint will have his own body. Christ's power will gather their dust, and the departed spirit will be clothed with the body in a glorified state. Bring in reason here and you at once get off the ground of faith. That the Son of God should be born of a Virgin is incomprehensible, but we believe and worship and adore and we want more of this spirit in a day like the present, when man's reason is exalted and infidelity is rampant.
I pass on now to 1 Thess. 4, which tells us how the saints are taken up to heaven. It is clear that the Thessalonian saints were looking for the kingdom to be set up, and feared that those who had died might not have their part in its glories. The apostle corrects this thought, and exhorts them not to sorrow as those that have no hope; for Jesus passed through death, and "if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him." That is he looks at God bringing Jesus to take the kingdom, as it says, in Heb. 1:6, "When he brings in the first-begotten into the habitable world," and those who had fallen asleep God would bring with Jesus.
Their spirits were with Christ, but what about their bodies? The apostle then gives us the order of events. "The Lord himself shall descend from heaven with an assembling shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with 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."
Observe there is not a word about the world in the passage, nor about the Lord coming into the world. It is the first act in the great drama about to be enacted. The Lord descends into the air, that is the meeting place. The saints in the graves hear His voice and rise, the living hear his voice, and the assembling shout gathers all together to meet Him in the air.
"Thy love we own, Lord Jesus:
Thy way is traced before Thee:
Thou wilt descend, and we ascend,
To meet in heavenly glory.
Soon shall the blissful morning
Call forth Thy saints to meet Thee;
Our only Lord, alone adored,
With gladness then we'll greet Thee."
"So shall we ever be with the Lord."
Now is all this a mere matter of information in our heads, or are our hearts engaged with Him? Christ is the first-fruits from among the dead. "Now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first-fruits of them that slept." The harvest is to come: "Afterwards they that are Christ's at his coming." Oh that Christ may touch a chord in our hearts to-night! He loved us and gave Himself for us. He is not going to send for us; He is coming Himself. It is His voice we shall hear. If it is heaven on earth to enjoy Christ's company here, "What will it be to be there?" "Gates ajar" and such like books teach that heaven is a place where all will be found that gratifies man's flesh down here; but this is a great mistake. The joys of the Father's house are tasted on earth. When the prodigal was received home the joy began, and this joy never ends. "I will see you again," said Jesus to his disciples, "and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man takes from you."
Now my object in these addresses, dear friends, is not to give you information merely about coming events, but so to present the blessed future, in which Christ is the central object, that your hearts and mine may be detached from this present passing scene.
If there is here one poor soul that cannot look into this bright future, may you turn to Christ this night, and learn what a Saviour He is to the guilty sinner that flees to Him, in confidence in the value of his precious blood.
The Two Resurrections.
John 5:19-29; John 11:21-27; Rev. 20:5-6.
Our subject to-night is the two resurrections. The resurrection of the just and of the unjust. The one takes place at the beginning and the other at the end of the millennium. The Lord Jesus will judge the living and the dead. 1 Peter 4:5.
I do not think anything can be clearer than the language in Rev. 20:5-6. Those who have part in the first resurrection are described in verse 4. Of them it is said "they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years." Then it is stated that the rest of the dead, those remaining in their graves after the dead in Christ have been raised, "lived not again until the thousand years were finished"; and in verse 12 the dead stand before the great white throne, and are judged according to their works.
I have read from John 5 and John 11 because I think the way to understand the truth about the resurrection of life is to apprehend the truth as to the life which believers possess already in the Son of God, seeing that the power by which they have already been quickened will be extended to their bodies at the first resurrection.
When Jesus came to Bethany Lazarus was already dead, and Martha said she knew that he would rise again at the resurrection at the last day. This was the common faith of the Jew. But Jesus had something new to reveal to her soul. He was the resurrection and the life. It was all in His blessed person. He, the living and eternal Son, was in the beginning with God, and in Him was life, and now He was manifest in flesh, "the Word became flesh," and as the Father had life in Himself, so had He given to the Son to have life in Himself.
Well, He says to Martha, "he that believes in me, though he have died, yet shall he live, and whosoever lives and believes on me shall never die." If a believer dies he shall live again; if he is alive when the Lord comes again, he shall never die. Life is the Christian's portion, and Christ "died for us that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him."
Martha had not apprehended the truth as to Christ's own person, nor the power of life in Himself, who was the resurrection. Death lies on everything here, it is the boundary of this world, and the sentence of death has passed upon all men "for that all have sinned." But here was One who could go into death and annul its power, who had the authority to lay down His life and take it again. We must look away from Adam's race altogether and find life in another before the world began.
In John 1 we read: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." When there was a beginning the Word was, and the Word was God. By Him all things were created, and in Him was life. Here we find the source of life in the eternal Word. Then the Word became flesh, and tabernacled among men. Life came into the world in Himself, and He came that the sheep "might have life and have it more abundantly." But for the sheep to be brought into life, He must destroy death by entering the dark domain of Satan's power. None could do this but Himself, the One in whom was life. He abode alone in the world, though by His power He quickened souls.
We are looked at in the Epistle to the Ephesians as dead in trespasses and sins, not one movement of life towards God, but we can now say, "God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, has quickened us together with Christ."
In John 5 it is a different aspect. First the Lord speaks of the hour, or period of time, which then was: "The hour is coming and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live." The hour, I need hardly say, is not an hour of sixty minutes, but a period of time, during which those morally dead in the sight of God are quickened, or made to live, by hearing the voice of the Son of God. That hour is still going on. It is of vital moment to apprehend the person of the Son of God in whom was life in the beginning, and then to see the life brought down into the world by His becoming man, and to see Him going into death, that the power of the life which death could not touch might be displayed in His resurrection out from among the dead.
Nothing can be clearer than the testimony of the Lord Jesus as to the result to the believer of simple faith in His person as the Son of God, and his word. "He that hears my word, and believes on him that sent me, has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but is passed out of death into life." We do not get here merely the fact that the believer has life in the Son, but that he has passed out of one state, that is "death," into another, "life." The believer appropriates by faith Christ's death, which judges the state and condition in which he is found, but delivers him out of it. Life in the Son is in a new sphere outside this world of death, and is characterized in us by knowledge of the Father and Jesus Christ whom He sent.
What a wonderful truth to be proclaimed in such a world as this, which in the sight of God is but a large graveyard! Think of the great metropolis with its cemeteries and thousands of dead; and think of the thousands of so-called Christians in Christendom who are still dead in trespasses and sins. Do you want to be sure that you will have part in the first resurrection? Then listen to the voice of the Good Shepherd now. He says, "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me; and I give to them eternal life and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand." The voice which called Lazarus back to life in this world, is the voice which calls souls dead in sins out of their graves into spiritual life to return to a state of death no more. If you are a believer in the Son of God, then His own word is that you shall not come into judgment. He endured the judgment for us, and closed the history of the believer as a child of Adam in His death under judgment, that we might live in Him beyond the judgment; and this life can have nothing to say to death. It is the life in which He lives, inseparable from Himself, and brings us into His relationship as Man with His Father and His God. Hence on the first day of the week, the resurrection morning, His message to His disciples was: "I ascend to my Father and your Father, and to my God and your God."
The first resurrection when the bodies of the sleeping saints will be raised is therefore a consequence of the life which they already possess, which separates them as a class from the dead, and identifies them with the position and acceptance of Christ before the Father.
We see elsewhere in Scripture, 1 Thess. 4, that the living, those believers who are alive when the Lord comes, will be changed in a moment and caught up to meet the Lord in the air; but in John 5, the Lord goes on to speak of another hour, or period of time, in which "all that are in the graves shall hear His voice, and shall come forth; the doers of good to the resurrection of life, and the doers of evil to the resurrection of judgment." The Father "has committed all judgment to the Son," "because He is the Son of man," but it is clear that the Lord cannot judge those whom He has quickened with His own life and associated with Himself. They are the doers of good; all others are evil doers. All His own who are in their graves will hear His voice when He comes, but it will be for them a resurrection to life, when they will have their glorified bodies, and be fully conformed to His image as Man in glory.
The doers of evil, that is the dead, those who have died in their sins, will hear His voice, but not till the end of the thousand years at the second resurrection, when they they will come forth to be judged for their works, and cast into the lake of fire which is the second death.
Alas! how little the children of God know of the character of the life which they posses in the Son, though it is the portion of all the family of God on earth. "I am come," the good Shepherd said, "that they might have life, and have it more abundantly;" so we find Him on the first day of the week coming into the midst of his disciples, and, having pronounced that wonderful word "peace," He breathes on them as the last Adam, a life-giving spirit, and says: "Receive you Holy Spirit." This life in resurrection cannot be separated from the Spirit, which is its source and power in our souls.
Now, I think, you will understand from all this truth about life as the portion of the saints, why the first resurrection is a thing by itself, entirely distinct from the resurrection of the dead. It is the extension, to the bodies of His redeemed, of Christ's power, which has already operated in their souls, and associated them with Himself in His own life and relationship before the Father. There is no other life for the Christian but the life which God has given to us in His Son. And there is no other place for the Christian but Christ's own place or position before God; He has redeemed you, if a true believer, body, soul, and spirit. The body is now the temple of the Holy Ghost and belongs to God and those whose spirits have gone to be with Christ will have their own bodies again.
I trust the Lord may give us all to understand better what our present portion is, outside and apart from this world in the Son of God. "Who is he that overcomes the world, but he that believes that Jesus is the Son of God?"
The conflict between good and evil is going on, and the Christian must have his senses exercised to discern between good and evil, that he may choose the good and depart from the evil. We have to go on with the daily duties of this life, but this life is passing away. "The world passes away and the lust thereof," and we are passing on into life. The cross is what separates the Christian from the world. Christianity is a living power where the Spirit is ungrieved, but a dead letter, without life or power, where the conscience is not exercised nor the heart satisfied.
We see how the Lord connects resurrection with the gift of eternal life in John, 6. "Whoso eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day." We are not yet actually in the state suited to eternal life, though the power of the life, and the joys and affections which belong to it, can be realized now in the power of the Holy Ghost. Christ in glory is the full revelation of the life, and the state suited to it, and "we know that when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that has this hope in him purifies himself, even as he is pure."
Little need be added about the second resurrection. It is described in Rev. 20:11-15. The dead are judged out of the things written in the books according to their works. Those found written in the book of life are not found there; and all the dead who are judged are without exception, cast into the lake of fire, where the beast and false prophet were cast at the commencement of the Millennium, and where the devil is cast at the end of the Millennium, verse 10.
May we be living, dear friends, as those who have been made partakers of the divine nature, and who bear about in the body the dying of Jesus, that the life also of Jesus may be manifest in our mortal bodies.
The Judgment Seat of Christ.
Rom. 14:7-11; 1 Cor. 4:3-5; 2 Cor. 5:4-13.
These passages declare plainly that we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, and that each one must give an account of himself to God.
We must remember that God does not give up His righteous government because He shows grace and mercy. "Grace reigns through righteousness," and the truth as to righteous government and rewards is as plainly taught in Scripture as that of mercy. To the unconverted sinner the subject of righteousness and judgment is "the terror of the Lord" (2 Cor. 5:11); but to the believer who knows his acceptance in Christ it is only a healthy stimulant, a ground for constant exercise of conscience and self-judgment.
It is most important that we should understand the difference between the common portion of Christians as the result of the work of Christ for all His redeemed, and the reward of each one according to individual faithfulness and labour. We have seen in a previous lecture that the Lord will come and take His Church, or in other words all His redeemed, into glory. We have been called by the gospel "to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ." God made Him to be sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. Our works have nothing to do with our being in glory. It is the simple result of sovereign grace, and it is the answer on the part of God to the work of Christ. God's righteousness is displayed in answer to Christ's work in placing Him as man in glory, and sinners for whom He died, in the same glory as Himself.
Now dear friends you must have peace with God, and the knowledge of acceptance in Christ, to be able to consider in peace the subject of appearing before Christ's judgment seat. Christ is coming in His kingdom, and reward is connected with His kingdom. When the question of our acceptance is settled, and we are in the enjoyment of the relationship of children of God, then we can think of our responsibility to walk consistently with the place and relationships into which grace has brought us.
As to his person, the Christian never can come into judgment, neither can his sins ever rise up against him, for Christ has put them all away and borne all the penal consequences which attached to them. Moreover, the believer will receive his glorified body when Christ comes, and will appear before Christ's judgment seat in the glorified state, which is a testimony in itself to the completeness of his acceptance.
But then Christ is a righteous judge, and will reward each one according to his works. Each one will receive the things done in his body. Paul will get his reward for his labour, as we see in 2 Tim 4: "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but to all them also that love his appearing." No one else will get Paul's place in the kingdom, nor Paul's reward for his service. "A cup of cold water, given in the name of a disciple, shall not lose its reward," but nothing of the flesh or self-pleasing will find any recognition in the day of Christ.
Doubtless we shall review all our pathway down here in the light of that judgment seat and all that has been of the flesh down here will be loss then. ” If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire." Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire: and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is." Fire signifies the trial of the judgment of God. "Our God is a consuming fire." "Every one shall be salted with fire." But this applies not to the Christian's person but to his ways and work.
Responsibility does not cease when a person is converted to God. On the contrary my responsibility to walk as a Christian flows from the place and relationship in which grace has set me; and "the love of Christ constrains us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: and that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live to themselves, but to him which died for them, and rose again."
We find the principle of rewards plainly stated for our encouragement in the addresses to the Churches in Rev. 2 and 3: "Be thou faithful to death, and I will give thee a crown of life," ch. 2, no. "To him that overcomes will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knows saving he that receives it," Rev. 2:17. "Him that overcomes will I make a pillar in the temple of my God; and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name," Rev. 3:12. This shows that nothing escapes the eye of the Lord. He who noticed that the poor widow threw into the treasury her two mites, will never forget the most insignificant act done, it may be by the most despised among men, and seen by no other eye than His own.
In the first passage that I read this evening the apostle presses the truth of individual responsibility to the Lord, as a reason why no one should set himself up to be his brother's judge. Each one ought to respect the conscience of another. It is very easy to make the light I have, or the measure of my conscience, the standard by which I judge others. But our business is to judge ourselves and not other people, and to put no stumbling block by our own conduct in our brother's way. "Let every one be fully persuaded in his own mind." "Hast thou faith, have it to thyself before God." The subject here is connected with matters of liberty of conscience, so the apostle says "It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor anything whereby thy brother stumbles." It is not of course any question of doing evil, or having fellowship with evil. We must not be led into evil, or violate our consciences, because others with less light do things which we, who have more light, cannot do. Each must keep a good conscience before God, and at the same time respect the consciences of others, for "none of us lives to himself and no man dies to himself." "For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living.
The apostle applies the principle to his own case in 1 Cor. 4:3. It mattered not to him what man thought of him. He did not even trust his own judgment of himself, for though his own conscience did not condemn him, he that judged him was the Lord. On this he bases his exhortation to the Corinthians to "judge nothing until the Lord come;" that is to recognize that the time when everything will be appraised at its true value will be Christ's day. "He will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God." "Many that are last shall be first, and the first last."
This is an individual matter and it is a great comfort to us, if we are seeking to please the Lord alone, to know that His eye is upon us; we are not seeking the approval even of our fellow Christians, much less of the world, but of the Lord alone. Servants are exhorted to obey in all things their masters according to the flesh: "not with eye service as men-pleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God," and to do their work "heartily as to the Lord, and not to men, knowing that of the Lord they should receive the reward," and that "he that does wrong shall receive for the wrong that he has done."
What would it matter to you what people said or thought of you, if you were conscious of the Lord's approval? and were waiting for His day when everything will be made manifest, and when He will say to each one who has served Him faithfully, "Well done, good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord." But your conscience must be in exercise in the light of the judgment seat of Christ, and your soul must be in the recognition of its direct responsibility to the Lord, and be studying to please Him if you are to be indifferent to the praise of men.
When Mary poured the alabaster box of ointment on the Lord, her heart was engaged with Him alone, and she neither sought nor cared for the approval or disapproval of others. What she did gratified the Lord for it was the free tribute of a worshipping heart that had found its satisfaction and rest in Himself. And this ought to be the spring of all our actions. Some are going on in a round of restless activity whose hearts have not found rest and satisfaction, nor their consciences perfect peace, and self has a large place in their service, like Martha, who complained that her sister had left her to serve alone, whilst Mary sat at His feet and heard His word, and took in what He was in His own blessedness.
The last passage that I read in 2 Cor. 5, is important, because at the beginning of the chapter, we get the certainty of the apostle as to his own and the Christian's portion in the event of the dissolution of the earthly tabernacle. If dissolution should come "we know that we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens," we groan being burdened in these bodies, not to be unclothed, but to be "clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life." That is a wonderful expression. Life is our portion now in Christ, realised in these bodies, in the power of the Spirit, in spite of the hindrances arising from our actual state. But all that is mortal is to be swallowed up of life, and God "has wrought us for this self-same thing, and also has given to us the earnest of the Spirit." That is, the Spirit is the pledge now of our future spiritual state, when we shall possess glorified bodies like to the body of glory of the Lord.
But now we "walk by faith," and labour, not to be accepted, for we are "accepted in the beloved," and nothing can be added to the standing which we have in Christ as the result of His work on the cross; but we labour to be acceptable, or agreeable, to Him. This is the correct rendering of the word in the original. Christ is the measure of our acceptance with God, and Christ is in the Christian. "If Christ be in you, the body is dead on account of sin," but then Christ should also be the measure by which we test our motives and our ways. Is this Christ? Is that Christ? Am I seeking His glory and doing His will? Or is it self-will and self-pleasing? Alas! How little we are exercised as to our ways being suitable to Him, that we may please Him. "Even Christ pleased not Himself." And if we think of others, it should be to please our neighbour "for his good to edification."
But, I repeat, it is most important that we should not confound acceptance in Christ as to personal standing before God, with pleasing Him in our service and ways whilst left in this world. "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, meekness, faith, temperance." The graces of Christ should be seen in His own, and, when His love is known, it is that which constrains us to live not to ourselves, but to Him which died for us and rose again.
It is a stimulant also to think of the coming day of reward. Even in the pathway of the blessed Lord, we read: "Who, for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God." I reckon, says the apostle Paul, that "the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us." Alas! How little we know of suffering for His sake and seeking to glorify Him in these bodies in the details of daily life. Yet the way to turn the drudgery of daily duties into a pleasure, is to do them to the Lord.
I recollect a story told of a maid servant who said, that since her conversion she had always swept under the mats, and this is the effect of bringing Christ into daily life. There would be better husbands, and better wives, and better children, and better servants, and masters, if only the Christian's affections were engaged with Christ. I have seen happiness and contentment amidst the greatest poverty where Christ is known. In Egypt they live upon almost nothing among the poor; and, as to their houses, why it is practically open air in some places: a camel in one corner, an ass in another, and a wife and child in a third. But we do not live enough in the sense of present grace and in the expectation of glory. We have got a bright future, but we want to live in it now looking into it by faith.
I only say, in closing, as the judgment seat of Christ where Christians will stand has been confounded with the throne of His glory in Matt. 25:31, and with the great white throne in Rev. 20:11 that you will not find Christians in either of those places. In the passage in Matt. 25 the scene is the judgment of the living nations on the earth: the sheep are those who have received the Jewish messengers, sent out in testimony as to the kingdom being set up on earth. Their testimony is rendered after the Church has been taken to heaven. Before the great white throne in Rev. 20 it is the dead who are judged, and the living are not found there.
It is evident, as rewards are connected with the kingdom, that believers will stand before the judgment seat of Christ before they come with Him from heaven to reign with Him. There is no actual account of the moment when it will take place; which shows, I judge, that it will be before the Lord alone, in heaven, and before He is manifested with His Saints in glory.
May the Lord use the truth which has been before us as to the judgment seat, to stir up our hearts to more diligence. May we provoke one another to love and to good works, in view of all we owe to Him who died for us; and may we not shun the light of the judgment seat now, that thus our ways may be tested in that light, and that all that is not of Christ be judged and disallowed.
The Return of the Jews to their Land.
Ezekiel 37; Romans 11:13-36.
In 1 Cor. 10:32 the apostle Paul divides men into three classes, when he says "Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God."
The first were those to whom, as the apostle says in Romans 3, were committed the oracles of God. Abraham was called out from the the world as an individual, and to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. Afterwards his natural seed is found in Egypt, and is redeemed out of Egypt. The law is given to them by Moses, and they were separated from the nations by Jehovah the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. They should have kept themselves apart from the idolatrous nations, and have been a witness in the world to the unity of the Godhead, and that Jehovah, the God of Israel, was the only true God. But they departed from Jehovah, and allied themselves with the idolatrous nations and served their gods. Their God, Jehovah, then turned and delivered them into the hands of those that hated them. The ten tribes were taken captive into Assyria, and the two tribes were carried away captive into Babylon.
Some of the Lord's people do not see what Christians have to do with prophecy. They think it is quite enough to get the forgiveness of their sins, and to have hope of going to heaven when they die. But "all scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; that the man of God may be perfect." When God was about to destroy Sodom, He said, "Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do." When He was about to bring the deluge on the world, He made known to Noah what was coming. The book of Revelation is the "Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave to him, to show to his servants things which must shortly come to pass;" and a blessing is attached to reading it: "Blessed is he that reads, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand."
The effect of knowing that judgment is coming on the world is to separate the Christian from what is about to be judged, and God does not reveal in His word anything which it is not profitable for His people to know.
Scripture teaches us that Palestine was given to Abraham, and that his seed will possess the land. The nations may fight about it, but God has settled the question, and the Jew will have it whatever the Turks or other nations may think about it. It is a mere question of God's time. At the present moment the Jews having rejected their Messiah and crucified their king, their house is left to them desolate.
God sent His servants seeking fruit from His vineyard, but they were ill-treated; and last of all He sent His Son saying, "They will reverence my Son." But the husbandmen killed the heir, and seized on the inheritance. The Jews thus forfeited their title to the promises. They said, "His blood be on us and on our children." The mass of the people in Jerusalem refused the offer of forgiveness, preached to them in grace by the apostle Peter in Acts. 2:5. Then they slew Stephen, and thus closed their history in guilt by finally refusing to have Christ to reign over them. God then sent forth His armies, destroyed the murderers and burned up their city. Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans, and the Jewish house has been desolate ever since. The remnant that received Peter's word in the Acts of the apostles were added to the assembly; and we now come to the testimony of the Scriptures as to the way in which God will fulfil His unconditional covenant with Abraham, and restore the land given to him and to his seed.
I might read numerous passages out of the Old Testament, to prove that the Jews will return to their own land in unbelief, and rebuild the temple; but, as I have only one short hour, it is impossible, and I must ask you to study your Bibles in private, and you will find abundant testimony to prove it.
In the vision in Ezekiel 37 the dry bones were breathed upon, and became an exceeding great army. The dry bones are said to be the whole house of Israel, and God declares that He will open their graves, put His spirit into them, and place them in their own land. The graves and dry bones are symbolical of a state of death morally.
Then the prophet is directed to take two sticks, the one for Judah and his companions and the other for Israel and his companions, and join them together; and the explanation of this is, that Israel and Judah will cease to be two nations or kingdoms, and that God will gather them all out from among the nations, and bring them into their own land where they shall be one nation, and all have one Shepherd, and walk in the judgments of Jehovah and observe His statutes. "My tabernacle also shall be with them; yea, I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And the nations shall know that I Jehovah do sanctify Israel, when my sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore." Language cannot be plainer, neither can it be possible that this refers to the past, for it has never been fulfilled. Two tribes only, Judah and Benjamin, were in the land when the Lord came into the world, and the return of the whole nation awaits its fulfilment at a future day.
It is a remarkable fact, that there is a movement now on foot among the Jews to form a Jewish state in Palestine, but without any recognition of God. We need not be surprised at this, for all the schemes of man's mind can only end in one result, namely the accomplishment of the purposes of God.
Ezekiel 22:17-22 shows that the Jews will be gathered into the midst of Jerusalem, and that there the fury of the Lord will be poured out upon the unbelieving ones before the blessing comes when they shall say: "Blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord."
Ezekiel 36:24 proves the same thing. They are to be gathered out of all countries and brought into their own land, and not till then will the Lord sprinkle clean water upon them, and they shall be clean from all their filthiness and their idols. Then He will give them a new heart, and put His Spirit within them, and cause them to walk in His statutes. "And you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and you shall be my people, and I will be your God."
In Zechariah 12:10 we read: "And I will pour upon the house of David, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his first born."
I might quote many more passages from the prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, Joel, Malachi, to the same effect, but time will not permit of it.
In Hebrews 8:10-12 we have a description of the blessings of the Jews under the new covenant: "I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: and they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more."
At present the Jew is a standing witness to the truth of Scripture. Whatever position of eminence individuals may have reached, the nation as such is scattered and peeled. They are without a king and without a national unity, and will be so until they return to their own land, and recognize the rights of their Messiah, their true King, who shall "reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and of his kingdom there shall be no end."
The promises to the Jews in the Old Testament have been confounded with the blessings of the Church; but the blessings of Israel are earthly blessings; the blessings of the Church are heavenly. The professing Church has already apostatized in spirit from the true standing and calling of the Church, and fallen back into Judaism. But it is the work of the enemy to corrupt, when he cannot destroy or overthrow the testimony of God. The present work of God is to recover His people who have departed from their true calling, and to separate them to Himself, that they may be found waiting for the Lord from heaven, and their heavenly portion. The most awful judgments of God are coming on apostate Christendom, as we see in the book of Revelation; and when the Lord has taken "His own" to heaven, what will happen to those who have never received the truth of the gospel? "God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be damned who believed not the truth." How needful then that each one of us should know with absolute certainty how we stand before God, whether we are numbered among His children, and are part of the Church which is Christ's body, or whether we are only professors without any knowledge of the grace of God in truth.
In the eleventh chapter of Romans the apostle shows, that, though God deals in righteous government, He is never unfaithful to His promises, and does not cast off His people; and that whatever His righteous ways may be, there is always a remnant according to the election of grace. Indeed He proves, that all blessing to Israel in the future will be entirely on the ground of mercy, seeing that the nation has forfeited all claim to the promises as a matter of right, and the work of restoration hereafter will be the result of mercy and sovereign grace. He says in verse 7: "Israel has not obtained that which he seeks for: but the election has obtained it, and the rest were blinded." The olive tree is the tree of promise on earth, and the Jews, as children of Abraham, were the natural branches because of unbelief the natural branches were broken off, and the Gentiles, who are likened to a a wild olive tree, are grafted in, and partake of the root and fatness of the good olive tree. Then the Gentiles are warned against boasting, as if they bare the root. “Be not high-minded, but fear, for if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee." We must not confound the olive tree of promise and privilege with the Church which is Christ's body. It is a place of privilege on earth, connected with the line of promise and privilege, and consequent responsibility. The light shines there and God may be known. It is the place of the administration of all blessings consequent on the accomplishment of redemption.
If the Gentiles do not continue in the goodness of God they will be cut off. We know from other Scriptures that they will be cut off. Then the natural branches will be grafted again into their own olive tree, for "blindness in part is happened to Israel until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in."
Then "all Israel shall be saved." "There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob." As the Gentiles have obtained mercy, and in the end will despise it, and be cast off, so will Israel again obtain mercy, for God has concluded them all in unbelief that He might have mercy upon all. It is the same truth which we find in the Old Testament and in the Psalms. When the Church has been taken to heaven, the Spirit of God will commence to work in the hearts and consciences of a remnant of the Jews in Jerusalem, when the mass are found there in unbelief, and in league with Antichrist and the Beast.
But what a solemn thought it is, that we are nearing the close of the time of privilege for the Gentiles, and that cutting off is coming upon Christendom for not abiding in the goodness of God, though boasting of light and earthly grandeur.
May the Lord make us deeply sensible of the portion that grace has given us in Christ Himself. He will not lose one of those who have come to Him, drawn by the Father, but will raise them up at the last day. The Christian's life is hid with Christ in God, altogether outside this world. Our portion is heavenly, and our hope heavenly; but we can nevertheless rejoice in the thought of the faithfulness of God to His promises to His earthly people and that He will make them all good in resurrection to the seed of Abraham in their own land, through their own Messiah.
We shall see in the next lecture, that a time of great tribulation must come before the blessing and full restoration; but judgment is His strange work, and is only necessary because the evil must be removed before the blessing can come in and be enjoyed.
The Great Tribulation, or Righteous Retribution.
Daniel 12:1, 2; Matt. 24:15-22; Rev. 3:10, 11; Rev. 12.
In the last lecture we had the return of the Jews to their own land in unbelief, and the solemn subject before us to-night is "a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time." The Lord speaks of this time in Matt. 24:21 "Then shall be great tribulation, such as was not from the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be." The first verse I read shows that at this time of trouble Daniel's people, the Jews, will be delivered.
What we shall see is, that the Jews will righteously suffer for their sins, and that the time of trial will also extend to all the world to try the dwellers upon the earth.
The day of vengeance of our God, spoken of in Isaiah 61:2, is the day of righteous retribution under the government of God, who has said "Vengeance is mine I will repay, says the Lord." Stephen sums up the history of the Jews in Acts 7, when he tells them, that they always resisted the Holy Ghost; they had broken the law, persecuted and slain the prophets, and betrayed and murdered the Just One. But the only effect of his faithful testimony was to bring out still farther the malice of their hearts; for, instead of repenting when cut to the heart, they gnashed upon him with their teeth, stopped their ears, ran upon him with one accord, cast him out of the city and stoned him. After this followed the destruction of Jerusalem, and their house has been left desolate ever since. The period of the gathering out of the Church to be the Bride of Christ associated with Him in heaven, comes in between the cutting off of the Messiah, when Jewish time ceases to be reckoned, and the rapture of the saints described in 1 Thess. 4:16, 17.
If you study the book of Daniel for yourselves you will find an explanation of what I mean, when I say Jewish time ceased to be reckoned from the cutting off or death of the Messiah. A week signifies seven years, and in Dan. 9:24. Daniel is told: "Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people, and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the "Most Holy." Now hundreds of years have elapsed and this time of blessing has not arrived. How is this?
You will see in verse 25 that seven weeks and sixty-two weeks, are mentioned, and in verse 26 that, at the end of the sixty-two weeks, or sixty-nine out of the seventy, Messiah would be cut off. This brings us to the time of the Lord's death. The last half of the verse is prophetic of the destruction of Jerusalem.
Then in verse 27 we find a reference to one week of seven years, during which a covenant is made with many; and, that in the midst of the week, the one who makes the covenant shall cause the sacrifice and oblation to cease. In the twelfth chapter and the eleventh verse we find that, when the daily sacrifice is taken away, the abomination that makes desolate is set up. This I need hardly say is future.
It is quite impossible, in the short space of time at my disposal, to go into as much detail as I could wish on this subject, and therefore I must ask you to search the Scriptures, and test the statements which I make for yourselves. I wish no one to believe anything because I say it. It is very easy to become like parrots, repeating things because some favourite preacher said it was true, and not learning anything from Scripture under the teaching of the Spirit of God.
There can be no doubt from other Scriptures that the last head of the Roman empire (which will be revived under Satanic power) who is called the Beast in Revelation, is the person who will make this covenant with the Jews. The Lord Jesus refers to the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet in Matt. 24:15, when giving instructions to his disciples about the end, which will be guidance to the faithful in the tribulation in which they will be found. But Jewish time is not reckoned during the present period, when the professing Church occupies the place of privilege on the earth, and the joint heirs, who are to reign with Christ in the day of His glory, are being gathered out of the world. There can be no question that in Matt. 24 the Lord is referring to events which will take place at Jerusalem. He speaks of the holy place, which can only refer to the temple and Judaism. Those which are in Judea are to flee to the mountains, and they are to pray that their flight may not be on the sabbath day.
Now turn to Rev. 12. Here we have a woman who brings forth a man child, and a great red dragon who stands before the woman ready to devour her child as soon as it should be born. The woman represents the Jewish nation, her child is Messiah, and the great dragon is Satan. The child is "to rule all nations with a rod of iron" which is what is predicted of Christ in Psalm 2:8-9. You will remember how Herod slew all the infants that were in Bethlehem in his effort to destroy the one that was born King of the Jews.
Well, the man child is caught up to God and to His throne. Jesus was raised from the dead and glorified, and is sitting on His Father's throne till the time comes for Him to destroy His enemies and sit upon His own throne. We do not get the history of the Church. She is one with Christ and will be taken into heaven, as He was taken away out of the world, before the time of tribulation comes upon the world. (Rev. 3:10).
The next events we get all concern the Jews, the woman flees into the wilderness where she is sustained for three and a half years or one thousand two hundred and sixty days. There is war in heaven, and Satan and his angels are cast out of heaven. You will remember in the book of Job, when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, Satan came among them to present himself before the Lord. In Ephesians 6 we find that our conflict is with wicked spirits in heavenly places. But here we find Satan and his angels are cast out of heaven, and the dwellers in heaven are called on to rejoice but "woe" to the inhabitants of the world is pronounced, because the devil is come down to them "having great wrath because he knows that he has but a short time." And he persecutes, not the Church, for the Church is seen in heaven in the Revelation after chap. 3, but the woman which brought forth the man child. The flight of the woman and her nourishment, or support, "for a time, and times, and half a time," or three years and a half, is again referred to; and, in verse 17, the wrath of the dragon is declared to be against the woman, and that he makes war "with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus."
This introduces us to the godly remnant among the Jews, referred to so constantly as the righteous in the Psalms, who will be faithful to Christ, and refuse to accept the Antichrist when he is received by the mass according to the Lord's word in John 5:43. "I am come in my Father's name, and you receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him you will receive."
Nothing can be plainer as to the personality of Satan than this passage. He knows that he is cast down to earth, and that he has but a short time. He knows the godly remnant that have the testimony of Jesus, and he makes war with them. Elsewhere we find: "Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about seeking whom he may devour." Again we are told "resist the devil, and he will flee from you." And again in Ephesians 6. Christians are exhorted to put on the whole armour of God, because they wrestle not with flesh and blood, but with wicked spirits in heavenly places, and they have to stand against the artifices of the devil. See also Matt. 4:1-11 and Hebrew. 2:14.
What a solemn proof of the blinding power of Satan himself is the denial, which, alas! is met with amongst professing Christians, of the personality of the devil.
Now you may ask me to explain what I meant by righteous retribution. Well, I must take you back to what happened when, the Lord was on the earth. He came "healing all that were oppressed of the devil for God was with Him." He cast out the demons with His word. But when He delivered the demoniac from the power of the devil they besought Him to depart out of their coasts. They preferred to be left under the power of Satan and his legions rather than to receive the One who alone could deliver them from his power. And they attributed to Beelzebub, the prince of the demons, the power of the Holy Ghost by which Jesus cast them out, whereas, He told them them that, if He by the finger of God cast out demons, the kingdom of God was among them.
If you will look at Matt. 23:35, you will see that the Lord speaks to the Pharisees of righteous retribution when after recounting their guilt, he says: "'That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zacharias, the son of Barachias, whom you slew between the temple and the altar. Verily I say to you, all these things shall come upon this generation." When Pilate vainly endeavoured to persuade the Jews that Jesus was innocent and "washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person," the reply was: "Then answered all the people and said, His blood be on us, and on our children."
Again when Pilate asked, "shall I crucify your King?" the chief priests answered, "we have no king but Caesar." Now, having refused the Lord Jesus as their Messiah and their deliverer from Satan's power and the Roman yoke, they will be found hereafter fully exposed to Satan's power and the power of the head of the Roman empire when Messiah comes again to deliver the remnant. The righteous government of God will also be against them for their guilt in respect of their treatment of His anointed, their Messiah and King. You will find the same principle in 2 Thess. 2:11-12 where it speaks of those who "received not the love of the truth that they might he saved." "For this cause," that is rejection of the truth, "God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness." This applies to professors in Christendom.
The Lord Jesus came to reveal the Father, but, for His love He had hatred. He said, "He that hates me hates my Father also." "If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father." All His miracles were wrought by the power of the Holy Ghost, but all were refused and instead of the blessed revelation of God,—Father, Son, and Holy Ghost—which characterizes Christianity, the kingdom of Satan and of man will be characterized by a trinity of evil: the Dragon, the Beast and the false Prophet.
It is a dreadful prospect for this poor world and apostate Christendom, but we know the time is coming on. Thank God, it will only last a short time, as we shall see in future lectures. For further details of the judgments of God which are coming on the world, I must ask you to read the book of Revelation from the sixth to the nineteenth chapters.
The thought which some Christians entertain, that the Church will go through the tribulation, seems to me to show that the nature of the Church's relation to Christ, and the nature of the tribulation coming on the world are not known.
When the Lord came into the world the sword of government was in the hands of the Gentiles, and the Gentiles unrighteously delivered the Lord over to the Jews, who had the law of God, to be crucified. Herod and Pilate were made friends over this unrighteous deed. Jew and Gentile combined to put the Son of God to death. The world, as such, is unchanged, and will be found in rebellion against the Lord of lords and King of kings when He comes again. Hence the righteous vengeance of God will be executed on the world, Jews and Gentiles, not merely in respect to guilt in the past, but also in respect to rebellion against the rightful Heir when He comes to take the inheritance.
Now the Church is not of the world, and has no part in its guilt. It is associated with Christ, and is of Christ: it is His body and His bride. In another aspect believers are joint heirs with Christ, in what he inherits as man. If you will look at 2 Thess. 2 you will find, that the Apostle beseeches the Thessalonians not to be troubled or deceived by misrepresentations that the day of Christ was then at hand or present; first, "by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our gathering together to Him" and second, by the fact that before the day comes, that is the public appearing or manifestation of Christ, the falling away or apostacy must come, and the man of sin be revealed.
In the first Epistle he had taught them the truth of the coming of the Lord, and of our gathering together to Him in the air; and now, to this, he adds the fact, that the apostacy and the revelation of the man of sin must also take place, before the manifestation or appearing of the Lord in judgment, to destroy the man of sin, as stated in verse 8.
The godly remnant of the Jews will be in the tribulation being part of the two tribes who crucified the Messiah; but the promise to the Church in Rev. 3:10, is most distinct: "Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth."
If you study carefully the book of Revelation which is a book of judgment, from chapter 4 to chapter 19, I have no doubt you will see, that the saints on earth who are killed during the reign of the beast, and those who are saved through the tribulation, whether Jews or Gentiles (Rev. 7, 14, 15.), do not answer in the description given of them to the heavenly saints, who form part of the Bride of Christ, and know the Father revealed in the Son.
Now what should be the effect upon us of the truth, that we belong to the heavenly One in heaven, and are actually waiting to be conformed. to His image? Well, we should be seeking like Enoch to please God, and to answer in character to what we are as associated with Christ and united to Him in heaven. Some people dream that the Millennium has begun, or that it is shortly to be introduced by means of the gospel and the efforts of man. But no! there will be no Millennium till after this great tribulation. Christ will then come and take His power, bind Satan, destroy his enemies and deliver the godly remnant of the Jews, and the kingdoms of this world will then become the kingdoms of our God and of His Christ.
The Judgment of Babylon, the Beast and the Nations.
Rev. 16:13-16; Rev. 17; 18:1-6; Rev. 19:11-21.
In Christianity God is revealed, as we have seen, under the three marvelous names of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. We cry "Abba Father" by the Spirit of the Son sent into our hearts, we know God the Father and Jesus Christ whom He has sent, and we have received the Spirit by which we are sealed to the day of redemption. It is only in the consciousness of our place and relationship as children of God that we can contemplate the terrible things coming on the world as presented to us in the Revelation.
People of late have been in fear in this island at the thought of two great nations going to war with one another. But what will it be when all the nations of the world are involved in war and are found in open opposition and rebellion against God and His Christ?
The first thing we see is, that the power which will act upon the kings of the earth and the whole world, when the Church has gone, is Satanic. We have three personages in verse 13: the dragon or Satan, the beast who is the head of the revived Roman Empire and who represents political power in the world, and the false prophet or Antichrist who will be received by the ungodly Jews in Jerusalem as their Messiah. Unclean spirits like frogs go out of their mouths, and these are "the spirits of demons, working miracles, which go forth into the kings of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty."
Chapter 13 gives us the history of the two beasts, and they are without doubt two men. I cannot go into detail, but you will find that the world wonders after the beast and worships the beast, and that the beast blasphemes God and His name and His tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven, and makes war with the saints on earth and overcomes them; and that power is given to Him over all kindreds, and tongues and nations, and he is allowed to continue forty-two months, which is three and a half years.
The second beast or false prophet is the imitation of Christ, He has two horns like a lamb, but speaks as a dragon. He plays into the hands of the first beast, deceives the dwellers on the earth, works miracles, makes fire come down from heaven, and gives life to an image of the beast and causes all to worship the first beast. It is evident that this beast is the religious deceiver and false prophet, and that the first beast is the political head of the Roman empire revived by Satanic power.
In Rev. 17:8 the first beast is said to ascend out of the bottomless pit and to go into perdition, and in verse 2 of chapter 13 we are told that the dragon gives him his power and his seat and great authority. His kingdom may therefore be called the kingdom of Satan in the world. The ten kings spoken of in verse 13 of chapter 17 give their power and strength to the beast. It is really the final phase which rule will take in the hands of the Gentiles.
I must go back a little in Scripture to prove this.
God's power and glory were connected with Israel till they sinned against Him, and brought down His judgment upon them. Then they were delivered over into captivity, and in Ezekiel 11 the prophet sees the glory of the Lord leave the city Jerusalem. Power and the throne of government were entrusted to Nebuchadnezzar on the failure of Israel, and Daniel's image, Dan. 2:31-34, sets before us the four great Gentile empires, the Babylonian, the Medes and Persians, the Grecian, and the Roman. At the very commencement of these Gentile kingdoms, the first great Potentate, Nebuchadnezzar, makes a golden image and commands that all men shall worship it. He glories in himself and his power and is driven from his throne and became as a beast, till he learned "that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomsoever he will."
The last of the four empires was in existence when the Lord was born, and Pilate the Governor, its representative, unrighteously delivered over the Saviour to be crucified by the Jews.
As it was at the beginning so will it be at the end when the Lord returns. The ten kings who will receive power in the sphere of the Roman earth, or that part of the world which once was under the sway of the Roman emperor, will all give their power to the beast its head, a man energized and sustained by Satanic power. This man will blaspheme God, make war with the saints, and oppress man. No one will be allowed to buy or sell save he that has the mark of the beast and the number of his name. This oppression of men is always the result of departure from God. This kingdom of Satan on earth will be the end of power in the hands of Gentiles.
As to the consummation and end of corrupt religion in 2 Thess. 2 we learn that the Antichrist, the man of sin, will sit in the temple of God showing himself that he is God; and in 1 John 2 we find that he denies that Jesus is the Christ, and denies the Father and the Son.
The power of this Satanic kingdom is marked by a trinity of evil. Satan, the beast, and the false prophet will be in existence when the Lord comes, and the book of Revelation describes the judgments which will be poured out upon God's enemies, when all will be found in rebellion against Him after the removal of the true Church to heaven. Revelation 16:10 tells us that the fifth angel pours out his vial of the wrath of God on the seat of the beast, "and his kingdom was full of darkness and they gnawed their tongues for pain." They blasphemed the God of heaven and repented not of their deeds.
It is dreadful to contemplate this period, when everything will be ripe for the righteous vengeance of God. You may remember when the Lord took the book of the prophet Esaias in the synagogue, as described in Luke 4:16-20, that he read as far as the words "to preach the acceptable year of the Lord;" then he closed the book and said: "This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears." The passage in Isaiah 61:2 continues "and the day of vengeance of our God;" but the Lord had come to bring grace and salvation, and therefore did not read the words above quoted. Nevertheless "the day of vengeance" will surely come when the day of grace is over, and it must precede the time of blessing which will result from the Lord establishing the kingdom, for God has said to him, "Sit thou at my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool."
People dream of a good time coming and things improving, but all Scripture testifies that things will get worse and worse, and that as soon as the Church is translated to heaven, the throne in heaven will have the character of judgment and not of grace. In Revelation 4:5 we read. "Out of the throne proceeded lightnings, and thunderings, and voices;" and from the sixth chapter onward to the twentieth, no one can question that we have an account of the wickedness of man, and of the judgments of God on the living.
The Lamb who suffered on earth is the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the root of David; He has prevailed to open the book of the inheritance. God has appointed Him heir of all things. But though he has title to all as Creator, He makes good His title to take the inheritance as the Redeemer, hence he is presented as "a Lamb as it had been slain."
In chapter 19 we get what has been called the warrior judgment. Heaven, which opened on Jesus as man when on earth, that the Father might proclaim His good pleasure in His Son, now opens for Him to come forth, the Faithful and the True, in righteousness to judge and to make war. His name is called "the Word of God," and he comes to smite the nations, and rule them with a rod of iron. The time has come which is referred to in Psalm 2: "Ask of me, and I shall give thee the nations for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel." The warning to the kings of the earth will be sent out: "Be wise now, therefore, O ye kings; be instructed, ye judges of the earth. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little."
We find in Rev. 14:6 that the everlasting gospel is preached to the dwellers on the earth, to every nation. tongue, and kindred, and people, saying "Fear God and give glory to him, for the hour of his judgment is come." Alas! the kings of the earth and their armies are found in open rebellion against Christ when He comes out; and there is nothing left for Him to do but to tread the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. The King of kings and Lord of lords, the once despised and rejected Son of man, is followed by the armies in heaven, and the supper on earth is the supper of judgment of the great God. The word of God, which is now the means of salvation and blessing to all who receive it, then proceeds out of His mouth for the smiting of the rebellious nations in wrath and judgment.
Now it is the great supper of God's grace to which all are invited, and "Yet there is room." Have all here present come into the house which has been standing open so long, and feasted on the grace of God, which has brought salvation nigh? Sinners are invited to the supper of grace, and saints should all be found at the supper of the Lord, announcing His death till He comes again to translate them to heaven where the marriage supper of the Lamb will be celebrated before He comes out to destroy His enemies.
But to return to the supper of judgment. The beast and the false prophet are found with the kings of the earth and their armies in this open rebellion against the King of kings and Lord of lords, and both are taken and cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone. No trial is necessary. Their position and their course suffice to warrant their being dealt with in a summary manner in righteousness and they are cast at once alive into the place prepared for the devil and his angels, where they are seen at the end of the thousand years in Rev. 20:10.
And is this to be the end of all the warning of the nations of Christendom? Yes! this will be the end of power in the hands of man! A Satanic kingdom, a beast, and a false prophet! and a deceived and deluded world! The kings and their armies are seen arrayed in open hostility against the King of kings and Lord of lords, and utter destruction will be their portion when "he treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God."
Now let us turn to Rev. 17 where we find another character of evil presented to us, namely, "Babylon the Great, the mother of harlots, and abominations of the earth."
We have seen, in previous addresses, what is the calling and destiny of the true Church, the Bride, the Lamb's wife. She is one with Christ, and her calling is to be with Him and like Him for ever. But now we find Satan's base imitation or counterfeit. When the enemy cannot destroy, he corrupts and imitates, by this means if possible to counteract the power of any testimony raised up of God. And this is what he has succeeded in doing during the history of the Church on earth. The saints prospered in days of persecution, so the enemy changed his tactics, and allured them into the world. When the Church accepted the patronage of the world, its Nazariteship and its power were gone and this unholy alliance is called fornication in the New Testament.
We have seen that the end of power in the hands of man is open rebellion against Christ. Now it is equally clear from 2 Thessalonians 3 that the professing Church will apostatize from the faith and from Christ. When the true saints are taken to heaven, the professing body will be spat out of Christ's mouth, in other words rejected as being an unfaithful witness to Christ in the world: see Revelation 3:15-16. We next find corrupt religion presented in the character of a city and a corrupt woman, "with whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication." The woman sits upon the scarlet colored beast, clearly shown to be the Roman empire represented by its head in Revelation 17:8, 9, 18. The woman is also seen to be drunken with the blood of the saints and the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. She sits upon seven mountains, and upon many waters, which we are told signify peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues. There can be no doubt, that all this points to the Papal system, though doubtless all corrupt Christianity, the shell of formality which is left after the true Church is translated to heaven, will apostatize also from true Christianity, and be found merged in Babylon.
It is most solemn to think that all the evil principles which are descriptive of Babylon the corruptress, are now at work in Christendom under the cover of Christ's holy name. Man in the flesh, judged by God and set aside in the cross of Christ is recognized, though in an outward Christian garb, and Christianity is to be seen in unholy alliance with the world that crucified Christ, decked out in everything suited to please the eye of man, gratify the lusts of the flesh and appeal to the senses. "Come out of her, my people, that you be not partakers of her sins, and that you receive not of her plagues," is the word of exhortation which even now may be heard by those who have ears to ear, and eyes to discern the evil principles at work, which will before long lead to the open apostasy of the professing Church.
But the hour of retribution is at hand. The beast and the kings of the earth hate the whore and make her desolate, and naked, and burn her with fire. Those with whom she has had unholy intercourse and unholy traffic in holy things, become tired of her, and are the instruments in the hands of God to bring about her downfall and ruin. She says in her heart, "I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow. Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death and mourning, and famine, and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judges her." The blood of the martyrs will yet be avenged; and in heaven the voice of many people will be heard saying, "Alleluia, salvation, and glory, and honor, and power to the Lord our God: for true and righteous are His judgments: for He has judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and has avenged the blood of His servants at her hand." "And her smoke rose up for ever and ever."
We heard lately that Gordon's blood had been avenged; but what shall we say when it is God who takes vengeance, and when the blood of Jesus, and all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zacharias, the son of Barachias, and the blood of the martyrs during the period of the Church's history, will be the ground of the righteous vengeance which will be executed?
Oh, beloved friends! no language of mine can give you an adequate sense of the fearful time which is coming on corrupt Christendom in its final form of Babylonish iniquity, on the kingdom of the beast, and all those who now reject the blessed Saviour presented to them in the gospel of the grace of God.
May each one of us be numbered among those who have tasted that the Lord is gracious, and know what it is to be identified with the Christ of God in this hour of His rejection by the world, so that, having received the Spirit of God, we may enter now by faith into the portion of the true Church in Him who loved her and gave Himself for her.
The Millennium and the Disarmament of the Nations.
Joel 3:9-21; Isa. 2:1-4; Rev. 20:1-6; Rev. 21:9-11, 22-27.
The first passage which I have read refers to the subject which we had
before us in the last lecture. The proclamation among the Gentiles is: "Prepare war; assemble yourselves, and come." "Come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat: for there will I sit to judge all the heathen round about." The result of this gathering we saw, on the last occasion, to be the entire destruction of His enemies by the King of kings and Lord of lords, and the end of power in the hands of the Gentiles. But in Isaiah 2 we find a wonderful contrast: "The mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it"; but then it is for blessing not judgment, to be taught the ways of the Lord, and to walk in His paths; "for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem." "He shall judge among the nations," and the result will be, that "they shall beat their swords into plough-shares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more."
Now this does not come to pass till after the Lord has come, and His authority has been established in Jerusalem. After the warrior judgment and the destruction of His enemies, which we find in Revelation 19, we learn from Matt. 25 that the Son of man sits on the throne of His glory, and before Him are gathered all nations, and He divides them as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. This scene has been confounded with the Great White Throne Rev. 20:11, but the latter is the judgment of the dead at the end of the Millennium; the former is the judgment of the living nations at the commencement of the Millennium. Messengers will be sent to the nations outside the sphere of the beast's kingdom, to proclaim the coming of the King, and the setting up of His kingdom on the earth; and those who receive these messengers will be treated as if they had received the Lord, the King of kings, and will inherit the kingdom prepared for them from the foundation of the world. Those who reject the testimony rendered to the King and His rights, by despising His messengers, will have to listen to the solemn words "Depart from me you cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.
In the preliminary judgments, which precede the reign of peace, we see the Lord acting in the character of David, dealing with His enemies in righteous judgment, before reigning in the character of Solomon and establishing universal peace.
It is a blessed thought for us, that, as we have delighted to trace His pathway in humiliation in this world, so we shall have the unspeakable delight of witnessing His perfect ways when He takes the reins of government into His own hands, and maintains all things in righteousness under His sway, for the glory of God and the blessing of man. We need to look at the testimony of God as to the future, in connection with Christ's own person and rights, if it is to be a future filled with joyous anticipation for our hearts, and not a mere matter of information, which does not affect our lives nor wean our affections from this passing world, which lies under the judgment of God.
Solomon's kingdom exceeded all other kingdoms of the earth in grandeur, but it will be entirely eclipsed by the glory of the kingdom which, the God of heaven will set up, and which as we learn in Daniel 2, shall never be destroyed: "It shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever." "He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the earth." "His name shall endure for ever: his name shall be continued as long as the sun; and men shall be blessed in him: All nations shall call him blessed." Every promise to Abraham will be fulfilled when the rightful heir sits upon David's throne. Israel will be restored, and of Jerusalem it will become true, "beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King."
"A King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. In his days, Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is the name whereby He shall be called, The Lord our Righteousness." Jehovah will set His king, as we learn from the second Psalm, on His holy hill of Zion and from the eighth Psalm we see that all things are put under the feet of the Son of man, of the one who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death. We see Jesus crowned with honour and glory; we see not yet all things put under Him, but we know that all power has been committed to Him in heaven and in earth; that in the dispensation of the fulness of times, that is the coming age, God will gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth.
It is astonishing that Christians can be found to believe that the Millennium is to be brought about by the progress of the gospel, or that the present state of things is in any way characteristic of the Millennium. Satan is not bound, the groan of creation is going on, sickness and death abound on every hand, famines, pestilences, earthquakes, wars and rumours of wars continue, as the Lord predicted they would until the end of this age; but none of these things characterize the Millennium. Satan will then be bound, wars shall cease, universal peace will prevail, the groan of creation will be hushed, and it will be brought into the liberty of the children of God. The earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea, the nations will come up to Jerusalem to worship the Lord of Hosts, and death will be the exception.
But all this will be dependent on the Lord Jesus coming out again in the character of Melchisedec, to bless His people after the destruction of His enemies, as we see in the type in Genesis 14. Melchisedec, king of righteousness and king of peace, met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and brought forth bread and wine, and blessed him. He was priest of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth.
Christians know, by the Holy Ghost come down from heaven, that God has accepted the sacrifice of Christ who has gone into heaven, and they have access by one Spirit to the Father, and they know also that Jesus has been made an High Priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec, and that He will come out again from heaven, and will sit as a King and Priest upon His throne. The title of most High God, the possessor of heaven and earth, is connected with this Melchisedec priesthood, and the universal blessing which will be brought about by Christ in the whole universe of God.
Now, the tares and the wheat are growing together in the kingdom of the heavens, and the time of separation will be at the end of this age, when “the Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; and shall cast them into a furnace of fire:" "Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their father."
It is quite impossible for me, in the time at my disposal, to refer to the numerous passages in the Old Testament which describe the earthly blessings of Israel and the nations, but if you will look them up you will be well repaid: See Isaiah 11, 25, 60, 65:16-25 and 66.
I think I have presented to you the main features of the thousand years so far as Jerusalem and the nations and creation are concerned; but in Revelation 21 we get a very wonderful description of the Bride, the Lamb's wife, as she will be seen during the Millennium. I can only touch on a few points in the verses which I read in Revelation 21. Reigning, or ruling, in righteousness, conveys to the mind the thought of perfection in government, and as the earthly Jerusalem will be the centre of the government of Messiah the King on earth, so, I judge, the heavenly city will be the centre of government in the heavens, through which all the light and glory of God shines down upon the world.
The holy Jerusalem descends out of heaven from God, but evidently does not come down into the earth as in the eternal state. The Church has the glory of God, it is divine in its origin, heavenly and holy in its character. In the Lord Himself we see every divine beauty and all that is heavenly in a man, and the Church is the reflection of Himself as well as His fulness. It should have been the expression of Himself in the world, as being of Himself and one with Him; but alas its history has been one of declension from first love, and failure ever since. In God's mind the true church is ever seen in Christ, and Christ sees it in His eye what it was at the beginning, the pearl of great price. In Old Testament history you will remember that Balaam, the false prophet, could not curse the people of God though Balak might offer him his house full of silver and gold. He had to speak of God's people as they were under God's eye, and according to His purpose: "How goodly are Thy tents O Jacob, and thy tabernacles O Israel." Numbers 23, 24.
But though there has been declension and failure, and sorrow in the Church on earth, there will be nothing to dim her beauty and glory in the Millennial day. She will need no created light, and no material temple will be there. The Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of the heavenly city. The glory of God lightens it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. The saved nations will walk in the light of the heavenly Jerusalem, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory and honor to it. There shall be no night there, and nothing that defiles shall ever enter there, but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life. Well may we sing:
"O bright and blessed scenes
Where sin can never come,
Whose sight our longing spirit weans
From earth where yet we roam."
But how feeble is our apprehension of what the calling and glory of the assembly are! The reason is, I suppose, that we have so little knowledge and appreciation of the glory of Christ to whom the Church is united, and with whom she is already one. There will be no possibility of defilement in the heavenly city; the street of the city is pure gold, and the city itself is pure gold like to clear glass, a fixed state of divine righteousness. Nothing will be left to tarnish or dim the lustre of what is divine, and all will be transparent; so that the glory of God, which the Church has, will shine through it on the scene below.
Well may I remind you, dear friends, of what the Lord said to His disciples when they told him that the demons were subject to them through His name. "Rather rejoice,'' He said "because your names are written in heaven." In view of the coming day of joy, and the description of the heavenly city, are there any here present who are still without the blessed certainty that their names are written in heaven?
Some may ask how can anyone know this with certainty?
The answer is very simple. In John 7:37, we are told that the Lord Jesus said: "If any man thirst, let him come to me and drink. He that believes on me, as the scripture said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. This spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive." When the Christian has believed the gospel of God concerning the Lord Jesus, and His death and resurrection, he is sealed by the Spirit, and the Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God. We have the testimony of Scripture, that the believer in the Son of God shall never come into judgment, but is passed from death to life, and we have also the testimony of the Holy Ghost within us, the Spirit of God's Son sent into our hearts, by which we cry "Abba, Father."
And now, if through God's grace we have the full assurance of our salvation and of our completeness in Christ, what should the effect upon us be of the testimony of Scripture as to the glorious day, when the Church will reign with Christ?
Well, it is the time of His rejection now, and we should not be living as if the time of reigning had come. If we suffer with Him we shall also reign with Him. The Corinthians were in an unhealthy state: moral evil was unjudged in their midst; schools, and parties, and boasting in man and human opinions characterized that assembly, so that the apostle has to write to them: "You have reigned as kings without us: and I would to God you did reign, that we might reign with you." They had not learned to trust in human wisdom or to be puffed up, from the apostle, for He tells them that God had set forth the apostles last, as it were appointed to death, for they were made a spectacle to the world, and to angels, and to men; they were "the off-scouring of all things."
Well may we ask where are we to-day, and what do we know of the pathway of a rejected Christ? He had no place in the world, and said of His own in the world "They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world." We are living in the midst of a state of things which is a contrast to what marked the early Church, but this is just the time when the Lord fully recognizes and appreciates faithfulness to Himself. He says to the assembly at Philadelphia in Revelation 3:8: "Thou hast a little strength, and has kept my word, and hast not denied my name."
May we not be content with knowing that we belong to His Church which He loves and will serve to the end, but may we seek to know a little more of discipleship in an evil day, remembering His word to Peter in John 21:22: "Follow thou me."
God grant that the result of these addresses may be, that our hearts are stirred up to seek grace to glorify Him in our bodies, and to walk worthy of the vocation wherewith we are called. The exhortation in Jude is very suitable at the present moment: "You, beloved, building up yourself on your most holy faith, keep yourselves in the love of God." That love never changes but shines upon us like the sun at noon day, and all we have to do is to walk in the path of obedience where all its power will be known and appreciated; then we shall think of others around us: "Of some have compassion making a difference: and others save with fear pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh."
The Eternal State, or the New Heavens and the New Earth.
1 Cor. 15:23-28; 2 Peter 3:10-15; Rev. 21:1-8.
Last week the subject was the Millennium, or the glorious mediatorial kingdom of the Son of man. Some have, it appears, a difficulty as to what has been termed the secret rapture, but a careful study of the book of Revelation and 1 Thess. 4:14-17 and 2 Thess. 2:1, 3. will, I think, with other Scriptures, make it plain that, as the saints are to appear with Christ when He comes out of heaven to execute judgment, and as the marriage supper of the Lamb takes place in heaven, before the saints follow Christ out of heaven they must have been previously taken into heaven. It would be going into a subject previously spoken of to say much more.
I may, by a simple illustration, help some to seize what I believe Scripture teaches on the subject. So I will ask you to suppose a rebellion in this Island against the authority of the Sovereign.
The heir to the throne is sent to quell the rebellion, and to win back hearts to the Sovereign; but all is of no avail, and, with the exception of a few faithful ones, who rally round him, the mass reject his offers, and send him out of the Island with scorn and ignominious treatment. My illustration fails here, because the Lord was not only rejected and despised, but crucified by man, and raised from the dead by God. But to pursue my illustration.
After long patience the Sovereign decides to send the heir to the throne with a great host to subdue the rebels by power, the testimony of the few faithful ones who have proclaimed her willingness to pardon and receive into her court all who believe in her son, and own him to be the rightful heir, having been despised. But before the heir with this mighty army comes to destroy the rebels, the faithful ones, who have testified to his worthiness and his right, are secretly removed from the Island, that they may not be involved in the punishment of the rebels, and that they may accompany the heir to the throne on His return to take the throne by power. If, subsequently to the secret removal of the faithful ones to accompany the heir on his return, some of the true islanders born and bred on the Island were to repent of their deeds, separate themselves from the rebels and wait in patience for the return of the true heir, they would represent the new company in Jerusalem after the rapture of the Church.
This company is the Jewish remnant, the seed of Abraham, to whom Palestine has been given who will be found true to Messiah and His name in the final state of apostate Judaism in the land of Palestine, waiting to be delivered at the Lord's appearing.
But I must pass on to the subject of the eternal state, which I was unable to speak about on the last occasion.
In the first passage we read, not only that all things are put under the feet of Christ as man, but that "He must reign till he has put all enemies under his feet," and that when He shall have put down all rule and all authority and power He will deliver up "the kingdom to God, even the Father." "The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death," and, "when all things shall be subdued to him," that is Christ, "then shall the Son also himself be subject to him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all."
It is a very remarkable passage, showing us the object of the mediatorial kingdom of the Son of man, namely the maintenance of righteous government by power, during a period of a thousand years, by Christ as man: on the part of God and then, when all things shall be subdued to Him, and death destroyed, the kingdom will be delivered into the hands of God, and the Son Himself as man will cease to rule as the exalted Man, and become subject Himself to God as man in the new heavens and the new earth, where righteousness will dwell eternally.
All that has failed and broken down in man's hand in the past will be made good and displayed in perfection in the mediatorial kingdom in the hands of Christ. Solomon's bright day faded away through his failure in his old age, and soon after his death, his kingdom was divided. The Gentile empires began, and will end, with idolatry and oppression. The priesthood in Israel failed at the commencement and end of its history. But administration on the part of God will be displayed in perfection by Him who will be both King and Priest upon His throne, during a period of a thousand years: Zechariah 6:12, 13.
Then the closing scene will be the judgment of the dead before the Great White Throne, according to their works. Death and the grave deliver up the dead that are in them, and the sea gives up the dead that are in it and whosoever is not found written in the book of life will be cast into the lake of fire. The living are not there. The book of life in which their names are written is opened, but the judgment is a judgment of the dead only who are raised from their graves, and they are all cast into the lake of fire. And death and the grave are also cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
This is the close of the seven thousand years of time, and introduces us to the eternal state of which the apostle Peter speaks in the second passage which I read. "We according to his promise look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwells righteousness."
Sin is kept from breaking out, or is dealt with in righteous judgment whenever it occurs during the millennium, but sin is not put entirely out of the world, and until it is it cannot be said that righteousness dwells; but righteousness reigns in the millennium, just as grace reigns now through righteousness to eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord. The proof that a reign of righteousness and blessing for a thousand years under the sway of Christ does not change the heart of man, is found in the fact that, when the devil is let loose at the end of the thousand years, he goes out and deceives the nations as before, and gathers them together to battle; and they compass the camp of the saints about and the beloved city, which is evidently Jerusalem on earth, where these nations are destroyed by fire which comes down from God out of heaven.
The present order of things is then changed: the devil and all the wicked are cast into the lake of fire; and death and the grave are cast in also, for there are no more sinners and there is no more sin. God wipes away all tears and "there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain." The devil, and sin, and all the consequences flowing from the existence of the tempter and evil are gone for ever, for the Lord Jesus was manifested to undo the works of the devil, and to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. God's original thought and purpose is then reached, namely, that He will dwell with men, and He will be their God, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them, their God. What a blessed consummation! And what a prospect is thus opened up to the hearts of His people! The eternal rest and dwelling place of God.
But first there must be the dissolution of material things as they now exist, where alas! the hearts of all are found who know not Christ. "The heavens," the apostle tells us, "shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat; the earth also, and the works that are therein, shall be burned up." And what is the exhortation which the apostle founds upon this fact? "Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in all holy conversation and godliness; looking for and hasting the coming of the day of God?"
Have you ever thought what was the value of property the night before the flood? We are told that every thing was going on the same as usual: "They were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away."
The apostle Peter does not refer to the Lord's coming to take His saints to heaven, but he looks on upon earth to the dissolution of material things and the present heavens and earth, and presents to the gaze of faith, according to God's promise, the new heavens and new earth where righteousness will dwell. Now what is to wean us from earth and all the things that are going to be dissolved? Well, I know of nothing but the knowledge of Christ and His love. No doubt we must learn at the same time the evil that is in the flesh, and that under the sun all is vanity and vexation of Spirit but after all it comes to this:
"'Tis the treasure I've found in His love
That has made me a pilgrim below!"
You may have doctrines innumerable at your finger's ends, and be capable of discussing theological opinions, and yet be as cold as a stone, and have an unsatisfied heart. Believe me, beloved friends, there is only one remedy for an unsatisfied heart and that is Christ.
Look at the great example of this which we have in the apostle Paul, there was no one could boast in fleshly privileges and position as he could, Phil. 3; yet he was content to be stripped of everything, to suffer the loss of all things, for the excellency of the knowledge of Jesus Christ his Lord. So with the martyrs. Did they go to the stake for a set of doctrines? Not at all! They died because they could not, would not, deny a Person they knew, the blessed Son of God Himself. The secret of true Christianity, and the power of it, is the revelation of a divine Person, whose love is able to satisfy our souls, and who delights to lead us into the apprehension of what satisfies Himself, in the portion He has with His Father and His God, whom He reveals to our souls.
But I must pass on, to say a few more words about God's dwelling with men.
Directly Israel were redeemed out of Egypt we find Jehovah saying: "Let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them." And accordingly He had His tabernacle in the midst of them in the wilderness, though the High Priest alone could enter into the holiest of all once every year, and that not without blood. I do not dwell longer on this, because it was typical of the wonderful reality which was to take place after the accomplishment of redemption by the Son Himself. Then we know that at Pentecost the Holy Ghost, Himself a divine Person, came down from heaven to dwell in believers individually, and in the whole Church collectively, to constitute individuals members of the body of which Christ in heaven is the exalted Head, and to make the Church on earth as a whole a habitation of God by the Spirit. The Lord, you will remember, promised the disciples that he would send them another Comforter, who should abide with them for ever. Accordingly the Comforter came on the day of Pentecost and has been dwelling in the Church ever since.
Do you know, dear friends, the blessedness of having this heavenly guest, so that your bodies are the temples of the Holy Ghost which you have of God, and you are not your own but bought with a price? "Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God," says the apostle Paul, "by which you are sealed to the day of redemption." "Greater is he that is in you," says the apostle John, "than he that is in the world." It is a wonderful truth, the indwelling of the Holy Ghost in the individual Christian and in the Church, for all intelligence, and all joy, and all power, is connected with the Spirit of God; and the very state of the Christian is characterized by the Spirit, "You are not in flesh but in spirit, if so be the Spirit of God dwell in you." "Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfil the lusts of the flesh."
But I must pass on. If we want to enjoy the present fruit of the indwelling of the Spirit in our souls we shall find it in the path of obedience, according to John 14:22, where the Lord says, "If a man love me, he will keep my word: and my Father will love him, and we will come to him, and make our abode with him." And again in John 7, "he that believes on me, as the Scripture has said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water."
There is something very affecting in the words: that God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes. It is, as it were, His joy and, delight to remove all traces of the past, the fruit, alas! of man's sin; and there is such force in that word "God Himself shall be with them, their God." It is no other God, but the one true God Himself, the Creator and the Redeemer, revealed surely in Jesus the Son, but none the less God Himself, and His tabernacle is with men, that is, the Church in its aspect as his eternal dwelling place. The holy city, new Jerusalem, comes down from God out of heaven prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. There has been no fading of her bridal beauty during the thousand years of her mediatorial reign; as she was at the marriage supper of the Lamb, so she is seen as a bride adorned for her husband when eternity begins.
What can I say more? We shall find the thought of dwelling in Jehovah's house in the Psalms, as the height of blessing to the godly Jew. "I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever." "Lord I have loved the habitation of thy house, and the place where thine honour dwells." "One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after, that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in his temple." "How amiable are thy tabernacles O Lord of Hosts!" "A day in thy courts is better than a thousand." "I was glad when they said to me, Let us go into the house of the Lord." Now though all these, and other passages in the Psalms, refer to the house of the Lord at Jerusalem, still we understand that the true heart delighted to be found in the place where Jehovah dwelt, and His presence was to be found.
And how much more will this be so in the new heavens and new earth? Where God will be all in all, dwelling among men, and Jesus Himself, eternally man in all His blessedness, subject to God among men, yet He Himself God, never less than He was in the past eternity when He created all things, and since upholding all things by the word of His power. It is He who says: "It is done, I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely." May you all, beloved friends, know what it is, in this hour of grace, to drink at the streams of grace. We must drink for ourselves and be satisfied, before anything can flow upward in worship to God, or outward in refreshment to man.
But there is no effort in true Christianity. Mark the stream flowing down the mountain side. There is no effort there. You have only to trace it back to its source, to find it springing up like a living thing, and flowing forth, and flowing on, till it finds a resting place or loses itself in the ocean. And this is true Christianity. Life in the Spirit's power, a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.
We must taste the reality of divine joys now, the love of God, the love of Christ, and holy and heavenly relationships, and the affections that belong to them, if the future is to be a bright prospect for our souls. Doubts and fears are excused in some quarters and treated as humility. I call them sins, for it is as good as saying that what Christ says is not true, when He says: "My sheep shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand."
The fact is that some people have taken the place of worshippers, when they have never been in the sinner's place, and it is no wonder that they have not peace with God. They have no title to approach God at all, for access to the Father is only through Christ: "I am the way and the truth, and the life: no man comes to the Father, but by me." "Through him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father." If any one wishes to be presented at court they must find some one who is entitled to present them to the Sovereign, and in like manner man has no status before God and no title to approach except through Christ and His accepted sacrifice. Without shedding of blood there is no remission, and all the fruit of the natural heart is only like the fruit of the ground which God had cursed, which Cain presented to the Lord.
But believers have "boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way, which he has consecrated for us through the veil, that is to say, his flesh"; and are, moreover, members of the priestly family, associated with their great High Priest, who has already entered into the holiest.
It is an awful thought to think of the natural man, presenting himself as a worshipper under a religious garb; for the sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord.
The Christian has disappeared and come to an end in God's account, as to his state in flesh in sin, in the death of Christ, and has reappeared again in Christ risen and glorified. As the apostle says: "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."
May this be the language of every one in this hall to-night. that the prospect of the Lord's coming for His people, and His glorious, reign, may be bright in their souls.
Rev. 1:4-6; Rev. 3:10-11; Rev. 7; Rev. 22:16-21
I thought we might refer to these Scriptures very briefly to-night, but as I announced that the meeting would be open for any questions to be asked, I will first take some which have been handed to me already.
Question: Who are the rest of the dead in Rev. 20:5
Those that are left in the graves when the saints who have part in the first resurrection come out of their graves.
Question: Does the first resurrection extend to the end of the Millennium?
No. It says those who have part in the first resurrection live and reign with Christ a thousand years.
Question: What is to become of those who are saved during the Millennium?
They will pass into the new earth, I suppose.
Question: Will they be changed, or caught up, or die and be raised again?
It is not revealed; but they certainly will not die, whatever change may take place to suit their condition to the eternal state.
Question: We read of the book of life opened before the Great White Throne. For what purpose would that be?
I do not know. I suppose it is figurative; A kind of record of the living who through God's grace are not in the judgment. We read elsewhere of the name being written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the slain Lamb.
Question: We read in the promise God made to Abraham, that his seed should inherit the land from the Euphrates to the river of Egypt. Have we reason to suppose that the present Sudan will be a part of Israel's inheritance?
No, it will not. If you will look at the map of Palestine in your Bible you will see that the river of Egypt is a little river quite at the south, which people have confounded with the Nile.
Question: Who is the king of the south?
The south is Egypt. The Assyrian, is the king of the north.
Question: Could you use the word "saved" during the Millennium?
Well, those that are on the earth will be blessed. The Spirit will be poured out on all flesh. It is not like saving souls out of a lost and guilty world as at the present time. During the Millennium death will be the exception, but the evil-doer will be cut off, and righteousness will be maintained by power and judgment. Psalms 101:5, 78. Psalm 145:20. In Zechariah 14:17-19 we find that there will be no rain upon the nations that will not come up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles.
Question: I suppose it is folly to think the British nation is the lost tribes?
Utter folly. Romans 11 tells us that blindness in part is happened to Israel; that the natural branches have been broken off the olive tree, and that the Gentiles have been grafted in and partake of the root and fatness of the olive tree. No one can deny that, as a nation, England is in the enjoyment of all the privileges of Christianity; and that, "God has given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear," applies to Israel. England on the contrary has been a centre of light, and from thence the gospel has been carried into all parts of the world. A desolate house is characteristic of Israel, until there comes out of Zion the Deliverer, to turn away ungodliness from Jacob.
Question: Please explain what you mean by saints?
Well, I had better answer from Romans 1:6, 7. The apostle wrote to all the Christians in Rome: "beloved of God, saints by divine calling." It was not a question of the progress of any of them, but of what they were by God's calling. People think the saints are an advanced class of Christians, and that it is very humble to say, "I am only a poor sinner saved by grace." Well, on our side we were nothing else but sinners, and we had to come to God in our sins, but that is no reason for denying what we are made by the work of the cross, God's calling, and the sanctification of the Spirit. A saint is a sanctified or separated person. Christ "has perfected for ever the sanctified." By the will of God the Christian is sanctified, or set apart, through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. Christ is our sanctification or measure of our setting apart to God. No doubt we ought to be holy in our ways, and walk, and conversation, but we must know our place and calling first, before we can practically answer to it. A person must be my child to behave as my child. Another has well said Christian duties flow from Christian relationships.
Question: What is the Church?
Christ's body and Christ's Bride and, in another aspect, the dwelling place of God. "By one Spirit we have all been baptised into one body, and we have all been made to drink into one Spirit." "There is one body and one Spirit." The apostle Paul in his day wrote to "the church of God which is at Corinth," for then all believers were manifestly one, and parties under different names and national churches had never been formed, so that the Church at Corinth was the Church of God in that city. You cannot speak of the Church of God in any city now, for believers are to be found in all the sects. Of course in the sight of God there is only one Church, and all believers form part of it. I mean the body of Christ.
Question: "The body" would not include professors?
Certainly not! The Spirit forms the body, and dwells in each individual member, and all the members of the body have drunk into one Spirit. In the aspect of God's house human responsibility comes in, and you have responsible builders, and how they build, and what they build. 1 Cor. 3:10-15. Here you may find what is false built in, and what corrupts and destroys the foundations, and the corrupter will be destroyed.
The passages I read in Revelation show that the Church is not seen on earth after the third chapter, though we have no account of the rapture. At the end of the book we have "the Spirit and the Bride say come" when the Lord presents Himself as the bright morning star, but that is when He says He has sent His angel to testify these things in the Churches. The apostle John is told to write the things he had seen, the things which are, that is the churches as they existed on earth when the apostle wrote, and "the things which shall be after these things," that is after the period of the Churches. This division will help you to understand the book. In chapter 7 you find an hundred and forty-four thousand sealed, of all the tribes of the children of Israel, and then a great multitude of Gentiles, who come out of the great tribulation. God will always have a testimony to Himself, and, when the Church has been removed to heaven, the Spirit of God will work amongst both Jews and Gentiles, to preserve those who are faithful, and sustain them in their testimony.
Question: Did the apostle in 1 Thess. 5 mean to distinguish between the times and seasons, and the coming of the Lord for the saints?
Yes, we find the distinction both in the first and second Epistle. At the end of the first chapter we are told that the Thessalonians were waiting for the Son from heaven. It was the position of the Christian Church in the days of the apostles. There was no thought that the Church was to remain long in the world. Some of the Thessalonians had evidently died, and those left supposed that they would not be in the kingdom when the Lord came to establish it. But the apostle corrects this thought and shows that, as Jesus had died and risen again, so, those who slept in Jesus, God would bring with Him on His return. Then he explains the order of events: that the Lord would descend into the air, and the dead in Christ would rise first, and then the living would be changed and caught up together with those who slept to meet the Lord in the air.
Question: Why is it called the secret rapture?
Because the world will not see it. When Christ appears in glory every eye shall see Him, and those who pierced Him shall look on Him whom they pierced; but this passage does not speak of His appearing in glory or His manifestation in judgment to the world, but of His descent into the air to take the saints up to meet him there. In the fifth chapter the apostle does speak of the day of the Lord, when He appears, which will come as a thief in the night on those in darkness in the world. In the second Epistle the saints supposed that the tribulation they were enduring at the hand of their enemies was the tribulation which would precede and usher in the day of the Lord but in chapter 2 the apostle shows them their mistake, because the saints would be gathered to Christ, and the apostacy or falling away would take place, and the man of sin would be revealed, before the day could come. It is evident from verse seven that what hinders the revelation of the man of sin will be taken out of the way, and I judge this refers to the presence in the Church of the Holy Ghost, who will cease to be a hindering power when the Church is translated to heaven. It is also clear from Revelation 12 that the devil will be cast out of heaven, and vent all his wrath, not on the Church which has been translated to heaven, but on the godly Jewish remnant.
Question: Do you mean to say that the devil is in heaven now?
I do. In Ephesians 6 we are told that "we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against wicked spirits in heavenly places." He is called "the accuser of our brethren." In the book of Job we see clearly that he had liberty to present himself before God amongst the angels.
Question: I thought he was cast out already?
No. The Lord anticipates the future when He says "I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven."
Some one asked before the meeting, what would happen to professing Christians after the removal of the Church to heaven, and it is a very serious question.
The answer is to be found in 2 Thess. 2:9-12. They are spoken of as being deceived by the man of sin and perishing, "because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved." "And for this cause," we are told, "God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be damned who believed not the truth." The history of the five foolish virgins also proves that there is no hope for the mere professors of Christianity, after the saints have been taken to heaven.
Question: Would you explain the difference between the great white throne and the judgment seat of Christ?
Well, the time is nearly up, but I can say a few words. It is plain enough from Rev. 20:11-15 that the judgment of the great white throne is the closing act of Christ in His mediatorial kingdom, and that those judged before the great white throne are the dead only. You have only to read the verses to be satisfied about this. The word translated in 2 Corinthians 5:10, "judgment seat" is not "throne," but "Bema," in the original Greek, which signifies a tribunal. The apostle Paul speaks of the Lord, the righteous judge, giving him a crown of righteousness, and not to him only, but to all them also who love His appearing.
We have already seen that the saints are caught up to meet the Lord, and will be changed in an instant when He descends into the air: and it is plain that their places in the Kingdom must be settled according to righteousness, before they come out with Him after the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, in Revelation 19. So that the important difference between the great white throne and the saints appearing before the judgment seat of Christ is, that the former is a judgment of the dead as to their persons, by their works, and the penal consequence is eternal perdition. The latter is not a judgment of the persons of believers for they will be there in glorified bodies like Christ, and there can be no penal consequences, for Christ has borne all their sins, and all the penal consequences attaching to them.
But there will be righteous awards for the things done in the body. Not a cup of cold water given in the name of a disciple will lose its reward. All that has been of Christ will be owned by Him, and for all that has been of the flesh we shall suffer loss. All will not have the same place in the Kingdom, though all will be like Christ in glory, as the result of sovereign love and grace and the work of Christ. But each Christian lives his own individual life and is responsible for his own acts and each will be rewarded according to his own deeds. The poor widow who put her two mites into the treasury will get her reward, and the martyrs who were burnt at the stake will get theirs. Good works ought to characterise Christians, though love should be the motive and spring of everything done to Christ or His people, yet the knowledge of His recognition of all service to Himself in His day acts as an encouragement and a stimulant in this heartless and selfish world. Look at the various promises of reward to encourage the Lord's people in the addresses to the Churches in Rev. 3 and 4.
But we must never confound the good deeds of the saints with what people often call "good works," as if it were possible for unconverted persons to please God in one single thing. "They that are in the flesh cannot please God." "Without faith it is impossible to please him." But when truly converted to God and sealed by the Spirit, "the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance," "and they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts." A person who thinks he can have any part in saving himself will be damned, for Christ must have all the glory of saving the sinner and bringing us into glory.
Question: Can a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ lose eternal life and be lost?
I will give you the Lord's own words in reply, in John 10 "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me; and I give to them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me is greater than all, and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand." If you believe that one who has been redeemed by Christ's blood, and sealed by the Spirit can be lost, you must believe that Satan is stronger than God, Father, Son, and Spirit; for all three Persons are engaged in the salvation of each lost soul.
But you say cannot I do anything wrong? Yes indeed. There is nothing bad we might not do, if we had not a great high Priest to minister grace to help us in time of need, and an advocate with the Father to pray for us and restore us if we sin. "The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin." It never loses its value, and the advocacy of Jesus Christ the righteous never ceases. He is able to save to the uttermost those that come to God by Him, seeing He ever lives to make intercession for them.
Scripture exhorts us not to sin, and we have no excuse for sinning, because there is a throne of grace for us where grace is being continually ministered and the Spirit is power with us, and in us if ungrieved. Nevertheless, provision is made for sin. "If any man sin," it does not say, as some people seem to think it says, he will become a child of the devil, and fall into hell; "but, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous, and he is the propitiation for our sins." He is our righteousness and never changes, and He it is who, as our advocate, maintains us in a state suited to the standing we have in Him, and restores our souls if we sin and get out of communion.
May the Lord abundantly bless what has been before us, and grant that we may be found "waiting for the Son from heaven, even Jesus, our deliverer from coming wrath."
Guernsey.—W. H. Wardley, Trinity Square.
Jersey.—W. F. Filleul, 69, Halkett Place, St. Helier's.
London.—Tract Depot, 20, Paternoster Square.
Edinburgh.— Tract Depot, 7, Bristo Place.