through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in the hope of the glory of God.
I. THE PALACE INTO WHICH WE ARE ADMITTED. It is a house of grace where the favour of God is enjoyed, and which is furnished from the stores of Divine goodness. He saw the needs of his creatures, pitied their forlorn wretchedness, would shelter them from the storm, and lavish on them proofs of kindness. Peace reigns there, a sense of blissful security. Every article of furniture, every picture on the walls, every robe worn, every meal provided, speaks of Divine mercy, of a changed attitude towards those received within the sacred precincts. It is a permanent home, which we enter to go out no more for ever. Grace alters not, is not fickle; therefore "we stand" (abide) therein without fear of one day losing our situation from the arbitrariness of the Master.
II. THE GATE OF ENTRANCE. "Through our Lord Jesus Christ." He is "the Door of the sheep," a living Way to the holiest of all. He is our introduction ("access") to the court of the King. His work of mercy and righteousness has availed to procure free entry into the inheritance. The cherubim and flaming sword no longer bar the way to the Paradise of God. Man's own moral power availed naught to force a way into the temple. He could make no breach in the walls of governmental justice.
III. THE ONLY PASSPORT REQUIRED. "By faith" we enter into this state of grace. The inquiry at the gate is, "Dost thou believe on the Son of God?" To trust in Christ is to feel the longing for a renewed heart, for Divine forgiveness, and to recognize in him "the Way, the Truth, and the Life." Scepticism may keep men at a distance, unbelief may turn the back upon the mansion, timid doubt may remain gazing wistfully at the portico, but the believer is impelled to march humbly yet fearlessly through the appointed entrance into the halls of light and song.
IV. THE JOY OF THE INMATES. They are filled with exultation because of their present condition; they are already encompassed with so many marks of Divine favour. They are constantly finding new beauties in the construction of the rooms, and new evidences of Divine skill, forethought, and love. But they know that this is but the foretaste of further bliss; they triumph in the expectation of coming glory. They have the promise and many a sign of a fuller revealing of the character and purpose of God. He comes nearer to his guests, till at last the veil of sense shall be removed, and every occupant of the palace be enwrapped in the radiance of his throne. All the dust of the journey to the home, every vestige of defilement, vanishes from the pilgrims crowned with the brightness of God's heavenly presence. - S.R.A.
By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand.
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
I. PEACE AND FAVOUR WITH GOD (ver. 1). When God justifies the ungodly, and withdraws the sentence of condemnation, the fear of wrath is removed, and heartfelt peace necessarily succeeds to gloomy apprehension. Peace is the first blessing promised by Christ to the returning sinner, and it is a great one. A soul at peace with the universe, above, around, and before it, is in an enviable state of existence!
II. DIVINE INFLUENCE. "Grace" is often used to express the work of the Holy Spirit. When you first believed and entered the kingdom of grace, the Holy Ghost, with royal finger, touched your soul, and raised it from the death of sin to a life of righteousness. He continues His work of grace in the believer. He loves to form the soul anew, to beautify and adorn it with the image of the heavenly.
III. COMMUNION WITH GOD (Ephesians 2:18). It is no mean privilege for a needy creature to have free and ready access to the Giver of all good; to have the liberty of ransacking the storehouse of grace. There is a temple of prayer in the land of grace. We know not if there be another such in the universe. There is none in the regions of sin. "God heareth not [wilful] sinners." True, there is a porch of mercy to which the penitent may flee, and where the sighing of a broken heart will be heard by God; and this porch communicates with the temple of salvation through the door which is Christ Jesus. But until you reach the gate of repentance, you may stretch out your hands to heaven in vain. In the new Jerusalem, John "saw no temple." Heaven is a place of praise, not of prayer. So we are permitted to pray upon earth. This is an amazing privilege which is too little appreciated, and can never be fully estimated.
IV. JOYOUS ANTICIPATION. "We rejoice in hope of the glory of God." This full assurance of hope is the privilege of the experienced Christian in whom grace has produced its ripe fruits. Hope is the daughter of faith. Faith is the victory over the world, hope over death. It is the Christian warrior's privilege. When his spiritual hope is matured, it is a faculty of no little potency. The believer now feels the powers of the world to come — a Divine life which is ever aspiring towards its native heaven.
(R. M. Macbriar, M. A.)
I. THE BELIEVER'S PERMANENT STATE OF GRACE.
1. The privilege of being specially loved of God. This love is that of a father to his children (John 1:12; Galatians 4:4, 5; James 1:18; Jeremiah 31:3). The end at which God aims in His treatment of His children is to bring them to glory (Hebrews 2:10). But first they have to be fitted for it (Colossians 1:12). And therefore it is God's present business to purify them and make them perfect in holiness and love. Whom He justifies, them He also sanctifies. Into this grace we are introduced by faith. And it is by faith we stand in it.
2. The constant privilege of prayer. Those who are justified have at all times freedom of access to the throne of grace. They are encouraged to come to it boldly (Hebrews 4:16; Philippians 4:6); if rebuked at all, it is because they do not pray enough, or because they do not expect sufficiently large returns (John 4:24). Prayer opens the armoury of God; it is the key which unlocks the promises and makes them ours. It makes the weak worm, Jacob, omnipotent. By it we link our little skiff to the great ark of Jehovah's purposes and promises, and thus are we borne triumphantly across life's billowy sea to the heavenly Ararat of rest. It is by Christ that we have such access into this grace wherein we stand (Ephesians 2:18; Ephesians 3:12).
3. The privilege of being God's instruments in fulfilling His great purposes in the world. We are the Church of the living God, endowed with a queenly authority and power. The Church is the Lamb's bride. It is the heritage, the house, and the city of God. It is the pillar of the truth. It is the open mirror of Jehovah's most glorious attributes (Ephesians 3:10). And yet it is into this grace that we obtain access through our Lord Jesus Christ, when we are justified by faith.
II. THE BELIEVER'S JOYFUL HOPE CONCERNING THE FUTURE.
1. Its object.(1) Glory is a word which primarily denotes clearness and brightness. Hence, we speak of the glory of the sun, moon, and stars, while "one star differeth from another star in glory." Here we read of the "Glory of God." On earth this glory is dimmed and obscured; in hell it is never beheld; while heaven is a realm of perfect light, and in this God dwells (1 Timothy 6:15, 16). For such glory to be revealed to us now, like Saul of Tarsus, we should afterwards be unable to see, unless, indeed, we were instantly destroyed by the brightness of His appearing. Now let us regard the Christian's hope of glory under this aspect. There are creeping things which can only live in darkness; others, a little superior, thrive best in twilight; and others which can live in misty, northern climes, while they would speedily perish under a bright, southern sky. Man, the chief and head of terrene existences, can bask with delight in the most brilliant earthly sunshine. But angels, higher still, can live amid the unscreened splendours of the heavenly world. Now the prospect which we, as Christians, have is of one day joining their bright hosts, feeling at home in that most intense radiance. But how great a change must pass over us before we are fitted for that sphere I We must possess spiritual bodies (see Colossians 3:4; 1 John 3:2; Philippians 3:21).(2) But God's glory must be viewed in a moral aspect, as that of wisdom, holiness, rectitude, and truth, mingled with mercy and love. There is a glory in God's character which, the more we discern, the more we must admire it; in His law, which is the exact counterpart and transcript of His character; in His government of all intelligent creatures, and brightest of all in Christ. This glory we hope to see and to share. Here we see it in part, and know it in part. But hereafter, we shall see it in its fullest splendour. Our moral faculties will be purified, quickened, and enlarged, while our acquaintance with the ways and works of God will be corrected and expanded. We shall be holy, even as He is holy, and do His will as angels do it now (Psalm 17:15).(3) There is also a circumstantial glory — not the glory which belongs intrinsically to God, but the extraneous glory which He bestows upon His people. We cannot but prepare for some determinate place as the scene of our immortal life (John 14:2, 3; 1 Corinthians 2:9). We cannot doubt, however, that heaven will be a domain of perfect happiness and beauty worthy of its Maker; it will contain everything which can minister to the enjoyment of holy and immortal creatures (Revelation 7:16, 17).
2. Its nature. To hope for it is —(1) To believe in its existence and certain attainment; and this we do, because it is expressly promised by Him who cannot lie.(2) To desire it, and long for it (2 Corinthians 5:4).
3. This hope, accordingly, becomes a source of pleasure and joy to us.
(T. G. Horton.)
And rejoice in hope of the glory of God.Ephesians 4:18), it has its hidden source in the Father, it is manifested in the Son, it is reflected in man (John 17:22). Of this glory man was from the first designed to partake (1 Corinthians 11:7), but by sin all men "come short" or suffer loss of it (Romans 3:23); its restoration is wrought by the Spirit revealing and imparting the glory of Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18). In presenting this glory as an object of the believer's hope, the apostle points to its future perfection in the glorification of our whole nature, body, soul, and spirit. The glory in which man will be thus transfigured will be the glory of God, even as the sunshine resting upon earth is still the light of heaven; it will be an everlasting glory, just because man will dwell forever in the light of God's countenance.
(Archdn. Gifford.)I. WHAT CONSTITUTES THAT GLORY IN THE HOPE OF WHICH THE APOSTLE REJOICED? The word "glory" applied to God sometimes denotes that splendour with which He often clothed Himself when He made His appearance to the ancient saints; sometimes that sublime display of God's natural attributes, which He has made in the creation; sometimes a particular attribute of the Deity. It is in general used, however, to denote any signal or triumphant display of the Divine attributes as made towards men. In its primary and highest sense it is the full, cloudless, and combined display of the perfections of the Godhead, as in the text.
1. The display of this glory is reserved for the future world. But it is not to be imagined that any change is to pass upon the essential divinity of the Godhead. Jehovah is the perfection of beauty, yesterday, today, and forever; only interposing mediums will be removed, and the capacity of the creature elevated. This is accomplished for the soul at death; for the body at the resurrection. Think not, therefore, that God is to reveal His glory by descending to us. The revelation will be made by elevating us to Himself. If we are to behold this glory with a seraph's ecstasy, we shall gaze upon it with a seraph's eye.
2. It is to consist in the displays which God will make of Himself. The company of saints and angels may indeed increase immensely the bliss of heaven. But what are they without God? The glory in which they will shine is but a reflection from that embodied effulgence which emanates from the perfections of the Eternal Three. It is chiefly to be disclosed through the Church, and Jesus Christ is its Head and Redeemer. He has received this appointment; and, from the Father, glory has been given Him, which, in answer to His own prayer, His saints shall behold. But in what way will He execute it? The manifold wisdom of God is to be exhibited through the Church, unto principalities and powers in the heavenly places. The absolute riches of His glory He has determined to display through the vessels of mercy, which He had afore prepared unto glory. Where in the universe besides could He have found materials for erecting a monument so splendid, durable, and great, to His matchless love and mercy, as in these poor guilty beings which He thus redeems and exalts. Having gathered His saints into their everlasting rest, and secured a complete triumph over the last enemy, the Redeemer will now sit down in the midst of the throne, encircled with a bow of glory, in sight like unto an emerald. Then the sound of innumerable voices will break upon the ear of heaven, "Worthy is the Lamb to receive glory."
II. WHAT IS THE HOPE OF GLORY AND HOW DOES IT BECOME A FOUNDATION OF JOY TO THE BELIEVER? It is the hope of a sinner founded in the atonement of it, and it gives to the believer a prospective possession of the glory that is to be revealed.
1. There is, however, a hope that fastens upon the same blessed inheritance which yet is not the Christian's. Of this kind the world is full. How are they to be distinguished from each other?(1) Look at their origin. The rock of ages, Jesus Christ, is here placed as a broad and deep substratum on which the hope of glory is built. "Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid," and safely build upon it this animating hope. It is the immediate result of justification by faith. The impenitent sinner's hope, on the contrary, is built upon the sand.(2) But these hopes differ not less in their legitimate effects upon the heart. That of the Christian is, in its very nature, purifying (1 John 3:3). It is a hope, too, through which the love of God is shed abroad in the heart by the Holy Ghost. In this way it transforms the soul into the very image of its Maker, and thus prepares it for the inheritance of the saints in light. The hope of the sinner, however, is not only incompatible with the undisturbed repose of every sin, but it is the very aliment on which these plants of death are nourished.(3) As to the different results of these hopes, I need only say the one is like the giving up of the ghost when God takes away the soul — while the other, on the same event, wilt be like the breaking of a summer's morning. The one terminates in endless day, the other in eternal night; the one in heaven, the other in hell.
2. The hope renders the possession prospective. But what is intended by possession? The glory of God's kingdom is to be ours in a sense vastly higher than anything we are said to possess in the present life. In the terrestrial sense nothing becomes completely ours till every foreign claim is extinguished. In the heavenly, everything becomes ours by extinguishing our own. In the present world our right to possession is founded in the sacrifice we have made or the equivalent we have rendered. In the other, the blood of the Cross will seal it to us entire, with no sacrifice of our own, no equivalent given. Here we struggle for possession that we may not be dependent. There we shall surrender all, that our dependence may be complete. Conclusion:
1. The saints have ample occasion to rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory. Are you at present the subjects of affliction? I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in you.
2. God forbid that in the animating prospect which the heavenly inheritance presents, any of you should be disposed at present to glory save in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.
(J. W. Adams, D. D.)I. THE GLORY OF GOD. Glory signifies something splendid, dazzling, overwhelming. The term is misapplied to things mean and unworthy, but is always most rightly applied to anything pertaining to God. "The meanest labour of His hands" is more deserving of the term than the greatest works of men. "Even Solomon, in all his glory, was not arrayed like one of these." The glory of God means —
1. God Himself. Moses prayed, "I beseech thee, show me Thy glory," that is, "Reveal Thyself more fully to me." It would have been well if God's answer had repressed all similar curiosity. No man can see Him personally and live. We could not sustain the vision, even were we physically capable of it. But when we have laid aside all that is mortal, and "put on immortality," "we shall see Him as He is."
2. The glory of God which is beheld in His works. "The heavens declare the glory of God." And what splendours do these heavens exhibit! The most capacious mind may well quail in its effort to comprehend the glory of the infinite Creator, which they both reveal and conceal. We require to be a God to comprehend all of God which His works contain. And if the works of God be so glorious, what must Himself be?
3. The glory which appears in God's ways and dealings with us in providence. We may take three views of this and call it a natural providence, a judicial providence, and a gracious providence. By the first, He provides for all creatures, according to their capacities and necessities; by the second, He holds us accountable to Himself, and takes cognisance of our hearts and lives; and by the third, He is reconciling us to Himself, in Jesus Christ, and dispensing mercy and grace to all who ask them at His hands. And how gloriously does He act in all these respects!
4. The perfect purity and bliss which await the godly in heaven.(1) Their state is glorious. What was the glory of Eden, of Sinai, of Zion, of Tabor, compared with this! No sin, disease, pain, death.(2) Their society is glorious. If it was "good" to be present when Moses, Elijah, and Christ conversed, what must the intimacies of heaven afford?(3) Their employments are glorious. Think of being forever engaged in contemplating, loving, adoring, and serving God! of ever receiving and performing reciprocations of level.(4) Their prospects are glorious. The infinite and various excellences of God will be ever affording new discoveries; the river of their bliss will increase as it roils; that the sun of their heaven will still brighten as He shines; and that their state of glory will ever admit of "a far more exceeding and an eternal weight of glory."
II. THE JOY WHICH THE HOPE OF THE GLORY OF GOD AFFORDS.
1. They are to possess it. It is theirs, as Canaan was the inheritance of the descendants of the patriarchs. It is given to them by a covenant never to be broken. It is the chief part of the "eternal redemption" procured for them by the Redeemer. It is that to which they receive a title in their justification, to which they are "begotten again" by the Holy Spirit, for which they are sanctified, preserved, and fitted in this life.
2. Of this ultimate possession they have now a hope — "a good hope through grace." And their "hope maketh not ashamed," and is "an anchor of their souls, sure and steadfast, entering into the things within the veil." We see the powerful influence of this hope. With what firmness and composure does many a good man endure calamity and meet death! Such a person may be likened to a mariner, who, while prosecuting his long and dangerous voyage, has the eye of his mind fixed on the desired haven: or he is like an heir of some vast estate, looking forward, during his minority, to the period when he shall receive his property.
3. This hope begets joy in the bosom of its possessors.(1) The foundation of it is a cause of joy. It does not rest upon merits, sacraments, etc., but upon the foundation which God has laid in Zion, and "other foundation can no man lay." Everything besides is as "shifting sand, fleeting air, or a bursting bubble."(2) Its attendant principles occasion joy. It is one of a class of graces which are the "fruits of the Spirit."(3) Its effects minister, joy. It is not an uninfluential grace, but is ever active, and all its influence is for holiness. A genuine hope and allowed sin cannot co-exist in the same person.(4) Its certainty yields joy; other hopes may and do fail. We have seen the candidate for wealth, power, fame, pleasure, flushed with hope, only to become the victim of disappointment and mortification!(5) Its object gives joy — the glory of God in heaven. In other things, the ultimate enjoyment may not equal our present hope of it; but here realisation will infinitely sustain our largest and most sanguine hope. We shall find that notwithstanding all that is written in the Scriptures of this glory, all the glimpses and tastes we may have of it now, the half has not been known. Conclusion:
1. How little we know at present of the glory of God! Who can find Him out to perfection? And a cloud rests upon His works. His providence, too, is all beyond our comprehension. The difficulties do not diminish if we think of Divine revelation; in which we have certain facts stated, but the circumstances of many of these facts are not explained. And then how dense is the veil which conceals the world of spirits from our view! And in all these things the mere philosopher has little advantage over the clown. But the Christian has the advantage of faith; "what he knows not now he shall know hereafter."
2. Is our hope for eternity the hope of the gospel and the real Christian? Self-deception and vain pretensions are common in the world and in the Church. We can hardly meet with a person who does not hope to go to heaven when he dies. But, in thousands of instances, how vain is the hope! "Without holiness no man shall see the Lord." Here is a sure test by which to ascertain the genuineness of our hope.
3. The subject is well fitted to relieve the present obscurity, and to mitigate the present sorrows of the people of God. We shall not always remain under a cloud and in trouble. A day of revelation is approaching when we shall "shine as the sun in the kingdom of our Father," and when we shall no more "hang our harps upon the willows," but retain them, ever strung and attuned to the songs of immortality.
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