Jesus Admired in Them That Believe
“When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.” —2 Thessalonians i. 10.
WHAT a difference between the first and second comings of our Lord! When he shall come a second time it will be to be glorified and admired, but when he came the first time it was to be despised and rejected of men. He comes a second time to reign with unexampled splendour, but the first time he came to die in circumstances of shame and sorrow. Lift up your eyes, ye sons of light, and anticipate the change, which will be as great for you as for your Lord; for now ye are hidden even as he was hidden, and misunderstood even as he was misunderstood when he walked among the sons of men. “We know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” His manifestation will be our manifestation, and in the day in which he is revealed in glory then shall his saints be glorified with him.
Observe that our Lord is spoken of as coming in his glory, and as at the same time taking vengeance in flaming fire on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel. This is a note of great terror to all those who are ignorant of God, and wickedly unbelieving concerning his Christ. Let them take heed, for the Lord will gain glory by the overthrow of his enemies, and those who would not bow before him cheerfully shall be compelled to bow before him abjectly: they shall crouch at his feet, they shall lick the dust in terror, and at the glance of his eyes they shall utterly wither away, as it is written, they “shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power.” But this is not the main object for which Christ will come, nor is this the matter in which he findeth his chiefest glory, for, observe, he does this as it were by the way, when he comes for another purpose. To destroy the wicked is a matter of necessity in which his spirit takes no delight, for he doth this, according to the text, not so much when he cometh to do it as when he shall come with another object, namely, “To be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in them that believe.”
The crowning honour of Christ will be seen in his people, and this is the design with which he will return to this earth in the latter days, that he may be illustrious in his saints and exceedingly magnified in them. Even now his saints glorify him. When they walk in holiness they do, as it were, reflect his light; their holy deeds are beams from him who is the Sun of righteousness. When they believe in him they also glorify him, for there is no grace which pays lowlier homage at the throne of Jesus than the grace of faith whereby we trust him, and so confess him to be our all in all. We do glorify our gracious Lord, but, beloved brethren, we must all confess that we do not this as we could desire, for, alas, too often we dishonour him, and grieve his Holy Spirit. By our want of zeal and by our many sins we are guilty of discrediting his gospel and dishonouring his name. Happy, happy, happy day when this shall no more be possible, when we shall be rid of the inward corruption which now worketh itself into outward sin, and shall never dishonor Christ again, but shall shine with a clear, pure radiance, like the moon on the Passover night, when it looketh the sun full in the face, and then shines upon the earth at her best. To-day we are like vessels on the wheel, but half fashioned, yet even now somewhat of his divine skill is seen in us as his handiwork. Still the unformed clay is in part seen, and much remains to be done; how much more of the great Potter’s creating wisdom and sanctifying power will be displayed when we shall be the perfect products of his hand! In the bud and germ our new nature brings honour to its Author; it will do far more when its perfection manifests the Finisher. Then shall Jesus be glorified and admired in every one of us when the days of the new creation are ended and God shall usher in the eternal Sabbath by pronouncing his grace-work to be very good.
This morning, as God shall help me, I shall speak first of the special glorification of Christ here intended: and, secondly, I shall conclude the sermon by calling your attention to the special considerations which this grand truth suggests.
I. Let us consider carefully THE SPECIAL GLORIFICATION HEREINTENDED. And the first point to note is the time. The text saith “When he shall come to be glorified in his saints.” The full glorification of Christin his saints will be when he shall come a second time, according to the sure word of prophecy. He is glorified in them now, for he saith, “All mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them”; but as yet that glory is perceptible to himself rather than to the outer world. The lamps are being trimmed, they will shine ere long. These are the days of preparation before that Sabbath which is in an infinite sense a high day. As it was said of Esther, that for so many months she prepared herself with myrrh and sweet odours before she entered, the king’s palace, to be espoused of him, even so are we now being purified and made ready for that august day when the perfected church shall be presented unto Christ as a bride unto her husband. John saith of her that she shall be “prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” This is our night, wherein we must watch, but behold the morning cometh, a morning without clouds, and then shall we walk in a seven-fold light because our Well-beloved hath come. That second advent of his will be his revelation: he was under a cloud here, and men perceived him not, gave only a few who beheld his glory; but when he comes a second time all veils will be removed and every eye shall see the glory of his countenance. For this he waits and his church waits with him. We know not when the set time shall arrive, but every hour is bringing it nearer to us, therefore let us stand with loins girt, awaiting it.
Note, secondly, in whom this glorification of Christ is to be found. The text does not say he will be glorified “by” his saints, but “in his saints.” There is a shade of difference, yea, more than a shade, between the two terms. We endeavour to glorify him now by our actions, but then he will be glorified in our own persons, and character, and condition. He is glorified by what we do, but he is at the last to be glorified in what we are. Who are these in whom Jesus is to be glorified and admired? They are spoken of under two descriptions: “in his saints,” and “in all them that believe.”
In “his saints” first. All those in whom Christ will be glorified are described as holy ones or saints: men and women who have been sanctified, and made pure, whose gracious lives show that they have been under the teaching of the Holy Spirit, whose obedient actions prove that they are disciples of a Holy Master, even of him who was “holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners.” But, inasmuch as these saints are also said to be believers, I gather that the holiness which will honour Christ at last is a holiness based on faith in him, a holiness of which this was the root,— that they first trusted in Christ, and then, being saved, they loved their Lord and obeyed him. Their faith wrought by love and purified their souls, and so cleansed their lives. It is an inner as well as an outer purity, arising out of the living and operative principle of faith. If any think that they can attain to holiness apart from faith in Christ they are as much mistaken as he who should hope to reap a harvest without casting seed into the furrows. Faith is the bulb, and saintship is the delightfully fragrant flower which cometh of it when planted in the soil of a renewed heart. Beware, I pray you, of any pretence to a holiness arising out of yourselves, and maintained by the energy of your own unaided wills; as well look to gather grapes of thorns or figs of thistles. True saintship must spring from confidence in the Saviour of sinners, and if it doth not it is lacking in the first elements of truth. How can that be a perfect character which finds its basis in self-esteem? How could Christ be glorified by saints who refuse to trust in him?
I would call your attention once again to the second description, “All them that believe.” This is enlarged by the hint that they are believers in a certain testimony, according to the bracketed sentence— “because our testimony among you was believed.” Now, the testimony of the apostles was concerning Christ. They saw him in the body, and they bore witness that he was “God manifest in the flesh”; they saw his holy life, and they bore witness to it; they saw his death of grief, and they witnessed that “ God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself”; they saw him risen from the dead, and they said, “We are witnesses of his resurrection”; they saw him rise into heaven, and they bore witness that God had taken him up to his right hand. Now, all that believe this witness are saved. “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” All who with a simple faith come and cast themselves upon the incarnate God, living and dying for men, and ever sitting at the right hand of God to make intercession for them,— these are the people in whom Christ will be glorified and admitted at the last great day. But inasmuch as they are first said to be saints, be it never forgotten that this faith must be a living faith, a faith which produces a hatred of sin, a faith which renews the character and shapes the life after the noble model of Christ, thus turning sinners into saints. The two descriptions must not be violently rent asunder; you must not say that the favoured people are sanctified without remembering that they are justified by faith, nor may you say that they are justified by faith without remembering that without holiness no man shall see the Lord, and that at the last the people in whom Christ will be admired will be those holy ones who were saved by faith in him.
So far, then, we see our way, but now a question arises: by whom will Christ be thus glorified and admired? He shines in his people, but who will see the glory? I answer first, that his people will see it. Every saint will glorify Christ in himself, and admire Christ in himself. He will say, “What a wonder that such a poor creature as I am should be thus perfected! How glorious is my Lord, who has wrought this miracle upon me!” Surely our consciousness of having been cleansed and made holy will cause us to fulfil those words of John Berridge which we sang just now:—
“He cheers them with eternal smile,
They sing hosannas all the while;
Or, overwhelm’d with rapture sweet,
Sink down adoring at his feet.”
This I know, that when I personally enter heaven I shall for ever admire and adore the everlasting love which brought me there. Yes, we will all glorify and admire our Saviour for what he has wrought in us by his infinite grace.
The saints will also admire Christ in one another. As I shall see you and you shall see your brethren and sisters in Christ all perfect, you will be filled with wonderment, and gratitude, and delight. You will be free from all envy there, and therefore you will rejoice in all the beauty of your fellow saints: their heaven will be a heaven to you, and what a multitude of heavens you will have as you will joy in the joy of all the redeemed! We shall as much admire the Lord’s handiwork in others as in ourselves, and shall each one praise him for saving all the rest. You will see your Lord in all your brethren, and this will make you praise and adore him world without end with a perpetual amazement of ever-growing delight.
But that will not be all. Besides the blood-bought and ransomed of Christ there will be on that great day of his coming all the holy angels to stand by and look on and wonder. They marvelled much when first he stooped from heaven to earth, and they desired to look into those things, which then were a mystery to them. But when they shall see their beloved Prince come back with ten thousand times ten thousand of the ransomed at his feet, all of them made perfect by having washed their robes and made them white in his blood, how the principalities and powers will admire him in every one of his redeemed! How they will praise that conquering arm which has brought home all these spoils from the war! How will the hosts of heaven shout his praises as they see him lead all these captives captive with a new captivity, in chains of love, joyfully gracing his triumph and showing forth the completeness of his victory!
We do not know what other races of innocent creatures there may be, but I think it is no stretch of imagination to believe that, as this world is only one speck in the creation of God, there may be millions of other races in the countless worlds around us, and all these may be invited to behold the wonders of redeeming love as manifested in the saints in the day of the Lord. I seem to see these unfallen intelligences encompassing the saints as a cloud of witnesses, and in rapt vision beholding in them the love and grace of the redeeming Lord. What songs! What shouts shall rise from all these to the praise of the ever blessed God! What an orchestra of praise will the universe become! From star to star the holy hymn shall roll, till all space shall ring out the hosannas of wondering spirits. “The Wonderful, the Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace,” shall have brought home all the men wondered at, and they with himself shall be the wonder of eternity.
Then shall Satan and his defeated legions, and the lost spirits of ungodly men, bite their lips with envy and rage, and tremble at the majesty of Jesus in that day. By their confessed defeat and manifest despair they shall glorify him in his people, in whom they have been utterly overthrown. They shall see that there is not one lost whom he redeemed by blood, not one snatched away of all the sheep his Father gave him, not one warrior enlisted beneath his banner fallen in the day of battle, but all more than conquerors through him that loved them. What despair shall seize upon diabolic spirits as they discover their entire defeat! Defeated in men who were once their slaves! Poor dupes whom they could so easily beguile by their craftiness,— defeated even in these! Jesus triumphant by taking the lambs from between the lion’s jaws, and rescuing his feeble sheep from their power, will utterly put them to shame in his redeemed. With what anguish will they sink into the hell prepared for them, because now they hear with anger all earth and heaven and every star ringing with the shout,— Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth, and the Lamb hath conquered by his blood.
You see then that there are enough spectators to magnify Christ in his saints; and so, fourthly, let us inquire in what degree will the Lord Jesus be glorified? Our answer is, it will be to the very highest degree. He shall come to be glorified in his saints to the utmost, for this is clear from the words, “to be admired.” When our translation was made the word “admired” had to ordinary Englishmen a stronger flavour of wonder than it has to us now. We often speak of admiring a thing in the softer sense of loving it, but the real meaning of the English word, and of the Greek also, is wander: our Lord will be wondered at in all them that believe. Those who look upon the saints will feel a sudden wonderment of sacred delight; they will be startled with the surprising glory of the Lord’s work in them; “We thought He would do great things, but this! This surpasseth conception!” Every saint will be a wonder to himself. “I thought my bliss would be great, but not like this!” All his brethren will be a wonder to the perfected believer. He will say, “I thought the saints would be perfect, but I never imagined such a transfiguration of excessive glory would be put upon each of them. I could not have imagined my Lord to be so good and gracious.” The angels in heaven will say that they never anticipated such deeds of grace: they did know that he had undertaken a great work, but they did not know that he would do so much for his people and in his people. The first-born sons of light, used to great marvels from of old, will be entranced with a new wonder as they see the handiwork of Immanuel’s free grace and dying love. The men who once despised the saints, who called them canting hypocrites and trampled on them, and perhaps slew them, the kings and princes of the earth who sold the righteous for a pair of shoes, what will they say when they see the least of the Saviour’s followers become a prince of more illustrious rank than the great ones of the earth, and Christ shining out in every one of these favoured beings? For their uplifting Jesus will be wondered at by those who once despised both him and them.
My next point leads us into the very bowels of the subject; in what respects will Christ be glorified and wondered at? I cannot expect to tell you one tenth part of it. I am only going to give you a little sample of what this must mean; exhaustive exposition were quite impossible to me. I think with regard to his saints that Jesus will be glorified and wondered at on account of their number — “a number that no man can number.” John was a great arithmetician, and he managed to count up to one hundred and forty-four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel; but that was only a representative number for the Jewish church: as for-the church of God, comprehending the Gentile nations, he gave up all idea of computation, and confessed that it is “a number which no man can number.” When he heard them sing he says, “I heard a voice like the voice of many waters and like great thunder.” There were so many of them that their song was like the Mediterranean sea lashed to fury by a tempest, nay, not one great sea in uproar, but ocean upon ocean, the Atlantic and the Pacific piled upon each other, and the Arctic upon these, and other oceans upon these, layers of oceans, all thundering out their mightiest roar: and such will be the song of the redeemed, for the crowds which swell the matchless hymn will be beyond all reckoning. Behold, and see, ye who laughed at his kingdom, see how the little one has become a thousand! Now look ye, ye foes of Christ, who saw the handful of corn on the top of the mountains; see how the fruit thereof doth shake like Lebanon, and they of the city do flourish like grass of the earth. Who can reckon the drops of the dew or the sands on the sea shore? When they have counted these then shall they not have guessed at the multitude of the redeemed that Christ shall bring to glory. And all this harvest from one grain of wheat, which except it had fallen into the ground and died would have remained alone! What said the Word? “If it die, it shall bring forth much fruit.” Is not the prophecy fulfilled? Oh beloved, what a harvest from the lone Man of Nazareth! What fruit from that glorious man— the Branch! Men esteemed him stricken, smitten of God and afflicted; and they made nothing of him, and yet there sprang of him (and he as good as dead) these multitudes which are many as the stars of heaven. Is he not glorified and wondered at in them? The day shall declare it without fail.
But there is quality as well as quantity. He is admired in his saints because they are every one of them proofs of his power to save from evil. My eye can hardly bear, even though it be but in imagination, to gaze upon the glittering ranks of the white-robed ones, where each one outshines the sun, and they are all as if a sevenfold midday had clothed them. Yet all these, as I look at them, tell me, “We have washed our robes,— for they were once defiled. We have made them white,— but this whiteness is caused by the blood of the Lamb.” These were heirs of wrath even as others, these were dead in trespasses and sins; all these like sheep had gone astray and turned every one to his own way; but look at them and see how he has saved them, washed them, cleansed them, perfected them! His power and grace are seen in all of them. If your eye will pause here and there you will discover some that were supremely stubborn, whose neck was as an iron sinew, and yet he conquered them by love. Some were densely ignorant, but he opened their blind eyes; some grossly infected with the leprosy of lust, but he healed them; some under Satan’s most terrible power, but he cast the devil out of them. Oh, how he will be glorified in special cases! In yon drunkard made into a saint, in yon blasphemer turned into a loving disciple, in yon persecutor who breathed out threatening taught to sing everlastingly a hymn of praise! He will be exceedingly glorified in such. Brethren, beloved in the Lord, in each one of ns there was some special difficulty as to our salvation, some impossibility which was possible with God, though it would have been for ever impossible with us.
Remember, also, that all those saints made perfect would have been in hell had it not been for the Son’s atoning sacrifice. This they will remember the more vividly, because they will see other men condemned for the sins with which they also were once polluted. The crash of vengeance upon the ungodly will make the saints magnify the Lord the more as they see themselves delivered. They will each feel,—
“Oh were it not for grace divine,
That fate so dreadful had been mine.”
In each one the memory of the horrible pit whence they were drawn and the miry clay out of which they were uplifted shall make their Saviour more glorified and wondered at.
Perhaps the chief point in which Christ will be glorified will be— the absolute perfection of all the saints. The shall then be “without spot or wrinkle or any such thing.” We have not experienced what perfection is, and therefore we can hardly conceive it; our thoughts themselves are too sinful for us to get a full idea of what absolute perfection must be; but, dear brethren, we shall have no sin left in us, for they are “without fault before the throne of God,” and we shall have no remaining propensity to sin. There shall be no bias in the will towards that which is evil, but it shall be fixed for ever upon that which is good. The affections will never be wanton again, they will be. chaste for Christ. The understanding will never make mistakes. You shall never put bitter for sweet, nor sweet for bitter; you shall be “perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect”: and truly, brethren, he who worketh this in us will be a wonder. Christ will be admired and adored because of this grand result. O mighty Master, with what strange moral alchemy didst thou work to turn that morose dispositioned man into a mass of love! How didst thou work to lift that selfish Mammonite up from his hoarded gains to make him find his gain in thee? How didst thou overcome that proud spirit, that fickle spirit, that lazy spirit, that lustful spirit,— how didst thou contrive to take all these away? How didst thou extirpate the very roots of sin, and every little rootlet of sin, out of thy redeemed, so that not a tiny fibre can be found? “The sins of Jacob shall be sought for and they shall not be found, yea, they shall not be, saith the Lord.” Neither the guilt of sin nor the propensity to sin,— both shall be gone, and Christ shall have done it, and he will be “glorified in his saints, and admired in them that believe.”
This is but the beginning, however. There will be seen in every saint, in that last wondrous day, the wisdom and power and love of Christ in having brought them through all the trials of the way. He kept their faith alive when else it would have died out; he sustained them under trials when else they would have fainted; he held them fast in their integrity when temptation solicited them, and they had almost slipped with their feet. Ay, he sustained some of them in prison, and on the rack, and at the stake, and held them faithful still! One might hardly wish to be a martyr, but I reckon that the martyrs will be the admiration of us all, or rather Christ will be admired in them. However they could bear such pain as some of them did endure for Christ’s sake none of us can guess, except that we know that Christ was in them suffering in his members. Eternally will Jesus be wondered at in them as all intelligent spirits shall see how he upheld them, so that neither tribulation, nor distress, nor nakedness, nor famine, nor sword, could separate them from his love. These are the men that wandered about in sheep-skins and goatskins, destitute, afflicted, tormented, of whom the world was not worthy, but now they stand arrayed as kings and priests in surpassing glory for ever. Verily, their Lord shall be admired in them. Say you not so?
Recollect, dear friends, that we shall see in that day how the blessed Christ, as “Head over all things to his church,” has ruled every providence to the sanctification of his people— how the dark days begat showers which made the plants of the Lord to grow, how the fierce sun which threatened to scorch them to the root, filled them with warmth of love divine and ripened their choice fruit. What a tale the saints will have to tell of how that which threatened to damp the fire of grace made it burn more mightily, how the stone which threatened to kill their faith was turned into bread for them, how the rod and staff of the Good Shepherd was ever with them to bring them safely home. I have sometimes thought that if I get into heaven by the skin of my teeth I will sit down on the glory-shore and bless for ever him who, on a board, or on a broken piece of the ship, brought my soul safe to land; and surely they who obtain an abundant entrance, coming into the fair havens, like a ship in full sail, without danger of shipwreck, will have to praise the Lord that they thus came into the blessed port of peace: in each case the Lord will be specially glorified and admired.
I cannot stop over this, but I must beg you to notice that as a king is glorious in his regalia, so will Christ put on his saints as his personal splendour in that day when he shall make up his jewels. It is with Christ as it was with that noble Roman matron, who when she called at her friends’ houses and saw their trinkets, asked them to come next day to her house, and she would exhibit her jewels. They expected to see ruby, and pearl, and diamond, but she called in her two boys, and said, “These are my jewels.” Even so will Jesus instead of emerald and amethyst, and onyx and topaz, exhibit his saints. “These are my choice treasures,” saith he, “in whom I will be glorified.” Solomon surely was never more full of glory than when he had finished the temple, when all the tribes came together to see the noble structure, and confessed it to be “beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth.” But what wall be the glory of Christ when all the living stones shall be put into their places and his church shall have her windows of agates and her gates of carbuncle, and all her borders of precious stones. Then, indeed, will he be glorified, when the twelve foundations of his new Jerusalem shall be courses of stones most precious, the like of which was never seen.
Now, inasmuch as my text lays special stress upon believing, I invite you just for a minute to consider how as believers as well as saints the saved ones will glorify their Lord.
First, it will be wonderful that there should be so many brought to faith in him: men with no God, and men with many gods, men steeped in ignorance, and men puffed up with carnal wisdom, great men and poor men, all brought to believe in the one Redeemer and praise him for his great salvation. Will he not be glorified in their common faith? It will magnify him that these will all be saved by faith, and not by their own merits. Not one among them will boast that he was saved by his own good works, but all of them will rejoice to have been saved by that Blessedly simple way of “Believe and live,” saved by sovereign grace through the atoning blood, looked to by the tearful eye of simple faith. This, too, shall make Jesus glorious, that all of them, weak as they were, were made strong by faith; all of them personally unfit for battle were yet made triumphant in conflict because by faith they overcame through the blood of the Lamb. All of them shall be there to show that their faith was honoured, that Christ was faithful to his promise, and never allowed them to believe in vain. All of them standing in heavenly places, saved by faith, will ascribe every particle of the glory to the Lord Jesus only:—
“I ask them whence their victory came?
They, with united breath,
Ascribe their conquest to the Lamb,
Their triumph to his death.”
They believed and were saved, but faith taketh no credit to itself; it is a self-denying grace, and putteth the crown upon the head of Christ, and therefore is it written that he will be glorified in his saints, and he will also be admired in all them that believe.
I have scarcely skirted the subject even now, and time is failing me. I want you to reflect that Jesus will be glorified in the risen bodies of all his saints. Now, in heaven, they are pure spirits, but when he shall come they shall be clothed again. Poor body, thou must sleep awhile, but what thou shalt be at thine awaking doth not yet appear. Thou art now the shrivelled seed, but there is a flower to come of thee which shall be lovely beyond all thought. Though sown in weakness, this body shall be raised in power; though sown in corruption, it shall be raised in incorruption. Weakness, weariness, pain, and death will be banished for ever; infirmity and deformity will be all unknown. The Lord will raise up our bodies to be like unto his glorious body. Oh, what a prospect lies before us! Let us remember that this blessed resurrection will come to us because he rose, for there must be a resurrection to the members because the Head has risen. Oh, the charm of being a risen man perfect in body, soul, and spirit! All that charm will be due to Christ, and therefore he will be admired in us.
Then let us think of the absolute perfection of the church as to numbers: all who have believed in him will be with him in glory. The text saith, he will be “admired in all them that believe.” Now, if some of those who believe perished he would not be admired in them, but they will all be there, the little ones as well as the great ones. You will be there, you poor feeble folk who when you say “Lord, I believe,” are obliged to add “help thou mine unbelief.” He shall be admired in all believers without a single exception, and peradventure there shall be more wonder at the going to heaven of the weak believers than at the stronger ones. Mr. Greatheart, when he comes there will owe his victories to his Master and lay his laurels at his feet; but fainting Feeblemind, and limping Ready-to-halt with his crutches, and trembling Little-faith, when they enter into rest will make heaven ring with notes of even greater admiration that such poor creeping worms of the earth should win the day by mighty grace. Suppose that one of them should be missing at last! Stop the harps! Silence the songs! No beginning to be merry while one child is shut out! I am quite certain if as a family we were going to sing our evening hymn of joy and thankfulness, if mother said, “Where is the little mite? Where is the last one of the family?” There would be a pause. If we had to say— she is lost, there would be no singing and no resting till she was found. It is the glory of Jesus that as a shepherd he has lost none of his flock, as the Captain of salvation he has brought many sons to glory, and has lost none, and hence he is admired, not in some that believe, nor yet in all but one, but he is “admired in all them that believe.”
Does not this delight you, you who are weak and trembling, that he will be admired in you? There is little to admire in you at present, as you penitently confess; but since Christ is in you now, and will be more fully manifested in you, there will ere long be much to admire. May you partake in the excellence of our divine Lord and be conformed to his likeness that he may be seen in you and glorified in you.
Another point of admiration will be the eternal safety of all his believing people. There they are safe from fear of harm. Ye dogs of hell, you howled at their heels and hoped to devour them; but, lo, they are clean escaped from you! What must it be to be lifted above gun-shot of the enemy, where no more watch shall need to be kept, for even the roar of the Satanic artillery cannot be heard? Oh glorious Christ, to bring them all to such a state of safety, thou art indeed to be wondered at for ever.
Moreover, all the saints, will be so honoured, so happy, and so like their Lord that themselves and everything about them will be themes for never-ending admiration. You may have seen a room hung round with mirrors, and when you stood in the midst you were reflected from every point: you were seen here, and seen there, and there again, and there again, and so every part of you was reflected; just such is heaven, Jesus is the centre, and all his saints like mirrors reflect his glory. Is he human? So are they! Is he the Son of God? So are they sons of God! Is he perfect? So are they! Is he exalted? So are they! Is he a prophet? So are they, making known unto principalities and powers the manifold wisdom of God. Is he a priest? So are they! Is he a King? So are they, for he hath made us priests and kings unto God, and we shall reign for ever and ever. Look where you will along the ranks of the redeemed, this one thing shall be seen, the glory of Christ Jesus, even to surprise and wonder.
II. I have no time to make those SUGGESTIONS with which I intended to have finished, and so I will just tell you what they would have been.
First, the text suggests that the principal subject for self-examination with us all should be,— Am I a saint? Am I holy? Am I a believer in Christ? Yes or no, for on that yes or no must hand your glorification of Christ, or your banishment from his presence.
The next thing is— observe the small value of human opinion. When Christ was here the world reckoned him to be a nobody, and while his people are here they must expect to be judged in the same way. What do worldlings know about it? How soon will their judgment be reversed! When our Lord shall appear even those who sneered will be compelled to admire. When they shall see the glory of Christ in every one of his people, awe-stricken, they will have nothing to say against us; nay, not even the false tongue of malicious slander shall dare to hiss out a serpent word in that day. Never mind them, then; put up with reproach which shall so soon be silenced.
The next suggestion is a great encouragement to enquirers who are seeking Christ; for I put it to you, you great sinners, if Jesus is to be glorified in saved sinners, would he not be glorified indeed if he saved you? If he were ever to save such a rebel as you have been would it not be the astonishment of eternity? I mean you who are known in the village as Wicked Jack, or known as a common swearer— what if my Master were to make a saint of you! Bad raw material! Yet suppose he transformed you into a precious jewel, and made you to be as holy as God is holy, what would you say of him? “Say of him,” say you, “I would praise him world without end.” Yes, and you shall do so if you will come and trust him. Put your trust in him. The Lord help you to do so at once, and he shall be admired even in you for ever and ever.
Our text gives an exhortation to believers also. Will Jesus Christ be honoured and glorified in all the saints? Then let us think well of them all, and love them all. Some dear children of God have uncomely bodies, or they are blind or deformed, or maimed; and many of these have scanty purses, and it may be the church knows most of them as coming for alms: moreover, they have little knowledge, little power to please, and they are uncouth in manners, and belong to what are called the lowest ranks of society: do not, therefore, despise them, for one day our Lord will be glorified in them. How he will be admired in yonder poor bedridden woman when she rises from the workhouse to sing hallelujah to God and the Lamb among the brightest of the shining ones. Why, methinks the pain, the poverty, the weakness, and the sorrow of saints below will greatly glorify the Captain of their saltation as they tell how grace helped them to bear their burdens and to rejoice under their afflictions.
Lastly, brethren, this text ought to encourage all of you who love Jesus to go on talking about him to others and bearing your testimony for his name. You see how the apostle Paul has inserted a few words by way of parenthesis. Draw the words out of the brackets, and take them home, “Because our testimony among you was believed.” Do you see those crowds of idolatrous heathen, and do you see those hosts of saved ones before the throne? What is the medium which finked the two characters? By what visible means did the sinners become saints? Do you see that insignificant looking man with weak eyes? That man whose bodily presence is weak and whose speech is contemptible? Do you not see his bodkin and needle case? He has been making and mending tents, for he is only a tent-maker. Now, those bright spirits which shine like suns, flashing forth Christ’s glory, were made thus bright through the addresses and prayers of that tent-maker. The Thessalonians were heathens plunged in sin, and this poor tentmaker came in among them and told them of Jesus Christ and his gospel; his testimony was believed; that belief changed the lives of his hearers and made them holy, and they being renewed came at length to be perfectly holy, and there they are, and Jesus Christ is glorified in them. Beloved, will it not be a delightful thing throughout eternity to contemplate that you went into your Sunday-school class this afternoon, and you were afraid you could not say much, but you talked about Jesus Christ with a tear in your eye, and you brought a dear girl to believe in his saving name through your testimony. In years to come that girl will be among those that shine out to the glory of Christ for ever. Or you will get away this evening, perhaps, to talk in a lodging-house to some of those poor, despised tramps; you will go and tell one of those poor vagrants, or one of the fallen women, the story of your Lord’s love and blood, and the poor broken heart will catch at the gracious word, and come to Jesus, and then a heavenly character will be begun, and another jewel secured for the Reedemer’s diadem. Methinks you will admire his crown all the more because, as you see certain stones sparkling in it, you will say, “Blessed be his name for ever: he helped me to dive into the sea and find that pearl for him,” and now it adorns his sacred brow. Now, get at it, all of you! You that are doing nothing for Jesus, be ashamed of yourselves, and ask him to work in you that you may begin to work for him, and unto God shall be the glory, for ever and ever. Amen and amen.