Christ for the Saint and Christ for the Sinner: Part 2

Revelation 22:17
The apostle told the Corinthians that, “if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.” They then had not judged themselves, and the Lord was chastening them. How did He then deal with the Corinthians? “For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and not a few sleep.” This did not prove they were unbelievers, but rather the contrary. It was just because they bore His name that the Lord chastised them. He does not execute condemnation on the world yet: it will be judgment in strict unsparing righteousness. There will be no mercy (which men despised) mingling with the just award (which they did not fear). Now there is grace without judgment. Why? Because Christ undertook the judgment and bore it on the cross. Nothing is more righteous, if He undertook it; nothing more gracious, nothing simpler than the gospel; while nothing is deeper, nothing surer, and nothing more blessed. Therein God gives complete rest for your conscience in what Christ has suffered for you, and in His love perfect rest for your heart. You are then free to have Christ Himself to enjoy.
What can compare with the privileges of the Christian? It is not merely hearing sermons, were they master-pieces, nor is it prayer individual or common, although you are sure to fall into sins if careless as to prayer and the word of God too. “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way?” It is through the washing of water by His word. It admonishes and warns, corrects and rebukes, feeds and directs, revives and encourages us; yet how seldom one hears ordinarily about this cleansing by the word. All who believe do speak of Christ's blood; its need is too absolute for such to forget it. But children of God for lack of honoring the word must seem to be lingering about the door, as if they were not free to cross the thresh-hold of forgiveness. There they are and there they stick; which tends at length to the forgetfulness of the purging from their old sins. It is the more sorrowful because we all are called to go forward in enjoying Christ, and to be filled with thanksgiving and praise.
Therefore, my dear friends, I cannot but press this upon your earnest heed, so that you who believe may be enabled to take in faith your due place. Never mind what man thinks; hearken to what the Lord says. Men count it strange if you go back to the standard of the only, the best, way. It looks eccentric when compared with modern thought or practice ever so old since apostolic days. But your wisdom is never to let such talk deprive you of the blessing of walking obediently in the truth. “As ye received Christ Jesus the Lord, walk ye in Him.” Delivered from a bad conscience and guilty fears, see that you move onward, dependent and confiding. Be assured of His grace whether you fall asleep, or live till He comes, when He will receive us all together to Himself and for the Father's house. Unless you know yourselves purged by His blood, and yourselves the objects of His love, how is it possible to be in a fit condition to worship the Father and the Son? You may fairly be described as no more than lying on the threshold, instead of entering into the joys of God's habitation in the Spirit; for He surely has pleasure in the happiness of His children. As things are, how many Christians are but borderers, whereas Christ suffered for our sins, “the Just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God,” and has given us the Spirit that we might enjoy the presence of God fully even now and here.
Is not this condition sanctioned in the New Testament? What did the apostle mean in desiring that the Colossians should be thanking “the Father, who made us meet to be partaken of the inheritance of the saints in light?” Are you thus thanking Him now? You, if a believer, have eternal life, your sins are forgiven, and yourself are a child of God, with the Spirit of His Son enabling your heart to cry, Abba, Father. To be a “door-keeper” now is falling short of what God bestows on you. Christ not only meets us where we were, but brings us even now in faith where He is—into the holiest. The salvation God gives, not to some, but to all that believe, is worthy of Himself and His Son. He leaves not a single spot or stain upon us; and we are thenceforward called in the strength of the heavenly meat of Christ to enjoy God's love unstinted and perfect. Christ's work may well banish every doubt on that score.
But what does He mean by saying, “I am the root and the offspring of David”? To be David's offspring not even an unbelieving Jew could deny to the Christ. But how could He be David's root when He was born more than a thousand years after David? Yet He says so, which is enough; as the Old Testament scriptures said the same, centuries before. Yes, He was David's root just as surely as, if more wonderingly than, He was David's offspring—the Son of David as well as David's Lord. Compare Psa. 110 and Matt. 22:4545If David then call him Lord, how is he his son? (Matthew 22:45). In one person now is He both God and roan, as He loved to call Himself the Son of man, yet of David's lineage, and thus, inheriting Solomon's title. If He had been only of His mother, this, though absolutely needed, would not have been sufficient. For, as is known, she was, through her father Heli, descended from Nathan, who had not the promise of the kingdom. It must be through Solomon's line. Here, therefore, Joseph furnished the missing link, being not only of David but through Solomon.
Hence, plainly as in Luke 3 we have His mother's line, so in Matt. 1 we have Joseph's title, and how it became His indisputably, on Jewish principles. Both met in Himself the Messiah, “Who is over all, God blessed forever, Amen.” He was thus, and only thus, by any possibility, David's root as well as offspring. And yet if he had been Joseph's son in His humanity, as He was Mary's, all would have been sin and falsehood. For He could not then have been God's Son, His Only-begotten; He could not have been God, as truly as the Father is. But Joseph's son, He was legally alone, because Joseph was affianced to the Virgin Mary, though they never lived together till the wondrous Babe of Bethlehem was born, as scripture carefully states, and the prophet Isaiah had no less carefully foreshown.
Truly we may exclaim
“How wondrous the glories that meet
In Jesus, and from His face shine,
His love is eternal and sweet,
'Tis human, 'tis also divine.”
Yet, with an incomparably higher claim, He never had a kingdom here below from God, like David, or Solomon. He came to suffer for sins to God's glory, and thus lay the basis of redemption, not only for sinners and the church now, but for the kingdom by and by, and for all things, God being thus infinitely glorified. Oh, what a wonderful combination of glory, divine and human, past and present future and everlasting! He died, not for that nation only, the poor Jewish people which had Him put to death on the cross. Yet He died for them. He prayed for His murderers, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” On that very ground they had the gospel preached, and many believed; on that very ground they will have forgiveness in the age to come.
And why are not you forgiven to day? The word of this salvation is sent to you that you may believe it now. “Behold now is the accepted time; behold now is the day of salvation.” Put not the word of reconciliation from you, but receive it into your souls. Believe that God made Him that knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become God's righteousness in Him.
But my task is to show that there is another and very distinct character in which the Lord next presents Himself. He will verify and make good all that David's root and offspring can impart in His coming kingdom. Yet He is also the “bright, the morning star.” This is never said in the Old Testament about the Lord Jesus. The only morning star we hear of there is His enemy foreshadowed by the haughty king of Babylon in Isa. 14, the last holder of the imperial power which began in “the golden city.” “Thou saidst in thy heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God.... I will be like the Most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the uttermost parts of the pit.” It is because of his great words at the close that he will be given to the burning of fire. This appears to be the true identification of the “day-star, son of the morning,” in the prophetic word of Isaiah. It is not Satan, as many have hastily thought. He is described as a great king, this king of Babylon.
Thus the first king of Babylon is a type of the last who succeeds to the world-power which began then. It is not Nebuchadnezzar whose last appearance in scripture (Dan. 4) is as different as possible, both in humiliation and restoration. Nor did any other fully meet the terms of the prophet; but it surely will be in the little horn of the West (Dan. 7) He is the final holder of this world's imperial power. Such is the man whom Old Testament prophecy describes as the “son of the morning, or the day-star” (Lucifer).
But the Lord for whom we wait now, the hope of the church and of the Christian, reveals Himself accordingly as “the bright, the morning star.” Nor is it the first time. For, in an earlier part of this very book of Revelation, it is said of Him, “I will give him (the overcomer) the morning star.” Here too the Lord distinguishes it from giving him power over the nations; just as we have His own title as “the root and the offspring of David” distinguished from His being “the bright, the morning star.” Authority or power over the nations will be when the Lord takes the kingdom of the world, rising as the Sun of righteousness. But when He adds “and I will give Him the morning star,” it is association with Himself when He receives His own to Himself before that day of outward universal power shall dawn. He thus promises to the overcomer something more, and higher, and more intimate than that. He is going to give us Himself in heavenly blessedness and in love truly divine before that day.
Such will be the morning star. This lovely harbinger is before the day breaks. The sun is not yet risen to dispel the darkness of the night. The morning star, oh how it cheers those who watch while others sleep; and to watch now is what Christians are called to—to wait for Christ, sure that He is coming for His own, not knowing when He comes. This is the precious object for our hearts as we pursue the pilgrim path. It is the hope given us by Himself (John 14) If day by day we make it by the Spirit a living reality, what a power of raising our souls from toil and moil, from snares and troubles, to that which is before Himself! For He particularly awaits that moment. Impossible to be peacefully directed thus in heart, and to be also absorbed with earthly expectations, and clouded with worldly cares.
Whatever be the duty of the Christian, he is bound to do it thoroughly and with thanksgiving to the Lord. But he is not troubled if others run before him as they like; and whatever the trial, he can trust the Lord unqualifiedly. Where “the bright, the morning star” fills the heart, as its outlook, what comparable is anything you can win by labors night and day? The Gentiles seek after meat and drink and clothing; and the world holds out as prizes, gold and silver and precious things; but what are these compared with “the bright, the morning star”? To behold Christ at His coming to share with us His heavenly glory to be in a moment, and forever, associated with Him, before His judgments fall on the nations! Yet, in substance, it is the same hope He gave His own whilst He was here—the hope of His coming again to place us where He is in His Father's house. It is a quite different thing from His earthly glory as the root and offspring of David, when He reigns by and by. He is in His Father's house, whither He went to prepare a place for us. He is coming to give him that overcometh the Morning Star.
Is this then your hope, my brethren? Or are you only occupied with the Jews and their movement toward the land? Many are expecting the world to get better by education and temperance, by art, letters, and science. But all such expectations are vain. Others with better feeling trust to the preaching of the gospel as the panacea in the hand of the Spirit. Have they forgotten that Pentecost has been fulfilled without any such effect on the nations of the earth? Did the world improve when the twelve apostles labored here below, and the apostle Paul beyond them all? Can you imagine that the present generation of Christian preachers or any one else approaches within a measurable degree those whom God set “first in the church?” He who could tolerate a thought of comparison with them could only be a person as ignorant of himself as of them. Yet were they men filled with an abiding sense of their own insufficiency and with a like spirit of dependence on the Lord. They accepted, and held unflinchingly to, the path of pilgrims and strangers, as it was Christ's path. Yet even in their own time, though lingering at first in Jerusalem, they went forth and preached the gospel everywhere, practically through the known world of that day. But nobody then dreamt of its improving the world. The true object and right effect of the gospel is to gather believers out of the world for heavenly glory with Christ. It is quite another thing which, if we believe scripture, will change the face of all here below on the earth according to the purpose of God. It is the coming of the Lord in power and glory. Then He shall chase away its darkness as the Sun of righteousness. Then “every eye shall see Him.” But here He announces Himself as “the bright, the morning star.” Only believing eyes shall see Him thus. It is the Christian's hope; and this is what we are awaiting now—Himself our hope.
Do not tell me that only some choice and intelligent Christians are to be caught up to meet Him. Read 1 Thess. 1, and learn how these young disciples “turned to God from idols, to serve a living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven.” Here was living reality. They were waiting by faith for the Lord Jesus to come, and receive them to heaven out of the world, not to improve the world by them. The genuine bettering of the world will be first by divine judgments, and then by the effectual working of the Holy Spirit, when Christ rules the universe manifestly. The wicked will be smitten, and Satan for a thousand years shut out from the world. This has never been as yet. Think you that sermons, and tracts, and all the preachers that ever were could shut up Satan for even an hour? But the Lord will do it with ease, whatever the means He deigns to employ. He shall bruise the serpent's head, yea, under the feet of His saints. Satan during His reign is to be shut up in the bottomless pit, before he is let loose for his last temptation, and flung for ever into the lake of fire.