(Hebrews ix. 11.)
Christ’s everlasting gospel ever heralds glad tidings of good things to come; yes, there are good things in the start, and from step to step in all the pilgrimage quickened sinners have this declared unto them, There are “good things to come.” In sickness, in health, in poverty’s vale, abounding in wealth, in all our distresses, temptations and conflicts this hope is set before us, there are “good things to come.” In life and in our dying hours these good things will be ever flowing, ever coming to believers in Jesus, and throughout eternity there will be good things coming, coming, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb. “Good things to come.” Ah, now also we have bitter, evil things coming to us, but enough new covenant good things come unto us to sweeten all, to stay us up and cause us still to be hoping for good things to come. Mercies present are blessed, sweet, refreshing, but more and more a rich, abundant harvest, yes, an infinite harvest of good things is stored up for the saints to reap. All is promised, all is secured and sure to all the seed in Jesus Christ our Lord. He is our High Priest of good things to come. (Heb. ix. 11.) During our earthly pilgrimage, in the solemn, precious moment of death and throughout eternity these good things are ours in and through and with our precious Lord Jesus Christ, the Head of the church. Read the following Scriptures and see if it be not so: Psalms lxxiii. 24; 2 Cor. iv. 17; Rom. viii. 17-39; 1 Thess. iv. 13-17; 1 Peter i. 4, 5; 1 Cor. ii. 9. The children of God on earth have their fears and sighs, yearnings and anticipations regarding eternity; they are of God, and his good work begun in them exercises them to know him now by faith in the face of Jesus Christ, and in eternity to know him by sight, face to face in the face of Emmanuel, our Jesus Christ. “Now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to lace: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” – 1 Cor. xiii. 12. “We shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” With the saints the time on earth is but a sojourn, they are now pilgrims and strangers journeying home, looking forward to the better, heavenly country. They sigh and long for that city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God. (Heb. xi. 10-16.) Eternity is not dense obscurity, a blank to those born of God, for the Holy Ghost has given them glorious revelations in the Scriptures concerning it; and these testimonies in his word, sealed home in the hearts of his chosen, beget in them sighs and longings to come into the full possession of the inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away, which they hope is reserved in heaven for them. They are believers in the gospel, and are sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance, until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory. (Eph. i. 13, 14.) Look at the following Scriptures and ask, Are these things meaningless in the faith of God’s elect! I will answer beforehand, They are not, but reveal to us things that are eternal. “Looking for that blessed hope, and glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ.” – Titus ii. 13. “He said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To-day shalt thou be with me in paradise.” – Luke xxiii. 42, 43. “I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better.” – Phil. i. 23. God “hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus.” – 1 Peter v. 10. I am a “partaker of the glory that shall be revealed.” – 1 Peter v. 1. “Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory.” – Psalms 1 xxiii. 24. “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” – Col. i. 27. “And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory.” – Romans ix. 23. “When he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” – 1 John iii. 2. “For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.” – Col. iii. 3, 4. “Then face to face.” – 1 Cor. xiii. 12. “They shall see his face.” – Rev. xxii. 4. “As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness.” – Psalms xvii. 15. “Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; whither the Forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.” – Heb. vi. 19, 20. Our good hope through grace enters where Jesus our Forerunner has entered, and we hope to enter whither our hope now entereth. Christ, our Head, our Husband, Redeemer, High Priest, our Forerunner, made his way there in our behalf through seas of affliction, with strong crying and tears, in agonies and blood he tasted death, its sorrows were his for our sakes, he passed through death and hell, and triumphed over the grave; he gave himself a ransom for us; he arose, and ascended, and passed into the heavens, there he appeareth in the presence of God for us, our King and High Priest upon his throne of “good things to come.” And there, through the everlasting love of our ascended Head, we, too, shall arrive.
“Jesus, my All, to heaven is gone,
He whom I fix my hopes upon!
His track I see, and I’ll pursue
The narrow way, till him I view.”
This hope we have now, and which will be ours in our dying moments, is not a cunningly devised fable. The apostle Paul, in prospect of his near departure from the earth, says, “Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.” – 2 Tim. iv. 48. The martyr Stephen, being filled with the Holy Ghost, called upon God, saying, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit! And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.” – Acts vii. 59, CO. He died in faith, and so do all who have the faith of the operation of God. “These all died in faith.” – Heb. xi. 13. This is written of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and God is not the God of the dead, but of the living. (Matt. xxii. 32.) The Sadducees’ idea of death was annihilation; they “say that there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit.” – Acts xxiii. 8. The bodies of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob now lie in the dust of earth, to be raised immortal and incorruptible when Christ shall descend from heaven and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, yet their spirits are now with God in everlasting happiness and glory. For our Lord Jesus Christ “died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.” “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.” – Romans viii. 16. Our spirit does not die; (Matt. x. 28,) the body without the spirit is dead; our spirit is life because of righteousness. The souls of all departed saints are with Christ, even as the soul of the thief that was crucified. They are now with Jesus in paradise above. “The spirits of just men made perfect.” – Heb. xii. 23. And when Christ Jesus shall descend from heaven to raise from the grave their sleeping bodies to glory and immortality, they shall be brought with him, (1 Thess. iv. 14,) come with him, (1 Thess. iii. 13,) and take possession of their now risen, spiritual, glorified bodies. And we which are alive and remain, who are then on the earth, shall be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, and we shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air, (O what a meeting, Christ the Head, and all the congregation his body!) and so shall we ever be with the Lord. (1 Thess. iv. 16, 17; 1 Cor. xv. 51, 52.) God hath put a seal upon his regenerated people, whereby they are sealed unto the day of redemption. (Eph. iv. 30.) This is “that day “(2 Tim. i. 12,) that shall witness and yield to us all that we now hope for, all that we are now waiting for. Our Lord Jesus Christ, who reigns in heaven in eternal glory, is expecting this day; for he, “after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; from henceforth expecting [waiting] till his enemies be made his footstool.” – Heb. x. 12, 13. “For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” – 1 Cor. xv. 25, 26. Also the glorified souls of all Christ’s sleeping saints, who now dwell with Christ in heaven, are in delighted expectation that their bodies (which are the members of Christ, bought with a price, 1 Cor. vi. 15-20,) now sleeping in death, in the dust of the earth, shall come forth from their graves in resurrection glory, spiritual, immortal, fashioned like unto the glorious body of the Lord Jesus, which he now has in glory. (Phil. iii. 21.) Will Christ’s expectation be cut off, come to naught! Never, O never. He paid the price for our release from sin and death, hell and the grave. By his own blood he entered in once into heaven itself, having obtained eternal redemption for us. (Heb. ix. 12.) now blessed are faith’s contemplations! Our Jesus, the Son of God, who once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, to bring us to God, is now ascended far above all heavens, and reigns on high our Savior God in delighted expectation of the ultimate and eternal triumph of all his church over all their enemies.
“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, O no.”
Saith Christ, “To 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 heaven.” – Rev. iii. 21. O we have some precious moments of divine exaltation when by faith we see all things overcome. Our sins and temptations, all the powers of hell, sickness and pain, the world, the flesh and the devil, death and the grave. Our faith and hope are in the Lamb that was slain, now the Lamb in the midst of the throne, and in our faith we are risen with him. (Col. ii. 12.) O blessed, blessed are these moments of the power of Christ’s resurrection while thus we sit with him, our glorified Jesus, upon his throne. Then, in our faith, all adversity, darkness, condemnation and fear are overcome, put under our feet, and we are in bliss triumphant with our Savior. O the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus our Lord! Such soul-exalting, blissful experiences of being risen with Christ are but moments of things hoped for; they are but sips of the cup of glory; they are but the first-fruits of the Spirit in our hearts. (Rom. viii. 23.) Only a taste of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. But because Christ is our Head, because he is our almighty Husband and Redeemer, because he is risen from the dead, because he is the firstfruits of them that slept, and we are his, we, his ransomed body, the church, shall (not as now in faith, which is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen, but) in actual glorified, immortal, incorruptible being appear with him in glory, and sit with him in his throne, his glorified bride, in the image of our heavenly One, our Husband, our Lord Jesus Christ.
“Then shall the church, the Lamb’s own bride,
Both crowned and seated at his side,
Outshine the sun’s meridian ray;
While Jesus, smiling at the sight,
Shall then with a supreme delight
The travail of his soul survey.”
Is our ascended, glorified Jesus upon his throne henceforth expecting, waiting the last enemy to be destroyed! (Heb. x. 12, 13.) So the saints here below have wrought in them by the Holy Spirit, and are moved with the selfsame expectation, and are waiting, even as Christ, the ascended Head of the church, the glorious, actual, eternal consummation of his mediatorial reign. Most explicitly and blessedly the apostle Paul declares the things that are embraced in this earnest expectation. This is his doctrine, and those who are of God know the verity of it, by divine tuition, in their soul’s experience. “As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: and 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. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope; because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain-together until now. And 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 the body. For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen, is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for! But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.” – Romans viii. 14-25. O the glory that shall be revealed in us! This is our earnest expectation, the manifestation of the sons of God, deliverance from vanity to which we are now subjected, deliverance from the bondage of corruption, the glorious liberty of the children, the adoption, the redemption of the body. “Good things to come.” Truly a glorious harvest to reap, and we have the Spirit of promise, the earnest of the Spirit, the Spirit of adoption, the first fruits of it all in our souls now. This doctrine, testified of in the Scriptures, is vital, and is wrought in and lives in those who are of God, renewing them day by day. “Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given us the earnest of the Spirit.” – 2 Cor. v. 5. Ah, our earnest expectation, hope and waiting is mingled with fears and sighs and tears; such buffetings we get from the adversary, and unbelief assails us, and sometimes we are much burdened with the bondage of corruption. But Christ our Head has overcome, he is triumphant, and reigns in glory. O afflicted, tempest-tossed believer, drink this cup of consolation. The expectation of Christ the Head above, and of his body the church below, is one; the selfsame expectation. “The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” “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 immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting! O grave, where is thy victory! The sting of death is sin: and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” – 1 Cor. xv. 51-57. This is the hope of the gospel to which the saints hope to come. (Acts xxvi. 7.) This is the earnest expectation of all the church of God; then shall we verily be conformed in the entirety of our being to the image of the Son of God. We then shall be like him, and see him as he is. O to attain unto the resurrection of the dead. (Phil. iii. 11, 12, 20, 21.) O dear kindred, I hope I hope I shall be with and like our Lord and dwell with him forevermore. I hope
“I shall be with him when he comes
Triumphant down the parting skies,
And when his voice breaks up the tombs,
Among his children I shall rise.
Among his children I shall stand,
When quick and dead his throne surround,
West with a place at his right hand,
And with immortal glory crowned.”
FREDERICK W. KEENE.
NORTH BERWICK, Maine.
Signs Of The Times
Volume 76., No. 10.
MAY 15, 1908.