Sermon 2194. Between the Two Appearings
A SERMON DELIVERED ON LORD'S-DAY MORNING, MARCH 15, 1891,
BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"Now once in the end of the world has He appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. And as it is appointed untomen once to die, but after this the judgment: so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that lookfor Him shall He appear the second time without sin unto salvation." Hebrews 9:26-28.
The two great links between earth and Heaven are the two advents of our Lord, or, rather, He is the great bond of union, bythese two appearings. When the world had revolted and God had been defied by His own creatures, a great gulf was opened betweenGod and man. The First Coming of Christ was like a bridge which crossed the chasm and made a way of access from God to man-andthen, from man to God. Our Lord's Second Advent will make that bridge far broader, until Heaven shall come down to earth and,ultimately, earth shall go up to Heaven. At these two points a sinful world is drawn into closest contact with a graciousGod. Jesus herein is seen as opening the door which none can shut, by means of which the Lord is beheld as truly Emmanuel,"God with us."
Here, too, is the place for us to build a grand suspension bridge by which, through faith, we, ourselves, may cross from thisside to the other of the stormy river of time. The Cross, at whose feet we stand, is the massive column which supports thestructure on this side. And, as we look forward to the Glory, the Second Advent of our Lord is the solid support on the otherside of the deep gulf of time. By faith we first look to Jesus and then for Jesus-and herein is the life of our spirits. Wedwell between these two boundaries-Christ on the Cross of shame and Christ on the Throne of Glory-these are our Dan and Beershebaand all between is holy ground! As for our Lord's First Coming, there lies our rest-the once-offered Sacrifice has put awayour sin and made our peace with God. As for His Second Coming, there lies our hope, our joy, for we know that when He shallappear, we shall be like He, for we shall see Him as He is. The glories of His sacred Royalty shall be repeated in all thesaints, for He has made us unto our God kings and priests-and we shall reign with Him forever and ever.
At His First Advent we adore Him with gratitude rejoicing in "God with us," as making Himself to be our near kinsman. We gatherwith grateful boldness around the Infant in the manger and behold our God! But in the Second Advent we are struck with a solemnreverence, a trembling awe. We are not less grateful, but we are more prostrate as we bow before the Majesty of the triumphantChrist! Jesus in His Glory is an overpowering vision! John, the Beloved Apostle, writes, "When I saw Him, I fell at His feetas dead." We could have kissed His feet till He left us on Olivet, but at the sight of the returning Lord, when Heaven andearth shall flee away, we bow in lowliest adoration! His first appearing has given us that life and holy confidence with whichwe press forward to His glorious appearing, which is the crown of all.
I want, at this time, to bring before you those two appearings of our Lord. The text says, "He has appeared." And again, "Heshall appear." The 26th verse speaks of His unique manifestation already accomplished. The 28th verse promises the glorioussecond outshining, as it promises, "He shall appear." Between these two lights-"He has appeared" and, "He shall appear"-weshall sail safely if the Holy Spirit will direct our way.
My first head is this, once, and no second. And my other division of discourse will make a kind of paradox, but not a contradiction-yeta second.
I. Our first theme is, ONCE, AND NO SECOND. Now once in the end of the world has He appeared to put away sin by the Sacrificeof Himself." This He has done, once, and He will never repeat it. Let us dwell on the subject in detail.
Our Lord Jesus Christ has once appeared and though He will appear again, it will not be for the same purpose. On His firstappearing, fix your thoughts, for the like of it will never be seen again. In the bosom of the Father He lay concealed asGod. As the Second Person of the Divine Trinity in Unity He could not be seen, for "no man has seen God at any time." It istrue that, "without Him was not anything made that was made," and thus His hand was seen in His works but, as to Himself,He was still hidden-revealed in type and prophecy-but yet, in fact, concealed. Jesus was not manifest to the sons of men untilone midnight an angel hastened from the skies and bade the shepherds know that unto them was born in Bethlehem a Savior, thatis Christ the Lord! Then the rest of the angelic host, discovering that one of their number had gone before them on so wonderfulan errand, were swift to overtake him and, in one mass of glittering glory, they filled the midnight skies with heavenly harmonyas they sang, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men."
Well might they sing, for the Son of God now appeared! In the manger He might be seen with the eyes and looked upon, and handled-forthere the Word was made flesh-and God was Incarnate! He whom the ages could not contain, the Glorious One who dwelt with theFather, forever unseen, now appeared within the bounds of time and space-and humble shepherds saw Him and adored! By GentilesHe was seen, for wise men from the East beheld and worshipped Him whose star had led them. As He grew up, the children ofNazareth beheld Him as a Child, obedient to His parents and, by-and-by, He was made manifest to men by the witness of Johnand the descent of the Holy Spirit upon Him at His Baptism. God bore Him witness as He went up and down the hills of Palestinepreaching the Kingdom and proclaiming salvation to the sons of men. Men saw Him, for He spoke among them openly, and walkedin their midst. His was not the seclusion of dignity, but the manifestation of sympathy! "He went about doing good."
He was seen of angels, for they came and ministered to Him-and He was seen of devils, for they trembled at His word. He dweltamong us and we beheld His Glory-He was the Revelation of God to men, so that He could say, "He that has seen Me has seenthe Father." He was made still more manifest by His death, for in His Crucifixion He was lifted up from the earth that allmight behold Him. He was exalted upon the Cross, even as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness on purpose, that whoeverlooked to it might live. Then and there He opened those four conspicuous founts of cleansing blood which were made to flowby the nails. See how it flows from hands and feet! There, too, He laid bare His side and set His heart open for dying menand forthwith there flowed forth blood and water! Thus we may look into His inmost heart.
High on the Cross the Savior hung, without veil or curtain to conceal Him. "Once in the end of the world has He appeared."I know of no appearance that could have been more complete, more unreserved. He moved in the midst of crowds, He spoke tomen and women one by one. He was on the mountain and by the sea. He was in the desert and by the river. He was both in houseand in Temple. He was accessible everywhere. In the fullest sense, "once in the end of the world has He appeared." Oh, theglory of this gracious epiphany! This is the greatest event in history-the invisible God has appeared in human form!
The text tells us very precisely that in this First Coming of our Lord He appeared to put away sin. Notice that fact. By Hiscoming and Sacrifice, He accomplished many things, but His first end and object was "to put away sin." You know what the modernbabblers say-they declare that He appeared to reveal to us the goodness and love of God. This is true, but it is only thefringe of the whole Truth of God. The fact is that He revealed God's love in the provision of a Sacrifice to put away sin.Then, they say that He appeared to exhibit perfect manhood and to let us see what our nature ought to be. This, also, is atruth, but it is only part of the sacred design. He appeared, they say, to manifest self-sacrifice and to set us an exampleof love to others. By His self-denial He trampled on the selfish passions of man. We deny none of these things and yet weare indignant at the way in which the less is made to hide the greater. To put the secondary ends into the place of the grandobjective is to turn the Truth of God into a lie! It is easy to distort truth by exaggerating one portion of it and diminishinganother-just as the drawing of the most beautiful face may soon be made a caricature rather than a portrait by neglect ofproportion. You must observe proportion if you would take a truthful view of things and, in reference to the appearing ofour Lord, His first and chief purpose is, "to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself."
The great objective of our Lord's coming here was not to live, but to die! He has appeared, not so much to subdue sin by Histeaching, as to put it away by the Sacrifice of Himself. The master purpose which dominated all that our Lord did was notto manifest goodness, nor to perfect an example, but to put away sin by Sacrifice! That which the moderns would
thrust into the background, our Lord placed in the forefront! He came to take away our sins, even as the scapegoat typicallycarried away the sin of Israel into the wilderness that the people might be clean before the living God. The Lord Jesus hascome here as a Priest to remove sin from His people-"You know that He was manifested to take away our sins." Do not let usthink of Jesus without remembering the design of His coming! I pray you, Brothers and Sisters, know not Christ without HisCross as some pretend to know Him. We preach Christ-so do a great many more-but, "we preach Christ Crucified." And so do notmany more. We preach concerning our Lord, His Cross, His blood, His death. And upon the blood of His Cross we lay great stress,extolling much, "the precious blood of Christ as of a lamb without blemish and without spot." We know no past appearing ofGod in human flesh except that appearing which ended with a Sacrifice to put away sin! For this our Savior came, even to savesinners by putting away their sin. We will not deny, nor conceal, nor depreciate His master purpose, lest we be found guiltyof trampling upon His blood and treating it as an unholy thing. The putting away of sin was a God-like purpose and it is awellspring of hope to us, that for this reason Jesus appeared among men.
Let us go a step further with our text- only once does the Lord appear for the purpose of putting away sin. He came once todo it and He has done it so well that there is no need for Him to offer any further sacrifice! "This Man, after that He hadoffered one Sacrifice for sins forever, sat down." He will never appear a second time for the putting away of sin. It wasHis purpose, once, but He has so fulfilled it that it will never be His purpose again. The High Priest, as you know, cameevery year with blood for the putting away of sin. He has slain the victim this year, but next year he must come in the samemanner-and the next, and the next, and the next-because the sacrifice had not really removed the guilt. But our Lord has comeonce for this Divine purpose and He has so achieved that purpose that He could truly cry, "It is finished," for the work isdone once and for all. He has so perfectly put away sin by the Sacrifice of Himself that He will never need to offer a secondsacrifice! That our Lord should ever come a second time as He came the first time is inconceivable by those who love Him!He will come a second time, but in a very different style, and for a very different purpose-not as a Sacrifice for sins-butas King and Judge.
And here learn yet further, that only once is sin put away. Jesus died to finish transgression and make an end of sin. OurLord made Atonement for sin when He died, the Just for the unjust-He made peace for us when the chastisement of our peacewas upon Him. When the Lord had laid upon Him the iniquity of us all, Divine wrath fell upon Him on account of our sins untilHe cried, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" Then sin was put away. And there, but never anywhere else, was fullAtonement presented and iniquity was blotted out! There is no other place of expiation for sin but the place of our Lord'sSacrifice of Himself. Believing in Him that died on the Cross, our sins are put away-but without faith in Him there is noremission of sin. Beyond our Lord's, other sacrifice there is none-other sacrifice there will never be.
If any of you, here, are entertaining some "larger hope," I would say to you-hope what you please, but remember, that hopewithout the Truth of God at the bottom of it is an anchor without a holdfast. A groundless hope is a mere delusion! Wish whatyou will, but wishes without promises from God to back them are vain imaginings. Why should you imagine or wish for anothermethod of salvation? Rest assured that the Lord God thinks so highly of the one Sacrifice for sin, that for you to desireanother is evil in His sight! If you reject the one Sacrifice of the Son of God, there remains no hope for you-nor ought thereto be. Our Lord's way of putting away sin is so just to God, so honoring to the Law of God and so safe for you, that if youreject it, your blood must be on your own head. By once offering up Himself to God, our Lord has done what myriads of yearsof repentance and suffering could never have done. Blessed be the name of the Lord, the sin of the world-which kept God fromdealing with men at all-was put away by our Lord's death!
John the Baptist said, "Behold the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world." God has been able to deal with theworld of sinners in a way of Grace because Jesus died. I thank our Lord even more because the actual sins of His own chosen-evenof all those who believe on Him in every age-have been put away. These sins were laid on Him and, in Him, God visited manfor them. "He His own self bore our sins in His own body on the tree"-and so put them away forever-and they are cast intothe depths of the sea. The putting away of my guilt as a Believer was really, effectually, and eternally accomplished by thedeath of our great Substitute upon the bloody tree! This is the ground of our everlasting consolation and good hope throughDivine Grace. Jesus did it alone. He did not only seem to do it, but He actually
achieved the putting away of sin! He blotted out the handwriting that was against us. He finished transgression and made anend of sin-and brought in everlasting righteousness when, once and for all, He died upon the Cross.
Beloved, there is a further note here-observe that only once has He made a Sacrifice of Himself. "Now once in the end of theworld has He appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself." The very best way to describe the death of our Lord isto call it, "the Sacrifice of Himself." It may be well rightly to divide the Sacrifice, as the priest cut up the bullock orthe ram. You may speak of our Lord's bodily sufferings, His mental griefs and His spiritual anguish, but, for the most part,we are not able to go far in this detailed appreciation of the wondrous Sacrifice. We are such poor folk in spiritual things,that instead of bringing a bullock which could be anatomized and its vital organs all laid bare, we are content to bring apair of turtle doves, or two young pigeons-and these were not carefully divided asunder, but burned upon the altar! The mostof us have to take our Lord Jesus Christ as a whole, since, from lack of understanding, we cannot go into detail. What didHe offer to God? He made a sacrifice of Himself. Truly He sacrificed His crown, His rest, His honor, His reputation and Hislife-but the essence of the Sacrifice was Himself-He, Himself, took our iniquity and bore our sorrows. "He His own self boreour sins in His own body on the tree."
Your sacrifice, O Christ, is not to be measured unless we could compute the infinity of Your Godhead. It was not only Yourlabor, Your pain, Your shame, Your death-Your Sacrifice was Yourself-what more could even You offer? There, on the altar,the Son of God did place Himself, and there He bled and died that He might be the Victim of punitive justice, the Substitutefor guilty men! There was He unto God a sweet-smelling savor because He vindicated the Law and made it possible for the Lawgiverto be justly merciful. This, according to our text, was done once, and only once, and it never will be repeated, so that thewhole business of our Lord's appearing to put away sin by the Sacrifice of Himself, is confined to one appearing and one offering.I want that word, "ONE," to ring in your ears. "By one offering He has perfected forever them that are sanctified." I wouldhave the adverb, "once," go through every ear, and abide in every heart. "By His own blood He entered in once into the HolyPlace, having obtained eternal redemption for us." Peter says, "Christ also has once suffered for sins."
Once it is, and not more often. To suppose the contrary would be, first, to break away from the analogy of human things. Readthe 27th verse-"As it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment." A man dies once and after that everythingis fixed and settled-and He answers for His doings at the judgment. One life, one death-then everything is weighed and theresult declared-"after this the judgment." So Christ comes and dies once. And after this, for Him, also, the result of whatHe has done, namely, the salvation of those who look for Him! He dies once and then reaps the fixed result according to theanalogy of the human race, of which He became a member and Representative. Men come not back here to die twice-men die onceand then the matter is decided-and there comes the judgment. So Christ dies. He does not come back here to die again, butHe receives the result of His death-that is, the salvation of His own people. "He shall see of the travail of His soul andshall be satisfied." "You were slain and have redeemed us to God by Your blood." The Christ is so completely Man that He followsthe analogies of manhood as the Apostle, here, observes, and we must not break away from them.
To suppose a second death for our Lord would be to forget what He came to do. The punishment of sin was, "In the day thatyou eat, thereof, you shall surely die." One death was the sentence. It is true that we have to speak of that one death asdivided into the first and the second death, but it is judicially one sentence of death which is pronounced on man. When Christcomes, therefore, He bears the one sentence of death. He laid down His life for us. The penalty due to sin was death-"In theday that you eat, thereof, you shall surely die." Christ, therefore, must die, and die He did-"By the Grace of God He tasteddeath for every man." But it was not said, "You shall die twice." No, and Christ does not die twice. "Christ, being raisedfrom the dead, dies no more-death has no more dominion over Him. For in that He died, He died unto sin once: but in that Helives, He lives unto God." He has borne the full sentence which was pronounced on sin and thus He has put away the sin whichinvolved us under the penalty.
To suppose that our Lord should be made a Sacrifice, again, is a supposition full of horror. When you study deeply the deathof your Lord, unless your heart is like an adamant stone, you must be bowed down with grief. The visage of Him who was Heaven'sGlory was more marred than that of any man, and His form more than the sons of men. He whose brow was from the beginning surroundedwith majesty, had His forehead and temples torn with a coronet of thorns! Those blessed cheeks that are as beds of spiceswere distained with spit from the lips of menials. His face, which is the joy
of Heaven, was buffeted and bruised by mockers. His blessed shoulders, which bear up the world, they scourged with knottedwhips until the blood ran down in crimson rivers as the plowers made deep furrows.
How could they treat Him so? Was it possible that my Beloved should be scorned and slandered, spit upon and condemned as afelon? Did they lay the shameful Cross upon His blessed back and lead Him through the streets amid the ribald mob? He whoknew no sin was numbered with the transgressors! Found guilty of nothing save excess of love to man, He was led away to becrucified. They hurried Him off to die at the common place of the gallows. The rough soldiers nailed Him to the Cross andlifted up the rough tree for all to gaze upon. I wonder the angels stood it! It seems extraordinary that they could look onwhile men were taking their Lord and Master and driving bolts through His hands and feet and lifting His sacred body uponthe cruel tree! But they did stand it and the Christ hung on the tree of doom in a burning heat, through the fierce sun andthe inflammation of His wounds and inward fever. He was so parched that His tongue was dried up like a potsherd and was madeto cleave to the roof of His mouth.
There He hung amid derision, His bones all dislocated and His very flesh dissolved with faintness as though it were turningback to its native dust. Meanwhile His soul was "exceedingly sorrowful, even unto death," and the Father's face, which hassustained thousands of martyrs, was turned away from Him until He cried, "Lama Sabachthani!" And is there heart so brutalas to suggest a repetition of this Divine agony? Repeat this!? Repeat this? O Sirs, we rise at once, as one man, in mutinyagainst an idea so revolting! One Calvary is glorious, for it has accomplished the grand deed of our re-demption-but two Calvaryswould mean double shame and no glory! Shall the Son of God, after all that He has done, come down on earth to be, a secondtime, "despised and rejected of men"? Shall He, a second time, be dragged through mire and blood? It must not, cannot be!God forbid! He has trod the winepress once and for all. No more shall He stain His garments with His own blood!
To suppose a repetition of the Sacrifice is to cast suspicion upon the work and efficacy of the great offering of Himself.Was not that Sacrifice infinite in value? It must have been, for it was the Sacrifice of God, Himself! Why, then, presentit again? Unless the first was altogether or measurably a failure, why repeat it? The repetition of the Cross would destroythe Cross! O Man, you have taken away from the death of the Lord all its virtue if you would dream of His dying yet again!As to that invention of the Church of Rome-the continual offering of the unbloody sacrifice of the "Mass"- it is a dead thing,for, the "blood is the life thereof," and it is as gross an insult to the one great Sacrifice as could well have been devisedby His worst enemies. He has forever put away the sin of His people by His one offering, and now there remains no more sacrificefor sin!
My Brothers and Sisters, the idea that our Lord Jesus did not effectually perform the work of taking away sin removes thefoundation of our faith! If by one offering He did not put away sin, shall it be repeated? Suppose, for a moment, that Hedied twice-why not three times? Why not four times? Why not 50 times? Why not forever the rehearsal of Calvary, forever thedoleful cry, forever the tomb of Joseph and the dead body wrapped in linen? And yet, even after a thousand repetitions, howcould we know that we were saved? How could we be sure that the Sacrifice sufficed and that sin was really put away? If theone offering of Himself did not satisfy justice, what would or could do it? Then are we without hope and, of all men, mostmiserable, for a golden dream of the putting away of sin has come to us and, lo, it has melted away. Once yonder tree! Onceyonder tomb! Once the broken seal and the frightened watch-on that ONE Sacrifice and Justification we securely rest-and weneed no repetition of the work. It was enough, for Jesus said, "It is finished!" It was enough, for God has raised Him fromthe dead!
I do not need, I hope, to linger here to warn you that it is of no use to expect that God will put away sin in any other waythan that which at so great a cost He has provided. If sin could have been removed in any other way than by the death of Hisdear Son, Jesus would not have died. If there had been within the range of supposition any method of pardon except by theSacrifice of Himself, depend upon it, Jesus would never have bowed His head to death. The great Father would never have inflicteddeath upon the Perfect One if it had been possible that the cup should pass from Him. He could never have inflicted upon HisBeloved a superfluous pain. His death was necessary, but, blessed be God, having been once endured, it has, once and for all,put away sin and, therefore, it will never be endured again.
II. We come, now, to look at the rest of the text. Once, and no second AND YET A SECOND. "He shall appear a second time."Yes, Christ Jesus shall appear a second time, but not a second time for the same purpose as before.
He will appear. The appearing will be of the most open character. He will not be visible in some quiet place where two orthree are met, but He will appear as the lightning is seen in the heavens. At His first appearing He was truly seen-whereverHe went, He could be looked at and gazed upon-and touched and handled. He will appear quite as plainly, by-and-by, among thesons of men. The observation of Him will be far more general than at His First Advent, for, "every eye shall see Him." Everyeye did not see Him here when He came the first time, for He did not travel out of Palestine, save only when, as an Infantall unknown, He was carried down into Egypt. But when He comes a second time, all the nations of the world shall behold Him!They that are dead shall rise to see Him, both saints and sinners-and they that are alive and remain when He shall come shallbe absorbed in this greatest of spectacles. Then Balaam shall find it true, "I shall see Him, but not now: I shall beholdHim, but not near." Though they cry, "Hide us from the face of Him that sits on the Throne," they shall cry in vain, for beforeHis Judgement Seat they must all appear!
His second appearing will be without sin. That is to say, He will bring no sin-offering with Him and will not, Himself, bea Sacrifice for sin. What need that it should be so? We have seen that He once offered Himself without spot to God and, therefore,when He comes a second time, His relation to human guilt will finally cease. He will then have nothing further to do withthat sin which was laid upon Him. Our sin, which He took to Himself by imputation, He has borne and discharged. Not only isthe sinner free, but the sinner's Surety is also free, for He has paid our debt to the utmost farthing. Jesus is no longerunder obligation on our account. When He comes a second time, He will have no connection of any sort with the sin which onceHe bore. He will come, moreover, without those sicknesses and infirmities which arise out of sin. At His First Advent, Hecame in suffering flesh and He came to hunger and to thirst, to be without a place where to lay His head. He came to haveHis heart broken with reproach and His soul grieved with the hardness of men's hearts. He was compassed with infirmity. Hecame unto His God with strong crying and tears. He agonized even unto bloody sweat and so He journeyed on with all the insigniaof sin hanging about Him. But when He comes a second time it will be without the weakness, pain, poverty and shame which accompanysin! There will then be no marred visage nor bleeding brow! He will have re-assumed His ancient Glory. It will be His gloriousappearing!
When our Lord comes to the fullest in His Glory, there will remain no sin upon His people. He will present His bride untoHimself a glorious Church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing. The day of His appearing will be the manifestationof a perfect body as well as a perfect Head. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun when their Lord's Countenanceis as the sun shining in his strength. As He will be "without sin," so will they be "without sin." Oh, what a glorious appearingis this! A true appearing and yet the very opposite of the first! Then the text adds-"He shall appear without sin unto salvation."What does that mean? It means that He will then display the perfect salvation of all those who put their trust in Him! Hewill come to celebrate the great victory of mercy over sin. At His coming He will set His foot upon the dragon's head andbruise Satan under our feet. He will come to have all His enemies put under His feet. Today we fight and He fights in us.We groan and He groans in us, for the dread conflict is raging. When He comes again, the battle will be ended-He shall dividethe spoil of vanquished evil and celebrate the victory of righteousness!
But the Resurrection is the salvation principally intended here. Alas, what evil sin has done! How many of our best belovedlie rotting beneath the clay! The worms are feeding on those whose voices were the music of our lives! The scythe of deathhas cut them down like grass-they lie together in rows in yonder cemetery. Who slew all these? The sting of death is sin!But when our Lord comes, who is the Resurrection and the Life-from beds of dust and silent clay our dead men shall rise-theyshall leap up into immortality! "Your brother shall rise again." Your children shall come again from the land of their captivity.Not a bone, nor a piece of a bone of a saint shall be left as a trophy in the hand of the enemy! When our Lord brought forthPeter from the prison, He did not let him leave his old shoes behind him, but the angel said, "Gird yourself, and bind onyour sandals, and follow me." And when the Lord Jesus shall come and open wide the door of the sepulcher, He will bid us comeforth in the entirety of our nature and leave nothing behind. Salvation shall mean to us the perfection of our manhood inthe likeness of our Lord! No aching hands and weary brows, then, but we shall be raised in power! Our vile body shall be changedand made like His glorious body! Though sown in corruption, our body shall be raised in incorruption and this mortal shallput on immortality! What a glorious prospect lies before us in connection with the day of His appearing a second time untosalvation!
Now notice that this appearing and this salvation will chiefly belong to those who look for Him. Will you bear with me patientlya minute or two here? I wonder how many there are in the Tabernacle who are looking for Him? The text
says, "Unto them that look for Him shall He appear a second time without sin unto salvation." Beloved, I will put the questionagain-How many here are looking for our Lord's Second Coming? I am afraid if conscience has her perfect work, many will haveto say, "I am afraid I am not among the number." I will tell you what it is to look for that Second Appearing. It is to lovethe Lord Jesus, to love Him so that you long for Him as a bride longs for her husband. Why are His chariots so long in coming?Come quickly, Lord Jesus! Strong love hates separation-it pines for union. It cries, "Come, Lord! Come, Lord!" Longing followson the heels of loving. To look for His coming is to prepare for Him. If I were asked to visit you tomorrow evening, I amsure you would make some preparations for my call-even for one so commonplace as myself. You would prepare because you wouldwelcome me. If you expected the Queen to call, how excited you would be! What preparation good housewives would make for aroyal visitor!
When we expect our Lord to come, we shall be concerned to have everything ready for Him. I sometimes see the great gates openin front of the larger houses in the suburbs-and it means that they are expecting company. Keep the great gates of your soulalways open, expecting your Lord to come! It is idle to talk about looking for His coming if we never set our house in orderand never put ourselves in readiness for His reception. Looking for Him means that you stand in a waiting attitude, as a servantwho expects his master to soon be at the door. Do not say, "The Lord will not yet come and, therefore, I shall make my plansirrespective of Him for the next 20 or 30 years." You may not be here in the next 20 or 30 minutes, or, if you are, your Lordmay be also here!
He comes! He is on the road! He started long ago and He sent on a herald before Him to cry, "Behold, I come quickly." He hasbeen coming quickly over the mountains of division ever since-and He will be here soon. If you look for His appearing, youwill be found in an attitude of one who waits and watches, that when his Lord comes he may meet Him with joy. Christ is coming,I must not sin. Christ is coming, I must not be rooted to the world. Are you thus expecting Him? I am afraid I shall onlybe speaking the truth if I say that very few Christians are, in the highest sense, waiting for the appearing of the Lord.My friend, Mr. Govett, in his commentary on my text, reminds us of the story of Moses, when God told him to take 70 men upthe hill with him. We read of these honored men, that, "they saw God, and did eat and drink." What a privilege! They wereall the Lord's guests! As Moses went up to God into the thick darkness, he said to them, "Tarry you here until we come againunto you."
Moses was gone for 40 days-how many of the 70 waited for him? I do not know when they began to slip down from the hill, orwhether they went, one by one, or in groups. but when Moses returned, not a soul of them was left, save Joshua, whom Moseshad taken up with him to still higher ground. The 70 had gone down among the people and probably spread that unbelief amongthem which led to the making of the golden calf. None can do so much mischief as those who have been with God, but cannotwait for the glorious appearing! You tell me Moses was gone a long time-well-near six weeks! Yes, and that is why many cannotwait for the Lord, now, because the delay is so long-it is nearly 1,900 years since He went away. True, 4,000 years rolledaway before He came the first time, but 2,000 quite wear out the watchers for His Second Coming. Men cannot wait and, therefore,go down to the world and help to fashion its idols. Only here and there do we see a Joshua who will abide in his place tillhis leader appears.
As to watching, this is rarer than waiting. The fact is, even the better sort of Believers who wait for His coming, as allthe 10 virgins did, nevertheless do not watch. Even the best sort of the waiters slumbered and slept. You are waiting, butyou are sleeping! This is a mournful business. A man who is asleep cannot be said to look and yet it is, "unto them that lookfor Him" that the Lord comes with salvation. We must be wide-awake to look! We ought to go up to the watch-tower every morningand look toward the rising sun to see whether He is coming. Surely our last act at night should be to look out for His starand say, "Is He coming?" It ought to be a daily disappointment when our Lord does not come- instead of being, as I fear itis, a kind of foregone conclusion that He will not come just yet. How pleased we are if some daring fellow will tell us whenHe will come, for then we can get ready near the time and need not perpetually watch!
We would not go to a gypsy in a red cloak and let her tell our fortune-but we will let a man in a black coat tell us the fortuneof our Lord. What folly! Of that day and of that hour knows no man, nor even the angels of God! This time of the Advent isa secret and purposely so, that we may always be on tiptoe of expectation, always looking out-because our Lord is surely coming,but we are not sure when He comes. "And unto them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin unto salvation."Many professing Christians forget Christ's Second Coming altogether. Others drop a smile when we speak about it, as thoughit belonged only to fanatics and dreamers.
But you, Beloved, I trust are not of that kind! As you really believe in the First Coming and the one great Sacrifice, soreally believe in the Second Coming without a sin-offering unto the climax of your salvation! Standing between the Cross andthe crown, between the cloud that received Him out of our sight, and the clouds with which He will come with ten thousandsof His saints to judge the quick and the dead, let us live as men who are not of this world, strangers in this age which darklylies between two bright appearings, happy beings saved by an accomplished mystery, and soon to be glorified by another mysterywhich is hastening on! Let us, like her in the Revelation, have the moon under our feet, keeping all sublunary things in theirproper place. May we even now be made to sit together with Christ in the heav-enlies!
Now all this must be strange talk to some of you. I wish it would alarm those of you who once made a profession of true religion,but have gone back to the world's lies. How will you face Him, you Backsliders, in that day when He shall appear and all elseshall vanish in the blaze of His light, as stars when the sun shines out? What will you do when your treachery shall be madeclear to your consciences by His appearing? What will you do, who have sold your Master and given up your Lord, who was andis your only hope for the putting away of your sins? Oh, I pray you, as you love yourselves, go to Him as He appears in HisFirst Coming and then, washed in His blood, go forward to meet Him in His Second Coming for salvation.
God bless you and, by His Son and Spirit, make you ready for that great day which comes on apace!
PORTIONS OF SCRIPTURE READ BEFORE SERMON-Hebrews9:24-28; 10:1-18; Matthew 25:1-13.