'Follow after the sanctification without which no man shall see the Lord.' -- Heb. xii.14.
'He that is holy, let him be made holy still.... The grace of the Lord Jesus be with the holy ones. Amen.' -- Rev. xxii.11, 21.
O my brother, we are on our way to see God. We have been invited to meet the Holy One face to face. The infinite mystery of holiness, the glory of the Invisible God, before which the seraphim veil their faces, is to be unveiled, to be revealed to us. And that not as a thing we are to look upon and to study. But we are to see the Thrice Holy One, the Living God Himself. God, the Holy One, will show Himself to us: we are to see God. Oh, the infinite grace, the inconceivable blessedness! we are to see God.
We are to see God, the Holy One. And all our schooling here in the life of holiness is simply the preparation for that meeting and that vision. 'Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.' 'Follow after the sanctification, without which no man shall see the Lord.' Since the time when God said to Israel, 'Be ye holy, as I am holy,' Holiness was revealed as the only meeting-place between God and His people. To be holy was to be the common ground on which they were to stand with Him; the one attribute in which they were to be like God; the one thing that was to prepare them for the glorious time when He would no longer need to keep them away, but would admit them to the full fellowship of His glory, to have the word fulfilled in them: 'He that is holy, let him be made yet more holy.'
In his second epistle, Peter reminds believers that the coming of the day of the Lord is to be preceded and accompanied by the most tremendous catastrophe -- the dissolution of the heavens and the earth. He makes it a plea with them to give diligence that they may be found without spot and blameless in His sight. And he asks them to think and say, under the deep sense of what the coming of the day of God would be and would bring, what the life of those ought to be who look for such things: 'What manner of person ought ye to be in all holy living and godliness?' Holiness must be its one, its universal characteristic. At the close of our meditations on God's call to Holiness, we may take Peter's question, and in the light of all that God has revealed of His Holiness, and all that waits still to be revealed, ask ourselves, 'What manner of men ought we to be in all holy living and godliness?'
Note first the meaning of the question. In the original Greek, the words living and godliness are plural. Alford says, 'In holy behaviours and pieties; the plurals mark the holy behaviour and piety in all its forms and examples.' Peter would plead for a life of holiness pervading the whole man: our behaviours towards men, and our pieties towards God. True holiness cannot be found in anything less. Holiness must be the one, the universal characteristic of our Christian life. In God we have seen that holiness is the central attribute, the comprehensive expression for Divine perfection, the attribute of all the attributes, the all-including epithet by which He Himself, as Redeemer and Father, His Son and His Spirit, His Day, His House, His Law, His Servants, His People, His Name, are marked and known. Always and in everything, in Judgment as in Mercy, in His Exaltation and His Condescension, in His Hiddenness and His Revelation, always and in everything, God is the Holy One. And the Word would teach us that the reign of Holiness, to be true and pleasing to God, must be supreme, must be in all holy living and godliness. There must not be a moment of the day, nor a relation in life; there must be nothing in the outer conduct, nor in the inmost recesses of the heart; there must be nothing belonging to us, whether in worship or in business, that is not holy. The Holiness of Jesus, the Holiness which comes of the Spirit's anointing, must cover and pervade all. Nothing, nothing may be excluded, if we are to be holy; it must be as Peter said when he spoke of God's call -- holy in all manner of living; it must be as he says here -- 'in all holy living and godliness.' To use the significant language of the Holy Spirit: Everything must be done, 'worthily of the holy ones,' 'as becometh holy ones' (Rom. xvi.3; Eph. v.3).
Note, too, the force of the question. Peter says, 'Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for these things.' Yes, let us think what that means. We have been studying, down through the course of Revelation, the wondrous grace and patience with which God has made known and made partaker of His holiness, all in preparation for what is to come. We have heard God, the Holy One, calling us, pleading with us, commanding us to be holy, as He is holy. And we expect to meet Him, and to dwell through eternity in His Light, holy as He is holy. It is not a dream; it is a living reality; we are looking forward to it, as the only one thing that makes life worth living. We are looking forward to Love to welcome us, as with the confidence of childlike love we come as His holy ones to cry, Holy Father!
We have learnt to know Jesus, the Holy One of God, our Sanctification. We are living in Him, day by day, as those who are holy in Christ Jesus. We are drawing on His Holiness without ceasing. We are walking in that will of God which He did, and which He enables us to do. And we are looking forward to meet Him with great joy, 'when He shall come to be glorified in the holy ones, and to be admired in all them that believe.' We have within us the Holy Spirit, the Holiness of God in Christ come down to be at home within us, as the earnest of our inheritance. He, the Spirit of Holiness, is secretly transforming us within, sanctifying our spirit, soul, and body, to be blameless at His coming, and making us meet for the inheritance of the holy ones in light. We are looking forward to the time when He shall have completed His work, when the body of Christ shall be perfected, and the bride, all filled and streaming with the life and glory of the Spirit within her, shall be set with Him on His throne, even as He sat with the Father on His throne. We hope through eternity to worship and adore the mystery of the Thrice Holy One. Even here it fills our souls with trembling joy and wonder: when God's work of making holy is complete, how we shall join in the song, 'Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty, which wast, and art, and art to come!'
In preparation for all this the most wonderful events are to take place. The Lord Jesus Himself is to appear, the power of sin and the world is to be destroyed; this visible system of things is to be broken up; the power of the Spirit is to triumph through all creation; there is to be a new heaven and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. And holiness is then to be unfolded in ever-growing blessedness and glory in the fellowship of the Thrice Holy: 'He that is holy, let him be holy yet more.' Surely it but needs the question to be put for each believer to feel and acknowledge its force: 'Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for these things, what manner of men ought ye to be in all holy living and godliness?'
And note now the need and the point of the question. 'What manner of persons ought ye to be?' But is such a question needed? Can it be that God's holy ones, made holy in Christ Jesus, with the very spirit of holiness dwelling with them, on the way to meet the Holy One in His Glory and Love, can it be that they need the question? Alas! alas! it was so in the time of Peter; it is but too much so in our days too. Alas! how many Christians there are to whom the very word Holy, though it be the name by which the Father, in His New Testament, loves to call His children more than any other, is strange and unintelligible. And again, alas! for how many Christians there are for whom, when the word is heard, it has but little attraction, because it has never yet been shown to them as a life that is indeed possible, and unutterably blessed. And yet again, alas! for how many are there not, even workers in the Master's service, to whom the 'all holy living and godliness' is yet a secret and a burden, because they have not yet consented to give up all, both their will and their work, for the Holy One to take and fill with His Holy Spirit. And yet once more, alas! as the cry comes, even from those who do know the power of a holy life, lamenting their unfaithfulness and unbelief, as they see how much richer their entrance into the Holy Life might have been, and how much fuller the blessing they still feel so feeble to communicate to others. Oh, the question is needed! Shall not each of us take it, and keep it, and answer it by the Holy Spirit through whom it came, and then pass it on to our brethren, that we and they may help each other in faith, and live in joy and hope to give the answer our God would have?
'Seeing that these things are, then, all to be dissolved, what manner of persons ought we to be in all holy living and godliness?' Brethren! the time is short. The world is passing away. The heathen are perishing. Christians are sleeping. Satan is active and mighty. God's holy ones are the hope of the Church and the world. It is they their Lord can use. 'What manner of persons shall we be in all holy living and godliness!' Shall we not seek to be such as the Father commands, 'Holy, as He is holy'? Shall we not yield ourselves afresh and undividedly to Him who is our Sanctification, and to His Blessed Spirit, to make us holy in all behaviours and pieties? Oh! shall we not, in thought of the love of our Lord Jesus, in thought of the coming glory, in view of the coming end, of the need of the Church and the world, give ourselves to be holy as He is holy, that we may have power to bless each believer we meet with the message of what God will do, and that in concert with them we may be a light and a blessing to this perishing world?
I close with the closing words of God's Blessed Book, 'He which testifieth these things saith, Yea, I come quickly. Amen: Come, Lord Jesus. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with the holy ones. Amen.'
BE YE HOLY, AS I AM HOLY.
Most Holy God! who hast called us to be holy, we have heard Thy voice asking, What manner of persons we ought to be in all holy living and godliness? With our whole soul we answer in deep contrition and humility: Holy Father! we ought to be so different from what we have been. In faith and love, in zeal and devotion, in Christlike humility and holiness, O Father! we have not been, before Thee and the world, what we ought to be, what we could be. Holy Father! we now pray for all who unite with us in this prayer, and implore of Thee to grant a great revival of True Holiness in us and in all Thy Church. Visit, we beseech Thee, visit all ministers of Thy word, that in view of Thy coming they may take up and sound abroad the question, What manner of persons ought ye to be? Lay upon them, and all Thy people, such a burden under surrounding unholiness and worldliness, that they may not cease to cry to Thee. Grant them such a vision of the highway of holiness, the new and living way in Christ, that they may preach Christ our Sanctification in the power and the joy of the Holy Ghost, with the confident and triumphant voice of witnesses who rejoice in what Thou dost for them. O God! roll away the reproach of Thy people, that their profession does not make them humbler or holier, more loving, and more heavenly than others.
O Holy God! give Thou Thyself the answer to Thy question, and teach us and the world what manner of persons Thy people can be, in the day of Thy power, in the beauty of holiness. We bow our knee to Thee, O Father, that Thou wouldst grant us, according to the riches of Thy glory, to be mightily strengthened in the inner man by the Spirit of Holiness. Amen.
1. What manner of men ought ye to be in all the holy living? This is a question God has written down for us. Might it not help us if we were to write down the answer, and say how holy we think we ought to be? The clearer and more distinct our views are of what God wishes, of what He has made possible, of what in reality ought to be, the more definite our acts of confession, of surrender, and of faith can become.
2. Let every believer, who longs to be holy, join in the daily prayer that God would visit His people with a great outpouring of the Spirit of Holiness. Pray without ceasing that every believer may live as a holy one.
3. 'Seeing that ye look for these things.' Our life depends, in more than one sense, upon what we look at. 'We look not at the things which are seen.' It is only as we look at the Invisible and Spiritual, and come under its power, that we shall be what we ought to be in all holy living and godliness.
4. Holy in Christ. Let this be our parting word. However strong the branch becomes, however far away it reaches round the home, out of sight of the vine, all its beauty and all its fruitfulness ever depend upon that one point of contact where it grows out of the vine. So be it with us too. All the outer circumference of my life has its centre in the ego -- the living, conscious I myself, in which my being roots. And this I is rooted in Christ. Down in the depths of my inner life, there is Christ holding, bearing, guiding, quickening me into holiness and fruitfulness. In Him I am, In Him I will abide. His will and commands will I keep; His Love and Power will I trust. And I will daily seek to praise God that I am Holy in Christ.