The Captain Of Our Salvation
“For it became Him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to Glory, to make the Captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.”
OBSERVE, dear Friends, how glorious God is. The description given here by the Apostle contains but few words, and those nearly all little ones, but how full of meaning they are! “Him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things.” Here you have God set forth as being both the beginning and the end of everything! All things are for Him–todo His bidding, to accomplish His purpose, to act forth His Glory and this because all things are by Him–in their firstcreation, in their subsequent preservation and in all that is yet to come of them! Of whom speaks the Apostle this but of the Triune God, to whom be glory forever and ever? Of whom speaks He this–if we would be still more exact–but of the Father who has made His Son perfect in bringing many sons to Glory? It is the Father “for whom are all things, and by whom are all things.”
And, my dear Brothers and Sisters, the Apostle was wisely guided by the Holy Spirit to give this title to the Father in this particular place. Sometimes, in prayer, men call God by one or another of His names and each name may be correct, yet it may not be well chosen for that special occasion. But you will notice that if the Holy Spirit describes either God the Father or the Lord Jesus by any term other than His usual name, the title is always very wisely chosen and is most appropriate in that place. Now, in the matter of our salvation, we need One, “by whom are all things,” for none but the Creator can create us anew in Christ Jesus. No one who has less power than the Divine Preserver of men can keep us from falling. And none but the Divine Being who encompasses all things within the range of His Infinite mind, can guard us against the many terrible perils on the way to Heaven. If ever we are to be brought to Glory, it must be by the God “by whom are all things.” And certainly, if we are brought there, as I pray that we all may be–it will be by Him “for whom are all things”–and we shall forever adore the mystery of His Grace which landed us safely on the heavenly shore!
Every part of the great plan of salvation sets forth the splendor of the Grace of the Most High God. What do we see in our election but His Grace? What do we see in our redemption but His Grace? What do we see in our conversion but His Grace? What do we see in our justification, sanctification, adoption and final preservation but His Grace? By Him, in Grace as well as in Nature, are all things–and for Him, in Grace as well as in Nature, are all things. Unto Him belongs both the power and the glory, the two must always go together. He works all our works in us and to Him be all the praise, world without end!
We start, then, with this as a sort of keynote–that the great Father, who has purposed our salvation, is able to fully carry out what He has planned, for by Him are all things. And He also has an admirable reason for accomplishing it, because it will bring Him glory, and for Him are all things. If our salvation would degrade His name in any sense or respect. If the salvation of sinners would even obscure the severity of His justice, it might be a question as to whether it would ever be accomplished. But, since there is nothing about this work but what will bring Him honor and glory, we rest assured that, having put His hand to it, He will not withdraw His arm until He has fully accomplished His eternal purpose to the praise of the glory of His Grace!
Our text sets before us some most precious Truth concerning our Lord Jesus Christ and His people. First, here is ahigh enterprisean ordained Captain–there is a Captain of our salvation through whom the many sons are to be brought to Glory. And, thirdly, we are to notice the becoming work of the Father upon Him who is Captain. “For it became Him, for whom areall things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to Glory, to make the Captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.”
- First, then, here IS A HIGH ENTERPRISE–the bringing of many sons to Glory.
I think that you will find the historical parallel of this enterprise in the Lord’s great work of bringing the tribes of Israel out of Egypt, through the Red Sea, through the wilderness and into Canaan. The Lord, in His deliverance of His ancient people, gives us a type of what He is doing and will do for all His chosen. The exodus was not merely the bringing of the people out of Egypt into the wilderness, for then they might truly have said to Moses, “Because there were no graves in Egypt, have you taken us away to die in the wilderness?” But the whole transaction was not completed, the enterprise was not finished, until all those whom the Lord intended to bless had actually crossed the Jordan and had taken possession of the promised land. He led not the children of Israel merely out of Egypt, but He led them into Canaan–and His leadership of them through the desert is a picture and emblem of Christ’s leadership of the many sons whom He is bringing to Glory. I want you to think of the salvation of the redeemed in that light.
To begin at the end, the Lord Jesus is bringing many sons to Glory, just as God brought His ancient people into Canaan. The ultimate destination of every Believer is eternal Glory. There is not one of us who will be perfect and complete until we stand at the right hand of God, even the Father. There is no secondary position where some of the redeemed may be satisfied to remain, but the many sons are all to be brought to “ Glory.” That is the word–one of the biggest wordsthat can be spoken by any mortal mouth. Do you know all its meaning? No, my Brothers and Sisters, you do not, and there is another word that comes before it–“The Lord will give Grace and Glory.” Do you know all the meanings,even, of, “Grace”? No, you do not–yet you have tasted of God’s Grace and if you know not all the meaning of that of which you daily partake, I am sure you do not know the meaning of that, “Glory,” which you have not yet obtained.
Heaven is rightly called, “Glory.” I do not doubt that it is a very glorious place. People have written books in which they have sought to give us some idea of Heaven as perfecting all the joys of our earthly domestic life. And artists have tried to depict the plains of Heaven, but the books and the works of art are equally worthy to be burnt, for they fall so infinitely short of what the reality must be that they are only a caricature and a mockery of what “Glory” must really be. No, Beloved, no tongue can tell what it is, and no pencil can depict the Glory of the place, itself, the Father’s House, where the many mansions are–
“Eye has not seen it, my gentle boy–
Ear has not heard its sweet songs of joy!”
Nor shall your imagination be able to bring these things down to you, for there is a spiritual Glory which must far exceed all the glories of which you know anything on earth!
I think, also, that Heaven is called, “Glory,” because its inhabitants follow glorious pursuits. What they are doing there all day long, I shall not attempt to guess, but we are told that “the Throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it and His servants shall serve Him. They shall see His face and His name shall be on their foreheads.” They will have enough to do to cast their crowns at His dear feet who gave them all the joy they have–and to make known to principalities and powers in heavenly places the manifold wisdom of God! Of this we are quite sure–all their pursuits will be glorious, there will be nothing low, nothing groveling, nothing selfish done in Heaven–certainly, nothing wearisome, nothing laborious that can bring sweat to the brow, again, that comes here because of the Curse. No, it is a glorious place where the happy dwellers are engaged in glorious pursuits!
And they also have glorious pleasures. They realize to the fullest what David said, “In Your Presence is fullness of joy. At Your right hand there are pleasures forevermore.” Did you ever think–have you the power to conceive–what the pleasures of God must be? What is the joy of the Lord–the infinite satisfaction of the Eternal–the profound bliss of Him who is most blessed forever? It is that joy, that bliss, that peace of which they shall have a share, as the Master says to each one of them, “Enter you into the joy of your Lord.” As high as the heavens are above the earth, so high is God’s joy above our joy. Therefore we cannot attempt to describe it, but we can only say of it that the joy of Heaven is Glory! The bliss of Heaven is “from Glory to Glory” forever and ever!
And, as Heaven is a glorious place for glorious pursuits and glorious pleasures, so all there will be glorious persons. There is not one low or mean inhabitant of Heaven! There are many there who were despised on earth–the lowly and the suffering and the persecuted–but they are no longer despised. God has put eternal honor upon them. They are all priests and kings unto God! The priestly garments they wear are more grand than Aaron’s raiment of glory and beauty and in their royal robes they keep high holiday, where the sun goes down no more, and the days of their mourning are forever ended. It is all glorious and I do not wonder that Heaven is called, “Glory,” and that we have so little said about it. There is just this great word–“Glory”–which by itself says more than I would be able to say if I kept you here till the clock tolled out the midnight hour!
This is the high enterprise of God, to bring His many sons to Glory. I call it a high enterprise, and so it is, for Hewill bring them to Glory despite all difficulties. Where do the redeemed begin their march? Down there, at the iron furnace, where they have lain among the pots, and where their slavery has been hard and cruel. Their march begins with Pharaoh to oppose them, but, with a high hand and an outstretched arm, God brings them up out of the bondage of Nature, and out of the bondage of corruption, into the glorious liberty of the children of God! How gloriously does He lead them through the Red Sea and destroy their adversaries with the precious blood of Jesus, till the depths have covered them, and there is not one of them left! And the rest of the passage of His people, from that high day at the Red Sea onward till they reach Glory–what is it but a march of miracles, an ever-moving panorama of wonders? I do but speak of the experience of the true Christian when I say that he is opposed from within and from without and that he is his own greatest enemy–and that is not saying a small thing when I remind you that the world, the flesh and the devil are all leagued against him!
It is with push of pike that I make my way to Heaven, disputing with my fierce foe every inch of the road. Yet I shall win the day, for He, “by whom are all things,” has undertaken to lead His sons to Glory–and He will lead them there! Ifthey had to cut their way through a whole legion of devils, as when men reap their path through a thick cornfield, yet should they, everyone of them, pass through unharmed! If there were seven thousand Hells between them and Heaven, yet they would reach it in safety because He, “for whom are all things, and by whom are all things,” has determined to bring them there! Yet it is no easy march and it will be no little glory that shall redound to Him who will lead us all through the wilderness and bring us to the Canaan which is above, that is, to “Glory.”
I want you to notice, next, that this high enterprise on God’s part is concerning the bringing of “many sons toGlory, we read about Mr. Great-Heart, who had a tough task to lead those women and children all the way to the Celestial City. They caused him a deal of trouble and he is a picture of many a Christian minister. Some of us have not to go before a few faint-hearted pilgrims, but we have to lead hundreds, or even thousands! Every morning before breakfast, I have to kill a giant for somebody or other, and hard fighting it is! And as soon as ever I have killed him, I hear one of the dear children crying out that he is going to be eaten up alive by another, so that I have to keep my sword always drawn! It is no easy task to be, under Christ, helping to bring some of these sons to Glory!
But think of the work that God has undertaken–to bring many sons to Glory–untold millions of them! I shall not attempt to use figures to represent the numbers of the saved, for I believe my Master’s redeemed ones will be as the dew of the morning, as the drops of the spray, as the sands on the seashore and far excelling the starry hosts marshaled on the midnight plains. Many sons will be brought to Glory by the great Father. Sometimes, in the old days of war, there used to be a number of little ships wanting to cross the sea, but the privateers were on the watch, so the seamen were afraid to hoist the sail and get away from the shelter of the shore, for they would soon be caught by their enemies, like doves by the hawk. Well, what was done? There they lay, in port, until His Majesty sent down a man-of-war, perhaps two or three, to be a convoy. Then the little ships would all be safe–their crews need not any longer be afraid of the Frenchmen or the Spaniards. So is it with those who are under the protection of God. We, weak little vessels, could never, by ourselves, reach our desired haven, but, lo, the Lord High Admiral of the seas and the great Emperor of the land has come forth in the majesty of His power to conduct us to Glory! And we shall get there safely, even though our enemies should be beyond all count. It was a grand thing when those convoys brought many little ships into harbor, but what a fleet the Lord will bring into the Fair Havens of eternal happiness! We read that on one occasion, when the Lord Jesus was crossing the Sea of Galilee, “there were also with Him other little ships.” And there are still with Him many other little ships, but He will bring them all safely into the harbor. Let the enemy attack them if he dares to do so, but their Protector will preserve them all, for it is His purpose to bring many sons to Glory.
I have not yet said all I need to say about this high enterprise, for perhaps the chief wonder of it all is that He, “for whom are all things, and by whom are all things,” has resolved to bring to Glory many sons. They shall, all of them, beHis sons! Oh, what a marvel it is that they should be His sons! Who will have them for sons? I am sure that there is many a man who might be ashamed to take for sons those whom God takes–the most depraved, debased and fallen–whom men have passed by, as those to whom they could not even speak. The Lord, in Infinite Love, has taken them to be His children and He has said of them, “I will be a Father to them, and they shall be My sons and daughters.” But, oh, what a work is needed in order to turn these rebels into children! What a wonder of Grace it is that they should first be regenerated and so get the nature of children! And then that they should be adopted and so have the status of children! And then that they should be sanctified and so exhibit, from day to day, those qualities that must be found in the children of a holy God! To make them sons is, indeed, an amazing work!
God did not do as much as that for the people in the wilderness. In that respect, the type broke down, for the Israelites would not be God’s sons. He acted as a father towards them, but they were rebels against Him and, therefore, the carcasses of that first generation fell in the wilderness. What a mercy it is that God does not now write the Law on tablets of stone, but on the fleshy tablets of our hearts! And the Law of God being written there, He gives us the Grace to obey it and, especially, He gives us Grace to believe in Jesus and to receive Him! John wrote, “As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name.” And it is still true of all who receive Him and believe on His name! Oh, what a mercy it is that guilty sinners may so receive the adoption of children! What a blessed thing it is that God will not only bring us to Glory, but that we shall be sons when He gets us there! He will bring us to Glory as sons–we shall be His sons while on the road and we shall be acknowledged as His sons in the presence ofthe entire universe in that day when the righteous shall “shine forth as the sun in the Kingdom of their Father,” for that is the glorious Kingdom to which He is going to bring us!
Blessed be His name that He should ever make us sons and resolve to bring us to Glory! Ah, well, He has set His heart upon doing it and He can do it–therefore let us again bless and praise His holy name!
II. Now I turn to my second point, which is concerning THE ORDAINED CAPTAIN. God intends to bring “many sons to Glory,” but He means to do it by the hand of a chosen Captain, greater than Joshua, who will fight for His people and conduct them safely into the Canaan of “Glory.”
The word here translated, “Captain,” is, in another place, rendered, “Author,” and, in yet another passage, “Prince.” In fact, it is twice translated, “Prince.” But I feel perfectly satisfied to take the term as our Authorized Version gives it and to say that the Lord our God leads His people to Glory by a Captain. He might have done it, if so it hadpleased Him, by His own power and might, apart from a Mediator, but He has not done so. He has ordained everything by the hand of a Mediator and it is an essential part of His arrangement of the whole system of Grace that the Father should work by the Son to bring the many sons to Glory, that the Son should bring them there by being the Captain in their midst, representing Him among men, being clothed with His power, effecting His Divine purpose for them. God will bring no sons to Glory except through this Captain! None may ever hope to enter Glory except by Christ Jesus! He Himself has said, “I am the way.” And He is the only way. Therefore, woe be to those who refuse to come to God by Him! God will bring all His sons to Glory, but it must be by the Captain whom He has ordained. Let us think for a little while what a captain is and what a captain has to do, for that will help us to understand the office and work of the Captain of our salvation.
First, then, the Lord Jesus Christ has come to conduct us to Glory by making all arrangements for the march. Thereis a great deal of responsibility connected with the leader of an army, not only in deciding as to where his troops shall encamp for the night, but where they shall march on the morrow, and in what direction they will be likely to be needed many days ahead. The commissariat of an army requires great thoughtfulness and care on the part of the leader and our Captain, the Lord Jesus Christ, has made all necessary arrangements for His people between here and Heaven! I am quite sure that we shall never come to a halting place between here and Glory, of which we shall be able to say that no provision has been made for us there. Providence, or seeing beforehand, is always at work on behalf of the Lord’s people. Godis always looking ahead and Christ makes every arrangement for the salvation of all His people, even down to the minutest details. He is a most blessed Captain.
A captain’s work, after he has arranged for the march, is, next, to give the word of command. “Go,” he says, or,“Stay.” “Do this,” or, “Be still.” The soldier’s one business is to obey his orders. He has not any right to choose what he will do. His marching orders are to be his law. Now, the Lord Jesus Christ will lead many sons to the Glory of His Father by giving those gracious commands which always bring a blessing with them whenever they are obeyed.
Captains, however, do more than command, for, if they are wise, they lead the way. I have heard that a Turkish officer says to his men, “Go along,” and stays behind and watches the soldiers. But when a British officer cries, “Come on!” he leads the way! That is what our Lord has done. In the sternest fight, He is always conspicuous, and there is no weary march that He bids us tramp in which He does not foot it at our side. You shall never climb so high that you will not find the footprint of the Crucified there, nor shall you be called to descend even into the depths of the sea but you shall find that He has been there, too, for He leads us always as the Captain of our salvation!
It is a captain’s business, also, to encourage his men. How often the presence of a true leader has effected more for thearmy than all their own strength could do! When Basing could not be taken by the Parliamentary troops in Cromwell’s day, “Old Noll” went down and he took Basing, directly, as he did every other place that he determined to capture! And infinitely more glorious is the Captain of our salvation, whose Presence secures victory to the most discouraged band if they do but see Him, and say, “It is He!” The next word is, “Be not afraid,” for where He comes, devils fly. The earth shakes at the Presence of the Christ of God! It is the captain’s business to encourage his men, and that our great Captain does continually!
Sometimes it is the captain’s delight to reward his followers. A wise leader gives words of praise when they are deserved and, on special occasions, he distributes more substantial things. As for our blessed Lord, His gracious commendation, “Well done, good and faithful servant,” would more than repay us for the toils of a lifetime–even if our lifetime were longer than Methuselah’s! Let us, then, be faithful and true as we have such a Captain as our Lord Jesus Christ who can do for us all that captains should do for their soldiers, and a great deal more.
Now, seeing that it is the will of the Lord to lead us to Glory by the Captain of our salvation, I want you to be worthy of your Leader. Do you not think that, sometimes, we act as if we had no Captain? We fancy that we have to fight our way to Heaven by the might of our own right hand and by our own skill, but it is not so. If you start before your Captain gives you the order to march, you will have to come back. And if you try to fight without your Captain, you will rue the day. “Oh,” says one, “but I have been thinking today what I shall do if such-and-such happens.” My dear Brother, it would be a great deal better for you to remember that “the Lord lives,” and to leave the thinking and arranging in His hands. There are a great many ifs out, they will sting youfrom head to foot! But there is one glorious if Hecould desert us, then all would be lost! That kills all the other ifs. He cannot fail us or leaveus! He must live, He must conquer and while that is the case, the other ifs do not mean anything to us. Therefore, castyourselves on your Captain’s care. March onward though you cannot see your way! Fly at the enemy though they seem to outnumber you by ten to one, for greater is He that is for you than all that can be against you! Be not afraid of anything,for your Captain is equal to all emergencies.
When the Lord our God chose Him as our Leader and Commander, He laid help upon One that was mighty. He did not take some poor weak mortal to be the captain of such a company as we are! He did not even select an angel for this great task. He exalted One chosen out of the people who was most suitable for the position–and God’s wisdom would be dishonored if Christ were found incapable of bringing the many sons to Glory! But He is blessedly capable of all that is required of Him–and the ancient prophecies concerning Him shall be completely fulfilled! “He shall not fail nor be discouraged.” “and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hands.”
III. Thus far, then, we have seen that the Great Father will bring His many sons to Glory by a Captain. But the meat of the text lies in the part we have now to consider, and that is, THE BECOMING WORK OF THE FATHER UPON OUR CAPTAIN. “It became Him, in bringing many sons to Glory, to make the Captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.”
God always acts becomingly and, therefore, it was right that Christ should suffer. I have sometimes heard discussionsas to whether the Lord might not have saved sinners without a Mediator, or, if through a Mediator, whether we might not have been saved by some other method without the death of Christ. I do not think it is right for us to form any kind of judgment upon that matter, but to say, as our risen Lord said to His disciples, “It behooved Christ to suffer.” It was becoming that Christ should die. “It pleased the Lord to bruise Him.” It was a seemly and proper thing, in the sight of Him, “for whom are all things, and by whom are all things,” that we should be saved by a Mediator, and that the chosen Mediator should not have us apart from His own terrible sufferings.
It was becoming that our Captain should be made perfect, complete, fully equipped for saving us by suffering. Theagony could not be left out. The cup must not pass from Him without His drinking its awful contents. It was becoming that Christ should be poor–so He had not where to lay His head. It was becoming that He should be hungry–so He fasted for 40 days. It was becoming that He should sweat great drops of blood. It was a becoming thing in the sight of God that there should be suffering on the part of His chosen Captain. It was becoming that He should be spit upon–that He should be mocked–that He should be scourged–that He should be nailed to a tree–that He should be parched with fever and, in awful depression of spirit, should cry, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” It was becoming that all this should happen and, therefore, it did happen. Let that be a sufficient answer to us whenever we are asked any questions about Christ’s suffering–it was becoming in God’s sight.
And let those who deny the Atonement, and those precious critics who sneer at every hymn that tells of the agonies of Christ, understand that it was becoming that He should endure all this and that we are not ashamed to sing of what God counts becoming. I, for one, mean still to sing–
“His dying crimson, like a robe,
Spreads o'er His body on the tree.”
I mean, still, to sing–
“Well might the sun in darkness hide,
And shut its glories in,
When God, the mighty Maker, died
For man, the creature’s sin.”
Even though it seems to some as if we knew Christ after the flesh, I would rather know Him so than not at all. And some seem to wish not to know Him at all. They want, especially, to get rid of the blood–“the offense of the Cross” has notyet ceased–it is still a cause of stumbling to a great many! But, oh, I pray you who are offended at the Cross, not to think that you will ever get to Heaven, for God and you would not agree, there, for He counts the Cross becoming, and you count it foolishness–so there is a radical difference of opinion between you two and one Heaven would not hold you! You must get agreed with God about that matter, or else, depend upon it, you will never enter the pearly gates! You must honor the Son even as you honor the Father, and honor the Son in His blood and wounds and in all His agony and death, or else you shall not come where the Father takes pleasure in the Well-Beloved.
Further, the text seems to say that it was becoming that Christ should be made perfect through suffering. There aremany points in which Christ could not save us without suffering. He could not be a perfect Substitute unless He bore our sin and shame. He could not be a perfect Sympathizer unless He bore our suffering. This, perhaps, is the main point in which Christ is perfected. He becomes capable of entering into all the griefs that disturb the many sons whom He is to lead to Glory. In our Elder Brother, the heir of all things, there is an epitome of all the sorrows of all the rest of the family. In Christ there is every pang that rends the heart, every grief that forces tears from the eyes–except such griefs as are sinful and could not enter into His holy bosom–but everything that is inevitable to flesh and blood, to hearts that break, spirits that are depressed and everything of that kind, Jesus knows.
Sometimes I have been where none of you have ever been, but I have never been where I could not find Christ. And some of you, my dear Brothers and Sisters, have been in heartbreaking trouble that I never knew. But the Master has been there, if the Pastor has not, and if the dearest Christian friend has not–and so He has become perfect through suffering. “I know their sorrows,” He says, “I know their sorrows, not by having read or heard about them, but by having suffered them.” Of all the bitter medicine in the great apothecary’s store, Christ has had a draught. He knows all about them and this makes Him “perfect through sufferings.”
Finally, it was becoming on the part of God, “for whom are all things, and by whom are all things,” that He should perfect His Son as our Captain through sufferings. But the original Greek gives us a fuller meaning than this–that God should glorify His Son. It is becoming on God’s part that He should give to Christ everything that can make Him glorious and honorable. Seeing that He bowed His head to suffer and to die, it was right that God should raise Him from the dead, that He should set Him at His own right hand, that He should crown Him with many crowns, that He should grant Him to “have dominion from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the earth.” It is becoming that Christ should have all honor and Glory paid to Him, that men should honor the Son even as they honor the Father. In prayer, when I need an argument that I know will prevail with God, I say to Him, “Father, glorify Your Son! You love Him, look at Him, is He not lovely in Your eyes as the suffering, obedient Son of Your love? Do You not admire Him beyond all conception? Therefore, hear my supplication and grant my petition for His sake.”
I like, sometimes, to leave off praying and singing, and to sit still, and just gaze upward till my inmost soul has seen my Lord. Then I say, “He is inexpressibly lovely. Yes, He is altogether lovely!” If He is that to my poor eyes, which are so dull and dim that they cannot half discern His beauties, what must He be in the eyes of God? In the eyes of God He is so precious that, as my text says, “It became Him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things”–it was becoming even in Him, “in bringing many sons to Glory, to make the Captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings”–glorified beyond all imaginable glory and to have universal homage paid to Him throughout the universe forever and ever! God sees it to be becoming and, therefore, we delight in it. Amen and amen!