THE GLORIFICATION OF MAN
To those who have accepted the Lord Jesus--have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb--and who are regenerated, God has made wonderful and marvelous promises concerning the life which now is and that which is to come: "but as it is written, Things which eye saw not, and ear heard not, And which entered not into the heart of man, Whatsoever things God prepared for them that love him" (I Cor. 2:9). The reason why so very many of us who are Christians are not enjoying the fullness of His blessings is that we are not fully surrendered to accept God's will in our daily lives and are not trusting Him fully as we should. The Word of God is full of most blessed promises to us, which He makes good to all who will by faith and in love follow Him. Thus our earthly pilgrimage with Him is indeed "The Royal Road of Life."
We know not when our summons will come to leave this earth and to enter into the glories of our Lord. It may be at any season--either by death or by being caught up to meet the Lord in the air:
But we would not have you ignorant, brethren, concerning them that fall asleep; that ye sorrow not, even as the rest, who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also that are fallen asleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we that are alive, that are left unto the coming of the Lord, shall in no wise precede them that are fallen asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven, with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first; then we that are alive, that are left, shall together with them be caught up in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).
Behold, I tell you a mystery: We all shall not 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 (1 Corinthians 15:51-53).Summary
"Speed on, perfect year, to the morning;
God's fulness shall dawn on the just,
And thou, open Grave, shalt restore us
The glorified from from the dust."
That we shall thus enter into His glorious kingdom upon our Lord's return is absolutely certain; for we have His sure word of promise:
For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed to us-ward. For the earnest expectation of the creation waiteth for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to vanity, not of its own will, but by reason of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the liberty of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only so, but ourselves also, who have the first-fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for our adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. For in hope were we saved: but hope that is seen is not hope: for who hopeth for that which he seeth? But if we hope for that which we see not, then do we with patience wait for it. And in like manner the Spirit also helpeth our infirmity: for we know not how to pray as we ought; but the Spirit himself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered; and he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that to them that love God all things work together for good, even to them that are called according to his purpose. For whom he foreknew, he also foreordained to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren: and whom he foreordained, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not also with him freely give us all things? Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth; who is he that condemneth? It is Christ Jesus that died, yea rather, that was raised from the dead, who is at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or anguish, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Even as it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; We were accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:18-39).
We shall enjoy the blessings of the great Kingdom Age here upon earth which are described in verses 18 to 25 of the foregoing passage, and which will continue for a thousand years. It is far beyond the comprehension of any of us at the present time to conceive of the glories of the coming age that await us.
At the end of the Kingdom Age the material universe will pass away, according to our Lord's prediction: "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away" (Matt. 24:35). That this passing away of the physical universe will occur at the end of the Kingdom Age is evident from John's statement in Revelation 20:11: "And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat upon it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them." Immediately upon the passing away of the present cosmic order, the Almighty will bring into existence the new, the eternal universe, which will never be defiled by sin or uncleanness, and which will endure forever. In the eternal Jerusalem, the city four-square, which will be the capital of the new universe, all the redeemed will live forever and ever.
21 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth are passed away; and the sea is no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of the throne saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he shall dwell with them, and they shall be his peoples, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God: and he shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and death shall be no more; neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain, any more: the first things are passed away. And he that sitteth on the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he saith, Write: for these words are faithful and true. And he said unto me, They are come to pass. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. He that overcometh shall inherit these things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. But for the fearful, and unbelieving, and abominable, and murderers, and fornicators, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, their part shall be in the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone; which is the second death. And there came one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls, who were laden with the seven last plagues; and he spake with me, saying, Come hither, I will show thee the bride, the wife of the Lamb. And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God: her light was like unto a stone most precious, as it were a jasper stone, clear as crystal: having a wall great and high; having twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels; and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel: on the east were three gates; and on the north three gates; and on the south three gates; and on the west three gates. And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. And he that spake with me had for a measure a golden reed to measure the city, and the gates thereof, and the wall thereof. And the city lieth foursquare, and the length thereof is as great as the breadth: and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs: the length and the breadth and the height thereof are equal. And he measured the wall thereof, a hundred and forty and four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of an angel. And the building of the wall thereof was jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto pure glass. The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with all manner of precious stones. The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, chalcedony; the fourth, emerald; the fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, topaz; the tenth, chrysoprase; the eleventh, jacinth; the twelfth, amethyst. And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; each one of the several gates was of one pearl: and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass. And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God the Almighty, and the Lamb, are the temple thereof. And the city hath no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine upon it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the lamp thereof is the Lamb. And the nations shall walk amidst the light thereof: and the kings of the earth bring their glory into it. And the gates thereof shall in no wise be shut by day (for there shall be no night there): and they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it: and there shall in no wise enter into it anything unclean, or he that maketh an abomination and a lie: but only they that are written in the Lamb's book of life. (Revelation 21:1-27)
For thee, O dear, dear Country!
Mine eyes their vigils keep;
For very love, beholding
Thy happy name, they weep.
The mention of thy glory
Is unction to the breast,
And medicine in sickness,
And love and life and rest.
The Lamb is all thy splendor,
The Crucified thy praise:
His laud and benediction
Thy ransomed people raise.
I know not, O I know not,
What holy joys are there!
What radiancy of glory,
What light beyond compare!
O fields that know no sorrow!
O state that fears no strife!
O princely towers! O land of flowers!
O realm and home of life!
Exult O dust and ashes!
The Lord shall be thy part:
His only, His for ever,
Thou shalt be and thou art!
Jesus, in mercy bring us
Soon to that land of rest;
Who art, with God the Father,
And Spirit, ever blest!¹
In the foregoing pages we have seen that the Eternal God, existing in the form of three divine personalities, each of whom is co-eternal and co-equal with the others, is the one in whom we live, move, and have our being, and to whom each of us is personally responsible and must eventually give an account of his life and deeds. He is sovereign over a great moral kingdom, the citizens of which have been placed on various levels where they should live, and by the exercise of their powers of choice should serve and worship Him.
Moreover we have learned that man by his free choice and a deliberate act pitted his will against that of the Almighty. In his doing this, his nature became changed, corrupted, and he was cut off from the life of God, and is now dead in trespasses and sin. His condition, as he is, is hopeless.
We have also seen that one of the divine personalities, Jehovah the Son, voluntarily laid aside the glory which He had with the Father, assumed the form of a servant--entering the human realm by miraculous conception and virgin birth--and championed man's cause in order to deliver man from the death sentence and to defeat Satan, the great adversary of God and man, and to render him inoperative. The Son of God gave up His human life on the cross, and by His blood made atonement for sin.
Under His moral government God cannot and will not force man's will; yet He uses all moral suasion to induce men to avail themselves of the atonement for sin and to accept His free salvation--for both time and eternity. Under this moral regime only those who in faith accept the blood atonement--the finished work of the Son of God on the cross--can enjoy the eternal benefits flowing from Christ's sacrificial work which He came to earth to accomplish.
God in His great love and passion for the souls of men sent Christ to carry out the plan of redemption, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life" (John 3:16).
To every one who is living up to the light that he has and is desirous of more of the truth of God that he might conform his life to the divine pattern, the message of truth, God will assuredly send the truth: "For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show himself strong in behalf of those whose heart is perfect toward him" (II Chron. 16:9a).
Those who are not thirsting after the living God, and who will not accept Him when He is presented to them will, when they pass out of this life, spend all eternity without God and without hope, where "there shall be the weeping and the gnashing of teeth" (Matt. 8:12b).
In view of all these facts--veritable unquestioned facts and truths--I plead with you who are lost. Stop! Look! Listen! Now is the time for you to accept the Redeemer of man and the salvation which He offers you full and free. There is no time for delay. You know not what the morrow may bring forth.
In the language of the Apostle Paul I would plead with the lost to be reconciled to God: "But all things are of God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and gave unto us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 to wit, that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not reckoning unto them their trespasses and having committed unto us the word of reconciliation 20 We are ambassadors therefore on behalf of Christ, as though God were entreating by us: we beseech you on behalf of Christ, be ye reconciled to God. 21 Him who knew no sin he made to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in him" (II Cor. 5:18-21). God planned the scheme of redemption. Christ executed it. And the Holy Spirit, in a special manner, through His ministers who proclaim His Word, is beseeching lost sinners to accept the Lord Jesus Christ and become reconciled to God. There is but one way of being reconciled and that is to accept the Lord Jesus Christ as one's atonement, and to receive Him by faith, coming in the spirit of the hymn:
Just as I am, without one plea,
But that Thy blood was shed for me,
And that Thou bidd'st me come to Thee,
O Lamb of God, I come! I come!
Just as I am, and waiting not
To rid my soul of one dark blot,
To Thee whose blood can cleanse each spot,
O Lamb of God, I come! I come!
Just as I am--Thou wilt receive,
Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve;
Because Thy promise I believe,
O Lamb of God, I come! I come!
Just as I am--Thy love unknown
Hath broken every barrier down;
Now, to be Thine, yea, Thine alone,
O Lamb of God, I come! I come!
--Charlotte Elliott (1789-1871).
¹ Extracts from "The Heavenly Jerusalem," by Bernard, a monk of Cluny, based on the last two chapters of Revelation, composed about 1145.