Our Gospel

2 Corinthians 4  •  10 min. read  •  grade level: 5
The character of the ministry of the gospel is that the things are possessed for ourselves, before they can be ministered to others. In the Old Testament it was not unto themselves but unto us they ministered (1 Peter 1:10-1210Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: 11Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. 12Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into. (1 Peter 1:10‑12)). We stand between the sufferings and the glories, with the Holy Ghost meanwhile sent down from heaven. Grace shines in our hearts to give out the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. When it pleased God &c. (Gal. 1:15, 1615But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace, 16To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: (Galatians 1:15‑16)); mark, Christ was revealed not merely “to” but “in” Paul. It is the light of the gospel of the glory of God, and hence called the gospel of Christ's glory. Christ is speaking from heaven. We have got the full blessing, the last revelation connected with the glory of God in the Man Christ Jesus exalted in, heaven.
“Therefore, having this ministry, we faint not, &c.” The apostle had spoken of the contrast with Moses who put a veil on his face. It watt glorious; but no glory to be compared with that in the face of Christ. Israel could not look at glory, if it came with a legal claim on the heart of man. One never gets the light of the glory of God shining into the heart of a man, without the conscience being awakened and sin judged. If under law, I cannot stand in the presence of God; for it tells me what I ought to be, and if I am not that, haw can I look at the glory? He must hide Moses in the cleft, but when the glory of God is seen in the face of Christ, where is it seen? It is in heaven in the glorified Man—the Man that hung on the cross. We see the glory of God in His face, Who was once on the cross made sin for us. The meaning of the glory seen there is, that sin, death, and Satan, have all been put away together. He, being made sin, died, was laid in the grave but raised, and is gone to heaven. The only part man had therein was sin and hatred to Himself and to God. The glory of God in Christ is the witness that there is the complete clearing away of all evil from us. He Who is at God's right hand was made sin, went under death, has passed God's judgment, and is in glory. In virtue of the work accomplished the testimony comes to us. The Man Who bore our sins is in glory, and all is “finished” before God for the soul. There we find the full testimony to the glory of Christ, the witness to God's value of Himself and His work. All this I receive—the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. Having been brought by Him to believe in God, I see the glory of God in His face, and I can look at and delight in that glory. The testimony of my salvation is the glory there; and, seeing it with open face, we are changed into the same image from glory to glory. I say, “Let me see that my Sin-bearer is in glory, and I have therein the certainty that all sin has been judged on my behalf; so that the Holy Ghost comes down, and, because thus cleansed; I am sealed by Him.” A Christian stands and looks at Christ's accomplished sufferings; and, looking up, he sees the One Who wrought redemption in glory. Such is the way the glory attains its full effects by faith in the heart. It is the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, though one may be confounded of course when first seeing it.
But what am I to expect if He owns me as united to Himself? I am waiting for Him to come, to take me where He is, and bring me into the things He has made mine. Power has come into this place of death. I want not to die but to be clothed upon, death swallowed up in life; I want not to die, but to be changed into the body of glory without dying at all. It is a present living power. We shall not all sleep or die, but all be changed, the power of death broken. If I go up to Christ's judgment-seat, in what state shall I be there? The Lord will have fetched me on high. Christ, having set His love on me, comes and changes and takes me there glorified. No doubt I shall have to give an account of self, of all done in the body; and a very great blessing it is to have brought out in the light, how Christ kept in spite of my faults; when I fell, how He lifted me up. So it will be.
The fullness of redemption is manifested when we go up to the judgment-seat in glorified bodies. When He appears, we shall be like Him. What can I fear in regard of judgment? Now my Sin-bearer is ever at the right hand of God; having borne my sins on the cross the first time, He appears the second time without sin unto salvation. He will take us to Himself already made like Him. The wise virgins were asleep as well as the foolish; what brought out the difference? The midnight cry woke them all up, the testimony of the Lord's coming. The wise had got oil in their vessels, and, awakening at the cry, they were ready and went in. When asleep, they had like the foolish given up expecting the Bridegroom. When the cry came, the difference soon appeared. At first they went out full of the thought of His coming; afterward they got into ease and comfort; they went to sleep here and there, abandoning in practice the hope of meeting the Bridegroom. If the Lord Jesus came to-night, should you all be found with bright lamps ready for Him? Is it the state of your soul? We are to expect in the last days perilous times, but great blessing in the midst of all for the path of faith. Christendom has the forms of Christianity but denies the power.
In 2 Tim. 3. I am directed to the scriptures as the safeguard. When men say that the church teaches this and that, the question arises, where and what is the church? But if I believe that the scriptures say it, I know of whom I have learned the truth of God which never fails. “From a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, &c.” “The word of God is sharper than any two-edged sword, &c.” It deals with the conscience, not the intellect merely, as man's word. If I weigh it, it deals with my conscience, coming in with irresistible power. “Come, see a man that told me all that ever I did.” Faith's root is in the conscience. People talk of apostolic succession; but there is no succession in God or His word: all there is complete and perfect.
Just before Laodicea is spued out of Christ's mouth, the word is to Philadelphia, “Behold, I have set before thee an open door, which no man can shut:” not a great deal to say about Philadelphia; but it is characterized by what God delighted in. The word of Christ had authority on the hearts and consciences; and they would be kept looking for the promise, “Behold, I come quickly.” He is waiting, and sits at God's right hand till His enemies be made His footstool. His friends are already perfected forever by His one offering. He is coming to receive us. He will not take a bit of the inheritance, till He has gathered up the fellow-heirs. Then all in heaven and earth will be gathered together in one, and all be under Christ. Our place is a peculiar one like Eve's, who was not lord of earth like Adam, but was associated with him over all of which he was lord, his helpmeet.
Our union with Christ is the one thing that constitutes our special relationship to Him. “God gave him to be head over all to the church which is his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all.” We are joint-heirs with Christ, we wait for Him, the Eternal Lover of our souls. What we Christians see by faith now, is the unveiled glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that be lost. A veil may be on man's heart, but the fact of Man being in the glory of God remains equally true. And if the veil is untaken away, there is nothing to cone but the sword of Christ, when He appears in judgment.
Then we have to bear in mind, that the trials and afflictions are all connected with the earthen vessel. Even an apostle could only be kept each day by the power of God. The vessel is one thing, the treasure another. The vessel must be nothing, if the treasure therein is to shine out. The old man is judged and crucified with Christ; and I have to look at myself as having died with Christ. But I have also in practical experience always to bear about in the body the dying of Jesus, that the life also of Jesus may be manifested in our body. Suppose a light in a lantern; but, if the glass of the lantern be not kept perfectly clean, the light will not shine out. I have a glorified Christ in my soul; but if the flesh rules me, this is not the treasure shining out of me. Not only should I a Christian reckon myself dead before God, but stand as a new man in God's sight.
To reckon self dead is a privilege for myself and a necessity for my testimony. To put it simply, suppose a mother heard her son was half killed: would she stop on her way after him to look at the shops? If a Christian is full of Christ, he will not be drawn aside by anything of flesh. Where the earthen vessel is right, the light will shine out. Scripture holds out to the Christian no rest of a natural kind; nothing but sorrows and trials: so the apostle speaks of himself and others as always delivered unto death for Jesus' sake. The Lord put the apostle through all sorts of trying circumstances. If anything of the flesh springs up, the red-hot iron must be put to destroy what is not of Christ. Death wrought in him that nothing but the life of Christ might appear. There is such a thing as a man superior to all the circumstances he may be passed through. He gets the sentence of death as he goes through everything, bold to preach &c. There is then the most complete superiority to circumstances. Look at Stephen: whilst the stones were flying about, he kneels down and prays for his murderers. He is the copy of Christ. It was life in the midst of death. “For all things are for your sakes.” So they felt who were loved of God, as shown in the gift of His Son. J. N. D.