Christ Is All (1)
Christ is all, in all the counsels of God concerning man.
(a) There was a time when this earth had no being. Solid as the mountains look, boundless as the sea appears, high as the stars in heaven look—they once did not exist. And man, with all the high thoughts he now has of himself, was a creature unknown.
And where was Christ then?
Even then Christ was ‘with God ‘—and ‘was God’—and was ‘equal with God’ (John 1:1; Phil. 2:6). Even then He was the beloved Son of the Father: ‘Thou lovedst Me,’ He says, ‘before the foundation of the world.’—‘I had glory with Thee before the world began.’—‘I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was’ (John 17:5, 24; Prov. 8:23). Even then He was the Saviour ‘foreordained before the foundation of the world’ (1 Peter 1:20) , and believers were ‘chosen in Him’ (Eph. 1:4).
(b) There came a time when this earth was created in its present order. Sun, moon and stars—sea, land and all their inhabitants, were called into being and made out of chaos and confusion. And, last of all, man was formed out of the dust of the ground.
And where was Christ then?
Hear what the Scripture says: ‘All things were made by Him, and without Him was not any thing made that was made’ (John 1:3). ‘By Him were all things created, that are in heaven and that are in earth’ (Col. 1:16). ‘And Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of Thine hands’ (Heb. 1:10). ‘When He prepared the heavens, I was there: when He set a compass upon the face of the depth: when He established the clouds above: when He strengthened the foundations of the deep: when He gave to the sea His decree, that the water should not pass His commandment: when He appointed the foundations of the earth: then I was by Him, as one brought up with Him’ (Prov. 8:27–30). . . .
(c) There came a day when sin entered the world.—Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, and fell. They lost that holy nature in which they were first formed. They forfeited the friendship and favour of God and became guilty, corrupt, helpless, hopeless sinners. Sin came as a barrier between themselves and their holy Father in heaven. Had He dealt with them according to their deserts, there had been nothing before them but death, hell, and everlasting ruin.
And where was Christ then?
In that very day He was revealed to our trembling parents, as the only hope of salvation. The very day they fell, they were told that ‘the seed of the woman should yet bruise the serpent’s head,’—that a Saviour born of a woman should overcome the devil and win for sinful man an entrance to eternal life (Gen. 3:15). . . .
(d) There came a time when the world seemed sunk and buried in ignorance of God. After 4,000 years the nations of the earth appeared to have clean forgotten the God that made them. . . man, left to himself, was utterly corrupt. ‘The world, by wisdom, knew not God’ (1 Cor. 1:21). . . .
And what did Christ do then?
He left the glory He had had from all eternity with the Father, and came down into the world to provide a salvation. He took our nature upon Him, and was born as a man. As a man He did the will of God perfectly, which we all had left undone: as a man He suffered on the cross the wrath of God which we ought to have suffered. He brought in everlasting righteousness for us. He redeemed us from the curse of a broken law. He opened a fountain for all sin and uncleanness. He died for our sins. He rose again for our justification. He ascended to God’s right hand, and there sat down, waiting till His enemies should be made His footstool. And there He sits now, offering salvation to all who will come to Him, interceding for all who believe in Him, and managing by God’s appointment all that concerns the salvation of souls.
(e) There is a time coming when sin shall be cast out from this world.—Wickedness shall not always flourish unpunished—Satan shall not always reign—creation shall not always groan, being burdened. There shall be a time of restitution of all things. . . .
And where shall Christ be then? And what shall He do?
Christ Himself shall be King. He shall return to this earth and make all things new. . . . To Him every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall confess that He is Lord. His dominion shall be an everlasting dominion which shall not pass away, and His kingdom that which shall not be destroyed (Matt. 24:30; Rev. 11:15; Psalm 2:8; Phil. 2:10, 11; Dan. 7:14).
(f) There is a day coming when all men shall be judged. The sea shall give up the dead which are in it, and death and hell shall deliver up the dead which are in them. All that sleep in the grave shall awake and come forth, and all shall be judged according to their works (Rev. 20:13; Dan. 12:2).
And where will Christ be then?
Christ Himself will be the Judge. ‘The Father hath committed all judgment unto the Son.’—‘When the Son of man shall come in His glory, then shall He sit upon the throne of His glory:—and before Him shall be gathered all nations: and He shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth the sheep from the goats.’—‘We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ: that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad’ (John 5:22; Matt. 25:32; 2 Cor. 5:10).
—J. C. Ryle, Holiness (Banner of Truth, 2014), 416–419.
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