The excellent person of Christ is the key to all knowledge. He is the explanation of all history. He is the answer to all questions concerning the reason for creation, its meaning and purpose. He holds the secret of our own existence: Who am I? What am I doing here? When and how will it all end?
In an age which has almost abandoned hope in the future of mankind and yet will not heed the voice of divine revelation so patiently calling to the sons of men, the doctrine of Christ was never more relevant.
Solomon, the wisest of kings and without peer among philosophers, saw eternal wisdom personified in the glorious person of the Son and heard His voice, the voice of the Alpha and the Omega, declaring:
The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was.... When he appointed the foundations of the earth: Then I was by him, as one brought up with him: and I was daily His delight, rejoicing always before him; Rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth; and my delights were with the sons of men. Now therefore hearken unto me, 0 ye children: for blessed are they that keep my ways. Hear instruction, and be wise, and refuse it not. Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at the posts of my doors. For whoso findeth me findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the Lord. But he that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul: all they that hate me love death (Proverbs 8:33-36).
The same holy fire of divine revelation concerning the Son kindled in the soul of the Apostle Paul; and when he wrote from his Roman prison to the first Christian believers in the city of Colosse in Asia Minor, he declared of Christ, He “is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: for by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in the earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist” (Colossians 1:15-17).
If any should ask, “Why is the universe here?” the answer of Paul is, “It was made for Christ.” And what is the meaning and purpose of it? Paul answers, “The glory and praise of Christ, through whom all things came into existence.” What of the mystery of evil and sin and sufferings and death? What of creation's agony, its groanings and travailings in its imperfect moral state? The answer is, It is given to Christ to reconcile all things to God in one great moral act of atonement, whereby creation is redeemed and raised to the highest state of glory and perfection. Creation must groan in its travail till the eternal age time of the redeemed. It awaits the manifestation of the sons of God (Romans 8:19).
Paul sees creation as a divine thing--a drama played out in a theatre of real life, where suffering and trial, sin and death and pain are not fictions but realities through which the final victory is won by the incarnate Son. Christ earns the right thereby to be worshipped and adored by all creation as its Maker and Redeemer.
THE DOCTRINE OF CHRIST PARAMOUNT
In the exposition of the Epistle to the Colossians, this doctrine of Christ is paramount. All other studies as to the motives of Paul in writing this letter are irrelevant. Expositors have laid too much weight upon scholastic questions as to whether Paul or someone else founded the church at Colosse or what peculiar brand of Jewish-Alexandrine Gnostic philosophy was the occasion of the writing of the epistle.
“We are in the region of the Phrygian heresy,’ writes one learned commentator. (Phrygia was the province in Asia Minor where Colosse was a principal city.) This “Phrygian Error” was said to have arisen from the speculations of one Philo, a Jew who developed a semi-mystical philosophy of God and creation and the angels. It was this (say some) that Paul was endeavoring to refute in this Epistle in his doctrine of the person of Christ. Whether this was so no one has ever been able to prove. What is certain is that Paul’s doctrine of Christ is relevant to all time and is the answer to all erroneous views of God and creation. Never has this Epistle been more needed than it is today, when the church has to meet the challenge of universal agnosticism, whose only connection with first-century Gnosticism is the substitution of human reason for divine revelation.
It is doubtful if Philo’s abstraction ever filtered down to the ordinary man or could be comprehended outside a closed circle of initiates, but all the world today has been deceived by the materialistic speculation of the evolutionary hypothesis. The raising up of Saul of Tarsus by God marked the onset of a new era of light and truth, by which the darkness of ancient error which held all the world in the chains of heathendom was to be dispelled. Though the hammer blows of the great Apostle were derided at Athens and treated with contempt in Rome, his doctrine proved to be the leaven in the meal which, working secretly, leavened, the whole lump. As feeble seemed the blows of Luther’s hammer when he fixed his theses to the Cathedral door at Wittenberg in 1517, but the echoes thereof rocked the whole world. The difference between Paul’s day and ours is that the process is sadly in reverse. The world is on its way back to heathen darkness and gross unbelief. The historic Christian churches are falling. The kingdom of anti-Christ is establishing itself again on the ruins of the Protestant Reformation. A service of “Holy Communion” in honor of the actors and actresses of the unspeakable musical Hair was celebrated in St. Paul's Cathedral, London – a celebration which might more appropriately have been laid on in Sodom on the eve of its destruction. Atheistic science has taken over in school and university and propagated the doctrine so congenial to sinful man, that there is no longer any settled truth about anything. This new heathenism expresses itself in atheistic terms, but nonetheless it is a religion founded upon a lie.
In his Colossian Epistle, Paul shows that the answer to all error, ancient or modern, is Christ. There is a science beyond all science, and it is theology--the Queen of the sciences. We argue from deity to creation, not from creation to deity. To discover the secret of man, we probe the mystery of Christ. We do not go to history to prove Christ, but we explain history by Him--for it is His, it came from Him, and returns to Him. The origin of our race is in Christ, and its destiny is in Him also. “All things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist” (Colossians 1:16-17).
It is false apologetics to seek to prove Christ by history. The proposition that man is a fallen and ruined creature no longer possessed of moral rectitude is a self-evident fact and requires no proof. The proposition that man is responsible for his acts is as self-evident as that he exists and it requires no proof, for all the world acts upon it. The proposition that man is on a course of self-destruction needs no proof in this twentieth century, though our immediate forefathers in the nineteenth century (“the century of enlightenment”) were deceived into thinking otherwise. The nineteenth century could arrive at its false optimism only by a process of historic selectivity--ignoring those facts of human society which were inconvenient to its exuberant hopes. The fact of sin is self-evident and needs no proof, yet that very fact of sin is proof that man is a moral creation. The denial of this is refuted by the self-consciousness of the man who voices the denial. As there can be no morality without moral law and no moral law without deity, all roads of human self-consciousness lead to deity. But deity itself is inadmissible without the fact of divine intervention in the human dilemma. A moribund deity is an absurdity. Likewise, a deity not united to His own works of creation by a bond of eternal love is a moral contradiction. All roads point to God, and all self-evident truth about God points to a divine intervention in humanity’s dilemma. That intervention is as inevitable as creation itself. It has taken place, and we call it THE INCARNATION. The most sublime statement ever made since the foundation of the world is made by the Apostle John in' the sentence, “The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us” (John 1:14).
The fact of Christ as the eternal Word, the wisdom and power of God descending from the eternal throne to the lowly cattle shed; the fact that He whose wisdom conceived creation should Himself be pleased to be conceived in the womb of a virgin mother; that He who was eternal and beyond death, time, or change should bear in the frailty of true human nature—our human nature--the burden of mortality and death, that by such an atonement, such a reconciliation, such a resurrection, He might destroy sin and death and exalt man to the eternal throne of creation- -these are facts not knowable except by revelation; yet they evince themselves as truth as soon as the proposition is declared. “Of course, it must be true. There can be no alternative--no other truth.” Christ is, and must be, the way, the truth, and the life; for there is nothing otherwise in this silent, cruel, meaningless universe except despair.
The declaration of this verity we call THE GOSPEL—“the good tidings of great joy.”
If, therefore, the doctrine of Christ is a self-evident truth, it is just as sure that the renewal of human nature and the raising of it to the very throne of God (which is its. true destiny) must be a matter of moral renewal--something which theologically we know as repentance and faith. Participation in the new life which flows in creation from Christ can be only by thirsting for it. It is not conferred, as in a natural birth, without the babe’s consent or participation, but has to do with that which makes man what he is. The awakening of the soul to its true relationship with God and its yielding of itself to its Maker and Redeemer as an instrument of the divine glory and grace is a matter, which calls into activity all the created powers and faculties of human nature.
There is the greatest depth in all the sayings of Christ, as we should expect. Here is one: “If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly (his innermost spiritual depths) shall flow rivers of living water” (John 7:37-38). The thirst of the soul for its true destiny is the key to its moral restoration.
Here is another saying uttered in all its sublimity, not to a vast theatre of curious spectators, but to an audience of one, in the weariness of human nature at the mouth of a wayside well in the burden and heat of the day—“Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life” (John 4:13-14). The audience was a poor, unknown woman, a forlorn creature living in the contradiction and shame of her own, sin. An invented story, fraudulently imposed upon a credulous public, could never have captured the sublime thought of placing God and the creature in such juxtaposition. Nor would religious fraud have invented such a woman in order to procure a fictitious moral regeneration. It is a self-evident fact that the case of the “Woman of Samaria” bears all the verisimilitude of truth, because its deep moral significance can exist only in terms of fundamental facts. The restoration of that woman's soul was in terms of her desire for the living water of the Spirit, in terms of the fountain of eternal life opened by Christ in her own being.
The purging of Peter’s soul in the words, “Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee” (John 21:17), is as much a self-evident proof of the deity of Christ as it is of the reality of the history. Conversion and regeneration are the universal need of man in his moral state, and faith is not an act of mere logical credence to a proposition of historical fact, but a deep purging stream which cleanses and transforms the life of man.
This is why “salvation” is not a universal benefit flowing from the atoning work of Christ, but is an individual experience in which all the human race will not participate. Hence there is the awful solemnity of that repentance which brings fallen man into the orbit of the new creation. Its promise of immortality is to those who believe.
Against all the surging atheism and revival of paganism in our time, therefore, we set the message of the Colossian Epistle. It is not in the glibness of an evangelical catch-phrase that we say, “Christ is the answer,” but in a reverent and submissive act of total worship and adoration. We acclaim with Paul the awful grandeur and significance of that Person who presents Himself to us as divine love, the eternal and only begotten Son, the WISDOM who formed the universe and called into being that masterpiece of creation MAN, the One who fixed the high and noble destiny of that creature whom He designed, not from the rubbish of a blind evolutionary process, but from the beauty and excellence of His own mind, to bear His image and become His viceroy over all things visible and invisible.
THE INDIGNITY OF EVOLUTION
Our complaint against evolutionary humanism is that it belittles man, soils his dignity, denies to him a rational soul, and deprives him of any destiny except the decay from which he is sup posed to have arisen. “God breathed into man's nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul.” Here is a statement from Genesis, beyond science, which raises man in the scale of being to the rank of a son of God, to a destiny guaranteed by the immense events which we know as the incarnation, the atonement, and the resurrection of Christ.
In Colossians, Paul, the inspired penman who himself has looked into heaven and contemplated the face of perfect love (2 Corinthians 12:1-4), paints the grandest portrait of Christ that ever hung in the mystic halls of divine knowledge. His theme is the supremacy of Christ in time and in eternity and the church’s completeness in Him who is the Head of all principality and power (Colossians 2:10).
The apparent feebleness of the church in the world today is no more an argument against this truth than was her seeming irrelevance in Paul’s day, when the Gospel was making its first scarcely perceptible ripples on the placid surface of the Roman world. Faith wins her battles in other fields than those of military or political prowess. Faith flourishes and overcomes the world, not in strength, but in weakness. “The weapons of our warfare are not carnal (says Paul), but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds” (II Corinthians 10:4).
So is the kingdom of God (says Christ), as if a man should cast seed into the ground; “And should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how. For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear. But when the fruit is brought, forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come" (Mark 4:26-29).
Let no one think that Napoleon was right when he boasted that “God was with the big battalions.” The power of God is always with the humble and meek, as Mary taught us in her immortal Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55).
The triumphs of God do not lie in the imposing sight of a converted world, but in an indestructible world of light and truth which prevails in age after age against all that sin and unbelief and demoniac hate can do to overthrow it.
That most profound of preachers who wrote so enigmatically the book of Ecclesiastes put the secret of all history into his tiny parable of the little city besieged by the mighty king and how the city was delivered by the wisdom of a poor man who was soon forgotten (Ecclesiastes 9:13-18). The writer of Ecclesiastes concludes that “Wisdom is better than weapons of war.”
THE PRIORITY OF PRAYER
It is noteworthy that Paul introduces his great theme of the excellence and supremacy of Christ with an exquisite prayer (Colossians 1:9-12). This is the only way by which the revelation of God can be truly received--in the spirit of prayer and love. Without this furnishing, there can be no faculty of knowing. It is a prayer for faith, wisdom, and spiritual understanding, leading to a godly and consistent life, good works, and patient endurance of trial and adversity (not in the impassive resignation of the Stoic, but “with joyfulness,” which is the ultimate test of faith).
This prayer should be compared with the prayers of the Apostle in Ephesians 1:15-23 and 3:14-21. He who would learn to pray could do no better than to study Paul’s prayers and commit them to heart and memory. Happy is that church which nurtures in its bosom intercessors who pray after this manner for the welfare of the flock and the advancement of grace and knowledge and experience amongst them.
Many a pastor who complains that the hardest part of a service for him is the extempore prayer needs to be told that the Bible abounds in examples of prayer and intercession and giving of thanks. Paul’s inspired and majestic prayers should kindle the holy fire of intercession in the soul of any minister who has any susceptibility for the sublime.
Paul starts from that point where Epaphras had declared to him the spiritual love of the Colossian church (Colossians 1:8). The aged Apostle, bowed under the conditions of his confinement while at Rome, was filled with gratitude not only because he had been remembered so tenderly by his friends in Colosse, but most of all for this token that his labors amongst them had not been in vain. This, by the way, is an answer to the question whether Paul had actually originated the preaching of the Gospel in Colosse and thus was the true founder of the Colossian church. Their love for Paul was of that rare spiritual quality which showed how wonderfully the Word of God had taken root amongst them. Is there any higher reward on earth for a faithful pastor than to receive the love of those for whom he has labored?
Paul’s first petition for his flock is that they be filled with the knowledge of the divine will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding. This is a most profound request, traveling far beyond the trivial boundaries of most pulpit prayers. The will of God is His eternal determinations concerning all creation. It is a wisdom all-embracing, directed to the one great and ultimate goal of glorifying the divine Being and displaying all His holy perfections. In a sense, the will of God is simple and uncomplicated. The direction of the divine life and purpose proceeds relentlessly without deviation, unaffected by contingency or circumstantial change, to the end which has been determined from the beginning. Nor is there any “time” element in the formation of the divine “decision” or decrees. God does not “decide” to do anything. There is no weighing of alternatives or possibilities with God. He who knows all from the beginning and is perfect wisdom in Himself does not need to “decide” anything. What He does and what He will do is present with Him from all eternity and represents at all times the full expression of His perfection, the highest degree of divine wisdom, to which there is no possible alternative.
In the realm of human experience, however, we must learn, often painfully, our own relationship to that all-embracing, perfectly ordered will of God. It is the business of angels and men in their moral being to subject themselves in all things to the holy will of God. Because this was not always done, there came about the original apostasy of angels in heaven and the subsequent disobedience and fall of man on earth.
Yet mysteriously, as in the case of the sacrifice of Christ, evil succeeds only in fulfilling the purposes of God by destroying itself. Malevolence and unbelief gathered together to do what God’s hand and counsel had determined before to be done at Calvary. (Acts 4:27-28).
The will of God uses evil to destroy evil, bringing to pass greater good than otherwise could be. It is manifest that Christ died by the will of God the Father, who sent His Son into the world for our redemption. That redemption could not be brought about save through the shedding of His blood, and yet that blood could be shed only by guilty hands. “Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain” (Acts 2: 23).
When considering the will of God, we are in a region of great and mysterious depth. The wicked intentions of men and devils combine at the Cross to promote the holy, wise, and good determinations of God so that evil never ultimately succeeds but only recoils upon itself to its own destruction.
God’s will for us as individuals is really a part of that one great unity of the Holy will of God driving relentlessly through history to the great end of the promotion of the divine glory. But that will is not a simple thing, for we see only in part and the baffling details appear to be contrary to reason and contradictory to what we know of God. Job, however, taught us that true faith does not need to know the answers now. Faith can wait, and does wait, till the whole is revealed, even though that moment of truth is delayed until eternity comes and the final judgment proclaims that God is holy and true and righteous in all His acts and ways.
To be filled with the knowledge of His will is not, therefore, to know all as God knows all, but to know God in Himself in an ever-increasing fulness and to be acquainted with His will so as to be gloriously enlightened as to His intentions and purposes in us and in all the world. It is the will of God that we should be holy, patient, and submissive, ever learning to bow reverently to His wise and glorious counsel. This we will do with the greater readiness and delight as we know what those purposes are. The ultimate end of God's will is Christ, the eternal, only-begotten, uncreated Son, in whom all the treasures of the Father’s wisdom and will are found. Christ is the Word, the wisdom, and the power of God. In Him dwells all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.
As the whole direction of the divine life is to exhibit and glorify Christ, so must we be conformed to that pattern. Our wills are most awfully ours that in the surrender of most perfect love they might become divine--unutterably and sweetly directed to Christ and His glory. This might be too hard for simple flesh; but after the Spirit has worked within us (dare we say it), it is the easiest exercise on earth for those who love Him. The surrender of bride and bridegroom to each other that in the loss of their own solitary liberty they might find a new freedom of love in preferring one another is not usually regarded as a hardship or a bondage. In the Song of Solomon 6:3 we find the highest expression of that delightful discovery of the secret of life--the loss of liberty that true liberty might be found: “I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine.”
Having to live upon the level of earthly affairs and changes, with the pressure of duty, the burden of tasks, the weariness and pressure of the daily round, the anxieties of the unknown future, the apprehension of change and death, the loss of beloved ones, the unfaithfulness of man, the inhumanities and the ingratitudes suffered in the course of time, the disappointments and conflicts in all this seemingly disordered realm, it is after all our only comfort to fall back on a meek and quiet acquiescence in that holy will of God which knows all, comprehends all, and determines all for the highest and most glorious of ends.
Hence to know the will of God means to be patient in trial, brave in affliction, and submissive to chastening. Faith knows how to wait, and love embraces her beloved and is content and is filled with a mysterious and wonderful joyfulness. Being filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, therefore, involves a growth in the knowledge of God through the Word. The Bible is the record of all we have been trying to say. To know our Bible is to know the will of God, and to submit to that will and wait for it patiently is to overcome the world and Satan and the flesh.
Thus to know the will of God brings all into focus--Christ, redemption, the Christian’s glorious hope, so that the world and human affairs become small and the kingdom of God correspondingly great.
THE OBJECT OF KNOWING
The object of all knowledge is the refinement of the soul, “That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing” (Colossians 1:10). Divine knowledge is different from all other forms of knowledge in that its significance is entirely moral. The various categories of knowledge on the strictly human dimension can be quite consistent with the most deplorable manners and conduct. “Culture” without spiritual renewal is very often a veneer to hide the rottenness underneath. To be a great artist, poet, or musician does not necessarily mean purity of manners, as all the world knows.
With divine knowledge, it is different. The least cultivated of men imbued with this knowledge may display a rarity of character to which those who are filled only with worldly knowledge are strangers.
Knowledge of God in Christ is a knowledge which can be conveyed only by the Spirit of God to souls renewed in the divine image by faith and repentance. That is the reason why Paul’s prayer springs immediately from the report of Epaphras that his beloved Colossians we re so filled with “love in the Spirit.” This is the “hidden wisdom” which none of the princes of this world knew--a wisdom which opens the eye to see and the ear to hear that to which the wisdom of this world is altogether impervious (1 Corinthians 2).
To “walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing” means to conduct one's life in a manner which glorifies God and yields pleasure to Him (See 1 Thessalonians 4:1). It may seem to the conscientious soul, so aware of its own unworthiness and proneness to sin, a thing impossible of attainment that we should “please God”; but we must have respect to that principle which God observes in all His dealings with fallen humanity--the intention of the soul in its approach to God. “I delight in the law of God after the inward man,” says Paul, even while groaning within himself over that “other law” which he perceives in his fallen bodily nature which “wars against the law of the mind” (Romans 7:22-23).
Augustine advises us most wisely that, though our prayers may be defective and our petitions overmuch affected by our natural anxieties and ignorance, yet God graciously hears us according to what Augustine describes as “the hinge of prayer”--that is, the real--if hidden- -desire in all our praying that the will of God be done. God is pleased to accept our imperfect works and the unworthiness of much of our walk because He has respect to that deep-seated principle of the intent to glorify God, lying at the root of all the actions of a truly regenerate soul. This does not excuse our defects of conduct, but it encourages the earnest soul to press on humbly, patiently, and earnestly toward the goal of perfection.
In his prayer, Paul allows for “increase in the knowledge of God,” for in this world our knowledge is always “in part.” Only in heaven’s perfection shall we know as we are known. Seeing now as through a glass darkly, we nonetheless dimly perceive and yearningly grasp after that fulness of knowledge of God which is reserved for that great moment when the beatific vision shall break upon our view.
“Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power” (Colossians 1:11). This is similar to Paul’s petition for the Ephesian church (Ephesians 3:16). These parallel petitions for neighboring churches help to explain each other and dispel needless mysteries and misleading conclusions. The “all might” of Colossians 1:11 is the inward working of the Holy Spirit of Ephesians 3:16. “That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith” (Ephesians 3:17) is equivalent to the manifestation of “patience and longsuffering with joyfulness” in Colossians 1:11. The attempt sometimes made to introduce a “high” doctrine of Christian experience through a mistaken view of the words, “That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith” (Ephesians 3:17), is to be discouraged. Christ already dwells in the heart of every believer by faith. What Paul is exhorting is that the manifestations of the indwelling Christ in those Christ-like virtues of patience, longsuffering and joyfulness in affliction should be brought to full fruition. This is not the work of a moment, nor is it some new revolutionary Christian experience, but rather the product of earnest and ever-increasing knowledge of God as the soul matures under the chastening hand of God.
“Giving thanks unto the Father,” etc. (Colossians 1:12). The believer is held up in the disciplines and trials and aspirations of the Christian life by the anticipation of that great destiny which has been written indelibly by the hand of God into the new nature imparted by the Holy Spirit in regeneration. We shall be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light. What then are the sufferings of this present time? How insignificant is time when compared with eternity? Elsewhere Paul says, “The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18).
For this, Paul would have us “give thanks,” and it might be worthy of observation here that Paul has little to say in his writings of bodily activity as the great end of the Christian life. He lays great weight upon a thankful; worshipping spirit for all that God is and ever will be to His children. There is a great need in these intensely activist days for a rearrangement of priorities. A great deal more time might be spent in introducing young Christians to the holy exercises of worship, thanksgiving, praise, and humility as primal tokens of a true conversion. Activity is a proof of nothing; thankfulness and praise are of the nature of heaven itself.
THE CHRISTIAN APOSTASY DIMINISHES DEITY
Paul now introduces his principal theme: the supremacy of the Son of God. His prayer has shown how great is the calling and the destiny of the true believer in Christ. Now he will magnify beyond all measure that calling and destiny by showing the dignity, worth, and pre-eminence of Christ, the Eternal Word.
It is an exercise which has peculiar relevance to our own time. This is a day of general apostasy from all known standards of the Christian faith. For the first time in history, it has become not only possible but even fashionable in Christian churches and theological seminaries to call into question all that is foundational to faith and the knowledge of God. God no longer reigns. Deity is diminished to the status of an uncertain and probably impersonal or abstract principle slumbering within the energies of the visible creation. The possibilities of a life hereafter, the existence of soul and spirit, of the validity of any moral law or principle pervading creation (other than that of utilitarian convenience) is doubted or denied. With the fact of God goes the fact of Christ. If God be not God, then there can be no meaningful belief in an eternal Son of God. Hence the incarnation, the atonement, the resurrection, the ascension, the coming judgment day are all denied or treated as irrelevant. All that matters is the welfare of human society now and the arrangement of the global picture so as to meet the convenience and general comfort of the human race. Having unfortunately evolved the faculty of reason, humanity has become subject to the limitations and discomforts of suffering and death (to which sin might be added but for the general consensus to play down or deny so dangerous a notion). The idea of man's being a moral creature is fatal to materialistic science.
The older historical forms of the Christian faith (Roman Catholicism and Greek Orthodoxy) still retain the cardinal doctrines of the so-called Apostles’ Creed, though the concepts of faith and grace without which no creed is truly valid are so overlaid or distorted in these churches that there is no clear access to God therein.
Only the evangelical faith (a general term covering all who adhere to the principle of free access to God by faith through grace) maintains a clear Gospel testimony, but even there a growing ignorance of the Bible doctrines of God and Christ is keeping pace with an increasing emphasis on the human as against the divine and a deplorable laxity in reverence and worship. Musical delights, the decline of the sermon, and the emphasis on organization and activity are undermining the old foundations, while a precocious revivalism is doing nothing to encourage a return to the old standards of truth, godliness, and worship.
Paul begins with God the Father, the fount of deity and the cause of all things—“Giving thanks unto the Father which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light.” Here is grace, faith, destiny, immortality, holiness, and truth. The human is very much subordinate to the divine; God is to be thanked and praised for having called us into the fellowship and communion of the saints who live beyond death in the region of eternal light.
The immensity of that task to which God addressed Himself is shown in the statement (Colossians 1:13) that we have been “delivered from the power of darkness and translated into the kingdom of his dear Son.”
Every word of this sentence is of incalculable weight. Here is a dimension which is immortal, invisible, and beyond the measurement or comprehension of man. The root trouble with the human race, says Paul, is that it is enslaved by the power of darkness; that is, it has fallen victim to a sinister domination of real power and malignity which holds the world in darkness concerning God and truth. It is “this power of darkness” which the world refuses to recognize because sinful man “loves darkness rather than light because his deeds are evil” (John 3:19).
The darkness is spiritual in its nature and has nothing to do with the natural order. It is the darkness of spiritual ignorance, the blight of fatal and fundamental error, the incapacity to behold the light because the mind is the willing slave of sin and unbelief. By these instruments Satan rules. These are the principles of his kingdom, and this is the great end he has in view--namely, to hold the mind of man in bondage and divert worship from God to the devil. It is for this reason that all the efforts of man to rule himself and control his destiny are foredoomed to failure. There is a vanity in all human affairs. The best laid schemes come to naught because man himself is a sinner. Cromwell’s experiment of Christian government did not outlast his death. His iron rule gave place to the profligacy of the Stuart restoration. The second generation of the Pilgrim Fathers in America found that they required a police force and jails.
The latest craze of western civilization is to tolerate violence and unhinge public discipline under the mistaken principle of “liberty.” Catch-phrases, such as “violence begets violence,” are exhorted as a sort of infallible text which no one in his senses would dream of disputing; yet the truth is that by tolerating violence society is nurturing a monster which bids fair to devour its parent. “And the earth was filled with violence,” it is recorded; and the flood overwhelmed the ancient world shortly after (Genesis 6:11).
It is by the prerogative of God alone that anyone is or can be delivered from the power of darkness. That deliverance partakes of the nature of a “translation.” As Enoch and Elijah were transported beyond the domain and reach of death, so “He hath translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son.”
There are, therefore, these two realms in one or the other of which all mankind is found--the kingdom of the Son of God’s love (See margin, Colossians 1:13 A. V.), and the kingdom (or the power) of darkness. To pass from one to the other is an act of God comparable to the creation of the world. Darkness here is set against holy and perfect love personified in Christ the Son of the Father, only-begotten, uncreated, eternal.
This kingdom of Christ, which is destined to achieve the redemption of man and the discomfiture and destruction of the power of evil, is founded on the sufferings and atoning work of the cross. It rises from a tomb in which are buried all human hopes; but in Him who died and rose again and in Him alone the threefold burden of the human race--sin, suffering, and death--is destroyed and life, light, and love emerge.
“That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me” may not be a thing of great worth to the natural man; but it is the theme of heaven, the joy of redeemed man, and the key to the meaning of all things. Nowhere is the darkness of the human mind so manifest as in its reception of such a theme as this.
CHRIST'S UNIQUE KINGDOM
(Colossians 1:14) “In whom we have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins.” This is the grand secret. Unique in the kingdom of light (this kingdom of God's dear Son) is this--that it is not founded on a legal code, that it is not social reform, that it has no visible center of power and discipline on earth. It is founded and produced and maintained on the basis that blood has been shed--the blood of the Innocent, the death and rising again of One who was and is and ever shall be God. His kingdom is held together not by exaction and penalties upon those who are in breach of its discipline, but by the gratitude and worship and love of those who are redeemed and forgiven.
Thus arises a new creation to take the place of the old--a new creation in which God realized Himself through the Son in the communion of the one Spirit of holiness: Three in One. Man, created to be the masterpiece of God’s wisdom, reaches his destiny at last, not by his own merit, but through the true humanity of the Only Begotten Son, the Word made flesh. By Bethlehem, Gethsemane, and Golgotha, the Son in utter subordination to the Father's will accomplishes His appointed task and unites creation in Himself with the eternal God so that creation, in man’s glorified humanity, is united to its Creator in a dimension of love not otherwise possible save by the long and painful road of conflict with evil. The issue in that conflict was never in doubt, but ends which are predestinated are not reached save in the reality of conflict and victory. God is no exception to the principle of His own life, and therefore He can accomplish the predestined end for Himself only by suffering and dying upon the tree.
WHO IS CHRIST?
Who then is this person whom we know as Jesus Christ? What are His qualifications to be creation’s Mediator, at one and the same time its victim and its victor? By what law is it possible for Him alone in all creation to bear creation’s burden and by His death and resurrection to bring in a new and eternal and incorruptible order? He could not be less than God. He could not be other than God. He could not have been a creature however exalted, or He could have acted only for Himself. Yet creature He must have become, else He could not suffer evil and die under its stroke. He must be God and man in one person without confusion of substance, true God and true man, yet also without division of person--He remains in Himself what He ever was and shall be, God eternal and almighty, the great Creator who became our Savior, in whom all the fullness of the Godhead dwells.
This was clearly perceived by the inspired Apostle Paul, himself a man amongst men, whose unique privilege it was that he should be fully furnished for his unique office of the apostleship of the Gentiles by being caught up to the Eternal Presence (whether in the body or out of the body he could not tell) and there converse with the glorified Son of God and receive from His pierced hands his holy commission to preach that Gospel which opened up to the whole world the treasures of God's grace. (See Paul’s personal account of this experience in 2 Corinthians 12.)
TREASON AGAINST THE HUMAN RACE
Skeptics who deride the supernatural features of the gospel must first prove that there is no such thing as the supernatural--no God, no heaven, no eternal state, no invisible world, no immortality. They have a heavy task indeed. But if Christianity is a supernatural religion in which visible and invisible, creature and Creator, are combined in one glorious enterprise to raise life to its highest, holiest, and happiest pinnacle, then the critics must be patient of an historical record which achieves this very thing. And does not the state of humanity, the history of man’s vain struggles against evil and death, justify the yearning in the human heart that the faith of the Christian may be true? Man himself is such a mystery that he would be recklessly bold. Just because scientific investigation is impotent in the face of death, he would deny that immortality is not provably true. The critics’ alibi that their field is limited to observed phenomena capable of being weighed and measured by the instruments of physical science or otherwise deduced by mathematical computation is no excuse for neglecting the things of the Spirit. It is downright treason against the human race to preach psychology as a materialistic science based upon the supposed evolutionary origin of man and his accidental creation, when the very word used to describe that so-called science postulates that man has “psyche”--that is, soul or spirit, the proof of which is self-consciousness and reason. Animals cannot “see” themselves, contemplate their own nature, or scrutinize their own moods, feelings, aspirations, hopes, and fears. So stupendous a faculty as this can never be the product of an evolutionary ascent from the primeval slime. He who asserts that self-consciousness and reason could ever be the product of accidental development is making wild guesses to explain away something which can be accounted for only by the recognition that man is a special creation, that he was made in the image of God and reflects in himself the intelligence and reason and wisdom and morality of Almighty God Himself. The very possibility that this might be true lays upon every human being an obligation which takes priority over everything else to press to the uttermost the enquiry, “Who am I? Whence came I? Why am I here? What is my destiny?”
He who in this pursuit of knowledge ignores the Bible or lightly assumes that the criticism of “scholars” has demolished the old belief in the authority, inspiration, and infallibility of the sacred scriptures must find himself in a trackless region where there are no fixed positions, no landmarks, no certitude of anything beyond the visibility of this present world—nothing of moral or eternal worth beyond the horizon of time.
To do them justice, it would be true to say that in most cases those who have accepted the materialistic concept of the universe have already abandoned any settled belief in anything. Not only has the existence of the human soul and its immortality in a world beyond this world been sacrificed to the notions of modern materialism, but the very survival of the human race on this planet has become the subject of serious doubt. Modern unbelief runs in two main channels--the abandonment of any faith in an inspired communication between heaven and earth, and the fixed obsession that evolutionary theories account for the existence of the universe and in particular for the accidental phenomenon of man, fortuitously and improbably arising on this planet and creating himself through ages upon ages of painful and slobbering trial and error into a rational and self-reflective individual. The ennobling thought that man is the deliberate product, the veritable masterpiece, the eternal thought of an all-wise Creator has been exchanged for the disparaging conception of man as the product of accidental forces without purpose, design, or reason for his existence. The inevitable consequence of this materialism is the denial of the soul, the abandonment of all hope of immortality, and the destruction of all fixed standards of behavior. The collapse of scriptural authority in most of the old Reformation churches has resulted in the almost complete eradication of belief in anything. As a leading British journalist put it after the ecumenical conference of the World Council of Churches at Uppsala, Sweden—“These men were able to agree on almost anything because they believed practically nothing.”
GOD BECOMING MAN
This was not exactly the problem faced by the Apostle Paul when writing this Epistle, but his writings anticipate all forms of modern unbelief and error in his transcendent doctrine of the INCARNATION OF GOD. So stupendous a doctrine as this, that God should become man in order that through redemption and resurrection man might become the head of creation in oneness of nature and communion and purpose with God--so stupendous a doctrine, we say, ought to span like a rainbow the troubled and stormy ocean of human existence and should produce in all the wistful hope rising into an absolute certainty of faith that such a thing must be true and that this is the key to all moral mysteries. If this is the reason for all things, it answers all questions and becomes the gospel of man's deliverance and final exaltation. It solves the problem of evil and raises man to the highest dignity of being.
“God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living soul.” This, and not some mathematical equation, is the formula of man's creation. If this is the high origin of man, then man is a moral being around whom the paradoxical forces of free agency and divine destiny play like some holy fire. The miseries and calamities of his existence, death itself, are consequences of the rational choice without which man is no more man than a blind mole burrowing in the darkness of its lowly habitat and ekeing out its existence till it falls back again into the mould which produced it.
Our great poet Tennyson saw otherwise when he put these words into the mouth of the dying Arthur:
For what are men better than sheep or goats,
Which nourish a blind life within the brain,
If, knowing God, they lift not hands of prayer
Both for themselves and those who call them friend?
PROBLEM OF EVIL
The wisdom of the Creator is sometimes ignorantly questioned because the evils of sin and suffering and death are held to be incompatible with divine wisdom and love. The conflict is only theoretical, however. Man’s suffering has proved his humanity and taught him to look for a higher destiny. Struggle against calamity is not an evil, and the attainment at a goal is worthwhile if the road thereto proves and refines and ennobles the soul and brings to light the resources of endurance, courage, humility, faith, hope, which can exist only in a state of trial or probation.
Suppose that God Himself entered the conflict by becoming true man and bore man's curse and man's offence in an act of self-giving which could be spelled out only in terms of Gethsemane and Golgotha. Would it not be true that his act would reveal God as nothing else could and would establish an eternal communion of God with man, whose value to the universe would outweigh ten thousand times over, the pain and death which moral failure has entailed?
Something of this seems to have seized the soul of Paul when he wrote to the Corinthians, “our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory,” or again, “The whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain, waiting for the manifestation of the sons of God” (2 Corinthians 4:17; Romans 8:18-25).
The achievements and triumphs of true science no earnest Christian will despise. It is the false the interpretations which are put upon proven facts or unproven theories to which objection is taken. Some scientific men may choose to ignore the fact of immortality because their instruments and training do not take them into that field. What they are not entitled to do is to deny or ignore that which just as clearly their instruments and training cannot disprove.
CRIME OF THEOLOGIANS
What is much more reprehensible than the offence of atheistic science is the crime of theologians who accept and propagate destructive views of the Bible and of the cardinal doctrines of the Christian faith, denying what they are called to teach. It is a question of faith, of course--faith which in the Bible is always linked with repentance and humility. One cannot approach God as with a surgeon's scalpel to dissect and examine with a view to bringing in a verdict as to His existence or otherwise. The approach to God is on bended knee, a soul bowed down with penitential grief for sin. The Bible can be understood only as one enters upon its pages as over the threshold of the Holy Temple of old, or as Moses at the burning bush, or as Elijah wrapt in his mantle on Horeb’s stupendous height. So it is fitting that Paul prays before he reveals. So would we enter upon these verses in the first chapter of Colossians, which contain so moving a description of the pre-eminence of Christ, his priority in all spheres, everything originating in Him, everything for Him, for His sake and for His eternal glory. Never were these words more necessary than now.
The eternal kingdom of God, says Paul in Colossians 1:13, is the kingdom which belongs to, is reigned over, and is set up by “His dear Son.” Correctly, our Authorized Version translators have given us in the margin, “The Son of His love.” This agrees well with the voice from heaven at the Baptism—“This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased,” a statement anticipated by Isaiah the prophet eight centuries earlier in the words, “Behold my servant (‘child’ according to the Greek Septuagint translation), whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth” (Isaiah 42:1). The delight which the Father has in the Son is eternal in its nature and exclusive in its object. There is not such another. He who comes forth to be the Servant of Jehovah is the appointed or the Elect One in whom the entire Godhead is vested and upon whom rests the success of the Father's design to subdue all to Himself. Only exegesis traveling far deeper than the lexicons can give us the meanings of such words as Servant. The Septuagint uses for it a Greek word which in the English is translated Child –“thy holy child Jesus” (Acts 4:27). The “Servant” of Isaiah 42:1 is the Holy One of Israel, the heir of all heaven, the ever-blessed and eternal, uncreated, Only-Begotten Son. He is Servant only in the sense that an ambassador is servant to a great king--his representative who bears all the royal honors in worthiness and in executive power and authority, so that when he speaks, the king speaks. None can bear this relationship with God except God: He who is the Servant of Jehovah is Himself God in the Second Person, the holy and glorious Person of the Son—“My beloved, in whom my soul delighteth.”
The “Son of His love” is the eternal product or generation of the Father’s Holy Love. Love exists only in the mystic number of three--the Source, the Object, and the mutual Return. The Father loves the Son; the Son loves the Father with the same love wherewith the Father loves Him. That communion of love in its going forth and, return is not an emotion, for God has no emotions. He is a Being without body, parts, or passions. Therefore, that love, in its eternal exchange is the Spirit of Love, who being of both, yet being neither the One nor the Other is, and must be, a Person--the Third of the Trinity, who in one sentence (Romans 8:9) is described as “The Spirit of God” and “the Spirit of Christ.”
This kingdom of Christ is in contrast with that other kingdom known here as “the power, of darkness”--a description which Paul finds first in the sayings of Christ (Luke 22:53). At, the betrayal in the garden, the Lord declared in effect that the reason why He could not be arrested before was that His own power of arrest was upon the foe. “When I was daily with you in the temple, ye stretched forth no hand against me: but this is your hour, and the power of darkness.” It is well for the Christian to remember that the Savior is sovereign in every realm, and Satan has no power except that which is allowed him by the holy providence of Christ so that evil might work itself out to its own destruction. “There is no power but of God.” Satan’s kingdom or power of darkness is to be understood in terms of what darkness represents in the Bible; that is, blindness, ignorance of the truth, and enslavement to sin. Hence Isaiah 60:2 (see also Isaiah 9:2).
Translation from the power of darkness to the kingdom of Christ is effected only by the Spirit of God, against whom the power of Satan is no match, but is only weakness. Nothing can hold that soul in bondage whose release is commanded by Christ. Hence all the glory of the work of salvation is His. It is by His word alone that the captives of sin and Satan go free. (See Psalm 68:18—“Thou that ascended on high, thou hast led captivity captive; thou hast received gifts for men; yea, for the rebellious also, that the Lord God might dwell among them.”)
The preacher may be an instrument for the proclamation of that redemptive Word, but no Christian should think for a moment that his salvation is due in any way to the power and faithfulness of man. Paul may plant and Apollos may water, but God alone gives the increase (1 Corinthians 3:6). This does not mean that the instrumentality of Paul or Apollos is to be despised, but it ought to be a rebuke to the sad tendency in our time to highlight the personality of preachers as though the works of God depend ultimately upon them. A general recognition of this truth would severely curtail many undesirable patterns of twentieth-century evangelism.
It is impossible to exaggerate the force of these words—“translated into the kingdom of His dear Son.” Christ the eternal Son is He upon whom the eye of God rests with ever-blessed complacency and delight. Nowhere else in the universe can God find rest but in His own Son. As God can only rest in Himself, the Son must be the same essence as the Father; and resting in Christ, the Father rests in Himself and thus the Godhead is complete in the unchanging love of the Spirit of Love, in whose communion the Godhead is bound, made one and inseparable, from all eternity without beginning and without ending. The Son is the divine perfection made known and manifest, the end and purpose of the Being of the Godhead, the reason for all God is and does.
The kingdom is the invisible realm where Christ reigns in the will of the Father. It is the region of salvation or redemption, and its citizens are all redeemed and destined to enjoy the divine likeness in themselves through Him who, by taking their nature, name, and place, became the fount and source of a new humanity which can never fail.
How did they come to be placed in the kingdom? They were translated, says Paul. The redeemed were once held in the power of darkness, which is the power of Satan to darken all the faculties of the soul in hearing and seeing and understanding divine things. They came into the world with that dark inheritance; they are not born naturally into the kingdom of God. From their earliest days they were oppressed under the power of darkness.
GOD IN CONTROL OF EVIL
“But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved);” says Paul in Ephesians 2:4-5. God is in control of the forces of evil and always knew what He would do to break their dark and sinister power, hence the original undertaking in the Garden that the Seed of the woman should bruise the head of the serpent. There is no mistaking from this great prophecy that the purpose of God in the overthrow of Satan was sure from the beginning, that nothing could avert the blow that was prepared from the foundation of the world, nor could any power delay by one day or one moment the unsheathing of Jehovah’s sword and the dealing of that shattering stroke which at one and the same time cast Satan down as Lightning from heaven and fulfilled the divine decree. “Father, the hour is come, glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee,” said Christ, as He went forth from the Upper Room to suffer and to die (John 17:1).
To be translated from darkness into light is a greater work than the translation of Enoch and Elijah from earth to heaven. To be translated into the kingdom of His dear Son means, if we would understand the description in all its fullness, that we are already realizing in measure the end for which God created all things. Everything which was lost in the overthrow of the human race is restored in Christ ten thousandfold. This is the only true religion--there is no other. All else is false. Anything that does not exalt Christ and Christ alone in the solitary grandeur of His glorious Person and His complete triumph over sin and death is not the Gospel but just another aspect of spiritual darkness.
The kingdom of Christ is not entered by merit of ours, but by forgiveness of sin. “We have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:16).
Do we wish to know what is truth? Then listen for the name of Christ to be oft repeated and His person exalted above all. See what. Paul says about Him in his letter to Colosse. In six verses of Colossians 1, Paul enumerates all those features which exalt Christ far above all mankind, far above all principality and power and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come.
As befits one who has been caught up to the third heaven to hear unspeakable words, which it is unlawful for man to utter on earth, Paul is full of Christ. All things in heaven and earth were dimmed by that glory of Christ upon which he had gazed.
THE UNCREATED SON
“Christ is the image of the invisible God,” says Paul (Colossians 1:15). This means that without Christ the Father is without His own likeness. There is no means by which the Father can scrutinize His own being but in Christ. Therefore, we believe in the eternal Sonship of Christ--that is, the Only Begotten Son was not begotten in any process of time, but was eternally there with the Father. He was never born, never began, was never created. He has His being in an act of eternal generation from the Father. He always was with the Father, just as our own image is always with us to be seen whenever there is a mirror to reflect it. Christ always was “coming forth” from the bosom of the Father. He was and is the living mirror in which God sees Himself--and loves what He sees.
It does not mean that the Son is merely a “likeness” of the invisible God. “Image” here means that God beholds Himself in the Son. There are three Persons but one God. The Father, who is God sees Himself in the Son, who is God--not another God, but the God which the Father is and the same God which the Holy Spirit is--one divine essence which is the Godhead existing co-eternally and co-equally in Three Persons without dividing the substance or confusing the Persons.
Paul understood this--that the Son makes that visible which the Father is, and it is through the Son alone that the Father can be seen and understood. And we too understand, because Christ has made the Father intimately nigh and displayed all that the Father is in love, mercy, truth, and holiness. And by grace we are going to understand more. As Christ is the image of God, so He also became our image--not the image of our fallen and sinful state, but as the Creator intended man should be. He assumed our nature and our flesh and through Him, born again of His Spirit, in His likeness, we are one with Him and with the Father (John 17:21-23).
Christ is “the firstborn of every creature” (Colossians 1:15). That is, He is the head and heir of creation. "Firstborn" does not mean that Christ was ever "born" as to His divine nature, but that He has the exclusive title to possess all the works of God as one to whom the exclusive inheritance belongs--He is the only begotten Son of the Father, and there is not another to challenge His title to inherit all things. Christ inherits all that the Father is--His name, glory, wealth, honor, power, dominion. All the plenitude of the divine Being belongs to Christ as the birthright of the Only-Begotten. He is not a creature, but He inherits all creation.
“By Him were all things created” (Colossians 1:16). This does not contradict the first verse of the Bible which declares, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth,” for Christ is one God with the Father and the Holy Ghost. How did God create the world? By wisdom and power. But Christ is the wisdom and power of God (I Corinthians 1:24). God's wisdom and power are personified in Christ, the eternal LOGOS (WORD). Creative power was not a mere energetic motion of omnipotence. When God said, “Let there be light,” Christ was that Word which God spoke in authority and power. Christ is the eternal wisdom by which God designed and planned all things. Christ is the Architect of the ages, and in Him all history is summed up and given its form and meaning and purpose (Proverbs 8: 22-31).
Not only visible things were created by Him, but the invisible also “whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers” (Colossians 1:16). These “invisible things” are the angelic powers who are the agents and ministers of the divine providence, whose activity lies behind the events of earth and brings to pass the great events of history (see the books of Daniel, Ezekiel, and Revelation).
As the visible thrones and powers on earth are raised up or suppressed by God at His pleasure, so the unseen powers of the angelic world are ordered by Him so that Satan himself is the unwilling slave of providence to bring to pass whatsoever Christ pleases to be done.
The end of all this great historic process of creation is the glory and dominion of Christ. “All things were created by Him, and for Him” (Colossians 1:16). The thrones and dominions of Europe, the governments and presidencies of the new world, the tyrannies of Russia and Asia, the petty chieftaincies of Africa--He is the master of all and the arbiter of all. In the end, only His will is done and His purposes worked out. This, if we will receive it, is God’s predestined course, and we thank God ten thousand times for it. We cannot desire a better or wiser or more illustrious governor than the One who sits on the circle of the earth, who inhabits eternity, yet dwells with him who is of a humble and contrite heart. His glorious power is exercised, not to exalt the proud, but to abase them and to exalt the humble and meek. The poor in spirit and those who mourn for sin and hunger for righteousness are the beneficiaries of His dominion. To these the kingdom of God is given. A more delectable kingdom than that of Christ cannot be imagined or conceived. He uses His vast power and prerogative, not to oppress, but to save and redeem. Though richest of all, He appeared amongst us as the poorest of all and declared, “Learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls” (Matthew 11:29). If He used His power arbitrarily to oppress and destroy, we might rebel against our cruel fate; but the kingdom set before our eyes is well described as “the kingdom of His dear Son,” by whom we live and in whom our human nature is glorified and raised to the eternal throne, where wondrously He still retains those glorious scars in hands, feet, and side, by which He testifies His love and which signifies His right to inherit all things.
“And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.... And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy... for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood...And hast made us unto our God kings and priests” (Revelation 5:6-10).