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Special Thanksgiving to the Father
Delivered on Sabbath Evening, January 15th, 1860, by the
REV. C.H. SPURGEON
At New Park Street Chapel, Southwark.
MY DEAR BRETHREN,
I have journeyed happily to the borders of Switzerland, and already feel that the removing of the yoke from the shoulder is one of the readiest means of restoring the metal powers. Much of Popish superstition and idolatry has passed under my observation, and if nothing else could make me a Protestant, what I have seen would do so. One thing I have learned anew, which I would have all my brethren learn, the power of a personal Christ. We Protestants are too apt to make doctrine everything, and the person of Christ is not held in sufficient remembrance; with the Roman Catholic doctrine is nothing, but the person is ever kept in view. The evil is, that the image of Christ before the eye of the Papist is carnal and not spiritual; but could we always keep o'er Lord before our eyes, his spiritual sense, we should be better men than any set of doctrines can ever make us. The Lord give to us to abide in him and so to bring forth much fruit.
Baden-Baden, June 15th, 1860 C. H. Spurgeon.
"Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son." Colossians 1:12-13 .
THIS PASSAGE IS A MINE of riches. I can anticipate the difficulty in preaching and the regret in concluding we shall experience this evening because we are not able to dig out all the gold which lies in this precious vein. We lack the power to grasp and the time to expatiate upon that volume of truths which is here condensed into a few short sentences.
We are exhorted to "give thanks unto the Father." This counsel is at once needful and salutary. I think, my brethren, we scarcely need to be told to give thanks unto the Son. The remembrance of that bleeding body hanging upon the cross is ever present to our faith. The nails and the spear, his griefs, the anguish of his soul, and his sweat of agony, make ouch tender touching appeals to our gratitude these will prevent us always from ceasing our songs, and sometimes fire our hearts with rekindling rapture in praise of the man Christ Jesus. Yes we will bless thee, dearest Lord; our souls are all on fire. As we survey the, wondrous cross, we cannot but shout
"O for this love let rocks and hills
Their lasting silence break,
And all harmonious human tongues
The Savior's praises speak."
It is in a degree very much the same with the Holy Spirit. I think we are compelled to feel every day our dependence upon his constant influence. He abides with us as a present and personal Comforter and Counsellor. We, therefore, do praise the Spirit of Grace, who hath made our heart his temple, and who works in us all that is gracious, virtuous, and well-pleasing in the sight of God. If there be any one Person in the Trinity whom we are more apt to forget than another in our praises, it is God the Father. In fact there are some who even get a wrong idea of Him, a slanderous idea of that God whose name is LOVE. They imagine that love dwelt in Christ, rather than in the Father, and that our salvation is rather due to the Son and the Holy Spirit, than to our Father God. Let us not be of the number of the ignorant, but let us receive this truth. We are as much indebted to the Father as to any other Person of the Sacred Three. He as much and as truly loves us as any of the adorable Three Persons. He is as truly worthy of our highest praise as either the Son or the Holy Spirit.
A remarkable fact, which we should always bear in mind, is this: in the Holy Scriptures most of the operations which are set down as being the works of the Spirit, are in other Scriptures ascribed to God the Father. Do we say it is God the Spirit that quickens the sinner who is dead in sin? it is true; but you will find in another passage it is said "The Father quickeneth whom he will." Do we say that the Spirit is the sanctifier, and that the sanctification of the soul is wrought by the Holy Ghost? You will find a passage in the opening of the Epistle of St. Jude, in which it is said, "Sanctified by God the Father." Now, how are we to account for this? I think it may be explained thus. God the Spirit cometh from God the Father, and therefore whatever acts are performed by the Spirit are truly done by the Father, because he sendeth forth the Spirit. And again, the Spirit is often the instrument though I say not this in any way to derogate from his glory he is often the instrument with which the Father works. It is the Father who says to the dry bones, live; it is the Spirit who, going forth with the divine word, makes them live. The quickening is due as much to the word as to the influence that went with the word; and as the word came with all the bounty of free grace and goodwill from the Father, the quickening is due to him. It is true that the seal on our hearts is the Holy Spirit, he is the seal, hut it is the Eternal Father's hand that stamps the seal; the Father communicates the Spirit to seal our adoption. The works of the Spirit are, many of them, I repeat it again, attributed to the Father, because he worketh in, through, and by the Spirit.
The works of the Son of God, I ought to observe are every one of them in intimate connection with the Father. If the Son comes into the world, it is because the Father sends him; if the Son calls his people, it is because his Father gave this people into his hands. If the Son redeems the chosen race, is not the Son himself the Father's gift, and doth not God send his Son into the world that we may live through him? So that the Father, the great Ancient of Days, is ever to be extolled; and we must never omit the full homage of our hearts to him when we sing that sacred doxology,
"Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost."
In order to excite your gratitude to God the Father to-night, I propose to dilate a little upon this passage, as God the Holy Spirit shall enable me. If you will look at the text, you will see two blessings in it. The first has regard to the future; it is a meetness for the inheritance of the saints in light. The second blessing, which must go with the first, for indeed it is the cause of the first, the effective cause, has relation to the past. Here we read of our deliverance from the power of darkness. Let us meditate a little upon each of these blessings, and then, in the third place, I will endeavor to show the relation which exists between the two.
I. The first blessing introduced to our notice is this "God the Father has made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light." It is a PRESENT BLESSING. Not a mercy laid up for us in the covenant, which we have not yet received, but it is a blessing which every true believer already has in his hand. Those mercies in the covenant of which we have the earnest now while we wait for the full possession, are just as rich, and just as certain as those which have been already with abundant lovingkindness bestowed on us, but still they are not so precious in our enjoyment. The mercy we have in store, and in hand is after all, the main source of our present comfort. And oh what a blessing this! "Made meet for the inheritance of the saints in light." The true believer is fit for heaven; he is meet to be a partaker of the inheritance and that now, at this very moment. What does this mean? Does it mean that the believer is perfect; that he is free from sin? No, my brethren, where shall you ever find such perfection in this world? If no man can be a believer but the perfect man, then what has the perfect man to believe? Could he not walk by sight? When he is perfect, he may cease to be a believer. No, brethren, it is not such perfection that is meant although perfection is implied, and assuredly will be given as the result. Far less does this mean that we have a right to eternal life from any doings of our own. We have a fitness for eternal life, a meetness for it, but we have no desert of it. We deserve nothing of God even now, in ourselves. but his eternal wrath and his infinite displeasure. What, then, does It mean? Why, it means just this: we are so far meet that we are accepted in the Beloved, adopted into the family, and fitted by divine approbation to dwell with the saints in light There is a woman chosen to be a bride; she is fitted to be married, fitted to enter into the honorable state and condition of matrimony; but at present she has not on the bridal garment, she is not like the bride adorned for her husband. You do not see her yet robed in her elegant attire, with her ornaments upon her, but you know she is fitted to be a bride, she is received and welcomed as such in the family of her destination. So Christ has chosen his Church to be married to him; she has not yet put on her bridal garment, beautiful array in which she shall stand before the father's throne, but notwithstanding, there is such a fitness in her to be the bride of Christ, when she shall have bathed herself for a little while, and lain for a little while in the bed of spices there is such a fitness in her character, such a grace given adaptation in her to become the royal bride of her glorious Lord, and to become a partaker of the enjoyments of bliss that it may be said of the church as a whole, and of every member of it, that they are "meet for the inheritance of the saints in light."
The Greek word, moreover, bears some such meaning as this though I cannot give the exact idiom, it is always difficult when a word is not used often. This word is only used twice that I am aware of, in the New Testament. The word may be employed for "suitable," or, I think, "sufficient" "He hath made us meet" sufficient "to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light." But I cannot give my idea without borrowing another figure. When a child is born, it is at once endowed with all the faculties of humanity. If those powers are awanting at first, they will not come afterwards. It has eyes, it has hands, it has feet, and all its physical organs. These of course are as it were in embryo. The senses though perfect at first, must be gradually developed, and the understanding gradually matured. It can see but little, it cannot discern distances. it can hear, but it cannot hear distinctly enough at first to know from what direction the sound comes; but you never find a new leg, a new arm, a new eye, or a new ear growing on that child. Each of these powers will expand and enlarge, but still there is the whole man there at first, and the child is sufficient for a man. Let but God in his infinite providence cause it to feed, and give it strength and increase, it has sufficient for manhood. It does not want either arm or leg, nose or ear. you cannot make it grow a new member; nor does it require a near member either; all are there. In like manner, the moment a man is regenerated, there is every faculty in his new creation that there shall be, even when he gets to heaven. It only needs to be developed and brought out: he will not have a new power, he will not have a new grace, he will have those which he had before, developed and brought out. Just as we are told by the careful observer, that in the acorn there is in embryo every root and every bough and every leaf of the future tree, which only requires to be developed and brought out in their fullness. So, in the true believer, there is a sufficiency or meetness for the inheritance of the saints in light. All that he requires is, not that a new thing should be implanted, but that that which God has put there in the moment of regeneration, shall be cherished and nurtured, and made to grow and increase, till it comes unto perfection and he enters into "the inheritance of the saints in light." This is, as near as I can give it to you, the exact meaning and literal interpretation of the text, as I understand it.
But you may say to me, "In what sense is this meetness or fitness for eternal life the work of God the Father? Are we already made meet for heaven? How is this the rather's work?" Look at the text a moment, and I will answer you in three ways.
What is heaven? We read it is an inheritance. Who are fit for an inheritance? Sons. Who makes us sons? "Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be galled the sons of God." A son is fitted for an inheritance. The moment the son is born he is fitted to be an heir. All that is wanted is that he shall grow up and be capable of possession. But he is fit for an inheritance at first. If he were not a son he could not inherit as an heir. Now as soon as ever we become sons we are meet to inherit. There is in us an adaptation, a power and possibility for us to have an inheritance. This is the prerogative of the Father, to adopt us into his family, and to "beget us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead." And do you not see, that as adoption is really the meetness for inheritance, it is the Father who hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light?"
Again, heaven is an inheritance; but whose inheritance is it? It is an inheritance of the saints. It is not an inheritance of sinners, but of saints that is, of the holy ones of those who have been made saints by being sanctified. Turn then, to the Epistle of Jude, and you will see at once who it is that sanctified. You will observe the moment you fix your eye upon the passage that it is God the Father. In the first verse you read, "Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father." It is an inheritance for saints: and who are saints? The moment a man believes in Christ, he may know himself to have bean truly set apart in the covenant decree; and he finds consecration, if I may so speak, verified in his own experience, for he has now become "a new creature in Christ Jesus," separated from the rest of the world, and then it is manifest and made known that God has taken him to be his son for ever. The meetness which I must have, in order to enjoy the inheritance of the saints in light, is my becoming a son. God hath made me and all believers sons, therefore we are meet for the inheritance; so then that meetness has come from the Father. How meetly therefore doth the Father claim our gratitude, our adoration and our love!
You will however observe, it is not merely said that heaven is the inheritance of the saints, but that it is "the inheritance of the saints in light." So the saints dwell in light the light of knowledge, the light of purity, the light of joy, the light of love, pure ineffable love, the light of everything that is glorious and ennobling. There they dwell, and if I am to appear meet for that inheritance, what evidence must I have? I must have light shining into my own soul. But where can I get it? Do I not read that "every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and Cometh down" yea verily, but from whom? From the Spirit? No "from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning." The preparation to enter into the inheritance in light is light. and light comes from the Father of lights; therefore, my meetness, if I have light in myself, is the work of the Father, and I must give him praise. Do you see then, that as there are three words used here "the inheritance of the saints in light," so we have a threefold meetness? We are adopted and made sons. God hath sanctified us and set us apart. And then, again, he hath put light into our hearts. All this, I say, is the work of the Father, and in this sense, we are "meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light."
A few general observations here. Brethren, I am persuaded that if an angel from heaven were to come to-night and single out any one believer from the crowd here assembled, there is not one believer that is unfit to be taken to heaven. You may not be ready to be taken to heaven now; that is to say, if I foresaw that you were going to live, I would tell you you were unfit to die, in a certain sense. But were you to die now in your pew, if you believe in Christ, you are fit for heaven. You have a meetness even now which would take you there at once, without being committed to purgatory for a season. You are even now fit to be "partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light." You have but to gasp out your last breath and you shall be in heaven, and there shall not be one spirit in heaven more fit for heaven than you, nor one soul more adapted for the place than you are. You shall be just as fitted for its element as those who are nearest to the eternal throne.
Ah! this makes the heirs of glory think much of God the Father. When we reflect, my brethren, upon our state by nature, and how fit we are to be fire-brands in the flames of hell yet to think that we are this night, at this very moment if Jehovah willed it, fit to sweep the golden harps with joyful fingers, that this head is fit this very night to wear the everlasting crown, that these loins are fit to be girded with that fair white robe throughout eternity, I say, this makes us think gratefully of God the Father; this makes us clap our hands with joy, and say, "thanks be unto God the Father, who hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light." Do ye not remember the penitent thief? It was but a few minutes before that he had been cursing Christ. I doubt not that he had joined with the other, for it is said, "They that were crucified with him reviled him." Not one, but both; they did it. And then a gleam of supernatural glory lit up the face of Christ, and the thief saw and believed. And Jesus said unto him, "Verily I say unto thee, this day," though the sun is setting, "this day shalt thou be with me in Paradise." No long preparation required, no sweltering in purifying fires. And so shall it be with us. We may have been in Christ Jesus to our own knowledge but three weeks, or we may have been in him for ten years, or threescore years and ten the date of our conversion makes no difference in our meetness for heaven, in a certain sense. True indeed the older we grow the more grace we have tasted, the riper we are becoming, and the fitter to be housed in heaven; but that is in another sense of the word, the Spirit's meetness which he gives. But with regard to that meetness which the Father gives, I repeat, the blade of corn, the blade of gracious wheat that has just appeared above the surface of conviction, is as fit to be carried up to heaven as the full-grown corn in the ear. The sanctification wherewith we are sanctified by God the Father is not progressive, it Is complete at once, we are now adapted for heaven, now fitted for it, and we shall enter into the joy of our Lord.
Into this subject I might have entered more fully; but I have not time. I am sure I have left some knots untied, and you must untie them if you can yourselves; and let me recommend you to untie them on your knees the mysteries of the kingdom of God are studied much the best when you are in prayer.
II. The second mercy is A MERCY THAT LOOKS BACK. We sometimes prefer the mercies that look forward, because they unfold such a bright prospect.
"Sweet fields beyond the swelling flood."
But here is a mercy that looks backward; turns its back, as it were, on the heaven of our anticipation, and looks back on the gloomy past, and the dangers from which we have escaped. Let us read the account of it "Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son." This verse is an explanation of the preceding, as we shall have to show in a few minutes. But just now let us survey this mercy by itself. Ah! my brethren, what a description have we here of what matter of men we used to be. We were under "the power of darkness." Since I have been musing on this text, I have turned these words over and over in my mind "the power of darkness!" It seems to me one of the most awful expressions that man ever attempted to expound. I think I could deliver a discourse from it, if God the Spirit helped me, which might make every bone in your body shake. "The power of darkness!" We all know that there is a moral darkness which exercises its awful spell over the mind of the sinner. Where God is unacknowledged the mind is void of judgment. Where God is unworshipped the heart of man becomes a ruin. The chambers of that dilapidated heart are haunted by ghostly fears and degraded superstitions. The dark places of that reprobate mind are tenanted by vile lusts and noxious passions, like vermin and reptiles, from which in open daylight we turn with disgust. And even natural darkness is tremendous. In the solitary confinement which is practiced in some of our penitentiaries the very worst results would be produced if the treatment were prolonged. If one of you were to be taken to-night and led into some dark cavern, and left there, I can imagine that for a moment, not knowing your fate, you might feel a child-like kind of interest about it; there might be, perhaps, a laugh as you found yourselves in the dark; there might for the moment, from the novelty of the position, be some kind of curiosity excited. There might, perhaps, be a flush of silly joy. In a little time you might endeavor to compose yourself to sleep; possibly you night sleep; but if you should awake, and still find yourself down deep in the bowels of earth, where never a ray of sun or candle light could reach you; do you know the next feeling that would come over you? It would be a kind of idiotic thoughtlessness. You would find it impossible to control your desperate imagination. You heart would say, "O God I am alone, alone, alone, in this dark place." How would you cast your eyeballs all around, and never catching a gleam of light, your mind would begin to fail. Your next stage would be one of increasing terror. You would fancy that you saw something, and then you would cry, "Ah! I would I could see something, were it foe or fiend!" You would feel the dark sides of your dungeon. You would begin to "scribble on the walls," like David before king Achish. Agitation would cease hold upon you, and it you were kept there much longer, delirium and death would be the consequence. We have heard of many who have been taken from the penitentiary to the lunatic asylum; and the lunacy is produced partly by the solitary confinement, and partly by the darkness in which they are placed. In a report lately written by the Chaplain of Newgate, there are some striking reflections upon the influence of darkness in a way of discipline. Its first effect is to shut the culprit up to his own reflections, and make him realize his true position in the iron grasp of the outraged law. Methinks the man that has defied his keepers, and come in there cursing and swearing, when he has found himself alone in darkness, where he cannot even hear the rattling of carriages along the streets, and can see no light whatever, is presently cowed; he gives in, he grows tame. "The power of darkness" literally is something awful. If I had time, I would enlarge upon this subject. We cannot properly describe what "the power of darkness" is, even in this world. The sinner is plunged into the darkness of his sins, and he sees nothing, he knows nothing. Let him remain there a little longer, and that joy of curiosity, that hectic joy which he now has in the path of sin, will die away, and there will come over him a spirit of slumber. Sin will make him drowsy, so that he will not hear the voice of the ministry, crying to him to escape for his life. Let him continue in it, and it will by-and-bye make him spiritually an idiot. He will become so in sin, that common reason will be lost on him. All the arguments that a sensible man will receive, will be only wasted on him. Let him go on, and he will proceed from bad to worse, till he acquires the raving mania of a desperado in sin; and let death step in, and the darkness will have produced its full effect; he will come into the delirious madness of hell. Ah! it needs but the power of sin to make a man more truly hideous than human thought can realize, or language paint. Oh "the power of darkness!"
Now, my brethren, all of us were under this power once. It is but a few months a few weeks with some of you since you were under the power of darkness and of sin. Some of you had only got as far as the curiosity of it; others had got as far as the sleepiness of it; a good many of you had got as far as the apathy of it; and I do not know but some of you had got almost to the terror of it. You had so cursed and swore; so yelled ye out your blasphemies, that you seemed to be ripening for hell; but, praised and blessed be the name of the Father, he has "translated you from the power of darkness, into the kingdom of his dear Son."
Having thus explained this term, "the power of darkness," to show you what you were, let us take the next word, "and hath translated us." Whet a angular word this "translated" is. I dare say you think it means the process by which a word is interpreted, when the sense is retained, while the expression is rendered in another language. That is one meaning of the word "translation," but it is not the meaning here. The word is used by Josephus in this sense the taking away of a people who have been dwelling in a certain country, and planting them in another place. This is called a translation. We sometimes hear of a bishop being translated or removed from one see to another. Now, if you want to have the idea explained, give me your attention while I bring out an amazing instance of a great translation. The children of Israel were in Egypt under taskmasters that oppressed them very sorely, and brought them into iron bondage. What did God do for these people? There were two millions of them. He did not temper the tyranny of the tyrant; he did not influence his mind, to give them a little more liberty; but he translated his people; he took the whole two millions bodily, with a high hand and outstretched arm, and led them through the wilderness, and translated them into the kingdom of Canaan; and there they were settled. What an achievement was that, when, with their flocks and their herds, and their little ones, the whole host of Israel went out of Egypt, crossed the Jordan, and came into Canaan! My dear brethren, the whole of it was not equal to the achievement of God's powerful grace, when he! brings one poor sinner out of the region of sin into the kingdom of holiness and peace. It was easier for God to bring Israel out of Egypt, to split the Red Sea, to make a highway through the pathless wilderness, to drop manna from heaven, to send the whirlwind to drive out the kings; it was easier for Omnipotence to do all this, than to translate a man from the power of darkness into the kingdom of his dear Son. This is the grandest achievement of Omnipotence. The sustenance of the whole universe, I do believe, is even less than this the changing of a bad heart, the subduing of an iron will. But thanks be unto the Father, he has done all that for you and for me. He has brought us out of darkness, he has translated us, taken up the old tree that has struck its roots never so deep taken it up, blessed be God, roots and all, and planted it in a goodly soil. He had to cut the top off, it is true the high branches of our pride; but the tree has grown better in the near soil than it ever did before. Who ever heard of moving so huge a plant as a man who has grown fifty years old in sin? Oh! what wonders hath our Father done for us I He has taken the wild leopard of the wood, tamed it into a lamb, and purged away its spots. He has regenerated the poor Ethiopian oh, how black are were by nature our blackness was more than skin deep; it went to the center of our hearts; but, blessed be his name, he hath washed us white, and is still carrying on the divine operation, and he will yet completely deliver us from every taint of sin, and will finally bring us into the kingdom of his dear son. Here, then, in the second mercy, we discern from what we were delivered, and how we were delivered God the Father hath "translated" us.
But where are we now? Into what place is the believer brought, when he is brought out of the power of darkness? He is brought into the kingdom of God's dear Son. Into what other kingdom would the Christian desire to be brought? Brethren. a republic may sound very well in theory, but in spiritual matters, the last thing we want is a republic. We want a kingdom. I love to have Christ an absolute monarch in the heart. I do not want to have a doubt about it. I want to give up all my liberty to him. for I feel that I never shall be free till my self-control is all gone; that I shall never have my will truly free till it is bound in the golden fetters of his sweet love. We are brought into a kingdom he is Lord and Sovereign, and he has made us "kings and priests unto our God," and we shall reign with him. The proof that we are in this kingdom must consist in our obedience to our King. Here, perhaps, we may raise many causes and questions, but surely we can say after all, though we have offended our King many times, yet our heart is loyal to him. "Oh, thou precious Jesus! we would obey thee, and yield submission to every one of thy laws, our sins are not wilful and beloved sins, but though we fall we can truly say, that we would be holy as thou art holy, our heart is true towards thy statutes; Lord, help us to run in the way of thy commandments."
So, you see, this mercy which God the Father hath given to us, this second of these present mercies, is, that he hath "translated us out of the power of darkness into the kingdom of his dear Son." This is the Father's work. Shall we not love God the Father from this day forth? Will we not give him thanks, and sing our hymns to him, and exalt and triumph in his great name?
III. Upon the third point, I shall be as brief as possible; it is to SHOW THE CONNECTION BETWEEN THE TWO VERSES.
When I get a passage of Scripture to meditate upon, I like, if I can, to see its drift, then I like to examine its various parts, and see if I can understand each separate clause; and then I want to go back again, and see what one clause has to do with another. I looked and looked again at this text, and wondered what connection there could be between the two verses. "Giving thanks unto God the Father, who hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light." Well, that is right enough; we can see how this is the work of God the Father, to make us meet to go to heaven. But has the next verse, the 13th, anything to do with our meetness? "Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son." Well, I looked it over and I said I will read it in this way. I see the 12th verse tells me that the inheritance of heaven is the inheritance of light. Is heaven light? Then I can see my meetness for it as described in the 13th verse. He hath delivered me from the power of darkness. Is not that the same thing? If I am delivered from the power of darkness, is not that being made meet to dwell in light? If I am now brought out of darkness into light, and am walking in the light, is not that the very meetness which is spoken of in the verse before? Then I read again. It says they are saints. Well, the saints are a people that obey the Son. Here is my meetness then in the 13th verse, where it says "He hath translated me from the power of darkness into the kingdom of his dear Son." So that I not only have the light, but the sonship too, for I am in "the kingdom of his dear Son." But how about the inheritance? Is there anything about that in the 13th verse? It is an inheritance; shall I find anything about a meetness for it there? Yes, I find that I am in the kingdom of his dear Son. How came Christ to have a kingdom? Why, by inheritance. Then it seems I am in his inheritance; and if I am in his inheritance here, then I am meet to be in it above, for I am in it already. I am even now part of it and partner of it, since I am in the kingdom which he inherits from his Father, and therefore there is the meetness.
I do not know whether I have put this plainly enough before you. If you will be kind enough to look at your Bible, I will just recapitulate. You see, heaven is a place of light; when we are brought out of darkness, that, of course, is the meetness for light. It is a place for sons; when we are brought into the kingdom of God's dear Son, we are of course made sons, so that there is the meetness for it. It is an inheritance; and when we are brought into the inherited kingdom of God's dear Son, we enjoy the inheritance now, and consequently are fitted to enjoy it for ever.
Having thus shown the connection between these verses, I propose now to close with a few general observations. I like so to expound the Scripture, that we can draw some practical inferences from it. Of course the first inference is this: let us from this night forward never omit God the Father in our praises. I think I have said this already six times over in the sermon. Why I am repeating it so often, is that we may never forget it. Martin Luther said he preached upon justification by faith every day in the week and then the people would not understand. There are some truths, I believe, that need to be said over and over again, either because our silly hearse will not receive, or our treacherous memories will not hold them. Sing, I beseech you, habitually, the praises of the Father in heaven, as you do the praises of the Son hanging upon the cross. Love as truly God, the ever-living God, as you love Jesus the God-man, the Savior who once died for you. That is the great inference.
Yet another inference arises. Brothers and sisters, are you conscious to-night that you are not now what you once were? Are you sure that the power of darkness does not now rest upon you, that you love divine knowledge, that you are panting after heavenly joys? Are you sure that you have been "translated into the kingdom of God's dear Son?" Then never be troubled about thoughts of death, because, come death whenever it may, you are meet to be a "partaker of the inheritance of the saints in light." Let no thought distress you about death's coming to you at an unseasonable hour. Should it come to-morrow should it come now, if your faith is fixed on nothing less than Jesu's blood and righteousness, you shall see the face of God with acceptance. I have that consciousness in my soul, by the witness of the Holy Spirit, of my adoption into the family of God, that I feel that though I should never preach again, but should lay down my body and my charge together, ere I should reach my home, and rest in my bed, "I know that my Redeemer liveth," and more, that I should be a "partaker of the inheritance of the saints in light." It is not always that one feels that but I would have you never rest satisfied till you do, till you know your meetness, till you are conscious of it; until, moreover, you are panting to be gone, because you feel that you have powers which never can be satisfied short-of heaven powers which heaven only can employ.
One more reflection lingers behind. There are some of you here that cannot be thought by the utmost charity of judgment, to be "meet for the inheritance of the saints in light." Ah! if a wicked man should go to heaven without being converted, heaven would be no heaven to him. Heaven is not adapted for sinners; it is not a place for them. If you were to take a Hottentot who has long dwelt at the equator up to where the Esquimaux are dwelling, and tell him that you would show him the aurora, and all the glories of the North Pole, the poor wretch could not appreciate them; he would say, "It is not the element for me; it is not the place where I could rest happy! And if you were to take, on the other hand, some dwarfish dweller in the north, down to the region where trees grow to a stupendous height, and where the spices give their balmy odours to the gale, and bid him live there under the torrid zone, he could enjoy nothing; he would say, "This is not the place for me, because it is not adapted to my nature." Or if you were to take the vulture, that has never fed on anything but carrion, and put it into the noblest dwelling you could make for it, and feed it with the daintiest meals, it would not be happy because it is not food that is adapted for it. And you, sinner, you are nothing but a carrion vulture; nothing makes you happy but sin, you do not want too much psalm singing, do you? Sunday is a dull day to you; you like to get it over, you do not care about your Bible; you would as soon there should be no Bible at all, You find that going to a meeting-house or a church is very dull work indeed. Oh then you will not be troubled with that in eternity; do not agitate yourself. If you love not God, and die as you are, you shall go to your own company, you shall go to your jolly mates, you shall go to your good fellows; those who have been your mates on earth shall be your mates for ever; but you shall go to the Prince of those good fellows, unless you repent and be converted. Where God is you cannot come. It is not an element suited to you. As well place a bird at the bottom of the sea, or a fish in the air, as place an ungodly sinner in heaven. What is to be done then? You must have a new nature. I pray God to give it to you. Remember if now you feel your need of a Savior, that is the beginning of the new nature. "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ;" cast yourselves simply on him, trust in nothing but his blood, and then the new nature shall be expanded, and you shall be made meet by the Holy Spirit's operations to be a "partaker of the inheritance of the saints in light." There is many a man who has come into this house of prayer, many a man is now present, who has come in here a rollicking fellow, fearing neither God nor devil. Many a man has come from the ale house up to this place. If he had died then, where would his soul have been? But the Lord that very night met him, There are trophies of that grace present here to-night. You can say, "Thanks be to the Father, who hath brought us out of the power of darkness, and translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son." And if God has done that for some, why cannot he do it for others? Why need you despair, O poor sinner? If thou art here to-night, the worst sinner out of hell, remember, the gate of mercy stands wide open, and Jesus bids thee come, Conscious of thy guilt, flee, flee to him. Look to his cross, and thou shalt find pardon in his veins, and life in his death.
All Fulness in Christ
Delivered on Lord's-day Morning, February 26th, 1871 by
C. H. SPURGEON,
At the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington
"For it pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell." Colossians 1:19 .
THE PREACHER IS UNDER NO DIFFICULTIES this morning as to the practical object to be aimed at in his discourse. Every subject should be considered with an object, every discourse should have a definite spiritual aim; otherwise we do not so much preach as play at preaching. The connection plainly indicates what our drift should be. Read the words immediately preceding the text, and you find it declared that our Lord Jesus is in all things to have the pre-eminence. We would seer; by this text to yield honor and glory to the ever-blessed Redeemer, and enthrone him in the highest seat in our hearts. O that we may all be in an adoring frame of mind, and may give him the pre-eminence in our thoughts, beyond all things or persons in heaven or earth. Blessed is he who can do or think: the most to honor such a Lord as our Immanuel. The verse which succeeds the text, shows us how we may best promote the glory of Christ, for since he came into this world that he might reconcile the things in heaven and the things in earth to himself, we shall best glorify him by falling in with his great design of mercy. By seeking to bring sinners into a state of reconciliation with God, we are giving to the great Reconciler the pre-eminence. On gospel shall be the gospel of reconciliation on this occasion. May the reconciling word come home by the power of Christ's Spirit to many, so that hundreds of souls may from this day forth glorify the great Ambassador who has made peace by the blood of his cross.
The text is a great deep, we cannot explore it, but we will voyage over its surface joyously, the Holy Spirit giving us a favorable wind. Here are plenteous provisions far exceeding, those of Solomon, though at the sight of that royal profusion, Sheba's queen felt that there was no more spirit in her, and declared that the half had not been told to her.
It may give some sort of order to our thoughts if they fall under four heads. What is here spoken of "all fullness." Where is it placed "in him," that is, in the Redeemer. We are told why, because "it pleased the Father;" and we have also a note of time, or when, in the word "dwell." "It pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell." Those catch words, what, where, why, and when, may help you to remember the run of the sermon.
I. First, then, let us consider the subject before us, or WHAT "It pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell." Two mighty words; "fullness a substantial, comprehensive, expressive word in itself, and "all," a great little word including everything. When combined in the expression, "all fullness," we have before us a superlative wealth of meaning.
Blessed be God for those two words. Our hearts rejoice to think that there is such a thing in the universe as "all fullness," for in the most of mortal pursuits utter barrenness is found. "Vanity of vanity all is vanity." Blessed be the Lord for ever that he has provided a fullness for us, for in us by nature there is all emptiness and utter vanity. "In me, that is, in my flesh, there dwelleth no good thing." In us there is a lack of all merit, an absence of all power to procure any, and even an absence of will to procure it if we could. In these respects human nature is a desert, empty, and void, and waste, inhabited only by the dragon of sin, and the bittern of sorrow. Sinner, saint, to you both alike these words, "all fullness," sound like a holy hymn. The accents are sweet as those of the angel-messenger when he sang, "Behold, I bring you glad tidings of great joy." Are they not stray notes from celestial sonnets? "All fullness." You, sinner, are all emptiness and death, you, saint, would be so if it were not for the "all fullness" of Christ of which you have received; therefore both to saint and sinner the words are full of hope. There is joy in these words to every soul conscious of its sad estate, and humbled before God.
I will ring the silver bell again, "all fullness," and another note charms us; it tells us that Christ is substance, and not shadow, fullness, and not foretaste. This is good news for us, for nothing but realities will meet our case. Types may instruct, but they cannot actually save. The patterns of the things in the heavens are too weak to serve our turn, we need the heavenly things themselves. No bleeding bird nor slaughtered bullock, nor running stream, nor scarlet wool and hyssop, can take away our sins.
"No outward forms can make me clean,
The leprosy lies deep within."
Ceremonies under the old dispensation were precious because they set forth the realities yet to be revealed, but in Christ Jesus we deal with the realities themselves, and this is a happy circumstance for us; for both our sins and our sorrows are real, and only substantial mercies can counteract them. In Jesus, we have the substance of all that the symbols set forth. He is our sacrifice, our altar, our priest, our incense, our tabernacle, our all in all. The law had "the shadow of good things to come," but in Christ we have "the very image of the things."Hebrews 10:1 . What transport is this to those who so much feel their emptiness that they could not be comforted by the mere representation of a truth, or the pattern of a truth, or the symbol of a truth, but must have the very substance itself! "The law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ." John 1:16 .
I must return to the words of the text again, for I perceive more honey dropping from the honeycomb. "All fullness" is a wide, far-reaching, all-comprehending term, and in its abundant store it offers another source of delight. What joy these words give to us when we remember that our vast necessities demand a fullness, yea, "all fullness," before they can be supplied! A little help will be of no use to us, for we are altogether without strength. A limited measure of mercy will only mock our misery. A low degree of grace will never be enough to bring us to heaven, defiled as we are with sin, beset with dangers, encompassed with infirmities, assailed by temptations, molested with afflictions, and all the while bearing about with us "the body of this death." But "all fullness," ay, that will suit us. Here is exactly what our desperate estate demands for its recovery. Had the Savior only put out his finger to help our exertions, or had he only stretched out his hand to perform a measure of salvation's work, while he left us to complete it, our soul had for ever dwelt in darkness. In these words, "all fullness," we hear the echo of his death-cry, "It is finished." We are to bring nothing, but to find all in him, yea, the fullness of all in him: we are simply to receive out of his fullness grace for grace. We are not asked to contribute, nor required to make up deficiencies, for there are none to make up all, all is laid up in Christ. All that we shall want between this place and heaven, all we could need between the gates of hell, where we lay in our blood, to the gates of heaven, where we shall find welcome admission, is treasured up for us in the Lord Christ Jesus.
"Great God, the treasures of thy love
Are everlasting mines,
Deep as our helpless miseries are,
And boundless as our sins."
Did I not say well that the two words before us are a noble hymn? Let them, I pray you, lodge in your souls for many days; they will be blessed guests. Let these two wafers, made with honey, lie under your tongue; let them satiate your souls, for they are heavenly bread. The more you bemoan your emptiness the sweeter these words will be; the more you feel that you must draw largely upon the bank of heaven, the more will you rejoice that your drafts will never diminish the boundless store, for still will it retain the name and the quality of "all fullness."
The expression here used denotes that there is in Jesus Christ the fullness of the Godhead; as it is written, "In him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily." When John saw the Son of Man in Patmos, the marks of Deity were on him. "His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow" here was his eternity; "His eyes were as a flame of fire" here was his omniscience; "Out of his mouth went a sharp two-edged sword" here was the omnipotence of his word; "And his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength" here was his unapproachable and infinite glory. He is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. Hence nothing is too hard for him. Power, wisdom, truth, immutability, and all the attributes of God are in him, and constitute a fullness inconceivable and inexhaustible. The most enlarged intellect must necessarily fail to compass the personal fullness of Christ as God; therefore we do no more than quote again that noble text: "In him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and ye are complete in him."
Fulness, moreover, dwells in our Lord not only intrinsically from his nature, but as the result of his mediatorial world. He achieved by suffering as well as possessed by nature a wondrous fullness. He carried on his shoulders the load of our sin; he expiated by his death our guilt, and now he has merit with the Father, infinite, inconceivable, a fullness of desert. The Father has stored up in Christ Jesus, as in a reservoir, for the use of all his people, his eternal love and his unbounded grace, that it may come to us through Christ Jesus, and that we may glorify him. All power is put into his hands, and life, and light, and grace, are to the full at his disposal. "He shutteth and no man openeth, he openeth and no man shutteth." He has received gifts for men; yea, for the righteous also. Not only as the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, is he the possessor of heaven and earth, and therefore filled with all fullness, but seeing that as the Mediator he has finished our redemption, "he is made of God unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption." Glory be to his name for this double fullness.
Turn the thought round again, and remember that all fullness dwells in Christ towards God and towards men. All fullness towards God and I mean all that God requires of man; all that contents and delights the eternal mind, so that once again with complacency he may look down on his creature and pronounce him "very good." The Lord looked for grapes in his vineyard, and it brought forth wild grapes, but now in Christ Jesus the great Husbandman beholds the true vine which bringeth forth much fruit. The Creator required obedience, and he beholds in Christ Jesus the servant who has never failed to do the Master's will. Justice demanded that the law should be kept, and, lo, Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth. Seeing that we had broken the law, justice required the endurance of the righteous penalty, and Jesus has borne it to the full, for he bowed his head to death, even the death of the cross. When God made man a little lower than the angels, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and so made him immortal, he had a right to expect singular service from so favored a being a service perfect, joyful, continuous; and our Savior has rendered unto the Father that which perfectly contents him; for he cries, "This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased." God is more glorified in the person of his Son than he would have been by an unfallen world. There shines out through the entire universe a display of infinite mercy, justice, and wisdom, such as neither the majesty of nature nor the excellence of providence could have revealed. His work in God's esteem is honorable and precious; for his righteousness sake, God is well pleased. The Eternal mind is satisfied with the Redeemer's person, work, and sacrifice; for "unto the Son, he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of thy kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows." Hebrews 1:8-9 .
What unspeakable consolations arise from this truth, for, dear brethren, if we had to render to God something by which we should be accepted, we should be always in jeopardy; but now since we are "accepted in the Beloved," we are safe beyond all hazard. And we to find wherewithal we should appear before the Most High God, we might still be asking, "Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil?" But now hear the voice which saith, "Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein:" we hear the same divine voice add, "Lo, I come to do thy will," and we rejoice as we receive the witness of the Spirit, saying, "By the which will ye are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all," for henceforth is it said, "Their sins and iniquities will I remember no more for ever."
The all-fullness of Christ is also man-ward, and that in respect of both the sinner and the saint. There is a fullness in Christ Jesus which the seeking sinner should behold with joyfulness. What dost thou want, sinner? Thou wantest all things, but Christ is all. Thou wantest power to believe in him he giveth power to the faint. Thou wantest repentance he was exalted on high to give repentance as well as remission of sin. Thou wantest a new heart: the covenant runs thus, "A new heart also will I give them, and a right spirit will I put within them." Thou wantest pardon behold his streaming wounds wash thou and be clean. Thou wantest healing: he is "the Lord that healeth thee." Thou wantest clothing his righteousness shall become thy dress. Thou wantest preservation thou shalt be preserved in him. Thou wantest life, and he has said, "Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee life." He is come that we might have life. Thou wantest but indeed, the catalogue were much too long for us to read it through at this present, yet be assured though thou pile up thy necessities till they rise like Alps before thee, yet the all-sufficient Savior can remove all thy needs. You may confidently sing
"Thou, O Christ, art all I want,
More than all in thee I find."
This is true also of the saint as well as the sinner. O child of God, thou art now saved, but thy wants are not therefore removed. Are they not as continuous as thy heart-beats? When are we not in want, my brethren? The more alive we are to God, the more are we aware of our spiritual necessities. He who is "blind and naked," thinks himself to be "rich and increased in goods," but let the mind be truly enlightened, and we feel that we are completely dependent upon the charity of God. Let us be glad, then, as we learn that there is no necessity in our spirit but what is abundantly provided for in the all fullness of Jesus Christ. You seek for a higher platform of spiritual attainments, you aim to conquer sin, you desire to be plentiful in finis unto his glory, you are longing to be useful, you are anxious to subdue the hearts of others unto Christ; behold the needful grace for all this. In the sacred armoury of the Son of David behold your battle-ax and your weapons of war; in the stores of him who is greater than Aaron see the robes in which to fulfill your priesthood; in the wounds of Jesus behold the power with which you may become a living sacrifice. If you would glow like a seraph, and serve like an apostle, behold the grace awaiting you in Jesus. If you would go from strength to strength, climbing the loftiest summits of holiness, behold grace upon grace prepared for you if you are straitened, it will not be in Christ; if there be any bound to your holy attainments, it is set by yourself. The infinite God himself gives himself to you in the person of his dear Son, and he saith to you, "All things are yours." "The Lord is the portion of your inheritance and of your cup." Infinity is ours. Be who gave us his own Son has in that very deed given us all things. Bath he not said, "I am the Lord thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt; open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it"?
Let me remark that this is not only true of saints on earth, but it is true also of saints in heaven, for all the fullness of the church triumphant is in Christ as well as that of the church militant. They are nothing even in heaven without him. The pure river of the water of life of which they drink, proceedeth out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. He hath made them priests and kings, and in his power they reign. Those snowy robes were washed and made white in his blood. The Lamb is the temple of heaven (Revelation 21:22 ), the light of heaven (Revelation 21:23 ), his marriage is the joy of heaven (Revelation 19:7 ), and the Song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, is the song of heaven (Revelation 15:3 ). Not all the harps above could make a heavenly place if Christ were gone; for he is the heaven of heaven, and filleth all in all. It pleased the Father that for all saints and sinners all fullness should be treasured up in Christ Jesus.
I feel that my text overwhelms me. Men may sail round the world, but who can circumnavigate so vast a subject as this? As far as the east is from the west so wide is its reach of blessings.
"Philosophers have measured mountains,
Fathomed the depths of seas, of states, and kings,
Walked with a staff to Heaven, and traced fountains:
But there are two vast spacious things,
The which to measure it doth more behove:
Yet few there are that sound them: Grace and Love."
Who is he that shall be able to express all that is meant by our text? for here we have "all" and "fullness" and in fullness and a fullness in all. The words are both exclusive and inclusive. They deny that there is any fullness elsewhere, for they claim all for Christ. They shut out all others. "It pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell." Not in you, ye pretended successors of the apostles, can anything dwell that I need. I can do well enough without you; nay, I would not insult my Savior by trading with, you, for since "all fullness" is in him, what call there be in you that I can require? Go to your dupes who know not Christ, but those who possess the exceeding riches of Christ's grace bow not to you. We are "complete in Christ" without you, O hierarchy of bishops; without you, ye conclave of cardinals; and without you, O fallible infallible, unholy Holiness of Rome. He who has all in Christ would be insane indeed if he looked for more, or having fullness craved for emptiness. This text drives us from all confidence in men, ay, or even in angels, by making us see that everything is treasured up in Jesus Christ. Brethren, if there be any good in what is called catholicism, or in ritualism, or in the modern philosophical novelties, let religionists have what they find there; we shall not envy them, for they can find nothing worth having in their forms of worship or belief but what we must have already in the person of the all-sufficient Savior. What if their candles burn brightly, the sun itself is ours! What if they are successors of the apostles, we follow the Lamb himself whithersoever he goeth! What if they be exceeding wise, we dwell with the Incarnate Wisdom himself! Let them go to their cisterns, we will abide by the fountain of living water. But indeed there is no light in their luminaries, they do but increase the darkness; they are blind leaders of the blind. They put their sounding emptinesses into competition with the all-fullness of Jesus, and preach another gospel which is not another. The imprecation of the apostle be upon them. They add unto the words of God, and he shall add to them its plagues.
While the text is exclusive it is also inclusive. It shuts in everything that is required for time and for eternity for all the blood-bought. It is an ark containing all good things conceivable, yea, and many that are as yet inconceivable; for by reason of our weakness we have not yet conceived the fullness of Christ. Things which ye yet have not asked nor even thought, he is able to give you abundantly. If you should arrive at the consecration of martyrs, the piety of apostles, the purity of angels, yet should you never have seen or be able to think of anything pure, lovely, and of good report, that was not already treasured up in Christ Jesus. All the rivers flow into this sea, for from this sea they, came. As the atmosphere surrounds all the earth, and all things live in that sea of air, so all good things are contained in the blessed person of our dear Redeemer. Let us join to praise him. Let us extol him with heart and voice, and let sinners be reconciled unto God by him. If all the good things are in him which a sinner can require to make him accountable with God, then let the sinner come at once through Such a mediator. Let doubts and fears vanish at the sight of the mediatorial fullness. Jesus must be able to save to the uttermost, since all fullness dwells in him. Come, sinner; come and receive him. Believe thou in him and thou shalt find thyself made perfect in Christ Jesus.
"The moment a sinner believes,
And trusts in his crucified God,
His pardon at once he receives,
Redemption in full through his blood."
II. Having thus spoken of what, we now turn to consider WHERE.
"It pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell." Where else could all fullness have been placed? There was wanted a vast capacity to contain "all fullness." Where dwells there a being with nature capacious enough to compass within himself all fullness? As well might we ask, "Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance?" To him only could it belong to contain "all fullness," for he must be equal with God, the Infinite. How suitable was the Son of the Highest, who "was by him, as one brought up with him," to become the grand storehouse of all the treasures of wisdom, and knowledge and grace, and salvation. Moreover, there was wanted not only capacity to contain, but immutability to retain the fullness, for the text says, "It pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell" that is, abide, and remain, for ever. Now if any kind of fullness could be put into us mutable creatures, yet by reason of our frailty we should prove but broken cisterns that can hold no water. The Redeemer is Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever: therefore was it meet that all fullness should be placed in him. "The Son abideth ever." "He is a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec." "Being made perfect he became the author of eternal salvation unto all they that obey him." "His name shall endure for ever: his name shall be continued as long as the sun: and men shall be blessed in him: all nations shall call him blessed."
Perhaps the sweetest thought is, that the "all fullness" is fitly placed in Christ Jesus, because in him there is a suitability to distribute it, so that we may obtain it from him. How could we come to God himself for grace? for "even our God is a consuming fire." But Jesus Christ while God is also man like ourselves, truly man, of a meek lowly spirit, and therefore easily approachable. They who know him, delight in nearness to him. Is it not sweet that all fullness should be treasured up in him who was the friend of publicans and sinners: and who came into the world to seek and to save that which was lost? The Man who took the child up on his knee and said, "Suffer the little children to come unto me," the Man who was tempted in all points like as we are, the Man who touched the sick, nay, who "bore their sicknesses," the Man who gave his hands to the nails, and his heart to the spear; that blessed Man, into the print of whose nails his disciple Thomas put his finger, and into whose side he thrust his hand; it is he, the incarnate God, in whom all fullness dwells. Come, then, and receive of him, you who are the weakest, the most mean, and most sinful of men. Come at once, O sinner, and fear not.
"Why art thou afraid to come,
And tell him all thy ease?
He will not pronounce thy doom,
Nor frown thee from his face.
Wilt thou fear Immanuel?
Or dread the Lamb of (God,
Who, to save thy soul from hell,
Has shed his precious blood?"
Let it be noted here, however, very carefully, that while fullness is treasured up in Christ, it is not said to be treasured up in the doctrines of Christ; though they are full and complete, and we need no other teachings when the Spirit reveals the Son in us; nor is it said to be treasured up in the commands of Christ, although they are amply sufficient for our guidance; but it is said, "It pleased the Father that in him," in his person, "should all fullness dwell." In him, as God incarnate dwelleth in all the fullness of the godhead bodily;" not as a myth, a dream, a thought, a fiction, but as a living, real personality. We must lay hold of this. I know that the fullness dwells in him officially as Prophet, Priest, and King but the fullness lies not in the prophetic mantle, nor in the priestly ephod, nor in the royal vesture, but in the person that wears all these. "It pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell." You must get to the very Christ in your faith and rest alone in him, or else you have not reached the treasury wherein all fullness is stored up. All fullness is in him radically; if there be fullness in his work, or his gifts, or his promises, all is derived from his person, which gives weight and value to all. All the promises are yea and amen in Christ Jesus. The merit of his death lies mainly in his person, because he was God who gave himself for us, and his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree. The excellence of his person gave fullness to his sacrifice. Hebrews 1:3 . His power to save at this very day lies in his person, for "he is able to save to the uttermost them that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them." I desire you to see this, and feel it; for when your soul clasps the pierced feet of Jesus, and looks up into the face more marred than that of any man, even if you cannot understand all his works and offices, yet if you believe in him, you have reached the place wherein all fullness dwells, and of his fullness you shall receive.
Beloved, remember our practical aim. Praise his person, ye saints! Be ye reconciled to God through his person, ye sinners! Ye angels, lead us in the song! Ye spirits redeemed by blood, sing, "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain," and our hearts shall keep tune with yours, for we owe the same debt to him. Glory be unto the person of the blessed Lamb. "Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honor, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever." Would God we could see him face to face, and adore him as we would. O sinners, will you not be reconciled to God through him, since all fullness is in him, and he stoops to your weakness, and holds forth his pierced hands to greet you? See him stretching out both his hands to receive you, while he sweetly woos you to come to God through him. Come unto him. O come with hasty steps, ye penitents; come at once, ye guilty ones! Who would not be reconciled unto God by such a one as this, in whom all fullness of grace is made to dwell?
III. The third question is, WHY? "It pleased the Father." That is answer enough. He is a sovereign, let him do as he wills. Ask the reason for election, you shall receive no other than this, "Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in thy sight." That one answer may reply to ten thousand questions, "It is the Lord, let him do what seemeth him good." Once "it pleased the Father to bruise him," and now "it pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell." Sovereignty may answer the question sufficiently, but hearken! I hear justice speak, should not be silent. Justice saith there was no person in heaven or under heaven so meet to contain the fullness of grace as Jesus.
None so meet to be glorified as the Savior, who "made himself of no reputation, and took upon himself the form of a servant, and being found in fashion as a man, humbled himself, and became obedient to death, even the death of the cross." It is but justice that the grace which he has brought to us should be treasured up in him. And while justice speaks wisdom will not withhold her voice. Wise art thou, O Jehovah, to treasure up grace in Christ, for to him men can come; and to him coming, as unto a living stone, chosen of God and precious, men find him precious also to their souls. The Lord has laid our hell, in the right place, for he has laid it upon one that is mighty, and who is as loving as he is mighty, as ready as he is able to save. Moreover, in the fitness of things the Father's pleasure is the first point to be considered, for all things ought to be to the good pleasure of God. It is a great underlying rule of the universe that all things were created for God's pleasure. God is the source and fountain of eternal love, and it is but meet that he should convey it to us by what channel he may elect. Bowing, therefore, in lowly worship at his throne, we are glad that in this matter the fullness dwells where it perpetually satisfies the decree of heaven. It is well that "it pleased the Father."
Now, brethren, if it pleased the Father to place all grace in Christ, let us praise the elect Savior. What pleases God pleases us. Where would you desire to have grace placed, my brethren, but in the Well-beloved? The whole church of God is unanimous about this. If I could save myself I would not; I would think salvation to be no salvation if it did not glorify Jesus. This is the very crown and glory of being saved, that our being saved will bring honor to Christ. It is delightful to think that Christ will have the glory of all God's grace; it were shocking if it were not so. Who could bear to see Jesus robbed of his reward? We are indignant that any should usurp his place, and ashamed of ourselves that we do not glorify him more. No joy ever visits my soul like that of knowing that Jesus is highly exalted, and that to him "every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." A sister in Christ, in her kindness and gratitude, used language to me the other day which brought a blush to my cheek, for I felt ashamed to be so undeserving of the praise. She said, "Your ministry profits me because you glorify Christ so much." Ah, I thought, if you knew how I would glorify him if I could, and how far I fall below what I fain would do for him, You would not commend me. I could weep over the best sermons I have ever preached because I cannot extol my Lord enough, and my conceptions are so low, and my words so poor. Oh, if one could but attain really to honor him, and put another crown upon his head, it were heaven indeed! We are in this agreed with the Father, for if it pleases him to glorify his Son, we sincerely feel that it pleases us.
Ought not those who are yet unrenewed, to hasten to be reconciled to God by such a Redeemer? If it pleases the Father to put all grace in Christ, O sinner, does it not please you to come and receive it through Christ? Christ is the meeting-place for a sinner and his God. God is in Christ, and when you come to Christ, God meets you, and a treaty of peace is made between you and the Most High. Are you not agreed with God in this that Christ shall be glorified? Do you not say, "I would glorify him by accepting this morning all his grace, love, and mercy"? Well, if you are willing to receive Jesus, God has made you willing, and therein proved his willingness to save you. He is pleased with Christ. Are you pleased with Christ? If so, there is already peace between you and God, for Jesus "is our peace."
IV. We must close by dwelling upon the WHEN. When is all fullness in Jesus? It is there in all time, past, present, and to come. "It pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell." Fulness, then, was in Christ of old, is in Christ to-day, will be in Christ for ever. Perpetuity is here indicated; all fullness was, is, shall be in the person of Jesus Christ. Every saint saved under the old dispensation found the fullness of his salvation in the coming Redeemer, every saint saved since the advent is saved through the selfsame fullness. From the streaming fount of the wounds of Christ on Calvary, redemption flows evermore; and as long as there is a sinner to be saved, or one elect soul to be ingathered, Christ's blood shall never lose its power, the fullness of merit and grace shall abide the same.
While the expression "dwell" indicates perpetuity, does not it indicate constancy and accessibility? A man who dwells in a house is always to be found there, it is his home. The text seems to me to say that this fullness of grace is always to be found in Christ, ever abiding in him. Knock at this door by prayer, and you shall find it at home. If a sinner anywhere is saving, "God be merciful to me!" mercy has not gone out on travel, it dwells in Christ both night and day; it is there now at this moment. There is life in a look at the crucified One, not at certain canonical hours, but at any hour, in any place, by any man who looks. "From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed," and my prayer shall not be rejected. There is fullness of mercy in Christ to be had at any time, at any season, from any place. It pleased the Father that all fullness should permanently abide in him as in a house whose door is never shut.
Above all, we see here immutability. All fullness dwells in Christ that is to say, it is never exhausted nor diminished. On the last day wherein this world shall stand before it is given up to be devoured with fervent heat, there shall be found as much fullness in Christ as in the hour when the first sinner looked unto him and was lightened. O sinner, the bath that cleanses is as efficacious to take out spots to-day as it was when the dying thief washed therein. O thou despairing sinner, there is as much consolation in Christ to-day as when he said to the woman, "Thy sins are forgiven thee, go in peace." His grace has not diminished. He is to-day as great a Savior as when Magdalen was delivered from seven devils. Till time shall be no more he will exercise the same infinite power to forgive, to renew, to deliver, to sanctify, to perfectly save souls.
Shall not all this make us praise Christ, since all fullness is permanent in him? Let our praises abide where the fullness abides. "All thy works praise thee, O God, but thy saints shall bless thee;" yea, they shall never cease their worship, because thou shalt never abate thy fullness This is a topic upon which we who love Christ, are all agreed. We can dispute about doctrines, and we have different views upon ordinances; but we have all one view concerning our Lord Jesus. Let him sit on a glorious high throne. When shall the day dawn that he shall ride through our streets in triumph? When shall England and Scotland, and all the nations become truly the dominions of the great King? Our prayer is that he may hasten the spread of the gospel, and his own coming as seemeth good in his sight. O that he were glorious in the eyes of men!
And surely if all fullness abides perpetually in Christ, there is good reason why the unreconciled should this morning, avail themselves of it. May the blessed Spirit show thee, O sinner, that there is enough in Jesus Christ to meet thy wants, that thy, weakness need not keep thee back, nor even the hardness of thy heart, nor the inveteracy of thy will; for Christ is able even to subdue all things to himself. If you seek him he will be found of you. Seek him while he may be found. Leave not the seat until your soul is bowed at his feet. I think I see him; cannot your hearts picture him, glorious to-day, but yet the same Savior who was nailed like a felon to the cross for guilty ones? Reach forth thy hand and touch the silver scepter of mercy which he holds out to thee, for those who touch it live. Look into that dear face where tears once made their furrows, and grief its lines; look, I say, and live. Look at that brow radiant with many a glittering gem, it once wore a crown of thorns; let his love melt you to repentance. Throw yourself into his arms now feeling, "If I perish I will perish there. He shall be my only hope." As the Lord liveth, before whom I stand, there shall never be a soul of you lost who will come and trust in Jesus. Heaven and earth shall pass away but this word of God shall never pass away. "He that believeth and is baptised shall be saved." God has said it; will he not do it? He has declared it, it must stand fast. "Whosoever believeth in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life." O trust ye him! I implore you by the mercy of God, and by the fullness of Jesus, trust him now, this day! God grant you may, for Christ's sake. Amen.
PORTION OF SCRIPTURE READ BEFORE SERMON Colossians 1:1-29 .
The attention of all our friends is earnestly directed to the SERIES OF SPECIAL SERVICES AT THE TABERNACLE. In order that London friends may unite with us we publish the meetings week by week, and at the same time our country friends will join with us in spirit:
Lord's-day, March 5th. A deputation will address Mrs. Bartlett's class and the senior classes of the Sabbath School; as also Mrs. Bartlett's children's meeting at the Almshouses.
Monday, March 6th. Prayer-meeting for females only, at six. For young people at the same time. Special prayer-meetings at seven for the various agencies of the church. Meetings for enquirers at half-past eight.
Tuesday, March 7th. The Pastor and others will meet the parents of the Sabbath School to tea, and speak with them upon heavenly things.
Wednesday, March 8th. Annual Meeting of Mrs. Bartlett's class.
Thursday, March 9th. Closing gathering. May our hearts be filled with adoring praise. We shall meet to commemorate our Lord's death. Members will please show their tickets. Spectators will find room in the gallery.
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on Colossians 1". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 13 / Ordinary 18