"To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory." (Colossians 1:27)
In the sixth chapter of the Book of Proverbs, the Holy Ghost declares by inspired Solomon that the Word of the living God, the law and the testimony, are "a lamp and a light." And these words are added (three clauses indicative of the divine completeness of blessing that comes to us through the Word of the living God), "When thou goest, it shall lead thee; when thou sleepest, it shall keep thee; and when thou awakest, it shall talk with thee." Forgive any allusion to myself; for my part I have proved this, strongly and powerfully, through the recent weeks of my trial; "When thou goest, it shall lead thee." Oh, the Word of God, in the power of the Holy Ghost, is a guide! "When thou sleepest, it shall keep thee." It is a declaration of the faithfulness of our triune God. "When thou awakest, it shall talk with thee." It is very blessed in the silent watches of the night, when we are longing for morning, when we cannot sleep, if the Word of the Lord comes and talks to us in the power of the Holy Ghost, and we, too, are enabled to make some response; blessed is that communion. It comes in the power of a still small voice, it is the Word that liveth and abideth for ever. When any part of the Word comes with power, it is as we have it in the Revelation, "Yea, saith the Spirit." We are persuaded it is the Word of the living God to our own souls.
Now the latter part of this verse has been dwelling on my mind for several days, "Christ in you, the hope of glory." It has been one of the wells of the Saviour to me, and I doubt not for many who have a longer, deeper experience of divine things than I have been favored to receive. Let not any one here say, "This has nothing to do with me. The preceding verse says that the mystery is made manifest to His saints, and I am not a saint; and again, it is a mystery, and I am too ignorant to enter into mysteries." Wait a moment, dear friends. To whom is the gospel addressed? To sinners, and every one of His saints is a sinner; the great fundamental difference being that every saint is a convinced sinner, a confessing sinner, a sinner saved by grace, a sinner who has been set apart for a special purpose. As Joseph Hart sings:
"A sinner is a sacred thing,
The Holy Ghost has made him so."
Therefore, my text tonight is to every convinced, contrite sinner; if you are convinced, contrite, confessing, you have been set apart for a special purpose--to glorify God on earth, and in truth to enjoy Him for evermore.
What is "a mystery" in the scriptural sense of the term? It is truth beyond the comprehension of nature and sense and reason. A mystery is that which the Lord has hidden from the wise and prudent, from men and women wise in their own conceits, seeking to walk in such a way that no reproach may come upon them. You will never know the mystery walking along that road. A mystery is that which is revealed by the Spirit of God unto babes, and babes are just convinced confessing sinners. Babes are God's little ones, babes are men and women who have begun to pray, feebly crying in the night, yearning for the light, and with no language but a cry. Unto such God reveals these mysteries by His Holy Spirit. All we know that will save the soul, that will take us to heaven, that brings us into vital contact with the Lord Jesus Christ, is personal and experimental acquaintance with the glorious gospel of the blessed God. If my religion be only a theory, it will never save my soul. But when you come, as I believe I am coming, to the brink of the river, nothing but solid reality will meet your case then.
But Christ in you who are going to heaven is the hope of glory. In proof of this, let me remind you of the words in Romans 8: "But ye are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you," and where the Spirit is, Christ is. "Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, He is none of His." (Rom. 8:9) God help you to answer this question: Have I the Spirit of Christ, of God? The sacred Trinity of Persons are distinct One from Another, but the three sacred Persons are one God, and the Holy Trinity shines forth in all divine and attractive luster in the Person of Jesus Christ. I behold the glory of the Father through Him, in His great love conveyed into my soul, by His finished work on Calvary, and His ascension and session at the right hand of God.
In the Book of Chronicles we read concerning a saint of God in that dim and distant age (his name was Jabez) that his prayer was, "Oh that Thou wouldest bless me indeed!" How many of you are praying that? But will God answer a prayer like that? It is added, "and God granted him that which he requested." God will grant that which you request. Hence, "Christ in you, the hope of glory" is a blessing indeed. There is nothing visionary here, nothing wild here, nothing delusive here. It is sober, solid, divine reality. It is a secret made known by the Holy Ghost unto those that fear the Lord. Again, to refer to our Lord's words, addressing His disciples he declares, "Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God." (Matt. 13:11) Oh that the Lord would answer my prayer tonight, and give--am I asking too much? All here to know, effectually and experimentally, the mysteries of the kingdom of God!
Our text does not and cannot mean that our Lord locally, and in the body, dwelleth in you. The heavens have received Him till the time of the restitution of all things. (Acts 3:21)
"View Him now in heaven sitting,
Interceding for us there;
Not a moment intermitting
His compassion and His care."
It is as delusive to cherish any thought of a bodily indwelling of the Lord Jesus Christ, as it is for Roman Catholics to declare that He comes locally and bodily into the sacred wafer.
Now we come to this. Here is the enquiry, how does Christ dwell in you, in me, the hope of glory? And the Divine answer to that is this: by faith He dwells in the hearts of His people, and where He dwells He is the hope of glory.
The Lord enjoined upon Moses the erection of the Tabernacle, and afterwards instructed David and Solomon how to erect the Temple. Gold, silver, and precious stones were all employed. The building was to be the place of the manifestation of the God of all grace. Yet Solomon said at the dedication of the Temple, "The heaven of heavens cannot contain Thee, and this house which I have builded, what after all is it as the habitation of the covenant-keeping God of Israel?" The Tabernacle has disappeared, the Temple has vanished, but here is a temple in which Christ dwelleth, and surely if the Tabernacle and the Temple were framed according to the divine pattern, that tabernacle in which Christ dwells the hope of glory, must be more exceedingly remarkable and wonderful than either Tabernacle or Temple. What is the place where Christ dwells, the hope of glory? A regenerated heart, a new heart, a palace for the King where He has come to dwell, to leave it no more for ever. Where the Holy Ghost is Christ is; and in regenerated hearts, there is God's own workmanship, a palace for the King. Christ dwells in the heart by faith, He comes into the soul with power.
I know, you know, that often we complain, and bitterly complain, of darkness of mind. Oh, this is a sore exercise! But why do we complain of darkness of mind? Once though it pervaded the whole of our inner being, we were complete strangers thereunto. Remember the words of the Holy Ghost in Ephesians 5: "Whatsoever maketh manifest is light;" if Christ is in you, the hope of glory, it is the presence of Christ that manifests your darkness of mind. Christ dwelleth in the heart by faith. It means the inwardness of all real religion. Christ in you, that is, in your understanding, by His light. It is light from Christ, Christ is light, "I am the Light eternal." Who here, looking back upon past history and former experience, can declare, "Once I was blind, now I see. My understanding has been illuminated by the light in which I see the light. The Bible has become a new Book to me, and I see in God's own precious Word that which I never saw before." The light is not like that of the moonbeam, but a warm and fructifying sun.
Christ dwelleth in the heart by faith. It means that He reigns in the conscience. Holy John says, "We have seen the eternal Life." It is Christ who is the Life, and He cometh by His blessed Spirit, implanting His tender fear in the conscience, causing it to be sensitive on account of the exceeding sinfulness and guilt that are there. Christ comes into your heart to dwell there, to bring His precious blood to purge the conscience from dead works. Christ dwelleth in your heart by faith, in your understanding, conscience, will. God has no unwilling subjects in the kingdom of His grace; He makes poor sinners willing in the day of His power. (Ps. 110:3) Christ dwelleth in your affections by His blessed, condescending love. We shall see Him one day in the company of the spirits of the just made perfect.
He cometh by the Word of the living God, for He saith, "He that keepeth My Word abideth in Me." Now I ask this question of each person here, "Do you believe all that God has said of His co-equal and co-eternal Son in His own Word? Do you believe it? Do you receive God's testimony as recorded here: "This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased?" Is Christ precious to you? Your answer to this question will indicate to a large extent whether Christ is in you. Is He often in your thoughts, in your meditation, in your desires, in the movement of your soul Godwards? If He is in you, He must be this. Is this the tendency of your soul? Is this the way the tides are moving?
In the 11th verse of the 3rd chapter of this Epistle we have, "Christ is All and in all." If my life were spared a few years longer this one thing I would do, I would try by His grace to preach Christ more than ever I have done before. He is the Object of the child of God's trust, the Subject of His thoughts, and He will meet us at the end of the way.
What are your views as to the atonement, justification, sanctification? I won't put it like that now. "Christ in you," is to have the atonement in you. Through Him and His finished work on Calvary, atonement for sin, propitiation has been made. But Christ is the atonement, and instead of asking you your views about the atonement, I ask you what you think of Christ? Where can I see the atonement? By faith in a living Christ in heaven. The atonement is complete. Worthy is the Lamb that has been slain. If I as a poor guilty sinner am embracing His imputed righteousness to clothe my guilty soul, and my sole trust is in His precious poured out blood, Christ is in me; I have got the atonement.
Justification. A great many people here would find it difficult, correctly to define what justification is. They know it in their hearts. If I have Christ I have justification. Christ on the cross is the atonement; Christ risen, the manifestation of justification. It was completed on Calvary, and manifested by His resurrection. Sanctification. It is all in Christ. He is sanctification. All my holiness is Christ, all my justification is Christ, all my atonement is Christ. Hence we have, "Christ is All and in all." Without this interest in the Lord Jesus Christ your profession of religion is "Tekel"--Tekel, weighed and found wanting. (Dan. 5:27) Without Christ, Tekel may be written upon a minister, upon a church, upon a professor.
Let us speak next of Christ in you the hope of glory. Hope in God's Word does not bear the same significance that some dear children of God attach to it. Many of God's dear children can only say "We hope," in a sort of faint way. But in God's Word, hope means well-grounded confidence, an expectation that will not make ashamed. "Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward." (Heb. 10:35) It is sure and steadfast, entering into that within the veil. Now what is it that comes to us the hope of glory through an indwelling Christ? "The Spirit Itself beareth witness with our spirits that we are the children of God." You cannot divide the work of the Trinity; where the Spirit of the living God is in the heart of a sinner, Christ is; and where Christ is, the glory of the Father is revealed, as a light that shineth in a dark place. One in purpose, One in will, and One in love.
In the 8th of Romans we have this: "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." (Rom. 8:18) But why not glory now? It is the hope of glory now. We could not bear glory now, glory here. We should be overwhelmed, we should be smitten down. Grace sometimes is too much for us in our feelings, it is so wonderful. The glory that is to be revealed is glory which is yet to come. Think of it! In heaven nothing to mar or modify communion, that is glory; the body no longer the subject of languor or disease; no throbbing brow there, no suffering there, no trouble there. Sorrow and sighing shall take wings and fly away. Christ will be seen without a veil between, the All in all Christ, the Christ who died for me, the Christ who is risen to show that my sins are put away, and that nothing can condemn.
These words came to me very sweetly the other night, "His blood is shed for the remission of sins that are past." Sins past, sins present, sins future. Oh the glory of looking upon Him! His face is the sunshine of heaven, the joy of that innumerable assembly, the Church of the Firstborn. A poet has it:
"What must it be
A world of disembodied men to see?"
I have a thought--and I do not think it is unscriptural--that until the time shall come for the spirits of just men made perfect to resume their spiritual, their identical bodies, in the world of spirits, there is, perhaps, some vesture by which each one is known and distinct. When Christ shall withdraw the curtains of the heavens, and come again, this vesture will be no more, but the spirits of the just will come to rejoin their risen bodies, and oh, what a wedding day will that sweet morning be!
Christ is the hope of glory. Every man and woman here by nature is a condemned sinner. Every sinner here saved by grace, has been brought from knowing that condemnation because the blessed Lord has made an end of sin, because He has abolished death; and who in hell or on earth shall be suffered to reverse the great and glorious truth of justification? Christ has risen, and liveth to make intercession for us. (Heb. 7:25) It is all Christ--my righteousness and my strength. (Isa. 45:24) Every new discovery of Christ to the soul, made by that blessed Spirit, renews my inward cleaving to the Lord Jesus Christ; and every affliction springing up, it may be suddenly (but not by chance), sanctified by Him, renews also my inward cleaving to Him who is my All and in all.
"Christ in you, the hope of glory." In the 15th chapter of John, verse 4, our blessed Lord says (and where the words of a King are there is power): "Abide in Me, and I in you," and what are the words in the 17th of John? "I know them." The Apostle says in 1 Cor. 2:16, "We have the mind of Christ." Now that cannot mean that we possess in the slightest measure the divine infinitude of the mind of the incarnate Son of God. But to have the mind of Christ is to see, to know, to feel sin to be an evil and a bitter thing. That is what the Lord died for, the sin that was imputed to Him, the sin that was laid upon Him. What is sin to you? Is it a word? It is the most evil thing in the universe of God, and upon it God's wrath must descend. It descended on the Substitute, on the Sin-bearer, and apart from Christ it must descend upon the sinner.
The Lord did rejoice in the gospel. "Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the Majesty on high." (Heb. 1:3) There are times in our spiritual history when we are broken down, when we are melted by a realization of the amazing love of God to us in Christ Jesus the Lord. To have the mind of Christ is to possess love in measure to His Church. He loved His people, and loves them with an everlasting love; and by this "we know we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren." (1 John 3:14)
To have the mind of Christ is to view from our limited standpoint time and eternity as He did--eternal things, eternal salvation, eternity. "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you. (Matt. 6:33) The rich man said, "I have great riches, much laid up in barns and storehouses," and the Lord said to him, "Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee."
Christ has cleared my title to that fair inheritance where the redeemed are gathering. Christ in me by His blessed Spirit is my meetness for that place. In how many ways, and by how many means, has our Lord provided that He shall be with His people? By His incarnation, by the Holy Ghost. He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. By His word, by His Father's love.
"I in Christ, and Christ in me,
In covenant bond it stands."
"What from Christ that soul shall sever,
Bound by everlasting bands?
Once in Him, in Him for ever;
Thus the eternal covenant stands.
None shall pluck thee
From the Strength of Israel's hands."
May the Lord add His blessing. Amen.