“Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.”
Without professing to have any extraordinary light on this very sublime and expressive text, we will, in compliance with the desire of a brother, offer a few reflections on the subject.
In the preceding verses of this chapter, the inspired writer calls the attention of the “holy brethren” addressed, to the inspiration of God, by which the Scriptures of both the Testaments have been presented. God spake to our fathers by the prophets, and that same God has spoken to us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, and by whom also he made the worlds. Peter informs us that the Spirit of Christ which was in the prophets testifying, is the Spirit by which Christ himself spake, or by which he reveals eternal things to his children. Of him it was written, “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach good tidings to the meek.” That Spirit, in his anointing which was on him as the Head, without measure in all its boundless and eternal fullness and infinity, is, in a measure, upon all the members of his mystical body; for if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. As the Spirit of Christ was in the prophets, so it is also in the apostles; and, in their measure, in all the children of the living God; for a measure of the Spirit is given to every man, to profit with all. God spake to the fathers by the prophets, and God has spoken to us by, and in the person of his Son. As in his Sonship, which we understand to relate to his Mediatorial character or identity, he is the only begotten Son of God, so he is by birthright the legitimate heir of all things, and the Head over all things to the church, which is his body, and the fullness of him that filleth all in all. As he is the unspeakable gift of God to the church, with all his fullness, so the apostle says to the church, All things are yours, and ye are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s. By whom also he made the world; for “All things were made by him, and without him was not anything made that was made.”
Who being the brightness of his Father’s glory. All the glory of the invisible Godhead centers in him; there is not an attribute of eternal Deity, or a perfection of the eternal Father, that is not found in him. This also agrees with what God has revealed to his people in their experience, as stated by the great apostle to the Gentiles. “God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in your hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” The same power which God displayed in creating the world, is required to shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God. Light makes manifest, and this light alone can manifest to us the knowledge of the glory of God; and all the knowledge of the glory of God that he has ever manifested to us, has been in the face of Jesus Christ. There is no other medium through which God’s glory, or his eternal perfections, are or can be made known to us. This light which reveals it is life; for in him was life, and the life was the light of men. “And this is life eternal that they may know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.” Hence, it is that in an unregenerated state none can see the kingdom of God; all are in darkness, and under the power of darkness, until translated into this marvelous light. Such is the darkness of the natural mind, that the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. All who are quickened by the Holy Spirit, are made to see the glory of God in Christ; but when God shines in the hearts of his children, they not only behold that God is glorious in Christ, but the brightness of the glory of God shines in the face of our adorable Redeemer. The brightness of his glory expresses to us the full and eternal radiance, which the eye has not seen, the ear has not heard, and of which the heart of man has no adequate conception. This knowledge of his glory can never enter the human mind by the natural avenues which convey intelligence to the natural man. It is a pure revelation by the Spirit, and can never be learned as a science. But when this revelation is made, then all the perfections of the eternal Godhead beam forth with heavenly refulgence in the face of Jesus Christ. Not an attribute or perfection of the uncreated Godhead is known to us anywhere else, for as he is the Mediator between God and men, there is no other medium through which divine knowledge or spiritual communication is made to men. The holiness, truth, love, justice, immutability, power, omniscience and eternity of God, all shine resplendent in his face. Hence the prophetic description of his advent, by Isaiah, to the church, “Arise, shine, for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.” But here is not only the brightness of his Father’s glory; but he is the express image of his person. An image is something perceptible, to the children of men. Christ in his manifestation to the church is called the image of the invisible God, and in our text he is called the express image. No man hath seen the Father at any time; that is, as we understand, only as he is revealed or manifested in Christ. But he who hath seen the Son, hath seen the Father also, for the Father is in him, and he is in the Father, and he and the Father are one. Men are forbidden to make to themselves any image of the invisible God, for it is the exclusive prerogative of Christ to reveal him. Great indeed is the mystery of godliness. God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, believed on in the world, and received up into glory. All the fullness of the Godhead dwells in him bodily; and the church is complete in him.
“And upholding all things by the word of his power.” In the broadest sense of the terms, all things in heaven and in earth, whether they be principalities or powers, thrones or dominions, things visible or invisible, all were made by him, and for him, and by him they all consist. As without him there was not anything made that was made, so without him nothing is sustained, supported or upheld. As no power of men or angels was required to assist him in creating the worlds, so neither is their agency required to uphold the worlds that he has made. Our text assures us that they are upheld in the same manner in which they were made, namely, by the word of his power. He said, “Let there be light, and there was light.” Thus the word of his power was manifested in creation; and in upholding all things he speaks the word, and it stands fast. He commands, and it is done. Such exhibitions of the word of his power, and of the power of his word, were made by him when here in the flesh, when he called Lazarus from the dead, raised up the widow’s son, silenced the raging tempest, and even when on the cross, at the sound of his voice, the rocks were rent, the graves were opened, the dead were raised, and earthquakes literally rocked the world. That voice is still omnipotent. The dead hear it, and they that hear do live; his sheep hear his voice, and he gives to them eternal life. Saul of Tarsus, though breathing out slaughter against the saints, heard it, and felt its omnipotence. Its power is often felt and witnessed by his saints in speaking comfort and peace to them, and in causing their hearts to burn while he communes with them by the way. They are born again of an incorruptible seed by the word of the Lord, which liveth and abideth forever. The word of his power may also indicate his supreme authority, having all power in heaven and in earth, to reign as well in providence as in grace. He is the King of kings, as well as the King of saints. All things are put under him, and he has power, in his Mediatorial supremacy, over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as the Father has given unto him. In full possession of all this power and might and majesty, he came down from heaven to do the will of him that sent him, and to finish the work. This work was to save his people from their sins; for this, he said, is the will of the Father, that of all he hath given me, I should lose nothing. In the execution of this work, the purging the sins of his people was involved. He came not to save them in their sins, but from their sins. Hence, he must needs purge them, and in doing this, his blood must be shed, for nothing short of his blood can purge our conscience from dead works, to serve the living God. The inefficiency of all other blood to accomplish this work had been abundantly demonstrated. It was found to be impossible that the blood of bulls and goats, those victims which under the law and by divine authority had been shed continually upon the altars of Israel, could take away sins; therefore, of necessity, he must give himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. Therefore, he did, through the eternal Spirit, offer himself without spot to God, and by one offering he has perfected forever them that are sanctified. When he had done all this, when he had by himself purged our sins, for it could not be done by proxy, or by another, to him alone as the nearest of kin did the right of redemption belong, when by himself he had purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high. The great work of redemption being accomplished, and the salvation of his people finished and complete, he has set down. Thus when the work of creation was accomplished, God rested from all the works that he had made; so, salvation being finished, Christ has set down. But his seat is on the right hand of Majesty, He has set down with his Father on his throne, showing that his mediatorial work is approved, ratified and effectual. As evidence that he is exalted to be a Prince and a Savior to give repentance unto Israel and remission of sins, the Holy Spirit is sent down from heaven, to abide forever with the saints. Even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him.
We have thus expressed our views on the text proposed, as clearly as, in so small a space, we are capable of doing. Let those who read, carefully compare what we have written with the Scriptures of truth, and if in their judgment we are not sustained by the standard of truth, let them not rail upon us; but in a kind and brotherly manner point out whatever of error they may detect.
Middletown, N. Y.
March 1, 1856.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 3
Pages 308 - 313