A Final Word

A Farewell Address given on March 11, 1926, at Detroit, Michigan, U.S.A.

"He which testifies these things says, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus. The Grace of our Lord, Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen" (Revelation 22:20-21).

Think our farewell words to you, my dear friends, tonight, may well be upon these closing words of Scripture. They give us the last word from our Lord Himself to His church on earth; the response of the church to that last word; and thirdly the final benediction of the Holy Ghost.

It is exceedingly interesting to see that the last words of the Lord to the church on earth are "Surely I come quickly." It is equally interesting to see that the first message from the glory, after the Lord entered into it was about His coming back again. Before ever the glorious truths that are unfolded for us in the epistles are given to us we have this message from the glory. The disciples had seen their Lord caught up from them. They lost sight of Him, for a cloud received Him out of their sight. But from the very gates of the glory into which the Lord had entered there came two angels upon swift pinion to tell them this — "He is coming back again!" The first message from the glory after, the Lord entered into it was that He is coming back again, and His words are "Surely I come quickly."

Why did the Lord Jesus Christ utter these as His last words, and why was this His first message from the glory? It seems to me that it is very much like a mother who has to leave her children for a while. Her last words to them are "I will be back soon, my dears," and then if she has the opportunity of sending them a message from the distant place where she has gone, this is the message "I am coming back soon." Why does she send a message like that? She knows right well that no message will please them better. She knows that it will appeal to their hearts, but it seems to me that there is a greater reason than that. She longs to be with her loved ones, and when she says, "I am coming back soon," it is her own heart that is finding expression. So in these words of the Lord His tender heart finds its expression saying, "I come quickly." Yes, He loves you, dear Christian, even though your heart has grown cold towards Him, and nothing will satisfy Him but having you with Himself in that glory, and with that end in view, He is coming back.

It will be a wonderful time, will it not, when you see your Lord? Then the brightest moment that you have ever known in your Christian life will be infinitely exceeded by the joy that will be yours when you see Him face to face, who laid down His life for you. We are told very plainly how He will come. We are told that "The Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a 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."

Wonderful words those, are they not? And we can put no construction or interpretation on them than that which they plainly bear. Actually, the Lord is coming and every saint shall respond instantly to that shout as His one happy, united company; every difficulty and division that ever harassed them disappearing in a moment. Somebody has said that these difficulties and divisions will take a long time to settle. Dear friends, I declare to you the truth when I say they will disappear in the twinkling of an eye. "And so shall we ever be with the Lord." We shall pass into His glory with triumphant hallelujahs on our lips; to be His bride, the Lamb's wife forever.

He is coming with a shout. Why will He shout? His will be a shout of victory. And I want you to notice the sort of victory it will be. Ephesians says very plainly that Satan has his seat in the heavens — the throne of his power is there, from thence he controls the world's kingdoms, and exercises his malignant sway over men. And in that very spot Christ is going to meet His church. If there is one thing the devil would like to do today it is to keep your heart out of heaven. He labours hard to keep your hearts from heaven, and how successful he often is. He keeps some of you chasing the dollar, going after pleasure, and thinking of yourselves. And if he could, he would keep you out when the Lord comes. What a triumph it would be for him if he could thwart the Lord in His determination to have His church, if he could rob the Lamb of His wife. But he cannot do it; in the very seat of Satan's power, Christ will meet His church. I can understand those evil principalities, those powers that serve the devil, and that, as Ephesians 6 tells us, are in the heavenlies, shrinking back into their native darkness to let the church go through. Not a hand or voice raised against it. The ransomed church and her Lord and Redeemer meeting there in the air; Satan, with all his power and subtlety, beaten and baffled and unable to hinder that glorious meeting.

The Lord will shout an assembling shout to which all the saints of God shall answer, both dead and living. Why does He shout? The Scripture speaks to us of the patience of Jesus Christ. What does that mean? It means that He is waiting. He has been waiting with great patience for nearly two thousand years. Waiting for what? Waiting to throw the arms of love around His blood-bought bride and to have her for Himself without a rival. It is the love of His heart that finds expression in that shout. It will be a shout of joy — pent-up gladness and love. Thank God, it is this that we are waiting for. And the devil will not be able to hinder it, though now he tries to rob the saints of this hope.

The world derides it. You will find men of light and learning in this world laughing at it, scoffing at it. Not very long ago, a pamphlet was sent from this country to me across the Atlantic, and the writer of it took up this very subject. He was one of the leading professors at one of your great universities. He said that the early Christians believed that they would be suddenly translated from earth to heaven. I am glad that he admitted that, that was something gained. But, said your learned professor, they were ignorant of the sciences; if they had only understood things that we understand now, they could have been under no such delusion. For instance, he said, the law of gravitation would make such a thing as that impossible.

But the law of gravitation is not so great as the voice of the Lord! Listen to these thrilling words: "Our citizenship is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: who shall change our body of humiliation that it may be fashioned like to His body of glory, according to the working whereby He is able even to subdue all things to Himself" (Phil. 3:20-21). Yes, the power of the Saviour will subdue all things to Himself, even the law of gravitation. And the law of gravitation — what of it? Suppose I have a piece of steel and I throw it on the table there; it is held in the grip of the law of gravitation. It has no power in itself by which it can release itself from the law that holds it. But if I took a powerful magnet and held it above the steel, what would happen? The steel would spring to the magnet. The working of magnetic attraction would set it free from that other law.

Do you know the great Magnet? Yes, surely you do. The great Magnet is Jesus. Why, He has already drawn your heart. It was once held in the grip of the law of sin and death. You were a hopeless captive. But your eyes of faith beheld Him. And His voice reached the depth of your heart, and He became the great Magnet to you. Your soul bounded to Jesus. He set you free from the law of sin and death. What He has done for your heart, my friends, He will do for your bodies. And in a twinkling of an eye you will be for ever with the Lord.

But the learned professor did not read his Bible, or, if he did, he did not understand it. Scripture says we shall be changed. These bodies of humiliation — these natural bodies — will be changed into spiritual bodies, into bodies of glory. I can well understand natural laws, such as the law of gravitation, affecting natural bodies, but what natural law can control spiritual bodies? Natural laws for natural bodies by all means, but spiritual laws for spiritual bodies. Natural laws are good for natural bodies, and the law of gravitation is a beneficent law for us while we have natural bodies; without it we should be all flying off at various tangents into space. But when these bodies are changed into spiritual bodies, then they will no longer be held by natural laws. They will then be controlled by spiritual laws, and the greatest of these is that Christ is the centre of God's universe in deed and in fact, and He will draw us to Himself and hold us there for ever.

But it is not the event we are looking for so much. It is the Person who is coming. It is Jesus. In this chapter. He speaks of Himself. "I, Jesus," he says. And it is wonderful to find that after the unfolding of all the terrible judgments that are to be — after He has been presented to us in all His majesty and power as King of kings. and Lord of lords, the great Judge of all — He speaks to the hearts of His saints saying, "I, Jesus." He knows well that that Name will reach your heart. He knows well that that Name will send a thrill through your soul. "I, Jesus," He says, "have sent my angel to testify these things." And he that testifies these things says, "Surely I come quickly."

What is our attitude towards Him? Reference has been made to the twelfth chapter of Luke's Gospel. The Lord speaks there of His servants waiting, watching and working, and happy indeed it will be for us if we are found in that threefold attitude towards the Lord. Waiting implies readiness; watching implies expectation; working implies that our hearts are interested in His interests. I will illustrate: There is a mother, she has been away for a little while, and at last the day has come for her return. The children don't know just what hour she will arrive. Mary has gotten up in good time. She goes about with great zeal putting the house in order, She says: "We must all be ready for mother." And at last all is in order. They are waiting. But they keep running to the window and to the door to look out, what for? They are watching, they are expectant. They could scarcely be expectant unless they were ready. And then look at Mary! She goes into this room and that to see that everything is straight, though she has been there a dozen times. And then she takes the children and looks them up and down and sees that they are just what mother would like them to be. She is working. Her mother's interests are hers. Ah, would we like, when the Lord comes, to be like that? To see all our brethren and sisters just as the Lord desires them to be? Are we so interested, so concerned in His thoughts about His saints that we seek earnestly that they may all be just like He wants them to be when He comes? The Lord grant that it may be so, that we may be waiting, watching and working. Then we can truly say, "Even so, come, Lord Jesus." You see it is first the cry from His lips, "I come quickly," and then there is the response from His saints' hearts, "Even so, come, Lord Jesus." Oh, is it so with us? Is that cry breaking from our yearning hearts? What a triumph for the grace of God, that we should have Christ as our Object! Christ who is not in the world, but who is coming again. That we should be looking for Christ and saying, "Come, Lord Jesus." When He comes, that will be glory for us. He came down to sorrow and shame, to the deep woe of Calvary in order that we might be with Him in glory.

But what have we in the meanwhile? That brings me to the Spirit's final benediction. The Spirit has infinite love for all His saints. And in winding up the Holy Scriptures He says "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with all the saints," for so it should read. Thank God, the saints of God have a wonderful heritage now. And that heritage is the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with all the saints." What music there is in that expression, and it has a familiar sound about it, hasn't it? The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ! We have heard those words before somewhere. Where is it that we have heard them? Our hearts are carried back to the beautiful verse in the eighth chapter of Second Corinthians: "For ye know, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that ye through His poverty might be rich." I want you, dear friends, to get hold of this. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with all the saints. What is it? It is something that we know. "Ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ." But how do you know it? You know it by the way it has manifested itself. How has it manifested itself? He who was rich for your sakes became poor, that ye through His poverty might be rich. Oh, wonderful and blessed word as this wonderful benediction, this! The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is all the love of that blessed Person active towards us for our blessing, for our joy, for our enrichment. He became poor that we might be rich. He was rich, and yet for your sake He became poor.

He was rich. What words can tell the greatness of His wealth! Think of His riches. Think of His power! The mighty Creator! The eternal God! The Only-begotten which is in the Bosom of the Father! The Lord of angelic hosts! How rich was He! Yet for your sakes He became poor. He was here upon earth a poor man. He cast the stars before Him as the silver pathway for His feet, and yet He trod the filthy streets of those Eastern cities, without a home. He trod that rough way to the cross and was forsaken by all His friends, and was nailed thereon as a malefactor and no voice was raised in protest. In that dark hour no light shone upon Him from above. No comfort reached Him from beneath. He was alone! Why was the Lord of glory so poor? Why did He suffer thus? It was for your sakes. He became poor that you might be rich. And the wonderful grace that brought Him down to Calvary's Cross is the grace that will be with us until we see Him in the glory. Don't you see, beloved Christians, that in this there is everything we need? I don't know what your needs are. There is within every human entity a secret chamber into which no other mortal being can enter. The nearest and dearest to you cannot understand your deepest feelings. You may say, "Nobody understands me," and it is true that we are not fully understood by any fellow mortal. There may be a bitterness in the centre of your soul that you cannot express to your dearest friend. But Jesus knows! That wonderful grace that brought Him to death on your behalf gives Him the right to enter your innermost being. He can fill that secret chamber in your soul with a sense of His love, and He can make you rich, though stripped of everything that men may value; rich in the knowledge of Himself. We are put into contact with heavenly supplies. Sometimes we run hither and thither in our folly for help, and we try to manage for ourselves. The Lord wants you to pour your trouble in His ear. And there are heavenly supplies for all earthly needs. Individually you may have the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and be rich, though you possess nothing. And in the family life you may have His grace. I would like to see the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ coming down into all your domestic circumstances, and smoothing the difficulties, and binding the family together. There is grace to make your family a harmonious, a united family, from which ascends praise to the blessed Lord. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ could come down into your homes and do that.

And do not let us get narrow in our vision of the saints of God. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ is to be towards all the saints. And we should be manifesting this grace towards them. This grace must form us and characterize us, and it must shine through us in our dealings with one another. Oh, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ! What was it that He said to His disciples? He said, "I am among you as He that serves." That was the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Uncouth and illiterate men were they, and with them was the Lord from glory, with all His blessed, perfect human sensibilities. For not only was He God, perfect in His Godhead glory, but He was Man also, perfect in His manhood. Not only were the attributes of God ever His, but all the sensibilities of man, apart from sin, were His also. And when He came into contact with that which was uncouth and rough and uncomely, He felt it. These men were all that, and yet He was their servant! "I am among you as He that serves." If there was one task more menial than another, that fell to His lot. Oh, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ! See Him gather the children to His bosom and bless them. See Him speaking to the outcast sinners that no Pharisee would own. See Him stretching forth His hand, touching the leper from whom all men shrank. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ! And the marvellous thing is that that grace may be in you and in me, and be manifested in our conduct one toward another.

It comes out beautifully in the third chapter of Colossians where we are called elect of God, holy, beloved. We are to put on lowliness of mind, meekness, long-suffering, forgiving on another, even as Christ also forgave you, so also do ye. That is the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Forgiving! Forgiving! Oh, if you can forgive, that is the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. But somebody says: "That is what I can't do. You don't know what harsh things she has said about me, or how badly I have been treated." But if you forgive, that will be the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Hear what Peter has to say about it. He had been listening to the Lord, and he was conscious that the Lord was saying things to him that he had not been used to hearing, and his astonishment found voice in his question: If my brother sin against me seven times must I forgive him? "I say not to thee, Until seven times; but, Until seventy times seven," was the Lord's quiet answer. And Peter might well have said, "Impossible." But I can understand the Lord replying: "Peter, I am not asking you to treat your brother in any other way than the way I am treating you." Ah, that makes it easy. It is the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. That is the way He is treating me. He is forgiving me seventy times seven, and if I cannot forgive my brethren the same way, my heart has lost the sense of His grace.

Oh, beloved saints of God, what peace, what harmony and what fragrance for God there would be if this grace of our Lord Jesus Christ were active in the midst of the saints! And remember it is the parting, the final benediction of the Holy Ghost. It is as though the Holy Spirit of God, having before Him the whole volume of truth, selects this as the most blessed of all benedictions. Let these precious words sing their music to your souls.

Before morning we may be in the glory. Before morning we may see His face. His promise to come may be fulfilled. If there is anybody you have not forgiven, you had better do it tonight. If there is any saint of God, against whom you have a grudge, you had better straighten it all out before you sleep. If the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ is with you actively, you will.

Whatever you do, let the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ shine through you. If it shines through you, it will bless others. You will go forth in the fragrance and power of it. There is nothing so mighty as grace. What has grace done? Grace has subdued sins. Where sin abounded — where it rolled like the Atlantic billows — grace rose higher than all and did much more abound. Grace has saved us — hard, reprobate, sinful wretches, rebels against God; grace has reached us and saved us. There is nothing so great, so mighty, as grace. That grace is to be in you and me.

And while grace is mighty, oh, it is tender. There is an infinite softness about it. It moulds and fashions the spirit. How blessed it is to meet a man who is moulded and fashioned by grace! Somebody said to a dear servant of the Lord — someone who was of a very socialistic turn of mind — "There will be no gentlemen in heaven." "I beg your pardon," was the reply, "there will be nothing but gentle men there." Let us be gentle men in our dealings one with another; kind, tender-hearted, of lowly mind, forgiving one another.

May the hope of the Lord's coming, may His last message from the glory, have a place in our hearts. May there be the response, "Even so, come, Lord Jesus," and then let us with confidence wait for Him, confident that the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, inexhaustible and all-sufficient as it is, will be with us from day to day. The Lord grant that for His Name's sake.