Lord’s Day 42, 2010
I reioyced, when they sayd to me, We wil go into the house of the Lord. (Psalme 122:1)
Poem XXVI. For the Morning.
Augustus Toplady (1740–1778)
My soul, can’st thou no higher rise,
To meet thy God, than this?
Yet, Lord, accept my sacrifice,
Defective as it is.
Tune all my organs to thy praise,
And psalmist’s muse impart;
And with thy penetrating rays,
O melt my frozen heart.
Give me thyself, the only good,
And ever with me stay;
Whose faithful mercies are renew’
With each returning day.
Ah! guide me with a Father’s eye,
Nor from my soul depart;
But let the day-star from on high
Illuminate my heart.
This day preserve me without sin,
Protected in thy ways;
And hear me while I usher in
The welcome dawn with praise.
Far as the east from west remove
Each earthly vain desire;
And raise me on the wings of love,
’Til I can mount no higher.
—The Complete Works of Augustus Toplady (Sprinkle Publications, 1987).
I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 After a little while the world will no longer see Me, but you will see Me; because I live, you will live also. 20 In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.”
The short passage before us is singularly rich in “precious promises.” Twice our Lord Jesus Christ says, “I will.” Twice He says to believers, “Ye shall.”
We learn from this passage, that Christ’s second coming is meant to be the special comfort of believers. He says to His disciples, “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.”
Now what is the “coming” here spoken of? It is only fair to say that this is a disputed point among Christians. Many refer it to our Lord’s coming to His disciples after His resurrection. Many refer it to His invisible coming into the hearts of His people by the grace of the Holy Ghost. Many refer it to His coming by the outpouring of the Holy Ghost on the day of Pentecost. It may well be doubted, however, whether any one of these three views conveys the full meaning of our Lord’s words, “I will come.”
The true sense of the expression appears to be the second personal coming of Christ at the end of the world. It is a wide, broad, sweeping promise, intended for all believers, in every age, and not for the Apostles alone:—“I will not stay always in heaven: I will one day come back to you.” It is like the message which the angels brought to the disciples after the ascension:—“This same Jesus shall come in like manner as ye have seen Him go.” (Acts. i. 11.) It is like the last promise which winds up the Book of Revelation:—“Surely I come quickly.” (Rev. xxii. 20.) Just in the same way the parting consolation held out to believers, the night before the crucifixion, is a personal return:—“I will come.”
Let us settle it in our minds that all believers are comparatively “orphans,” and children in their minority, until the second advent. Our best things are yet to come. Faith has yet to be exchanged for sight, and hope for certainty. Our peace and joy are at present very imperfect. They are as nothing to what we shall have when Christ returns. For the return let us look and long and pray. Let us place it in the forefront of all our doctrinal system, next to the atoning death and the interceding life of our Lord. The highest style of Christians are the men who look for and love the Lord’s appearing. (2 Tim. iv. 8.)
We learn for another thing, that Christ’s life secures the life of His believing people. He says, “Because I live ye shall live also.”
There is a mysterious and indissoluble union between Christ and every true Christian. The man that is once joined to Him by faith, is as closely united as a member of the body is united to the head. So long as Christ, his Head, lives, so long he will live. He cannot die unless Christ can be plucked from heaven, and Christ’s life destroyed. But this, since Christ is very God, is totally impossible! “Christ being raised from the dead, dies no more: death hath no more dominion over Him.” (Rom. vi. 9.) That which is divine, in the very nature of things, cannot die.
Christ’s life secures the continuance of spiritual life to His people. They shall not fall away. They shall persevere unto the end. The divine nature of which they are partakers, shall not perish. The incorruptible seed within them shall not be destroyed by the devil and the world. Weak as they are in themselves, they are closely knit to an immortal Head, and not one member of His mystical body shall ever perish.
Christ’s life secures the resurrection life of His people. Just as He rose again from the grave, because death could not hold Him one moment beyond the appointed time, so shall all His believing members rise again in the day when He calls them from the tomb. The victory that Jesus won when He rolled the stone away, and came forth from the tomb, was a victory not only for Himself, but for His people. If the Head rose, much more shall the members.
Truths like these ought to be often pondered by true Christians. The careless world knows little of a believer’s privileges. It sees little but the outside of him. It does not understand the secret of his present strength, and of his strong hope of good things to come. And what is that secret? Invisible union with an invisible Saviour in heaven! Each child of God is invisibly linked to the throne of the Rock of Ages. When that throne can be shaken, and not till then, we may despair. But Christ lives, and we shall live also.
We learn, finally, from this passage, that full and perfect knowledge of divine things will never be attained by believers until the second advent. Our Lord says, “At that day,” the day of my coming, “you shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in Me, and I in you.”
The best of saints knows but little so long as he is in the body. The fall of our father Adam has corrupted our understandings, as well as our consciences, hearts, and wills. Even after conversion we see through a glass darkly, and on no point do we see so dimly as on the nature of our own union with Christ, and of the union of Christ and the Father. These are matters in which we must be content to believe humbly, and, like little children, to receive on trust the things which we cannot explain.
But it is a blessed and cheering thought that when Christ comes again, the remains of ignorance shall be rolled away. Raised from the dead, freed from the darkness of this world, no longer tempted by the devil and tried by the flesh, believers shall see as they have been seen, and know as they have been known. We shall have light enough one day. What we know not now, we shall know hereafter.
Let us rest our souls on this comfortable thought, when we see the mournful divisions which rend the Church of Christ. Let us remember that a large portion of them arise from ignorance. We know in part, and therefore misunderstand one another. A day comes when Lutherans shall no longer wrangle with Zwinglians, nor Calvinist with Arminian, nor Churchman with Dissenter. That day is the day of Christ’s second coming. Then and then only will the promise receive its complete fulfillment,—“At that day ye shall know.”
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.