Chapter 15 "When Christ Shall Appear, Then Shall Ye Also Appear With Him."

Cor. 3:4

Jesus of Nazareth, the rejected and despised one, indeed appear again. He will come as the King of kings, and Lord of lords, to assert in mighty power His right to the dominion of the world. He will come as the man whom God has ordained to be the judge of the quick and the dead, as the avenger of His people, as the restorer of Israel, as the promised seed in whom all nations shall be blessed, and as the deliverer of this groaning creation from the bondage of corruption.

When He thus appears, the saints whom He had previously taken to be with Himself shall appear with Him. Thus Enoch testified, “Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of His saints.” (Jude 14.) Again, in Zechariah 14:5, “The Lord my God shall come, and all the saints with thee;” and again, in Col. 3:4, “When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory.”

Thus, in Rev. 19, the saints are seen in vision as the armies of heaven upon white horses, and clothed in fine linen, clean and white, accompanying the King of kings on His march to judgment.

When He came before, He came not to judge, but to save (John 3:17; Luke 9:56); and His people, the members of His body and partakers of His spirit, are called to fellowship in this gracious testimony, refusing, like the Master, the place of dominion or judgment in this world, and seeking only to commend the grace of a long-suffering God.

But when He comes again, it will be in righteousness to judge and make war (Rev. 9:2); and again, His people, in fellowship with Himself, shall “judge and make war.”

Of this we read in 1 Cor. 6:2, “Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world?” And again, “Know ye not that we shall judge angels?” The Corinthians had been seeking great things for themselves in earth, desiring as it were to antedate the reigning time, as the Church, with its pretensions to temporal authority, has ever sought to do since. The apostle rebukes them: “Ye have reigned as kings without us: and I would to God ye did reign, that we also might reign with you.”

The apostle knew that any position of influence attained in this world was an evidence of carnality rather than of true spiritual power, and so he is drawn out to long for the time when with Christ they would reign indeed, and he, the “fool for Christ,” would reign together with them.

In Rev. 2:26, 27, we find the Lord Jesus making the same promise to His overcoming people that in Psalm 2:9 the Father had made to Himself. “He that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father.” And again, in 3:21, “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in His throne.”

Again, in Daniel 7, the kingdom under the whole heaven is taken by the Son of man; but it is also written, “The saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever and ever.”

In accordance with this, the Lord Himself said, “Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32); and to the apostles He specifies the place in that kingdom which shall be theirs: “I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; that ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” (Luke 22:29, 30.)

And that this is the common portion of all the saints is shown in Psalm 149:5-9, “To execute upon them the judgment written: this honour have all His saints.”

The glory and power with which the believer will then be invested can little be imagined now. “Unto the angels hath He not put in subjection the world to come;” that is reserved for the Man who is now crowned with glory and honour, and for those who shall be kings and priests, and joint-heirs with Him.

The miraculous powers of the Lord when on earth, and of His apostles, were but specimens of “the powers of the age to come” that will be committed to the saints.

He shall be “glorified in His saints, and admired in all them that believe.” (2 Thess. 1:10.) Their beauty and glory shall be the very beauty and glory of Christ outshining from within; it is Christ that shall get the glory, and not the saints. As the summer sun is reflected and admired in every ripple upon the sea, so shall Christ be reflected and admired in each of His ransomed myriads.

Well may those who have such prospects decline the preferments that Satan would offer in this present world, and wait God’s time to be honoured.

The olive, and the fig, and the vine were offered promotion over the trees of the forest (Judges 9), but they saw that the bargain would cost them the loss of their fruitfulness, and the offer was rejected. Such is many an offer of advancement to worldly honour now presented to the child of God; he may indeed accept it, and for a time be looked up to, but it costs him his sweetness, his fatness, and his joy.

Meanwhile the whole creation groans, and is subject to bondage; it travaileth in pain together, waiting for the manifestation of the sons of God. Then it shall be ushered into their glorious liberty—liberty from sin, and Satan, and corruption, and death, and pains, and tears. It cannot be set free till the sons of God appear—till, in company with “the First-begotten from the dead,” they execute the vengeance written, and destroy those that destroy the earth.

Might it not be said to many now as of old, “O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have written”? These wondrous prophecies concerning the age to come are read as though they were idle tales; faith lays but a feeble hold on them, and hence they have but little power to wean the heart from earthly things.

But let the believer, like the patriarch of old, be persuaded of them, and embrace them, and confess that he is but a stranger and pilgrim here; then shall the star of hope grow brighter as the night grows darker, and earthly things shall fade, while heavenly things, unseen before, are manifested to the uplifted eye.