#THE THREE WHATS
[On a night when the Tabernacle was thrown open to all comers; the ordinary hearers vacating their seats for the occasion.]
"The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, and what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power, which He worked in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places."
- Ephesians 1:18-20
YOU see the text begins with a personal experience within the mind and judgment—"The eyes of your understanding being enlightened." Everything depends upon the opened eyes. The scene may be fair and the light may be bright, but if the sight is gone, all is in vain. Zedekiah had his eyes put out by the king of Babylon and then he was taken down to the imperial city, but as for being able to enjoy anything, he might as well have been in a desert. There were vast halls, palaces, hanging gardens, and a city wall which was the wonder of the world, so that Babylon is called by the prophet, "The glory of kingdoms and the beauty of the Chaldees’ excellency"—but the blinded monarch beheld nothing of all the grandeur of the golden city and to him her wealth was as though it had not been. Thus is it with us by nature—we have no apprehension of spiritual things, no power to discern eternal good—our foolish heart is darkened. Therefore, the Lord must first enlighten the eyes of our understanding or else, however precious the truth and however clearly it may be stated, we shall never be able to apprehend it.
I find there is a rendering of the text which runs thus, "The eyes of your heart being enlightened," and it strikes me that this version has about it the appearance of being the correct one, because divine things are usually better seen by the heart than by the understanding. There are a thousand things which God has revealed which we shall never understand and yet we can know them by a loving, trusting experience. Our Savior says, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." The purifying of the heart is the enlightening of the spiritual eyes. Strange as it may seem, the true eye of the renewed man is seated rather in the heart than in the head—holy affections enable us to see and as far as possible to understand divine things. I pray that in each one of us the eyes of our heart may be enlightened that we may know spiritual things as they are best known.
Now, the prayer of our text was offered for Christians—for converted persons, for those who had faith in Christ Jesus and love to all the saints—yet Paul says that he never ceased to pray that their eyes might be enlightened. Yes, brethren, he who sees most needs to have his eyes enlightened to see more, for how little as yet of the glory of God have any of us beheld! Even that favored pilgrim who has been led by the shepherds to the top of Mount Clear, to stand there with telescopic glass and gaze into the glories of Immanuel’s land has yet only begun to perceive the things which God has prepared for them that love Him. I pray God that if we already see, we may see more, until our eyes shall be so strengthened that the light of the New Jerusalem shall not be too strong for us, but amid the splendor of God which outshines the sun, we shall find ourselves at home.
But if believers need to have their eyes enlightened, how much more must those who are unconverted? They are altogether blind and consequently their need of enlightenment is far greater. They were born blind and the god of this world takes care to further darken their minds; around them there broods a sevenfold midnight, the gloom of spiritual death. "They meet with darkness in the daytime and grope in the noonday as in the night." O blind eye, may Jesus touch you! May the Spirit bring His sacred eye salve to make you see and tonight, though it is not ours to give you eyes, we will tell you what is to be seen, hoping that perhaps while we give the description, God may give you eyes with which to verify our report. Perhaps even the reporting of these things may set you longing for them and when you have but a longing, God will hear you. If that longing is turned into a prayer and that prayer is kindled by a spark of faith, that longing shall be the beginning of light to your soul and you shall see the salvation of
Tonight, then, there are two things we shall ask about—what things are to be seen and known according to the text? And, secondly, why it is our anxious desire that every person here should see and know these things?
I. First, then, WHAT IS TO BE SEEN AND KNOWN ACCORDING TO THE TEXT? When you heard me read it, you must have noticed that it contains three "whats." "The eyes of your understanding being enlightened that you may know what is the hope of His calling, and what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe." Upon these three "whats" I shall try to speak tonight—may the Holy Spirit speak through me to all your souls.
Our first point is, "What is the hope of His calling?" A great many persons never think about religion because they cannot believe that there is much in it. If they had half an idea of what is to be gained by it even now and of the unspeakable blessedness which will come of it throughout eternity, surely their own desire to benefit themselves would incline them diligently to consider it even if they went no further. So promising a matter is at least worth looking into, for it would be a great pity to miss present and eternal happiness if it can be had. But no, they suppose it to be a very small and trifling thing, fit only for the thoughts of priests and women and such weak folk—and so they neglect it, despise it, and look after other business. Tonight, while I try to tell what is the hope of the Christian’s calling; I boldly claim your best consideration. If the preacher may not request it on his own account, he may assuredly ask it on the ground that his theme deserves it. Perhaps while we are speaking of the worth of this hope and you are lending an attentive ear, the Lord may lead you to seek His face. Is it not written, "Incline your ear and come unto Me, hear and your soul shall live"? Many a man has been tempted to start upon a voyage by hearing much of the land to which he sails. Praise his goods and you will find buyers for the merchant. Such is our desire at this time—we would so speak of the hope of our calling as to allure those who are eager after sweets to taste and see that the Lord is good.
The idea of the text seems to me to be illustrated well by the patriarch Abraham. Abraham was living in his father’s house in Ur of the Chaldees when a call came to him. That call came from God. He was to separate himself entirely and to get away to a land which he had never seen. What was the hope of that calling? It was the hope that God would give him a seed, and give to that seed a land to dwell in. Thus spoke the Lord unto him—"I will make of you a great nation and I will bless you, and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing: and I will bless them that bless you, and curse him that curses you: and in you shall all families of the earth be blessed." The great nation which should spring from him would possess the land in which he was to wander as a pilgrim and a stranger, according to the word of the Lord—"For all the land which you see, to you will I give it, and to your seed forever." For the sake of that hope, Abraham forsook everything and dwelt in tents, a pilgrim and a sojourner with God, living entirely by faith, but living grandly and sublimely—and thus becoming the father of all believers throughout all ages, greater than a prince among the sons of men. Now, there comes to every man who is a true Christian, a call from God. We speak of it by the name of, "effectual calling." The Spirit of God personally applies the truth of Scripture to the heart and makes the chosen man to feel that it belongs to him; the believer perceives that he is separated from others by the sovereign grace of God and that therefore he must come out from the world and no longer live according to the sight of the eyes, and the hearing of the ears, but by faith upon God as seeing Him who is invisible. This makes the believer very different from the rest of mankind. Those who walk by sight do not understand him. They generally misrepresent him and frequently they hate him—but he is content to be unknown, for he remembers it is written, "You are dead and your life is hid with Christ in God." "Therefore the world knows us not because it knew Him not."
But what is the prospect which leads the believer to this life? What is the hope of his calling? Brethren, let me describe the hope of those of us who have come out to walk by faith in Christ Jesus. We have already obtained abundantly enough to reward us for obedience to the call and even if nothing were shut up in the closed hand of Hope, her open hand has greatly enriched us. Christian, you already have in possession the forgiveness of your sin, acceptance in Christ, adoption into the divine family, and the nature, rank, and rights of a child of God. You already possess that which makes you among the happiest of mankind and you often feel that if it should turn out that there is no hereafter—and if you should die like a dog—yet still your faith in God has given you such consolation and such strength, such peace and such joy that you would bless God that ever you had it. Our hope has not injured us either as to character or to happiness and even if it turned out to be false, we are at least as well off as the unbeliever. Still, our main possession lies in hope. We carry a bag of spending money in our hands, but the bulk of our wealth is deposited in the Bank of Hope. What, then, is the Christian’s hope?
Well, first, he hopes and believes that he shall be under divine protection forever and ever, that he shall be the object of divine love time out of mind and when time shall be no more. He hopes that all things shall work together for his good in the future as he perceives they have done in the past and as he is persuaded they are doing now. He expects a stormy voyage, but because Christ is at the helm, he hopes to come to the fair haven at last. He expects to be tempted, but he hopes to be upheld. He expects to be slandered, but he hopes to be cleared. He expects to be tried, but he hopes to triumph. Sustained by this hope he dreads no labors and fears no difficulties—
"He holds no parley with unmanly fears,
Where duty bids he confidently steers.
Faces a thousand dangers at her call,
And hoping in his God, surmounts them all."
His hope is that all through life, whether that is long or short (and he has not much care about the number of his years), underneath him will be the everlasting arms. He hopes that the Lord will be his shepherd and he shall not want. He hopes that goodness and mercy will follow him all the days of his life. Therefore, he is not afraid to die, for then he expects to come into actual possession of his best possessions. He looks for his best things last. He believes that when it is time for him to depart, Jesus will come and meet him—and the thought of that meeting puts aside all idea of the grim terrors of the grave. His hope leaps over the grave and lands him in a glorious resurrection. Does not the hope of our calling open grandly?
We hope also and have good ground for it, that after death at the Day of Judgment we shall have, as we believe we have now, a perfect justification. A dread judgment will be held. Upon a great white throne reflecting all things and brilliant with its purity, Jesus the Judge of all will sit and He shall separate the mass of mankind into two portions as a shepherd divides the sheep from the goats. We know that in that day He will discern those who believed in Him and trusted Him and obeyed Him and sought to be like He and we hope that we shall be of that blessed number. For us there shall be no sentence of condemnation, for it is written, "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus." We hope for a sentence of acquittal and we therefore challenge the judgment which others dread. Clothed with a divine righteousness, we await with expectation the day which shall make the impenitent wish that they had never been born. Hope takes into her consideration the most dreaded of all events and weaves it into her song. The end of all things is not the end of hope. Is not this brave hoping? The hope of a man who sings on forever—living in the circle of divine love, dying beneath the protection of divine power, and abiding in the judgment justified by divine justice—accepted in the Beloved and beloved of the Father.
What else can we hope for? We hope for absolute perfection. The God who has changed our hearts will continue the good work of sanctification till He has taken every sin out of us, every desire for sin, every possibility of sin. We expect Him to renew our minds and prevent our making so many mistakes in judgment. We expect Him to renew our hearts that they may be wholly set on divine and heavenly things. We expect Him to renew our entire spirit till, when the prince of this world comes, he shall find nothing in us—no tinder for his sparks, no corruption in which to sow his evil seed. We hope to be perfect, even as God is perfect; as Adam, when he came from his Maker’s hand, so shall we be and something more, for we shall possess a life in Christ which our unfallen progenitor knew not in Paradise.
We hope also that this body of ours will be perfected. It will lie in the grave and disintegrate into dust unless our Lord Jesus should come before our death—of this we make small account—having no very intense desire to avoid the grave wherein our glorious Redeemer lay. We have nothing to lose, but much to gain by dying, for therein we put off our mortality that at the resurrection we may put on immortality—
"Corruption, earth, and worms
Shall but refine this flesh,
Till when the Lord, our Savior, comes
We put it on afresh."
We expect that then our body shall be raised—changed, but still the same as to identity. For us is the promise of the Scripture—"I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death." When our body awakes, though sown in corruption, it shall be raised in incorruption. Though sown in weakness it shall be raised in power. Though sown a body only fit for the soul, it shall be raised shall also bear the image of the heavenly. Our body shall be fashioned like unto the body of Jesus Christ Himself. We are looking forward to a time when we shall have done with aches and pains, with weariness and decay, with old age and its infirmities and with all liability to death. We expect perpetual youth to be our portion and that joy shall thrill through every nerve and sinew of our frame, which now, alas, so often becomes the theater of agony. Yes, this is our hope—perfection of spirit, soul, and body—for Christ has redeemed the whole and He will have the whole to be His inheritance. And in the whole of our manhood His glorious image shall be reflected forever.
What else is the hope of our calling? Why, that being thus cleared in judgment and made absolutely perfect, we shall forever—for eternal duration is the glory of our heritage—we shall forever enjoy infinite happiness. We do not know what form the joys of eternity will take, but they will take such form as shall make us the most happy. We shall have heaven’s best, yes God’s best, and what that is, who among us can guess, though he uses all his knowledge and gives the reins to his expectancy? "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither has entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for them that love Him; but He has revealed them unto us by His Spirit." And, as far as we understand that revelation, we are taught by it that we shall enter into a state of complete rest and perfect peace; a state of holy delight and of serene and blissful activity; a state of perfect praise; a state of satisfaction; a state, probably, of progress, but still of completeness at every inch of the road; a state in which we shall be as happy as we are capable of being, every vessel little or great being filled to the brim. We shall be supremely blessed, for at the right hand of God there are pleasures forevermore. This is the hope of our calling.
Nor even now have we come to an end, for something more yet remains. You say, "Can there be more?" Yes, we expect to be forever in a condition of power, honor, and in relationship to God. We hope to be brought so near to God that all the universe shall distinctly see that we are courtiers of the palace of the great King, yes, princes of the blood royal of the skies. We shall be very near to God, for we shall be with Jesus where He is and sit upon His throne. We shall serve our God and see His face while we serve Him—and His glory will be reflected upon us and from us—and we shall be His dear sons and daughters in Christ Jesus forever and ever. There is not an angel in heaven with whom the meanest saint might wish to change estates, for though the angels excel us now, we shall certainly excel them in the world to come—we shall be nearer the eternal throne than any one of them, inasmuch as Christ Jesus is our brother and not the brother of angels. He is God-and-Man in one person and there was never God and angel in the same union. We shall be next to the Creator—let us speak it with bated breath but leaping heart—we shall be next to the eternal God, one with His only-begotten Son, who is one with Himself. This is the hope of our calling.
Oh, sirs, is not this worth having? Is not this worth striving for? When you count the cost, what cost is worth the counting? Might not a man for this lay down all that he has, yes, and his life also to keep this pearl of great price? And what if you should miss it? What if you should miss it? What if it could be proven, as it never will be, that there are no pains of hell and no eternal wrath—yet is this not enough— to have lost this immortality of glory, this immortality of honor and of likeness to God? This pain of loss—may none of us ever incur it—for it is hell to lose heaven. It is infinite misery to miss infinite happiness. To be within an inch of an immortality of bliss and honor and to let it slip by—will not this be an endless torment to the soul? To clutch the pleasures of an hour, all earth-stained as they are, shall we renounce the ecstasies of eternity? To snatch at bubbles which break before we can grasp them, shall we let unfading glories go? For the mere sake of dwelling at ease by escaping thought shall we let boundless blessings run by us, counting ourselves unworthy of them and so losing them? I pray that you may know "what is the hope of His calling" and that when you know it, you may cry, "I will have it. If it is to be had, by God’s grace, I will have it now." So may it be, for Christ’s sake.
And now I turn to the second "what" of the text and that is more marvelous still. I am sure I cannot preach the text out—it is too great for me, but here it is—"That you may know what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints."
Mark well that God’s people are by grace made to be His saints, His select, His holy ones—and then they are viewed as His inheritance. The whole world is God’s. The cattle on a thousand hills and all lands and seas are His and yonder starry worlds which in profusion are sown in space are all His. But He deigns to call sanctified men and women His inheritance in a special sense. They are His peculiar treasure, His crown jewels, dear and precious to Him. "The Lord’s portion is His people; Jacob is the lot of His inheritance." I want you to think of this grand truth, because practical results flow from it. If you and the glory of His inheritance in the saints." But how can God make riches out of poor men and women? They are believers in Jesus, but what is there in them that He counts to be riches—riches of glory, too?
We answer, first, He has spent riches of love upon them, for He loves them, poor as they are and sick and sorry as they often are. He loved them from before the foundation of the world—and you know how precious a thing becomes when you love it. It is a beloved keepsake and you would not part with it for a mint of gold. It may have little intrinsic value, but if you have long set your heart upon it, how dear it becomes to you. God has loved His people so long and so intensely with such an unbounded love that there is a wealth in them to His heart. Oh, that we knew something of "the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints" as measured by the gauge of love.
Moreover, the Lord has spent a wealth of wisdom on His saints. A material may be almost valueless at first, but when a wise man has exercised his thought and skill upon it, the value may be enhanced a thousand-fold. But God has thought of His saints forever. Eternal wisdom found her delights with the sons of men and occupied herself on their behalf before the foundation of the world. "How precious also are Your thoughts unto me, O God, how great is the sum of them!" God’s wisdom has exhibited itself at its full in the plan of redemption. I scarcely hear of His deliberating for any purpose except for the salvation of His people, but in that matter we continually read of, "the counsel of His will," to show us that, speaking after the manner of man, the Lord has reasoned within Himself how best to save His own people. His thoughts of wisdom and prudence have been exercised upon His saints and therefore it is that there are riches of glory about them.
What is more, when the riches of His love and of His wisdom had been expended, it came to pass that it was necessary that He should spend a life of suffering upon them. Look to the glorious landscapes of rock and hill and dale and mountain—turn your eye from grassy slope to snowy summit sparkling in the sun—and while you admire all things, remember that God has costlier works than these. None of these cost the Lord an incarnation and a death. Look, if you will, to all the majestic halls of heaven where the lamps of glory are lit with supernal splendor, but neither angel, nor cherubim, nor seraphim cost their Lord bloody sweat. Then look at His people—view "His inheritance in the saints"—for it is there that the Son of God, taking upon Himself human nature, sighed and groaned and sweat great drops of blood and felt the agonies of death. As the Lord looks over all that He has made, He sees nothing that has cost Him suffering and death till He comes to His people. Jesus knows what the saints cost Him. He estimates them at a rate usual among men, for men say, "The price is what it will fetch," and Jesus knows what His people fetched when He redeemed them by giving Himself for them. Measured by that standard, God has indeed riches of glory in His inheritance in the saints.
And then there comes great glory to God from the workmanship which He puts into His people. When He made the world it was with a voice. "He spoke and it was done." When He made the things that are, He had but to will and they stood forth—but in the making of a Christian it needs the labor of the Godhead—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit must all work to create a new creature in Christ Jesus. The Father must beget, the Son must redeem, the Spirit must regenerate—and when this is done, the Godhead’s omnipotence must be put forth to keep a Christian alive and to perfect him and present him "faultless before the presence of God with exceeding joy." An artisan can put into a small piece of iron of no worth at all so much labor that it shall be valued at scores of pounds—and the Triune God can expend so much workmanship upon our poor nature that a man shall be more precious than the gold of Ophir. Valued thus, the Lord may well speak of "the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints."
Now, as I want if I can to lead you into a sense of this glory for a minute, I should like you to accompany me while I speak somewhat carefully, but yet enthusiastically, about what the Christian becomes when God has perfected His work upon him.
Notice, then, that when at the last the believer shall have been perfected by the work of the Spirit, as he will be, man will be an extraordinary creature. Listen. God has made matter and upon matter has impressed His will and from the tiniest drop to the mightiest orb matter never disobeys the law which God imposes upon it. This is a great triumph. Call it "the law of gravitation" or whatever you will, it is quite certain that all inanimate nature is put under law by the Most High and that it never rebels. Huge as this great universe is, God has as complete power over it as you have over the ball which you toss in your hand. This is glorious, but still it is small glory compared with that which God obtains from His people when they arrive at heaven, for they will not be merely dead, inert matter governed by laws, but they will be full of life and moral freedom—and yet they will be as completely subject to the divine mind as are the atoms of matter. This will be an achievement indeed—to have produced free agents which will be under no control of force, but perfectly at liberty and yet will be forever absolutely obedient to the divine will.
Listen again. The perfected saints will be creatures of a very peculiar form, for they will not be pure spirit, dissociated from matter. I understand yonder spirits before the throne standing in their obedience because they have no materialism to hamper them and drag them down. Angels are spirits without material bodies and they obey God, listening to His commands, but a perfected saint is a creature in which the material is linked with the spiritual. Such are we now and I suppose, in a measure, such shall we abide—and yet there will be no sin in us, no violation of the divine command. Man is a strange mixture. He is next akin to deity and yet he is brother to the worm. We are partakers of the divine nature and the children of God—and yet as to our bodies we are linked to rocks and stones and grosser things. Man renewed by grace touches the center in Christ Jesus, but being man he sweeps the circumference of creatureship and includes within himself a summary of the whole creation. He has been called a microcosm or a little world and so indeed he is. Such a creature God is now perfecting. A being in whom dust and deity each own a kindred. Such a being, purified from taint of evil, shall greatly glorify God.
Think, again, dear friends. There once stood a bright spirit in heaven, leader of the angels, but the place was too high for him and the son of the morning fell from heaven and dragged others with him. God is making, by His grace, beings that will stand next to His throne, but will remain forever reverently loyal. They will be peers in His kingdom, but they will never be proud or ambitious. We, my brethren, though in full possession of our free agency, shall never fall from our eternal glory, but shall be forever faithful. We shall have passed through such an experience of sin, we shall so intensely feel our indebtedness to grace, we shall so fervently love the dear Redeemer that we shall cast our crowns at His feet and we shall ascribe our joy to Him alone and so shall never dream of revolting from Him. God is thus making beings that it will be safe to exalt to honors so near His own—will not this be a triumph of power and goodness? Can you think of it, that you will be one of such favored creatures, if indeed you are a believer?
These beings will have known evil. Think of that. The unfallen angels have never actually known evil, but in restored man shall be fulfilled the devil’s lie made into God’s truth—"You shall be as gods, knowing good and evil." They shall hate evil as the burnt child dreads fire and they shall love righteousness because by righteousness they have been saved—and in righteousness they have been created anew. How wonderful will that creature be which has known sin and remains a free agent—and yet will never yield to folly but abide forever in holiness held by bonds of love. Oh, when I think of the destiny of a child of God, my eyes sparkle, but my tongue refuses to utter what I think. What a being are you, O man! What are you that God should visit you? He has made you "a little lower than the angels," but in Christ Jesus He has crowned you with glory and honor and given you dominion over all the works of His hands, yes, in Christ He has raised you up and made you to sit with Him in the heavenly places, far above principalities and powers and your time to reign and triumph forever is hard at hand. How glorious is God in His people! God in Christ Jesus, seen in the church, who is like unto you?
Now, the point is that if this is the riches of God’s glory in His inheritance in the saints, you may read it in another way and say, "This is the riches of our inheritance too, for what shall we be if God is to have us for an inheritance?" Will you miss it? Will you miss it? Will you miss it? If this is a dream, I could wish to die rather than have the illusion dispelled. But it is fact, as God’s Word is true. Will you miss it, then? Oh, if there were crowns to be scrambled for, most men are ambitious enough to seek for one, though it might be a curse to them. If there is gold or if there is fame, men have but to hear the chink of the metal or the blast of the trumpet and many stir themselves to win. But here is honor, glory, and immortality in Christ—and it is to be had for the asking, it is to be had by simply believing and trusting in Jesus Christ—will you have it? Oh, foolish hand that is not stretched out to receive it! Oh, foolish heart that does not pray for it! God grant you to know what are the "riches of His inheritance in the saints," that you may seek to be a part in that inheritance and seek it now!
Now, the third "what"—"What is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power, which He worked in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places." I thought I heard somebody saying, "Woe is me! Woe is me! I hear of what man may be, I hear of what God may make of him, but woe is me—it will never come to my lot! I am so weak, so fickle, so irresolute, so frail. Woe is me! I am undone. I have no strength." Now, the third "what" is this—"That you may know what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us, who believe."
Now, learn this and know it, that in the conversion, preservation, and salvation of any one person, God exhibits as great a power as He manifested when He raised Jesus Christ from the dead and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places. The salvation of no man in the world is by his own strength. It is by the power of God, "for we are His workmanship." This fact should greatly relieve you who are discouraged—the thing is impossible with you—but it is not impossible or even hard with God. He that has worked us to the selfsame thing is God and He is quite as able to work it in you, my dear hearer, as to work it in the apostle Paul himself. God can do all things. Now, when our Lord Jesus lay in the tomb, He was dead, but God quickened Him. Jesus was imprisoned in the sepulcher and the stone at the grave’s mouth was sealed and guarded—but the stone was rolled away, the guards were frightened, and the Lord of life rose from among the dead. Every sinner is shut up in the tomb of sin by evil habits, but Christ can roll away the stone and the sinner can come forth a living man. Our Lord continued on earth among men for several days and despite human enmity, no man hurt Him for He had received a life and a glory which they could not approach. The saints also abide here among men and many seek to destroy them, but God has given them a new life which can never be destroyed, for He has hedged it about from all its adversaries. All the powers of darkness fought against the Lord Jesus Christ, but through the power of God, He conquered them all. I think I see Him now, ascending up on high leading captivity captive in the power of God. So, my brethren, you will be opposed by the powers of darkness and by your own evil heart, but you shall conquer, for God will put forth the same power in you which He manifested in His dear Son and you too shall lead captivity captive. I see the Lord Jesus entering the pearly gates and climbing to His throne. There He sits and none can bring Him down. And you too, believing in Jesus, shall have the same power to tread down all your foes, your sins, your temptations, till you shall rise and sit where Jesus sits at the right hand of God. The very same power which raised Christ is waiting to raise the drunkard from his drunkenness, to raise the thief from his dishonesty, to raise the Pharisee from his self-righteousness, and to raise the Sadducee from his unbelief. God has power among the sons of men and this power He puts forth in making them to be a people that shall show forth His praise. Oh, that you knew what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, because then you would fling away despair. There remains nothing for you in this case but to submit to the divine power. God will work in you—be willing to be worked upon. O Spirit of the Lord, work in our hearers this good will. Drop yourselves like plastic clay at the potter’s feet and He will put you on the wheel and mold you at His pleasure. Be willing, it is all He asks you—be trustful, it is all His gospel requires of you and indeed both will and trust He gives you. "If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land." Be willing to let go of the sin which ruins you. Be willing to learn the truth which will renew you. Be willing to sit at Jesus’ feet. Be willing to accept a finished salvation at His hands and all the power that is needed to lift you from this place to the starry gates of heaven is waiting to be shed upon you. God give you to know this and so to rest in Jesus and be saved.
II. The last word is to be upon the second head—WHY WE WISH YOU TO SEE AND KNOW ALL THIS. I have in effect been all along enforcing this second head as the sermon has progressed and so I shall not need to detain you many minutes, except with a practical recapitulation.
We want you to know the hope of His calling that you may not neglect it, nor set anything in competition with it. I tried, as my poor words enabled me, to tell you what a hope the calling of God gives the Christian. I charge you, do not let it go. I shall probably never meet the most of you again and if any shall say to you afterwards, "Well, what did the man say?" I would like you to be compelled to say, "He said this—that there is a future before us of such glory that he charged us not to lose it. There are the possibilities of such an intense delight forever and ever that he besought us to ensure that delight by accepting Christ and His way of salvation."
Next we want you to believe the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, that you may see where your hope lies. Your hope lies in not being your own any more, but in being the Lord’s and so realizing "the riches of the glory of God’s inheritance in the saints." The saints belong to their Lord— your salvation will be found in experientially knowing that you are not your own because you are bought with a price—yes, in admitting at this moment that your honor and happiness are found in being the Lord’s. If you are your own, you will spend yourself and be ruined—but if you are Christ’s—He will take care of you. Oh, if I thought that I had a hair of this head that belonged to only myself, I would tear it out. But to be owned by Jesus altogether—spirit, soul, and body—to be Christ’s man in the entireness of my being, this, I say, is glory, immortality, and eternal life. Be your own and you will be lost. Be Christ’s and you are saved.
The closing thought is this. We want you to know the exceeding greatness of God’s power that you may not doubt or despond or despair, but come now and cast yourselves upon the incarnate God and let Him save you. Yield yourselves unto Him that the great glory of His power may be manifest in you as in the rest of His people. I am loth that you should go until you have really hidden these things in your hearts to ponder them in the days to come. I set bread before you—do not merely look at it, but eat a portion now and carry the rest home to eat in secret. Our preaching is often too much like a fiddler’s playing. People come to see how it is done and then they pass round the question, "What did you think of him?" Now, I do not care two straws what you think of me, but I do care a whole world what you think of Christ and of yourselves and of your future state. I pray you forget the way in which I put things, for that may be very blundering and faulty. But if there is anything in the things themselves, consider them with care. If you judge the Bible to be a fraud and that there is no heaven to be had, then go—sport and laugh as you please—for you will only act consistently with your erroneous imagination. But if you believe God’s Word to be true and that there is a glorious hope connected with the Christian’s high calling, then in the name of prudence and common sense, why do you not seek it? Give no sleep to your eyes nor slumber to your eyelids till you find it. I ask the Lord’s people here present and I know that there are many such in the audience tonight, to pray that this appeal may have an effect upon many in this great crowd—that they may seek the Lord at once with full purpose of heart. O Spirit of God, work it, for Jesus Christ’s sake. Amen.
PORTION OF SCRIPTURE READ BEFORE SERMON—EPHESIANS 1; 2:1
HYMNS FROM "OUR OWN HYMN BOOK"—176, 757, 728.
LETTER FROM MR. SPURGEON:
DEAR FRIENDS—Accept my most loving salutations. May all grace abound towards each one of you and may your joy and peace be multiplied thereby.
I feel daily improving in health and strength; only my knees remain feeble. I still adhere to my determination, if the Lord wills, to preach on Lord’s-Day, April 13. May His presence then be with us all.
I earnestly entreat the prayers of all who know how to plead with God that when I return among you it may be in the fullness of the power of the Holy Spirit and that my usefulness may be increased a hundredfold. Surely all the suffering I have endured and all the rest I have enjoyed should bring forth some fruit unto God. Yet so feeble are we that we profit nothing unless the Spirit of the Lord quickens us. By all the affectionate interest which you have up to now shown in my ministry, intercede for me, I beseech you, that I may yet be made a blessing to myriads,
Yours in heartiest love,
Mentone, March 27, 1879