The Purpose of God*

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" Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself; that in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth."-Eph. 1:9, 19Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: (Ephesians 1:9)
1Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus: (Ephesians 1:1)
O.
INTRODUCTION
THE good pleasure of the Godhead was that all its fullness should dwell and manifest itself in Christ. Such was the purpose of God, a purpose full of blessing. The way in which God is about to manifest that purpose, and in which we are associated with its blessings, is infinitely interesting to us.
In the following pages only a small part of that purpose has been treated of, the outward part, so to speak, a part which nevertheless is none the less interesting.
It was designedly that God was pleased to accomplish it in a visible way, in order thit that purpose might be revealed to us by means of positive truths, which, while bringing the Christian into fellowship with God, who is their source, preserve him-weak creature that he is-from substituting the wanderings of his own imagination for the holy manifestations which God has given unto us of Himself. The subject, we are treating is contained in the prayer of the apostle Paul, which we find at the end of Eph. 1 This subject finds a still deeper source (to which we have alluded) in what is announced to us at the end of Eph. 3, and we cannot truly enjoy the subject treated in Eph. 1, without having felt in some measure the power of Eph. 3
For the rest, in communicating what follows, I only respond in weakness to the desires of a few persons, and I am confident that God will deign to make up for what is lacking.
THE CHURCH AND THE JEWS THE RESPECTIVE CENTERS OF THE HEAVENLY GLORY AND OF THE EARTHLY GLORY IN CHRIST.
Two great objects are presented to our contemplation by the prophecies and testimonies of the Scriptures, which refer to the millennium: on one hand, the church and its glory in Christ; on the other, the Jews and the glory which they are
to possess as a nation redeemed by Christ. It is the heavenly people and the earthly people. The Son Himself, who is the image and glory of God, will be their common center, and the sun which will enlighten them both; and although the place where His glory dwells in the church be the heavens, where He has " set a tabernacle for the sun " (Psa. 19:44Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun, (Psalm 19:4)), the nations will walk in the light thereof. It will be manifested on the earth, and the earth will enjoy its blessings. When all is accomplished God will be all in all. The tabernacle of God will be with men, not coming down, so to speak, but come down from heaven.
All these things, and the way in which they will have their accomplishment, are revealed in detail in the Scriptures. Although the church and the people of Israel are each respectively the centers of the heavenly glory and of the earthly glory, in their connection with Christ, and although they cast on each other a mutual brightness of blessedness and joy, yet each of them has a sphere which is proper to itself, and in which all things are subordinate to it. With respect to the church, angels, principalities, and powers, with all that belongs to heaven-the domain of its glory; with respect to the people of Israel, the nations of the earth.
We will confine ourselves here to the history and condition of the church, on one hand, and to those of the people of Israel, on the other.
" In the beginning God created," the Old Testament tells us. " In the beginning was the Word," says the New, proclaiming the foundation of a higher glory and more durable than that of the first creation, and on which was to rest the restoration of the latter, when ruined by the weakness of man and by sin.
" In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." When they came forth from the hand of the Creator, all His works were " very good." Sin appeared, and they were marred. Compare Col. 1:2020And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. (Colossians 1:20), with Eph. 2:1010For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10). For a moment, God rested, so to speak, in them; but that rest came to an end. The• Scriptures say but little as to the evil which sullied the heavens: all that we know is, that there were angels who fell. But it was on the earth and among men that the divine and wonderful work of redemption was to be displayed; and this subject is revealed to us in all its fullness.
THE REST OF GOD IN THE NEW CREATION BY MEANS OF THE SECOND ADAM
The rest of God, after the first creation, was short. The rest of man with God passed away like a morning-dream. But the blessing of God was not to pass away in the same manner. That which was transient, on account of the weakness of the first Adam, was to be restored on an infinitely more excellent footing by the display of the might and power of the Second Adam; the will of God being to head up in Him all things which are in the heavens and upon the earth; Eph. 1: Io.
CHRIST THE HEIR-THE CHURCH JOINT-HEIR WITH HIM, THROUGH RESURRECTION
It is on this gathering together of all things unto Christ and in Christ, as their Head (Greek, anakephalaiosis-heading up), that depends the character and the substance of the hope of the church, until God be all in all. In this point of view, Scripture speaks of Christ manifested, as being Heir of all these things, and of the church as being joint-heir with Him. This is, as it were, the formal character which is attributed to Him with regard to all things; that we may understand what is our place with Him. Thus it is written, that God has appointed Christ " heir of all things " (Heb. 1:22Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; (Hebrews 1:2)); that, in Him, " we have obtained an inheritance " (Eph. 1: i); that we are " heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ," 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). This glorious title of Christ-the Heir-has a still more glorious origin. He is " the firstborn of every creature, for by him were all things created that are in heaven, and that are in earth... and for him," Col. 1:15, 1615Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: 16For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: (Colossians 1:15‑16). The church, the children of God, are therefore joint-heirs with Christ. How are they such? It is this which we are about to develop. Christ receives the inheritance in His character of man, of risen Man, once our companion in sufferings because of sin, and then the Head, the root and spring of all blessing.
We must first remark that the first Adam, " the figure of him that was to come," is a type and figure of the Second Adam of whom we are speaking. He is referred to in this respect in Ephesians S: 3o, 31. Before His manifestation, the last Adam is, as it were, hidden, as the first Adam was buried in sleep;2 Eve, who prefigures the church, is taken from his side, and God presents her to him as the help meet for him, to be his companion in the government and the inheritance of all things given to him of God in paradise.
Thus Christ, who is God as well as man, presents the church to Himself, when He awakes in His glory, that it may share that glory with Him and that dominion which He already possesses in title and by the gift of God. " And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them," 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).
Adam and Eve, taken collectively, are called Adam, as if they were but one (Gen. 1:27; 5:227So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. (Genesis 1:27)
2Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created. (Genesis 5:2)
), although, in a certain sense, Eve was inferior to her husband, and had come after him. So it is with Christ and the church, who are but one mystical body. This type, familiar to those who read the Scriptures, presents, in a most simple way, all the forms of the reality prefigured, with this exception, that the Second Man, being " out of heaven " (1 Cor. 15:4747The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. (1 Corinthians 15:47)), is also the Head and Lord of the heavenly things.
ALL THINGS PUT UNDER THE FEET OF MAN
Let us now consider the passages which speak of the dominion of man, and of the union of the church with Christ in that dominion.3 It clearly results, from the terms in which they are worded, that their accomplishment has not yet taken place. All these passages rest on Psa. 8 There the Holy Ghost says, " Thou hast... crowned him " (man, the Son,of man) " with glory and honor,... thou hast put all things under his feet "; then He tells us (Heb. 2:7, 8, 97Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honor, and didst set him over the works of thy hands: 8Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him. 9But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. (Hebrews 2:7‑9)) that this is not seen as yet, but that Jesus has been " crowned with glory and honor," that He might be pointed out to the church as the one who, as man, is to have all things put under His feet. Meanwhile, and until the purposes of God are accomplished, until the enemies of Christ, who hold the power in unrighteousness, are made to be His footstool-in a word, during the period of the present dispensation-Christ is seated on the right hand of the Majesty on high; He sits, as having overcome, at the right hand of God the Father. It is thus that He will grant to him that overcometh, to sit on His own throne (Rev. 3:2121To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. (Revelation 3:21)), when He takes possession of it and reigns.
Eph. 1:1717That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: (Ephesians 1:17) to 2: 7 shows us the church united to Christ in all these circumstances, according to the working of the might by which Christ was raised from the dead; chapter 2: 7 points out the cause, the glorious motive of it. In chapter I: 22 we find again the quotation of Psa. 8 " And hath put all things under his feet." The apostle adds: " And gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all."
Thus, therefore, the church is united to Christ, as a body of which He is the Head, and under whose feet God has put all things. " Christ is head over all things to the church, which is his body." See the Greek. As to this character, it is as having been raised from the dead that He possesses it, as the passage itself clearly establishes. But this last point is treated in a special way in 1 Cor. 15, in which we find again the quotation from Psa. 8
.c Since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the first fruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming. Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom [that which He possesses as being risen, which is the subject of the chapter] to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith, all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him. And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject [always as last Adam, as risen man; for it is always in this character that He is spoken of in this chapter] unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all,"4 1 Cor. 15:21-2821For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. 22For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. 23But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming. 24Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. 25For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. 26The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. 27For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him. 28And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all. (1 Corinthians 15:21‑28).
Christ, in His character of risen man, reigns therefore over a kingdom which He will deliver up, that God may be all in all. All this administration, and this human dominion, which is brought out in Psa. 8, comes to an end, that the glory of God, simply, may be universal. As to the way in which these things are accomplished other passages present it to us.
CHRIST AS HEIR RECEIVES THE INHERITANCE IN THE WAY OF PROMISE
We have seen that Christ is Heir, in title, as being Creator of all things-all things having been made by Him and for Him, as the Son; and also because He has been established such in the purpose of God. So that, God [acting] in the way of promise, all the promises find their center in Christ. " Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ," Gal. 3:1616Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ. (Galatians 3:16). " For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us," 2 Cor. 1:2020For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us. (2 Corinthians 1:20). Thus Christ is the Heir, the Seed, to whom the promise was made.
THE REJECTION BY THE NATURAL SEED GIVES OCCASION FOR THE INTRODUCTION OF THE SPIRITUAL SEED INTO THE HEAVENLY PLACES AS JOINT-HEIRS.
As regards this earth, the people of Israel, the seed according to the flesh, were, of all mankind, in the best position to receive the Lord, in a world that knew Him not; in coming unto them, " He came unto his own," John 1 I I. That people possessed the law, the promises, the covenants, the oracles of God; it was in their midst that, according to the promise, the Lord was to come, and that He actually came; Rom. 9:4, 54Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; 5Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen. (Romans 9:4‑5). It was this people which, in the midst of a lost world, possessed, through their relationship with God, the sabbath-that sign which was to remind them of the hope of Jehovah's rest. But when the Messiah appeared, although His coming was in perfect harmony with the predictions of their own prophets, the Jews did not receive Him. It is true, they said, and this rightly, " This is the heir "; but as they hated Him, they added, " Come, let us kill him, and the inheritance shall be ours," Mark 12:77But those husbandmen said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance shall be ours. (Mark 12:7). Thus vanished the last hope of God's rest upon the earth. After all that had come to pass, God had yet been pleased to send His own Son; but this trial served to complete the evidence that man is absolutely without any resource, and that "every man at his best state is altogether vanity," Psa. 39:55Behold, thou hast made my days as an handbreadth; and mine age is as nothing before thee: verily every man at his best state is altogether vanity. Selah. (Psalm 39:5).
But that only opened the way for a dispensation far more admirable, far more glorious. The earth and the people of Israel as a nation were set aside for a time; although " the gifts and calling of God are without repentance." The design which was hidden in God for ages past was about to be revealed (that is, the gathering together into one body, and in Christ, the remnant of the Jews and the fullness of the Gentiles, in order to bring them into the heavenly places). The companion and bride of the One who had been rejected, but who is risen- the church-is gathered from among all nations, while her Bridegroom is seated at the right hand of God; and she will shine forth in the same glory as Himself, when He shall appear; Col. 3:44When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:4); 1 John 3:22Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. (1 John 3:2).
Christ, in His character of Seed of Abraham, is the Heir of the promises. If He had taken possession of this inheritance during His life here below, He would have possessed it for Himself alone. In fact, after He had manifested His glory as Son of God by the resurrection of Lazarus, and as King of the Jews by His entry into Jerusalem, when the Greeks came also to seek Him, He said that the hour was come when (in spite of the rejection of the promised Seed by the Jews) the Son of man should be glorified; but, as the Lord immediately adds, " Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit,"
John 12:1-241Then Jesus six days before the passover came to Bethany, where Lazarus was which had been dead, whom he raised from the dead. 2There they made him a supper; and Martha served: but Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with him. 3Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odor of the ointment. 4Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, which should betray him, 5Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor? 6This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein. 7Then said Jesus, Let her alone: against the day of my burying hath she kept this. 8For the poor always ye have with you; but me ye have not always. 9Much people of the Jews therefore knew that he was there: and they came not for Jesus' sake only, but that they might see Lazarus also, whom he had raised from the dead. 10But the chief priests consulted that they might put Lazarus also to death; 11Because that by reason of him many of the Jews went away, and believed on Jesus. 12On the next day much people that were come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, 13Took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord. 14And Jesus, when he had found a young ass, sat thereon; as it is written, 15Fear not, daughter of Sion: behold, thy King cometh, sitting on an ass's colt. 16These things understood not his disciples at the first: but when Jesus was glorified, then remembered they that these things were written of him, and that they had done these things unto him. 17The people therefore that was with him when he called Lazarus out of his grave, and raised him from the dead, bare record. 18For this cause the people also met him, for that they heard that he had done this miracle. 19The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, Perceive ye how ye prevail nothing? behold, the world is gone after him. 20And there were certain Greeks among them that came up to worship at the feast: 21The same came therefore to Philip, which was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus. 22Philip cometh and telleth Andrew: and again Andrew and Philip tell Jesus. 23And Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified. 24Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. (John 12:1‑24).
It was as risen that Christ was to enter into the possession of the inheritance with the church-the ear, sprung from that grain of wheat cast into the tomb-with the church henceforth perfectly justified; Rom. 4:2525Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification. (Romans 4:25). Thus Christ inherits the promises, not as having come in the flesh on earth, but as risen. He inherits them, after having done all that was necessary for the redemption of the church, and in the power of that life which He has taken again, of which He makes His bride to partake. The result of this union is, that the souls which form the church, when they are born of the Holy Ghost, are considered as risen with Him. In a word, Christ is heir, in His character of risen Man-of risen Head of the church.
Paul, in Gal. 3:1717And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect. (Galatians 3:17), speaks of the confirmation of the promise, made to Christ, and what he says perfectly agrees with what we have just been saying. Moreover, the apostle is quoting Gen. 22:1818And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice. (Genesis 22:18), " And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice."
In these words we find indeed that the promise, made to Abraham in chapter 12 and referring to the blessing of the nations, is confirmed to the seed of the patriarch, after that seed had been restored to him in a figure of resurrection; Heb. 11:1919Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure. (Hebrews 11:19).
Thus we have seen how the scripture establishes, under divers aspects, this blessed truth, that the church is redeemed to be united to Jesus, in order that, when He takes possession of His inheritance, He may have a companion meet for Him, to be associated with Him in all things, and perfectly like unto her glorified Bridegroom. For the complete fulfillment of these things, it was necessary, not only that the church should be redeemed, but also that Christ should go to prepare a place for her.
CHRIST EXALTED IN THE HEAVENS PREPARES A PLACE FOR THE CHURCH, AND CAN FULFILL THE PROMISES MADE TO ISRAELMEANWHILE THE CHURCH IS CALLED.
The resurrection of the Savior had the double result of accomplishing the redemption of the church, and of putting Christ in a place where He could secure the sure mercies of David (Acts 13:3434And as concerning that he raised him up from the dead, now no more to return to corruption, he said on this wise, I will give you the sure mercies of David. (Acts 13:34)), that is to say, confirm in His own name all the promises made to Israel. Moreover, it was needful also that He should take possession of the heavenly places, in order to establish the kingdom of heaven and to fill all things (Eph. 4:10);5 as well as to associate the church with that glory- new, and yet eternal-prepared before the foundation of the world, and yet hidden from the former ages, but the manifestation of which had been determined according to the wisdom of God by the rejection of the Messiah by the Jewish people.
We must here distinguish two things: Christ preparing a place, a heavenly habitation; and Christ gathering from among all nations those who are to be His joint-heirs, calling the bride who is to enter into possession with Himself. Thus, in John 14:2, 32In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. (John 14:2‑3) the Lord says, " I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also." In John 17:2424Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world. (John 17:24): " Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world."
In Rom. 8:2929For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. (Romans 8:29), it is written: " Whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren."
AT HIS COMING, HE RECEIVES THE INHERITANCE WITH THE RISEN CHURCH.
But in what manner do these things take place?-" As we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly." " As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly." These words are found in 1 Cor. 15, where we find the subject of the resurrection exclusively treated. Thus again it is also written in Rom. 8:33For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: (Romans 8:3)o, and that in reference not to sanctification, but to glory-" Whom he justified, them he also glorified "; without any mention of sanctification. Phil. 3:22Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision. (Philippians 3:2)I: " Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body."
The time when these things will be accomplished is clearly taught in Scripture. Christ is now hid in God, and our life is hid with Him there; Col. 3:33For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. (Colossians 3:3). The present time is that during which are gathered, by the Holy Ghost, the members of His body, His joint-heirs, while He is seated at the right hand of Jehovah, until His enemies are made His footstool. The apostle says, " But he, having offered one sacrifice for sins, sat down in perpetuity at the right hand of God, waiting from henceforth until his enemies be set for the footstool of his feet," Heb. 10:12-1412But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; 13From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. 14For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. (Hebrews 10:12‑14). He has accomplished all that was to be done for the redemption of us, His friends; and while He is still gathering His own by the power of the Holy Ghost whom He has sent, and who reveals Him, and the Father through Him, He is seated, in the expectation of the possession -and not in the effective possession-of the earth, of creation; until the number of the joint-heirs is completed. He is sitting on the Father's throne, and it is there that the church knows Him at the present time.
But while He is waiting, we wait also; and even as regards the whole creation, it waits also: it waits for the manifestation of the children of God. As for the time and manner of that manifestation, the Scriptures are clear.
Since we are to be conformed to the image of the Lord Jesus, it is evident that it must be by resurrection and by glorification; for He is risen and glorified. Therefore it is said that the whole creation waits for the manifestation of the children of God; and the apostle adds, " And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body," Rom. 8:19, 2319For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. (Romans 8:19)
23And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. (Romans 8:23)
. Again, it is written, " When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory," Col. 3:44When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:4). " We know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is," 1 John 3:22Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. (1 John 3:2).
THE SAINTS JUDGE THE WORLD.
We have already seen that the Lord says, " I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also " (John 14:33And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. (John 14:3)); and this is what will take place, either by resurrection, or by being changed; for " we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed," 1 Cor. 15:5151Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, (1 Corinthians 15:51). This is the entrance of the church into glory, as we are taught in detail by 1 Thess. 4:16, 1716For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. (1 Thessalonians 4:16‑17): " The Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which arc alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord."
One may read in Rev. 19 the description of this scene- the marriage supper of the Lamb, and the subsequent judgment of the earth, or at least of the heads of the antichristian revolt. This judgment is again described in more general terms in Jude 1414And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, (Jude 14), 15: " Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, to execute judgment," etc.; and in Zech. 14:55And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azal: yea, ye shall flee, like as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah: and the Lord my God shall come, and all the saints with thee. (Zechariah 14:5), it is said, " The Lord my God shall come, and all the saints with thee."
How blessed the time when Christ shall have presented the church to Himself, as a glorious spouse, " not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing! " Eph. 5:2727That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. (Ephesians 5:27). Clothed with the beauty and glory which belong to her, seeing in her Lord the beauty and glory of the Father, she is moreover associated with the glory of her Bridegroom in the power of that love wherewith He loved her, and in which He gave Himself for her, that she might be perfectly cleansed and made glorious with Him, even where He is; then manifested in glory, surrounded with honors such as He receives Himself; made partaker of all His glory, of that glory which the Father gave Him, that the world might know that the Father has loved her, as He has loved Him. Associated with the Lord of glory, the saints will judge angels and the world; they will be the servants and instruments who will dispense the light and the blessings of His kingdom over an earth delivered of all its sorrows, and where Satan is no longer. " For unto the angels hath he not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak," Heb. 2:55For unto the angels hath he not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak. (Hebrews 2:5). " They which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world [age] " to come, " and the resurrection from the dead," can die no more; Luke 20:35, 3635But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage: 36Neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection. (Luke 20:35‑36). " On such the second death hath no power," but they live and reign with Christ a thousand years; Rev. 20:66Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years. (Revelation 20:6). Happy those believers!
At the coming of Christ, these (already risen as to their souls) will rise as regards their bodies, by His Spirit that dwells in them; Rom. 8:1111But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. (Romans 8:11). This is that resurrection-not of judgment, but of life (John 5:2929And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation. (John 5:29))-which belongs to the church in virtue of her union with Christ by the Holy Ghost. It cannot therefore concern the wicked; although they also must be raised up in their own time by the word of Christ, but to be judged. Those who belong to Christ will be raised at His coming; as for the rest of the dead, their resurrection will take place when Christ, after having delivered up the kingdom, will be seated, as Son of man, on the great white throne, to judge the dead, when the earth and the heaven have fled away before His face; Rev. 20:1111And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. (Revelation 20:11).
Such is the teaching of the word of God. The taking possession of the kingdom by Christ is described in Daniel; but to treat this subject would lead to our second part, the earthly glory: we shall therefore lay it aside for the present. Our only desire here was to show the place which the church occupies in this scene, and the connection which exists in Scripture between that doctrine-well understood-and the most fundamental and comforting truths which form the hope and the joy of the believer.
THE KINGDOM OF THE FATHER.
There is a point in this subject which we have scarcely touched upon, but the contemplation of which would lead us too far away from our main object, and might expose us to the danger of losing sight of it. It is the place which the Father's love has here-a subject equally full of deep comfort. It is for the kingdom of the Father that Jesus taught His disciples to pray: it is in the Father's kingdom that the righteous shall shine forth as the sun (Matt. 13:4343Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear. (Matthew 13:43)), that is, as Christ, the Sun of righteousness. It is in the glory of the Father that Christ is to appear, and that is for us a most happy circumstance in the blessedness of that great day. Here we enter into deeper waters, and yet more calm; into that eternity which is an unruffled and boundless ocean of infinite joy-a joy of which, however, we shall know the breadth, and length, and depth, and height, which pass all knowledge; for it is there that we shall learn these things; it is there we shall study the glory. Here below we may feel perhaps more deeply what grace is; there we shall be the full manifestation of it, we sinners made like unto Christ Himself; Eph. 2:77That in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:7).
But the passages which have placed under the eyes of the reader, with the reflections which are added, may suffice to guide those who desire to inquire further as to this simple but blessed truth, and to receive the revelation of it in their souls. They will not be long without feeling that it contains everything; that it is the fullness of Him, who, without having had a beginning, was pleased to be born, and who, having no end, is pleased to accomplish eternally in us that infinite joy, the realization of which will even render us capable of enjoying it in a measure always increasing. We shall have great lessons to learn in glory with Christ, the Lamb, in whom the Father is fully revealed. The life we have received gives us even now a right and title to all these blessings as ours.
This is only a simple outline of the position the church will occupy, when Christ shall be revealed in His power and glory. Then will it be manifested as His bride, His companion, in the same glory with Himself; and all things will be blessed through it. For it will be the sphere and means of the display of the glory and blessing of Christ.