The Gospel Of The Glory Of Christ
“The light of the glorious Gospel of Christ.”
2 Corinthians 4:4
SHINING in the center of the verse, like a pearl in its setting, you find these words. Literally and accurately translated, they run thus–“The light of the Gospel of the glory of Christ.” This is the form given to my text in the Revised Version and I shall follow it because, word for word, it follows the original.
Paul was a man of one idea. The Gospel of Christ had saturated his soul as the dew saturated Gideon’s fleece. He could think of nothing else and speak of nothing else but the glory of Christ Crucified. Important events in politics transpired in the Apostle’s day but I cannot remember an allusion to them. Great social problems were to be solved, but his one and only solution was the preaching of that great Savior who is to cleanse the Augean stables of the world. For Paul there was but one thing worth living for and that one thing was worth dying for. He did not count even his life dear unto him that he might win Christ and be found in Him.
Therefore his spirits rose or sank according to the prosperity or decline of the kingdom of Christ. When he writes an Epistle his mood varies according to the spiritual condition of the people to whom he writes. If their faith grows exceedingly and if from them sounds forth the Word of God, then he is jubilant in his tone. But if they are declining in Divine Grace Divine Grace, if there are divisions among them, if false doctrine is ravaging them like a wolf in the sheepfold–then he is solemn in spirit and he writes with a heavy hand. In this case Paul laments the condition of those who could not see what was so plain to himself–namely, the Gospel of the glory of Christ.
He saw most clearly the glory of his Lord and that precious Gospel which is built up thereon and he marveled that others could not see it also. Considering their case with care he sorrowfully perceived that they must first have shut their eyes by willful unbelief. Therefore he felt Satan had exercised his evil power and had utterly blinded them. The blaze of the Gospel is so bright, that even with their eyes averted, some measure of light must have entered their minds–unless some especial evil power had operated to hold them in darkness. The devil himself, Paul perceived, must have blinded them, but even Satan found it a great task to shut out the glorious light. To accomplish it he had to amass all his power as “the god of this world.”
It required a great amount of cunning to close the perceptive faculties of men against the clear and forcible light of the Truth of the Gospel. The light of the glorious Gospel, like that of the morning dawn, would have been seen even by dim eyes had not the infernal prince blindfolded the thoughts of men and made their minds as dark as his own. The light of the Gospel is intense, and by a faithful ministry it is flashed in the very faces of men. Therefore, in fear of losing his subjects, the Prince of Darkness hastens to blind their eyes. Jesus comes to give sight, but Satan comes to destroy it. They each know the value of those eyes by which men look and live. The battle rages at the mental Eye Gate. The conflict between the two champions is raised upon the question–shall men behold the light–or shall they abide in darkness?
I wonder whether there are any here at this time who have long been willing unbelievers and have at last come to be quite unable to perceive any glory in the Gospel of our Lord Jesus. When they hear it faithfully preached they flippantly criticize the style of the speaker. But the matter of which he speaks appears to them to be of small consequence. They pass by the Cross itself and the sorrow of the Lord is nothing to them. These may be very intelligent men and women in other matters and yet have no perception of the spiritual Truth of God. They can perceive a thousand beauties in nature but none in Divine Grace. They have drunk of the Castilian fountain but have never sipped of “the waters of Shiloh that go softly.”
They can discuss at large upon the sublime and beautiful. But they see neither beauty nor sublimity in Him who is all that is lovely and all that is heavenly. I pray that while I am speaking of the light of the Gospel of the glory of Christ that light may penetrate their minds. May God who commanded the light to shine out of darkness speak again the almighty fiat, saying, “Let there be light.” And there shall be light. May the miracle of the old creation be repeated in the new creation to the praise of the glory of Divine Grace.
First, this morning I shall ask you to think upon Paul’s words and consider his name for the Gospel–it is “the Gospel of the glory of Christ.” Secondly, let us consider the light which streams from that Gospel of the glory of Christ. When we have thought of these two things, let us consider what to do with this light, this marvelous light of the Gospel of the glory of Christ.
- At the outset LET US CONSIDER PAUL’S NAME FOR THE GOSPEL–“the Gospel of the glory of Christ.”
It is very evident that the Apostle felt that the Gospel was solely and altogether of Christ. The Anointed was, in his view, the one subject of the glad tidings from beginning to end. When He was born the angels proclaimed good tidings of great joy to the sons of men. And after His death His human messengers went forth to all nations with messages of love. His death is the birth of our hope–His resurrection is the rising of our buried joy. His session at the right hand of God is the prophecy of our eternal bliss. Christ is the Author of the Gospel, the Subject of the Gospel and the end of the Gospel. His hand is seen in every letter of that wonderful Epistle of Divine love called the New Testament, or New Covenant.
He Himself is glad tidings to us in every point and the Gospel is from Him in every sense. That is not Gospel which does not relate to Jesus. If there is no mark of blood upon it, the roll of tidings may be rejected as a forgery. As Christ is the Subject, so is He the Object of the Gospel–His Glory is promoted by the Gospel. It is the Gospel of His Glory among the sons of men in all ages and it will be so throughout eternity. The Gospel, and the sinners saved by it, will glorify the Son of God forever.
To Paul the Gospel was always a glorious Gospel. He never had dim views of its excellence. He never spoke of it as though it stood in doubtful competition with Judaism, or heathenism, or the philosophies of the Stoics and the Epicureans. These things were but dross to him in comparison with the “much fine gold” of the Gospel. He spoke of it in glowing terms–he felt it to be a great privilege and responsibility to be put in trust with it and to be allowed to preach it. It was the joy of his heart to live upon it himself and it was his one aim to proclaim it to others. “The glorious Gospel of the blessed God” was his one absorbing science and he determined to know nothing else.
O you that are beginning to think lightly of the old Gospel and dream that it is becoming powerless–may the Spirit that rested upon the Apostle rest upon you till you, also, shall perceive the glory of the method of Divine Grace and shall speak of it fervently as “the glorious Gospel of Christ”!
Returning to the literal translation, we remark that the Apostle saw that the excellence of the Gospel lay in the glory of Christ. I shall try to show you this. The glorious Savior is the Substance of the glorious Gospel. In speaking of this theme I can only repeat what you know already, and in that repetition I shall not strive after elaborate expressions but tell the story simply, after the manner of the Apostle who says, “Seeing, then, that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech.” The glory of Christ would be insulted by attempts to set it forth with finery of words. Let it be seen in its own light.
The glory of the Gospel, then, lies very much in the glory of our Lord’s Person. He who is the Savior of men is God–“God over all, blessed forever.” Is it not written, “When He brings in the first begotten into the world, He says, And let all the angels of God worship Him”? With the angels of God we worship Jesus Christ as God. Our Redeemer is also man–man like ourselves with this exception–that in Him there is no taint of natural depravity and no act of sin has ever stained His Character. Behold the glory of Him who is God and Man mysteriously united in one Person! He is unique–He is the brightness of the Father’s glory and the Brother born for adversity.
This is the Gospel–that the Son of God, Himself, gloriously undertook the salvation of men and therefore was made flesh and dwelt among us and we beheld His Glory. If we had here a vast hospital full of sick people it would be the best of news for those languishing there. If I could tell them that a great Physician had devoted Himself to their healing–the more I extolled the Physician who had come to visit them–the more would there be good news for them. If I could say to them, “The Physician who is coming to succor you is possessed of infallible wisdom and unerring skill and in Him are united loving tenderness and infinite power”–how they would smile upon their beds!
Why, the very news would half restore them! Should it not be much more so with desponding and despairing souls when they hear that He who has come to save is none other than the glorious Christ of God? The mysteriously majestic Person of Christ is the mainstay of the Gospel. He who is able to save is no angel and no mere man–He is “Emmanuel, God with us.” Infinite are His resources, boundless is His Grace. O, you guilty ones who lie upon beds of remorse, ready to die of grief, here is a Savior such as you need. When you think of what you are and despair–think also of what He is–and take heart.
If I made you doubt the Deity of the Savior I should cut away the foundation of your only hope. But while you see Him to be God, you remember that nothing is too hard for Him. If I caused you to doubt His proper Manhood I should also rob you of comfort, since you would not recognize in Him the tender sympathy which grows out of kinship. Beloved, the Lord Jesus stands before you commissioned by the eternal God with the Spirit of the Lord resting upon Him without measure. And thus, being in Nature and Person the first and the best, His message of salvation is to you most full and sure and His Glory is Gospel to you.
The glory of Christ lies not only in His Person but in His love. Remember this, and see the Gospel which lies in it. From all eternity the Son of God has loved His people–even from of old, “His delights were with the sons of men.” Long before He came on earth He so loved the men whom His Father gave Him that He determined to be one with them and for their redemption to pay the dreadful price of life for life. He saw the whole company of His chosen in the glass of His foreknowledge and loved them with an everlasting love. The love which glowed in the heart of our Redeemer “in the beginning”–that same love will never know an end!
Here, to us, is His Glory. He loved us so that Heaven could not hold Him. He loved us so that He descended to redeem us. And having come among us amid our sin and shame, He loves us still. “Having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them unto the end.” Love, you have reached your utmost glory in the heart of the Divine Savior! And the glory of this love which is without beginning, boundary, change, or close, is the very lifeblood of the Gospel. The love of Jesus is the glad tidings of great joy. Our great Physician loves the sick and delights to heal them. He comes into the wards among the palsied and the plague-stricken with an intense longing to bless them. Jesus is the sinner’s Friend. How rapturously does my soul sing of Him as “Jesus, lover of my soul”! A gracious Gospel lies in the glory of the love of Christ!
This being so, Beloved, we next see the glory of His incarnation. To us it was the glory of Christ that He was born at Bethlehem and dwelt at Nazareth. It looks like dishonor that He should be the carpenter’s son. But throughout all ages this shall be the glory of the Mediator–that He deigned to be partaker of our flesh and blood. There is glory in His poverty and shame–glory in His having nowhere to lay His head. Glory in His weariness and hunger. Surpassing glory springs from Gethsemane and the bloody sweat, from Calvary and the death of the Cross. All Heaven could not yield Him such renown as that which comes from the spitting and the scourging, the nailing and the piercing.
A glory of Divine Grace and tenderness surrounds the incarnate God. And this, to those convicted of sin, is the Gospel. When we see God in human flesh we expect reconciliation. When we see that He took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses we hope for pardon and healing. Born of a virgin, our Lord has come among us and has lived on earth a life of service and of suffering–there must be hope for us. He came not into the world to condemn the world but that the world through Him might be saved. I pray you can see the glory of His life of doing good, of working miracles of mercy, of tender care for the fallen. Then ask yourselves whether there is not in His life among men good news for all sad hearts.
Did God Himself cover His Glory with a veil of our inferior clay? Then He means well to men. Humanity thus honored by union with the Godhead is not utterly abhorred. In the Word made flesh we see the Glory of God, and noting how love predominates, how condescending pity reigns, we see in this a Gospel of Divine Grace for all believing men.
The glory of Christ is further seen in His atoning sacrifice. But you stop me and say, “That was His humiliation and His shame.” Yes, it is true, and therefore it is His Glory. Is not the Christ to every loving heart most of all glorious in the death of the Cross? What garment does so well become our Beloved as the vesture dipped in His own blood? He is altogether lovely. Let Him be arrayed as He may. But when our believing hearts behold Him covered with bloody sweat we gaze upon Him with adoring amazement and rapturous love. His flowing crimson bedecks Him with a robe more glorious than the imperial purple. We fall at His feet with sevenfold reverence when we behold the marks of His passion.
Is He not most of all illustrious as our dying Substitute? Beloved, here lies the marrow of the Gospel. Jesus Christ suffered in our place. “He His own self bore our sins in His own body on the tree.” That glory of His Cross which we again declare to be greater glory than any other, is Gospel to us. On His Cross He bore the whole weight of Divine justice in our place. The iron rod of Jehovah which would have broken us into pieces like potters' vessels fell on Him. He “became obedient to death, even the death of the Cross,” and in that act He slew death and overcame him that had the power of death, that is, the devil–
“His Cross a sure foundation laid
For glory and renown,
When through the regions of the dead
He passed to reach the crown.”
Beloved, the glory of His sacrificial death by which He blotted out our sin and magnified the Law is the Gospel of our salvation.
We will now travel a little further to His resurrection–wherein His Glory is more palpable to us. He could not be held by the bonds of death. He was dead–His holy body could die but it could not see corruption. Having slept a little while within the chamber of the tomb, He arose and came forth to light and liberty–the living Christ glorified by His resurrection. Who shall tell the glory of the risen Lord?–
“Rising, He brought our Heaven to light,
And took possession of the joy.”
Rising, He sealed our justification. Rising, He rifled the sepulcher and released the captives of death. He was “declared to be the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead.”
Let us rejoice that He is not dead, but ever lives to make intercession for us. This is the Gospel to us–because He lives we shall live also. “He is able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever lives to make intercession for them.” Oh the glory of our risen Lord! Consider it deeply, meditate upon it earnestly. And as you do so, hear the clear sound of glad tidings of great joy. For our greatest consolation we do not look to this precept or to that promise so much as to Jesus Himself. It is He who has by His rising from the dead given us the surest pledge and guarantee of our deliverance from the prison of guilt, the dungeon of despair and the sepulcher of death.
Once more–lift up your eyes a little higher and note the glory of our Lord’s enthronement and of His second coming. He sits at the right hand of God. He that once was hung upon the tree of shame now sits on the Throne of universal dominion. Instead of the nail, behold the scepter of all worlds in His most blessed hand. All things are put under His feet. Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, is now crowned with glory and honor and this is the Gospel to us. For it is plain that He has conquered all our enemies and has all power in Heaven and in earth on our behalf. His acceptance with God is the acceptance of all whom He loves. And He loves all who trust Him.
His sitting in glory is a pledge that the whole of the redeemed by blood shall sit there in due time. His second coming, for which we daily look, is our most Divine hope. Perhaps before we fall asleep the Lord shall descend from Heaven with a shout, with the trump of the archangel and the voice of God. And then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Then will our weary days be ended–the strife of tongues, the struggle against sin, the stratagems of error–all will be finished and truth and holiness shall reign supreme!
O my Brethren–if I could but break loose from the impediments of mouth and tongue and speak my heart without these cumbrous organs–then would I make you rejoice in the glory of my Divine Master upon His Throne today and in His glorious appearing at the appointed hour. If we could see Him as John did in Patmos we might swoon at His feet. But it would be with the rapture of hope and not with the chill of despair. Mark this–the less you make of Christ, the less Gospel you have to trust in. If you get rid of Christ from your creed you have at the same time destroyed all its good news.
The more Gospel we would preach, the more of Christ we must proclaim. If you lift up Christ, you lift up the Gospel. If you dream of preaching the Gospel without exalting Christ in it you will give the people husks instead of true bread. In proportion as the Lord Jesus is set up on a glorious high throne He becomes salvation to the sons of men. A little Christ means a little Gospel. But the true Gospel is the Gospel of the glory of Christ.
II. Secondly, LET US CONSIDER THE LIGHT OF THIS GOSPEL. Our Apostle speaks of “the light of the Gospel of the glory of Christ.”
That light is, first of all, unveiled. Whatever light there was in the Law–and there was much–it was latent light. The veil on the face of Moses was typical of the way in which the ceremonies of the Law were hidden from the sight of not suppose that any Israelite ever looked within the veil–none but the high priest ever entered there. Even the Holy Place outside the veil was reserved for the priests. The most of the sacrificial types were as much matters of faith to the Israelites as the meaning is a matter of faith to us.
They did not even see the patterns of the heavenly things–they had to be told of them. And in the hearing they had to exercise faith as we also do. But, my Brethren, our Gospel is not of the veil which hides, but of the lamp which shines. We use no reserve among you. I solemnly declare before God that I believe nothing which I do not preach among you openly and I give no sense to the words which I use but that which is natural to them. “For we are not as many, which corrupt the Word of God: but as of sincerity but as from God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.”
We have heard of preachers who believe very differently from what they openly say. The deed of trust requires some little consonance with evangelical doctrine, but they loathe it in their souls and tell their Brethren so in private. But as for us, “we have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the Word of God deceitfully.” We dare preach everything that we believe and preach it as plainly as possible. The more you know us through and through, the more glad we shall be. Our Gospel is one which may be advertised everywhere–we have nothing to conceal.
I have heard that William Gadsby of Manchester, traveling on a coach one day, asked two heretical Divines to tell him how a sinner is justified in the sight of God. “No,” said they, “you won’t catch us in that fashion. Whatever answer we gave you would be repeated all over Manchester within a week.” “Oh,” said he, “then I will tell you. A sinner is justified in the sight of God by faith in the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ. Go and tell that all over Manchester and all over England as quickly as you like. For I believe nothing that I am ashamed of.”
Light rejoices to proclaim itself. The Gospel is a light and lights are not meant to be hidden under bushels or beds. If they are buried in that way, they will burn their way to resurrection and the bushels and the beds will be consumed and make all the greater light. The Gospel of the blessed God is intended to be conspicuous as the lighthouse on the rock which is seen afar. It is so illuminating that everyone in the house may see by it. The Gospel which is not known is of no value–the true Gospel is as much intended to be understood as light is meant to be seen.
This light, in the next place, is all its own. You cannot illuminate the Gospel–it is itself an illumination. Would I not be an idiot if I were to say to my deacon behind me, “Dear Friend, kindly get me a candle–I want to show these people the sun. I do not see the sun just now but I will lead them into the street and by the help of this candle we will search the sky till we find it”? I think I hear you say, “Our pastor is out of his mind.” Such conduct might well justify the suspicion. It is not by human light that we can show the Gospel of God. Not by rhetoric and reasoning do men perceive the light of the Gospel. There is a self-manifesting and a self-evidencing power in the Gospel. It runs on its own feet and needs no crutches.
If men would read their Bibles they would, as a rule, believe their Bibles. But they will not read them. If men would hear the Gospel attentively, they would, as a general rule, believe the Gospel. But they will not give it the attention it deserves. It needs no effort to see a bright light. If men would only open their eyes to the light of the Gospel they would see it. If they would only think upon the glory of the Gospel of Christ, its light would find its way into their souls. Where the Gospel shines in all its brilliance, men have to put up their shutters to keep out its light. But they do even worse–they call in the devil to gouge out their eyes that they may not be forced to see.
In itself the Gospel has such a wonderful power of making itself felt, that if men did not resist its influence it would reveal Divine things to them. I wish I could induce unbelievers here to read the story of the crucifixion every morning and to keep on reading it and studying it. For I am persuaded that the light which streams from the Cross would, by the blessing of God, open their eyes and enter their souls savingly. For, mark you–the light of the Gospel of the glory of Christ is Divine light.
Paul tells us this when he says, “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, has shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the Glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” The Gospel is either Divine or it is a lie–it has a supernatural power about it or else it is an impostor. The true power of the Gospel of Christ lies not in its natural reasonableness, in its adaptation to human need, in its moral beauty, but in the attendant power of the Spirit of God. God is in the Gospel and therefore it is mighty.
We may preach to you for a thousand years altogether and never a soul of you would receive Christ unless the same Spirit that spoke light into the primeval dark should say, “Let there be light.” Salvation is a supernatural process. God Himself must come upon the scene before the eyes of a man born blind will see. How this Truth exalts God and lowers man! Yes. And the lower we are brought, the better. When we get to feel our utter helplessness, then will our extremity prove to be the opportunity of the Grace of God. O heavenly light, shine now into the soul of all who hear or read this sermon!
This light is a revealing light. Whenever the light of the glory of Christ comes streaming into the heart it reveals the hidden things of darkness. When the glory of Christ is seen, then we see our own shame and sinfulness. Did it need God Himself to redeem us? Then we must have been in dire bondage. Did it need the incarnate God should die? Then sin must be exceeding sinful! That is a deep pit which needs that God should come from Heaven to lift us out of it. We never see the impotence and depravity of human nature as well as in the light of the glory of Christ.
When He is seen as undertaking this tremendous work and as putting His almighty shoulder to it, then we clearly perceive what help man needed and how great was his fall. What a revelation it is when the light shines into the secret chambers of imagery and the idol gods are made manifest in all their hideousness! May God send this light to many, that their ruin, their doom, their remedy, and their way of obtaining it may be plainly perceived.
The light of the Gospel also enlivens. No other light will give life to the dead. You may make the strongest light in the world flash frequently upon a corpse but there will be neither breath nor pulse. But the light of the Gospel of the glory of Christ brings life with it. “The life was the light of men.” “Awake, you that sleep, and arise from the dead and Christ shall give you light.” Darkness is death, but the light of God is life. Let but this Sun of Righteousness arise and He not only brings healing but life. Shine, glorious Lord–let Your glory shine forth! And as it pours its brilliance into the minds of men their dead hearts shall beat with the life of hope and holiness and they will see the Lord!
This light is photographic–you get that in the neighborhood of the text–in the last verse of the third chapter. See the Revised Version–“But we all, with unveiled face, reflecting as a mirror, the glory of the Lord, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as from the Lord the Spirit.” The light of the Gospel of the glory of Christ imprints Christ’s image upon the character of Believers. We see Him, and seeing His love we learn to love. Seeing His life we learn to live. Seeing His full atonement, we hate evil–seeing His resurrection, we rise to newness of life. By the power of the Spirit working from day to day we are quietly transformed from our old likeness and conformed to the likeness of Christ till our deformity is lost in a blessed comeliness of conformity to Him.
If we saw Him more clearly and more constantly we should grow into His likeness more rapidly. No sanctification is worth having but that which comes of communion with the holy Lord through the power of the Holy Spirit. You may read the biographies of good men and you may copy them in all simplicity. But in the end you may become a caricature of perfection and not the very image itself. The perfect character of Jesus is yet the most easy to imitate. It is safe to copy Jesus. For in Him is no excess or defect. And strange to say, that character which is in some aspects inimitable is in others the most imitable of all.
I have often been depressed in view of the high character of certain saints whom I honor because I have felt that I could never be like they are under any circumstances. I know one who is full of faith and goodness. But he is always solemn and constantly absorbed “in high meditations.” I never could grow exactly like he is, for there are certain mirthful elements in my constitution. And if they were taken away I should not be the same man. When I look at my Lord I see much in Him that is supernatural but nothing that is unnatural. We see in Him humanity in perfection. But the perfection never conceals the humanity. He is so holy as to be a perfect model–so human as to be a model available for poor creatures such as we are. Beloved, the light of the Gospel of the glory of Christ is photographic.
Yet further–it creates peace and joy. This light brings delight. I cannot imagine a man unhappy who clearly perceives the light of the glory of Christ. Is Christ glorious? Then it does not much matter what becomes of me. Have you ever heard of the dying and wounded soldiers in Napoleon’s wars who still clung to their emperor with an idolatrous love in the hour of death? Lifting himself upon his elbow, the soldier of the Old Guard gave one more cheer for the great captain. If the dying warrior saw Napoleon riding over the field he would with his last gasp cry, “Vive l'Empereur!” and then expire.
We read of one that when the surgeons were trying to extract a bullet from his chest said, “Go a little deeper and you will find the Emperor.” He had him on his heart. Infinitely more commendable is the loyalty of the Believer to the Lord Christ. Though we die in a ditch, what does it matter so long as “God also has highly exalted Him and given Him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in Heaven and things in earth and things under the earth. And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the Glory of God the Father”?
It makes the sick saint well to think of the triumphs of his Lord. Have you ever, when you have been sitting here heavy in heart, been borne aloft on wings of delight when we have been singing–
“Bring forth the royal diadem,
And crown Him Lord of all”?
Surely there is a Gospel in the glory of Christ to our sad hearts. That Gospel lifts us out of the dumps of doubt and fear into the clear blue sky of heavenly fellowship. God grant that we may feel this uplifting more and more! Thus have I tried to describe the qualities of this light. But you must see it for yourselves.
III. And now I close by saying, LET US CONSIDER WHAT WE SHALL DO WITH THIS LIGHT.
Do with it? Look towards it. Let us first indulge ourselves with a long and steady gaze upon it. No man can look long at the sun for it would blind him. But you may look at Jesus, the Sun of Righteousness, as long as you please and your eyes will grow stronger the longer you gaze on His perfections. I beseech you, Beloved in the Lord, to get alone and give yourself to meditate upon the glory of the once-despised Jesus. Track Him from the cradle to the Cross, from the Cross to the crown. I cannot suggest to you any subject more instructive, more comforting, more ennobling than this. Look at this light–or it is a pleasant thing to behold–this sun.
Have you ever heard how the Laplanders climb the hills when the sun is at last about to appear after the weary winter months? How they rejoice in the first beams of the rising sun! So let us rise to lofty meditation and look to our Lord and Master till we perceive His mediatorial glory and are blessed thereby. Have you no time? Give up your newspaper for a week that you may sanctify the time to the noble end of considering the glory of your Lord. If you will, I will warrant that you shall get a thousand times more out of such thought than from skimming the daily journal. Look unto Jesus and the light within will grow like the glory of Heaven.
If you say that a man cannot always stand looking at the sun, I admit it, and change my advice to you. See all things by this light. How differently things look in sunlight to what they do by gaslight or candlelight! Let us regard all things by their appearance in the light of the glory of Christ. Then if you hear a sermon which does not glorify Christ it will be a lost discourse to you. Do not endure to see your Lord set in a low place. Hear no more of that talk which makes little of His blood and of His Substitution. You read a book–a very clever book–but instead of honoring Christ it glorifies human nature and you have soon had enough of it. Only that which is a good Gospel glorifies Christ–in this light you see things truly.
Many of the wise men of the period ought to be treated as Diogenes treated Alexander. The conqueror of the world said to the man in the tub, “What can I do for you?” He thought he could do everything for the poor philosopher. Diogenes only replied, “Get out of the sunlight.” These wise people cannot do us a greater favor than to remove their learned selves from standing between us and the sunlight of the ever-blessed Gospel of the glory of Christ. These Alexanders may go on ruling the Christian world, and the infidel world, but they have not conquered us. Our faith and joy lie outside the world–in yonder Sun of Righteousness whose light is the rejoicing of our eyes!
Beloved, when asked what we should do with this light, I answer again–value it. Esteem the glorious Gospel of Christ more than all besides. See at what rate the devil reckons it! He takes the trouble himself, to come up from the bottomless pit to blind men’s eyes for fear they should see it. When he perceives the blaze of the Gospel of the Glory of God, he says to himself, “Ah, they will be seeing the Truth of God and so they will escape from me. I must go myself and blind them.” So the “god of this age,” as he esteems himself, comes to unbelievers and blindfolds them in one way or another. He thrusts the hot iron of fatal unbelief upon men’s inward eyes and seals them in blackest night lest they should see “the light of the Gospel of the glory of Christ.” Since, then, the devil thinks so much of this light, let us spread it with all diligence. If Satan hates it, let us love it. If this is the great gun which he dreads–let us wheel it to the front and keep up a constant cannonade from it.
The Gospel is our Mons Meg, the biggest gun in the castle. But it is not out of date–it will carry a ball far enough to reach the heart of the sinner who is furthest from God. Satan trembles when he hears the roar of the Gospel gun. Let it never be silent.
Let us also hold it out with the greatest confidence. This light must win in the long run. If you came to this building in the middle of the night somebody might say to you, “How can we get the darkness out of this building?” It would be a hopeless task. How could it be done? You cannot pump out the darkness. But if you fill the house with light the darkness will vanish of itself. Preach Christ and away goes the god of this world. Exalt Christ and down goes the devil. Beloved, let us persuade men to let this light shine around them. They cannot see it because of unbelief. But if it shines around them, it may bring them eyes. God the Holy Spirit blessing it, light will beget sight. Induce your friends to hear the Gospel and read the Word of God and who can tell but they will be saved?
And, lastly, let all who try to preach and teach keep Christ always in the front. The Gospel must have Christ as its center and its circumference. In fact, as its All in All. The Gospel is not the Gospel without Christ. The Gospel will have no dominant idea in it but Christ. It is a noble steed but it will bear no rider but He whose vesture is dipped in blood. I have read of the famous horse Bucephalus, that when he was brought out with his royal trappings upon him he would not allow one even of the highest nobles of the court to mount him. He would carry no one but Alexander, the king.
The Gospel is glorious in its going when it bears Jesus in the saddle. But if you preach yourself or human philosophy the Gospel will fling you over its head. Let us sing with the blessed virgin, “My soul does magnify the Lord and my spirit does rejoice in God my Savior.” This is a Gospel sonnet–this is a song which our Well-Beloved deserves of us. O you preachers and teachers, lift up Christ! He is as the serpent on the pole and all who look to Him shall live forever.
Look to Him all you that are dying of serpent bites–for looking you shall LIVE. God bless these words in which I have desired to glorify my Lord! Amen.