The Prize of Our High Calling: Part 3

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It is not exact to say that “all saints will share in the Kingdom” or the millennial reign with Christ, but for a plain reason wholly different from the misteaching. The fact is that there will be a harvest of saints possessed of life eternal during the kingdom, who are (whether Israel or the nations) reigned over instead of reigning. These, like all those glorified before them, reign in life through the one Jesus Christ (Rom. 5:1717For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.) (Romans 5:17)); they and we shall reign to the ages of the ages (Rev. 22:55And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever. (Revelation 22:5)). This will be the eternal state to the exclusion of time or any other characteristic of a dispensation. But that saints by call are not saints by practice also is not apostolic doctrine; for the notion is directly denied in Rom. 8:3030Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. (Romans 8:30) and many other scriptures. When our Lord tells that many are called but few chosen, it is clearly the public call in the kingdom of heaven, and distinct from the work of peace according to His counsels, whereby all that have life in Him are described as having done good, and rise to a resurrection of life in contrast with a resurrection of judgment which is only for the unbelieving, unholy and unblessed.
But we come next to what in the same page 4 are called proof-texts, and first John 17:2222And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: (John 17:22). This is said to “refer to present union with Christ.” Its terms declare the contrary. “And the glory which Thou hast given me I have given them, that they also may be one even as we [are] one; I in them and Thou in Me, that they may be perfected into one; that the world may know that Thou didst send Me and lovedst them as Thou lovedst Me.” It is clear that the glory is not actually ours till He comes again, and that there can be no perfecting for us into one till then. But it is now for the world to “believe,” as in verse 21. When the glory is revealed, and not before, the world shall “know”; because it is a fact before their eyes and impossible to deny; and such is the distinction of vers. 22, 23 from what had been already presented by our Lord. The oneness “perfected” will be in the day of glory (as the oneness in ver. 21 is during the day of grace in order to act on faith now), and will only be matter of fact when the Lord appears and we with Him in the same glory (Col. 3:4; 24When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:4) Thess. 1:13).
Then too Luke 22:29, 3029And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; 30That ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. (Luke 22:29‑30) is no less misunderstood and misapplied. The Lord speaks of His own in a grace which secures from all their slips and follies. To construe His words here or anywhere else as a reward of their righteousness is distressing error and real self-righteousness. As a fact, they grievously failed, and Peter in particular. How can saints be so blind as to argue the contrary? Besides, glorious as “the kingdom” may be, it is not so deep or precious, as life eternal or union with Christ. The kingdom will be a magnificent display of honor; but eternal life and union with Christ suppose communion with God, and enjoyment of His love which is intrinsic and far beyond any display. The scheme spiritually is thus a total fallacy.
Again, Rom. 8:1717And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. (Romans 8:17) draws out the mistaken comment that the Greek particles “always signify contrast.” They may mean no more than distinction, like our “on the one hand” and “on the other.” All depends on the nature of the case intrinsically. Thus in 1 Cor. 12:88For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; (1 Corinthians 12:8) to one (μὲν) a word of wisdom, to another (δὲ) a word of knowledge, though here different persons, were varieties rather than contrasts; and in Eph. 4:1111And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; (Ephesians 4:11) these (μὲν) apostles, and those (δὲ) prophets were so far from being in contrast that they form a joint class in 2:20 and 3:5. But we need not go so far from it. Take for instance Rom. 6:1111Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 6:11), “dead indeed to sin (μὲν) and (or, but) (δὲ) alive to God in Christ Jesus.” To make one grace, and the other conditional, is not only error but absurdity. And so it is to separate heirship of God from being joint-heirs with Christ, though it is expressly a gift of grace (as in Phil. 1:2929For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake; (Philippians 1:29)) to suffer for Him as well as with Him. He who does not suffer with Him now has not His Spirit and is none of His. It is perversion to make such a contrast in Rom. 8:1717And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. (Romans 8:17), and 2 Tim. 2:11, 1211It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: 12If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us: (2 Timothy 2:11‑12). The contrast, if any such thing were intended, would be with the millennial saints who enjoy entire exemption from such suffering, and therefore do not reign with Christ during the thousand years. But to make this of works is utterly unscriptural; for good works characterize all saints as born of God.
So with James 2:55Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him? (James 2:5). Loving God and one's brother is shown in 1 John 5:11Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him. (1 John 5:1) to be inseparable from being begotten of God. It is essential to the new nature. How dreadful to conceive a saint without loving God or obeying Him! Extremes meet when those who profess sovereign grace can thus talk like the lowest latitudinarians. It is precious to know that God has chosen the poor as to the world rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom; but when it is added “which He promised to those that love Him,” who but the legal would confine the latter clause to the poor and refuse it to a Nicodemus or a Joseph of Arimathea? This is not to read the scriptures in the Spirit; nor should we deny practical holiness to any one born of God, though he may fail here or there through lack of intelligence. Not a few who are correct in outward points easily apprehended by the mind may be far behind in the faith that worketh by love, which is characteristic of all who have passed from death into life, and will assuredly share the resurrection of life. One can believe in utterly “disobedient” profession of Christ, but hardly in a “most disobedient child of God.” Every true Christian is watched over by our God and Father in order to the partaking of His holiness. Does He not scourge every son whom He receiveth? Heb. 12:5-115And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: 6For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. 7If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? 8But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. 9Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? 10For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. 11Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. (Hebrews 12:5‑11). See also 1 Cor. 11:31, 3231For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. 32But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world. (1 Corinthians 11:31‑32). Why overlook such plain scriptures as preclude and deny the extravagant theory before us? Gal. 6:88For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. (Galatians 6:8) is quite in harmony with the truth generally. But the word is akin everywhere.
The rapture of the saints is the crowning act of sovereign grace instead of being when the day of grace is past. The throne of judgment only comes into view when the heavenly saints are seated on their thrones around it above. And “who is worthy?” is answered by the Lamb alone, not by them (Rev. 4; 5). Can anything be more certain?
It is impossible to allow the correctness of the thoughts on the two letters to the Thessalonians, as not touching on the standing and privilege of the church, but on faithful service in waiting for Christ. The opening words refute this. What grace can be plainer than addressing them in both as “the church of Thessalonians in God the (or, our) Father and the Lord Jesus Christ”? and in the first saying, “Knowing, brethren beloved by God, your election”? Their awaiting His Son from the heavens in 1 Thess. 1:1010And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come. (1 Thessalonians 1:10) the apostle treats as part of their conversion to God from idols, no less than serving a living and true God. “The church in God the Father and Lord Jesus Christ” is a unique expression of the grace in which that infant assembly stood, conveying the strongest assurance of divine security in love, just because they were so young and had to face persecution from the first. Nor is such a beginning more than a sample of the privileges of grace of which these two Epistles are full, though no doubt there is not the unfolding of the body as in that to the Ephesians or of the Head as to the Colossians, written when the apostle was a prisoner of Christ in Rome so many years after. But they are the Epistles wherein is found the brightest communication of our heavenly hope, and the triumph of grace in our association with Christ far more intimately and profoundly than in the display of the kingdom in which He vindicates us before the world, and rewards some specially.
To say as p. 7 does, that “some of the Church will not be accounted worthy of the kingdom at the judgment-seat of Christ,” is to assert the strange doctrine without one word of proof. The exhortation to walk worthily is valid; the deduction of harsh dealing with failing saints is a fable. The idea that the question of reigning is decided at the judgment-seat is inconsistent with the likeness to Christ consummated in a moment at His coming to present the church glorious to Himself (not a part but the whole), and then bringing us into the Father's house, is a monstrous one. So in the Revelation the glorified are seen at home in heaven from chap. 4 which gives the first view of them there after their translation. And very striking it is that grace so deals; for we naturally might have thought of a judicial inquiry first of all. But nothing of the kind is implied till the close of their presence before the Lamb's marriage and the world-kingdom of our Lord is about to begin, when He and the glorified appear in glory and judgments. Only then is it said that His wife made herself ready; and I know nothing else that answers to such a phrase but our each giving account to Him of the things done through the body when we shall know as we are known. For we must all be manifested before His tribunal that we may each receive according to what he shall have done whether good or evil. This affects his particular place in the kingdom, but all reign without doubt if scripture decide.
What a solemn but withal joyful fact to those taught of God that we are already reconciled, justified, saved by grace as fully as God could through and in Christ our Lord, the last to question His own perfect and perfecting work! No longer a mistake in anything; no hasty thought to mislead; no prepossession or prejudice to warp, to which all here and now are liable. All will be in perfect light and perfect love. Even now we do not fear but delight in what manifests all as it really is. Then it will be without alloy, and ourselves like Christ to enjoy it to the uttermost, without an atom of the old man to darken or excuse; so that it would be real loss not to be thus manifested perfectly, if this could be. And we can understand why it should be just before we come in His kingdom where our particular place will depend on that which shall have been manifested of fidelity and devotedness, or the lack of it (Luke 19:15-2615And it came to pass, that when he was returned, having received the kingdom, then he commanded these servants to be called unto him, to whom he had given the money, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading. 16Then came the first, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained ten pounds. 17And he said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities. 18And the second came, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained five pounds. 19And he said likewise to him, Be thou also over five cities. 20And another came, saying, Lord, behold, here is thy pound, which I have kept laid up in a napkin: 21For I feared thee, because thou art an austere man: thou takest up that thou layedst not down, and reapest that thou didst not sow. 22And he saith unto him, Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee, thou wicked servant. Thou knewest that I was an austere man, taking up that I laid not down, and reaping that I did not sow: 23Wherefore then gavest not thou my money into the bank, that at my coming I might have required mine own with usury? 24And he said unto them that stood by, Take from him the pound, and give it to him that hath ten pounds. 25(And they said unto him, Lord, he hath ten pounds.) 26For I say unto you, That unto every one which hath shall be given; and from him that hath not, even that he hath shall be taken away from him. (Luke 19:15‑26) Cor. 3:8; 1 Thess. 2:1919For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming? (1 Thessalonians 2:19), &c.).
Hence it is not with His coming to take us on high, but with His appearing and kingdom that scripture connects the crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award in that day; but this, says the blessed apostle, not only to me but also to all that have loved and do love His appearing. Thus is sovereign grace reconciled with the nicest righteousness, His coming to receive us to Himself and for the Father's house being as evident for the one, as His appearing and kingdom will manifest the other. Nor can one conceive a sadder wound to this harmony, for all the elect children of God whom He justifies, than the notion without any solid ground for it, that the great mass of saints are to suffer the pains of Hades for a thousand years, say for not being duly immersed or some other point of difference, which multitudes glory in without the least fellowship with the Father and with His Son. Can there be a dream more distant from the general analogy of the faith? or more decidedly set aside by revealed statements as here shown?