It is well to be unsatisfied with anything less than the presence of our God, and that eternal perfection in His sight. How shall we, such sinful, frail mortals, attain to such happiness? There are moments, even while now on the earth, when the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, divinely discovers to us our perfection in Christ Jesus, the Head of the church, when in His blood and righteousness, by that inwrought faith, (which is the substance of things hope for, the evidence of things not seen), we see we are "complete in Him," made "acceptable in the Beloved." In Him we shine forth in perfection of beauty, perfect through His comeliness in His Robe of Righteousness which He putteth upon us. (Ezek. 16:14; Isaiah 61:10; Rom. 3:22.) And what is this? It is the earnest of our inheritance, the spirit of adoption, which in faith and hope is ours in Christ Jesus. "Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be, but we know, when He shall appear, we shall be like, for we shall see Him as he is." Jehovah hath predestinated us at last to be conformed to the image of His Son (Rom. 8:29.) Have we "this hope" in us? To this we have not already attained. (Phil. 3:10-14.) Ah, we do not yet bear the image of the Heavenly One, our risen, ascended and glorified Jesus in Heaven. How very manifest this is to us as we groan, being burdened with the bondage of corruption, so sinful, tempted and afflicted we are now, with pain, and sickness, and mortality wearying us. But we are the Lord's body; our bodies are the members of Christ. (1 Cor. 6:15.) We are not yet glorified, for it doth not yet appear what we shall be. But, O! blessed anticipation, we shall at last be glorified together with Christ. We shall be all glorious as His Father glorified Jesus here, and as He is now all glorious with His Father in Heaven. (Rom. 8:17.) We shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is; we shall awake with His likeness. We shall be raised in glory. (1 Cor. 15:43.) He shall change our vile body that it may be fashioned and glorified like unto His own glorious body. God hath called us, His chosen, ransomed ones, unto His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, and Christ is in us the hope of glory. (Col. 1:17.) O, in this blessed hope we have precious foretastes of the glory that shall be revealed. (1 Peter 5:1.)
Yes, in the dissolution of our mortal bodies back to dust, while the soul does not return to dust with the body, it shall make its exodus from the vile corruptible body, and shall be translated to the realms of glory, to be with Christ in paradise. (Luke 23:43; Phil. 1:23; Acts 7:59.) And when in "that day" (2 Tim. 1:12-18) our Lord Jesus Christ shall descend from Heaven (with the New Jerusalem, See Rev. 21:2) to raise the ransomed bodies of His saints by His Spirit, He shall quicken our mortal bodies, (Rom. 8:11), and they shall be raised spiritual bodies, in power and glory, immortal and incorruptible like unto Christ's glorious body. Then with both soul and body reunited again, we shall be like Him. Then in actual reality (not in faith and hope in Christ Jesus, which at present is our earnest and foretaste of our inheritance), then actually and forever and ever we shall bear the image of the Heavenly; to this we hope to come. (Acts 26:7.) This is the one, final crowning attainment of believers in the Son of God, "Behold, I shew you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump; for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass, the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory." Having such a hope, by the Holy Ghost we can say, "As for me, I will behold Thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with Thy likeness." (Psalm 17:15.) Then shall be consummated our adoption, which will be that all glorious liberty, and eternal manifestation of the children of God. (Rom. 8:17-25.) The bondage of corruption shall no more hold us; death shall no longer celebrate its power over our bodies in the grave. "The last enemy that is to be destroyed is death." Christ Jesus, our risen, and ascended Head, reigns in Heaven today triumphant over death, hell and the grave; and all His ransomed people, His body the church, shall be at last triumphant too. (Hosea 13:14.)
"Triumphantly glorious, our Head has ascended
O'er death and the grave, all their power laying low;
This gains us a rising when time shall be ended,
Death no more shall hold us; Ah never, Oh no!"
Our precious Christ is the first fruits, afterward they that are Christ's at His coming. O, then, (and not till then) shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, "Death is swallowed up in victory."
This is the gospel which we have received, and wherein we stand, and by which we are saved. (1 Cor. 15:1, 2.)
"Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God! therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, 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. And every man that hath this hope in Him purifieth himself, even as He is pure." (1 John 3:1-3.)
Now only in part we know; then, when we are gather home to glory in that glorified body and soul, we shall know then even as we are known.
"Then shall I see, and hear, and know
All I desired and wished below;
And every power find sweet employ
In that eternal world of joy."
Frederick W. Keene.
North Berwick, Maine