"But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.
"But God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God." (1 Corinthians 2:9,10)
Last Friday evening, at our weekly prayer meeting, it was my lot to dwell upon the pleasant and painful truths written by the apostle in the first chapter of this epistle. Pleasant in the first and last portions of the chapter. The first part, down to the end of ver. 9, describes the persons at Corinth for whom the blessings enumerated were designed. They were persons in union with the Lord Jesus Christ, and styled, "The Church of God which is at Corinth." "The Church of God"--not according to the world's acceptance of that titled, but according to Jehovah's decree, design, and determination. The Church of God is formed of the gathered-out ones, those who are gathered together by the power of the Holy Ghost to the name and to the person of Jesus, and to the enjoyment of the privileges and immunities which God has treasured up in Him. The Church of God knows nothing of sectarian differences or denominational distinctions. It requires not human laws or regulations to guide it, and all that man can do for it is but to perplex and distract. The Churchman will tell you that the Church of God is formed of those who have been sprinkled in infancy, confirmed in youth, and who remain staunch in their attachment to the Establishment. There are others who will tell you that only those who are immersed, who have dealt out their experience before the people, and have received the right hand of fellowship, are the Church. Well, I do not believe a word of it. The Church of God upon earth is composed of God's elect, redeemed and regenerate ones, who are gathered together to the person of a living Christ without the aid of any of those appliances which any hypocrite or make-believe can submit to. We see this from the Saviour's own testimony in Matt. 18:20, where he describes the true Church: "For where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them." There you have the Church defined.
Look at ver. 2 of this first chapter: "Unto the Church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus," separated in Christ Jesus. "Called Saints." I leave out those two words in italics "to be," because the people of God are not called to be saints, but before their calling are saints, and their calling declares them to be what they eternally are: "with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours." I like that! "With all that in every place." Oh, what a glorious declaration! Jonah in the belly of hell, down in the depths of the Mediterranean Sea; Peter on the house top at Joppa; John in the lonely sea-girt isle of Patmos. There are loved, yet tempted and tried ones up in dirty garrets and down in murky cellars, unknown and unnoticed by the world, yet belonging to Christ, and forming part of His glorious, elect, redeemed, and living Church loved by Him with an everlasting love. Paul's desire for all such is, "Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ." He knew that they could obtain neither grace nor peace from any other quarter. He thanks his God "for the grace of God which was given them by Jesus Christ." See how often he mentions that name, Jesus Christ. When you have a little leisure, get your Bibles and count over the number of times he repeats that name Jesus Christ in this chapter, and it will give you some idea how near and dear the Lord Jesus Christ was to the apostle's heart. "That in everything ye are enriched by Him in all utterance, and in all knowledge." O, say you, I wish I was blessed with liberty in prayer and in praise to pour out my heart before Him as I would. As you would? If He were only to indulge you that you might do these things as you would, the doing of them would make you as proud as Lucifer. He will not bless you according to your estimate of your wants, and will often fall short of that which you think you should have, yet perfection is seen upon everything He does for you and in you. Mark those two "alls": "All utterance and all knowledge." See! I am favored with all the utterance at His throne of grace that He designed for me. I am blessed with all the knowledge of God in Christ Jesus by the power of the Holy Ghost that He ever intended I should possess. I cannot have more though I may desire it. "Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you: so that ye come behind in no gift." (1 Cor. 1:7) What a marvelous fact: "Come behind in no gift." All the blessings bestowed by the Father upon me in the Son of His love--all the gifts and graces treasured up in Him for me, and for the safe conveyance and communication of which He has held Himself everlastingly responsible. Is that true? Ah, as sure as God is true, every member of the election of grace shall come behind in no gift. The gift of repentance comes in His own good time. The gift of prayer is experienced as my heart flows out towards Him when and where He will. The gift of a thankful heart is experienced when the winter of discontent is past and the time of the singing of God is come. The gift of a liberal disposition which can only be when God gives me to feel and prize His liberality to me. "Waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." Some would say, for the millennium. The millennium! See! It is waiting for a person, for a living person. We are here this morning waiting, not for His second, third, or fourth coming, for He has come again and again to our waiting hearts. Here we are waiting, and we cannot help but wait for the coming of Him whom our souls love. He has come by the power of the Holy Ghost with grace and glory to our hearts, giving to us the blessed assurance of the Father's love, and an experimental interest in the blessings of His kingdom. "Who shall confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ"--that is, in the day when He shall come to take the whole of His ransomed ones home to Himself. Then we have the precious declaration that "God is faithful, by whom ye were called into the fellowship of His Son Jesus Christ our Lord."
The other portion of pleasant truth commences with ver. 26: "For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble." There we stop. Our translators have added the words, "are called," but the subject is not so much that of calling as it is of choice. "But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not"--"God's elect not yet born, but who shall appear upon the stage of time--"to bring to nought things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence. But of Him--that is, of God--are ye in Christ Jesus." Why does Paul write this? Because of that state of things existing in the Church of Corinth described in that painful portion of the chapter, from ver. 10 to the end of ver. 25. Schism, contention, and strife were rampant. The apostle writes, "Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. For it hath been declared unto me of you, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you." See the honesty of the apostle. I sometimes sigh in my inmost soul, would to God we had the same honesty now-a-days! But instead of this we have confidential communications through the post or whisperings in the ear, "I have been told so and so, but I must not split. I repose the strictest confidence in you, but I must not give my author." O my dear fellow, you had better keep your intelligence to yourself. None of your confidence tricks here. Satan's mischief always lurks beneath these confidential communications. The apostle gave the Corinthians to know where they might find his author--in the house of Chloe. "Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ." I believe that those who cried, "I of Christ," were the worst in the whole lot. They simply used the name of Christ to hide their hypocrisy. The counsel of the Master in the days of His flesh was, "If any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not." (Matt. 24:23) The apostle asks the question, "Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius." Then he proceeds to show the folly of these divisions and disputings in the Church, and in ver. 30 writes, "But of Him," not of Paul, not of Apollos, not of Cephas, not of Christ; but of the Father "are ye in Christ Jesus." In Christ Jesus by the will, decree, and determination of the Father. In Christ by the Father's electing love. In Christ by the Father's predestinating purpose. In Christ experimentally and feelingly by the Spirit of the Father. In Christ sanctified. In Christ saved. In Christ secured. In Christ preserved all life's journey through, and at last in Christ eternally glorified. In Christ we are anointed. In Jesus we are saved, and Christ Jesus is made unto us of God the Father and by God the Father, "Wisdom." We need it, but it is a great mercy that we are not entrusted with it. Samson's strength lay in his head. In our great and glorious Head, far above all principality and power, far beyond the reach of sin, sorrow, or suffering, where the changes of this wretched world can ever effect it, there our wisdom is secure. "And righteousness." We are disobedient children: but Christ is our Righteousness. It is not simply He has wrought out a righteousness for us; but He Himself by His perfect obedience is our Righteousness, and we are made the Righteousness of God in Him. "And Sanctification." We loathe ourselves because of our corruptions, and we groan under a sense of our indwelling depravity; but Christ in the purity of His person and work is our Sanctification. "And Redemption." Christ our Deliverer from the curse of the law, from the power of sin, from the world, and from self. And then Christ is revealed as the sole Glory of the Church.
With the enjoyment of Christ as his All in all the apostle commences this second chapter thus: "And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God." You must not suppose for a moment that the apostle sought to be considered rude or destitute of taste in dealing out God's Gospel. He desired nothing of the kind. He says, "I came out to you with excellency of speech." Oh, no! He came to them in the person of Him who was revealed in him as his Wisdom and his Power. He came to them with wisdom; but it was the Wisdom of God. "And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom," or, as you have it in the margin, "persuadable words of man's wisdom." He knew nothing of such outrageous and foolish appeals as, "Jesus is ready to save you if you will only come to Him. Why will ye die, ye dead, why will ye die?" No such rubbish as that. "My speech and my preaching was in demonstration of the Spirit and of power." Paul preached the purpose of the Father, the preciousness of the Son, and the power of the Holy Ghost, and all this, said he, "That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. Howbeit, we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought: but we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: which none of the princes of this world knew; for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory." Such were not to know the manifold wisdom of God. It was part of the Father's purpose that they should not, but that in their ignorance should do whatsoever His hand and His counsel determined before to be done. (Acts 4:28) This brings us to the words of our text: "But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him. But God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God." A very precious text, containing truths so vast and glorious as to be beyond the reach of human conception, beyond the grasp of human reason, intellect, or understanding. However bright human reason may be, however brilliantly human intellect may display itself, or however ingenious and accomplished the human understanding may be--all fail to grasp a single truth of Divine revelation. But it is our privilege, in humble dependence upon the guidance and grace of God the ever-blessed Spirit, to dwell upon this precious portion for a little while. We will notice,--
I. THE PREPARED PERSONS--"Them that love Him."
II. THE PREPARED THINGS--"The things which God hath prepared for them that love Him."
I. THE PREPARED PERSONS--"Them that love Him."
Where are they? Where do they live? Where in Camberwell can you find them? Ah, my dear friends, you may look a long way sometimes before you come across one in this vast metropolis who really and truly loves a precious Christ, or a covenant God in Him. Where does love to the God of the Scriptures exist? The apostle Paul tells us in Rom. 8:7, "The carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be." This is not simply the mind of the infidel or of the debauchee; but the mind of the moralist and of the pietist, ay, of universal man from Adam's days to the present is, "ENMITY AGAINST GOD." Not only the mind of the unregenerate, but the natural mind of every regenerate man, woman, or child. Mark you, nothing is wanting but the time and opportunity for the display of the enmity of the carnal mind of God's children against Him. Just think of this for a minute or two. Have you had your nicely prepared plans for a little rest broken to pieces after many a hard struggle, after much tugging and toiling, after much sweat of your brow has been lost in endeavoring to obtain a competency for yourself and for those near and dear to you? Have you struggled and strained yourself to feather your nest and make matters cozy and comfortable, yet, in the mysteries of His providence, all your hopes have been blighted and your prospects blasted? Tell me, How does your old man put up with all this? You know very well that he does not put up with it all. He kicks, he rebels, and asserts his own importance, nay, he will actually arraign the great Jehovah at the bar of his puny judgment. Some of you may say, Oh, you get that out of your own mind! No, I do not. Those of you who are acquainted with the experience of Job and Jeremiah know well how these highly-favored men, when left to themselves, called into question the wisdom of God because of His dealings with their wretched flesh and their fleshly surroundings. "The carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be." This is true all the world over.
Well then may I ask the question, where are these prepared and loving persons to be found? Only where God has been pleased to reveal the perfection of His attributes by the spirituality of His righteous law, and bring poor sinners to see themselves in the light of His perfections, as corrupt, depraved, and hell-deserving, destitute of a redeeming feature with which they can approach the throne of the heavenly grace. But here He leaves them not to perish. In the riches of His grace and the fullness of His mercy, He opens up to them the treasures of His everlasting love. He comes just where they are in the time of their sorrow and despondency, and says to them when on the verge of despair, "Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love, therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee." (Jer. 31:3)
"Mine is an unchanging love,
Higher than the heights above,
Deeper than the depths beneath,
Free and faithful, strong as death."
The complaint of the soul that God has loved it aforetime, or from afar, gives evidence of the drawing of eternal, uninfluenced, immutable love. See how the apostle John speaks of the effect of this love in the heart and life of the children of God: "We love Him because He first loved us." (1 John 4:19) If we have the blessed revelation of this love to our hearts, we shall not be slow to acknowledge it. We shall say unto Him, We love Thee, O Father, for Thine electing and predestinating love. We love Thee, O Jesus, for Thy condescending and redeeming love. We love Thee, O Holy Ghost, for Thy regenerating, and restoring mercy. This is the love of the Eternal Three-in-One and One-in-Three. But how are we brought into the realisation of this? According to Rom. 5:5, "And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us."
As we are brought into the enjoyment and experience of this love, we may be left ofttimes to question its reality, and inquire how it is that the great and glorious Jehovah can manifest His love to enemies so great and to worms so vile. Sometimes we may be brought down to depths so dark, and to the companionship of those poor children of God who can do nought but write bitter things against themselves, some of whom even now within these walls may be sighing,--
"'Tis a point I long to know
(Oft it causes anxious thought,)
Do I love the Lord, or no?
Am I His, or am I not?"
As He settles the disputed point in our heart's experience by the grace and indwelling of His blessed Spirit, we shall frequently get not one hair's breadth higher than this,--
"Lord! it is my chief complaint,
That my love is weak and faint;
Yet I love Thee and adore!
Oh, for grace to love Thee more!"
That describes just the length to which we may be brought in the pathway of love, and it is a marvelous mercy to be brought even there.
Here, then, you have the prepared persons described as lovers. Their enmity to God has been slain by the revelation of a God of love to their waiting hearts. They are spoken of in the portion in Isaiah 64:4, from which the text is a quotation, as "waiting for Him." Lovers delight with eager expectancy to wait for one another. They are "a people prepared for the Lord," (Luke 1:17) styled by Paul in Rom. 9:23, "Vessels of mercy afore prepared unto glory." Prepared in the predestinating purposes of the Father. Prepared in the perfect salvation of the Son. Prepared in the new creation work of God the Holy Ghost. Blessed with the revelation of a preparing God and a prepared people, with ourselves among them, we may well sing,--
"Whate'er consists not with Thy love,
O teach me to resign;
I'm rich to all th' intents of bliss,
If Thou, O God, art mine."
We now pass on to notice the privileges possessed by this prepared people.
II. THE PREPARED THINGS--"The things which God hath prepared for them that love Him." You know I am one of those who glory in a preparing and performing God--a God who has prepared and who performs all things for His people--not a God who has left all the concerns of His loved ones to blind chance, wretched fate, or fickle fortune. Such a God as that will never do for me. I want a God, who, according to the Saviour's declaration, knows all my wants and necessities, and has made ample provision for them. He speaks of those whose wisdom led them to take forethought and make provision beforehand: "For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?" (Luke 14:28) Some sentimentalists would have us believe that because of certain expressions in God's most Holy Word, we are not justified in making provision for the future. I could not help laughing, about twenty-one years ago, as I heard two persons contending, one, that no provision ought to be made for the flesh, while the other, a free-grace Irishman, with a true swing of the brogue, retorted, "That Scripture says, 'Make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.'" (Rom. 13:14) But to the point. I love a providing and preparing God. Our blessed Lord also speaks of the folly of a king going out to war without first consulting the strength of his army against the enemy. Blessed be God, He, in the riches of His grace before the worlds were framed, sat down in covenant, and prepared, planned, and presented to Himself, in glorious perfection, all things to be possessed, experienced, and enjoyed by His people. His blessed Word reveals to us the gracious fact that He has prepared for them an eternal, incorruptible, and undefiled inheritance in Himself.
Turn to Matt. 22:2-10, where you read of the feast made by a certain king at the marriage of his son. He "sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding, and they would not come. Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner." Those who heard the invitation made light of it. He sent other servants, when those who felt the power of his word made much of it, and came in and sat down to the feast prepared by the king. You read again in Isaiah 25:6, "And in this mountain shall the Lord of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined." God hath prepared a glorious inheritance for His predestinated children; God hath prepared a glorious kingdom for His own elect; God hath prepared a glorious feast for His hungering and thirsting people; God hath prepared glorious things for His own loved Zion. When He at first calls them by His grace, He does not inform them of all the blessings, bounties, and benefits He has in store for them. If I am invited out to dine, I go trusting to the generosity of my host; it would be a piece of impertinence for me to ask what he had prepared for me to eat. How much more would it be for me to question the choice of the great and glorious Preparer and Provider of all good things when He calls us to His banqueting house, to sit with Him at His table, and partake of those royal dainties which He, in His love, has prepared for us! Blessed be His holy name! That has been true again and again in the experience of our hearts: "He brought me to the banqueting house, and His banner over me was love." (Songs 2:4) This is a blessed verse, which I cannot repeat too often, and would to God our hearts could thrill with spiritual delight as we think of it day by day:--
"Oh, I am my beloved's,
And my Beloved is mine:
He brings a poor vile sinner
Into His 'house of wine.'
I stand upon His merits--
I know no other stand,
Not e'en where glory dwelleth
In Emmanuel's land."
Let us notice a few of the things which God has prepared for His people. Come with me to that glorious resurrection and ascension Psalm, the sixty-eighth. At the tenth verse we read: "Thou, O God, hast prepared of Thy goodness for the poor." What has God prepared? The subject of the Psalm is salvation in the scattering of all the enemies of God's Israel by the sin-atoning death, the death-defeating resurrection, and the triumphant ascension of Zion's Redeemer: "Let God arise, and let His enemies be scattered; let them also that hate Him flee before Him." This is true not only in the work of redemption, but in the publishing of the same by Jehovah's redemption messengers. See verses 11 and 12: "The Lord gave the Word; great was the company of those that published it. Kings of armies did flee, did flee; and they that tarried at home divided the spoil." God reveals Himself on Sinai demanding. He reveals Himself on Zion promising and performing. He takes us to Sinai, and there justly asks us for that which we are not able to give. He teaches us our inability to do anything in the matter of our salvation, that we may honestly confess it to Him, and receive from His gracious hands the things He has prepared. Here I would ask, What has He prepared? The first answer is--
SALVATION. Yes, He has prepared a glorious and perfect salvation for His people. A salvation finished and complete. A salvation prepared according to dear Old Simeon's confession: "For mine eyes have seen Thy salvation, which Thou hast prepared before the face of all people." (Luke 2:30,31) The plan of salvation was prepared by Him before the foundation of the world. See 2 Tim. 1:9, "Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began."
"'Twas His own purpose that begun
To rescue rebels doomed to die;
He gave us grace in Christ His Son,
Before He spread the starry sky."
Salvation! What is it? It is perfect deliverance from sin, from the curse of the law, from self, from the world, from death, and from hell. It is a glorious transfer from the authority of darkness into the kingdom of God's dear Son; from dunghill depths to heights of glory in union with Him. Anything short of that is not salvation. But all this the Father has prepared for His own in the Person, work, blood, and obedience of Jesus. The God-Man came to save His people from their sins; (Matt. 1:21) and ere He quitted earth's dark regions, He could say to His Father: "I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do." (John 17:4) I rejoice to know that the salvation of my soul is so precious as prepared and performed by my God, that I cannot add anything to it or take anything from it. I cannot have a finger in that business. The preparation of it is all God's own. The performance of it is all Christ's own. The application of it is all the Spirit's own. The glory of it is all Jehovah's own. Again, I would ask, What has He prepared? The answer is--
RIGHTEOUSNESS. As a sinner saved, I am something more, for, blessed be His holy name, I am a justified and accepted child. He has prepared for me a glorious robe of righteousness. From Bethlehem's crib to Calvary's cross, from the virgin womb of His mother to the virgin tomb of Joseph of Arimathea, our blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ was a righteous Man--an innocent Man--a pure Man, without a spot of sin or a taint of corruption in Him--and all this for me. He perfectly obeyed God's righteous law, and thus wrought for me that righteousness without which I must have been cast out of God's presence for ever, but in which I find His presence is salvation. According to the work of the law in my heart I found myself to be a naked sinner before my God. But He said: "Bring hither the best robe and put it on him." In the design and workmanship of this robe I had no hand whatever. The Father planned, the Son performed, the Spirit applies.
"And lest the shadow of a spot
Should on my soul be found,
He took the robe the Saviour wrought,
And wrapped it all around."
Swain, in one of his blessed hymns, says:--
"How glorious was the work He wrought,
While dwelling on this earthly globe,
When each good deed, and each pure thought,
Conspired to weave our spotless robe.
Dressed in this garment washed in blood,
And ransomed from the powers of hell,
We now free access have to God,
And of His love and goodness tell."
A prepared salvation! A prepared righteousness! Everything prepared! What else can be spoken of as Jehovah's preparation? The answer from the Saviour's lips is--
A BODY. Listen to that glorious declaration by the apostle in Heb. 10:5, as he quotes Psalm 40:6-8. The Lord Jesus Christ there says: "A body hast Thou prepared Me." This was the real human body of Christ, in and by which the salvation and righteousness of His Church was wrought; He has also His spiritual body, in which the glory of His salvation shall be eternally displayed. Think of His wonderful human body for a little while. It was a body so delicate, beautiful, and comely, so full of grace and truth, that the Father viewed it with ineffable and unceasing delight. In it He could see no flaw, no disease, no mortality, no seed of death. No mortality? None. Immortality was there. Death could not reach Him, and He had to reach forth to meet death. He bowed His head to meet it, and gave up the ghost, saying, Father, into Thy hands I commit My spirit." (Luke 23:46) He also said, "I have power to lay down My life, and I have power to take it up again." But look at that innocent, immaculate, and impeccable body. Upon it He bore the whole load of His people's sins. In it He learned how to sympathize with His poor brethren in all their sorrows. By it perfect obedience was rendered to God's holy law. Through it all the blessings of the covenant flow to meet the wants and necessities of His pilgrim people here upon earth. Christ, as the glorious Head of grace, could look up into the face of the Father, and say, "A body hast Thou prepared Me." Salvation was accomplished by it. Suffering was endured in it. Sympathy abounds by it, and intercession ever ascends from it for me. Look at Psalm 61:7, "O prepare mercy and truth that may preserve Him." Mercy and truth met together in the great and glorious Head for all in living union with Him. (Ps. 85:10) Mercy for me when I am miserable. Truth for me when I am wavering. What else has God prepared for His own?
HONOR AND GLORY. Yes, He has prepared for them both honor and glory in union with the Lamb. Do you not remember how the mother of Zebedee's children said unto the Lord, "Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on Thy right hand, and the other on the left, in Thy kingdom?" Jesus said unto her two sons, "To sit on My right hand, and on My left, is not Mine to give, but for whom it is prepared of My Father." Think of that! Prepared nobility! Prepared dignity! Prepared royalty! All in union with Zion's King and Lord. In connection with this part of the subject we delight to contemplate those words of the King to His eternally-loved ones: "Come, ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." A kingdom of grace, righteousness, peace, and glory prepared, and possessed for them according to the Redeemer's words, "I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also." (John 14:2,3) We will notice in the last place--
GOOD WORKS. Ay, prepared good works for a prepared people. Having such preparation, promises, privileges, and immunities, what manner of men ought we to be in all holy conversation and godliness? Fleshly free-willers would say, It is yours to bring forth good works, to do good works, and perform good works, and thus show forth your gratitude to God. To such I would say, You had better go home and do them yourself. I will tell you what I like. I like a God preparing and performing all the way through, and we find by the grace bestowed upon us, according to Eph. 2:10, that "we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained"--margin, "prepared, that we should"--do them? No! "That we should walk in them." In the experimental possession of Divinely-prepared things, we can be satisfied with nothing short of Divinely-prepared good works, and these will manifest themselves in spite of the opposition of the devil and the incorrigibility of our wretched nature.
The statement of the text stands in striking contrast to that of the previous verse. Last Sunday morning I endeavored by the grace and assistance of God the ever-blessed Spirit to direct your attention to the persons and their privileges mentioned there, "Them that loved Him. The things which God hath prepared." It is my lot this morning to lay before you something of the contrast contained in the text. It reveals the utter impossibility for the human mind to grasp or understand Divine realities--the utter inability of the carnal mind to apprehend, hold, or retain spiritual verities. It will be ours then to notice that with which the text is contrasted.
I. THE CONTRAST TO THE TEXT--"Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him."
II. THE REVELATION IN THE TEXT--"But God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit."
III. THE THINGS REVEALED--Not simply which may be, but the things which are, and have been revealed to the hearts of the children of God by His blessed Spirit.
I. THE CONTRAST TO THE TEXT--"Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him." Here we have revealed the perfect inability, incompetency, and helplessness of the creature to apprehend, grasp, or retain the things of the Spirit of God. The carnal mind is utterly unable to lay hold upon spiritual verities. Mark! The natural eye hath not seen. The natural ear hath not heard. The natural heart hath never received "the things which God hath prepared for them that love God."
THE EYE is first presented to us in this statement of facts. When we consider this in connection with the persons written to, and the place where they dwelt, we wonder not at the apostle quoting this portion of Divine prophecy in proof of human inability to understand Divine truth. The Corinthians were an artistic, accomplished, and refined people, well-instructed in the arts and sciences. Architectural beauty met the eye on every hand. Grandeur and glory are seen even now amid the ruins of the place. If the eye was so cultivated and fastidious, we may well imagine what the pride of the heart would be without the constraining and restraining power of God the ever-blessed Spirit! But the apostle in the chapter before us points out the creature-humbling, Christ-exalting, and Spirit-honoring truth, that the revelation of God's mind and will to His people in Christ Jesus can only be by Himself, and that to His own nature; (2 Pet. 1:4) the new heart of his own bestowing; (Ezek. 36:26) the understanding given, (1 John 5:20) which He implants in the hearts of elect vessels of mercy. We see this in the statement of the apostle in the 6th verse: "Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought: but we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory; which none of the princes of this world knew; for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory." They had no spiritual appetite, taste, or desire for the revelation of God in Christ Jesus. There was no beauty in a crucified Redeemer that they should desire Him, and no charms in His Gospel that they should be drawn by it. The beauties of creation, but still more, the artistic production of men's hands, met their gaze, and with these their minds were wholly absorbed. Their whole soul was centered in earthly and sensual things, and I may say, which is in strict accordance with the apostle's reasoning, in devilish things. Let me ask, which ancient city was so corrupt and voluptuous as that of Corinth? You know the meaning of the appellation, A Corinthian woman. A term expressive of the lowest specimen of poor fallen humanity, which will give you some little idea of the morality of a place which was so refined, so elegant, and so beautiful to the eye. But with all this mental and intellectual cultivation the apostle says, "Eye hath not seen." The natural eye of man hath not seen the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.
See how this is set before us in many portions of God's blessed Word. The Lord Jesus Christ speaking to Paul says: "But rise, and stand upon thy feet; for I have appeared to thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee: delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in Me." (Acts 26:16-18) You see the eyes of their natural understanding were perfectly blinded with ignorance, error, and enmity. As Paul in 2 Cor. 3:15 says of the Jews, so it is true of all mankind: "the vail is upon their heart." The natural mind is blinded with pride, conceit, and ignorance. Nay, still more; with enmity against God, His Christ, His truth, and His people. There is no desire to see what He is pleased to reveal to His own, either in the beauty of His person, the glory of His kingdom, or the riches of His grace. We now come to notice--
THE EAR--"nor ear heard." The natural ear generally loves to dwell upon the sweet sounds of music. Eloquent strains from well-trained lips oft captivate the heart. Who among us loves not to hang upon the thrilling notes of Gospel music which flow from the lips of those whom God has blessed to the instruction, comfort, and consolation of His weary and waiting ones? How is it that thousands do not? Because the natural ear of man is wholly turned from God. But there is another reason, which I know is hated and scouted throughout the world; it is this: the demonstration of God's sovereignty in this deafness. He chooses their delusions. (Isa. 66:4) And Paul declares in awful but positive language, "And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie." (2 Thess. 2:11) Now if you will turn with me to Matt. 13:9-17, you will see that many heard the parables which were spoken by the Lord Jesus, but few received or apprehended their spiritual and heavenly meaning. "The disciples came and said unto Him, why speakest Thou unto them in parables? He answered and said unto them, because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. Therefore speak I do them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, by hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: for this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them." This quotation from Isaiah 6, you will find three times in the New Testament Scriptures. First, in the portion I have now read, then in John 12:37-40: "But though He had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on Him: that the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed? Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again, He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them." Now if you will come to Acts 28:25-27, you will find the very same quotation: "And when they agreed not among themselves, they departed, after that Paul had spoken one word, well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet unto our fathers, saying, go unto this people, and say, Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and not perceive: for the heart of this people is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them." If you will notice these three quotations, you will see that the first has reference to the Father, that in John to Christ, and that in the Acts to the Holy Ghost. Now turn to the portion quoted in Isaiah 6:9,10; where, after Isaiah had seen the glory of Christ in the temple, after his lips were touched with the live coal from off the altar, after his iniquity was taken away, and his sin purged, the Lord said, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me." He was very willing and ready to go, but just as willing and ready to halt when he understood the nature of his message to the people. "And He said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of his people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed." What does this teach us? It teaches me that God's Gospel is instrumental in opening the ears of some while it closes the ears of others. The Gospel when preached with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven causes some ears to listen with eagerness to its sacred music, while other ears are heavy and deaf to its charms. But we come down in the scale and find not only is the natural eye blind, and the natural ear deaf; but,
THE HEART is dead set against God and His truth--"Neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him." See, no more than water will enter into fire, or fire into water, without the one extinguishing or licking up the other. The truth of God as it is brought to bear upon man's natural heart is hated and despised. Why is this? Because of the very nature and disposition of the heart. Look at it as you have it revealed in Gen. 6:5, "And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually." It is wholly evil and unceasingly evil. You cannot affect any change in this heart, and God has not designed to work graciously upon it to render it susceptible of sacred or spiritual things. Again, look at Jer. 17:9, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?" There we have the challenge of Jehovah in the testimony of His prophet. Who can answer it? None but Himself. Come to Matt. 15:19. Here you have the Master's own description of the natural heart. He says, "For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: these are the things which defile a man." The human is a fountain of sin, pride, impurity, and pollution. What is the heart? It is the seat of the affections. Where are our affections naturally fixed? Upon the things of the world, in fact, upon anything and everything but God; they are wholly absorbed with things earthly, sensual, and devilish. Look at the testimony given in Rom. 8:7, "Because the carnal mind"--or, the minding of the flesh--"is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be." And in the very chapter in which our text appears, the apostle declares, "But 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." (1 Cor. 2:14) He cannot receive them, cannot comprehend them, cannot take them in; ay, something more than that, he truly loathes them, perfectly hates them, discards them altogether, casts them out of his sight. This is all that the natural eye, ear, and heart of man can do in reference to the things of God. Sometimes the devil with his seductive wiles will lead the mind to look at others in reference to these terrible realities, and unwittingly we are hoisted upon a pinnacle of Pharisaic pride, and find ourselves sitting in judgment upon these persons because their eyes are dull, their ears are heavy, and their hearts are hard. But as we are led and guided by God the ever-blessed Spirit into a right view of ourselves, we see, and know, and feel that naturally we are in the same state; we experience what they do not, that it is utterly impossible to receive anything from above but that which He is graciously pleased to convey and communicate to our wanting souls.
But how blessed it is for us to turn from this dark side of the picture and enjoy the possession of the eye, the ear, and the heart, which can perceive, receive, and retain, and which delight to hold in experimental possession the things which God the Father has prepared, and which God the Holy Ghost reveals unto them that love God. Look at John 12:21. The Greeks who came up to worship at the feast said unto Philip, "Sir, we would see Jesus." The longing desire of every Heaven-born soul on entering a free-grace place of worship where a God-sent minister stands up to declare God's Word, is, "Sir, I would see Jesus." Now the precious declaration of the apostle in Heb. 2:9, is, "We see Jesus." How is it that we see Him while He is hidden from the view of others? Because God has given to us spiritual eyesight, and the blessed Spirit reveals His Christ to us, according to Eph. 1:17, "That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him: the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the Hope of His calling, and what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints." There you have the eyes of faith which rests alone upon a covenant God in Christ. See Ps. 141:8, "But mine eyes are unto Thee, O Lord; in Thee is my trust." There is also the eye of fond affection described throughout the whole of that blessed book of Solomon's Song.
"The bride eyes not her garment,
But her dear Bridegroom's face;
I will not gaze at glory,
But on my King of grace--
Not at the crown He giveth,
But on His pierced hand--
The Lamb is all the glory
Of Emmanuel's land."
Then we have the spiritual ear given to all the living members of the election of grace. This is the ear which is closed to every voice save that of the Beloved. When His sweet voice is heard skipping over the mountains of covenant favor chasing before it all the guilt and condemnation of His bride, then His salvation is brought home to the heart. Mark! He speaks personally by the power of the Spirit to His longing, waiting children. That is a sweet descriptive scene in John 20:11-18, where Christ appeared to Mary; but she knew Him not. "Jesus saith unto her, Mary." She knew Him and immediately replied, "Rabboni; which is to say, Master." Those of us who have heard His voice and feasted upon His love can sing with the spirit and with the understanding also,--
"How sweet the name of Jesus sounds
In a believer's ear;
It soothes his sorrows, heals his wounds,
And drives away his fear."
There is also the heart, or the affection, which can receive nothing but Christ and His salvation, Christ and His love, and can feast upon those things which God hath prepared for His people in Christ Jesus and reveals to them by the grace and indwelling of His blessed Spirit. Thus we see that the eye, ear, and heart of all men out of Christ cannot receive the things of the Spirit of God. They contain no place for Christ, but are like the inn at Bethlehem, when a place was sought for the birth of the infant Saviour, it is said, "there was no room for them in the inn." (Luke 2:7) There is no beauty in Christ for the natural eye. There is no sweetness in Christ for the natural ear. There is no delight in Christ for the natural heart. There is no room for Christ in the natural man.
Our text is a quotation from Isa. 64:4, "For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside Thee, what He hath prepared for him that waiteth for Him." Oftentimes this is taken by way of text for the purpose of expatiating upon the glories of heaven. But see the folly of all this. If the glories of the heavenly world have not been seen by the eye of man, nor heard by his ear, nor understood by his heart, where is the wisdom of professing to preach upon those things which no living mortal knows anything about? But the portion quoted refers not to the glories of the future state only as grace is the foretaste of it. There is not the slightest allusion to them. The whole of the chapter has reference to present tense realities, and to the present spiritual experience of Divine blessings. You see this from the words of the text, "But God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit."
Another little hint here. Some of you may have noticed the misquotation almost invariably attached to this portion when referred to without the Book. Even good and gracious men who are taught of the Spirit, when left to themselves, without their eye rests upon the text, are sure to interpolate thus: "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man to conceive." Where do you find that word conceive? And what can the heart of man conceive? Divine realities? Never! Spiritual truths? Not for a moment! The things of Christ? It discards them. The honor of the Spirit? It denies it. The glory of the Father? It will have nothing to do with it. Now if you wish to hear something of what the natural heart can conceive, turn with me to Isa. 59:12,13: where the prophet speaks not of the reprobate and unregenerate, but of the living children of God with himself, who were mourning over their own evil ways. "For our transgressions are multiplied before Thee, and our sins testify against us; for our transgressions are with us; and as for our iniquities, we know them." There were too much concerned about their own sins to be occupied with those of others. "In transgressing and lying against the Lord, and departing away from our God, speaking oppression and revolt, conceiving"--there you have the word--"and uttering from the heart words of falsehood." There you see what the natural heart can conceive and do, whether in the children of God or in the children of the devil. But it is a blessed thing to be led by the Spirit into the glorious verities of the covenant, and to experience those things which God so graciously reveals in the Son of His love. We now glance at,--
II. THE REVELATION IN THE TEXT-"But God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit." We see that God in His marvelous sovereignty has revealed His covenant secrets to some and hidden them from others. A fact not very pleasant as it is sounded in the ears of religious human nature, for religious human nature hates and discards God's sovereignty. I have seen persons rise from their seats and leave the place when they have heard a faithful declaration of the glorious sovereignty of Jehovah, His right to choose the delusions of the reprobate, and reveal to whom He will the glories of His kingdom, the riches of His grace, and the love of His heart. It is our mercy to be led a little into the secret according to Matt. 11:25-27 and Luke 10:21,22: "In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit." There is nothing here about Jesus weeping over those who would have nothing to do with Him. You may depend upon it, when He drew near to the city and wept, His weeping was not over the wretched reprobates, but over His poor down-trodden, despised, and bruised ones there. "Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Thy sight." That is the only reason Jesus gives for this display of His discriminating sovereignty. Now turn to Psalm 25:14, "The secret of the LORD is with them that fear Him, and He will show them His covenant." "Or, as you read in the margin, "And His covenant to make them know it." He has arranged to make them know His covenant, and in His own time they must know it by the means which He graciously keeps in His own hands. "The secret of the Lord," the mystery of His love, the purpose of His grace, is with them that fear Him, whether they know it or not. See how the Lord Jesus Christ states this precious fact in John 7:16,17: "Jesus answered them and said, My doctrine is not Mine, but His that sent Me. If any man will do His will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of Myself." Does not that sound like an Arminian text? You see there is doing before knowing? Where are you if that be true? But it is the mercy of some of us to know that the true rendering of the passage is, "If any man be willing to do His will, he shall know concerning the teaching, whether it is of God, or whether I speak from Myself." These willing ones are only so in the day of Christ's resurrection-power. Now come to John 15:15, "Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of My Father I have made known unto you." You see that all things necessary for the spiritual education of God's children are made known unto them by the power, grace, and indwelling of the Spirit of Christ. It is by the Spirit that Christ opens up the revelation of the Father's will.
Revelation. What is that? It is the drawing aside of the veil of ignorance and error which has hidden spiritual, heavenly, and eternal realities from the view. It is of the good pleasure of our God that the veil is taken away from before the spiritual eyes of all men, women, and children in Christ Jesus, and the blessings of His grace, the fullness of His mercy, and the expressions of His love are revealed. Is that all? I answer, No. A revelation to a child of God will never satisfy him: but a revelation in him will both satisfy and assure of the Father's interest in him. See. Gal. 1:15,16: "But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by His grace, to reveal His Son in Me." Not the revelation of His Son to me, nor at a distance from me, nor even very near to me; but the Son in me, blessing me with the consciousness that my body is the temple of the Holy Ghost, and that my heart is His resting-place, where He will abide for ever and ever. This revelation of Christ is by God and His Spirit. You would see that the Divine Three are One in this work, from the three quotations of Isaiah 6. In John 16:13-15 the Holy Ghost is the Revealer of Christ: "Howbeit when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth; for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will show you things to come. He shall glorify Me; for He shall receive of Mine, and shall shew it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you"--that is, He shall take of the things of God and Christ and show them to those for whom they were eternally designed.
III. THE THINGS REVEALED--What are they? We read in Deut. 29:29, "The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law." They are our spiritual property, and we hold them in experimental possession, that by the teaching of the Spirit we may apprehend, know, and understand them. Look at the text: "But God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit." Prepared things! Revealed things! What are they? Redemption is a glorious mystery of grace revealed to God's elect.
"Eternal, free, electing grace
Redemption's bound'ry sets;
And those whom Jesus died to save,
The Spirit ne'er forgets."
Redemption is one of God's revealed things. Not general, that is a figment. It is particular and personal. I may contend with Arminians for particular redemption, but what will my arguing avail me if I am not conscious of my own personal redemption? and that I am standing in the defense of those things which God has made spiritually, experimentally, and eternally mine? If I am not redeemed, it will avail me nothing to know that God in the riches of His grace has chosen a portion of mankind to redeem from the curse and condemnation of the law, from all the fearful consequences of sin, from everlasting damnation and despair, bringing them into living and loving communion with Himself, and blessing them with the good hope that by-and-bye they shall enjoy His company for ever, while the others all left o despise, and wonder, and perish. That is a mystery hidden from the world, but revealed to the eye of faith, to the ear of hope, and to the heart of love possessed in union with Christ. The declaration of this is Heaven's own sweet music to those whose hearts sometimes thrill with gratitude at the mention of Jesus' precious name.
Revealed things! What are they? The Saviour says the Spirit shall reveal His Righteousness. See John 16:10. In the obedience and death of Christ, a righteousness was prepared for the people of God, not a righteousness which sinners may avail themselves of, if they will; not a righteousness proclaimed, to be appropriated by those who will embrace the offers of the Gospel. Offers of the Gospel? I know nothing of them as for a righteousness only revealed in the Gospel, that is no good to me. God's righteousness, Christ's righteousness, or the righteousness of faith only revealed in the Gospel, will yield no comfort or confidence to me. You ask, What do you want? I want that which my God and Saviour has promised to do. See Isaiah 46:13, "I bring near My righteousness"--that is, the righteousness He has wrought out for me, the righteousness which His blessed Spirit reveals in me, and the righteousness which the Father puts upon me. It is the righteousness of the law which is fulfilled in me by the witness and operation of the Holy Ghost. It is called the righteousness of God because He designed it; the righteousness of the law because the law required it; the righteousness of Christ because He performed it; and the righteousness of faith because faith receives and enjoys it.
Things revealed! Mysteries unraveled. Look at the mystery of the incarnation of our Lord and Saviour. God made Man, and that for me. The infinite God compassed in the womb of a finite woman. God filling immensity, and yet coming down to the lowliness of a babe; God, in human flesh, obeying His own law for me, suffering and sorrowing that He might succor and sympathize with me in those spots of trial and temptation through which I must pass to my home above. Many and marvelous are the things prepared by God for, and revealed by Him to, them that love Him. In His written Word. He has prepared a feast of fat things, and, in His Gospel, this is graciously revealed to His people.
Turn with me to Col. 2:2, where we have a precious mystery revealed to the faith of God's giving: "That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgment of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ"--that is, the Holy Ghost, the Father, and Christ. The Father's electing love, the Son's redeeming blood, and the Spirit's regenerating power. In the Divine Three-in-One "are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge." Therefore, all I can know spiritually and experimentally is not in Christ alone, but in the Father and in the Holy Ghost. Do I pray? It is as a son of the Father, a brother of the Son, and a scholar of the Holy Ghost. Have I faith? It is faith in the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Have I hope. It is the hope of seeing my Father at home, Christ in me the Hope of glory, and the Hope of brighter revelations of my Father's will by the indwelling of the blessed Spirit.
In 1 Tim. 3;18 we have another mystery set before us by Paul: "And without controversy, great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh." Unitarians and Socinians do not believe it; Papists and Arminians render it unnecessary. None but the living children of God, who have been brought by the Holy Ghost to experience their inability to do anything that is good, or to lift a finger in the work of their own salvation, can understand this mystery of godliness--"Justified in the Spirit." Did He bless some and curse others? He was justified in the spirit. Did He call some, children, and others, serpents? He was justified in the spirit. Did He take one thief to glory and leave the other to perish in his sins? He was justified in the spirit. During His whole life upon earth, in every thought, look, word, and action, He was justified in the spirit. "Seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles." This was a dig into the pride of the Pharisaic Jew, a breaking down of all walls of religious distinction in the sight of God. "Believed on in the world." There is no mystery at all in this, according to the free-will-to-good theory. The disciple of Arminius asks Mr. Fear-to-Presume, "Why do you not take God at His Word?" The answer might be, "I do so when God's Word comes to me, and is made mine." "Received up into glory." It will be a glorious time when the whole election of grace are received up to glory, to enjoy the place now possessed for them by their ascended Lord.
Now turn to 2 Thess. 2:7, where you will find another mystery mentioned: "For the mystery of iniquity doth already work." There are hosts of Protestants who can see nothing but the Pope and Popery here. These bellow against Popery, while they themselves have as much Popery in them as there is in the wretched old Pope himself. Mark! The apostle said, "The mystery of iniquity doth already work." That was before Pope or Popery had an apparent existence. Turn to the third epistle of John verse 9: "I wrote to the Church, but Diotrophes who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us." What! Is that language becoming the gentle, kind, and loving John? I thought his words were always soft so as not to hurt the most fastidious and delicate ears. Whatever you may have thought, John says, "Prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would; and casteth them out of the Church." Wherever this Diotrophes' spirit is found, there the mystery of iniquity is at work. The soul that feels the lusting of the flesh against the Spirit, knows something of the mystery of iniquity.
These are some of the revealed things. Now go to 1 Cor. 15:51-57: "Behold, I show 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 that giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." See! All the saints shall not sleep, but they shall all be changed. Marvelous mystery of grace! Blessed and happy are they who are partakers of the first resurrection, for on such the second death hath no power. "Neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection." (Luke 20:36) They live in their Head, and they live in their Heart. Their Heart and their Head is Christ, and there is no death in Him. Nothing shall by any means hurt or destroy in all God's holy mountain; but the hope and desire of our heart is to
"--see His face,
And never, never sin;
There from the rivers of His grace
Drink endless pleasures in."
"Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him. But God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God." He searcheth all things in the living experience of the living children, and the decrees and determination of Jehovah the Father in reference to the everlasting salvation and glorification of His people in Christ.
May He add His blessing for His name's sake. Amen.