Sermon 617. Christ Our Life-Soon To Appear
DELIVERED ON SUNDAY MORNING, FEBRUARY 26, 1865,
BY C. H. SPURGEON, AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall you also appear with Him in glory."
MY discourse on Sunday mornings is very frequently the gathering up of the thoughts and experiences of the week- a handfulof barley which I have gleaned among the sheaves. But I could not thrust upon you, this morning, the poverty-stricken productionsof my own insufferable dullness ofbrain, weariness of heart and sickness of spirit during this week, for this were a sure method of making you partakers ofmy misery. I have wandered through a wilderness, but I will not scatter handfuls of the hot sand among you. I have traversedthe valley of the shadow of death,but I will not repeat the howling of Apollyon.
This day of rest is appointed for a far better purpose. Scarcely knowing how to fulfill the appointed service of this morning,I sit down and remember the ancient minstrel, who, when the genius of song had for a time departed from him, was neverthelesscalled upon to discourse sweet music. Whatcould he do but play his fingers among the strings of his harp and begin some old accustomed strain? His fingers and hislips moved at first mechanically. The first few stanzas dropped from him from mere force of habit and fell like stones withoutlife or power. But by and by hestruck a string which woke the echoes of his soul-a note fell on his heart like a blazing torch and the smoldering firewithin his soul suddenly flamed up. The Heaven-born muse was with him and he sang as in his better times.
So may it be my happy lot this morning-to place my fingers on the strings which know so well the name of Jesus- and beginto discourse upon a theme which so constantly has made these walls ring! Although at first insipid periods may try your patientears, yet shall they neverthelesslead to something that may kindle in you hope and joy and love, if not rapture and delight! O for the wings of eagles tobear our souls upward towards the Throne of our God! Already my heart warms with the expectation of a blessing!
Does the earth feel the rising of the sun before the first bright beams gild the east? Are there not sharp-witted birds whichknow within themselves that the sunbeams are on the road and therefore begin right joyously to wake up their fellows to tellthem that the morning comes leaping over thehills? Certain hopeful, joyful thoughts have entered within our heart-prophetic of the Comforter's Divine appearing-to makeglad our souls. Does not the whole earth prophecy the coming of the happy days of spring? There are certain little bulbs thatswell, and flowersthat peep from under the black mold and say, "We know what others do not know, that the summer's coming, coming very soon."
And surely there are rising hopes within us this morning which show their golden flowers above our heaviness and assure uswith joyful accents that Christ is coming to cheer our hearts yet again! Believer, you shall once again behold His comfortablePresence! You shall no longer cry unto Him out ofthe depths, but your soul shall lean upon His arm and drink deep of His love! Beloved, I proceed in the hope that the graciousLord will favor His most unworthy servant and in His mercy fulfill our best expectations.
Our text is a very simple one and bears upon its surface four thoughts. First, that Christ is our life. That, secondly, Christis hidden and so is our life. That thirdly, Christ will one day appear. And, fourthly, that when He appears, we, also, shallappear with Him in glory.
I. The first most precious and experimental doctrine lies in these words, "CHRIST WHO IS OUR LIFE." We hardly realize thatwe are reading in Colossians when we meet with this marvelously rich expression. It is so like John's way of talking.
See his opening words in his Gospel, "In Him was life and the life was the light of men." Remember how he reports the wordsat Lazarus' tomb, "I am the resurrection and the life." How familiarly he speaks of the Lord Jesus under the same Characterin his first Epistle-"That which was from thebeginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and our hands have handled,of the Word of life. For the life was manifested and we have seen it and bear witness and show unto you that eternal lifewhich was with the Father and wasmanifested unto us."
How closely John cleaves to Jesus! He does not say, as the preacher of this morning will-Christ is the food of our life andthe joy of our life and the object of our life and so on. No, but "Christ is our life." I think that Peter or James wouldhave said, "He is the strength or guide of ourlife," but John must put his head right on the Savior's bosom-he cannot talk at a distance, or whisper from a second seat-hishead must go sweetly down upon the Savior's heaving bosom.
He must feel himself in the closest, nearest possible contact with his Lord. And so he puts it, "The life was manifested,"getting to the very pith and marrow of it at once. Paul has somewhat of the same loving spirit, and if not entitled to becalled, "that disciple whom Jesus loved," the angelmight well have addressed him as he did Daniel, "O man, greatly beloved." Therefore, you see, he leaps at once into thedepths of the Truth of God and delights to dive in it. Whereas others, like the Israelites, stand outside the bound whichsurrounds the mount, he, like Moses,enters into the place where God is and beholds the excellent glory.
We, I fear, must compass this holy Truth round about before we can fully enter into it. Blessed is it to wait at the doorsof such a Truth, though far better to enter in. Let it be understood that it is not natural but spiritual life of which thetext treats and then we shall not mislead theignorant.
1. Christ is the source of our life. "For as the Father raises up the dead, and quickens them, even so the Son quickens whomHe will." Our Lord's own words are-"Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that hears My Word and believes on Him that sent Mehas everlasting life and shall not come intocondemnation, but is passed from death unto life. Verily, verily, I say unto you, the hour is coming and now is, when thedead shall hear the voice of the Son of God. And they that hear shall live."
Four verilies, as if to show the importance of the Truth here taught to us. We are dead in sin. That same voice which broughtLazarus out of the tomb brings us out of our grave of sin. We hear the Word of God and we live according to the promise-"Awakeyou that sleep and arise from the deadand Christ shall give you light" (Eph. 5:14). Jesus is our Alpha, as well as our Omega-He is the Author of our faith, as well as its Finisher. We should have been tothis day dead in trespasses and sins if it had not been said, "And you has He quickened." It is by His lifethat we live. He gives us the living water which is in us a well of water springing up unto everlasting life.
2. Christ is the Substance of our spiritual life. What is life? The physician cannot discover it. The anatomist hunts in vainfor it through flesh and nerve and brain. Be quick, Sir, with that scalpel of yours! "Life's just departed," men say. Cutquick to the heart and see if you cannot find, atleast, some lingering footprint of the departed thing called life. Subtle anatomist, what have you found? Look at that brain-whatcan you see there but a certain quantity of matter strangely fashioned? Can you discover what is life?
It is true that somewhere in that brain and in that spinal cord it dwells and that heart with its perpetual pumping and heavinghas something or other to do with it-but where is the substance, the real substance of the thing called life? Ariel's wingscannot pursue it-it is too subtle.Thought knows it but cannot grasp it-knows it from its being like itself, but cannot give a picture of it-nor representwhat it is. In the new nature of the Christian there is much mystery, but there is none as to what is its life! If you couldcut into the center of therenewed heart you would find sure footprints of Divine life, for you would find love to Jesus.
No, you would find Christ Himself there! If you walk in search of the springs of the sea of the new nature, you will findthe Lord Jesus at the fount of all. "All my springs are in You," said David. Christ creates the life-throbs of the Believer'ssoul! He sends the life-floods through the manaccording to His own will! If you could penetrate the brain of the Believer you would find Christ to be the central thoughtmoving every other thought and causing every other thought to take root and grow out of itself! You would find Christ to bethe true Substance of the innerlife of the spiritual nature of every soul quickened by the breath of Heaven's life.
3. Christ is the Sustenance of our life. What can the Christian feed upon but Jesus' flesh and blood? As to his natural lifehe needs bread, but as to his spiritual life, of which, alone, we are now speaking, he has learned that, "man shall not liveby bread alone, but by every Word which proceedsout of the mouth of God shall man live." "This is the bread which comes down from Heaven, that a man may eat of it and notdie. I am the living bread which came down from Heaven. If any man eats of this bread, he shall live forever-and the breadthat I will give is My flesh,which I will give for the life of the world."
We cannot live on the sand of the wilderness. We want the manna which drops from on high. Our skin bottles of creature confidencecannot yield us a drop of moisture-we drink of the Rock which follows us and that rock is Christ. O wayworn Pilgrims in thiswilderness of sin! You never get amorsel, much less a meal to satisfy the craving hunger of your spirits except you find it in Christ Jesus! When you feedon Him your soul can sing, "He has satisfied my mouth with good things, so that my youth is renewed like the eagle's." Butif you have Him not, your bursting winevat and your well-filled barn can give you no sort of satisfaction-rather you will lament over them in the words of Wisdom-"Vanity of vanities, all is vanity!"
O how true are Jesus' own Words, "For My flesh is meat, indeed, and My blood is drink, indeed. He that eats My flesh and drinksMy blood dwells in Me and I in him. As the living Father has sent Me and I live by the Father: so he that eats Me, even heshall live by Me." Christ is the solace of ourlife! Noah's ark had but one window and we must not expect more. Jesus is the only window which lets light into the Christian'sspirit when he is under sharp affliction. Kirke White's picture of his midnight voyage, when one star alone of all the traincould guide the mariner'sfoundering boat to the port of peace, is a faint but truthful representation of the Christian's life in its hour of peril.
Paul says that during his disastrous voyage, "neither sun nor stars for many days appeared, and no small tempest lay on themand all hope that they should be saved was taken away, but then, just then, the Angel of God stood at his side." And evenso will the Lord Jesus appear to His saints in theirextremities and be their joy and safety. And, Brethren, if Christ appears, what matters it where we are?-
"Midst darkest shades if He appears My dawning is begun. He is my soul's bright morning star, And He my rising sun."
Do not talk of poverty! Our tents are the curtains of Solomon and not the smoke-dried skins of Kedar when Christ is present!Speak not of need! There are all manner of precious fruits laid up for my Beloved when He comes into my cot. Speak not ofsickness! My soul is no longer sick except it is oflove, but full of holy health when once the Sun of Righteousness has risen with healing beneath His wings! Christ is thevery soul of my soul's life. His loving kindness is better than life! There is nothing in life worth living for but Christ."Whom have I in Heaven but You andthere is none upon earth that I desire beside You!"
The rest is mere skim milk and curds fit to be given to the swine, but Christ is the cream. All else is but the husk and branand coarse gritty meal. The Lord Jesus is the pure flour. All that remains is the chaff-fan it and the wind shall carry itaway, or the fire shall burn it and littleshall be the loss! Christ is the golden grain, the only thing worth having. Life's true life, the true heart's blood, theinnermost fount of life is in Jesus. To the true Christian, Christ is the object of his life. As speeds the ship towards theport, so hastens the Believertowards the haven of his Savior's bosom. As flies the arrow to its goal, so flies the Christian towards the perfecting ofhis fellowship with Christ Jesus. As the soldier fights for his captain and is crowned in his captain's victory, so the Believercontends for Christ and gets histriumph out of the triumphs of his Master.
"For him to live is Christ"-at least it is this he seeks after and counts that all life apart from this is merely death inanother form. That wicked flesh of his. That cumbrous clay. Those many temptations. That Satanic trinity of the world, theflesh, and the devil-all these mar hisoutward actions. But if he could be what he would be, he would stand like the bullock at Christ's altar to be slaughtered,or march forward like a bullock in Christ's furrow to plough the blood-bought field. He desires that he may not have a hairof his head unconsecrated, nor heaveone breath which is not for his Savior, nor speak one word which is not for the glory of his Lord!
His heart's ambition is to live so long as he can better glorify Christ on earth than in Heaven and to be taken up when itshall be better for him and more honorable for his Master that he should be with Jesus where He is. As the river seeks thesea, so, Jesus, I seek You! O let me find You andmelt my life into Yours forever! It follows from all this that Christ is the Exemplar of our life. A Christian lays thelife of Christ before him as the schoolboy puts his copy at the top of the page and he tries to draw each line, down-strokeand up-stroke, according to thehandwriting of Christ Jesus.
He has the portrait of Christ before him as the artist has in his studio his Greek sculptures, busts and torsos. He knowsthat there is all the true anatomy of virtue in Christ. If he wants to study life, he studies from Christ, or, if he wouldclosely learn the beauties of the antique, he studiesfrom the Savior, for Christ is ancient and modern, antique and living, too! Therefore God's artists in their life-sculpturekeep to the Savior and count that if they imitate every vein and fetch out every muscle of their great Copy, they shall thenhave produced the perfection ofmanhood. I would give nothing for your religion if you do not seek to be like Christ! Where there is the same life within,there will, there must be, to a great extent, the same developments without.
I have heard it said and I think I have sometimes noticed it, that husbands and wives who are truly knit together in nearand dear conjugal affection, grow somewhat like each other in expression, if not in feature. This I well know, that if theheart is truly wedded to the Lord Jesus and lives innear fellowship with Him, it must grow like He is. Grace is the light, our loving heart is the sensitive plate, Jesus isthe Person who fills the lens of our soul and soon a heavenly photograph of His Character is produced. There will be a similarityof spirit, temper, motive andaction. It will not be manifest merely in great things but in little matters, too, for even our speech will betray us.
Thus you see I have only been wading along the banks, or at best conducting you up to the knees in the gently flowing streamof my text. Experience must lead you further, for there is a great deep here. Paul could perceive it, for he does not sayas I have been saving, "Jesus is the Source of ourlife, the Substance of our life, the Solace of our life, the Object of our life, the Exemplar of our life." Paul says, "Christis our life," and so He is, indeed.
Just as we have a natural life of which we know so little, so we have a spiritual life which is more mysterious by far andof that we know beyond its effects and operations little more than this-that Christ is that life. That when we get Christwe have eternal life. That if we have life it isonly because we have Christ in us, the hope of Glory. I must pause a minute here to say that what is true concerning ourspiritual life, now, is equally true of our spiritual life in Heaven. Different as are the circumstances of the life in Heavenand the life on earth, yet as toreal essence there is only one life in both places. Saints in Heaven live by precisely the same life which makes them livehere.
Spiritual life in the kingdom of Grace and in the kingdom of Glory is the same-only here it is uneducated spiritual life-thereit is educated and trained. Here it is undeveloped, it is the babe, the child-there it is developed, manifested, perfected.But in very deed the life isprecisely the same. Saints need not to be born again after once being regenerate. You who have been born again have nowwithin you the life which will last on throughout eternity! You have the very same vital spark of heavenly flame which willburn in Glory, world without end. Itwill be no digression if we here remark that as we have eternal life in having Christ, this marks our dignity.
"Christ our life!" Why, this cannot be said of princes or kings! What is their life? Talk of blue blood and pedigree, andso on-here is something more, here is God's own Son-our life! You cannot say this of angels. Bright spirits, your songs aresweet and your lives are happy, butChrist is not your life! No, this cannot be asserted of archangels. Gabriel! You may bend yourself before God's Throne andworship Him in praises too high for me, but you cannot boast what I can surely claim-that Christ is my life!
Even those mysterious presences-angels of whom we read in Ezekiel and Revelation called the four living creatures-though theyseem to bear up the moving throne of Deity, creatures who appear to be an embodiment of Divine power and glory-yet even ofthese it is not written thatChrist is their life! Herein men-redeemed, elect, favored men rise to a supernatural light, for they can say what no spiritsbut those redeemed by blood may venture to assert-"Christ is our life." Does not this account for Christian holiness? Howcan a man live in sin ifChrist is his life? Jesus dwells in him and he continues in sin? Impossible! Can he sin without his life? He must do soif he sins, because Christ cannot sin and Christ is his life.
Why, if I see the saint ever so self-denying, ever so zealous, ever so earnest, ever so like his Lord, it is no wonder now,when I understand that Christ is his life! See how secure the Christian is. No dagger can reach his life, for it is hiddenbeyond the skies. No temptation, no hellish blast,no exhalation from the Stygian pits of temptation can ever, with burning fever or chill consumption, waste the life of theChristian spiritually. No, it is hid with Christ! It is Christ and unless Christ dies, the Christian's life dies not. Oh howsafe, how honored, how happy is theChristian!
But we may not linger longer, time warns us to proceed. There is much more than ever we shall be able to bring out. Let downyour buckets-here is a deep well! I hope you have something to draw with-and you that have life within have. You that havenot may look down the well and see thedarkness, or the reflection of the water-but you cannot reach the cooling flood. It is only you who can draw who can knowthe excellence of this living water. I pray the Lord help you to drink to the full and draw again! There is no fear of everdraining the inexhaustiblefullness of this deep Truth of God.
II. Now, as our Lord Jesus has not yet appeared in His Glory, OUR LIFE IS THEREFORE HIDDEN. "The earnest expectation of thecreature waits for the manifestation of the sons of God," but as yet they are unknown and unmani-fested. The major part ofthe Believer's life is not seen at all and never canbe by the unspiritual eye. Where is Christ? To the worldling at the present moment there is no such Person as Christ. Hesays, "I cannot see Him, touch Him, hear Him. He is beyond all cognizance of my senses. I do not believe in Him." Just suchis spiritual life to the unbeliever.
You must not expect, because you are a Christian, that unbelievers will begin to admire you and say, "What a mystery! Thisman has a new life in him! What an admirable thing, what a desirable possession! We wish we partook of the same." Nothingof the kind. They do not know that you have such alife at all. They can see your outward actions, but your inward life is quite out of reach of their observation.
Christ is in Heaven today. He is full of joy. But the world does not know His joy. No worldly heart is boasting and rejoicingbecause Christ is glad in Heaven. Christ today is pleading before the Father's Throne, but the world does not see Christ'sengagements. Christ's occupations are all hiddenfrom carnal eyes. Christ at this present moment reigns and has power in Heaven and earth and Hell-but what does the worldlyman see of it? Jesus has fellowship with all His saints everywhere-but what does the ungodly discern? I might stand and preachuntil midnightconcerning my Lord, but all that men who are unconverted would gain would be to hear what I have to tell and then to say,"Perhaps it is true." But they could not possibly discern it-the thing is beyond the cognizance of sense.
So is our spiritual life. Beloved, you may reign over sin, but the sinner does not comprehend your being a king. You may officiateas a priest before God, but the ungodly man does not perceive your priesthood and your worship. Do not expect him to do so!Your labor is lost if you try by any way tointroduce him to these mysteries except by the same door through which you came yourself. I never try to teach a horse astronomy-andto teach an unconverted man spiritual experience would be a folly of the same sort. The man who knows nothing of our innerlife takes up"Pilgrim's Progress," and he says, "Yes, it is a very wonderful allegory."
It is, Sir, but unrenewed minds know nothing about it. When we have sometimes read explanations of the Pilgrim's Progress,we could not but detect that the writer of the explanation had need to have had it explained to himself. He could describethe shell, but the kernel of the nut was far beyondhis reach! He had not learned to crack the shell and to feed upon the meat. Now it must be so, it must be so, if Christis our life. Christ has gone away and cannot be seen. It must be so that the greater proportion of the spiritual life mustbe forever a secret to all but spiritualmen.
But there is a part which men do see and that I may liken to Christ when He was on earth-Christ seen of men and angels. Whatdid the world do with Christ as soon as they saw Him? Set Him in the chair of State and fall down and worship His absoluteperfection? No, not they-"He wasdespised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief." Outside of the camp was His place! Cross-bearingwas for Him His occupation, not of one day, but of every day. Did the world yield Him solace and rest?
Foxes, you have your holes! Birds of the air, you have your nests! But the Son of Man had no where to lay His head! Earthcould afford Him no bed, no house, no shelter! At last it cast Him out for death and crucified Him and then would have deniedHim a tomb if one of His disciples had not beggedHis body! Such you must expect to be the lot of the part of your spiritual life which men can see. As soon as they see itto be spiritual life, they will treat it as they treated the Savior.
They will despise it. "Sure!" they say, "pretty fancies, fine airs, nice ideas." You expect them to give you comfort, do you?Worldlings to give you comfort? Do you think that Christ will have anywhere to lay His head in this world today any more thanHe had 1800 years ago? You go about to findwhat God gives the foxes and the birds-but what He never meant to give to you in this world-a place to lay your head. Yourplace to lay your head is up yonder on your Savior's bosom, but not here. You dream that men will admire you, that the moreholy you are and themore Christ-like you are, the more peaceable people will be towards you. My dear Friends, you do not know what you are thinking!
"It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of thehouse, Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of His household?" I believe if we were more like Christ we should bemuch more loved by His friends and much more hated byHis enemies. I do not believe the world would be half so lenient to the Church, today, if it were not that the Church hasgrown complacent to the world.
When any of us speak up boldly, mercenary motives are imputed to us! Our language is turned upside down and we are abhorredof men. We get smooth things, Brethren, because I am afraid we are too much like the false prophets who prophesied peace,peace, where there was no peace. Let us be true toour Master! Stand out and come out and be like He, and we must expect the same treatment which He had. And if we receiveit we can only say, "This is what I expected."-
" ' Tis, no surprising thing That we should be unknown. The Jewish world knew not their king, God's everlasting Son."
III. CHRIST WILL APPEAR. The text speaks of it as a fact to be taken for granted. "When Christ, who is our life, shall appear."It is not a matter of question in the Christian Church whether Christ will appear or not. Has not Christ appeared once? Yes,after a certain sort. I remember reading aquaint expression of some old Divine that the book of Revelation might quite as well be called an Obvelation, for it wasrather a hiding than a revealing of things to come. So, when Jesus came it was hardly a revealing, it was a hiding of ourLord.
It is true that He was "manifest in the flesh," but it is equally true that the flesh shrouded and concealed His Glory. Thefirst manifestation was very partial-it was Christ seen through a glass-Christ in the mist of grief and the cloud of humiliation.Christ is yet to appear in thestrong sense of the word "appearing." He is to come out and shine forth. He is to leave the robes of scorn and shame behindand to come in the Glory of the Father and all His holy angels with Him. This is the constant teaching of the Word of Godand the constant hope of the Church,that Christ will appear.
A thousand questions at once suggest themselves-How will Christ appear? When will Christ appear? Where will Christ appear?And so on. What God answers we may enquire, but some of our questions are mere impertinence. How will Christ appear? I believeChrist will appear in Person. Whenever Ithink of the Second Coming, I never can tolerate the idea of a spiritual coming. That always seems to me to be the mosttransparent folly that can possibly be put together, because Christ cannot come spiritually-He is always here! "Lo! I am withyou always, even unto the endof the world."
Christ's spiritual coming never can be that which is spoken of in Scripture, as the day of our release. I sometimes say toBrethren, "Do you think if Christ were to come spiritually now, we should observe the ordinances better?" "Yes, certainly.""Do you think, for instance, the ordinance of theLord's Supper would be better attended to?" "Yes, no doubt it would." Yes, but then this proves that this is not the comingwhich the Bible speaks of, because it is expressly said of the Lord's Supper that we are to do it in remembrance of Him, tillHe comes. A spiritual comingwould make us do it more zealously.
There must be another form of coming which would justify our giving up the Supper altogether and that must be of a personalcharacter-for then, and then only, might the Supper properly cease. We shall not need to have a supper to remind us of thePerson, when the Person Himself shall bepresent in our midst reigning and triumphant in His Church! We believe in a Personal reign and coming of our Lord JesusChrist. But how will He come? He will doubtless come with great splendor. The angels of God shall be His attendants. We gatherfrom Scripture that He will come toreign in the midst of His people. That the house of Israel will acknowledge Him as King-yes, that all nations shall bowdown before Him and kings shall pay Him homage.
None shall be able to stand against Him. "Those that pierced Him shall wail because of Him." He will come to discern betweenthe righteous and the wicked, to separate the goats from the sheep. He will come graciously to adjudge His people their rewardaccording to their works. He will give to thosewho have been faithful over a few things to be rulers over many things. And those who have been faithful over many thingsshall be rulers over many cities. He will come to discern between the works of His people-such as are only wood, hay and stubblewill be consumed. Such asare gold and silver and precious stones will stand the fire.
He will come to condemn the wicked to eternal punishment and to take His people up to their everlasting mansions in the skies.We look for such a coming and without entering into minute details, drawing charts and painting pictures, we are content tobelieve that He is coming in His Glory to showHimself to be what He always was-King of kings and Lord of lords, God over all, blessed forever! He is to be adored andworshipped and no more to be despised and rejected of men.
When will He come? That is a question which Unbelief asks with a start. Faith replies, "It is not for you to know the timesand seasons. Of that day and of that hour no man knows." Some simpleton says, "But we may know the week, month, or year."Do not trifle with God's Word and make a fool ofyourself because you must know that the expression means that you do not know anything about the time at all and never will.Christ will come in a time when we look not for Him. Perhaps when the world and the Church are most asleep. When the wiseand the foolish virgins have, alike,fallen into a deep slumber. When the stewards shall begin to beat their fellow servants and to drink and to be drunk. Atmidnight, or perhaps not till cock-crowing, He will come like a thief and the house shall be suddenly broken up.
But come He will, and that is enough for you and for me to know. And when He comes we shall appear, for as He shall appear,we shall also appear with Him in glory.
IV. The fourth thought is THAT WHEN CHRIST SHALL APPEAR, WE ALSO SHALL APPEAR. Do you ever feel like those lions in the ZoologicalGardens, restlessly walking up and down before the bars of their cage and seeming to feel that they were never meant to beconfined within those narrow limits?Sometimes they are for thrusting their heads through the bars and then for dashing back and tearing the back of their dungeon,or for rending up the pavement beneath them as if they yearned for liberty. Do you ever feel like that?
Does your soul ever want to get free from her cage? Here is an iron bar of sin, of doubt, and there is another iron bar ofmistrust and infirmity. Oh, if you could tear them away, could get rid of them all you would do something for Christ-you wouldbe like Christ! Oh, if you could but bysome means or other burst the bands of this captivity! But you cannot and therefore you feel uneasy. You may have seen aneagle with a chain upon its foot, standing on a rock-poor unhappy thing! It flaps its wings-looks up to the sun-wants to flyright straightahead at it and stare the sun out of countenance-looks to the blue sky and seems as if it could sniff the blue beyond thedusky clouds and wants to be away.
And so it tries its wings and dreams of mounting-but that chain, that cruel chain, remorselessly holds it down. Has not itoften been so with you? You feel, "I am not meant to be what I am. I am sure I am not. I have a something in me which is adaptedfor something better and higher and Iwant to mount and soar-but that chain-that dragging chain of the body of sin and death keeps me down."
Now it is to such as you that this text comes and says to you, "Yes, your present state is not your soul's true condition.You have a hidden life in you. That life of yours pants to get out of the bonds and fetters which control it and it shallbe delivered soon, for Christ is coming! And whenChrist shall appear you shall appear-the same appearance that belongs to Him belongs to you! He shall come and then yourday of true happiness and joy and peace and everything that you are panting for and longing for shall certainly come."
I wonder whether the little oak inside the acorn-for there is a whole oak there and there are all the roots and all the boughsand everything inside that acorn-I wonder whether that little oak inside the acorn ever has any premonition of the summerweather that will float over it ahundred years from now and of the mists that will hang in autumn on its sere leaves and of the hundreds of acorns whichitself will cast, every autumn, upon the earth, when it shall become in the forest a great tree?
You and I are like that acorn! Inside of each of us are the germs of great things. There is the tree that we are to be-I meanthere is the spiritual thing we are to be-both in body and soul! Even now within us and sometimes here below, in happy moments,we get some inklings of what weare to be. And then how we want to burst the shell, to get out of the acorn and to be the oak! Yes, but stop. Christ hasnot come, Christian, and you cannot get out of that till the time shall come for Jesus to appear. Then shall you appear withHim in glory.
You will very soon perceive in your rainwater, certain ugly little things which swim and twist about in it, always trying,if they can, to reach the surface and breathe through one end of their bodies. What makes these little things so lively, thoseinnumerable little things like very smalltadpoles? Why are they so lively? Possibly they have an idea of what they are going to be. The day will come when all ofa sudden there will come out of the case of the creature that you have had swimming about in your water, a long-legged thingwith two bright gauze-like wingswhich will mount into the air and on a summer's evening will dance in the sunlight!
It is nothing more nor less than a gnat! You have, swimming there, a gnat in one of its earliest stages. You are just likethat-you are an undeveloped being-you have not your wings yet and yet sometimes, in your activity for Christ, when the strongdesires for something better are uponyou, you leap in foretaste of the bliss to come! I do not know what
I am to be, but I feel that there is a heart within me too big for these ribs to hold! I have an immortal spark which cannothave been intended to burn on this poor earth and then to go out. It must have been meant to burn on Heaven's altar.
Wait a bit and when Christ comes you will know what you are. We are in the chrysalis state now and those who are the liveliestworms among us grow more and more uneasy in that chrysalis state. Some are so frozen up in it that they forget the hereafterand appear content to remain a chrysalisforever. But others of us feel we would sooner not be than be what we now are forever. We feel as if we must burst our bondsand when that time of bursting shall come, when the chrysalis shall get its painted wings and mount to the land of flowers,then shall we be satisfied.
The text tells us-"When Christ, who is our life, shall appear"-when He comes out in all His Glory-"we also shall appear withHim in glory." If you would like these gracious promises drawn out into detail with regard to the body you may listen to justsuch words as these. "It issown a soulish body, it is raised a Spiritual body. The first man is of the earth earthy, the second man is the Lord fromHeaven. As is the earthy such are they, also, that are earthy. As is the heavenly such are they, also, that are heavenly."
Whatever Christ's body is in Heaven, our body is to be like it. Whatever its glory and strength and power, our vile body isto be fashioned like unto His glorious body! As for our soul, whatever of absolute perfection-whatever of immortal joy Christpossesses, we are to possess that. And asfor honor-whatever of esteem and love Christ may have from intelligent beings, we are to share in the same. And as for positionbefore God-whatever Christ has-we are to stand where He stands.
Are His enemies put to confusion? So are ours. Do all worlds discern His Glory? They shall discern ours, too. Is all dishonorwiped away from Him? So shall it be from us. Do they forget forever the shame and spitting, the Cross and the nails? So shallthey in our case. Is it forever, "Gory! Andhonor! And power! And dominion! And bliss without end!"? So shall it be in our case! Let us comfort one another, therefore,with these words and look up out of our wormwood and our chrysalis state to that happier and better day when we shall be likeChrist, for we shall see Him asHe is.
All this has nothing to do with a great many of you. You will die but you will never rise like Christ. You will die and youwill die-why did I say, "and you will die?" Why, because you will have to feel the Second Death, and that second death, markyou, is as much more horrifying than thefirst as the trumpet of the angel is more terrible than the voice of the preacher can be this morning!
Oh, I would that Christ were your life, but you are dead and God will say of you one of these days as Abraham said of Sarah,"Bury the dead out of My sight," and you must be put out of His sight as an obnoxious putrid thing. Oh that He would quickenyou this day! "There is life," says the hymn, "ina look at the Crucified One." God help you to exercise one look at that Christ of whom I spoke and then you shall join withthe rest of His people in saying, "Christ is our life."
May God bless these feeble words of mine and own them because of their weakness-the more to illustrate His own Grace and power,for Jesus' sake. Amen.